Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes w/ Peppermint Vanilla Frosting

Vanilla cupcakes with peaks of minty-sweet peppermint vanilla frosting were the star of the show at a company holiday party I provided desserts for this past weekend. My cakes were in good company; I also made red velvet with vanilla butter cream, dark chocolate with milk chocolate frosting, lemon-raspberry sandwich cookies and homemade fudge. I was pleased to see them disappear quickly off of the table!

Vanilla and peppermint taste delicious together. Although, be sure to use peppermint flavoring or oil and not mint flavoring. Mint flavoring has a tendency to taste just like toothpaste.

What you will need:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 C granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ C cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Peppermint Vanilla Frosting
3 C powdered sugar1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon milk or half and half
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Holiday sprinkles for decorating

For the cake, cream butter, sugar and vanilla together with electric mixer, slowly beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt, reduce your mixer’s speed and add in dry ingredients a half of a cup at a time until well blended. Turn your mixer back up to the highest speed and mix until batter has thickened.

In a prepared cupcake pan, scoop mixture into each cup and fill to 2/3 of the cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.

For the frosting, cream butter, peppermint flavoring and vanilla at medium speed. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Add milk or half and half to make the texture smooth or if the frosting is too stiff. Beat into soft peaks and place frosting in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, pull the frosting out of the freezer and fill a pastry bag. Use your favorite decorating tip and imagination to decorate! I didn’t have a pastry bag and instead used a sandwich bag, filled it and cut the tip off one of the corners. I created a repeating peak pattern on my cupcakes and sprinkled with festive sugar. Enjoy!

Y ~ squarebakery

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chocolate Turtles

My turtles are chewy, chocolaty and a little salty. They are always a favorite around the holidays.

What you'll need:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
1 cup of pecans
20 caramels (unwrapped)
1 tsp of fleur de sel (sea salt)
1 tsp of raw sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp of vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (for sprinkling)

I begin by toasting a cup of pecans on a cookie sheet. I first spray them with butter flavored spray, sprinkle of fleur de sel, raw sugar and cinnamon. Place coated pecans in a 300 degree oven for fifteen minutes.

You can either make your own caramel or buy a bag of caramels from your local grocer. For these turtles, I used the store bought kind. I used 20, unwrapped caramels, placed them in a bowl and softened in the microwave for fifteen seconds. You may have to do this twice until they are malleable and can be formed into balls then flattened into rounds.

After the pecans are out of the oven, melt the chocolate coating. In a medium sized bowl, melt both a cup of milk chocolate chips along with a half of a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and one teaspoon of vegetable oil. Heat in microwave in fifteen second intervals; I usually have to do this three times. (Stirring the chocolate after each interval.)

Assemble each turtle by pressing three warm pecans into the caramel round, then spoon a healthy serving of chocolate on top. I like to sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel onto the top of the turtle, as well as a pinch of a crushed pecan. The finishing touch for the turtles is a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Let turtles cool and the chocolate set for an hour. You can accelerate the process by putting the turtles into the refrigerator. These make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. Enjoy!

Y ~ squarebakery