Monday, March 29, 2010

Passover Treats III - Baby Cheesecake Cuppies

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I am not really sure where baby cheesecakes lie in the whole muffin-cupcake-cake spectrum.  But I made them in a cupcake tin, they used cupcake liners, and they are in the Martha Stewart Cupcake Book.  So it counts as a cupcake.

Anyway, I have never made cheesecake before, but it seemed like it would be any easy task to change the baby cheesecake cuppies to a Passover friendly dessert.

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First, you need to start with the crust.  It will seem like it is too crumby, but it actually worked!  Thanks again, Mama Baa Baa for the recipe :)  Of course, if you want to make year-round cuppies, just use regular graham cracker crust (recipe here)

Passover Friendly Cheesecake Crust - Enough for 24 cupcakes

  •  1 cup matzah cake meal (available in the Kosher section or online here)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon until the contents become uniform.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of crust mixture to each cupcake liner.
  3. Press the crust mixture firmly onto the bottom of each cupcake liner with your fingers.  
  4. Bake at 325 F for 5-8 minutes, or until firm.  The crust will not turn brown during this time.
Alright, now onto the real fun! I used Martha Stewart's recipe for mini cheesecakes with raspberry swirls (online here).  For the cream cheese, I used half non-fat and half low-fat for this recipe.  No one could tell!  Also, I didn't really know what she meant by a roasting pan, but what I did was use a glass pan that I normally use for sheet cake that fit snuggly underneath the cupcake tin.  You want to fill the "roasting pan" with enough water so that the bottoms of the cupcakes are immersed in water.  Just be careful when you turn the pan around halfway through.  I spilled a bunch of water and gave my cheesecakes a little steam bath.

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Obviously, I need to work on my swirls.  They didn't come out as pretty as Martha's.  I bet that if you have any experience with making those pretty designs in cappuccino that you would be good at this kind of decorating, too!

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Oh, and my tip for storing the cuppies:  Keep them in the tins as they cool in the fridge for 4 hours.  Once they have become more solid and keep their shape you can move them to a tupperware container.

This is how the cuppies were displayed at the seder I went to tonight:

photo (26)
Heehee... now you can't see my ugly swirls!

And what they looked like cut in half:

photo (2)

As fun as it was to experiment with matzah flour, I'm looking forward to using flour again in my baking :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover Treats II: Orange Sponge Cake With Glaze

sliced up cake

Are you ready for the next installment of Passover Treats? :)

If chocolate is not your thing, you might not want to make the chocolate chip brownie cupcakes that I wrote about a few days ago.  I played around with a sponge cake recipe and came up with this orange sponge cake.  It was the first sponge cake that I had ever made.  I even had to go out and buy a bundt cake pan!

This recipe will make enough for a small bundt cake and about a dozen cupcakes.  Although I used paper liners, I think that the cuppies would look even better without the liners and just covered in glaze.  The cake comes out nice and spongy and with a light orange taste.  

sponge cupcakes


Passover Orange Sponge Cake
  • 10 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  •  zest of 2 medium sized oranges
  • -4 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup matzo cake meal (available in the Kosher section, or here)
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (available in the Kosher section, or here)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray bundt pan with cake release, butter, or pam.  If you have a bundt cake on the smaller size, you will have extra batter.  You can use the leftover to make cupcakes.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on medium-high speed until homogenous.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla to the beat egg yolks and mix well.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the matzo cake flour, potato starch and salt.
  5. Gradually add the dry mixture to the egg yolk mixture.  Mix until fully combined
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry peaks form.
  7. Using a flexible spatula, slowly fold the egg whites into the batter.  Your batter will be airy and increase in volume.
  8. Pour the batter into a bundt pan.
  9. Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes (baking time will depend on your oven).  The cake will be ready when a skewer pushed into it comes out clean and the surface of the cake becomes brown and springs back when pressed.  If you make cuppies, the baking time will be closer to 18 minutes.  Just check the cupcakes with a toothpick.  The top of the cakes will darken and the cake should bounce back when pressed.
  10. Allow to cool a little before turning out, otherwise your bundt cake may fall.... like mine did :(

