Easter Cupcakes

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Tomorrow’s Easter Sunday and I wanted to make some cute Easter treats. These cupcakes were pretty easy to make and I thought they turned out pretty well. I made two versions of them, one with green sprinkles and one without. Both looked really nice! I made classic yellow cupcakes and dipped the tops in ganache. I thought the ganache would anchor the bird’s nest as well as act as a glue of sorts for the green sprinkles. I think next time though, I’ll use white frosting, so the color of the green sprinkles really pops.

For the cupcakes, I used the Food Network’s Classic Yellow cupcake recipe and for the topping, I used the bird’s nest treats I made a few days ago.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
-1 1/2 cups AP flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup sugar 
-3/4 cup melted butter
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup milk 
Bird’s Nest:
-2 cups broken pretzel pieces
-1 bag mini Cadbury eggs
-1 cup chocolate chips
Topping:
-1/2 cup chocolate chips
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-green sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12 cup muffin or cupcake tin with paper liners. Make the cupcakes by beating together the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the melted butter and the vanilla, while still whisking. Add in the dry ingredients and the milk, mixing to combine.
  2. Spoon the batter into the liners until they’re about 2/3 full. You should have enough batter for 12 cupcakes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 to 20 minutes before removing them from the pan and onto a cooling rack.
  3. While the cupcakes are baking, make the bird’s nests. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30 to 45 second bursts). Add in the broken pretzels and mix to coat. Set aside.
  4. Make the ganache by microwaving the heavy cream for 30 to 45 seconds. While the cream is still hot, add in the chocolate chips and let them sit for a minute or two. Stir the chocolate and heavy cream until it comes together in a ganache.
  5. Prep the sprinkles by pouring them in a small shallow bowl.
  6. Once the cupcakes are cooled, dip the tops in ganache. The key is to hold firmly onto the bottom on the cupcake (but don’t squash them) and dunk them straight down into the ganache. Twist the cupcake as you lift.
  7. Taking the bowl of green sprinkles, tilt it a little and then dip the edges of the cupcake into the sprinkles. Turn the bowl so that sprinkles evenly coat the edges. This will get messy and the sprinkles will end up on the wrapper, so after the edges are coated, gently place the cupcake on the center of a plate and gently tap the bottom of the cupcake on the plate. This should shake off most of the excess sprinkles.
  8. Arrange the chocolate covered pretzel pieces in a small ring on top of the cupcake, making sure not to cover all of the sprinkles. It’s probably best to use your fingers for this, to make sure that the pretzels really resemble a nest. Make sure to leave a small well so the eggs can fit. The nest will also keep the eggs from rolling off the cupcake, so don’t be afraid to pile the pretzel pieces high!
  9. Add the eggs to the center of the nest. You may need to dip a small part of the egg in some left over ganache to really make sure they’re anchored onto the cupcakes.
  10. Let the chocolate set and you’re ready to serve!

I know that’s a lot of steps, but trust me it’s not hard at all and it’s pretty fun! Just make sure that none of your cadbury eggs are cracked. To do this, I usually gently pour the eggs in a bowl and sift through them. If you don’t have green sprinkles, it’s no biggie. I made some without them and they still looked great!

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Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Takoyaki Part 2: Breakfast style!

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Takoyaki is a finicky thing. I can never get the batter to be the right consistency. If you don’t add enough dashi it’s too cake-y and if you add too much it’s too watery and will never hold it’s shape. My mom’s a takoyaki master, but she has yet to give me the right ratios. So I’m stuck experimenting. Now I’ve made takoyaki before, but this time I made them less traditional. I was at Pat’s apartment and he didn’t have the right takoyaki ingredients (namely the ingredients for dashi), so we improvised. This turned out pretty well. We used chicken broth for the batter and bacon and mushrooms for a filling. It was like having breakfast for dinner! And to make things a tad easier, using the bacon preoiled the pan so there was no need to do that beforehand.

