Monthly Archives: April 2008

Chocolate Mousse

Ah, chocolate. How I love you so. When i was down, you lifted me right up, and my oversized rearend would like to thank you for it.

When someone calls and says, “I want something unique for my bridal shower” i don’t immediately think “oh, cupcakes, of course!” because they just aren’t unique anymore. they’re everywhere now. I even have a cupcake tattoo (along with hordes of other people I’ve seen on the interweb) and I’ve seen cupcake clothing, gear, accessories, shape-sorter toys and the like to the point of it almost being silly. But, I digress. Most of my business is cupcakes so they will always have a special place in my heart.

One of the first things I thought of for this bridal shower were delicate white chocolate cups with a wonderfully light and airy mousse inside that would be topped off with either a sprinkling of fresh berries or a fanned strawberry, whichever looks prettier when i go to buy the fruit. It’s probably a no-no to be posting my recipe here but so many people screw up chocolate mousse that I’m not going to worry about it. I have plenty of patience in the kitchen so it happens to be one of the things that i do well. That and souffle. Plus, i am actually letting her taste three different chocolate mousses (meece?) from three different price ranges and she will get to choose. The one featured here is the cheapest.

I should also add that this recipe uses RAW EGGS. Salmonella alert! There it is. If you missed it, don’t come crying to me that you got sick. Grow a stronger stomach.

First, get a bag of white chocolate and micro it in a heatproof bowl for one minute. Oh yeah, i said micro. you can do the double boiler thing if you want, but i like to save time, energy, and my elbows by just nuking it. It does NOT change the flavor. Stir the holy crap out of it until it is smooth and shiny. Now get to work!

Put about a tablespoon into each muffin tin that has been lined with a paper cup. I was all ready here to use this fancy-ass pastry brush from Wilton’s new line of merch but i ended up just using the back of the spoon i was working with. Soooooo much easier. Oh, i also put these into my silicon cups that are heart-shaped. I thought it would be nice for a bridal shower. My only issue with these is the fill line that gets molded into each cup. Maybe they won’t notice. You can use paper cups, though.

As you can see my fancy shmancy pastry brush just ended up as another chew toy for my terrier, um toddler.

Put them in the freezer for like an hour, then take them out, re-micro the white stuff and use your brush to put on another layer of it. Freeze for an hour again. Now you are ready to fill with this wonderful concoction:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 large eggs, separated

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream, very cold

1/2 tsp vanilla

Put the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl and microwave for one minute. Stir until smooth. Let cool for a bit. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until mixture is smooth and shiny. Set aside.

Whip egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar, then beat till soft peaks form, then add 1/4 cup of sugar, then beat til somewhat stiff peaks form. This will take about 5-7 minutes. It will be gloriously shiny and yummy tasting, almost like marshmallow. Set aside, preferably in icebox to chill until the whipped cream is ready.

In chilled bowl, i used my kitchen-aid, of course, that i had in the freezer for five minutes, place heavy cream and beat until it starts to thicken. Add the two Tbsp of sugar and the vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

Now it is time to assemble. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. I said gently! Now, because of the cream of tartar it will not fall as badly when warmed but still. Lighten up the color a bit. Then add the whipped cream mixture and gently fold until it is all combined and fluffy. Gently! Geez, what are you a viking? You want to be careful not to mix the air right out of this one.

I’ll admit, it takes a certain type of person to make mousse and I’m NOT that person, so if i can do it, so can YOU! You can either use a pastry bag with the 1M tip for a cool look or you can use a 3 oz ice cream scoop but do something to make it look pretty. Top with either fresh berries or a fanned out strawberry.

I’m also going to add that these aren’t very good two days later. I don’t know why, they just weren’t. The mousse didn’t stay very fluffy at all, so eat them the day you make them, or the day after. Still chocolatey, still yummy, just not mousse-ey. Enjoy!

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Just Desserts going vegan?

Nah…but I am going to dabble. Okay, here’s the deal.

Over a year ago my daughter decided she was done eating things that were once alive. She was surfing the web one day and came across the infamous PETA video of minks being skinned alive so that J-Lo may wear their precious fur. She was inconsolable. She said it made her feel guilty, and honestly, like she wanted to throw up all the meat she ever ate in her life. I supported her and tried to make things that i could easily set aside a portion of before i threw the meat into. You know, spaghetti, stir fry, that type of thing. I ended up buying her pre-made vegetarian stuff that while tasty, was not nearly as healthy as it should have been. She informed me that she wanted to do it the healthy way so i told her to go look at my cookbooks, since i have an arsenal of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks from my days as a person who once gave a crap about the environment.

