Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week 4 of 52: The Mad Cupcake

January 27 2013

Today would be Lewis Carroll's 185th birthday (born in 1832). For those of you going, "Who?" He wrote, among other things, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

If you don't know anything about the book, check out the synopsis on Wikipedia: It starts with Alice falling down the rabbit hole and the many adventures that ensue, from growing big and small, having tea with the Hatter, meeting a grin without a cat, using a flamingo for a croquet mallet, and standing up to the Queen of Hearts, all before waking up from her dream.

This story has been talked about by scholar's for years. Everyone is always looking for hidden meaning in the words. But for me...I just loved the pictures. The creativity, it made me use my imagination a lot. I have always been a fan of that book and perhaps that explains a lot! :o) To this day, I don't color in the lines, I laugh at my own jokes, I am late to everything, and my imagination is as strong as ever.

In using my imagination in choosing a theme for each week in my year-long blog, it was a no-brainer for Week 4. But the ultimate execution was only decided at the last minute.

I love Red Velvet Cake. And I made one for a co-worker for her birthday last year and really loved the recipe. It kinda turned out pink because I did not have enough food coloring and that pic is actually on the front page of this blog. So I went back to that recipe thinking, why not a Pink Velvet Cake. I didn't even know there was such a thing, but I found a variety of recipes on the web,

The recipe I used is a compilation from one on Taste of Home ( and the original one I used last year from the Joy of Baking (

But as I got closer to actually making the cupcakes, I kept thinking that blue would be so much better. After all, Alice wore a blue and white dress. And thinking of the Mad Hatter's tea party, the cupcakes could not be "normal."

So here is Week 4 of 52 Weeks of Desserts...



10 T butter, unsalted, room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
Food coloring
2 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
3/4 c finely chopped white chocolate (I used 3 cubes of white almond bark)
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 t baking soda
1 t white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prep cupcake tins with liners. Makes 24 cupcakes.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and blend well. Add vanilla. Mix in chocolate.
  3. Mix salt into flour. Add 1/3 of flour mix to egg mix. Add 1/2 of buttermilk. Add another 1/3 of flour mix. Add remaining buttermilk. Add remaining flour mix.  Buttermilk will make things lumpy at first, but just keep mixing.
  4. Pour half of batter into another bowl and add food coloring to preferred hue.
  5. Mix 1/2 t of baking soda with 1/2 t of vinegar in a bowl. It will foam. Immediately add to colored mix, stirring gently.
  6. Mix another 1/2 t of baking soda with 1/2 t of vinegar in a bowl. Again it will foam. Immediately add to the non-colored mix, stirring gently.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, add non-colored mix to each cupcake liner - 1/3 full. Top with colored mix to 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Do not over brown, so watch them at 18 minutes. Pick should come out clean.

Cool completely before frosting with your favorite. These do not keep well in the fridge, and don't keep well for more than 2 days in an airtight container. So frost at the last minute and eat rapidly!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week 3 follow up 2

Today, I recieved a number of compliments on my cookies. I wasa floored. I truly believe they are too dry. People said that was okay and that the taste was really good...people had more than one!

In any case, tonight, I redid the Memphis Garbage cookies. I added 1 1/3 cups of apple sauce, and an additional 1/4 cup of white sugar. I ran out of the Banana Crunch cereal, but used a generic Honey Bunches type cereal instead. And I used 1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips and 3/4 cup of butterscotch chips.

Certainly, the are a softer cookie. My husband loves them. I am still not thrilled with them. I will keep experimenting this year...and we will see how it goes.

I did get grounded by one comment today. When I asked if someone had tried the cookies, they said, "We read your blog. We are waiting for week 13 or 14. Things should be good by then." I love honesty!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 3 follow-up

Okay...I have been mulling this over. The proper ratio for cookies is 3-2-1. Meaning 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, and 1 part sugar. I used oats and an oat-like cereal in this recipe. So my "flour" went from 3 1/2 cups to 5 1/2 cups of dry ingredients. Instead of 2 cups of fat, which was the 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of vegetable oil, I needed 3 2/3 cups of fat. Not wanting to use that much fat, I think an addition of 1 2/3 cup of applesauce would have done the trick. And upping the white sugar to 1 cup.

