Friday, August 27, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Last weekend I came down with an awful cold that I'm still fighting, but at the same time I hadn't lost my appetite and was craving something sweet and full of chocolate. I happened to remember reading through one of my favorite food blogs (Jamie at My Baking Addiction) and seeing a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting. They looked delicious. And I had cream cheese frosting left over from a previous baking project in my freezer so I figured I could handle just making the cupcakes in my cold haze.

And no worries, to not spread cold germs to my husband, I washed my hands about a hundred times throughout the baking process - any time I coughed, blew my nose or after any other gross cold thing I washed my hands. Just so we could all enjoy these cupcakes!

Luckily these cupcakes just happened to be a recipe where I pretty much had everything in stock so I could just start baking. As the cupcakes were baking I took the cream cheese frosting out of the freezer so it could thaw. The cupcakes themselves turned out beautifully. The recipe I used (link on the bottom of the post) said it made 12 cupcakes, but I made 15. However, as they started to bake I realized some of the cupcakes weren't as full so I guess I didn't fill up the liners full enough so I would say plan for only 12. I just filled those cupcakes in with extra frosting!


The cream cheese frosting recipe I used is not from this post. I previously had used the frosting for another recipe and only used half of it and froze the rest. The recipe is from
The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, and I just added in the melted chocolate and whipped it back up. My frosting didn't look quite as pretty when piped, bu
t my guess is that's because Jamie adds shortening for that purpose and my recipe does not have shortening in it so it was pretty soft. However, it tasted delicious! Next time I'll probably try Jamie's recipe, but I needed a shortcut this time since about halfway through the baking process all I wanted to do was take a nap!

In the end, I love these cupcakes. I am finding I have a definite love for cream cheese frosting which I didn't know until this year. Before this year I've
never made it from scratch, and the canned cream cheese frosting is not comparable in taste! I learned not to judge cream cheese frosting until you make it from scratch! And I love the addition of the chocolate; I'm a chocoholic so it just takes an already delicious frosting to the next level for me! In fact, I could have just ate the frosting and forgot the cupcakes ... even though those were good too! The cake has a great chocolate flavor and seems pretty dense. The addition of the chocolate chips adds a nice crunch. Yum!


If you're in the mood for some chocolate on chocolate cupcakes I highly recommend these! I'll definitely be making them again, and hopefully next time I can make mine look as pretty as Jamie's, but at least they taste delectable!

Here's the link for the recipe:
http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/chocolate-chip-cupcakes-chocolate-cream-cheese-frosting/

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happiness

As I approach the end of day three with an awful, horrible, knock me out cold, I thought I would write a post about something I'm not currently feeling, but wish I were ... happiness. (Seriously, who gets a cold mid-August when it's over 80 degrees outside every day and very humid??? I work from home, so it's not like I caught germs from one of my co-workers. I just don't understand this whole cold thing.) Happiness is the last thing on my mind (more like terribleness and sleepiness), but alas this is what this post is about ... being happy.

The last couple (few??) years my husband and I have been living with at his parents' house. They live there a few months out of the year, but otherwise live in Mesa, AZ (where there is no snow or freezing temps, lucky them!). Although I am incredibly grateful to them for helping us out when we needed it the most and helping us have a sense of security and will feel eternally indebted to them, I hated living there. It had nothing to do with the house or anything, but it's because the house is located in my hometown. A very small town in East Central Minnesota. A place I never wanted to return back to; I always dreamed of being far away from it. The last few years have been such a struggle for me, and happiness rarely was a feeling on my radar. I tried to make the best of it, and wasn't miserable by any means, but I kept dreaming of when we could escape the town and move on to better things for us.

Finally, this past spring, I told my husband we have no choice but to move. We had money saved up and a move was necessary. If I had to live there through another year, I would literally die. (Okay, maybe not literally, but I had to make it a threat!) And this threat worked; we started looking for a new place; our new home.

