Archive for February, 2011

February 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Eggs

The peanut butter egg idea popped into my head when I was wandering around a craft store and came across an adorable mini blue egg carton.  Originally, I was going to make oval petit-fours, but I figured an actual egg shape would definitely be easier to form if using peanut butter balls.  As for the bunny and the carrot, I had a carton of strawberries in my fridge so I dipped those in white and orange chocolate melts as well. For the bunny ears I used a chocolate mould that I had left over from an Easter Candy Kit I used with my daughter.

Looking back, I suppose I could have decorated the eggs with a colourful Easter theme because they look really plain to me right now. Oh well…they were still tasty!

Peanut Butter Balls – (half batch)

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Dipping:

Directions:

  1. Combine all 4 ingredients until smooth, with an electric mixer.
  2. Use a small cookie scoop to evenly portion the dough. Use your hands to roll smooth balls and then form them into egg shapes.
  3. Place the balls on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a deep cup.
  5. Take just a few balls out of the fridge at a time. Place them gently onto treat sticks and dip them in the white chocolate until coated.
  6. Gently tap off the excess chocolate and place them into a styrofoam block to dry.
  7. When the chocolate is firm, gently remove the sticks and place them into the tiny cutesy egg carton.
  8. I dipped a few strawberries in chocolate to make the bunny and carrot. For the bunny, I dipped the leaf part into the chocolate too so it looked like a bushy tail. I drew the face on with edible markers and placed a large pink heart sprinkle for the nose.
  9. For the ears, I used a plastic chocolate mould. Then I affixed them to the bunny while it was still wet.

Enjoy!

Crystal

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February 26, 2011

Waffles

Enjoy some fluffy waffles for breakfast this weekend. There’s no rule stating they are for breakfast only, try making them for dinner.  Whip up a batch or two and place them in freezer bags so you can pull out a few on busy mornings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, large
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract, optional (if not using almond, then use 2 tsp of vanilla)
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Plug in your waffle maker and set it on medium/high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  3. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter, whisking everything together until there’s little or no clumps.
  4. Lightly grease the waffle grills. Use an ice cream scoop to pour the batter onto the middle of the grill. (About 2 scoops depending on the size of your waffle iron). If the batter starts pouring out of the sides after a few moments of grilling, you know there’s too much in it.
  5. When the waffles are light brown they are done. With the first waffle, after removing it, let it cool for a moment and cut into it. If the batter is still raw in the middle, turn the heat down a bit and wait a few moments before adding the next scoops of batter.

Serves: 6 – 7 waffles

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 18, 2011

My Take on Hostess Cupcakes

Here are some chocolatey treats I made for a friend’s birthday lunch this upcoming weekend. Hope they like them…my family did! I mean…we had to try them to make sure they were good, right?

Beautiful on the outside and glorious on the inside! These cupcakes may be harmful to certain New Year’s Resolutions.

 

Ingredients:

 

**For Christmas, my in-laws bought me this wonderful cupcake invention – The CupCake Genuis. The unique frame, with its silicon tips, form the spaces as the cupcakes bake. No more hollowing out a space, breaking them up, using injectors, or wasting baked cupcakes!  Plus, all the pieces are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. To be honest, it had me at, “Dishwasher Safe”. 

This is my first time using this pan and I can honestly say that I LOVE IT!

