Bedside Confessions (Chocolate Malt Cupcakes)

What the hell is malt? Like what is it? I understand it’s some sort of powdered milk substance, I also understand its delicious! But I just do not understand, how do you make it, where does it come from, is it dairy? I DON’T GET IT.
The first time I had a chocolate malt shake I was in California with Courtney and I was honestly skeeved out at first. The first problem is we were walking into a fast food joint, I do not do fast food. Seriously it kills me supporting it, the fake and gross things that go into fast food, dkfjasod;ehfj, I’m getting chills just thinking about it. After I finally walked in and order a Chocolate Malt shake I knew this summer would be awesome.
I never had a malt shake before California. I was baffled, did they make this everywhere? Can I get it in Pennsylvania? Why have my parents never told me about this? Can I have this every day? How bad is this for me!?!?!?! The malt intensifies the chocolate making it sweet, but not too sweet. It also gives it a grainier consistence which is weirdly addictive. I LOVE IT, I AM A MALT ADDICT.

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Back in PA I find malt on my shopping list way to frequently. I hate to admit it but I keep a bottle on my nightstand, just encase of that midnight milkshake (you think I’m kidding but I’m not!). The serving size is 2 TBSP but I will not deny dumping a quarter cup in a 12 ounce shake. I have pretty much tried it in everything and anything from chocolate milk to dipping bread in it, just like hot sauce, I will put that shit on everything.
My mom asked me to make cupcakes this weekend the only parameters being chocolate. The cupcakes were for a co-worker that we have both worked with. Jon turned 25 on Monday and this food loving fiend has asked if he could move in with us so he could enjoy my mother’s cooking and my baking all the time. We said no.
Anyways it just so happens that Jons favorite summer time drink is also chocolate malt shakes, so making a chocolate cupcake with a malt frosting was just common sense. This cupcake recipe below was originally used for a 2 layer cake and makes close to 3 dozen cupcakes. Also the batter needs to be mixed longer than normal, I would say a good 3-5 minutes or else you get clumps of baking soda/ flour still visible in the cupcake. Do not let the shorting in the frosting scare you it’s really VERY good. The malt and this frosting go down smooth, and easily makes enough to frost all the cupcakes – that is if you resist the temptation to eat the entire bowl.

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So turn your shake into a cupcake, and enjoy summer through all seasons!
Chocolate Malt Cupcake
Yields about 32 cupcakes
Ingredients Cake:
2 1/3 Cup Lukewarm Water
3/4 Cup vegetable oil
3 Large eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 1/3 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
Ingredients Frosting:
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1/2 Cup malted Milk
4 Tablespoons Unsweetened, Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
5 Cups Confectioner Sugar
Directions:
1. To make the cake combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well.
2. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt well until combined
3. Bake on 350 degrees, for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
Frosting:
1. Whip the butter and vegetable shortening until fluffy
2. Add the malt and cocoa powder
3. Add the 5 Cups of confectioner sugar 1 cup at a time
4. Wait until the cupcakes are cool before you frost
ENJOY!

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Send Inspiration!!! (Perfect Chocolate, Chocolate Cake)

Lately I’ve gotten tired of the same old questions, “what’s new?” “Nothing”, “Whats up?” “Same ol’ same old.”, “Hows work?” “worky”. I need difference in my life, I need excitement. Luckily with the weather warming, cabin fever is finally wearing off and we can go for hikes and walks outside. Actually this past weekend I got to (re)plant potatoes with a local organic farm and got really, really sunburn – lobster status.

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Look! A wild Heron!

