Friday, February 15, 2013

No-Bake Peanut Butter Goodness

I love peanut butter. It is just one of those things I never get tired of eating and if I were stranded on an island with just peanut butter, well, I probably wouldn't mind. I would survive too.

Here is something real easy that you can do with peanut butter. What I love about this is that it is VERY easy to make and you won't even need to bake it! My oven gets some well-deserved rest, at the same time, my tummy is quite content.
No Bake Peanut Butter Squares
(from a Betty Crocker recipe)

Ingredients:
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
1 and 1/4 cups peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 and 3/4 cups Graham Cracker cumbs
2 cups or 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
To make these saliva-inducing sweets:

1. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and make sure you have extra foil hanging over the sides of the pan
2. In a bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar, butter, 1 cup peanut butter and vanilla (you can use a hand mixer for this step)
3. Using a rubber spatula, fold in graham crackers.
4. Once combined, press into bottom of the square pan and set aside
5. Place chocolate chips and remaining peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until mixture is smooth and there are no more lumps
6. Pour chocolate mix over the peanut butter layer and spread evenly then place the whole pan in the refrigerator for 1 hr or until the chocolate is set
6. Hold the ends of the foil that hang from the side of the pan and lift out then cut into individual squares
7. Serve and enjoy immediately or place in airtight containers and store in the ref

Why do I love these? These little innocent-looking squares are sweet, filling and I don't have to bake them in the oven! I love the grainy texture and the flavor of peanut butter is just perfect! The chocolate melts pretty quickly in my climate which is why I have to eat two one right away!
You can even make these peanut butter squares real chunky by piling more chocolate onto the peanut butter layer.
Seriously. Good.

Royal Red Heart Cupcakes Toppers: A Re-Post

I've got a couple of new stuff I've baked recently and am extremely happy with. For peanut butter lovers and chocolate lovers alike. Problem is, it is almost midnight as I write this, I have to wake up early tomorrow morning and my recipe book happens to be on the top shelf of a cabinet about 12 feet away. So I'll post the pictures and recipes some other time.
Instead, I want to share with you pictures of these vivid red cupcakes toppers I made out of royal icing.
It's almost February and a lot of people are already busy with orders for Valentine's! Personally, I don't treat Valentine's Day any differently, it's NOT a non-working holiday so it certainly feels like a regular day. Plus, the whole bouquet of flowers on V-Day? It doesn't really work for me.
But give me a box of chocolates or cupcakes...and I will instantly follow you like a lovesick puppy!
These photos show my first attempts at royal icing. I piped the hearts on acetate that I wiped a bit with shortening. I didnt realize the toppers would take so long to dry! I made the hearts for my sister-in-law's birthday dinner the following night and the royal icing was still very soft and terribly fragile. I should have let them dry for at least 2 days. Oh well.
I managed to get all the cupcakes decorated and that's what counts. I am tempted to do this again for Valentine's day to give to my relatives. Apart from the drying time, you finish so much in less than an hour!
You don't even have to wait for Valentine's Day to make these!
Because everyday should be Valentine's Day! (Cheesy, I know haha!)

Creamy & Dreamy

I know I've mentioned that Cream Cheese doesn't seem to agree much with me, but after making so many red velvet cupcakes over the holidays I have finally found my go-to recipe for tasty cream cheese frosting that hasn't failed me so far.
I don't even have to put this in the chiller since it holds its shape after piping. That means I get to finish decorating my cupcakes sooner without compromising the taste of my frosting.
So I hope you try this out and if you've ever had problems with cream cheese frosting, you can now kiss them a sweet goodbye with this recipe!

What we'll need:
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening
 3-4 cups icing sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter, shortening and cream cheese. Once well combined add the vanilla extract and salt. Add the icing sugar gradually. You don't have to use up all 4 cups of icing sugar, if you like the consistency of the frosting with 3 cups you can stop there. 
My cousin likes a sweeter frosting so when I made her cupcakes I used 5 cups of icing sugar and added 1/2 teaspoon milk. 
But that's basically it! Cream cheese frosting that's stiff and rich and oh so delicious! 
Now I never have to worry about making cream cheese frosting! In fact, I now come up with all sorts of excuses to make this kind of frosting!


Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes with Coco Cream Cheese Frosting: A Re-Post

The recipe I use for my carrot cake calls for dessicated coconut and coconut cream. For a three layer 8" carrot cake I only use about 1/4 cup of the coconut cream and since it does not keep for a long period of time I always worry about what I will do with the leftover cream. I hate letting things go to waste! Finally, I started looking for something easy I could make with the leftover coconut cream.
I asked and the internet giveth! I honestly can't remember where I got this recipe from. I just googled coconut cupcakes, copied all the recipes that came out and edited all of them into one recipe that sounded right. (If you have any idea where this recipe came from, feel free to let me know!)
These coconut cupcakes are extremely delicious! Moist, light, with a hint of vanilla. I like coconut but I know a lot of people who don't and that's fine, the coconut flavor in these beauties is not overpowering at all. It's a delicate kind of cupcake because it crumbles quite easily but it also kind of melts in your mouth.
I also made coconut cream cheese frosting which is your basic cream cheese recipe with a little bit of the coconut cream (1/2 cup) instead of milk. Another way to use up my extra coconut cream and still have that subtle coco frosting. So good!
Now my only problem with this recipe is that the batter can shrink quite a bit when it bakes. Some of the cupcakes separated completely from the cupcake liners. I have no idea why it did that. Maybe you could help me out?
Coconut Cupcakes
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup coconut cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-count cupcake pan
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition
4. Add the vanilla extract
5. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, dessicated coconut, and baking powder
6. Beat half of the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients
7. Pour in coconut cream
8. Include remaining flour mixture and beat until smooth
9. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 18-22minutes
10. Cool completely before frosting
Hope you like making these!

I'm Seeing Red...Velvet: A Re-Post

I've mentioned in this post how much a fan I am of Bake Happy and a while back, she posted this recipe for Red velvet cupcakes that I knew I just had to try. I am CRAZY about red velvet cupcakes! They were my mother's favorite and every time I see them or taste them I am reminded of her. When I first started baking, red velvet cupcakes were the very first ones I started to make. Needless to say, I had a lot of failures and so, I was on the quest to look for the best red velvet cupcake recipe floating about. I'm happy to say the search has finally ended.
These red velvet cupcakes are divine! The old recipes I've tried produced dry cupcakes, dense cupcakes, bland ones or ones where you don't really get that chocolate flavor. This recipe solves all those problems. The cupcakes that came out were very light, moist and had that chocolate-y taste to it that lingers in your mouth. They smell so good too!
The original recipe was posted on cupcakeblog.com and Aikko tweaked it by substituting Yakult for the buttermilk. I chose to use the buttermilk powder that I purchased at a local health store, I use it all the time for recipes that ask for buttermilk and so far it hasn't failed me. I also doubled the amount of cocoa powder to really get the chocolate taste and I divided the recipe by three so I wouldn't have to stay next to my oven for days.
For the frosting, I stuck with Bake Happy's recipe for cream cheese frosting. Perfect combo!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring
170 grams sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 egg

Procedure:
1. Combine buttermilk, red food color, vinegar and vanilla extract. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well and make sure there are no lumps.
3. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs one at a time.
5. Add one third of the dry ingredients and mix slightly.
6. Pour in one half of the wet ingredients.
7. Alternate mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, end with your flour mixture and mix until everything is incorporated.
8. Divide batter into cupcake liners and place inside pre-heated oven, 350'F and bake for 15 minutes.
9. When toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, remove cupcakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening
454 grams icing sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup milk

Cream butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the icing sugar. Add the milk and beat until smooth. *I put the cream cheese frosting in the chiller for several hours so I can pipe them on the cupcakes*

    Peanut Butter Perfection: A Re-Post

    Peanut butter is something we have to have at home. My husband, unfortunately, is allergic to it but that just means more for me! One of the reasons why I joined a cupcake workshop at Ingrid's Sweet Haven Patisserie was because of the peanut butter cupcakes chef Ingrid would be teaching (and the Tiramisu!).
    Of course I couldn't wait to recreate the cupcakes at home. Now the recipe makes a lot so if you're making these and there's only a few of you at home, remember to send some over my way!
    See how moist the cupcake is? How creamy the peanut butter frosting? I love this recipe! The peanut butter flavor is not overwhelming and when combined with the frosting, results in the perfect amount of sweetness.

