Monthly Archives: March 2016

Baby Bunnies! In Mini Cupcake Form. Enough Said!

 

Baby bunnies! OMG sooooo fluffffy!

Baby bunnies! OMG sooooo fluffffy!

I’ve been seeing a lot of bunny type cupcakes on some of the cupcake and cake FB groups that I belong to, and I decided I’d like to make up my own version of them. So yesterday I whipped up 40 of these babies to send to work with the DH this morning.

The recipe is a modification of one that a number of cupcake bakers use, at least according to the afore-mentioned FB groups, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t change up a whole bunch of things, just because. Like the lack of eggs. And the presence of ground flax seed. But there’s a connection! I was planning on making these cupcakes for a while, but last night at the 11th hour (technically at the 10th hour, as it was 10 pm), I realized I was out of eggs. However, I have a huuuuge amount of flax seeds just sitting in my fridge (I bought an even huuuuuuger amount from a bakery outlet a while back), so…a flax seed egg it was, or rather two flax seed eggs!

HOW TO MAKE A FLAX SEED EGG (replaces raw egg)

One makes a flax seed egg by mixing a tbsp. of ground flax with 3 tbsp. of water and letting it sit for 10 minutes until the mixture gets all gummy and gooey and takes on a raw egg white texture. It’s basically working as a binder, and it will definitely make your ingredients stick together.

HOW TO MAKE SOUR MILK (replaces buttermilk)

I also made up some sour milk to replace the buttermilk called for in the recipe. I just added a large splash of vinegar (about a 1/2 tsbp.) to a half cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes, until chunky. Deeeelicious! (Not really, but good for baking.)

But enough with the chitter-chatter, on to the recipe!

VANILLA COCONUT MINI BUNNY CUPCAKES

You will need:

Make the Vanilla Cupcakes:

(adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen)

  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 flax seed eggs (see recipe above)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/2 sour milk (see recipe above)
  • 1/2 c. water

Mix everything together until just mixed. It should a very un-thick batter, which is good. And fyi, the combo of baking soda and baking powder is what makes them so light and fluffy. Fill the cups of the mini cupcake tray halfway and bake at 350 degrees until golden on top, about 10 minutes.

Ice and cover in flaked coconut. Try not to eat them all.

Ice and cover in flaked coconut. Try not to eat them all.

Once the mini cupcakes are cooked, ice them thinly with the buttercream icing, using a knife. I talk about buttercream icing more here, but a really nice basic one is just a mixture of equal amounts of butter and shortening, with a dash of vanilla extract, a splash of milk, and a whole bunch of icing sugar, whipped for a long period of time until fluffy. So, ice the cupcakes, then dunk them upside down into a bowl of the shredded coconut.

Using a dab of buttercream frosting, press two bunny ears into the top of the cupcake. And voila, done! Want to know how to make those bunny ears? Couldn’t be easier!

BABY BUNNY EARS

Take a mini marshmallow, and cut it in half diagonally using a pair of scissors. Dip the sticky middles of those two cut pieces into a bowl of the sanding sugar. The sugar will stick only to the inside of the marshmallow, resulting in a pink inner ear. Aren’t they adorable? Too cute!

A bowlful of bunny ears! Squeeee!

A bowlful of bunny ears! Squeeee!

The finished product is too cute as well! The DH took them to work this morning, and apparently everyone loved them! If you like coconut, you could even use coconut oil in place of the shortening in the buttercream, and it would be a coconut buttercream. I’ve done that before and it’s also delish! And just think — between the coconut oil and the flax seed, why these are practically healthy, right? At the very least, the health benefits of the healthy oils balance out the sugar, wouldn’t you say?

These cupcakes would make great bonbons to place at place-settings at Easter dinner, or to make with kids as an Easter weekend crafternoon. If you make some, let me know — I’d love to see pics! I mean, cupcakes and bunnies — what could be cuter?

Next Post: More Dinner Roll Odyssey? Or the Parmesan and Paprika Potato Wedges that I made recently? We shall see!  

