Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oregon Ducks Cupcakes

The same weekend I made all those wedding cupcakes I was asked by another friend at work to make cupcakes for her son's baseball team party. I asked if there was a theme and she said their team was the Oregon Ducks and their colors were yellow and green. Apparently all the teams in the league are named after colleges. I took that and ran with it. I searched out the Oregon Ducks logo on the internet and liked the simple "O" they used. The night before, when I was waiting for the wedding cookies to dry, I came across a video that showed how to pipe royal icing onto wax paper, that could then be used to top cakes or cupcakes. That was in the back of my mind, and since I'm not that great at freehanding logos just yet, I thought this would work out perfectly for the Oregon O.
I printed out some Os and taped them to the table. I took wax paper and placed it over the top. As I finished one O, I would move the wax paper around and pipe several Os on the same paper.
 First, trace the shape, as if piping the outside of a cookie.

 Then fill the shape in. I used the same consistency of royal icing to pipe as I did to fill. My frosting is on the thicker side, I using the ten second rule to gauge. I wanted to make sure my lines would hold. 
These needed to dry overnight, just like royal icing on a cookie would. The next morning I frosted the cupcakes and placed the O on top of the wet frosting. I thought they turned out fantastic! The best part was, a guy friend walked in and said, "Oh, Oregon cupcakes, cool." They were recognizable, mission accomplished! I love this little cheating way of getting the logo to match almost exactly. I will definitely use this technique in the future. Even if I do get a little better at free handing, I thought the royal icing decorations were so fun as cupcake toppers.
Just a few notes on the actual cupcakes. I used Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcakes for the cake, just without the coconut. It was the perfect white cake.  For the frosting I used a new buttercream frosting recipe I found on Food Network. I loved it! These was the perfect combination of frosting and cake.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sweet and Sticky Sesame Chicken

Since chicken and rice seems to be our no brainer week night go to meal, I decided to try a new recipe, just to keep things interesting. I came across a restaurant recipe make over on Hungry Girl. The recipe was based on an average sesame chicken dish you could order at a Chinese restaurant. What I loved about this recipe is that chicken was crispy, without frying it! Dipping the chicken in egg and then flour, then baking it made for a crispy, crunchy outside. The sauce was sweet, but not too sweet. When I make this again I will probably double the sauce. There was enough sauce to generously coat the chicken, but I do love my sauces, and I would have liked more to put on the rice. I made just a few adjustments from the original recipe. The ingredients I used are below, click the link for the original. I love a healthy, quick, week night meal.  Hungry Girl has a few more recipe make overs that I'd can't wait to try.

10 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour, divided
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tbsp. lite/low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. crushed garlic
1 tsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
Optional: crushed red pepper 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.

Place chicken in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and cover with egg substitute. Toss to coat and set aside.

Place 2 tbsp. flour in another bowl. Use a fork to transfer half of the chicken to the flour bowl, allowing excess egg substitute to drain back into the egg bowl. Thoroughly coat chicken with flour, and then transfer to the baking sheet. Wipe the bowl clean, and then repeat with remaining flour and chicken.

Bake chicken in the oven until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine broth with cornstarch in a small nonstick pot and stir to dissolve. Add syrup, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. Mix well and bring to medium heat on the stove. Stirring often, cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, 2 - 3 minutes. Set aside.

Place cooked chicken in a bowl, top with sauce, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. If you like, add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Source: Hungry Girl

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wedding Cake Sugar Cookies: Round Two

Two days in a row! Can you believe it? This is just a quick post of some pictures of the cookies I made to go along with the cupcakes of yesterdays post. My friend, Patty, saw a version of these cookies in a post I did last summer and asked if I'd make some similar for her sisters wedding reception, along with the cupcakes. I'm always grateful for the opportunity to improve on a project. This time around I opted for the same design on each cookie. I thought that would look better on display. I picked this simple, but, classic cake design. I made these Friday night and the cupcakes Saturday morning. Brian was out of town for the weekend, so my sisters came over and we made a night of it! 
We had a good system going. I would pipe around the outside, then Mikken would fill the inside of the cookie with frosting using a squeeze bottle. (As show above, although my brother Jeff dug that cookie out of our graveyard and had Mikk frost it for him.)
After the fill frosting was in Brittany would complete the fill by dragging the frosting to the corners with a toothpick. Thanks girls for all you help! And Jeff too- I didn't have any cookies left over!
After the frosting set I piped on the cake decorations. I still find making the frosting the right consistency for piping a bit of a challenge. But it all seemed to work out in the end.

