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First Birthday Celebration October 20, 2011

The The Peanuts’ first birthday was last month and there mom has covered pretty much everything from the party onher blog, except for the cupcake recipes.  That was my job, and quite honestly, I’ve been slacking.  I posted right before the party about the Caramel Corn that I made, but never made it around to telling you about the amazing cupcakes.  We decided that we wanted to make three different cupcake toppers for the party: one with pictures of Ellisa, one with pictures of Hudson, and one with one of the first pictures taken of them together.  Since we were being so ambitious with the toppers, we decided that we needed three different cupcakes to go with them: Peanut Butter Cup with White Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, a peanut butter cup tucked in the center, and chocolate jimmies on top; Double Chocolate with Cream Cheese Chocolate Ganache and white pearl sprinkles; and Orange with Cream Cheese frosting and circus peanuts.  The Double Chocolate and Orange are modified versions of my favorite cake recipe, but the Peanut Butter Cup was one that I tried for the first time, and I have to say that I was impressed.  It was like eating a giant peanut butter cookie.

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

cupcakes:

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup milk

18 full-sized peanut butter cups

frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Here’s what you do:

cupcakes:

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Fill 18 paper-lined muffin cups about half  full.  Place one peanut butter cup on top of the batter, pressing it in slightly.  Cover with more batter filling the cups about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

frosting:

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl and mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl as you work.

Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Slowly add in the white chocolate.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

cupcakes:

8 Tbls butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1 Tbls vanilla

2 eggs

frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

8 Tbls butter, room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

8 oz milk chocolate chips

3 Tbls heavy cream

Here’s what you do:

cupcakes:

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately into the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

frosting:

In a double boiler, combine chocolate chips and cream.  Heat on medium heat until melted, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar until evenly combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the melted chocolate.

Orange Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

cupcakes:

8 Tbls butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup orange juice

zest of two oranges

1 1/4 cups flour

1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbls vanilla

2 eggs

frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar

6 oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 Tbls butter, room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla

Here’s what you do:

cupcakes:

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and orange zest.  In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately into the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

frosting:

In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar until evenly combined.

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Rustic Apple Tart and Some Life Changes September 4, 2010

So…It’s been a while…but I’m finally back to posting.  It’s been a crazy few months in my life and I didn’t really have much time to do anything more than just breathe.  Here’s the short list: I lost my teaching job due to budget cuts (thanks Kansas Department of Education for overspending your budgets, so you aren’t able keep all of your teachers to be able to properly educate your children; really great move on your part), budget cuts = no teaching jobs in Kansas, no teaching jobs = packing up all of my (and my boyfriend’s) stuff and moving to…drum roll please…Austin, Texas!  We’re still unpacking, but have settled in quite nicely, so back to baking I go.

About once a week we have a “game night” with some friends of ours and I, of course, choose to bring dessert, while my boyfriend typically supplies the board games.  (Don’t forget to check out his blog listed on my blogroll as “a blog by a boy”).  The first dessert I ever made for game night was this Rustic Apple Tart.  This type of tart can be found in many different European cultures and can be called about a dozen different names, but no matter what others call it, I just call it deliciously easy.  It starts with a store bought pie crust (I’m still working on perfecting homemade) followed by a layer of cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar, then heaped with cinnamon scented apples, and topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar for good measure.  Everyone loved it including our friend who doesn’t really like desserts all that much (I know! A sin, right?)

Here’s what you need:

1 refrigerated roll-out pie crust (from a package of two)

1 block cream cheese

2/3 cup powdered sugar

2-3 apples (I used fuji)

2 Tbls. butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbls. cinnamon, divided

pinch of salt

2Tbls. flour

1/4 cup sugar

Special equipment:

Mandolin with a straight blade (optional)

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet.  I prefer an AirBake cookie sheet because of its larger size, but whatever you have will work just fine.

Unroll one pie crust onto greased baking sheet making sure to flatten it out completely.  In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well combined.  As you can probably tell from previous posts, I like to pair sweetened cream cheese with fruit, but if you don’t, feel free to leave it out.*  Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the pie crust leaving about a two-inch border.

