Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mini Reindeer Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes specifically for my coworker's son Mason and his class. Mason is four-years-old, so I wanted to make something fun, but not too sugary (I can't even imagine a class full of children on a chocolate high). Of course, all of the reindeers are Rudolph, because he's the most famous reindeer of all.

Mini Reindeer Cupcakes
24 mini vanilla cupcakes
Chocolate buttercream frosting
8 ounces milk chocolate
24 Red Hots (or cinnamon dots)

Make at least 24 mini vanilla cupcakes and a batch of chocolate buttercream frosting, using your favorite recipes. Cool the cupcakes and frost.

Spread parchment paper over a cookie sheet. Melt 8 ounces of milk chocolate and pour into a piping bag with a skinny tip (#2), or pour into a plastic ziploc bag and cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe two chocolate dots for eyes onto each cupcake. Then, pipe the chocolate into pairs of antler shapes, but be sure to make extra because these guys are fragile! Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer to let the chocolate set. Once set, arrange the antlers on each cupcake. Then finish Rudolph by placing a cinnamon dot on each cupcake for a nose.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

peppermint white chocolate cupcakes

I reallllly don't like Starbucks. The coffee always tastes burnt + I do not appreciate the high cost for an espresso beverage. However, I do have a soft spot for one Starbucks product.... the peppermint white chocolate mocha complete with a gloriously red holiday cup. This decadent beverage warms my heart + is the perfect holiday treat. Although this drink sets you back about 400+ calories, its nice to indulge once in a while.

Inspired by my favorite holiday beverage I made some chocolate cupcakes with peppermint white chocolate frosting this past weekend for a friend's birthday; mini chocolate cakes swirled with white chocolate-pepperminty buttercream + topped with a candy garnish, they were a delight.


White Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
12 ounce white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 cup confectioners' sugar *
1 tsp peppermint extract

In a large bowl beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Add confectioners' sugar in stages + peppermint extract. Whip until light and fluffy.

* Add confectioners' sugar until reaches sweetness + consistency desired. May be more or less.

Peppermint Candy Garnish
Evenly space the circular red peppermint candy on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 300 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes. If left in the oven too long candy will turn yellow. After removing from the oven use a pizza cutter to make even (or uneven) cuts through the melted candy. Once hardened, the candy will break apart easily using the cuts as a guide.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Peppermint Oreos

Reading directions is apparently not my thing today. I misread the directions for the cookies and started mixing the butter and egg before I realized I was supposed to mix the sugar and egg. In an attempt to salvage the butter, I rinsed off the egg in a colander. This was such a ghetto thing to do, but I didn't want to be late for a painting class that Ashley and I were on our way to this afternoon.

I also misread the directions for the icing and put in 3 1/2 teaspoons of milk, instead of the tablespoons the recipe called for. I realized something was up when the mixture was still solid and then compensated. The icing turns out as more of a cream/glaze than true icing.

I choose this recipe today because I've been in such the holiday spirit! I'm going to visit Katie and Julie in NYC tomorrow for work, and we are going to see the Rockettes. Our tree is decorated at the house, and even Bacci can't wait for Santa.

After all of the ridiculous screw-ups, these cookies turned out great! The chocolate wafers were crunchy and tasty and the icing provided just the right amount of peppermint. If you want to get creative, you could tint the frosting green or red or crush up some peppermints and rolls the sides of the cookies in them.

Peppermint Oreos
adapted from a Whole Foods recipe

For the cookies:
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspooons vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened

For the icing:
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring or extract
Pinch of fine salt

For the cookies:
Whisk together flour, cocoa and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a second large bow, beat sugar and egg together with an electric mixer (I used the paddle attachment) until pale and thickened, about two minutes; beat in vanilla. Add butter and beat again until smooth, about one minute more (side note: here's where my batter wasn't as smooth as I thought it should be. I had some tiny beads of butter that just wouldn't disperse, probably because my butter was rinsed with water, and at the risk of overbeating, I let it go. If this happens to you, don't fret, the cookies still turned out fine). Add flour mixture in two parts and beat until combined. Shape dough into two logs that are uniformly round and about 8 inches long then wrap each snugly in parchment paper or saran wrap, twisting the sides of the paper/wrap. Chill for two hours.

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on baking sheets about one inch apart. Bake until puffed and just cooked through, nine to ten minutes. Set aside to let cool completely.

For the icing:
Put sugar, milk, butter, peppermint flavoring and salt into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for one minute. Spread the flat side of half of the cookies with a dollop of icing, then sandwich with remaining cookies. Serve immediately or store cookies in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Yields about 40

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oops we missed November.

November flew by without a post so here is a quick summary to catch up on the past month from the West Coast:
I wrapped up the bread portion of my program finishing off the 8 weeks with bagels, pretzels + flat breads. I've been covered in butter since starting + completing the 3 week Viennoisorie portion learning croissants, brioche, danish, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, panettone, pan d'oro, and stollen...just to name a few.

I had family + friends visiting from New York City, Chicago, Miami, London + Portugal via Austin Texas. I went back to Chicago for Thanksgiving but the 20 degree weather reminded me how lucky I am to live in beautiful San Francisco.

It's now Decemeber + time for some holiday baking. Although this recipe is one I made a while ago they are perfect for this time of year. Roll in sugar + enjoy.
Chocolate Ginger Cookies
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped or mini chips
additional sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and all spices, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg, followed by molasses, vanilla and balsamic vinegar. Gradually stir in the sifted dry ingredients mixing until flour is incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks. Scoop dough into balls and roll in sugar. Press lightly to flatten and bake for 10-12 minutes.

*You can also mix in crystallized ginger for added ginger flavor.