    You can pile the frosting up high on the cupcake, the sprinkles are not really necessary but I also have to have sprinkles on my cupcakes!
    Peanut Butter Cupcakes

    Ingredients:
    2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon fine salt
    2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    150 grams smooth peanut butter
    150 grams brown sugar
    200 grams white sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 and 1/4 cups fresh milk + 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vinegar

    Procedure:

    1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda without sifting
    2. Using a mixer, cream the unsalted butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy
    3. Add the eggs, one at a time
    4. Pour in the milk with vinegar
    5. Add the dry ingredients and and mix until well incorporated. Do not overbeat
    6. Divide and pour into cupcake liners
    7. Place inside a pre-heated oven 350 degrees F and bake for 20mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
    8. Transfer to a wire rack, cool cupcakes completely before decorating

    Frosting:
    1/4 cup unsalted butter
    1/4 cup refrigerated margarine
    125 grams smooth peanut butter
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2-3 tablespoons fresh milk
    3-4 cups confectioner's or icing sugar

    In a mixer bowl, combine butter, margarine and peanut butter until thick. Add vanilla, milk and gradually add the confectioner's sugar until desired consistency is reached.

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    Hello November: A Re-Post

    2 more months before the end of the year! Ack! Where did time go?
    Things get pretty crazy here towards the end of the year so I want to post pictures and blog while I can.
    Looking at beautiful cupcakes coming out of the oven gives me so much happiness!
    I made Peanut Butter cupcakes and with some crushed peanut milk chocolate (read: Chocnut) and sweet jelly drizzle that was store-bought.
    Also made Choco Cream Cheese Swirl cupcakes but they were not as sweet as I like. Must tweak the recipe next time :p
    Finally, Vanilla cupcakes with Lemon Curd filling. The lemon curd was a little bit overpowering but if you like a contrasting sweet and sour flavor, you will enjoy the sharp, tart taste of this cupcake. Recipe to be posted soon!

    Hope you have a wonderful November!

    Update: Recipe on the peanut butter cupcakes posted here

    Cream Cheese and I: A Re-Post

    An affair. More like a love-hate relationship. With Cream cheese frosting.
    There are days when it works like a dream and it makes the loveliest swirls on cupcakes.

    And most days, it makes a sloppy, drippy mess that tastes great but looks awful.
    I've experimented. A lot.
    More cream cheese, less butter. No butter, some shortening. With or without milk...or cream. A lot of powdered sugar. Not that much.
    It really is hit-or-miss for me.

    How do you handle your cream cheese?

    Bake Happy Love: A Re-Post

    There are a gazillion recipes to be found on the internet and there are plenty that get rave reviews from hundreds of readers. Unfortunately for me, there are good recipes I've tried that produce results I'm not very happy with. So when I do find a recipe that I like, chances are all the other stuff they post are right up my alley and I'll be following that baker/site like a crazy person!

    I stumbled upon Aikko Aragon's blog when I was searching the net for local bakers. Bake Happy is packed with tutorials, recipes and great photos of Aikko's baking adventures. I love how Aikko writes! She's super funny and when you read her posts it's like you have been friends for a long time. I tried her recipe for the perfectly moist chocolate cake and oh my chocolate! I have found the one. It's got a secret ingredient that makes it extra fluffy and tasty in my opinion. Can you guess what it is?

    I had to tweak the recipe a bit since my oven is really small and can only fit one 6-count muffin pan at a time. The original recipe can of course be found on the fabulous Bake Happy site.

    Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
    Adapted from Bake Happy (bakehappy.blogspot.com)

    Ingredients: (Yield: 16 cupcakes)

    1 and 1/4 cup cake flour
    1 and 1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp baking powder
    3/4 cup water
    3/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    Procedure:
    1. Preheat oven to 350*F, assemble cupcake liners in pan
    2. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise and sugar until smooth
    3. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder
    4. Add a third of the flour mixture to the mayonnaise mixture
    5. Add half of the water
    6. Repeat steps 3 and 4, end with the flour mixture. Mix well.
    7. Add vanilla extract
    8. Scoop into cupcake liners and bake at 350*F for 15 minutes
    9. Insert toothpick after 15 minutes, if it comes out clean then it's done!
    If there are still crumbs sticking to the toothpick, bake for about 5 more minutes.



    They say that the true test of a good cupcake is if it tastes good "naked" or without any frosting, and this recipe - although its delicious with buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache -  it still tastes fantastic without!