Ingredients:

Batter
-3 eggs
-1/2 cup flour
-1 cup of broth or dashi, cooled
Filling
-4 slices of bacon, diced
-1 cup diced mushrooms
Topping
-Bulldog sauce 
-Scallions
-Bonito flakes
-pickled ginger slices
-cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the batter by whisking the eggs, flour and chicken broth into a mixing bowl. Transfer it to something that let’s you pour the batter with more control and ease, such as a liquid measuring cup or a teapot.
  2. Prep your ingredients. Dice your bacon and mushrooms. Set aside.
  3. Heat the pan and once it’s hot enough, add in the bacon. Make sure there are equal parts fat and meat in each takoyaki hole. You want the bacon fat to render and evenly coat the pan. I suggest using a long wooden skewer to move the bacon around to assure the oil has coated everything. DSC_1145
  4. Add in the mushrooms and let cook for 30 seconds or so. Now pour in the batter, so that it just reaches the top of the takoyaki holes. The batter will rise a bit, so the key is to not overfill. DSC_1155
  5. Now here’s the hard part. DON’T TOUCH THE TAKOYAKI for at least 3 to 5 minutes. You want the egg mixture to brown and cook enough to hold it’s shape. Also if you don’t cook it enough, the batter will stick to the pan and result in badly shaped takoyaki.

    The ones in the center don't get enough heat so they didn't end up being perfect. In other words, I should have left them for an extra minute or two before attempting to flip them. ,

    The ones in the center don’t get enough heat so they didn’t end up being perfect. In other words, I should have left them for an extra minute or two before attempting to flip them. ,

  6. Flip the takoyaki by using a wooden skewer around the edges of the takoyaki, as if you’re drawing a circle. The circular motion should cause the takiyaki to rise and flip itself over. This is a lot harder than it seems, so don’t worry if you can’t get it right the first time. I suggest slowly running your wooden skewer along the edges to see if the takoyaki is ready (the batter should easily separate from the pan) and then, if it’s ready, quickly running your skewer around the edges. The key is to be fast, as the speed will make it easier to flip them.  DSC_1160
  7. Once they’re all flipped, let them cook for another couple of minutes until you can lift the takoyaki out of the pan.
  8. Top with any toppings you desire, such as bulldog sauce, bonito flakes, etc.DSC_1161

It’s not perfect yet, so I’ll still keep experimenting and once I get it riht, I’ll upload another post! Until then!

Hugs and puppies,

Mimi

Bird’s Nest Treats

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It’s finally Spring! What better way to celebrate than with these pretty little treats? Bird’s nest treats are so easy to make and they only require three ingredients. I love how the pastel eggs contrast to the rich chocolate, as well as how the saltiness of the pretzels perfectly compliment the chocolates. I’ve been making these for a while now and every time, they’re a great crowd pleaser!

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Ingredients:

-1 bag mini cadbury eggs
-6 ounces (1/2 bag) chocolate chips
-2-4 cups broken pretzels (Not crushed!)

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (simply a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water or you can microwave the chocolate in 45 second increments. Just don’t burn it!).DSC_0645
  2. Break the pretzels into three or four pieces. If you break them into too small pieces, you won’t have nests. DSC_0654
  3. Mix the chocolate and the pretzels until all the pretzels are covered. Ideally you want the pretzels to be covered in a thin layer of chocolate, not drenched. Add more pretzels if you can still see a pool of chocolate at the bottom of the bowl.DSC_0656
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you can just use a flat surface if you want) and scoop the chocolate covered pretzels into small mounds. Make sure to make a small well in the center of each mound.
  5. Arrange the cadbury mini eggs on top of the pretzel mounds. If they aren’t staying put, simply melt some more chocolate and dip a small section of the egg in the chocolate before positioning it on the pretzel piles. I like nests with different colored eggs as well as nests with the same color eggs. They’re really pretty regardless!
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All blue eggs

These are so cute and so simple, I think they’re the perfect Easter snack. What are yours?

