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Archive for March, 2012

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Have you ever been “that person” at the grocery store before? Because a few days ago I was “her.” The one that holds up the line, leaves the line, and then budges back to the front of the line all within a matter of a minute. Add me to the most hated person at the grocery store list.

Trust me though, my actions were justified and you would have done the exact same thing. It was a colleagues birthday at work the other day so naturally I took on the role of baking treats, carrot cake cupcakes to be exact, as per her request. After school I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few of the ingredients that I was missing, one of which included pecans. I stopped in the baking aisle, surveyed the packaged pecans and figured that $3.00 for a 100 gram bag was a bit excessive. Buying bulk was the smart and sensible thing to do, why spend more than I needed, and really, who wants to pay $3.00 for nuts. Yes. I am that cheap.

After spending way too much time gawking at all of the delicious bulk items, I came to my senses and poured the pecans into my bag. Let’s just say that I was a little bit too generous with the pouring but figured that I couldn’t put the pecans back. And really, nothing says “it’s time to bake again” like a few too many nuts.

Off to the check out I bounded, eager as ever to get baking. My four items were quickly rung up and came to a total of $24.50. I’m sorry, that’s not possible…except it was possible. Thank you nuts for adding up to a total of $11.35. Seriously ridiculous but whatever, I figured. Just pay and check out. I gave the lady my card, started the transaction and then half way through panicked, hit the cancel button and admitted that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t spend that much money on the nuts.

Long story short, the cashier sighed heavily, the eyes of the customers behind me rolled, I profusely apologized for being “that girl” then booked it for aisle 4, snatched the last $3 bag of pecans out of the hands of some grandma (okay not true, maybe I’m a bit dramatic), raced, aka budged, back to the front of the line, paid for my now $14 purchase and left the grocery with a smile on my face and a heavier change purse. Mission accomplished.

The lesson I learned: always buy the bagged nuts. It doesn’t make sense, sometimes things in life don’t, but just go with it.

Also go with these carrot cake cupcakes. And don’t forget the cream cheese icing. Because what is carrot cake without cream cheese? Oh right, it’s what I call breakfast, or muffins.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups flour           2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt               2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg     1/2 tsp all spice
2 cups sugar          1 1/4 cups oil
4 large eggs           3 cups grated peeled carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)  1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice in a medium bowl.

Whisk sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Whisk in eggs 1 at a time.

Add flour mixture and stir until blended.

Stir in carrots, pecans, pineapple and raisins, if using them.

Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Cream Cheese Frosting

One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter       1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all of the ingredients on medium until fluffy.

Ice the cupcakes.

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Samoa Cupcakes

Friends are a good thing. Friends who bake are even better. This week I got to spend some time in Minnesota with one of my closest friends and her precious family. Needless to say we got our bake on.

Banana chocolate chip muffins? Done and done.

Samoa Cupcakes? Holy cow did we ever demolish them.

Girl Guide Cookies are popular here in Canada, but like most things, we lack the variety that the States has. Thin mints and normal vanilla or chocolate cookies are all that we have access to. Mention samoas, tagalongs, trefoils and do-si-dos and you have me completely lost. Sometimes I wish that I could import an American grocery store into my neighbourhood…

Even though I had no idea what a samoa was, when my friend mentioned that she had found a recipe for samoa cupcakes I decided that they needed to be made. Just a word of warning, these cupcakes are INCREDIBLY sweet (and that’s coming from someone who could eat sweets all day long!) and do take a bit of preparation time, but they are a thousand percent worth it.

Think chocolate cake, iced with caramel buttercream, topped with a caramel and toasted coconut sauce, sprinkled with more toasted coconut, and finished off with a chocolate drizzle. A bit over the top, no?

Regardless, these are a delicious indulgence and the rave reviews that we received were worth all of the effort that we had put in. I can only imagine what we will think of to bake the next time that we are reunited.

Samoa Cupcakes

Adapted from Chef in Training

Chocolate Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix and required ingredients

Prepare and bake cupcakes according to package directions. Let cool completely
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup sugar                2 tbsp water

1/4 cup heavy cream     1 tsp vanilla

1 cup butter                   1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups icing sugar (more if needed to reach desired consistency, which we did)

In a saucepan, stir together sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.

Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.