However even with this slight change in the weather I am still caught up in the mundane patterns of society. I don’t even know what to bake anymore, I’m running out of ideas, motivation is slipping from my slightly tan, and rather dry fingers. Bold statement warning: PLEASE SEND IDEAS! Ideas for baked goods, ideas for blog posts, give me a topic I can work with that. Give me a news article I can form something around that. I JUST NEED VARIATION IN MY LIFE. Okay boring rant aside I did get to make a pretty awesome cake recently. When you are 80 years old where do you see yourself? What do you hope to have accomplished in your life? To celebrate 80 years I made a 3 layered “zebra” cake for this wonderful lady (see photo below). This by far was the biggest cake I have ever made and the only time I made a tiered cake. I was actually stumped ealier in the week, I did not know what kind of support this cake would need. After a trip to A.C. Moore and $80 later I got the cake support I needed as well as a bunch of things I didn’t need. Image What I really want to tell you about in this cake is the chocolate. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate cake recipe. This is by far the richest, wettest, chocolatlyist cake I have ever had. This is not the first time I’ve used this recipe, Pair this with a peanut butter ganache you have a heart breaker. Pair this with a Bailys butter cream icing you have a dream. IMG_7964 Without further ado, Chocolate addicts please feast your eyes on the greatest chocolate cake recipe you may ever encounter   Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake Recipe This will make a double layer cake easy. This time I paired it with a Bailys buttercream icing, it was a beautiful mixture of flavors. P.S. This is the same buttercream icing I use on the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Ingredients: Cake – 2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water Frosting – 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature 5 cups powdered sugar 6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream Directions: Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 2 9 inch round baking pans
  2. In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  3. In a stand mixer mix eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet along with boiling water and mix, the batter will be thin, this is normal.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool ten minutes before removing from pan, wait an additional 15 before frosting.

Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer whip the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl down periodically.
  2. Add the powder sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing between each cup, until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the Baileys and whip until light and fluffy.

To the Future (Pink Champagne Cupcakes)

At 11,060 feet above sea level, looking over what felt like the entire world, I realized what it would take to make me happy.

Last week (February 12-19) Courtney and I left for Mammoth Lakes California to go snowboarding. Courtney, being the dread headed, nature loving, snowboarding “badass” that she is; used to live in Mammoth and frequently left me wondering what that part of the country was like. As an East Coast Jersey Girl, I don’t think I was ready.

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The Top of the World, Or Mammoth mountain.

Growing up at sea level or below, I did not know what a real mountain looked like. Sure there are ski resorts around us, but I never realized that standing 800 feet above sea level just made you a tall hill. When I first learned to snowboard I went to Bromley Mountain in Vermont, standing 3,281 feet high that was the tallest thing I ever saw, but I never went to the top (so many regrets, but I think that saved me from breaking a few bones when I was just learning).

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Mountains out of the desert, coming from the hot springs

Arriving in Mammoth On Wednesday February 12 was a life changing experience for me. Never in my life have I felt so small. These snow covered giants putrid from the dessert making you focus all of your attention on them, and what small bit of attention is left goes to the beauty of the nature around you. The dessert, so vast and so wide, makes you wonder how anyone found what wonders you see in front of you. The pine trees, whose height puts the Rockefeller Center tree to shame, towers over everything, and watches the sunrise with the mountains before everyone else each morning. When the mountain air reaches your nose you wonder why anyone would want to live in the city. The clean fresh air tickles your nose with the smell of Christmas pine and snow, bound to bring you back to those holiday candles you spent hours in the store picking out.

 

The first full day there we went snowboarding. I have to admit, this terrified me for months leading up to this trip. I am used to a hill, I trained on a hill, I practiced on a hill, and this was a mountain, literally a mountain. But soon my fear proved to be silly, the quality of the snow was unlike the icy east and I was easily able to descend the slopes with confidence and ease. Like my Vermont experience years before I never snowboarded down from the top, but I did go there. The world is in your eyesight, but lies just out of reach of your fingertips.

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Lake Convict, California

I am born and raised a Jersey Girl. I have driven down route 195 going 90 miles an hour, windows down and music blasting, to reach the beach before the New York Bennys. I have laid in a drunken collapse in the sand with salt in my hair bullshitting about being famous one day. I have promised myself that I would never leave the Jersey lifestyle of not pumping our gas, giving the finger to those who look at us weird, and the beach that has put us on the map. I have promised myself I would never leave, until now.

