thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

Boston Cream Cupcakes

A friend of mine was having a homemade pizza party at his house, and I can’t resist an opportunity to bake something new ūüôā ¬†Since this friend also got me the “Best-Ever Recipes, Special Collector’s Edition” from America’s Test Kitchen, I decided to make something from that book.
There are a ton of variations on Boston Cream Cupcakes out there on the internet Рyou can easily google one.  But this recipe is now tried-and-true! So feel free to swipe it.

Pastry Cream
1-1/3 C heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/3 C sugar
pinch of salt
4 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into 2 chunks
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cupcakes
1-3/4 C flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 C sugar
12 Tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temp, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 C milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze
3/4 C heavy cream
1/4 C light corn syrup
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

For the pastry cream. ¬†Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. ¬†Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. ¬†Add the cornstarch and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick (~<1 min). ¬† When the cream reaches a full simmer, slowly whisk it into the yolk mixture. ¬†Return the mix to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and glossy. ¬†(It should start to look like pudding – cause that’s about what it is!)¬†Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. ¬†Transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl and refrigerate, with plastic wrap, until cold and set (at least 2 hours).

For the cupcakes.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray, or coat with crisco and shake with flour.  (I made one 12-tin of large cupcakes and almost 2 full tins of mini muffins Рthe mini muffins were much easier to eat and went much faster Рjust a thought!)  With a mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar on low in a large bowl.  Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until combined.  Add the milk and vanilla, increase the speed to medium, and mix until light and fluffy with no lumps.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake until the center is done (toothpick test!), about 20 minutes.  Cool in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze.  Cook the cream, corn syrup, chocolate, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth.  Set aside to cool, about 30 minutes.  Note: This made a TON of saucy glaze, you might want to cut this down quite a bit, depending on your preference for chocolate.

Assembly. ¬†Insert the tip of a small knife at a 45-degree angle about 1/8″ from the edge and cut all the way around, removing a cone of cake. ¬†Cut away all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone, leaving only a small disk of cake. ¬†Fill each cupcake with ~2 Tbsp of the pastry cream and top with the disk of cake. ¬†Set them on a wire rack over parchment (I just glazed them on the dish I was using, less mess…sort of). ¬†Spoon ~2 Tbsp of glaze over each cupcake, allowing it to drip down the sides. ¬†Refrigerate until set (~10 min…or not) and serve!!

 

These went over so well – the mini muffins were definitely better-received than the larger ones, they were just easier to eat (very bite-sized). ¬†This is a super easy recipe that will impress a crowd, just plan enough time to get it all done – maybe 2 hours or so? ¬†But it’s well worth it!!

 

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Dinner Party!

I love having people over for dinner – it gives me a chance to try new recipes (especially desserts!) and share my love of cooking. Every time I do this, I am reminded of how much I can’t wait till I get my double-oven – because cooking with one oven is just insanity. ¬†Yet I continue…

This time it was dinner for some of the Mr.’s friends, i.e. guys. ¬†And what do guys love? ¬†Meat and Potatoes! ¬†So tonight’s menus is: (appetizer) artichoke dip with french bread, (meat) French Onion Salisbury Steak, (sides) mashed potatoes/brussels with bacon and bleu cheese, and drumroll (dessert): flourless mini chocolate cakes with chocolate ganache and raspberries. ¬†Wow – these things were so easy to make, and just heavenly.

Ingredients (from Better Homes and Gardens):
Cocoa Powder
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened, broken into chunks
1/3 cup Kahlua (or equivalent)
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup whipping cream
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
raspberries

Directions:
*Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease custard cups, line with wax paper, then grease the wax paper.  Dust with cocoa powder.
(Hmm, I wish I had read this a little more carefully. ¬†I did not have custard cups, so I used a silpat cupcake pan, and sprayed it with Pam…worked just the same. ¬†But forgot the cocoa dust completely.)¬†

*In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a mixer until thick (5-7 minutes). ¬†Add Liquer and butter and beat until blended (it will look a little lumpy/curdled, that’s ok). ¬†Add melted chocolate and vanilla, continue mixing till combined. ¬†Pour batter into the cake mold and bake about 20 minutes, then cool on rake for 20-30 min.

