cartoon by marc johns.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache- Cupcake Experiment #2

This is the BEST chocolate cupcake recipe that I have found, after extensive testing.  These cupcakes are moist and with a great texture.  I also love adding the mini-chocolate chips for an extra dose of chocolate.  I think it's important that they are the mini-chips because they don't leave bigger pockets of chocolate, which would make the cake too rich.  The frosting is great because it tastes very chocolate-y without being at all sweet, so it goes well with the cake that is a little sweeter (although not too sweet to eat on it's own).  This is one cupcake that goes well with a tall glass of milk!


1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners.  
2.  Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  

Light and Fluffy.
3.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until all combined.

Egg #1
Egg #2
4.  Measure out the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cocoa powder) into a separate bowl.  Whisk to combine.

Dry Ingredients. 
5.  Measure out the milk and vanilla into a third bowl and stir to combine.

Vanilla Milk (kinda like chocolate milk...?)
6.  Add about half of the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and beat to combine.

7.  Add about half of the milk and vanilla mixture and beat until combined.

8.  Continue alternating the ingredients until everything is well blended.

The rest of the dry. 
The rest of the wet.
The final batter.
9.  Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

10.  Put completed batter into muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way.

In the tin.
11.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.  Makes 12 cupcakes.  Enjoy!

Completed Cupcakes.
The Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

1/ 2 cup butter
3 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

1.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or on top of a double boiler.  

Melted Chocolate and Butter.
2.  Add the milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Let stand until it thickens.  (The longer you let it stand, the more it will thicken - this recipe can actually make frosting rather than ganache.  I wait until it is slightly thick but not frosting-thick and then I dip the cupcakes in the ganache.)
3.  Once thick enough, dip the cupcakes in the ganache.  Makes enough for 12 cupcakes.  Enjoy!

The final product.
By the way, I made this plate at Color Me Mine.
Cupcake recipe adapted from The Cupcake Project.  Chocolate Ganache recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Best Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting - Cupcake Experiment #1

Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting.
I have been baking the two basic flavors of cupcakes - chocolate and vanilla - for a while.  And I have been recording the reviews I get for each different recipe.  I call this the "Cupcake Experiment."  And I have conclusively found the best recipes for chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.  Today I share with you the BEST VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE and also the BEST VANILLA FROSTING RECIPE.  Guess what?  The recipes are simple and easy too.  You're welcome!!!  :o)

The reason this batter recipe won is because the cakes come out moist and with a lovely crumb.  The addition of sour cream to the dough really makes a difference not only in the moisture of the cake, but the sourness plays nicely with the sweet vanilla flavor.  Ultimately, when you bite into the cake, it tastes very vanilla-y.  This cake also is not that sweet, which it why it works so well with frosting on it.

The frosting won because it tastes like pure vanilla, and it isn't too sweet (in spite of all the sugar).  I use this frosting on many other desserts I bake as well.

The Cupcake Ingredients:  

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  
2.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  

Dry Ingredients.
3.  Add butter, egg, egg yolks, sour cream, and vanilla to the dry ingredients.  Beat at medium speed until well-blended.

Well-Blended Batter.
4.  Divide batter evenly into the muffin tin.  (About 2 heaping tablespoons per cupcake).

Ready to Bake.
5.  Put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden in color on top and a toothpick stuck in the middle of one comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool to room temperature before frosting.  This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.  Enjoy!!

Baked Cupcake.
The Frosting Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1.  Whip the butter, sugar, and vanilla together until a smooth creamy consistency is reached.  Makes enough to ice 12 cupcakes.  Enjoy!!

The finished product:

Twelve Vanilla-y Cupcakes!
Cupcake recipe and frosting recipe adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Caramelized Onion, Roasted Poblano, and Portobello Tacos

This recipe is delicious.  Anything with mushrooms and caramelized onions has a special place in my heart.  Add to that combination cheese and avocado, and in my opinion, it doesn't get much better.  The fire-roasted poblano peppers add a wonderful sweet smokiness to the tacos (they are not spicy at all if you remove the seeds).  Fire-roasting the peppers was pretty exciting to me (I'm a dork) because I have seen chef after chef do it on the Food Network and I had always wanted to try it.  Turns out, it really is easy, and it is also delicious - my favorite kind of food trick!  I also am a big fan of vegetarian meals that have portobello mushrooms because they have a kind of meatiness to them that prevents me from missing the meat.    

4 Portobello Mushroom Caps
3 Poblano Peppers (also known as Pasilla Peppers)
1 Red Onion, diced or sliced
White Corn Tortillas
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
2 Avocados, sliced

1.  First, roast the peppers.  Place the peppers directly on your stove-top range while the burner is set to medium-high heat.  Hold them with tongs to turn them until all sides blister and blacken.  

On the burner. 
2.  After the peppers blacken, put them immediately into a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  The wrap traps the heat from the peppers and allow the steam to loosen the skins.  Keep the peppers in the bowl until they are cool enough to touch.  

In the Bowl.
Covered and Steaming.
3.  While the peppers steam, drizzle a small amount of oil into a pan and put in the onions.  Leave on low heat and do not stir the onions very often.  (The less you stir, the better the onions will caramelize.)  Allow them to turn translucent and then turn golden.  (Tip: if you are having trouble getting the onions to caramelize, put a small sprinkle of sugar in the pan.)  Once they are done, put in a bowl and set aside.

4.  Brush the portobello caps with olive oil, then cut them into bite-size pieces.  Saute the mushrooms in the same pan used for the onions.  Saute until tender.  Set aside in a separate bowl.

5.  Take the peppers out of the bowl and using your fingers, peel the skin off them.  The skin should just slip off.

Skin peels right off.
Peeled peppers.
6.  Slice the peppers into bite-size pieces, removing the seeds. 

Sliced peppers.
7.  Serve with white corn tortillas heated over the grill.

Tortillas beginning to brown.

I served these tacos with black beans and Spanish rice.  Take a warm tortilla and put peppers, portobello, onions, sliced avocado, cheese, and salsa.  Enjoy!  This recipe makes 5-6 servings.

Taco with Sides.