Oh yeah.  Did I mention that the bundt cake didn't exactly turn out like I had wanted?  When I turned it out of the pan, it looked like this:

my droopy bundt cake

I had to put the bundt cake disaster out of my mind while making the glaze.  I wanted to make something special, and I found a recipe on Epicurious for a Strawberry & Rhubarb glaze.  Yummy!

strawberry and rhubarb
Gorgeous colors, although after a while it will become quite soupy

Strawberry & Rhubarb Glaze
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb (from about 1  pound)
  • 8 strawberries, cut in half
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (I used potato starch to make it Passover friendly)
  1. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, 2/3 cup water, and lemon juice in large saucepan. Continuously stir while the ingredients come to a boil.    
  2. Reduce the heat and allow contents to simmer for about 9 minutes (the rhubarb should become tender and the ingredients will become soupy).  
  3. Remove from heat and allow contents to cool 10 minutes. 
  4. Pour the mixture through a large strainer set over a bowl.  Use a flexible spatula to press on the solids so that the liquid goes into the bowl.  You should get about 1.5 cups of liquid.
  5. Put the liquid back into to saucepan.  Bring the contents to a simmer. 
  6. Stir in the potato starch (cornstarch) and 3 tablespoons water together in a small bowl.
  7. Add the potato starch and water mixture to the simmering saucepan.  Stir with a wooden spoon constantly until the mixture thickens.  This will take about 5 minutes.  
  8. Pour the glaze into small bowl and cover.  Allow the glaze to cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 

photo
Cell phone pictures just don't do this cuppy justice!

The glaze is really good!  I think that it definitely makes the cake.  However, the glaze is a lot more flavorful than the cake itself, so you won't really be able to taste the orange much with the glaze on top.  However, the cake does not taste like a Passover cake!  Hooray!!  In fact, people that don't even celebrate Passover asked for the recipe :)

Oh!  And remember how sad the bundt cake looked?  Sara had the great idea to slice up the bundt cake so no one would ever know what it was in its former state.  

sliced up passover sponge cake

There is one more installment of Passover treats left!  Stay tuned!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Cuppysaurus Rex

t-rex cupcake with bones II

If there is one thing that you have learned about me from this blog, it's that I love to bake cupcakes.  Now, you will know that I loooove dinosaurs!  It's pretty surprising that in my (short) cupcake career that I haven't made dinosaur cupcakes yet.  Well, I have planned on making dinosaur cupcakes, but every time I buy little plastic dinosaurs to put on the cupcakes I decide that I don't want to part with them.  So I keep the dinosaur friends in my room and make a different kind of cuppy.  Is it obvious that I want to be a pediatrician?

However, I found a solution!  I purchased a great dinosaur chocolate mold so that I can make tiny chocolate dinos over and over again and not feel sad about giving them away.  I don't remember where I found it, but the exact one that I used is available online here.  Just don't bite their heads off in front of me (just kidding).

I have now made a couple of things that use a chocolate mold (for example, heart cupcakes) but I never post pictures of the process.  Hooray, it will be a mystery no longer!

Making chocolates with a mold:

1. Get out your chocolate wafer melts.  You can find them at a store like Michael's or a local cake decorating store (or online here).  They come in many different colors. 

chocoalte melting wafers

2.  Grab a handful and place them in a ziplock bag.  Leave the bag open.

chocolate melting wafers in a bag

3.  Microwave for 30 second intervals.  Squish the wafers around with your fingers to facilitate the melting.  Keep on zapping it until the chocolate is completely melted.

almost melted green chocolate
You can still see pieces of chocoalte that need to be melted... back into the microwave you go!