Although the story is much more complicated and long, we ended up finding our home in Ramsey; a north west suburb of the Twin Cities. I had never been here, but after looking at some townhomes and spending some time in the area, I loved it and was set on finding the perfect home. We lucked into finding a home right away that the moment I walked into it, it felt perfect. It felt like home. I was already envisioning how I would decorate it, how I would change the main colors of my kitchen to match the new red walls ... I knew I had to have it.

So, here we are. Almost a month later and we are all moved into this beautiful townhome. We have made this our home, and within the first week
I felt something that I hadn't felt in years ... happiness. I love it here. I feel not only happy, but also settled. I felt the weight of the last few years lifting off my shoulders, the depression and sadness lifting up, and even some of the worry that's been weighing me down lessen. I might never want to leave. Which, since we're renting right now, might make the owners very happy! Here's a peek into what has made me so happy ....

The outside:


The kitchen: (I had to redecorate. I used to have a
green kitchen accented with green, blue, pink and purple, and now it's red. But I love it with the decor and kitchen table! I'm using orange and yellow as my accent colors.)


The living room: (Also redecorated. We used to have the blue and green theme in the living room as well, but I wanted the kitchen and living room to flow into each other nicely since it's an open floor plan so I carried the red, orange and yellows into the living room. I moved my old decor into the bedroom.)


The bedroom: (The only thing I like about the queen size bed is how pretty it looks. I miss my king size bed so much!! We also have a walk-in closet that you can't see.)


The office: (This needs some work. I want to get a futon to add in case we ever get guests, and I have some pictures that need framing so it doesn't seem so white. This room also has a walk-in closet which is nice for storage.)


Mercedes has even found her new favorite place in front of the bay windows!



We also have two bathrooms, closets, an entry way, laundry area, lots of stairs and a garage, but I didn't think you needed to see those! I'm looking forward to finding the perfect vases, curtains and other things to finish up decorating, but right now I have all the basics and I think it looks great. I'm looking forward to living in my new home for at least the next year and hopefully beyond. I hope you enjoyed the peek!

P.S. I just want to send a shout-out to my in-laws for allowing us to live in their home for the last few years. Although it was a struggle for me to live in my hometown and having to return where I didn't want to, I enjoyed getting to know them more and having the chance to save up some money. I will never forget their kindness and generosity.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Ganache and M&M Cookies

As you know, I recently moved to a new house. And as you might have read in a previous post (or two!), I love chocolate chip cookies, but my old oven in my old house did not. I tried recipe after recipe, and almost every one of them failed. I mean burnt cookies, flat as a pancake cookies, raw in the middle with burnt edges cookies - all not edible. I almost gave up, but found a few that would work, but weren't the greatest cookies in the world. I couldn't wait to test my new oven out and see if I could make chocolate chip cookies in it so I could continue my search on finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

This time around however, I didn't want just plain chocolate chip cookies (boring!) so I thought I would try a recipe that I saw on the Sing for Your Supper blog (http://www.singforyoursupperblog.com/) for Chocolate Ganache Stuffed Cookies. Basically, you mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies minus the chocolate chips and make chocolate ganache to "fill" the middle so when you bite into the middle you get a gooey chocolate center. It sounded so delicious!

For the base of the cookie I tried a recipe that failed before in my old oven. I had high hopes for it before because the dough tasted so, so good. And the recipe promised thick, puffy, chewy cookies - my favorite things in a chocolate chip cookie. Once again the dough tasted incredibly yummy so I kept my fingers crossed as it marinated overnight that it would turn out this time. I wanted to try those delectable cookies!

The next morning I mixed up the ganache (chocolate chips and heavy cream) and let it chill for about two hours. Then I started making the cookies. First, I started the way the directions instructed. I made a flat disk then spooned the ganache on top, then made another disk for the top and tried to roll it. Operative word "try". I just had a big, slimy mess!

Rather than giving up on the whole thing and making plain cookies, I tried it my own way. I rolled the dough as normal, used my thumb to put an indent in the middle of the ball, filled the indent with ganache and then made a little topper for it out of flattened out dough and sealed the edges. Then, because I like a little crunch with my cookie, I added some M&Ms on top.


