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Archive for April, 2011

Cupcakes to go, again

cupcakestop truck

I ventured outside my office for lunch yesterday and didn’t believe my eyes when I spotted a CupcakeStop truck across the street!

That’s right, directly the street (south side of 23rd street, in front of Home Depot) sat a very cute and colorful CupcakeStop truck with pretty new blue and white awning.  I thought …could it be the very same company that so abruptly shuttered its windows and permanently parked its truck only 6 weeks ago?

nutella cupcakes

Yes, yes it is.  CupcakeStop is back!  Following a brief ownership spat (which resulted in one partner purchasing the other’s share), the Cupcake Stop truck is back to trolling the streets of Manhattan handing out their signature sweets, like nutella and funfetti cupcakes and some new seasonal treats.

cupcakestop storefront in the west village

The west village shop is also set to reopen in a few weeks.  Get the whole scoop here.  Follow them on Twitter to find the truck’s current location.

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Irish car bomb cupcake

I’ve been doing some recipe testing for a certain special event that’s happening in a couple of weeks and thought I’d share a recipe that I’ve spent some time perfecting – Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.

For those of you that don’t know, the name of this drink refers to its Irish ingredients – Guinness Stout, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson Irish Whiskey.  The whiskey is floated on top of the Irish cream in a shot glass and the shot glass is dropped into a half pint of stout that has to be drunk right away, before the ingredients curdle.  The controversial name refers to the many car bombings that took place during The Toubles in Ireland.

Similar to the drink, the components of an Irish Car Bomb Cupcake include a Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake, Bailey’s Irish Cream Filling and a Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache infused with Irish Whiskey (Jameson, in this case).

I love how moist these cupcakes are and I find that the batter rises evenly and at just the right height.  The Bailey’s Irish Cream filling is very sweet and perfect in small doses, which makes it a great filling for this cupcake.  The smooth  ganache icing is a refreshing change from the towering swirl of buttery frosting that tops most cupcakes.

Whether you enjoy the occasional Irish Car Bomb or  not, you’ll definitely like these cupcakes.

Cheers!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Stout Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons of milk
4-5 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

For the Ganache Topping
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons Jameson (or other Irish Whiskey)

To Make the Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line 24 cupcake cups with liners and set pans aside.

Combine 1 cup Guinness Stout and 1 cup butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is completely smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly (about 10 minutes).

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream to blend. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just until combined. Slowly add flour mixture on slow speed just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 of the way. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back, about 20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from oven and cool in pan for one minute.  Remove cupcakes from pan and place on a rack to cool completely.

To Make the Bailey’s Irish Cream Filling
Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer for three minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until all of the sugar has been added. The mixture will be very dry. Add the milk and beat on low speed to reach desired consistency.  With the mixer on low, add the Bailey’s Irish Cream a tablespoon at a time until combined.

To Make the Whiskey Ganache
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it begins to simmer and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then starting in the middle of the mixture working your way to the outside, stir with a whisk until completely smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Set aside to cool slight (about 20 minutes).  The ganache should begin to thicken, but still be soft enough to dip the cupcakes in.

Putting the Cupcakes Together
Using a serrated knife held at a 45 degree angle to the cupcake, core out a large portion of the center of your cupcake. For a guide to coring cupcakes, click here. You can also use a cupcake corer tool, like this. Save the cupcake cores you cut out. You will need a portion of it to place back on top of the filling.  Using a piping bag or ziplock bag with the tip cut off to pipe approximately 1 tablespoon of frosting into each cupcake.  Cut of the top portion of each cored cake piece, and place it on top of the filling, so the top of each cupcake sits flush and looks undisturbed.  Click here for step-by-step instructions.

Dip each cupcake into the bowl of cooled ganache, slightly twisting your twist as you come up catch the ganache drizzle. For a guide to dipping cupcakes in ganache, click here. Top the cupcakes with leftover cake crumbs, or dot the tops of cupcakes with any leftover cream filling.

Irish car bomb cupcake

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Peanut butter cookies

I’m always on the lookout for different ways to combine two of my favorite ingredients, chocolate and peanut butter.

Peanut butter can add tremendous flavor and complexity to a dessert, however, it’s not always the easiest ingredient to work with.  Anyone that’s every had a peanut butter cookie that’s dry as paper will know what I mean.  It can be difficult to create a dessert that balances its sweet and salty elements just right. In fact, I’m still perfecting my peanut butter cupcake recipe, but that’s another post for another day.

In the meantime, I have come across a fabulous Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Warning: these are VERY addicting.  Just ask my husband Tom, who managed to put back nearly a dozen of these in one sitting.

In addition to a peanut butter-filled batter, this recipe inclues chocolate and peanut chips and creates a soft, fluffy cookie that’s hard to walk away from. These were the perfect ending to a recent fabulous full day feast with my friends Gary and Monica at their home in Highlands, NJ.

These cookies are best the day they are baked, but keep well for up to 4 days at room temperature or one month in the freezer.

Gary & Monica, Long Branch, NJ

Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery (the Magnolia Cookbook)

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter (smooth peanut butter also works)
3/4 cup, plus two tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make the cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl or Kitchen Aide mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter together until fluffy (1-2 minutes).  Add the 3/4 cup white sugar and light brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Peanut butter cookie dough

Place remaining two tablespoons of white sugar in a small bowl. Roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in sugar to coat. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving a few inches in between each cookie for expansion. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do NOT overbake. Cookies may look underdone, but they are not.

Ready for the oven!

Cool the cookies on the sheets for one minute, then move to a wire rack and cool completely.

Lots of peanut butter cookies

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Tin of treasure

As many of you know, my sister Jocelin was recently in Paris for several weeks as part of her Global Fashion Management program at FIT.  Lucky for me, she returned home last night toting plenty of Parisian sweet treats for me to enjoy.

Paris cookies

The largest package was a beautiful tin of cookies from La Cure Groumande.  This fun artisan sweet shop is sort of like the Willa Wonka Factory of France.  The shop is filled with chocolate, caramels, lollies, bon bons and their famous cookies.

almond cookie

I’ve already devoured several cookies (with the eager assistance of my husband Tom), and look forward to finishing up the rest in the coming days when they are at their freshest.  So far the orange cookie (not pictured here) was my favorite.

cookie

My friend Mary visited Jocelin in Paris and embarked on a lengthy macaron crawl with my brother-in-law Eddie.  Check out her blog, The Culinary Librarian, to read about their adventures visiting nearly every patisserie in Paris.

cookie

I’m also very excited to taste my new white rose petal tea, and French fan tea spoon.

tea and things

Merci beaucoup Jocelina!

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