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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chocolate RumChata Cupcakes

When a friend asked me to make him cupcakes for his birthday using chocolate and RumChata, I was thrilled to get another chance to bake with RumChata. I had previously made these RumChata Coconut Cupcakes, but I wasn't 100 percent happy with the outcome. I think the pairing of coconut and RumChata came out too sweet. I wanted a do-over. I decided to make a chocolate cupcake, filled with a whipped RumChata white chocolate, and topped with a RumChata cinnamon cream cheese. These cupcakes were awesome! They were not overly sweet, and everyone loved them.

Chocolate RumChata Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, beat together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water with a hand mixer on medium-high speed. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 18–22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.

Whipped RumChata White Chocolate Ganache
Ganache inspired by Smitten Kitchen
4 oz. white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream (minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons RumChata

Place white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream and RumChata in a small saucepan until hot and simmering. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Stir until silky and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes. With a hand mixer, beat ganache on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.


Cinnamon RumChata Cream Cheese Frosting
4oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
3–4 cups powdered sugar
2–4 tablespoons RumChata
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time and RumChata one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add cinnamon and beat well.

RumChata Coconut Cupcakes

When I was asked to make another RumChata cupcake, I realized I never blogged the first ones I made. For those of you who aren't familiar with RumChata, it's a cinnamon cream liqueur. I think it tastes like rice pudding or close to Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. A friend of mine asked me to make her RumChata cupcakes with coconut for her birthday. I could not figure out how to mix the two flavors. I came up with a RumChata vanilla cupcake, filled with whipped coconut white chocolate ganache, and topped with RumChata buttercream. The result was a sweet cupcake with flavors of RumChata and coconut. I wasn't thrilled with how sweet the cupcakes came out, but they were delicious. I vowed to rock a do-over.

RumChata Cupcakes
Cupcakes inspired by Melissa Bakes 

1 stick butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup RumChata

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners.In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.Turn mixer to low and alternately add flour mixture and Rumchata in three additions, ending with flour.Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.Cool completely on a wire rack and top with your favorite icing.


Whipped Coconut White Chocolate Ganache
Ganache inspired by Smitten Kitchen

4 oz. white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Place white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream and coconut extract in a small saucepan until hot and simmering. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Stir until silky and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes. With a hand mixer, beat ganache on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.





Rumchata Buttercream
1 stick butter (room temperature)
2–3 cups powdered sugar
3–4 tablespoons RumChata

Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and RumChata one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cherry Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet are one of my favorite cupcakes behind coconut, of course! They are tangy, moist, and delicious. They are also one of my good friend's favorites. This year for her birthday she asked me to jazz up my red velvet recipe up with cherries.The result was a tangy red velvet cupcake with a hint of cherry flavor, a cherry surprise in the center, and cherry-scented cream cheese frosting on top. I thought they might be too sweet, but they turned out perfect! Just about everyone loved them and declared them their new favorite! If you like cherry and red velvet, you have to try these!

Cherry Velvet Cupcakes
Source: adapted from Cakeman Raven as seen on Food Network

2 and 1/2 cups cake flour (I used AP and replaced 5 tablespoons with cornstarch.)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 tablespoons cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)

1 teaspoon almond extract
24–48 maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 24 cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder and set aside. 
In another bowl beat together buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vegetable oil, food coloring, cherry juice, and almond extract on medium speed until blended.
Slowly add flour mixture and beat until combined.
Drop 1 or 2 cherries in the middle of each cupcake before baking.
Fill liners about 3/4 full and bake for 16 - 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Cherry-Scented Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. block cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
5–6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons almond extract
2 to 4 tablespoons cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)
a few drops of red or pink food coloring

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add almond extract and cherry juice. With mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add food coloring and beat well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Healthy Cherry-Almond Oatmeal Bars

We have been eating healthier for some time now. I don't bake much, except for special occasions. I've been trying some healthy recipes. This recipe for oatmeal bars looked good, but it was just okay. It lacked flavor. I think it would be much better with the addition of honey or some spices.


