Friday, December 7, 2012

Coconutty Vanilla-y cupcakes


When we were home for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, in October) my boyfriend's mum made some cupcakes.  Oh I heard so much about these cupcakes, how delicious, soft, moist they were.  I was too full after dinner to eat one, and I missed my chance.  Fortunately (?) my boyfriend has somewhat of a sweet tooth so he needed to make some when we got back home.  Of course, I helped, but nothing is more fun than baking with someone else!

These cupcakes are somewhat expensive to make (vanilla beans, copious amounts of butter and coconut milk add up).  They are well worth it for a decadent treat!  This recipe is from Epicurious but (again) we modified it, this time to make 24 cupcakes.

A note on the coconut milk: make sure you read the ingredients!  A lot of the ones in the store were mostly water with coconut flavouring.  Make sure it's 100% coconut milk (or make your own!).

Ingredients:

Reduced coconut milk:
2 + 2/3 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk* (preferably organic)

Cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 and a half split vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature

Frosting:
1 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1.5 split vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)

Instructions:
For reduced coconut milk:
1. Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium low; boil until reduced to 2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. 
2. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:
1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. 
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. 
3. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla beans and remaining egg. 
4. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. 
5. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.

For frosting:
1. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. 
2. Add sugar, 1/2 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla beans, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Frost cupcakes with frosting.  Dip in flaked coconut mixture so it sticks to the frosting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes


When I got my job I had decided to make a birthday treat for everyone on my team (there are 8 of us, including me).  Somehow, in our four month term, there was only one birthday and it was on October 25.  I asked my teammate what kind of cupcakes were her favourite and she responded enthusiastically, "red velvet!"

I was apprehensive at first because I didn't see what made red velvet any different from a chocolate cupcake except for the presence of red.  However, I decided to make them anyways because if someone tells you what kind of cupcake they want for their birthday, you can't just make a different kind!

I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and adapted it for my purposes!  What you see below is an almost identical recipe but I altered it to make ~18 cupcakes and also altered the icing appropriately.  My favourite part was mixing the vinegar and baking soda.  I'm not sure (chemically) why this is done but it was in the recipe.  I definitely kept a couple drops of red food colouring so I could make a volcano.

For the Cupcakes:
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1.5 large eggs*
3 tbsp red food colouring or 1 tsp red gel food colouring dissolved in 3 tbsp water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp white vinegar

*For the eggs: crack one egg into a separate small bowl.  Eyeball about half into the mixture and discard the rest.  If it's not 100% exact your cupcakes will still turn out fine, but I don't know what would happen if you used one or two eggs.

Special Equipment:
muffin tin
18 muffin cup liners (or butter or non-stick spray)
stand mixer, electric mixer, or very strong arm
piping bag
piping bag tip #30
red sugar crystals for decorating

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tin with liners or grease.
2. whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended.  Beat in eggs.  With machine on lowest setting, blend in food colouring.
4. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches.  Scrape bowl down and beat just long enough to combine.
5. Place baking soda in a small dish and stir in vinegar.  and add to batter with machine running.  Beat for 10 seconds.
6. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.
7. Bake for 20-15 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Ingredients:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl (or bowl of stand mixer--smaller one if you have a choice).
2. Beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Beat on low speed to combine.
3. If the icing is too soft to use right away, refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Assembly:
1. Once cupcakes have cooled and icing is appropriate consistency, load up a piping bag with icing and #30 tip.
2. Pipe swirls on cupcakes.
3. Sprinkle with red sugar crystals from a good height to get a sprinkled look.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

こんにちは。(Kon nichi wa)

Sorry if I offended anyone with the title.  Some website said that's how you say "hello" in Japanese so I believed it.  Anyway almost a year ago Jackie asked how my Japanese Wave Mittens had turned out.  The answer: fantastic!

I knit them in Cascade 220 leftover from my Fornicating Kangaroos Hat.  It was my second pair of mittens and my second time doing colourwork.  I actually finished them last January so they got to test out a verrry cold winter!  I'm pleased to say my hands (and the mittens) have made it through!  I knit them quite tightly so they are extra warm.

I'm wearing them again now for the rainy Vancouver "winter" (although I still have a hard time calling this time of year "winter" because it's not -13°C on a daily basis with some days being -40°C).  They keep my paws warm and relatively dry.

I get compliments on the mittens all the time and that makes me feel awesome.  They fit just right and have gotten pretty soft inside.  As they felt (I'm sure they will), I think they will age nicely.  Maybe some day I'll put a picture of them when they're all old.

The best part about these mittens?  I haven't lost one yet!

Tell me about your favourite pair of mittens!  What makes them great?  Where did you get them?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hello again!

I always do this.  I'm not sure why, but I always do.  Every blog I've ever had, I end up neglecting.  It's not because I want to, but because life gets in the way.  I moved about 1/3 of the way across the country.  That's 1000km, or for you Europeans, approximately the distance from France to Hungary from what I could tell on Google Maps.  So maybe I'll start blogging again.  I'm not making any promises because I will probably break them at some point.  I'm setting goals but not telling you what they are because I don't want to disappoint anyone.

I think I'm going to shift the focus of this blog.  I'm going to start talking about things other than knitting because honestly I don't really have time to do it as often as I'd like.  Also I've been doing some fun things lately (cooking and baking) and I'd like to share that with you as well.  And I have a few crafty things up my sleeve but I haven't completed them (yet), so I want to show you those too!

I've become addicted to Pinterest.  You can find me here.  I spend a lot of time on there but hopefully I'll be more of a "doer" than a "dreamer" soon.  Again with the crafty ideas up my sleeve...

So for those of you who are new, enjoy this blog!  And those of you who have been eagerly checking back to see if I've written anything, you'll be pleased to find this post.  And hopefully more soon!  Take care, stay warm/dry (or cool for you in the southern hemisphere!).

Adios amigos!