That was so long ago, almost 8 years since i gave it up. Like all new vegetarians, i armed myself with the PETA starter kit-complete with stickers and a list of things that would be different if people would stop eating meat- and a brand new attitude about the sanctity of life. I was ready to be a good vegetarian, to have a plant-based, peace loving life.

I was shot down by about every single stinking person i came into contact with. I got laughed at, called names, had burger patties thrown at me. Yes, these were actual adults stooping to this level of childishness. I worked in a restaurant and no one there had any patience for a person like me. I was basically against everything they stood for, i suppose. I started to question the aforementioned sanctity of life thinking, “if i shanked one of these jagoffs, would anyone notice? Really?”

Anyhow, I was a vegetarian for quite a few years. I went vegan for about 8 months but I became skeletal because of my work schedule as well as my finances. I was too busy to make things and too broke to buy things pre-made. There was just nothing i could eat so i started eating cheese again and after about a month’s worth of shakes from Steak and Shake, i gained all my lovely weight back. Hooray!

I then met my now husband. He thought it was ‘cute’ that i didn’t eat meat so he tried to have meatless frozen dinners for when i would come to visit. Mmmm. Yummy. Not! When we moved in together, we settled into those sickeningly domestic roles of “I’ll cook and clean, you mow and take out the garbage.” It got too difficult to make two separate meals so i gave in and started eating flesh again. Fast forward almost 8 years and I’m ready to make my move against meat.

As you may have read in an earlier post, my hubby and i started the Nutri-system diet and i have chosen the vegetarian option as a precursor. I have many reasons for doing this. One of them is that my toddler won’t touch meat no matter how i cook it. She chews it, then spits it out. Another reason is my middle child pretty much goes with the flow and as long as there’s food, she’ll eat it. Myself, well, I’ve always been lactose intolerant so cheese hurts, as does a milkshake. I’m wheat intolerant, too, but that one i’ll deal with accordingly. I think the main reason is that whole environmental thing. Going green. You can’t avoid it anymore. Even celebrities are like “i like meat and all, but if it helps get Obama elected, I’ll stop” or whatever lame reasoning those creeps have. I don’t even care anymore, as long as people start doing something. Anything, really. I even called my garbage company and asked for two more recycle bins because i know i can throw more stuff in there and NOT in the local landfill.

I’m listening to my beautiful, wonderful Edward Norton narrate and host a program on channel eleven that i am DVRing to watch later. He’s talking about our country going to shit. Depressing. He said “it’s not enough to do just one thing anymore, we have to do more, but if only one thing is what you’re willing to do, then stop with those little plastic grocery bags. Many countries have banned them already. Why not us, also?” I love him.

Vegan is definitely the ultimate goal, or at least mostly vegan so i bought an arsenal of books online tonight, all of which i have posted in my blog for you to look at and then go purchase for yourselves.

Here’s a link to cupcakes made by my friend Natalie. They are vegan cookies and creme and i think she did a nice looking job, don’t you? you should tell her so. Chicks love compliments. And presents.

Vegan Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

So this will conclude my post on hopefully going vegan. My only issue will be dealing with all the extra gas from all those delicious veggies. I’m gonna have to buy up some stock in beano. Ahem.



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Filed under baking, chocolate, cupcake, dessert, vegan, vegetarian

Update coming soon…

Thanks for being so patient with me, i know i haven’t written in a while. My ultimate goal is to post twice a week, include lots of pictures and complain diligently about how terrible i am at my chosen path in life- food preparation for others. I have a few personal issues to work out but once those are done, I’m all yours!

Coming up- My daring bakers challenge. I know we aren’t allowed to post any details about it until the end of the month, so that stinks, but fear not! It will be sooooooooooo worth it.

I have a tasting Friday. For a young lady’s bridal shower coming up in August, she would like to try my edible white chocolate cups with chocolate mousse and fresh berries on top. I’m going to present it on my stackable cake plates of course, with whatever flowers she likes (in her wedding colors, also) placed appropriately in between all to resemble a beautiful shower cake. It will be awesome.