    Thank you Aikko, you're the best! :D

    My Cuppy Puppy Experience: A Re-Post

    Hi there! How are you? I hope you're doing spectacularly well. As for me, I've been baking. I know, I know, I should take pictures and blog about what has been keeping me up most nights (it's not Baby Z!) but I keep forgetting to take pictures of what I've baked! Let me correct that, I end up taking pictures using my mobile phone in very bad lighting conditions, making it embarrassing to post. Anyway, next time I will have to come up with a better schedule and take into consideration a proper photoshoot.

    WELL. This post is all about a basic cake deco class I joined some weeks back. The talented artist behind Cuppy Puppy Bakehouse is Chef Joanna Penaloza Romero, and I was encouraged by a friend to take her class because she is the only one who teaches the method of covering a cake with ganache and producing sharp edges in one's cakes.
    The class took place in the Cuppy Puppy Studio which was in the south, since I don't usually frequent that area I got lost and was almost late for the workshop! Chef Joanna is a beautiful, young woman who shared with us how she started in the business. She was very patient and encouraging throughout the whole class.

    Chef Joanna at far right, my classmates and I and the results of the workshop :)

    Guess what? I wasn't able to take enough photos! For a new baker like me, everything was twice as hard and I was working extra slow. Ganaching a cake is serious business. Instead, let me share with you what my finished decorated cake looked like and know that this cake was so hard to make!

    This was my cake. Not bad, right?

    Here's an Instagram photo of what the cake looked like after transport (the butterflies wings collapsed) and after a slice (I couldn't help it!). The cake was delicious! It was baked already by Chef Joanna, we just decorated it for the workshop.

    Will be posting more of my baking escapades soon! Be safe :)

    From Cupcakes to Fondant: A Re-Post

    I have been baking cupcakes like crazy. Pretty much every chance I get. When Baby Z is asleep, when my husband gets home early and won't have work the next day, every single weekend - I have baked cupcakes. Most of them have turned out to be pretty good.
    I figured I'm brave enough to try cakes. I have been spending a ridiculous amount of time salivating over cakes, there are just so many gorgeous ones (Pinterest alone has me clicking and zooming for hours).

    I enrolled in yet another class! I already missed the Basic Cakes and Icings class so I tried out the Basic Fondant Class. Here are some of the pictures!

    We used Pound cake because its sturdy and stable to hold the fondant

    Making Fondant is so incredibly messy!

    with Chef Aggy Villabona

    My cake!

    We were taught how to make Marshmallow Fondant, gum paste from scratch, and how to decorate the cake with swags and ribbons. We ended pretty late in the day, I was half-covered in flour but the cake? It was heaven in a box!

    My First Heny Sison Workshop: A Re-Post

    My first cupcakes workshop was great but I felt like it didn't dwell so much on the quality or the taste of cupcakes, instead it focused a lot more on the decorations and the cost of starting a cupcake business. Since I am new to baking, making it into a business was far from my mind. I wanted to enroll in another workshop that focused more on the taste, a class that would really break down the steps for you and show you why you had to do it a certain way.

    Lucky for me, I was able to sign up for a Heny Sison workshop. She is a renowned chef with much experience behind her and she owns a culinary school that also offers one-day courses. After attending her workshop (taught by Chef Carrie Madrid) I knew I finally hit the jackpot.


    The cupcake baking workshop was incredibly friendly to beginners like me. They tell you why you have to pre-heat your oven. What you can use to substitute certain ingredients, which icing is perfect for our hot, humid weather. Tips on how you can create moist cupcakes from scratch. It was an amazing class where I learned so much and was able to make more cupcakes of different kinds.


    The chef also talked about the importance of texture, why we have to sift our ingredients (because we want a smooth texture of course!) and why the sponge cupcake is so much fun to make (its so light and fluffy and you can make sinful Tres Leches and Tiramisu cupcakes, mmmm!) even though the sponge itself is harder to bake.
    Different kinds of chocolate cupcakes, vanilla and sponge cupcake plus different kinds of frosting!

    Before I knew it, it was already 9 in the evening and my sister and I were the last ones to leave the class. There was such a wealth of information that we were hopelessly laughing on the way home, wondering if we would be able to remember everything. No wonder Heny Sison has got a reputation for doing amazing food. They really prioritize taste more than anything else.

    My sister and her cupcake

    I love my finished cupcakes! I love how delicious they were and how everyone who tasted them said they were pretty good. I am definitely going to enroll in more of the classes taught at Heny Sison because it was truly worth it. Do you want to see what we made? Here are some of the cupcakes I brought home from the workshop :)



    They looked good and they tasted ame-hey-zing! Now I am hungry again lol.