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Arriving at the airport and seeing the mountains for the first time

I have traveled before, I have been to small islands and major cities, I have been to different countries and different continents, however this is the first time I really felt small. There is so much out there to see. I want to travel the world. I want to work on a snow covered mountain top for a few seasons of my life and I want to be able to determine what makes each mountain range different. I want to see islands, and be able to jump off a boat when I feel like a swim with the dolphins is in order. I want to see the world, and what makes it so big. This vacation made me realize that while I am 100% happy sitting on a beach in Jersey drinking vodka out of a water bottle, there is so much more I have not seen.

All of this dreaming big does come with an anchor, my car lease. Okay, I admit, that sounds silly. I am giving myself until the end of my car lease or 33 months to save up money to make the first move of my life. I am aware that I will have to leave my cushy desk job and start over somewhere completely different, and this scares me, but there is so much the world contains that I have never seen.

So cheers to new beginnings to the rest of our lives.

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Pink Champagne

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Based off Betty Crocker’s Recipe  

Yields about 20

A guy at work asked me what is up with the alcoholic cupcakes lately. I have no idea. I cheated again using a box mix, sorry “home-made-to-the-death”ers. This cupcake comes out super light with a mild champagne flavor. I used Yellow Tails Pink Champagne, but you can substitute it with any kind, try different flavors for an interesting combination.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

1 Box White Cake Mix

1 1/4 Cups of champagne

1/3 Cups vegetable oil

3 Egg whites

Champagne Frosting:

**Before making see note below**

1/2 Cups butter or Margarine, room temp

4 Cups powdered sugar

1/4 Cup of Champagne

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Red Food Color to look

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line cupcake pan with wrappers
  2. Dump the packaged mix, champagne, Veggie oil and egg whites into a large bowl and mix until the lumps are gone.
  3. Fill cupcake wrappers 3/4 of the way with batter.
  4. Bake 17-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Frosting:

  1. Let the butter sit until soft or room temp.
  2. Mix the Butter with a stand mixer, adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
  3. Mix in the champagne and the vanilla. If the frosting is too thick add more champagne.
  4. Mix in the food color until it get the pink color as desired

**Note** After mixing let this frosting sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to harden. The champagne makes this have a weird texture, but once refrigerated this loses the weird consistency.

 

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com

Cake pops and surprise parties these are a few of my (least) favorite things

On Sunday May 26, we had a surprise 50th birthday party for my girlfriend’s father. I hate surprises. First of all, they never end up being surprises. People are naturally curious; a significant other will wonder why you are buying an extra 100 pounds of hamburger meat when you only have a family of 4.

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Family Birthdays

Needless to say, this surprise was not so shocking. He knew our intent and walked into the downstairs living room with a straight face saying “Hey surprise!” Still ended up being a good party and everyone had a blast but the real story was the desserts, of course.

I got a little out of hand with the desserts, okay, more than a little. We had three different varieties of cupcakes including Irish car bomb, key lime, and chocolate coconut. The headlining cupcake was the Irish car bomb cupcake. This is the alcohol lover’s dream. Featuring a stout cake, whisky gnash middle and a Bailey’s butter cream frosting, there is nothing not to love.

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Insides of Irish Car Bomb Giant Cupcake

The other highlights of my dessert collection included white chocolate Nutella cups, dark chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate covered pretzel rods.

But our story today is Cake Pops. With as much fury as Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey shore, I hate cake pops. They were an internet sensation sweeping the nation last year, and with any luck the love of these retched things will dissipate by tomorrow. You may ask why I hate them so much. Last year my mom bought me a cake pop pan. I thought this was great, until I wasted three batches of bake batter on this thing because I thought it was just the batter sticking to the pan, but no the pan version just does not work. Also frosting these things is as much fun as planning your suicide.Image

Anyways these lil balls of joy were meant to simulate a golf balls, and I believe they looked pretty good! I wanted to find white nonpareils to simulate the dimples in the balls but I could not find them anywhere!! (If I did not wait until the last minute (like I always do) I could have gotten them from this internet site, but nothing screams me like the day of) Also I put Air Heads on the stick to represented the golf ball sitting on a tee.

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Cake and frosting mix

Reason number 634 why cake pops suck: you bake a serving worthy cake, just to destroy it. Ripping this cake apart with my hands made me feel like a murder. I just created something so beautiful just to dump it out. OOOH the cruelty.