*When you’re ready to serve, make the ganache. ¬†In a small pan, bring the whipping cream to just a boil. ¬†Remove from heat and add in the chocolate (I use chips) – do not stir. ¬†Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir, and let cool for 10 minutes.

*If you use the individual cakes, feel free to serve from them.  Top with the ganache and raspberries.

 

I made these and started eating before I thought to take a photo!! ¬†But if you ask me, it still looks darn delicious… ¬†Enjoy!!

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Super Bowl Food

We hosted a small Super Bowl party this year and I love any excuse to try out new recipes and cook for people (and nothing like posting a month or so later :-p)!! Some of these things I’ve made before (the ham-and-cheese tart, Texas Caviar Salsa), but the dessert portion of this night was incredible – this stuff is so addicting, I couldn’t keep my hand out of it (I had plenty of leftovers and took it to work the next day – they also agreed it was like crack – and delicious!).

I made homemade Twix bars. ¬†This is a time-consuming dish, but really pretty easy. ¬†I got the recipe from Annie’s Eats (http://annies-eats.com/2011/09/09/salted-caramel-chocolate-shortbread-bars/) – one of my favorite websites is TasteSpotting.com – and I get a lot of my food ideas there. ¬†When I made these, I stuck the pan in the freezer between layers to help it chill/set. ¬†When you slice it and put the candies on a plate, keep in mind as they come to room temperature they will get gooey (really gooey). ¬†So maybe keep them on ice, or hold a few back in the fridge when you need to replenish the plate. ¬†It make a *ton* so be prepared to feed a lot of people, or have a backup plan. ¬†Here’s some pics of the food – and the recipe follows…

Texas Caviar (mmm, salsa!!)

Bowl’o’Fruit

Ham and Cheese Tart

Salted Chocolate Shortbread Bars (see recipe below)

Anyway – the recipe:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Yield: about 5 dozen small bars

INGREDIENTS

For the shortbread layer:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¬ľ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¬Ĺ cup sugar

For the caramel layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. light corn syrup
¬Ĺ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  • To make the shortbread layer, preheat¬†the oven to 325¬į F. ¬†Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. ¬†In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside. ¬†In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes. ¬†With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. ¬†Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. ¬†Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden. ¬†(If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.) ¬†Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. ¬†Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. ¬†Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. ¬†Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly. ¬†Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly. ¬†Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set. ¬†(I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added.)
  • To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. ¬†Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. ¬†Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. ¬†Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel. ¬†Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.
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Been gone, too long…

Sooo sorry that I haven’t been around! ¬†The last few weeks have been busy ones, and really, I haven’t felt much like posting. ¬†But I’m back! ¬†I have about 5 posts in the queue and I will try to get them finished up this week so I at least have things to post, even when I don’t feel like it.

Today, however, I felt like making cupcakes!! ¬†Really, I have since Christmas – my cousin’s girlfriend made cake balls using strawberry cake mix and they were heavenly. ¬†So when I got back home I went straight to the store and got strawberry cake mix. ¬†And there it sat in my pantry for 2+ months. ¬†*sigh – I need to be better about baking!!!

Anyway, today sounded like a great day for cupcakes (I know my husband’s office-mates love when I bake, they usually are the benefactors). ¬†But since it’s really just a mix from a box, with a little icing, I thought “what can I do to make these a little more special?” ¬†Idea!! ¬†I had some leftover melting chocolate from Christmas and decided I would make chocolate strawberries to top the cupcakes with. ¬†As it turns out, I can’t draw a strawberry with icing to save my life ūüôā ¬†but the general idea comes through and they look pretty good. ¬†And they’re very tasty!!

