Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cherry-Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Almond Buttercream Frosting

The Winter Olympics are well underway. Having been in Russia this past summer, I am even more excited about it. One of my favorite parts of the Olympics (I'm cool, I know ;) is watching all of the different countries walk in, during the opening ceremony. I love seeing the people of all of the countries I've been to, and reminiscing. It so cool to see the world come together, if only for a little while. 

I love the hockey (obviously) and the figure skating more than anything. When my sister and I were little, we would dress up our "skating outfits" and pretend we were figure skaters. We worked so hard to master our "jumps",  and would even pretend we were out of breath when our "scores" were being read. We even had medals for every event. Needless to say, we got REALLY into it. Seeing it now, reminds me of how much fun we used to have. 

Valentine's Day is almost here, and I figured it was time to make some cupcakes. I wanted do something different than the typical red velvet cupcake. I love cherry, and I happened to have some cherry flavored baking chips lying around the house. These cupcakes are sweet and light at the same time. I found another frosting recipe that I am currently obsessed with. If you want something fun an sweet for Valentine's Day, then here it is.

For the Cupcakes: Recipe adapted from:

Makes 24+ cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cherry oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup cherry baking chips find them: here
In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar
until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Beat in Extracts. In a separate bowl; combine flour, baking powder,  and salt.
Add to creamed mixture, alternating with water.
Beat until just combined.

In another bowl, beat egg whites on
 high speed until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.
Stir in cherry chips

Pour into  greased and lined muffin tins 
Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans
to wire racks to cool completely.

For the Frosting: adapted from:

Makes: 9 cups of frosting

You will need: 

6 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar 
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoon cherry flavoring (I recommend Wilton)
1/2 cup boiling water 
2 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened and cubed into 1/2" pieces 
24 jarred maraschino cherries

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir together the sugar, salt almond extract, and cherry juice.
 Add the boiling water and whip on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Continue to whip until the mixture is cool, about 10 minutes. (The mixture will look like liquid glaze).
 Add the shortening and butter and whip the mixture on medium-high, scraping the bowl down frequently, until doubled in volume. 10 to 15 minutes.
Put icing in a large piping bag with a coupler and desired tip (I used Wilton 2D). Swirl desired amount of frosting on each cupcake. Dust some sprinkles on cupcakes, and top each with a maraschino cherry.   

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday: Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies

If you are anything like me, you love having excuses to bake or cook. Super Bowl Sunday is one of those days where you get polish up on your cooking and baking skills. A lot of it is centered around little bites and appetizers, but everyone loves a show-stopping dessert. I really get into the whole thing, so I like to keep my dessert pretty simple. 

I have seen so many recipes for copycat "Lofthouse" cookies. Honestly, I am not impressed with any of them. None of the recipes can acquire that ultra airy texture, those cookies are famous for. The icings also leave a lot to be desired. I say that is one recipe we should leave to the original. That being said, I have found a different type of soft sugar cookie, that suits every occasion. They are a very unique take on sugar cookies, that is hard to describe unless you try them. The icing is more like a glaze, but nonetheless, very nice. We all know how much I love almond extract. I had to use that, but you are welcome to use any flavor or extract of your choice.

My Denver Broncos are playing in Super Bowl Sunday today! Needless to say, I had to show a little "Orange" pride. I decided to turn these cookies into "Bronco Nation" cookies. You can definitely color your icing however you would like. You can even leave it white, and top them with some colorful sprinkles. The possibilities are endless. 

Have a great Super Bowl Sunday, and Go Broncos!

Ready to serve for game time!

Recipe: adapted from: Seeded at the Table

For the Cookies:

(Makes: 5 1/2 dozen)

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons (king Arthur) cake enhancer
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cake enhancer, and salt. In a large bowl , beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, around 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the almond extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients just until incorporated and evenly mixed. form the dough into one large disc, and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
    When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll each piece into balls, and place on the baking sheet. (space cookies 2 inches apart) Using your fingers, slightly press the top of each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking. Be careful not to over-bake.  Let cookies cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then move them to a wire rack to allow them to completely cool. 

    For the frosting:
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon  almond extract 
  • Touch of Bavarian Cream flavor oil (optional)
  • 7 Tablespoons milk 
  • Food coloring

              In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the (sifted) confectioners' sugar, melted butter, almond extract, bavarian cream flavor oil, and milk until smooth. You will want a somewhat thick consistency. Make sure it is not too hard to spread on a cookie. If necessary, whisk in additional milk, one teaspoon at a time. Add food coloring, if desired. Spread each cooled cookie with the frosting. Top with sprinkles if desired. (These cookies may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.)