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Balls o’ cake

After rolling these babies in melted white chocolate, dipping them in white sugar sprinkles, and wrapping a sticky Air Head around the base, these looked and tasted scrumptious. The cake was like a sponge, a chocolaty soft, decadent, moist, sponge. The outside was crunchy white chocolate and the sugar sprinkles gave it that extra sweetness.

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Sticks in balls

As much as these suck to make, was totally worth seeing everyone all oogly eyed over how fabulous these little golf balls looked. They were a hit too, only two left over and they did not last long either.

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Golf Ball Cake Pops

For the cake:

2 Cups Sugar

3/4 Cup cocoa powder

1 ¾ Teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 Cup Vegetable oil

1 Cup boiling water

1 ¾ Cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ Teaspoon baking powder

1 Teaspoon salt

2 Cup Milk

3 Teaspoons vanilla extract

For the pop part

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 13x9X2 pan.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin, this is not a mistake, it is oaky). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for at least 20 minutes.

For the Pop:

Sticks

Nonpareils

Chocolate Frosting

Foam block

White melting chocolate

  1. Take the cake you just baked and crumble it into a bowl, just dump it in and crumble it up.
  2. Take half the can of frosting and dump in into the bowl of crumbled cake. With your hands mix it together. You could use a spoon but your hands are so much more fun.
  3. Roll the pops into balls
  4. Melt the chocolate according to the package
  5. Dip the stick into the chocolate, then dip the stick into the ball
  6. Dip the ball and the stick into the melted white chocolate, then stick the ball into the nonpareils
  7. Stick the cake pop into the foam block to dry.
  8. Enjoy slowly. And eat at least seven.

Cheaters Coffee Cake

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The Journey of the Crumb Cake

                I was never one for cheating, but I like to win. Family monopoly games turned into battles to the death, unless I was the dealer. If I was the dealer, it was always a landslide victory in one direction. I’m not saying I cheated; I just helped out my cause a little.

                Cheating in sports is another thing, I never cheated, but cheaters always made the game more interesting. There was always that one team at the softball field that counted too many runs, or sent someone up to bat to early. This was always resolved with at least one coach being ejected from the game, parents screaming obscenities, and at least one girl crying. It’s not a game unless someone cries.

In baking I can proudly say my cheating is minimal. I prefer homemade everything, to premade anything. Cookies in the bag don’t cut it, box cakes can suck it, and store bought can remain in the store. There is an adventure involved in cooking from scratch, a sense of accomplishments, and pride.

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Don’t cheat and use a stand mixer, DONT DO IT! Do what I say not what I do.

Today, I confess, I cheated. Today I made coffee cake and used (gulp) Bisquick. I could have made homemade Bisquick, but I’ll save that for another story. This was one of the easiest recipes I could have ever followed, and at 7:00am easy is what I need. I even accomplished this recipe without my morning cup of coffee.

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                Apparently, this Bisquick coffee cake is a classic. My mother commented how her mom used to make it, and on mother’s day, tradition is the only thing that mattered. The cake part is light and fluffy, sweet and moist, comparable to a slice of cloud from the heavens. The crumbs, if you are a coffee cake fiend, like myself, I recommend doubling or tripling the crumb topping. I doubled it, and still could have used a little more. But the small balls of sugar will forever satisfy my early morning sweet tooth.

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The crumbly finished product

Without further ado, here is my slice of early morning goodness. Remember, cheaters never win, but at first they do succeed.

Cheaters Coffee Cake:

Ingredients:

Cinnamon streusel

1/3 Cup Original Bisquick mix

1/3 Cup packed brown sugar

1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons firm margarine

Coffee Cake:

2 Cups Original Bisquick mix

2/3 Cup milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Egg

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375*F. Grease a 9 inch round pan.
  2. In a small bowl, stir streusel ingredients until crumbly. If you like big crumbs try using your hands. For smaller finer crumbs use a whisk.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix coffee cake ingredients until blended, then spread evenly in pan.
  4. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the cake batter.
  5. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.