Friday, June 26, 2009

Espresso Valhrona Cupcakes

I love coffee with desert. There is something about it, the complex bitterness of the coffee met with sweetness and texture of a dessert. I hate sweet coffee, but I love the combination. Chocolate Espresso Cake is me dressing up an old classic with delicious instant espresso and indulgent Valhrona chocolate.

Cupcake Batter

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I have cocoa from the Dominican Republic)
2 Tablespoons of Instant Espresso
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2-1/3 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cream
1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped, best quality

Chocolate Glaze

6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped, best quality
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
1 Tablespoon of Instant Espresso Powder

Crank your oven 350 F

In a small bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, Espresso powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Whisking is a wonderful way to quickly air ate and essentially sift the dry ingredients.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then the vanilla, milk, and coffee.

Add the dry ingredients over the wet and whisk until just combined with minimal lumpage. (Yes, that is a technical term).

Heat the cream and add the chocolate off the flame. The hot cream will melt the chocolate. Swirl into the batter, no need to over mix, the swirl provides a lovely texture contrast.

Spoon batter into muffin tin with liners.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack.

Chocolate Glaze

Microwave the chocolate and cream at 10 second increments, stirring between each heating period to make sure you don't burn the chocolate. WARNING... CHOCOLATE BURNS EASILY... Danger Will Robinson, Danger! Once it is melted, add instant espresso, and spoon chocolate ooze over cooled cupcakes.
Put them in the Chill Box for 20 minutes or so that they can harden for travel. Or if serving right away serve warm with chocolate oozing on to a plate with a dollop of Vanilla Gelato.
Enjoy with friends, family, loved ones, co-workers, strangers, or anyone who is not allergic to the ingredients, because anaphylactic shock is no fun.
As always, much love, many blessings, and happy baking.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Teaism's Ginger Scones

My good friend Meg and I made much, much, much, Strawberry Jam this week. How can you not, being it June in Virginia and so many beautiful Farms to pick strawberries at. But being excited to try our newly preserved strawberry goodness, I was pondering something delicious to bake to enjoy with.... Eureka Ginger Scones... perfect spice balance to the bright red sweet strawberry ooze.

For those of you not familiar with Teaism, it is a small Japanese Inspired Bistro which in my opinon makes the most delicous intensly flavored Ginger Scones. I have modified their recipe to make it more home-cook friendly.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pastry flour (whole wheat)
3 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ginger (powdered)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pea size cubes
2 ounces chopped, sugar crystallized ginger
3/4 cup cream

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water to make an egg wash

Crank your oven to 450 degrees F.

You can do this by hand with a pastry cutter or your mixer. I like to do by hand so that I feel unjustifiably talented. It is more than easy...

Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the cubes of butter. Turn your mixer on or use a pastry cutter to make those dangon butter flour packages that pea sized globules. Stir in the ginger bits and the milk.

Flour your work surface and push out the ginger scone dough. It is all going to try and crumble and fall apart, but don't give up, keep pushing it together, like family it takes a while to unify. Pat it and shape it to make a large rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into about 12 triangles with a bench scraper or a knife or what ever kitchen accoutrament pleases you. Place on ungreased parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Generously shmear the tops of the little ginger mounds of delicousness with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado (raw) sugar.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden.

Enjoy with your choice of topping and favorite tea. Or share with the woman who picked 2 more pounds of strawberries than you.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy baking. :)

Mark's Maple Bacon Muffins

When my brother Mark was barely older than toddler, he used to take the maple syrup bottle and flood his entire breakfast plate. You name it: eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, corned beef hash, if it was on the plate or for that matter on the table it was doused in golden treacle. These muffins are homage to the kid in all of us that likes to mix different things on our plate and try them.

I know bacon and maple syrup in a muffin sounds less than appetizing… but just give it a try. Think of it as a portable breakfast buffet made fun size in an ity-bity muffin.

8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (save the drippings)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 extra large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup bacon drippings
2/3 cup maple syrup

Drag out the ol’ cast iron and fry yourself up some bacon, line a rack with paper towels so the bacon is crispy, and save the drippings. (You can do this in the microwave or the oven, but why, when the whole house can be perfumed with the delicious unctious smell of bacon.)

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk, oil and syrup.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix. Fold in the crumbled crispy bacon pieces of goodness.
Fill-up a greased muffin tin and bake at 400° for 20 minutes or so. Check with a toothpick and when it clean let rest on rack. Bring to office and let colleagues devour… If you have any leftovers refrigerate, but there won’t be any.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy baking