4. Once the chocolate has melted, push everything over to one corner of the bag and snip a very small corner off with scissors.

5.  Get out your (clean) chocolate mold.

dinosaur mold

6.  Use the zip-lock bag to fill each mold with chocolate.  You don't want to overfill the molds but be sure to use enough chocolate. 

filling the dinosaur mold with chocolate

7.  Tap the mold against the table to release any air bubbles that might be trapped.  You can allow it to harden on a coutnertop or in the freezer.

8.  Once the chocolate has completely hardened, gently turn the mold over and wiggle the plastic mold until the chocolates pop out.  They will come out very easily if the chocolate has solidified.  And voila!  Homemade chocolates!

chocolate dinosaurs

Using chocoalte molds are a very easy and inexpensive way to customize your cupcakes.  And everyone is always very impressed when you say that you made them yourself.

So just use your favorite cupcake and frosting recipe and go to town with your dinosaur decoration!  I had some bone sprinkles from a pirate sprinkle kit that I purchased a little while ago.  They made the T-rex cuppies look extra fierce.  But dinosaurs alone look great too!

three pink + dinos

I could have sworn that I purchased some candy rock decorations with dinosaur cupcakes in mind.  But try as I might, I couldn't find them in my kitchen.  It might be due to my poor baking supply organization skills.  Here's a snapshot of one of the areas in our kitchen where I keep my cupcake things:

my messy cupcake cabinet

It's ok.  My little cuppies didn't need them, anyway!  They were DINO-mite! ;-)

dinosaur cupcakes

Oh, and I put these dinos on mini cupcakes.  So the dinosaurs are actually quite small, as you can see:

i'm going to eat you!

But still fierce enough to take over my kitchen!

land before time

What's your favorite prehistoric reptile?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Passover Treats I: Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes

pastel cupcakes

Passover is a tough time for desserts.  It's a holiday full of tradition, but eating matzah for a week gets old.  And not being able to use flour makes it difficult to bake a delicious dessert!

I have been experimenting for the past two weeks with various Passover friendly recipes.  If you know of any good ones, please send it to me at baabaacupcake@gmail.com.  I had some winners, and some losers.  I will be sharing the winners with you.  Trust me, you don't want to see what happened to the strawberry rhubarb compote cupcakes that I tried to make.  

pink from above

The first Passover treat that I would like to share with you is a chocolate chip brownie cuppie, modified from a brownie recipe from Mama Baa Baa Cupcake.  She makes a killer regular brownie, so when she said that it was a good Passover-friendly brownie I knew that it would be good!

(If you are more interested in a brownie cupcake that does not involve matzo cake meal, try these yummy cuppies here)

chocolate chip brownie cupcakes

Passover Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes - Makes 5 dozen mini-cupcakes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup matzo cake meal (available in the Kosher section and here)
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (available in the Kosher section and here)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line mini cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter together in a sauce pan or double boiler.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs to the chocolate-butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined.
  4. Add the matzo cake meal and potato starch to the large bowl.  Mix until well combined.
  5. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon the batter into the tins and bake for approximately 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

Unless I had mentioned that they were made with mazo cake meal, no one noticed that they were not made with actual flour!  The batter itself tasted a lot like chocolate covered matzah, but the once it was baked it tasted just like a "regular" brownie!  I think that the chocolate chips are key!  If you wanted to get really adventurous, you could even add some walnuts into the mix.

As for the frosting, I just used my favorite vanilla buttercream recipe.  Since it's spring, I decided to color the frosting pink, light green, and lavender.  I always use Wilton's gel coloring instead of the drops that you can buy at the grocery store.  A little of it goes a long way and they have such great color options!

pink IV

Are you new to using gel colors?  Here's a quick guide on how to color your frosting with them:

First, start with a gob of plain frosting.  Even if you plan to color all of the frosting the same, you should save some plain frosting just in case...