I will remake these during the week and let you know.

Week 3 of 52: Memphis Garbage Cookies

Today was a busy day in the United States. Not only did President Obama have his second Inauguration Day, but also it was Martin Luther King Day. How appropriate that they coincided and both were so moving. In D.C., the President talked of equality, unity, and opportunity. All across the U.S., people served others in honor of Dr. King, such as creating blankets for the homeless and packaging meals for a local food bank.

For this week's dessert, I wanted to focus more on Dr. King, and so I choose to make a "garbage" cookie. Why a garbage cookie, you may be asking? Well, let me explain.

On February 1, 1968, two Memphis sanitation workers died in a compactor accident during a heavy rainstorm.  Less than two weeks later, "on February 12, more than 1,100 of a possible 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition.*" It was this strike that drew Dr. King to Memphis on several occasions. The last being on April 4, 1968.

So to honor Dr. King, I give you the...

Memphis Garbage Cookie

1 c butter, cold, cut up into small cubes
3/4 c brown sugar, tightly packed
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 c vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
3 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c of any other mix in of your choice, such as nuts, dried fruit, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix butter and sugars in stand mixer on medium for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well each time. Add oil and vanilla and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  4. By large spoonfuls, add flour mixture into stand mixer just until incorporated.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer, and incorporate the remaining ingredients by hand.
  6. Drop 1/4-cup portions onto a cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper or Silpat.
  7. Bake for 16-20 minutes. Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
  8. Store in a sealed container.

PS I got 24 very large cookies out of this recipe. They were NOT chewy or crisp, but rather dry, but still tasty. I am working on how to adjust this recipe, because I would prefer chewy. As is, these would be great on ice cream or with a glass of milk.

Note: This recipe was adapted from Annie's Eats (, and Marisk (

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Week 2 follow up

Just a short note to follow up the Week 2 dessert. The taste was good, but the overall dessert was not what I had hoped for when I started.

First...the cake recipe was definitely a delicious pound cake. However, as with all pound cakes, the "crust" from the sugar content made the "cupcake" version MUCH too crusty. There was too much surface area and not enough inside to maintain the moisture of a soft inside.  The cupcakes almost had a cornbread consistency.

Second...the filling did not turn out as airy as I wanted. It was much more runny. Not liquid-y, but too dense to be a fluffy Twinkie-like filling. Not sure what I can do with this, other than find a different combination. I think the marshmallow fluff really did not allow for enough air. I will keep searching. I do want to make a fake Hostess cupcake one of these weeks.

Finally...because the cupcakes were dense, the filling really was not able to be pushed into the dessert. Kind of a let down.

This is definitely a learning experience and I am enjoying the adventure!

Coming up this weekend, I am celebrating Martin Luther King Day. Dessert-making will take place on Monday so that the outcome can be taken to work on Tuesday.  More later...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 2 of 52: Golden Globe Cupcakes

In honor of the Golden Globes on television tonight, I decided to create a recipe that would somehow relate to this. Growing up, I remember watching awards shows with great interest. Keep in mind, I grew up before the internet was pervasive and the news came on three times a day, not 24/7. Seeing the stars was not a daily, nay hourly, thing, and these awards shows really drew a crowd in front of the tv.  So for me...honoring the Golden Globes is just the start of the season...there will be more (think Academy Awards).

This year is the 70th awards show. It will be hosted by two of my favorites - Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  Both women are SNL alums, another television show that had a big impact on my life. I have that similar dark comedy streak and find the strangest things funny!

Thinking about golden, I immediately went to a golden poundcake. And thinking comedy...well, Twinkies can't be funnier.  They are long-lasting, and unfortunately, they went away this past year. So what better way to honor both in this week's dessert.

I went in search for golden poundcake recipes, and fake Twinkie recipes, and this led to a lot of research.