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F  and prepare the pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Make a batch of Chocolate Cupcakes, I used this recipe.
  3. Scoop the batter evenly into the cupcake tray, filling the liner about 2/3 full. Place the top rack onto the cupcake pan, the silicone moulds will touch the batter a little bit.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes. After baking, gently remove the top piece of the Cupcake Genius, the silicone tips should remove nicely, with only a little bit of cake batter on them. Let cool for a minute before removing them from the pan and placing on a wire cooling rack. Re-fill the cupcake liners and fill another batch. The recipe I used made me exactly 33 cupcakes.
  5. Then, I whipped up a batch of  Frosting to fill the cupcake centers. I used Seven Minute Frosting, as my mom calls it. I call it boiled icing.
  6. Scoop half the filling into the piping bag and fill the centers of the cupcakes flush to the tops. Don’t overfill them or you will see a lump under the chocolate ganache topping. Refrigerate the remaining icing, I had about 1/4 of it leftover.
  7. Place the cupcakes into cupcake skirts or fancy wrappers before applying the next steps.
  8. Refrigerate the cupcakes while you’re preparing this Chocolate Ganache topping.
  9. Wait until the chocolate ganache cools down to room temperature, then dip the tops of the cupcakes in it, gently taping off the excess. Place them back in the refrigerate so the chocolate will settle.
  10. Prepare the same chocolate ganache recipe, but with white chocolate. Let it cool completely, fill a piping bag with a #2 tip and pipe on a design of your choice.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 18, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from CupcakesTakeTheCake

Makes about 10 dozen mini cupcakes or about 33 regular cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. After sifting, use a whisk to completely combine the dry ingredients. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk well to combine until they are incorporated. Gradually beat in the water, the batter will start to get very wet at this point. Add the vinegar and vanilla and continue whisking. Make sure you are getting everything well incorporated and there aren’t any lumps. Finally, whisk in eggs until combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners, filling each about 2/3 full and bake for 15-17 minutes for large cupcakes and 7-10 minutes for mini, (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)
  4. Cool for about a minute in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. I recommend chilling these cupcakes before serving because they are incredibly moist and tend to stick to the wrapper until they have set a little bit.
February 18, 2011

How To Make Cupcake Skirts

I thought I would try making my own cupcake skirts…they were pretty easy considering I had one in my cupboard to use to trace myself a new template. You only need a few supplies really, scrapbook paper,  scissors and a pencil. If I hadn’t found the store bought one in my cupboard, I would have just opened up a quality cupcake liner and traced a few templates until i got it just right.

  1. I used a store bought cupcake skirt to trace more onto the back of some 12 x 12 scrapbook paper. BUT if you scroll down to the bottom of the page,  I have shared my CUPCAKE SKIRT TEMPLATE! 🙂 
  2. Once you trace and cut out one good one, use it as the template for thewrest . I was able to get 6 skirts per sheet of paper.
  3. Cut slits halfway through the end of each skirt, on opposite sides (on one end, cut from the top — on the other end, cut from the bottom).
  4. Use decorative scissors to cut the top edge of the skirt, optional.
  5. Using the slits, combine the ends together.
  6. You can use tape or glue if you want, but it’s not necessary, and it’s not really food safe.
  7. Place your cooled cupcakes into the liners before applying icing/frosting to them, because some cupcakes may need a little gently forcing into the decorative skirts. 

Guess what…I’ve created a template to share with you! Click here>>> CUPCAKE SKIRT TEMPLATES.  

These cupcake accessories are so much cheaper than buying them at the craft store, where you would pay 1$ per liner sometimes.

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 18, 2011

Seven Minute Frosting

This frosting is boiled and beaten into egg whites until it’s so ligfht and fluffy that you would think you’re scooping marshmallow cream out of a jar! YUM! I used it for filling cupcakes, but it can also be used as a decorative frosting, or cake filling. It can be flavoured with any extract and tastes great as caramel flavoured filling as well. I used it recently to fill these chocolate cupcakes. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Crack 2 eggs and place the egg whites into an electric mixing bowl, discard the yolks or save them for a different use.
  2. Place the water, corn syrup, sugar and salt into a small pot and stir the ingredients together until well blended. On a medium/high heat, allow the mixture to boil until it’s at a soft ball stage – when you dip a spoon in and then hold it up and it drips a long thread of sugar. Immediately after it reaches this stage, remove it from the heat and pour the mixture into a small cup or bowl (heat proof).  If you leave it in the hot pan, it will continue cooking, and then burn. The mixture should not go over a temperature of approximately 240° but it’s usually ready at about 230°.
  3. *NOTE:  Right before the sugar reaches the correct temperature and consistency, start beating your egg whites in a clean, heat proof bowl until frothy.
  4. Pour the hot sugar/syrup very slowly into the beaten egg whites, and continue beating on high speed, scraping the sides of the bowl so that the sugar doesn’t harden on the bowl. Continue beating until the mixture is very fluffy. 
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and beat until blended.