The easiest way to do this is lay out a sheet of wax paper. ¬†Melt a few of the chocolates in a ziploc bag (30-40 second intervals so you don’t burn the chocolate). ¬†Then pipe it onto the wax paper and stick it in the fridge to harden. ¬†Then, eat the rest of the melted chocolate out of the ziploc bag, because, well, it’s spectacular. ¬† When you assemble the cupcake, stick a knife in the middle to make a space for the chocolate to go – otherwise you will break the chocolates (good thing I made extra!!!)

 

 

Then, for dinner, I made an open-faced steak sammich. ¬†We originally had this in an Irish place a while ago, and I’ve made it twice since. ¬†It’s really messy, but delicious!! (And super easy – do I ever make anything not easy?? ūüôā )

I bought a big chunk of flank steak and only used half of it.  Salt and pepper on each side, then broiled on High ~5-6 minutes on each side (turning twice).  Then I cut off a few slices of bread and lightly broiled them.

I sautéed a few slices of white onion in a little butter, then made a gravy.  Now the gravy is the only complicated part of this Рand I had to make it twice, since I screwed it up the first time :-p  Mix a little dark beer (you only need a cup or so) with some flour, then cook on low until it thickens (should happen pretty quick Рif it gets too thick, add a little water or more beer to thin).  It will have a slightly dull taste to it, so you will probably need to add some salt and pepper to it to taste.

To assemble the sandwich РLay the bread on a plate, top with a few pieces of Romaine lettuce.  Slice the steak very thin, then layer on the lettuce.  Add on the onion pieces, drizzle on some gravy, and top with blue cheese.  Delicious!!

 

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Christmas Cookies – Part I

I am carrying on my mom’s tradition of making large amounts of cookies and giving them out to people. ¬†I did this a couple of years ago and completely skipped last year. ¬†So ¬†trying again this year and am pleased with the results thus far!! ¬†I’m not posting step-by-steps of what I’m making, but I will try to share the links and am happy to answer questions. ¬†I baked for about 8 or 9 hours today – a lot of that was waiting on the oven though, or waiting on stuff to chill/shape/mix/facebook/etc. ¬†Tomorrow shouldn’t take nearly as long and I will post pictures of the final trays. ¬†So, without further ado, here are my Christmas Cookies, Part I!!

What chef is complete without their chef’s pants!! (Or, in my case, my WVU jammies ūüôā ) ¬†I figured I should be comfortable while spending 8 hours in the kitchen.

The first thing I made were mints Рthey were a lot easier to make after I re-read the directions and figured out what 3 oz of cream cheese really was :-p  I ended up making them about 195 of them out of one turn; I made them bite-sized so had a few more than the recipe called for.  I found them on Pinterest, but I have had the recipe in my collection for a while.
http://kitchentrialanderror.blogspot.com/2011/05/creamy-mints.html

 

The next thing I made I *definitely* found on Pinterest – and it’s so simple and easy, and they turned out so cute!!
http://www.freefunchristmas.com/christmas-recipes/christmas-santa-hat-pretzels/

I used about half a bag of melting chocolates and made about 70 of these, and had chocolate left over.

 

 

This is another new recipe that I tried – and of all the things I made, I have yet to eat any of them (well, I had one bite of one cookie, because I wasn’t sure how it turned out – which wasn’t bad – but that’s probably all I’ll have). ¬†This is another Martha Stewart recipe (love me some Martha!) and other than the melty chocolate being a mess, they were really easy to make.
http://marzipanmom.blogspot.com/2009/12/2-days-till-christmas-chocolate-crackle.html

Tony wanted some m&m cookies – I tried two different recipes, and he prefers one over the other, but I’m not super-thrilled with how they turned out. ¬†One, it was hard to find the Christmas m&ms – so I used Cadbury chocolates which were much bigger and more awkward. ¬†But since Tony ate them, and he doesn’t like sweets, then I guess they are a win ūüôā


The last thing I made today is an old family recipe – cherry-filled bon-bons! ¬†I am not a fan (cherries, and all), but they do give the plate a lot of color ūüôā ¬†I’m not too sure I’m going to give this recipe out ūüėČ

 

 

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of the cookie goodness!!!

 

 

 

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