One of the hardest things about this project was figuring out how to pack everything up so it could be picked up and transported to LA. To pack the cookies I went to my local Dippity Doughnut shop and asked if I could buy some of their flat bakery boxes. The cute little lady working there was a bit stumped because she didn't know how much to charge me. After about 15 minutes of her scrounging around in the back looking for receipts to see how much she paid, she sold them to me for 50 cents a box. She did tell me that the more I bought, the cheaper they would be! (I'll remember that for next time.) So I bought my four boxes and a cake doughnut with white frosting and sprinkles and I was out the door. The boxes worked great for packing, just remember to keep the flaps on the outside of the box. I chopped off the sides of a few of the cakes before I figured that out. It was a late night, but all turned out well. Thanks again Patty! I had so much fun.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As a kind friend pointed out to me the other day, it's been a month since I blogged. I couldn't believe it. Not to make excuses, but after those coconut cupcakes I skipped the country and took a little Eurpoean vacation. (Lot of food blog posts to come.) Then I came back and got sick, tis the season, and then work and life got in the way. But the good news is I was cooking and baking the whole time.

I had every intention of blogging last weekend, but I got a little tied up with these red velvet cupcakes. A friend that I teach with had asked me to make red velvet cupcakes and wedding cake sugar cookies for her sisters cocktail wedding reception. I was beyond excited to take on the challenge.
When you start a big project, make sure you have all your ingredients and plan a head. I ended up running out of red die after my first batch so I made an emergency run to the store only to find that they only had generic brands of die. The first time I made a red velvet cake I could taste the die in it, tasted like chemicals. I wanted to use the same brand I had tested this round with, McCormick's; I couldn't taste it at all.  Anyway, I went to a second store to get it and forgot that I also needed oil, so I run back into the second store for a second time, only to realize that I left my wallet in the car. I go get it, and get back in line for a third time. Moral of the story: plan a head (a little better than I did).

I enjoyed that this project gave me an excuse to learn how to pipe frosting on cupcakes, instead of just frosting with a spatula by hand. I bought the Ateco 6-piece pastry tube set and did a few practice tries before I took to the actual cakes.
 After the practice tries, it still took me a few to get it perfect. I held the large pastry tube in in my right hand, and used my left hand to guide it while I worked counter clockwise. (I'm right handed.) I still had a few kinks to work out. Here are a few of my early mistakes. 
The bald cupcake: I thought I was close to the edge on these, but turns out I wasn't. They look bald, and skimpy on the frosting.
The lopsided cupcake: As I tried to fix the first problem, I ended up with this one, a little too much frosting on one side. I tried to get closer to the edge, but turns out, only on one side.
The last problem I came across was this little beauty, where the frosting didn't quite meet.
After much practice, I managed to get the perfect swirl atop these lovely red velvet cup cakes.

Now just a few notes on the actual cupcakes. As I researched out and found a few recipes I wanted to try, I found a lot of talk about using butter verses oil in the recipe. As you can see above, mine were a little oily, as I went the oil route in the recipe. But I found the oil recipes to be much more moist than the butter recipes, and no one likes dry cake. I did double up on the cupcake liners, and cooled them on a paper towel on top of my cooling rack. By the time I packaged them up they weren't greasy on the bottom at all. But do note that the cake its self wasn't oily to the taste, just moist and delicious!  The recipe I ended up using comes from Cake Man Raven. He was featured on a Throwdown episode and I found his recipe again on the blog The Way the Cookie Crumbles, who does a great comparison of other red velvet recipes. This recipe was by far the easiest to make, very simple and straight forward.
Hand frosted

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yields 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 TBSP (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
(Note: I used a lot more frosting when I used the piping bag than when I hand frosted. You may want to double or make a batch and a half.)

Source: Cake Man Raven, adapted from Annies Eats, and The Way the Cookie Crumbles
Related Posts with Thumbnails