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Next, use a toothpick (or a fork) and dip it into the gel to get a small amount on there.  

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Ok, so I clearly used a lot of color... but you should just use dabs at a time! Gel color is very potent.

Use a flexible spatula or spoon or whatever you find handy to mix the color until it is completely uniform.

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If you find that your color is too light, add a small amount of color gel and mix again.  Repeat as many times as necessary.  If you added too much color and your frosting is now a deeper shade than you would like, use some of that reserved frosting to lighten it.

These cuppies are just so photogenic, no?

pentagon of lavendar cupcakes

And they are sure to be a hit at your passover seder :)

three pastel cupcakes

Monday, March 22, 2010

Carousel Cupcakes

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The fact that the weather is steadily getting warmer led to me thinking about my favorite local(ish) ice cream shop: Dairy-Go-Round.  I mostly like that they do a good job with sprinkles on the the ice cream and that it's inexpensive.  But I also love that it looks like a carousel and has little horses for children (and big kids like me) to sit on while enjoying their treat. 

I then was struck with an idea: Carousel cupcakes!

It was quite a bit of work.  It involved buying a large bag of animal crackers:

animal crackers!


And some pretzel rods.  I used very large ones, but if I made them again I would go smaller.  They are for the poles that hold the horses and such that go around the carousel and using a large pretzel rod dwarfs the animal crackers.



And some royal icing.  I bought royal icing mix, which only requires adding water and mixing, but you could always make it from scratch.

royal icing in bags 

I spread this project over two days because I knew that it was going to be a lot of work. 

Day 1: bake cupcakes, decorate animal crackers, decorate pretzel rods, "glue" animal crackers to pretzel rods. 

As far as what cupcake to use, pick whatever you like!  You want it to be on the dense side so that the pretzel sticks stay standing.

Next, you want to decorate your animal crackers!  I had a whole bunch of sprinkles out ready to use, but in the end I just used the royal icing.  You can also use an edible marker to draw on the crackers.

in the process of decorating the animal cookies
Starting to create the horses!

decorated animal crackers
All decorated! I decided to just use horses and lions.

Now, to decorate the pretzels... 

Actually, WAIT! If you are using long pretzels like I did, you want to break them into your desired size before you go through the effort to decorate them!  

lying on its side
See to the right a small portion of the pretzel has been broken off?

I painted and assembled them first and sometimes the pretzel broke in the wrong spot:

oopsies
Sad... but was easily fixed with some icing.

Back to the pretzels... 

I just used some small (clean and reserved for food!) paintbrushes to pain the pretzel rods with leftover royal icing to match the horses.  I think that covering the pretzels with chocolate would be even more delicious, but I didn't want to waste any icing.  Let the pretzels dry on some wax paper.  Once they are dry, use a small amount of royal icing to "glue" the carousel animals to the pretzel.

  carousel animals on poles

I then put the completed carousel poles in an airtight container overnight.

Day 2: Frost cupcakes, add carousel poles, fun things to do with leftover animal crackers

First, frost a thick layer of icing on the top of your cupcakes.  I chose just plain white because I didn't want to overwhelm the senses too much!

Then all you need to do is stick the pretzel into the cupcake.

single horse

So much work, but the end result is definitely worth it!

carousel animals
Not all of the animals have to be at the same height!

all in a circle
I had big ideas to make a little canopy... but as you can see I didn't follow through

I had a lot of left over decorated animal cookies after placing all of the pretzel-animal combos on top of cuppies.

decorated animals in tupperware

As much as I wanted to eat them, I decided they would look cute alone on cupcakes.  You know, as circus animal sidekicks or something!

lion cupcakes in a row
Standing up on baby cuppies

animal cupcakes from above
Bird's eye view on bigger cuppies

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Roaming around

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All together now!

You can see the rest of the photostream here. I love cupcakes because the taste and decoration possibilities are infinite.  Next time hopefully I'll make them look more like a carousel.... :)

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