Money, Art, & Multi-Tasking: Earl Grey Green Financiers

served with lemon curd because it looks prettier also tastes pretty good

Served with lemon curd because it looks prettier. Also tastes pretty good, in case you were wondering.

I was talking with a friend of mine tonight, Ken, an artist who is currently living in…somewhere in South East Asia. I lose track of his travels. I actually had to say to him, “Remind me, which country are you in right now?” (It’s Cambodia, btw.) Anyway, as I’m chatting away with him on Facebook, I’m also popping in trays of delicious French financiers into the oven, and pulling out (and sampling!) more trays of these golden-domed treats.

What are these delicious, buttery things I write of? Well, the origins of financiers are a bit murky. Some say that they are called financiers because of the financial types who used to eat them on their hurried coffee breaks; the buttery almond treat could be held in a hand and quickly gobbled in between weighty financial transactions.  Others say that the financier is named such because when baked in the traditional shape, they resemble gold bullion bars.

How did I find this out? Two words! Well, three, actually. Dorie Greenspan. And Wikipedia! My baking group is baking Matcha Financiers from Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook this week, and she talks about the origins of the treat in her recipe intro. And then I wikipedia’d it too, because that’s how I roll.

"It's not easy being green...."

“It’s not easy being green….”

Dorie takes the traditional financier recipe and gives it a bit of an Eastern twist, with the introduction of Matcha powder. I, of course, having no matcha powder or the inclination to go shopping for any, replaced the Matcha tea in the recipe with ground Earl Grey Green tea, of which I had plenty. Hey, it’s green! Close enough? Eh, it’ll do.

The recipe calls for only egg whites to be used, which makes the financiers all crisp and light, despite the heaviness of the almond flour that is also used. The way I look at it, the low-fat egg whites balance out the caloric effect of the butter that is added into the batter mixture.

Once the batter is all mixed up, into the fridge it goes for an hour, before being baked until golden and crispy. And this time I actually did let it rest for an hour in the fridge, as I was using the oven to bake some oatmeal bread. I was running around like a headless chicken in the kitchen tonight, trying to make dinner, lunches for tomorrow, oatmeal & Greek yoghurt bread, plus these financiers. And then given that I had so many egg yolks leftover from making the financiers, I decided to make some lemon curd. Hey, in for a penny, in for a pound! And in this case, a load of dishes. Which I plan to leave for tomorrow. Or the DH. (Possibly both.)

What do I think of the financiers? Well, given that I’ve never had them before, it’s hard to know why they don’t knock my socks off. Is it the addition of the Earl Grey Green powder instead of the Matcha powder? Or is it just that the flavour isn’t what I was expecting? Maybe both. I think if the butter had been browned the way that it often is, I might like it more. Or if the tea flavour was either stronger, or not present at all. The faint bergamot flavour of the Earl Grey Green tea is nice and all, but…it’s just too vague. I like my treats with some oomph! And/or chocolate.

I like my greens powdered. With butter. And carbs. #nottrue #saladforever #veg4life

I like my greens powdered. With butter. And carbs. #nottrue #saladforever #veg4life

I’m typing this post while sitting on my couch with my laptop, as I often do, taking a break from my kitchen-chicken ways. Hanging on the wall across from me is a framed print of one of Ken’s watercolours. I have to say, having real art on my walls makes me feel so grown-up! (Because mere age isn’t enough to do that on it’s own, obvs.) Using tea in my baking also makes me feel grown-up. Next time, though, I think I’ll use one of Dorie’s Bonne Idees, and add in chopped chocolate to the batter. Chocolate Everything may not be a terribly grown-up flavour profile, but it is one that I’ll happily nom on. Don’t worry, Chocolate, you’ll always be my favourite!

Next Post: Parmesan & Paprika Potato Wedges. Or another Dinner Roll Odyssey Post. Mmm, carby carbs! All I need now is some chocolate. 🙂

Memories of Meals Past: Arepas, the Venezeulan Answer to Everything Snackish

Nom, nom, nom! And breakfast is served.

Nom, nom, nom! And breakfast is served.

It’s been a while since I did a Memories of Meals Past post, so I thought it was about time. As I’ve mentioned before, the DH is from South America, which brings all sorts of new foods and cooking skills into our household. Take for example, the arepa.