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Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Bacon Doughtnuts and Doughnut Glaze

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Doughnuts are delicious. I love doughnuts and a few weeks ago I made my own doughnuts. It was a lot easier than I anticipated. Now this is a good and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because now I can have doughnuts whenever I want! It’s a bad thing because now I can have doughnuts whenever I want. What a predicament! Good thing I have friends who are more than willing to help me eat them. So yesterday, I was in a friend’s play as an architecture human (aka an extra). This was wonderful and fun and completely amazing. It was even better because I had a whole cast as my guinea pig taste testers. So I made doughnuts again. But this time, with bacon fat! It tasted delicious, you actually can’t taste the bacon at all.

So to make these, I simply followed the recipe from the doughnuts I made last time. I just substituted the vegetable shortening with bacon fat. If you’re a vegetarian, have no fear butter works as a wonderful substitute as well. You can find the recipe here. It’s honestly very very simple to make. It takes about 10 minutes to put the dough together, 30 minutes for the dough to rest and then 10 to 20 minutes to roll out, cut and fry the dough.

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Now last time I simply rolled the doughnuts in butter and cinnamon sugar. This time I made chocolate ganache and coffee glaze as well. It was really good. So here’s how to do it!

 

Chocolate ganache

I’m going to tell you, this is the easiest and tastiest (unless you hate chocolate, in which case I’m sorry) topping for any baked good. Cupcakes, cakes, and doughnuts! But now I’m just rambling, for ganache here’s what you’re going to need:

-1/2 heavy cream 
-1 to 2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet, dark chocolate, white or milk, whatever your little heart desires)

Directions:

  1. Microwave the heavy cream for about 1 to 2 minutes. It should be very hot.
  2. Pour in the chocolate chips and let them sit for a minute. Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate and the cream are well combined.

Coffee Glaze:

This glaze was delicious. A little sweet with a pleasant bitter kick. I’m definitely making this again. You’re going to need:

-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 to 2 tsp instant coffee or espresso
-1 cup of powdered sugar
To adjust the sweetness and thickness of the glaze, add in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar at a time or a splash of heavy cream to achieve your desired consistency
  1. Microwave the heavy cream for a minute. Stir in the instant coffee, making sure there are no lumps.
  2. Sift in the powered sugar. You don’t have to sift it, but sifting results in absolutely no lumps, so it is worth it. Stir to combine

 

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Once the glazes are finished (I suggest making them while the doughnuts cool after you fry them), pick up the doughnut, dunk the top half and then flip the doughnut and set it on a wire rack for the glaze to cool. That’s all!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

 

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

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So this spring break was all about baking along with homework and job applications (hello real world?) and what better way to celebrate attempting to be a grown-up than making some homemade doughnuts? I’d never made doughnuts before because I’m not a huge fan of frying, but after successfully making mozzarella sticks, I felt confident enough to give it a try. And boy was I glad that I did. It was pretty easy and they were absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try them with some other kinds of toppings.

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Ingredients:
-1 egg
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 milk
-2 tbsp melted shortening
-2 cups AP Flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp espresso powder
-pinch of salt
Coating
-1/2 cup melted butter
-1/2 cup granulated or raw sugar
-2 tsp cinnamon
For Frying
-Enough oil to fill a pot halfway

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and the egg. Add in the milk and the shortening and mix until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients (flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt). Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  2.  Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness on a well-floured surface. Cut out the doughnuts using a large round cookie cutter or a drinking glass. Cut out the doughnut holes with a slightly smaller round cookie cutter and allow to dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a pot and heat it up. You’ll know it’s ready once you press the edge of a wooden spoon against the bottom of the pot at a 45 degree angle and see a tiny stream of bubbles traveling to the surface.
  4. Add in the doughnuts 2 or 3 at a time, flipping them when they brown on the side. Once both sides are golden brown, remove them from the oil and let them rest on a cooling rack. To make clean up easier, place the rack in a roasting pan.
  5. Once all the doughnuts are fried, add in the doughnut holes and fry them until they’re golden as well.
  6. Once all the doughnuts are fried, mix together the sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl. Melt the butter in another bowl.
  7. Dip the doughnuts in the butter and then in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let them sit on the rack until the butter and sugar sets.DSC_0595

And that’s it!

