Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes

(also, “How to fake a recipe gone wrong”)

Summer BBQ series, Post 2 of 4

The thing about blogging about food you make is that sometimes you have food failures that are so atrocious that they should never see the light of day.  No one really wants to showcase their duds for all to see, but baking definitely involves a measure of “learn from your mistakes.” So while the chocolate cupcakes featured today were largely failure, you’ll see that with a positive outlook, you can sometimes turn fail into win. It’s just a matter of perspective. 🙂

Most of the time you can take any cake recipe and throw it into a muffin tin with no consequences. This recipe is an exception. The batter rises much more than any standard cake recipe, so loading it up into a muffin pan causes it to sink in the middle when it’s done. The lightness of the batter can’t support the tallish structure of a cupcake, so my end result was 24 sunken cupcakes. Those little divots mocked me.

Well thank goodness these cupcakes were going to a BBQ! The usual problem of taking frosted cakes to a BBQ is that after a while sitting in the sun, the frosting ends up being a gloopy mess. Not a problem with sunken cupcakes though! The cavities proved to be perfect for holding the frosting in its place, and once everything was smoothed out on top, they looked pretty decent given their initial state. Oh, and the frosting “surprise” was a nice touch too.

I’m glad to report that the cake recipe itself is delicious. It yields a very moist, tender crumb, even despite the sunken nature. Try making this in the two 9″ pans like the recipe recommends. I bet your results will be better than mine.

Sour Cream-Fudge Layer Cake with Chocolate Butter Icing | Cook’s Illustrated

Cake Ingredients

1 cup natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder , or instant coffee
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs , at room temperature
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Icing Ingredients

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate , or semisweet
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup light corn syrup

Directions

1. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch round baking pans with shortening. Line pan bottoms with waxed or parchment paper; grease paper as well. Dust pans with flour; tap out excess.

2. Mix cocoa and instant coffee in small bowl; add boiling water and mix until smooth. Cool to room temperature, then stir in vanilla and sour cream.

3. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 30 seconds. Gradually sprinkle in sugar; beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating 1 full minute after each addition.

4. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. With mixer on lowest speed, add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to batter, followed immediately by about 1/3 of cocoa mixture; mix until ingredients are almost incorporated into batter. Repeat process twice more. When batter appears blended, stop mixer and scrape bowl sides with rubber spatula. Return mixer to low speed; beat until batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between pans. With rubber spatula, run batter to pan sides and smooth top. Bake cakes until they feel firm in center when lightly presesd anad skewer comes out clean or with just a crumb or two adhering, 23 to 30 minutes. Tranfer pans to wire racks; cool for 20 minutes. Run knife around perimeter of each pan, invert cakes onto racks, and peel off paper liners. Reinvert cakes onto additional racks; cool completely before frosting.

6. For the Icing: Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water. Stir in corn syrup. Set bowl of chocolate mixture over a larger bowl of ice water, stirring occasionally, until the frosting is just thick enough to spread. Apply icing onto first cake layer and spread with a long metal spatula, top with second cake layer, top second layer with icing, spread and then ice sides. Serve.

Almond Spritz Cookies

Did you know that almond meal is just ground up almonds? Did you know that almond butter is also just ground up almonds? The key is the length of time that you grind the almonds. You can grind roasted almonds into a powdery form (almond meal), but if you keep going, the oils from the nut cause the powder to become a paste. That’s how you make any sort of nut butter. Try it at home sometime – it’s healthier than the store-bought stuff that’s generally laden with chemical preservatives.

I find it interesting that while I love the flavor of almonds, I can’t really stand them in any sort of solid form. I love almond meal in cookies and cakes, and almond flavoring, but if you put chunks of almonds into my food, I won’t eat them. It goes for all nuts actually. I will, however, eat them plain or in a trail mix. Go figure, call it a quirk.

