Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cupcakes Rock!

I'm not sure why I always feel my baking is disastrous. Last night I took my delicious mini-cakes to my friends house and they loved them. They were very complimentary of my icing and the tastiness of the little morsels. I too have to agree. I think when I'm baking I'm just to close to the project during the actual process. I eat too much batter and pay too much attention that I don't appreciate them when they are completed. Next time I make cupcakes I will not taste the batter and wait until they are cooled and completed to taste and critique. I forgot the post the recipe for the White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes. This recipe comes compliments of

7 ounces white chocolate (make sure it's baking chocolate)
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries

1.Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer
2. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stire in sugar. Note that when you add the sugar the mixture will separate and look pretty funky. This is ok, the butter will rise to the top.
4. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
5. Add teh vanilla. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Mixture will thicken and you should no longer see butter floating on top.
6. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 10 seconds between each.
7. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the mixture. Return to the electric mixer and mix until blended.
8. Roughly chip the cranberries and coat with a thin layer of flour (this is important because of the thinness of the batter. The cranberries will fall to the bottom of each cake). Stir into the batter.
9. Scoop into cupcake cups 2/3s full and transfer to a 375 F oven.
10. Set your timer for 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes is up, turn down the oven to 350 F.
11. Set your timer for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes is up rotate the pans.
12. Set your timer for 7 minutes more. Test the centers with a toothpick and remove the cupcakes once it comes out clean.

The Icing
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) Cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar (possibly more)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1. In a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the white chocolate. Allow to cool for 2 minutes.
2. Using and electric mixer beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy.
3. Beat in the melted white chocolate.
3. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, vanilla, and clove and beat at low speed scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl until light and fluffy. Add more powedered suger to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

To assemble just top the cooled cupcakes with the frosting and decorate with dried cranberries.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beauty Is Not Wrapper Deep

I found a fabulous website with beautiful cupcakes. I decided, after reading through a few recipe's that I was fully capable of baking a simple recipe for White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes. Doesn't that sound delicious?

Baking the cupcakes seemed simple. I followed the directions perfectly. The author of the blog using these quaint little Nut and Party cups as her cupcake wrapper. They make the cupcakes look so sweet; however, they are a little hard to eat out of. I had filled a few of the first cakes too much and there was some overflow, but most were looking scrumptious. They tasted delisious! I did run into a small problem. The cranberries seemed to fall to the bottom of the cupcakes. It's not bad, it made for a carmalized treat at the bottom of each cake. I think the next time I make these I'll coat the cranberries in flour and layer through the batter as opposed to folding them in as is.

So here's the catch: They look amazing and petite and delectable. Something about the batter isn't just right and they are very messy to eat. Now for the icing: The recipe had a list of ingredients that I purchased; however, when I went to mix it together some of the ingredients weren't in the directions! Most importantly, Philly Cream Cheese. I made my own version of cream cheese icing since the directions were lacking. I think the flavor takes away from the delcious morsels of cake.

I let them sit overnight in the refrigerator and they set up nicely. Out of the fridge they fall nicely in one piece out of the wrappers. I plan to take them to a small get together this evening and have my friends critique them. I will not give up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Revival of Chocolate Chips

So I took the cookies to a friends house last night and they were a hit! I've actually had 2 today. I don't know if they just needed to marinate for a night or what. But they are delicious and perfect with a hint of salt. MMMMMmmmmmmm. They taste like you bought them in a deli or a bakery and that's what I was going for. I'm extremely stoked that I've found the perfect recipe :)

When Cupcake's Go Bad

So I've been doing a lot of experimenting with baking. Every time I step into the kitchen things either go wonderfully correct or disastrously wrong. My chocolate chip cookies turned out the be some of the best I've ever made. Tonight I attempted Orange Blossom cupcakes. Again, I ran into the same problem: I don't read everything before I attempt the recipe. I did have all the ingredients. I couldn't attempt the frosting for the little cupcakes because it required a candy thermometer and I don't own one. There was no way I was going to attempt something that had to be heated to a specific temperature without the thermometer.
I made little mini cupcakes because I think they are cute. I didn't watch closely and they are little dry because they cooked too long. I got impatient and made mini cakes that are almost perfect but didn't cook long enough.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Can't I perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies?