What is the arepa? Well, what isn’t it? One can eat it for breakfast, for lunch, stuffed with a myriad of things for dinner, as an evening snack, and I’ve even eaten it as a post-party food. It’s basically a cornmeal patty, in my opinion, although I’m sure any Venezuelans reading this post will gasp in horror at that quick summation. But I think it is like a cornmeal patty, just often used the way a pita would be used (stuffed, or as a side with a meal). Naturally, as many different uses as there are for an arepa, there are different recipes.

At any rate, I used this recipe, and Pan brand corn meal/flour.

One has to use the right brand of corn meal/flour, and as any Venezuelan knows, Pan is the only brand to use. Any other brand? Inferior. I’m not a big brand label person, and also not a huge arepa-eating person, so I can’t tell the difference, but the DH assures me that there is one.

This recipe isn’t perfect, in that melted butter is listed an ingredient, but one is told in the recipe text when to add it in. Instead the text says to use vegetable oil to grease the pan; I baked on a cookie tray, and used the melted butter to grease it all up nice and slippery. (I feel like I’m an honourary Southerner, just writing that sentence. Tee hee!)

I made half a batch of these arepas (only 4), as they’re not my favourite snack/meal/whatever, much to the disappointment of the DH. I put together a plate for him, pictured above (served with ricotta cheese and a tropical fruit salad), and then did a couple of chores around the house. When I went back to try an arepa…he was eating the very last bite of the very last one. I’ll take that as a compliment!

Do you have a favourite arepa recipe? If so, share it in the comments!

Next Post: More bread for my latest Food Odyssey? Or shall I spring into…Spring with some spritz cookies? Or maybe whip together some baby bunny butt cupcakes that have been percolating in my mind? Only time shall tell! That and my cravings.

Dinner Roll Odyssey: Texas Roadhouse Copycat Rolls

Seriously melt in your mouth. And in this case, served with Apple Pear Butter.

Seriously melt in your mouth. And in this case, served with Apple Pear Butter.

Every now and then, I like to do something I call a Food Odyssey. I’ve done a Pie Crust Odyssey previously, where I tried out several different pie crust recipes in order to find the ultimate in flaky, tasty piecrusts, and now, dear readers, I bring you the…DINNER ROLL ODYSSEY!

Yes, bread, delicious bread! That gluten-filled, yeasty yumminess that is never quite so good as fresh out of the oven and buttered and happily snacked on.

I didn’t grow up with dinner rolls, but I do like them. They’re such a perfect little serving size. And what, you think I serve them with dinner? Ha! Ha ha! Well, I have been known to do so, but really, I use them for snacks, for lunches, and to eat when I’m foraging for food at midnight.

Which recipe to start the odyssey with? Well, in the U.S. (and yes, I’m Canadian) apparently the restaurant chain called something like ‘Texas Roadhouse Grill’ or so, has mouth-watering dinner rolls. So, hey, why not start there?

I used this recipe from www.foodfanatic.com, but me being me (*cough*Queen of Substitutions*cough*) I used 1/2 c. of milk powder instead of honey. Why? I still have milk powder leftover from the Venezuelan milk candy that my mother-in-law made for my wedding. Which was a few years ago now. Waste not, want not, and all that jazz! I figure the milk powder will add extra nutrition, and it’s sweet, so that can replace the honey. Plus, as I learned when I made Schoolhouse Rolls, milk powder adds a special, indefinable taste to buns. It just makes buns taste better in my opinion.

The result? Yummeh! They tasted a bit like my Schoolhouse Rolls, I thought. Which makes sense given that I did used milk powder. I wonder how they would taste if I actually used the honey the recipe called for. Should I make the recipe again, and follow it to the letter? Meh, boooorrrrring. I want to move on to the next recipe already!

Ooh, a whole tray of buns! I wonder how long this will last me....

Ooh, a whole tray of buns! I wonder how long this will last me….