In a few weeks, i have a bridal shower with an English tea party theme, also with an advice theme. She’s asked me to make flags for some of the cuppies that say things like “don’t go to bed angry” and blah blah blah. I actually picked out a few more risque ones, but I’m not going to tell her. She’ll get a kick out of them. I’m also going to make lemon angel food cupcakes, as well as banana walnut, cappuccino chip, and carrot all in mini cupcake form. did i mention i will also be doing her scones, devonshire cream, and cucumber finger sammies? she’s a good friend, so i figured why not. If you wanna pay me to make gnome food, cool. I’m down with that.

I also have a few orders for mother’s day. I hope i get to see my own mommy, as i will be working that day, bringing food to other people’s mothers at one of my other jobs. ( i currently hold three part time jobs)

Here’s what I’m working on for tomorrow…

raspberry cupcakesMy best friend is going to bring two half dozens of my favorite flavors to the doctors office where he and i both know people but I’m too shy to do my own dirty work. i guess in this area of my life, i have a tiny self-esteem issue when there was not one before. I’ll get over it but until then, he can be a trooper and help me out.

The first one is a chocolate cupcake filled with raspberry ganache and topped with chocolate raspberry buttercream. The recipe is as follows but to be honest, you can use which ever your favorite is because the real star of this show is the ganache you plop inside right before baking, and of course the frosting. Mmmm….i can almost taste them now…

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup buttermilk

Oven at 350. Line pan with paper liners. Mix dry stuff in one bowl, mix wet stuff in bowl, minus the buttermilk. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk into butter mixture until smooth. Scoop batter into pan.

I would highly recommend having the ganache made and hardened already before you get started on the cupcakes, but hey, if you like wasting your oven’s precious time, knock yourself out.

Easiest ganache ever

3/4 heavy whipping cream

8 oz semi sweet choc chips

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp raspberry liqueur (don’t worry, the cheap stuff is fine here, don’t run out and buy a $40 bottle of chambord for this. I bought a $7.99 bottle of creme diCassis and it was fabulous. razzmatazz works fine here also.)

Basically, heat the cream over low to medium heat until it is nice and warm. Take it off the heat and stir in those chips. Keep stirring! What are you stopping for!? They need to get smooth and shiny and then you can add your vanilla and liqueur. Now, you get to wait. resist the urge to eat half the bowl like i did the first time i made this. Since you will be filling cupcakes with it, you need to put it in the fridge for an hour. Let it get nice and stiff. Oh, yeah. If you don’t, then when you go to glob it into your cupcake batter, it will fall to the bottom and instead of cuppies filled with ganache, you have some sort of black-bottomed nonsense that i don’t particularly approve of. If you want my recipe for black-bottomed cupcakes, let me know. These aren’t them, so don’t screw this up.

Once it’s hard, grab your one ounce ice cream scooper and get scoopin’. Don’t drop the stuff, place it nicely on top of the batter, otherwise it will fall and blah blah blah read previous paragraph. Oh, and you won’t need the entire scoop filled with the ganache. You can i guess, that would make these super chocolatey though and while i have no problem with that, well, you’re also going to be frosting these, so ease up, all right?

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. My oven defies the laws of physics and things seem to cook stupid fast so pay attention to your stove. you’ll see the ganache sink and a few minutes later, they’ll be done. About 20-25, like i said. Let them cool for 5 in the pan, then cool completely before frosting.

The frosting is basic chocolate buttercream mixed with a tbsp of seedless raspberry jam and garnished with a frozen, thawed raspberry. The raspberry tends to release a bit of liquid that drips down over the frosting and looks absolutely amazing. I mean you see it and you just have to have it, like when i see a new MAC lipglass in some ugly color of purple.

So here they are. I can’t imagine a bunch of overweight office types NOT liking these, but one of these days, i may actually be surprised by human behaviour. I doubt it though.

I had every intention of publishing the other flavor of cupcake i did tonight that my friend will be bringing to the dentist office but i’m stinking tired. You understand, right? When i get up in the am, this will be the first thing on my to-do list, i promise! Cappuccino chip cupcakes…mmm…

Dream about them until then!

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Strawberry cupcakes, why do i bother?

So Mia’s birthday was last week, but they aren’t having her party until next week because of the crummy not-spring like weather we are currently having. However, yesterday was not too bad, and today will be even better, i hear. Mia is the daughter of one of my best friends in the whole wide world, Britt. Britt and i moved to Las Vegas together. Let’s just say we’ve been through a lot as friends and there’s one thing in particular that she did for me that only a true friend would do, so i will always keep her in my life. Please don’t ask what it was, suffice it to say that it was the equivalent of holding someone’s hair back when they’re puking.

