Tag Archives: Recipes

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Butter Cream Frosting

5 Aug

I get pretty excited when people feel the need to share with me new cupcake recipes. So when a friend mentioned that I needed to try out one that she had used for her sister’s birthday party, I jumped up and down with joy at the thought of sinking my teeth into one of these beauties. Being half Irish myself, how could I not revel in the idea of something so historically Irish.

Guinness and Bailey’s together with chocolate? Yes please!

This recipe has been adapted from one found at Annie Eats.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

1 cup stout (Guinness)

16 tbsp. unsalted butter

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1½ tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

Combine the Guinness and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.

Add the Guinness-butter mixture and beat just to combine.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low-speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3  full.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bailey’s Ganache Filling

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

Place the chocolate in a  heat proof bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, and then pour it over the chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds).  Add the butter and Bailey’s and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped.  You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.

You can either cut a hole for the ganache or, as I did, use a piping attachment to simply poke and fill the cupcakes.

Bailey’s  Butter Cream Frosting

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated.  Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth.

Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading.

These were just as delicious as you dream they could be! The chocolate cake was moist and rich with a noticeable kick from the Guinness stout. The ganache and butter cream was lush and sweet without being overpowering. A perfect balance of some of the tastiness that Ireland has to offer.

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Making Cupcake Mistakes

30 Jun

Every once in a while, I think I know better than all the fabulous cupcake recipes out there and try to be über creative. Once or twice (or maybe more than that…..) I’ve attempted to create my own variations of cupcake batters with the hopes of stumbling upon the greatest cupcake creation ever. I assure you, this has yet to happen.

On one mundane afternoon in particular, I stood in my kitchen, looking at an overripe pineapple sitting on the counter. I thought to myself, “Oh poor little pineapple, whatever shall I do with you?” And as I usually do in these situations I decided, “Let’s make some cupcakes!!” The sad little pineapple never stood a chance….

So I searched the interwebs for an inspired yet simple vanilla cupcake recipe. I decided upon this one. It seems straight-forward enough. But being in the creative head space I found myself in that day, I allowed myself to make small little tweaks here and there.

Butter instead of shortening.

Brown sugar, just because.

And, of course, tiny little chopped up gems of pineapple for added flavour and texture.

As I peeked into the oven to watch the cupcakes rise and begin to brown with perfect little cupcake crusts, I marvelled at my savvy baking genius. I imagined just how warm and fluffy and delicious my inventive pineapple cupcakes would be. The timer dinged and now was the moment of truth!

I waited as long as I possibly, physically could to allow the little cake to cool. I couldn’t bear waiting any longer and grabbed one of my precious creations, peeled back the polka-dotted liner and took a big bite. As my lips closed around the ball of warm cupcake in my mouth, anticipating all of the pineappley goodness, I realized what I had done.

The batter was crumbly and gooey (under cooked) all at the same time. There was no pronounced flavour of pineapple…..

I had failed.

Determined to pretend like everything was alright and that I must just be imagining the failure of my cupcakes, I whipped up a quick batch of Apple Honey Butter glaze (again, without a recipe….silly me). The cupcakes accompanied me to a family dinner where they could be eaten by my continual cupcake guinea pigs (thanks Mom and Dad!)

Everyone was polite and assured me that the cupcakes were good. But I knew the truth. They were awful. The uneaten remnants sat on the counter waiting to be sampled by missing family members who were still making their way home.

So what did I learn from this failed endeavour? Recipes are there for a reason. Recipes are our friends. Not that there isn’t room for variation and creativity, but I should have made sure to account for the extra moisture in the pineapple when mixing and baking the batter. Also, as the cupcakes sat for a day or two their texture actually improved. The inside became a little more dense and the tops had a lovely, brown sugar crumble layer to them.

Mistakes happen. Even cupcake mistakes (I know, heaven forbid, right?) But I am still determined to create the most perfect pineapple cupcake. I freaking LOVE pineapple. It will probably result in a few more failures before I get there, but I just need to remember to…..

For more perfectly delicious recipes (that actually succeed!) check out Kitten Cal’s new website.

Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Coffee Whipped Cream Frosting

2 Jun

When it comes to making cupcakes for the Hubby, there is only one thing I need consider…. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

I myself enjoy some chocolate, but not to the point that this man does. If I leave chocolate in the house unattended for any length of time, you can bet that the Hubby will find it and devour it.

So every year for his birthday, I know exactly what to make to show him I care. (And it keeps the recipe searching in a minimum!)

This year it was Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Coffee Whipped Cream Frosting and Grand Marnier soaked Raspberries. Mouth-watering, yes?

Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

3/4 cup Crisco shortening

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup half-and-half cream

1 cup miniature chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line muffin pans with liners.

 

In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and vanilla, beat well. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with half and half cream to shortening mixture, beating well after each addition. Start and end with dry ingredients. Stir in mini chocolate chips just until incorporated.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cupcakes test done.

Remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely before icing.

Coffee Whipped Cream Frosting

1 cup whipping cream

1/2-3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee

Using an electric mixer, whip all three ingredients until the whipped cream is light and stiff.

Spread or pipe frosting over cooled cupcakes.

Grand Marnier Soaked Raspberries

2 or 3 cups of fresh, washed raspberries

3 tbsp Grand Marnier (or any other Orange flavoured liqueur)

Optional: White sugar. I like my raspberries to be more on the tart side, so I skip the added sugar.

Place raspberries in a medium-sized bowl and cover with the Grand Marnier. Stir gently to avoid crushing the berries.

Depending on the length of time they are left to soak, the berries will lose some juice. By all means, please use every last drop when decorating!!

