Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chocolate Cupcake - Cream Cheese Frosting

I wanted to make something simple and delicious.  Cupcakes are not my favorite dessert but it is nearly impossible to be disappointed by one of these things... They are indulgent, diverse, and kinda adorable.

I went with one of my favorite combos chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting YUM!

I used a very basic chocolate cake recipe with a combination of butter for flavor and oil for moisture.  The chocolate flavor comes from the cocoa powder.

Chocolate Cocoa Cupcake:
- 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1 tablespoon of oil (i used canola)
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients:
- 11/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 teaspoon salt

(makes about 16 cupcakes)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pan. Combine all Dry Ingredients.

2. Beat butter, oil and sugar in an electric mixer, until fluffy.  (this won't take long) Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add vanilla.  
3. Start to add this dry ingredients alternating with the cup of milk, I did this in three additions, mixing after each one.  

I forgot to start adding the milk, so it got a little clumpy on me... woops ;)

Once you are finished it will look smooth and amazing :)

4. Fill cupcakes about 3/4 of the way up.  My batter yielded 16 exactly.  Bake 15-18 minutes.  

The results... perfection  

Now it's time to frost!

Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 packages of cream cheese (softened)
- 1 stick of butter (softened)
- 2- 3 cups of confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until well combined, scrap bowl.  Mix in vanilla, then slowly begin to add confectioner sugar, whipping after each addition.  If the cream cheese is too soft, add more sugar, if it is too stiff you may add a little bit of milk to thin it out.

Admire this adorable creature and... dig in!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thick & Chewy

Instead of sitting around and picking my nose this afternoon I decided to bake.  I wanted to bake something that everyone enjoys.... Chocolate Chip Cookies. One usually associates these morsel studded delicacies as the simple recipe on the back of a Nestle Toll House wrapper, but annoying foodies, like myself, refuse to settle for just one solution to a rather complicated cookie.  

Chocolate Chip Cookies are tricky, deceiving, and sometimes annoying. Why?  because everyone has their own preference.  Thin and crispy, small and crunchy, thick and chewy, large and cakey, medium-doughy, soft and raw, jumbo and thick, blah blah blah.  If you don't fall into one of these categories you  have officially stumped me.  

Do I even dare to ask which is the best? Such an impossible question to answer.  It all really depends on mood.  Today I went for Thick and Chewy! 

When I think of a thick and chewy cookie I think of the Levain Bakery.  Levain Bakery is located on the Upper Westside in New York City.  I have never been there, but I would ruthlessly push a young child into mud just to get my hands on one of their Chocolate Chip Cookies.  This cookie was developed by two marathon runners.  It is huge, thick, and ridiculous looking, in a good way.  

I was inspired by their cookies and decided to use some different techniques to make my own.   This recipe is unique because you shred butter with a cheese grater!  Sounds strange but it makes for a soft and rather dreamy cookie.  There is also a substantial amount of baking powder, which makes this cookie rise nicely in the oven. 

Add ins: you can put some walnuts, oats, or candy pieces into this cookie if you desire.  I kept it simple today because I love dark and semisweet chocolate.  The combo compliments the rich dough perfectly.  

The Thick & Chewy 
- 2 sticks of butter (frozen)
- 3/4 cup of granulate sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 2 eggs 
- 1 tbs vanilla extract 
- 3 1/3 cup AP flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup dark chocolate chunks 
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  

2. Shred butter with grater.  The butter will start to melt from the warmth of your hand, just keep grating!  The butter will look ribbon like and kinda beautiful.  Once butter is grated cover bowl with plastic and place in the freezer to keep it cool.  

3. Get Dry ingredients ready.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk in separate bowl.  You can sift if you want to.  I did not, that was too much effort after grating the butter (that counts as strength training, right?)

4. Place grated butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer.  Start at low speed for about 30 seconds.  Dough will look pebble like.  

This is normal.  Continue to mix until the dough sticks together but does not completely soften.  

5. Add both eggs and vanilla.  Mix on high.  Once everything is combined slowly mix in the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, powder, and salt mixture).  I did this in three separate batches.  

Now you can finally add the best part... Chocolate! (and any mix ins of choice) 

6.  Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet.  I made my cookies larger (2 - 3 tbs size).  Do not press cookies down.  I could fit about six on each baking sheet.  You want to give them plenty of room to grow.

7. Bake for about 4 -5 minutes on 375.  This helps the outside of the cookie set.  Then decrease the oven temp to 325.  This will ensure the cookie stays soft chewy and a little doughy ;).  They will bake for 8 - 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them.  

The end product..... divine.