Traditionally, a pound cake was named for its weighted ingredients: a pound of sugar, a pound of butter, a pound of eggs, and a pound of flour.  Many of the recipes I found had some variation of this ratio, but some included baking powder, milk, evaporated milk, and powdered sugar. 

I found a posting on baking powder versus baking soda on ( Very insightful to understand that both of these leavening agents are key to not having a flat cake.  Makes sense, as many pound cakes I have had were very dense, thus assuming they were following the traditional recipe. In addition, I learned that baking soda needs something like buttermilk and baking powder needs something like milk to activate it.  Baking powder in cake recipes is used to make more light and raised and does not add any particular taste, whereas baking soda is used in more cookie recipes and tends to be more acidic, thus the buttermilk. Knowing this, and wanting something more fluffy, I chose to include the baking powder in my recipe.

In searching for exactly what evaporated milk was, I found the definition, "...more calorie-laden... ( Well that sold me right there!  That and that it is more nutritious and has a caramelized taste. So in goes evaporated milk to the recipe.

As for the addition of powdered sugar in some recipes, powdered sugar is just that - sugar that has been crushed into a powder (with some corn starch added to reduce clumping). Commonly, powdered sugar is used in icings and gives recipes a lighter, flakier texture. While I can understand using this in a recipe that I want to more on the fluffy side, I felt that it would be too spongy. I want the taste of the Twinkie, but not so much of the sponginess like a sponge cake, rather than a pound cake.  If you want to make your cake more spongy, you can substitute powdered sugar for sugar 1:1.75, that is, 1 cup of sugar to 1.75 cups of powdered sugar. However, note that the crispiness you get with sugar will be lost on powdered sugar, so a complete replacement would result in losing the crunchy outside of your cakes.

On the creme filling front, I found recipes that called for both shortening and butter, sugar and powdered sugar, and milk with flour and evaporated milk.  I remember making a similar filling years ago and felt comfortable with using both shortening and butter. While shortening is 100% fat, it generally has no taste but traps air more than butter, thus resulting in fluffier fillings. The butter is needed for the flavor. As for the all granulated versus powdered recipes, I used the powdered sugar due to the notes made above...more fluffy. And since the recipes that called for a rue, reminiscent of gravy, I chose the evaporated milk versions to base my recipe on.  Some recipes state that if you sub evaporated milk for regular milk that you should mix with water. That is, 1 cup of regular milk would be replaced by 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of water. Other recipes did not make this note, but rather just sub 1 for 1. So I went with direct subbing.

Good luck in trying this one out. I hope you enjoy!

Creme-filled Golden Globe Cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcake

4 sticks butter, salted (1 pound) - add 1/4 t salt if using unsalted butter
1 2/3 + 1/4 c sugar (1 pound)
8 eggs (1 pound)
3 1/2 c + 2 T flour (1 pound)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c evaporated milk
2 t vanilla extract
1 t lemon extract
Ingredients for filling
1/4 c shortening
1/4 c butter, softened
2 c marshmallow creme, one 7 oz jar
1 t vanilla extract
1 c powdered sugar
3 t evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and lightly flour muffin tins.

In your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add in extracts. Alternating between flour/baking powder and the milk, mix in slowly and then beat until very fluffy.

Pour into prepped muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes, until golden and toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan to cool completely on a rack.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare the filling.

Cream all ingredients in stand mixer until very fluffy. Incorporate the milk in the end. Fill a resealable baggie or pastry bag or pastry fill tube with cream filling. Using the pastry filling tube tip, gently press into the bottom of each cooled cupcake and insert one squeeze of filling (this is an exact 

Keep filled cupcakes in a sealed container in the fridge.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Week 1 Follow-up!

I am finally able to access the blog was having issues.

First, let's talk about what was good and not so good about Dessert #1...

The comments at work were good. I added some Andies Candies chips to some of the dessrt cups and some liked them and others liked them plain.

Personally, I wish there would have been just a bit more filling in each cup. And I was not fond of the mint ones, despite my love of Andies mints!