Healthy Cherry-Almond Oatmeal Bars
Source: adapted from Kath Eats Real Food

1.5 cups rolled oats 
(I used quick cooking oats.)
1/2 cup almonds 
(or cashews, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)
1/2 cup dried cherries 
(or raisins, cranberries, dates, figs, etc.)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds 
(or chia, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, etc.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk (I used almond milk.)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 X 9 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour into pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
Let cool before cutting.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Recipe Remake: Coconut Banana Muffins

These were one of the first recipes that I made and posted to my blog in 2009. They were a mess the first time I made them. I burned the tops and they were underdone on the inside. I finally got around to remaking these. They were perfect this time, sweet, moist, and delicious, and I didn't burn the tops! I think they would be even better with the addition of white chocolate chips.













Coconut Banana Muffins
Source: slightly adapted from Epicurious

1 and 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
1 stick butter (melted and slightly cooled)
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, mix together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, coconut extract, and 1/2 cup flaked coconut with a spoon until well combined.
Fold flour mixture into banana mixture until flour is just moistened.
(You can mix in 1/2 cup white chocolate chips at this point, if using.)
Fill liners two-thirds full and sprinkle with remaining coconut.
Bake until golden brown for 18 to 22 minutes.
Cool muffins on a rack.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beer-Simmered Beef Roast

My husband and I love beer. Not just any old domestic, however, but specialty, craft beers. We especially enjoy local beers and have been blessed with a handful of small craft breweries in our area. One of our favorites is Nimble Hill Brewing Company, which offers tastings at its wine/beer tasting room in Tunkhannock. Did I mention they started as a winery? They have great wine as well. If you're ever in the area, you should check them out! 

We always bring home a growler when we visit the tasting room (in addition to a few bottles of wine). Growlers of beer only are fresh for several hours. I've been told they can last longer, but I have yet to find one that lasts more than a day. This time, we took home a growlette (a half-sized growler) of their lager (Flinke Hugel) and their porter (Midnight Fuggle). If you mix them, you get black and tan (Midnight Flinke). Their porter is my favorite. It's smooth with hints of coffee and chocolate. It's the best porter I have tasted.We were unable to finish our growlettes this particular day, so instead of dumping the almost-flat beer down the drain (I know it's a sin to waste beer!), we used it to make beer-simmered beef roast. Along with the beer, I added onion soup mix, garlic, black pepper, and mushrooms. The results were heavenly. The beer complemented the other flavors to yield a perfectly tender roast with a slight beer flavor.

Beer-Simmered Beef Roast

4-pound beef roast (any cut)
1 package dry onion soup mix
1.5 cups dark beer such as a lager, stout, or porter (I used Nimble Hill Midnight Flinke, a black and tan.)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1–2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup mushrooms (chopped)

Sear beef roast on all sides.
Whisk together onion soup mix, beer, pepper, and garlic.
Transfer roast to a slow cooker and dump beer mixture over roast.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Add mushrooms during the last 2 hours of cook time.
Optional: Strain the beef drippings to make gravy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

One Banana Banana Bread

I had a hankering for banana bread, but I only had one ripe banana. After a quick search online, I found an easy recipe. I decided to change it up a bit to make it a bit healthier. I swapped half of the butter for unsweetened applesauce, added ground flax seed, cut the sugar in half, and added a handful of chocolate chips. I know, chocolate is not healthy, but it does contain antioxidants! The bread was so moist and delicious. It was perfectly sweet, and the flax seeds added some texture. Next time I will sub all the butter for applesauce and omit the chocolate chips.

One Banana Banana Bread
Source: Adapted from What A Crock!

1 large ripe banana (mashed)
1 egg with enough milk to make 1 cup of liquid (I used unsweetened almond milk.)
1/2 stick stick butter (melted and cooled slightly)
1/8 cup (2 oz.) unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. (No need to flour pan.)
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix everything with your hands until combined.
Mix in chocolate chips (if using).
Pour batter into pan.
Optional: I sprinkled the top with ground flax seeds.
Bake 50 to 55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.