So if you know me at all you know I love to bake. I aspire to be an amateur baker. I love cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes and all pastries. There is something soothing and calming to baking and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

With that said, I have been trying to perfect the chocolate chip cookie. After last night I think I'm amazingly close. I found a recipe on a blog I like and she claimed that she had made the best chocolate chip cookie. I think that's hard to do because everyone likes their cookie differently. I love a crispy yet chewy cookie with equal parts sweet and salty. I make the same mistake every time I bake: I don't look in the cupboard before I go buy ingredients. I just assume what I think I have and what I don't. I'm always wrong. This time I thought I had enough light brown sugar. Of course I didn't so I had to substitute with dark brown sugar because I was halfway through the process by then. Although dark brown sugar is good in some instances. In this one it made the cookie a little to salty for my taste.

In my experience if the batter comes out tasting absolutely delicious the cookies aren't good. I don't know why, but I'll LOVE the taste of the batter and then the cookies will flop. Well I tasted one fresh out of the oven and was disappointed. The cookie was too salty and hardly sweet enough. Although they look beautiful, they just weren't the taste I was going for. I haven't given up. I will make them with the correct ingredients because I'm SO close.

P.S. I did taste the cookies this morning and to my surprise they tasted delicious! I think a room temperature cookie is the way to go. The flavors are set and the crisp and chew are there. I'm pleasantly surprised by this discovery :)

I have included the recipe that was found in The New York Times, from Dave Leite and Jacques Torres.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. minus 2 tbsp. cake flour
1 2/3 c. bread flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bitterseet chocolate chips (60% cacao content like Ghirardelli)

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well; then set aside.

Using a mixer ftted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. (this part can be very
messy. If you have a plastic guard use it!) Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours. The dough may be used in batches and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready, preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the bowl and allow to soften. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Using a standard size ice cream scoop (although I just used my hands!) scoop mounds of cookie dough onto the baking sheet, making sure the space them evenly. Bake for 15-20 min. until goldent brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 min. then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

yield: About 24 (5 inch) cookies

Diego Garcia

Farewell Diego Garcia! I'm glad that Pat is not stuck on a deserted island anymore. I ran across some old e-mails between Pat and I from right before he left the island. He did some adventuring and took some pretty cool pictures on the island. It looks like he was on the LOST island and I love it! If it weren't so horrible to be so alone this island would be a beautiful place to visit. Too bad it's military only. I'd love to vacation there for a week.

Monday, July 21, 2008


So I'm still waiting on my new iPhone (I'm extremely impatient), but I started the mobileME application on my computer. I can get a free trial for 60 days so I'm playing with it until my iPhone arrives. The application is quick and efficient. I'm able to sync all my basic applications and publish information into an online database that people can view. I now have some new information for you all the check out. My new e-mail address: and my online web gallery address is: . So now you have one more website to check and see if I've posted anything new!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Kittens

Our new kittens are growing so fast! It's hard to believe they can eat so much. They seem to get into everything. I'm having a terrible time keeping them off the counters and away from things that can hurt them. They aren't scared of anything and will disobey me when I'm standing right next to them. Water doesn't scare them and they are attracted to loud noises. So just yelling doesn't work and neither does a s quirt bottle. And when they are this cute it's hard to stay mad at them!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Last Night in DC

I forgot to write this post because I was in the midst of preparing to move the next day. For my dear friend, Whitney's birthday a few of us went out on the Potomac in her Dad's boat. It was a lot of fun. The air was cool and we got to see a beautiful sunset from on the water. It was great to be in good company and enjoy a summer boating
adventure. We even got pulled over by the coast guard! They claim that it was for training purposes....

Nonetheless it was a beautiful night and a great way to spend my last in DC.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Virginia Beach

Things have been very busy for us since we got married. Pat went back to Diego Garcia and returned and we quickly moved to Virginia Beach. We have been here for almost a month now and Pat's ship has been deployed. He has been out to see for almost 2 weeks now. He won't return until August 1. So I'm very lonely in the city without knowing anyone.

I am still working for Crossroads Media and keeping very busy. I have so much to do during the days that they go by really quickly.

Before Pat left we picked up two small kittens from the Virginia Beach SPCA. Their names are Emmit and Pauli. They are such a handful! They like to get into everything and aren't scared of anything. They great company while Pat is away.