Hugs and puppies,

Mimi

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Cookies

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Wow, that’s a mouthful, a very delicious mouthful. I was making cookies for a friend as well as trying to recreate the Momofuku Milkbar cookies that I had a few weeks ago. If you haven’t had Momofuku Milkbar cookies, I suggest you try one as soon as you can. They’re absolutely delicious! My favorites are the compost cookie, the corn cookie and the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow. I knew my friend loved my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, so I made those and threw some marshmallows in it as well. They were pretty good, but I definitely need to work on my momofuku milkbar replica cookies more!

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup unsalted butter
-2/3 cup brown sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cup AP flour
-1 1/2 cup rolled oats
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 cup mini marshmallows
-1 or 2 cups chocolate chips 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  3. Add in the baking soda, baking powder, flour and rolled oats. Mix to combine.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips and the marshmallows.
  5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drop balls of the cookie dough (either using a cookie scoop or your hands) in even rows of 3. You should be able to fit at least 12.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Let the cookies cool before transferring them off the baking sheets. If the marshmallows have completely melted and stuck to the parchment, let it cool a little before removing them. I’ve found that the melted marshmallow is one of my favorite parts of this cookie.DSC_0591

And that’s it!

Hugs and puppies,

Mimi

King’s Cake

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Mardi Gras or “fat tuesday” is coming up and while we, New Yorkers, may not have the magical parades, flashy beads and overall drunken debauchery as some places. We can still definitely join in the festivities right? And nothing says fat tuesday like King’s Cake. Traditionally there’s a small plastic baby hidden in the cake and whoever finds it is crowned king for the night. However, to escape potential choking hazards, I thought it best to replace the plastic baby with a whole almond. But if you really want to go for it, you can find them at party supply stores or buy them off amazon. You can make the pastry from scratch or use ready made pastry such as canned crescent rolls. I used the canned crescent rolls for a quick time friendly recipe, but I think I’m going to try and make the dough from scratch next time. The colors purple, green and yellow symbolize faith, justice and power respectively.

So let’s get started!

Ingredients:
Filling
-4 ounces cream cheese (half a block)
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup raisins, soaked and patted dry
-1/2 cup pecan halves
Cake
-2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
or
-1 packets yeast
-1/2 cup milk
-1/3 cup warm water
-2 tbsp butter
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1 egg
-3/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-2 3/4 cups AP flour
Icing
-1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
-3 to 4 tbspn milk
-1 tsp pure vanilla
-Purple, green, and yellow sanding sugar*

*you can find these at Broadway Panhandler or NY Cake or Williams Sonoma
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a baking sheet with non stick spray. Soak the raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes and pat dry.Chop the pecans into smaller pieces and set aside.
  2. Mix together the cream cheese, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl. Fold the raisins and pecans into the cream cheese mixture and set aside.
  3. Unroll the crescent doughs and layer them on top of each other without tearing them into triangles. Roll out the dough, pressing them together into one single sheet about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  4. Spread the filling around in the center and place the almond or the plastic baby wherever you like. Taking the edge closest to you, roll the dough away, until you get a log. Press the seams together and transfer to the baking sheet. Pinch the ends together to make a circle. It should look somewhat like extremely large bagel.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. While the cake bakes, make the glaze by whisking together the milk, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  7. Drizzle it over the cooled cake and sprinkle the colored sanding sugar over the top.

I actually prefer the french version of King’s Cake called a Gateau de Rois. Maybe I’ll make that next time. I grew up eating this version and I like it much better. The recipe was adapted from this one at Allrecipes.

*I realized AFTER I baked it, that I should have braided the dough so it would look much nicer. I guess that’s what I’ll do next time?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It’s Valentine’s Day! Which means it’s time for my traditional cookies. I may be one of the crazy people who love Valentine’s Day. Not because I always have a significant other (I’ve been single for the first 20 years of my life), but because I changed it into a holiday of my own. To me Valentine’s Day isn’t about being a part of a couple. It’s a time to celebrate love, whether it’s romantic or platonic! So whip up a batch of these sweetheart cookies and spread the love. There’s no recipe on this post because I made these every year for the past 5 or 6 years and so have already posted about it. But they’re traditional for me, so I’m sharing them with you!
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Dipping them in chocolate is optional, but why would you want to eat them plain?