I am including more photos as well on the steps.

For this weekend, I will honor the Golden Globes. More tomorrow!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Week 1 Dessert: Break Your Resolution dessert cups husband decided that before I went back to work tomorrow, we needed to get away for a few days. It was a blessing. We did a mini road trip to eastern Iowa and central Iowa. A bit of the slots, hot tubs, and relaxation. It was a nice treat and I truly appreciated the mini vacation.

But of course, that meant that I was not able to blog for the past couple of days. Not that I was not doing the planning for today though.  As with all new things, I am a bit out of my comfort zone and this will be a real adventure to complete the first of 52 desserts for 2013. As I mentioned, whether you are talking with friends and family, or watching the television, it is all about resolutions right now. Get a gym membership, update the paint on your car, buy an indoor mini trampoline (okay...that one was me!), lose weight, spend more time with your family...all really good things. Yet, I wonder how many of us keep those resolutions beyond January? Should we not think more about what we do and say on every occasion and start living a more balanced and kind life? I say yes! And to that...I say, welcome to the Break Your Resolution dessert cups!

I was told long ago that if you need to scrimp and save, don't let it be on food. Eat the really good stuff and you won't eat as much. I hope that this recipe will inspire you to rethink the concept of a resolution and just enjoy life more!

Break Your Resolution dessert cups
2/3 c light Karo syrup
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
4 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/4 c flour
semisweet chocolate chips, I used Nestle
Sweetened flaked coconut
Diamond glazed pecans
2 sheets of puff pastry, I used Peppridge Farms
12-cup muffin tin, lightly greased with a spray oil

  1. Start by thawing your puff pastry sheets if they are frozen.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F.
  3. In a small saucepan, bring the syrup and sugar to a boil (about 5 minutes on 4 of 6 on a gas stove). Pull of the heat, stir in butter and let cool.
  4. With a hand mixer, beat eggs until fluffy. Add in the flour and vanilla and beat until smooth. Slowly add in the butter/sugar mixture beating until smooth.
  5. Open up and lay out pastry sheets on a clean surface. Cut each sheet in half lengthwise, and then in thirds to get 12 squares total.  Push a square into each pan cup.
  6. Add a pinch of chips, a pinch of coconut, and a pinch of pecans into each cup.  This is to taste, if you want to use more of one filling over another.
  7. Add the wet mixture to each cup filling to the top. This is done in steps as the liquid will seep into the filling. I had about 1/4 cup of wet mixture remaining.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is set in the middle. It should resemble a "tight" pecan pie filling. 
  9. Cool in the pan and then remove and store in a sealed plastic container. These won't last long!

This recipe was adapted from Millionaire's Pie:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

The new year is here and it's day 1 of 52 Weeks of Desserts. I plan to talk about desserts in general and anything else that seems to go along with that. I will take what I learned in home ec in high school and in baking during my life (not much) to share stories and ideas that I hope will be useful to others. If you have suggestions or questions, I look forward to hearing from you. So let's get started...

I have been reading stories and watching shows all day and in fact for a few days all about New Year's Resolutions.  According to wikipedia, (my source for all information!'s_resolution) 40% of us make resolutions. I have been making various resolutions for as long as I can remember. From lose weight, get organized, eat better, eat less, and on and on. Well, needless to say, I barely remembered what I resolved by the end of each January!

So, this year, I have again made a blog. This is actually mutlifaceted. I want to become a better baker. I am married to a Moroccan and learning to cook meals that he would find familiar came easy to me. I can make a mean lasagna and vegetarian spaghetti, but I also make a great beef and prune tagine and chicken ghamelah.  But desserts have eluded me.  This blog will allow me to practice my skills and hopefully get better, it will hold my feet to the fire to stick to my resolution, and it will give me opportunities to branch out and learn about desserts from different cultures and regions.

I am good at the simple things...cupcakes, cookies, regular cakes...but when it comes to moving out of my comfort zone, I am a scared duck. But with all things have to take your first step off the edge and then just grin when things don't look like the fancy picture!

More tomorrow.