I decided that since Britt was the one who got me the happy cupcake feet for my birthday, i would test them out on her daughter. I was going to make delicious strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Yum! What kid wouldn’t like those? And even better, i was going to shape out to look like a caterpillar, and put candy on them. Mia’s dentist, beware!

So if you have read any of my other posts, you know that i have tried out about 6 different strawberry cupcake recipes in search of one that blows me away. Honestly, they’ve all been pretty lame. This one is my seventh attempt. I used the vanilla cupcake recipe from this book but halved it because i only wanted twelve. The recipe is as follows, with my notes and comments, of course.

1 stick butter, soft

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

*1 tsp strawberry extract

*1/2 package strawberry gelatin

*1/2 cup frozen, thawed, chopped strawberries

*this means it wasn’t in the original recipe, i threw it in there

I put the oven at 350, mixed wet, then dry, then mixed it all together, then baked them for 19 minutes. They came out nice and pink and smelled wonderful but there was not even one extra so i couldn’t taste them. I used this very basic recipe for strawberry cream cheese frosting to put on top.

1 pack 8 oz cream cheese, soft and mushy

1/2 stick butter, soft and mushy

2-3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp strawberry extract

1/2 cup frozen, thawed, chopped strawberries

1 drop red food color, for that extra push over the cliff

You mix the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and somewhat fluffy then start adding in the powdered sugar. Wait until the end to fold in the berries. Try not to get any of the juice in there or you’re going to have to add more powdered sugar and it may get grainy on you. Or stiff. Some people like things that are stiff so if that’s okay with you, enjoy. When i was done frosting them, i rolled them around a plate of tiny round decorative candies just so it was on the edges.

Then i pushed two strawberry creme savers in the top of each one to look like the “spine” of a dragon, or dinosaur, or something else cool a seven year old would like. At this point i couldn’t decide between dragon without wings, or caterpillar with a tail. Whichever, i guess. I also made fondant tail which i rolled around in red food paste until it was a very sickly color of redpink. Shudder.

I then realized that i couldn’t bring them to her until the next day so i stuck them in my wilton cupcake carrier and popped them in the fridge. Guess what happened? I guess any moron with two brain cells to rub together could have seen it coming but alas, i have only one brain cell. Too much pot in high school.

The damn creme savers melted and got all over the tops of the cupcakes! Oh well, i guess that just makes them more strawberry tasting, right?

Here is what they look like after i got to her house and assembled them on her counter. Warning! These are not my prettiest work! I am saved by the fact that she is a kid and anything with sugar is good until you reach a certain height. Lucky! Also saved by the fact that I got her one of those butterfly garden things and some sidewalk chalk. Who wouldn’t want worms on their birthday? I know i would!!

So, happy birthday sweet girl. I hope all your wishes come true. I love you!

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chocolate chip cookies

After being nagged by my husband about how ‘cookies would be a nice change of pace,’ i decided to try and make chocolate chippers. I recalled the recipe for Tollhouse cookies from my days of domestic not-bliss with my first husband, and i put it to good use. Yes, i do have this recipe memorized. I didn’t have a bag of tollhouse chips on hand (the ones in the pic are minis) so i couldn’t look it up. Put your oven at 375. I started with two sticks of unsalted butter that i left out overnight to become room temp, but not totally soft. I tossed in 3/4 cup of white sugar, then 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar. I think you can use light or dark and it doesn’t really matter. I’ve used both and have noticed barely a difference. I tossed two eggs on top of that and mixed with my hand held until beautiful and fluffy. Then i added two teaspoons of vanilla. I am pretty sure the recipe calls for one teaspoon, but i’m a big fan of adding extra vanilla to most of my recipes that call for it. Next, i whisked two and one quarter cups of all-purpose flour with one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of baking soda. I put half in the bowl with the butter mixture and blended, then added the last half and blended that also.I made sure to push the sides down with my scraper so i didn’t get any butter or sugar lumpy stragglers. I then mixed in two cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips with my scraper. Don’t use your mixer here unless you want chocolate bits and pieces instead of chips. Also, at this point, you don’t want to over mix the batter anyway or your cookies will be tough and not that great. I mean, you get points for making them with butter instead of nasty old shortening, so that will help with the flavor if you DO over mix. Just try not to . Oh, the salt helps with tenderness also. But still. At this
point you can grab two tablespoons like it did and drop each spoonful onto cookie sheets. You could make them more uniform by using a one ounce scooper, which i have every intention of picking up from Bed, Bath, and Beyond because i will need it for the 72 mini cupcakes i will be baking in May. But that’s neither here nor there. So, for my first pan going in, i always spray with no-stick but i don’t after that first one. My first batch went in for 10 minutes and came out a little more browned than i wanted them to. They still tasted pretty damn good. Not to toot my own horn but uh, beep. The next pans went in for 9 minutes and came out perfect. I let them cool for two minutes on the pan, then completely on the racks. I’ve eaten 5 already. By the time my teenagers get home, there won’t be any left and they’ll be mad. Oops. So this concludes my post on doing something nice for my husband who always tells me i do too much nice stuff for other people and not enough for him. He’s right. I just figured my presence here was gift enough for him. Oh, and here’s the shirt i got from cupcakeroyale.com. I have gotten mad compliments on it. You should buy one.