Dipping them in chocolate is optional, but why would you want to eat them plain?

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Doggy Cinnamon Rolls

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Despite being obsessed with my own two dogs, I have yet to bake them homemade treats. However, this Valentine’s Day I’m a bit more prepared. While these may not be for my Donnie and Lucy, they are for some adorable dogs that belong to my friend. Why not show dogs how much you love them with homemade treats? Once I get back to Japan, I’ll definitely make some for Donnie and Lucy!

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You can find the recipe for the dog treats here, though I would refrain from using walnuts and making the cream cheese “frosting.” Walnuts are, unless they’re extremely fresh, poisonous to dogs, but I didn’t want to risk anything. The recipe calls for milk or water and I stuck with water due to some dogs being unable to digest milk (Donnie being one of them). I also know that honey isn’t the healthiest for puppies, so keep it to a teaspoon or so.

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Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Devil’s Layer Cake

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So it was my friend, Bryn’s birthday last tuesday, so we naturally had a birthday brunch on the following sunday. And I, naturally, decided to make a cake. Perhaps the richest, most heart attack inducing, artery clogging cake I will ever make. Hence the name Devil’s Layer cake. I call it that because the cake part is made of devil’s food cake and the filling is toasted marshmallow frosting and the frosting is just whipped chocolate ganache. Yup, I told you it was a rich cake. And I only say that it’s the richest cake that I will ever make because I accidentally gave my friend heart burn from eating the cake. Whoopsies.

The recipe for the devil’s food cake came from Luscious Chocolate Desserts, the toasted marshmallow frosting is from sweetapolita and the whipped chocolate ganache is my own doing.  So let’s get started shall we?

Ingredients:

Cake:
-2 cups AP flour
-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks, melted
-1 1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with a tsp of lemon juice or vinegar)
-1/3 cup water
-3/4 cup unsalted butter 
-1 1/2 cup sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Filling:
-1 bag mini marshmallows
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 cup butter 
Optional
-freeze dried raspberries (or better yet fresh raspberries)
Whipped Ganache:
-1 cup semisweet chocolate
-1 cup heavy cream 
 

Directions:

  1. Butter and flour two cake pans and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, incorporating them into the butter mixture after each addition. Add in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.
  3. In another mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a measuring cup, mix together the buttermilk and the water. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the wet ingredients to the butter-chocolate mixture and mixing well to combine. Transfer the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester come out clean.
  4. While the cakes are cooling, carefully spread the marshmallows on a roasting pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure that there are no marshmallows on top of each other and toast under the broiler for 2 minutes. You may need to rotate the pan after a minute. Keep your eye on the marshmallows. You want them a nice golden brown.DSC_0513
  5. Once the marshmallows are toasted, let them cool a bit. In a mixing bowl, mix together the butter and powdered sugar until creamy. Add in the toasted marshmallows. This could get messy. I advise buttering a spatula before using it to scrap the marshmallows into the frosting base. Set aside.
  6. Invert the cake pans and let the cake layers cool on a wire rack or place them in the fridge to cool them faster.
  7. For the whipped ganache frosting, heat the heavy cream and pour it over the chocolate pieces. Let it sit for a few minutes before mixing it with a whisk. Let it cool.
  8. As the ganache cools, assemble the cake. Place one layer on a serving plate. I like to use a cardboard round covered in parchment or wax paper. Transfer the marshmallow frosting into a piping bag and pipe it in a even layer on the first cake layer. Leave at least 1/4 inch of space between the edge of the cake. Top with the berries (if you’re planning on using them) and place the top layer over the frosting.
  9. Whip the ganache with an electric mixer. I used more heavy cream, so it ended up being more of a whipped cream frosting. Frost the top and sides with the ganache and refrigerate.

Now if this is for a birthday, simply melt some more chocolate (maybe use white for a nice contrast?) and pipe happy birthday directly onto the cake. If you’re like me and aren’t a pro with a piping bag, I advise you pipe it on parchment paper, stick it in the fridge until the chocolate sets and then transfer it onto the cake.

yum

yum

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

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