I did a few test cookies at first to find out how long they should bake, and if they'd even work. The result? Success for the cookie turning out and not burning or going flat! However, the ganache kept seeping out of the cookie. I don't really know how to fix this problem so I just kept going as I was. I think they look kind of neat with the ganache coming out of the top!


After all of them were baked, I had very few that didn't leak the ganache. However, I think they all taste really good. There's still ganache in the center of most of the cookies so you have this gooey, chocolate center. I also like the crunch the M&Ms added. The original recipe calls for sea salt on top, but I'm not into the salt on my cookies thing. I just like the sweetness!


The chocolate chip recipe I used came from here and I highly recommend it. Great tasting cookies! http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/jennies-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Here's the recipe for how to put together the cookies to be "filled" with ganache. Good luck! http://www.singforyoursupperblog.com/2010/07/15/chocolate-ganache-stuffed-cookies/

Monday, August 9, 2010

More Cupcake Bites

My husband had a family reunion this past weekend, and my mother-in-law asked me to make cupcake bites. I happily said yes. I finally got all my kitchen stuff unpacked and tried out my new oven for the first time! Although I grumble about the work that goes into these, I love the end result. And they are actually fun to make too! If only I had a stool to sit on or a table to sit at so my feet wouldn't get so tired.

I made two 9-inch cakes so we could have a couple of different flavors. I made my husband's favorite, chocolate bana
na, and tried a new flavor, vanilla raspberry. I cheated and used box cake mix as my base. I used a chocolate fudge cake mix for the chocolate banana, added buttermilk in place of the water, two mashed up bananas and the eggs and oil. For the vanilla raspberry one, I started with a vanilla cake mix, crushed up and strained fresh raspberries for the raspberry juice, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. I mixed both of the cooled and crumbled cakes with cream cheese frosting. Since I was making cupcake bites, I filled a peanut butter cup candy mold with chocolate almond bark as the base, dropped in the cake ball, and dipped the finished bite into colored candy melts - yellow for banana and pink for raspberry. So cute!

Both taste extremely yummy, but I am partial to the vanilla raspberry. I can't wait to try the from scratch recipe I have saved in my files. I think that recipe will have an even stronger raspberry flavor. I was afraid to add too much juice thinking the cake batter would be too runny so it just has a subtle hint of raspberry.

I hope everyone enjoyed them at the reunion!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Truffles

These past couple of weeks I have been in the process of packing for a big move. Moving means my life has been in boxes, including all of my baking stuff. I have missed baking, and I have missed blogging. However, moving also means MOVING!!! We are now living in a great townhome just outside of the Twin Cities area and I LOVE it!!!! This move was such a necessary need for me. I've been pretty depressed living back in my very small hometown for the last few years so this move is exactly what I need to feel less stressed and happier. And now, my baking utensils are all unpacked and baking will once again be on my weekly agenda. Yay! We have an electric oven so I'm guessing they'll be some trial and error switching over from the gas oven I've gotten used to, but disasters make good posts too! ;o)

Right before I left our old house in Sandstone, I felt the need to make something and it had to be something that didn't require a mixer, cookie sheets or measuring cups. Hmmm ... this posed a challenge. I decided to make a "grocery store" treat.

I went to the local grocery store and picked up a package of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies and a package of cream cheese. I crumbled up the cookies into fine crumbs like I've done previously with Oreo truffles and mixed the crumbs with the cream cheese. I rolled the mixture up into balls, and stuck them in the freezer to set. Then, I dipped them in chocolate candy coating, and I had Chocolate Chip Cookie Truffles. Easy, and it satisfied my need to "bake" something. (Well, at least make something.)

I didn't like these as much as the Oreo Truffles. This could be because I actually don't really like grocery store prepackaged chocolate chip cookies. I much prefer the taste of homemade chocolate chip cookies. My husband and mother-in-law seemed to like them quite a bit though. I did like the fact that they were soft inside; sort of like cookie dough. They were good, but could be better. Next time I'll try them with cookies I like the taste of better. Or just try making chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. Yum, I want one now!