Anyway, I have almond spritz cookies for you today. Except these didn’t spritz. The dough wasn’t wet enough to extrude properly. Either way, this recipe was almondy delicious and a hit at the BBQ I took them to. Since I couldn’t get the dough to come out of a cookie press, I rolled tablespoon-sized balls and slightly flattened them with a fork before baking.

For a hint of brightness and to really bring out the flavors, add the zest of one lemon to your cookie dough.

Almond “Spritz” Cookies | Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (about 70 degrees)
2/3 cup sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, beat yolk, cream, and almond extract with fork until combined; set aside. Grind almonds and 2 tablespoons of the flour in food processor until powdery and evenly fine, about 60 seconds. Combine almond mixture with remaining flour in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In standing mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With mixer running at medium speed, add yolk/cream mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. With mixer running at low speed, gradually beat in flour/almond mixture until combined. Scrape down bowl and give final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain.
  3. If using cookie press to form cookies, follow manufacturer’s instructions to fill press; if using pastry bag, follow illustrations 1 through 3 below to fill bag. Press or pipe cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are light golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet until just warm, 10 to 15 minutes; using metal spatula, transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Carrot Cake – Part Deux

Hey, look! A post! Yes, I am back from my unannounced hiatus. Between work, sick cat, work, snowboarding, and work, I decided to take a little time off from writing. Actually, that’s the thing about having a food blog – it’s never the writing that consumes too much time, it’s actually the pictures. Looking through my stuff, it’s probably relatively obvious that I don’t have a fancy schmancy SLR. What I don’t have in equipment is made up for in food posing and creative (read: cheap) lighting.

I think maybe if I didn’t care about taking “food porn” worthy pictures, I’d be posting a whole lot more. But hey, I have a lot of fun with the photography anyway. I’d rather not skip it if possible. Sometimes though, in a hurry to either eat what I made or out of sheer laziness, my pictures come out something like today’s. Yes, I tried to ice the cake when it wasn’t cool enough. Who cares? I call this not carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but carrot cake with cream cheese glaze. I win.

So what’s with this blurry carrot cake? Oh, it’s nothing really – just a spiced loaf of goodness that might make a rough day a little bit better.

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Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Cookies

Happy One Year, Buttered BlasphAmy!

Happy New Year to all! With the coming of the new year also comes the one year anniversary of Buttered BlasphAmy. Holy crap, I wasn’t exactly sure that I’d make it a year with this project. Granted, at times I slipped off for a couple (or few) weeks, but I never got too far away. I’ve actually averaged just over one post per week overall, which is a little admirable when I think of it. I know, there are plenty of bloggers out there who post daily or even more, but for a casual blogger like myself (read: not professional), I think it’s been a very respectable run. Thank you readers, old and new, for humoring me here on my little piece of the Web.

So what kind of post do I do for such a milestone? I had considered something fancy and intricate, but if you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’d know that that is usually not my style. So I opted for something with less fanfare. Chocolate chip cookies. That’s a classic, and I can’t believe I haven’t written a post about them yet. That said, here you go: Anniversary Chocolate Chip Cookies with Butterscotch. Here’s to another year of deliciousness and om noming.

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I *Need* a Pizza Stone

margherita2

Tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, romano.

Okay, so a couple of things. First, JM has effectively ruined pizza for me. I’m going to have to carry a bottle of white truffle oil around in my purse all the time now… you know, “just in case.” Secondly, if you’re going to make pizza, please get a pizza stone. Please, please, with a chunk of mozzarella on top.

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Summer BBQing

bbq1

Summers in San Francisco are hardly summer-like compared to the rest of the country. Living in the Bay Area means mild to chilly temps all year long. But every once in a while we get blessed with a streak of beautiful, warm-but-not-too-warm weather. The weekend of the 4th of July happened to fall on one of those rare weather patterns, thus kicking off (in my mind), the summer BBQing season. And this is how you get this post of random musings about summer celebrations and a spattering of recipes to go with them.

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