MSC: Gingerbread Cupcakes

December 15, 2009

I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by… we’re finally here in the last month of the year. I first must apologize to some of my loyal readers that I have been MIA for about a month or so now! Yea, the cold bug got the worst of me, and with work travels… surprisingly enough, I was not in the kitchen very much this past month!

Our December’s recipe for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club (a.k.a MSC) is Gingerbread Cupcakes,  selected by Kayte from Grandma’s Kitchen Table. You can find the recipe on her Cupcake book, page 246.  I’m basically in the spirit of Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end and I was ready to welcome the season with this treat. I actually made these into mini cupcakes since my husband needed something to take to his company holiday party. I especially loved the fluffy vanilla frosting; nothing can beat a classic frosting like this one. Not only that it tastes good, it actually pipes pretty well. Double bonus for me! The only issue was that I forgot to adjust the baking time to accommodate the smaller muffin pans, so the cupcakes came out a bit in the dense side. Maybe a bit too dense for my taste although everyone seemed to think it’s okay.

Don’t forget to check out how everyone else in our group is doing; there are some absolutely creative creations out there!

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Orangettes

December 21, 2008

I was thrilled to run into this recipe on Smitten Kitchen‘s website. I am not a chocoholic like my husband is, but I do like good quality chocolate treats. Since I first tried this heavenly treat many years ago, I have been searching to find something similar to this everywhere (at the malls, chocolate shops, upscale bakeries, none!) but haven’t run into one yet. The ones that I have found on chocolate shops are usually orange gummy bears dipped in chocolate instead of actual orange peels. This also gets my husband motivated to eat two oranges in one sitting!

Thank God for this recipe.

Orangettes
Ingredients

3 large oranges
1 1/2 cups water
4oz semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil (not using the above 1 1/2 cups water) and blanche orange peels for a couple of minutes.

Remove the peels, rinse with cold water, and repeat. Drain well.
Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Carefully add the peels to the saucepan. Allow to return to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.

Be sure to periodically check on the syrup level – you don’t want the peels to burn.
After an hour, remove the peels from the syrup and let them cool on a rack.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler and when peels are cool, dip them in the chocolate. Let them dry on a piece of parchment paper set on a cookie sheet.

When all have been dipped, move them to the fridge for 20 min or so to allow the chocolate to set up.

Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bar

December 21, 2008

My sister is a Starbucks’ addict. I seriously think that she needs to go talk to one of my college classmates who work at Starbucks, to see if she can get a job there. I believe it would cut down on her daily commute to Starbucks for her coffee and treat fix. When I saw several recipes on line, I knew that I had to make it for her. I decided to use the one from Mr. Breakfast’s website as a starter and made several modifications to the recipe since there are several versions out there.

This version below turned out pretty good, with a good mixture of sweet and tanginess (from the frosting). I did, unfortunately, feel that this was baked a little bit too long because the edges were browned pretty good. The recipe requested 20-25 minutes, but I think mine would have been sufficient with just 20 mins or even less ~ although the flavor was still excellent.

Some of the reviewers on line said that it was too sweet, so when I added cream cheese to the frosting, I only added a little bit of the powdered sugar. I also omitted the melted white chocolate garnish.

For Cake Base
2 sticks margarine (or butter if you want to indulge), softened
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup minced dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup Lindt or Perugina or other quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced candied ginger

For Frosting:
4 ounce cream cheese, softened (I used 6 ounce)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 1 -3/4 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier (since I didn’t have any orange extract or real orange for some zest, and I really thought that cranberry would go great with orange)
2 tbsp butter, softened (I omitted the butter)

For Garnish:
(I decided to skip the melted white chocolate, so I just sprinkled the cranberries )
2 Tablespoons minced dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips (e.g. Ghiradelli or Guittard) — melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
Beat butter and sugar together for the cake base, and add eggs/vanilla beating until fluffy.
Sift together flour, ginger, and salt and then add to the butter/sugar mixture beating well.
Fold in the cranberries, chocolate and ginger.

Spread thick batter in pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden.
When cake is cooled, mix all frosting ingredients together and spread a thin layer over the cake. Immediately sprinkle with the minced cranberries.
Then use a cake decorating bag of melted white chocolate with a tiny decorating tip (like the size used for writing on cakes) and drizzle the chocolate over the cake.
Cut this into bars immediately because the white chocolate hardens pretty fast and makes cake cutting messy