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Things I love, part deux

I just found a bunch of cute cupcake related items so i thought i would post them here with, as always, my comments. This is the book i use mostly for recipes. So far, the only one that blows me away is the vanilla. Very basic, but excellent every time i use it. Otherwise, i think her devil’s food recipe came out dry, and i hate using self-rising flour. I like to put all the ingredients in myself, so i know what the hell i’m doing wrong. These plates are super cool. they are ceramic, shaped like cupcakes, and painted all cute and stuff. If i wanted to be completely queer and make my kitchen cupcake themed, instead of it’s current theme, coffee, i would buy these and hang them on the walls. More plates. Also very cute, but i can see these breaking and then me getting angry and yelling “who broke my cupcake plate?” and my housemates thinking I’ve lost it. This is Wilton’s new giant cupcake cake pan. To be honest, i have no interest in this. I don’t do cakes. Not even ones that are shaped like cupcakes. the whole point for me is to not only get out of doing the dishes(have i mentioned i am supremely lazy?), but make something that will fit into the palm of your hand, and that you don’t have slice and portion out. When i try to cut cakes, they end up all lopsided and one person will have a nice little sliver while another will have a giant wedge. Plus, look at the obvious difference from one side of the pan to the other. How’s that work? thanks Wilton, but for almost $30, you can keep it.

these just look adorable. Right? My friend over at Bake and Destroy! said she bought them for her niece and they’re super cute. It’s a little shape sorter where you have to match up the cuppie with the frosting. Adorable. what will they think of next? Is there no end to the alarmingly trendy cupcake craze?

My next pick for super cute is this awesome little rain boot. I have no use for rain boots. Not that it doesn’t rain, but I’m actually okay with my shoes getting a little wet. Also, if it’s raining, i tend to stay indoors like most people.

I found all of these things on http://www.target.com. I don’t get out that much so i do a lot of online shopping and I don’t think people realize how much more stuff Target has available as opposed to what’s in their stores. check it out! Oh, and I know I’m supposed to be in support of the little guy and all that jazz, but Target does indeed give back to each community and I’m okay with that.

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stackable-cake-plates.jpg I bought one of these today and I am very proud of myself. I have two occasions coming up where I’ll need a stackable cake plate and for about $36 plus shipping to my house, i don’t even have to think about it anymore.  I already have four of these cupcake-tree.jpg but i wanted something different, something a little nicer for the occasional anniversary party or wedding shower, or gasp, wedding. Now all i have to do is pick up some fake orchids from Micheal’s, cut them to fit and viola! Cupcake wedding cake. Incidentally, Target.com had a very cute as hell cake plate that was all painted in gay little pastels and it had a cupcake and piece of pie painted onto it, but for 40 bucks? It wasn’t that cute.

So i do have a couple of jobs coming up and i am very excited for them. It got me thinking though, why don’t i have more jobs coming up? Here’s why- I live in the armpit of Illinois and my services don’t come cheap.  I’m not the most expensive hussy out there by a long shot but when these big fat trashballs know they can go wal-mart and pick up a box of mix and a can (gross!!) of frosting for less than$4, why would they pay $2 per cake from me? This is what i struggle with daily and sometimes i get down about it, but i still love doing it, so screw cheap jerks. My cupcakes are yummie. Like, really yummie.

I have a friend who does the same general baking business out of her home but she gets to sell to local cafes. So jealous! We have nothing like that around here. Any type of little coffee shop already has a donut den located inside. I guess i will just have to persevere and keep looking.

Next on my list- a logo! And then maybe cutie pie shirts! And then who knows!

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