Time to prepare the apples.  Cut the apples into fourths and remove core and seeds.  Using a mandolin slice the apples letting them drop into a bowl of cold water to prevent browning.  If not using a mandolin, slice apples into 1/4 pieces.  Melt butter into a large skillet over medium heat.  Add brown sugar, 1 Tbls. cinnamon, pinch of salt, and 2 Tbls. flour.  Stir to combine and cook until slightly bubbly.  Remove the apples from the water, add them to the skillet, and turn to coat.  Cook until apples are slightly tender and sauce is thick, about 8 minutes.  Spoon apple mixture over the cream cheese leaving about 1/2 inch of cream cheese around the edge.

To form the edge of the tart, gently fold the exposed edges of the pie crust over the apple mixture being careful not to break the crust.  You are wanting to encase the edge of the tart and crimp it slightly to keep the filling from leaking out while baking.  Finish by combining the sugar and remaining 1 Tbls. cinnamon, brush the edges of the tart with water (I just use my fingers), and sprinkle the tart with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  When baked remove the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Using a spatula (or two) carefully remove the tart to its serving try.  To serve cut into slices and drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze, if desired.

*One of our friends doesn’t eat cheese, so I made a personal-sized tart for him without the cream cheese.  I used the other crust from the package and cut it out into about an 8 inch round, filled it with apples, and baked it along with the large tart.

 

Delectable, bite-sized pies March 6, 2010

I first made these “Tiny Pies” for Easter many years ago and the original recipe, while good, was not great.  I have changed it many times since then, even going so far as making my own pie crust, and have settled on this as my favorite version.  I have chosen to stick to the original recipe on the crust and buy it.  Most people would call this cheating; I will call it convenient, and quite honestly, better than my homemade.  I plan to master the art of pie crust at some point in time, but that time has not yet come.

You can choose to put any filling in them (I have even done chocolate), but for this post I made Cream Cheese Cherry.  I chose to use canned cherry pie filling because cherries aren’t exactly in season in the winter months in Kansas, but I have previously made theses pies with homemade fruit filling, which is even better.

Here’s what you need:

1 box refrigerated rollout pie crust (15oz.)

1/2 block cream cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 can cherry pie filling, I use the kind with “more fruit” so the pies are generously full

1/8 cup unsalted butter, melted

3″ round cookie cutter

2″ round cookie cutter

rolling pin

mini-muffin tin with 24 holes

Here’s what you do:

Remove pie crusts from pouches and unroll, one at a time, onto your work surface.  I like to flatten it out with my rolling pin to make it even and slightly bigger.  Using the cookie cutters, cut out 18 to 24 three-inch rounds and 18 to 24 two-inch rounds.  Spray the mini-muffin tin with non-stick baking spray, and press the three-inch rounds into the tin making sure that the edges extend slightly over the sides of the cups to form the bottom crusts.  I fold the rounds into an X shape to fit them into the tin and, then flatten them out to form the crusts.

First, lightly brush the exposed edges of the bottom pie crusts with butter; this will help to seal the top crusts to the bottom.  Next, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar together to form the bottom layer of the filling.  You can spoon this mixture into the bottom of the crusts, or I like to place it into a plastic freezer bag, squeeze the mixture into one of the bottom corners, and cut a generous hole in the corner to form a disposable pastry bag.  Spoon or pipe a dollop of the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of each of the pie crusts.  Then, spoon about a tablespoon of the cherry pie filling (three to four cherries) on top of the cream cheese in each crust.

For the tops, cut small vent into each of the two-inch rounds.  My cookie cutter isn’t exactly two inches, so I roll out each of the top crusts slightly before cutting the vents.  This also makes the top crust thinner, which I like.  Place the two-inch rounds on top of each pie, and seal the edges.  I do this by pinching the two layers of crust together to form a lacy edge.  Lastly, brush the top of each pie liberally with melted butter to help with browning.  At this point, you can sprinkle the tops with sugar, if desired.  I like to cover my pies in powdered sugar glaze, so I choose to opt out of this step.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 14 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove pan to wire cooling rack for two minutes, then remove pies from the pan and place on cooling rack.  At this point, I mix together 1 cup powdered sugar with 1/2 cup half and half to form a glaze and dip each pie’s top.  Lastly, I sprinkle with clear sugar crystals.

 

 
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