These cupcakes delivered in the chocolate department. However, I did find them a touch dry. I would perhaps try melted chocolate in place of the cocoa to fluff them up a little.

The hubby loved them and promptly ate about 8 of them (that’s nothing, trust me!) Join with me in wishing him a very Happy Birthday!!

 

Confessions of a Struggling Vegetarian

1 Feb

Over the last few years I have begun to realize that the way I approach food needed to be reconsidered. They say that there are two ways to consider our relationship with food: there are those that eat to live and those who live to eat. I have definitely been a member of the latter. However, I now notice a difference in how I feel, physically and emotionally, when I eat in a conscious, healthy manner as opposed to shoving whatever is convenient into my mouth regardless of whether or not I’m actually hungry or due for a meal.

I’ve been a vegetarian for about six and half years now and its been a journey I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I know that there are many different classifications of vegetarians and I would be the type that doesn’t eat any meat (including seafood/ fish) and avoids things like gelatin. I do still eat eggs if I know exactly where they’ve come from so I can confirm that they are free range and I enjoy yogurt. However, I am lactose intolerant, so that limits my intake of dairy. I know that too many this type of lifestyle may seem extreme and to others I’m not taking my dedication to the craft of vegetarianism far enough, but this is where I’m comfortable and this where I plan on remaining. And while abiding to such a reduced diet it may appear as though I eat nothing but lettuce and tofu…. I assure you, there are still many ways to be an unhealthy vegetarian.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

My years spent working in fast food at McDonald’s (where I was not vegetarian) and Starbucks (which is slightly more meat free but still filled with calories) I was constantly surrounded by less than ideal meal choices. Now I could have been disciplined and stuck to packing my lunch at home or only ordering salads and non-sweetened ice teas, but this would have required will power. So I indugled on a regular, and sometimes daily, basis. This combined with grocery stores full of convenient meal options and my lack of understanding as to what constituted a suitable and healthy meal lead me to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Luckily, I have been doing my homework over the last few years and here are a few ideas that I have begun to incorporate into my daily eating habits and weekly meal planning… even if its only occasionally instead of consistently.

1. Eating seasonally/ locally

At my request, my sister bought me a cookbook for Christmas lat year. Its called Clean Food by Terry Walters. This has been a wonderful guide to learning about what our bodies need from season to season and what to look for when shopping for fruits and vegetables. It makes sense that in the winter we crave hearty, filling vegetables while in the summer we prefer light and refreshing berries. This is what our body needs!! While I have not yet embraced all of Terry’s philosophies concerning cleaning eating (ie adjusting the alkalinity of all my foods…) and not being prepared to make an extra trip to another supermarket when I can’t find wakame or Bragg liquid aminos, I have enjoyed the idea of looking for foods that grow during a specific season and creating new recipes with them. The other component of this is eating locally. As much as I possibly can (because bananas don’t grow in BC and I do have a profound love for green grapes!!) I try to only buy produce that is grown and distributed within a reasonable distance of the lower mainland. To ensure that it is fresh, this means that growers can only distribute produce that is in season. BC grown strawberries in the summer beat out Californian strawberries in the winter every time! And while I try to buy locally when I can, the other challenge that comes along with this is…

2. Eating organically

Part of the reason I decided to become a vegetarian was because of the ethical and environmental concerns that are raised by the factory farming industry. Included in this is the impact that pesticides have had on us as consumers for numerous decades now. If I can put food in my body that is beneficial instead of harmful, why wouldn’t I? By a general rule, its best to buy organically, in terms of produce, when the fruit or vegetable will be eaten with the skin on or are leafy in nature. Think apples, grapes and peppers or lettuce and spinach. For more info… Again, this isn’t something I adhere to every single time I shop, but I’m aware of what I should be looking for and if its available and reasonably priced, I’m always going to choose organic over regular produce. Also, thoroughly washing your fruits and veggies once you get them home is a must!!

3. Frozen fruit/ veggies are our friends!!

I have learned to embrace the convenience of these tiny little powerhouses. Because they are frozen directly after harvesting, most frozen produce retains a good amount of their nutrients in comparison to their fresh counterparts. So steamed peas as a side dish? Yum!!

4. Processed food ARE the enemy

While this adjustment has only been recent, I do try to avoid heavily processed foods. Don’t get me wrong, I still indulge in the occasional fast food veggie burger with onion rings from time to time, but I DO NOT feel as good afterwards. The amount of preservatives and sodium in processed food are way too hard on our bodies and the long term effects just aren’t worth it for me. When I go to the grocery store, I do my best to only shop the perimeter. Avoiding the junk packed middle isles is helping me to resist the temptation of sugar and chemical laden foods.

5. Trying new alternatives while cooking/baking can be delicious!

Apple sauce instead of oil in muffins or spices instead of salt in chili? Totally better for you and tastes just as good, if not better! I love to cook and bake (this alone has probably help to fuel my interest in healthy foods) and trying out new recipes is a favourite past time. If there is a way to reduce calories or to add an extra fruit (hello Banana and Kiwi muffins!) then lets do it up!! Healthy eating can be fun.

As I have mentioned numerous times, these are not ideas that I have fully mastered. But knowing the difference between good food choices and better food choices are helping me to create a new relationship with food. Am I still tempted by a bag of Salt and Vinegar chips washed down with a Diet (full of Aspartame) Pepsi? You bet and I will indulge from time to time. But do I consistently choose an apple or a cup of tea on a regular basis now? Yep!! Even if its slowly incorporating a new healthy habit into your day from week to week (or month to month…sometimes it takes awhile and that’s ok!) a few healthy habits are better than none 🙂

Happy eating dear friends!