I would recommend mixing the yeast with the warm milk and letting that proof for a bit, i.e. let it sit until foamy, maybe 20 minutes or so, before adding in the flour. The original recipe says to mix the flour and yeast together, but I’ve never heard of a bread recipe that didn’t proof the yeast and I think it makes the bread fluffier if one does so. So I’d recommend it! It will turn out ok without the proofing, but…I think proofing it makes it better!

So this recipe was ok. I mean, I enjoyed the freshly made, warm, buttery bread (oh dear, now I want to eat another one!), but I think it could be better. So…on to the next dinner roll recipe! And the odyssey has begun. Stay tuned!

Next Post: A Memories of Meals Past Post! And then back to bread, delicious bread!

Odile’s Orange Cake, Birthday Surprises, and Butter-Related Incidents: Must be a BCM Post!

Happy Birthday, Babycakes! Eat, drink, and be merry! Also, please cut me a slice.

Happy Birthday, Babycakes! Eat, drink, and be merry! Also, please cut me a slice.

Hey, guess what I did last weekend? I bought a kitchen scale! Not terribly earth-shattering I know, but I’ve been having too many butter-related incidents with my baking recently (this one, for example), so I thought it was time to invest in one (read “spend $20 at Walmart”).

I used my scale for the first time today, when I was making this week’s recipe for my bake-a-long group: Odile’s Orange Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook.

This is basically a simple one layer sponge cake, with flecks of orange zest in it. Once out of the oven, it’s brushed with a simple syrup made of sugar, water, cinnamon, and orange slices. Finally, one arranges the poached orange slices on top, and finishes the whole thing off with a glaze of orange marmalade!

At least, that’s what the recipe says. What did I do? Well, remember I call myself the Queen of Substitutions!

  • I ran out of white sugar (How does this happen? It’s a baking catastrophe, I tell you!) so I used brown sugar in the cake. Also in the simple syrup. I considered using icing sugar, but thought brown sugar was the closest in texture, even if it changed the colour and deepened the flavour a bit. (Random Kitchen Hack: run out of icing sugar? Grind some regular sugar in your spice grinder! Not perfect, but close enough in a pinch!)
  • Also, I had no orange marmalade. I also had no inclination to buy a jar of orange marmalade in order to use maybe two tbsp. glazing this cake. So I used the jam that I did have in the fridge…triple fruit strawberry jam! Same thing, right? Eh, it works as a glaze. So it gives the cake a bit of a ruby colour — that’s a good thing, right? Dorie does say that one can use blood oranges to top the cake with, so really, I’m just using her colour scheme, albeit slightly differently than intended.
  • And…just to top things off, literally, it’s the DH’s birthday tomorrow (technically today, since it’s past midnight as I type this), so I cut out some letters from fondant and stuck them on top. Two birds, one stone, bam! I shall do a super-duper fancy-pants cake for this coming weekend, when we’re celebrating with family, but I thought two cakes in a week was enough so this cake is now his birthday cake. You’re welcome, honey!
I eyeballed the butter to within 3 grams of the weight needed. *does victory dance*

I eyeballed the butter to within 3 grams of the weight needed. *does victory dance*

But back to the recipe. I measured the butter very carefully, even making sure not to measure the weight of the bowl that held the butter. I was only 3 grams under Dorie’s recommended amount. So if this cake doesn’t turn out, it’s not because I added the wrong amount of butter! (It may be because I didn’t let the butter get to room temperature, or the eggs for that matter, but really, who has time for that?)

Is the scale worth it? Well, the proof shall be in the pudding, er…cake! I haven’t actually tasted it myself, because I’m waiting for the DH to wake up and cut a slice. (What’s that? Cake for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do!) But as soon as he cuts a slice, I’ll update you all with his reaction!

Want to see how everyone else in the bake-a-long group made their cakes? Check them out here! Truly a great group of bakers.

Edited to say: The cake! It was a hit! It was eaten with great gusto, and I’m saving one of the last slices to eat after my evening workout. Workout + cake slice = null calories, right? Mmm…cake!

Next Post: I’ve been busily writing up draft posts and then not getting around to posting them, so I’ve got a backlog. First up, the Dinner Roll Odyssey I’ve been promising. The result will be worth the wait!