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 18, 2011

Chocolate Ganache

 Ganache is a French term referring to a smooth mixture of chopped chocolate and heavy cream. It has many uses and can be used as a topping decoration, whipped as filling or icing to use between cake or cookie layers or just poured over whatever you like.  It is also used as the base for truffles, and can be softened to make a simple chocolate mousse. I used it recently to decorate the tops of my chocolate cupcakes.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks or 60-70% chocolate — use any chocolate you prefer
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Place the whipping cream in a pot and bring it to a simmer on medium/high heat. Don’t let it come to a complete boil, you just want to steam it.
  2. Remove the cream from the stove and slowly add the chocolate to the cream, stirring well after each addition.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool to about room temperature or until slightly warm, and then you can start working with it.
  4. At this point you can use it to cover a cake or dip your cupcakes and it will leave a smooth glossy topping.

OR

  1. If you want to create a frosting or filling, allow the chocolate ganache to cool for about 2-3 hours, then whip it with an electric mixer until fluffy. The colour will lighten and the mixture will become a frosting. Use it to pipe onto cupcakes or other desserts. It also makes a great filling and you can add any flavour to it, for example: coffee flavour, almond, mint, hazelnut, caramel, etc.

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 17, 2011

Candy Kit For Little Helpers

I came across this Candy Kit at the craft store the other day and I knew that my 5 year old would LOVE to make these. It looked easy enough and there was plenty that she would be able to do without too much help.  The kit comes with everything except for the marshmallows. You don’t actually have to buy a kit in order to make these because the craft stores sell these chocolate moulds, melting chocolate and other items separately. If you don’t have marshmallows, you could use mini donut holes, or make your own cake pops or cheesecake pops…

The kit came with 3 colours of chocolate and 3 disposable piping bags. Start by placing the melting chocolates in their own liners. microwave them one at a time until the chocolate is melted. Cut a small tip off each bag and start piping the chocolate into the plastic candy moulds. These 2 trays also came with the kit. Tap the trays on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and level out the chocolate. 

Add a stick to each chocolate slot and place the trays in the fridge to harden for about 30 minutes. Turn the trays upside down and gently pop them out onto the counter. Grab a marshmallow and slide it up the stick. Re-heat the white and yellow chocolate bags and use them to cover the marshmallows in chocolate. Tap the excess chocolate off into a bowl.  Add the wings to the bird, and the facial features to the bunnies. Push them into a block of styrofoam to dry.

Lizzy and I enjoyed doing this together, and she REALLY enjoyed eating the white chocolate bunnies.

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 15, 2011

Chocolate Rum Ball Mice

These rum balls are great for seasonal treats –  I make them in the Winter.  But with the rum ball Mice, I find that they’re great for any season. Keep in mind, I’m using real rum – not extract, so they’re not treats for the kids…

Ingredients:

  • Half of a chocolate cake (boxed cake → baked, cooled, and crumbled)
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • plus 3 tbsp dark rum
  • 24 vanilla wafers, crushed into fine crumbs
  • 1 cup chocolate sprinkles (for balls – not needed if you’re only making mice)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (for dipping mice)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable shortening

Directions:

  1. Bake the chocolate cake, as directed on the box. Let it cool. Cut in half and crumble the half that youwill be using. Wrap the remaining half cake and freeze it for possible future use.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar, almonds, and cocoa powder.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and 1/3 cup rum to the large bowl; mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add the cake pieces, using an electric mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
  5. Alternate adding another 2 to 3 tbsp rum and the vanilla cookie crumbs and mix well. The consistence should be thick and somewhat sticky.
  6. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to help the dough become firm and easier to scoop.
  7. Use a cookie scoop and your hands to form round balls out of the dough, then place them on a lined cookie sheet or plate.
  8. Freeze or refrigerate the balls until they are firm.
  9. If making Rum Balls, roll them into a small dish with rum, then into the chocolate sprinkles.
  10. If making Mice, use your hands to gently pinch one end of the balls and form them into the shape of mice with your hands. This may take some practice to get them all looking uniform.
  11. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, for about 2-3 minutes. add the vegetable shortening and stir until smooth.
  12. Place a cold mouse into the chocolate and use a fork to gently scoop it out. Tap gently on the side of the bowl to knock off the excess chocolate. Then transfer the mouse to a wax lined parchment paper. Adhere the eyes and ears while the chocolate is wet.
  13. For the ears, I used slivers of almonds. For the eyes and nose I used small round sprinkles and drew black dots on the eyes with edible markers.
  14. For the tail, I scooped the leftover melted chocolate into a piping bag with a small tip and swirled a tail onto the [dry] chocolate mice.

Store in the refrigerator or freeze for a later use. By the way, these are great to munch on while frozen.

Serves: Approximately 40 balls.

Enjoy!

Crystal

February 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tsbp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 butter, melted

Filling:

  • 4 packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tsbp all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs, large
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 bag Mini Peanut Butter Cups, cut in quarters

Topping:

  • 1 can Whipped Cream or you can make your own.
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 package regular size Peanut Butter Cups (3 or 4/pack), cut in half

Directions:

* Preheat the oven to 325° F.  You will need a 9″ Springform Pan.

Making the Crust:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the peanuts, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir until incorporated.
  2. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9″springform pan.  
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes @ 325 degrees F.
  4. Remove from over and set aside while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

Cheesecake Filling:

  1. Cream together the first 3 ingredients (cream cheese, sugar & flour) until it’s fluffy with little or no lumps. (* To avoid having a lumpy batter, make sure that the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs are all room temperature before beginning).
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time – mixing well after each addition.
  3. Add the sour cream, vanilla and lemon juice, mixing well. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so the batter is mixed evenly.
  4. Unwrap the mini peanut butter cups and cut them each into quarters.
  5. Add the peanut butter cups to the cheesecake batter, stirring gently until incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter on top of the crust in the springform pan and even it out with a spatula.
  7. Place the pan back in the oven and bake the cheesecake for 1 hour, 15 minutes @ 325° F.
  8. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, take a knife and gently run it along the sides of the pan. Open and close the springform pan.
  9. Turn the oven OFF and place the cheesecake back into the oven with the door left open, for 1 hour.
  10. When finished, place the cheesecake on a cooling rack (still in the pan) and let it cool completely before placing in the refrigerator.
  11. It needs to cool and firm up in the refrigerator over night or at least 8 hours.
  12. Cross your fingers that your cheesecake doesn’t crack through the middle. Sometimes this happens to me.

To Decorate:

  1. Gently open the springform pan and remove the cheesecake from the pan. Place it onto a pretty serving dish and set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted (about 2-3 minutes). Add the shortening and stir it well until the chocolate is smooth and thinned down a bit.
  3. Pour the chocolate on top of the cake and let it drizzle down the sides. Use a flat metal spatula to spread the chocolate over the top of the cake.
  4. When the chocolate is dry, spray or scoop dollops of whipped cream around the outside of the cake.
  5. Cut the large peanut butter cups into halves and place them on top of the whipped cream.

Viola!  Now sit down and relax with a slice of cake!

I’ve made this cheesecake MANY times, and I like to decorate it different every time. 🙂

P.S. This cheesecake is also great with other variations of candy. You could use Oreo cookies instead of peanut butter cups, or chop up your favourite chocolate bars.

 Enjoy!

Crystal

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