In another bowl, beat butter and salt together until light and fluffy.
Reduce speed to low and add icing sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
Add the caramel sauce.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).
Once cupcakes have cooled, frost onto cupcakes.
Toasted Coconut
1 cup sweetened coconut
Place coconut on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes.
Caramel Sauce
20 Kraft Caramels      1/4 cup milk
Melt Caramels and milk together in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until it has reached a smooth melted consistency.
Stir in 1/2 cup of toasted coconut.
Place the caramel-coconut mixture into a ziplock bag and seal.  Snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag and squeeze a little onto the tops of each frosted cupcake.
Take the remaining 1/2 toasted coconut and put a little on top of each cupcake.
Chocolate Drizzle
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips       1 tsp. oil
Melt chocolate and oil in microwave for 30 second increments or until it has reached a smooth melted consistency.
Pour into a ziplock bag and seal.  Cut a tiny snip off one of the bottom corners and drizzle onto cupcakes.

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Please tell me that you have hopped onto the Pinterest bandwagon. Ever need to waste a few hours of time? Pinterest is the place to do it. I’ve been slightly obsessed for roughly a year now and can definitely say that I’m a better person because of it (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration). But for real, hop onto the wagon, it’s a good place to be.

Justification as to why Pinterest rules my life…I’ve since become more crafty. As in I did one craft. Aka I boosted my craftiness 10 fold at least. But seriously, I made this, and I’m so obsessed and in love with it. So simple to do as well, so get on it.

I’ve also discovered a million new places that I want to travel to, have been witness to countless good outfits that I will never be able to afford, house decorating tips that force me to remember that I am a mid-20 year old without my own place, oh and I also have a board for all of my wedding wants. Not that I’m planning a wedding…or am engaged…or am anywhere near being engaged. And now I’m feeling slightly embarrassed and self-conscious…

All of those reasons aside, my most favourite thing of all is the access that I have gained to millions and millions of amazing recipes that I never would have known about before. Good thing I am basically a wannabe 45 year old housewife. For example, this avocado chicken? Delicious. Homemade granola bars? Genius.

A few days ago I decided that I had gotten lazy, complacent if you will. Rather than always “pinning” recipes I needed to get to work and start making the things on my food board. This recipe is where I started.

Knock off Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Basically these are equally as delicious as the real thing, are probably the easiest dessert that I have ever made, and they also keep well for days in the fridge…as if that will be necessary though.

So get pinning, but more importantly don’t just pin, make the crafts, bake the food, travel to the amazing places. Don’t get complacent.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs       3 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter                      1 cup melted butter
1/2 bag chocolate chips                         1-2 tbsp butter
Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the icing sugar. Add the peanut butter and the melted butter and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
While the peanut butter mixture is cooling, melt the chocolate chips and 1-2 tablespoons of butter.
Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter mixture and spread evenly. Put the bars in the fridge and allow the chocolate to set.

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Half Hour Pudding

 

Friends are the greatest. I kind of really like my friends a lot a lot. The only problem with friends is when they no longer live where I live, think: Thailand, Minnesota, Halifax, Victoria. Distance is hard, I kind of really hate it a lot a lot.

This particular recipe comes from one of those friends…an amazing person I became close with when I lived in Victoria for university. She took me under her wing when I joined her premier soccer team and the rest has been history. She’s the kind of person that you know would do anything for you, whose house you can go to in sweats at any hour of the day/night. Basically she is my favourite kind of person.

One of our favourite things became Thursday nights. Almost religiously, every Thursday night a few of us would gather at her house to make dinner and dessert together before watching Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy. Really it was just an excuse to eat a lot of delicious food and hang out.

So many good recipes were tested, approved and devoured over that time and this is one of them. Created during the war years when eggs were scarce, the recipe comes together quickly and requires ingredients that you are sure to already have on-hand. My favourite part about this pudding is how the caramel sauce soaks through the pudding. So perfect.

The other best thing about this dessert? The fact that it tastes equally as good served cold the next day. So diverse. How perfect.

(Ps. please pardon the atrocious picture of the pudding, I swear it is delicious!)

The only thing missing? The good friend to go along with it. Love you.

 

 

 

Half Hour Pudding

Pudding

1 cup flour        1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup sugar   1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together all ingredients and put in a buttered 8×8 pan.

Topping

1 cup brown sugar     1 tbsp butter

2 cups boiling water   1 tsp vanilla

Mix together all ingredients. Pour over top of the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes.

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