Monday, August 23, 2010

Mocha Cupcakes

So a couple of days ago I made some homemade Cupcakes, Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting, all of which was handmade. The first thing I had to do was go to the store and pick up what the recipe called espresso powder. This stuff was actually just Instant Espresso, much like instant coffee. The other thing I had to do was take the recipe and change all of the Cup measurements to weight measurement (Grams for my scale). From what I have read about baking (through Alton Brown), weighing ingredients is much more accurate than getting a precise packed cup of that ingredient.

The batter itself turned out really well, baked for 11 minutes and came out perfectly cooked. The hard part was the frosting... I mixed the butter and powdered sugar, adding the espresso and vanilla mixture in while it was mixing. The frosting was really runny, but I wasn't sure how thick it was supposed to be. I figured I would pour it into a ziploc bag and put it in the fridge for awhile. My frustration got worse when the seam on the bag I poured the frosting into broke and the runny mixture poured out on the counter. I saved what I could in the bag and put it plus what was in the bowl in another bag. After being in the fridge the frosting never thickened, but instead the oil and fat from the butter began to separate in the bag. I poured it in another bowl and used a hand mixer to mix it and added the rest of the powdered sugar (a whole box at this point). it finally stiffened up enough to look and work like frosting. I poured it back in the ziploc bag, cut the corner and piped it the best I could on the cupcakes. Below is some pics of the cupcakes and the recipe I used.

Mocha Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes Baking Time: 17-20 minutes

1-1/3 all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee
1½ teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

1. Mix the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved; set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.

3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, brewed coffee mixture and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting cupcakes.

Espresso Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar (More may be necessary)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

1. Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

2. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bike Ride and Dinner Blogging

So I haven't wrote a blog in a long time and have decided to pick up my blogging again. Being out of a job and Jess being at school all day gives me tons of time around the house. The first week Jess went back I deep cleaned the whole house, floors and up. It was nice being home and there being absolutely nothing that needs to be done. Upkeep is easy and doing a few dishes a day is much easier than doing them every few days like we were! After all of the cleaning is done I have found myself reading several cookbooks and cooking blogs. One of my favorite cooks and cookbook authors is Alton Brown. He makes everything so easy and everything I've made from his books has been delicious! One of the blogs I follow the most is called the Brown Eyed Baker. She makes a lot of deserts, which are my favorite things to make, and she is pretty famous because of her "cake balls" (basically a whole pan of cake crumbled up and mixed with frosting then rolled into little bite size balls). She decorates the cake balls for different holidays making snowmen, Santa Clauses, and even mickey mouse cake balls!

Tonight I made Eggplant Parmesan for dinner, from a recipe in the Alton Brown "Cooking" cookbook. It took me about an hour total to prepare the eggplant and cook the meal, most of the time was in flouring and dredging the eggplant slices, but it was well worth it. Jess says that my eggplant was better than Buca Di Beppo's by a long shot!

Below is about my bike ride this last Saturday, so if you're not that interested in hearing about it there isn't anything else but that below this remark. The story is pretty good though!

So this last Saturday I went with Jess to Sac Fit and went for a bike ride during her run. I started out a little too fast, as usual but slowed myself down a bit and felt good a mile or so out. I rode away from William Pond Park towards Discovery park, a much flatter trail than the opposite direction up towards Folsom. I stopped at the three-way stop, where discovery park is one way, midtown one way, and back the way I came the other. So I decided to turn back as that was 11 miles out, which would make my ride 22 when I got back. This is where the ride got interesting... About a mile on the way back I saw a guy ahead of me with long greyish white hair, wearing a full length grey robe. As I got closer I noticed he was wearing really old looking Brown leather sandals and carrying a rolled up large piece of white paper. As I passed him i looked back and he had a mustache and short beard to go with the hair. I contemplated this person for the next few miles... Did I just see Jesus on the bike trail? Does he like to go for walks on the American River at 8:30 on Saturdays... Anyone want some kind of divine intervention or healing should check out the bike trail early on Saturday mornings... Once I got back from my ride I thought that I should start a religion and have people gather at the now holy ground that is the bike trail... But I digress. A few miles down the trail Ahead of me was a guy carrying a pole with a spear end on it... A little closer I realized it was a flag pole, and about twenty army soldiers were following right behind him... Jesus and a army platoon on the bike trail... Now I was contemplating some form of Holy War. At the Guy West Bridge I stopped and took a brief rest on one of the benches. While sitting there I had my head down looking at my phone in my lap, playing a little Sudoku while resting. A man walking on the trail asked me if I was ok as he walked by and I looked up and said yea. He then held up a small square metal sign towards me he had around his next, with a depiction of Jesus holding up the cross on a green background... I just repeated that I was fine and he smiled and kept walking. Man was he going to be surprised when he ran into Jesus in a few miles. I got on my bike and rode the rest of the way without any other strange incidents. My total mileage was 22 miles, and I calculated the total mileage on my bike since I bought it as roughly 340 miles!

Sorry for the long blog, but Stay tuned for more baking and cooking blogs a little more frequently than my last blogs!