Thursday, February 24, 2011

EndlessRecipes : White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I'm famous in some places for my CookieMuffins. And by famous I mean, I once had lunch with an ex-coworker and he said, "You know what I miss most about you? Your CookieMuffins." I even have a note on my computer at work requesting more after I brought a batch in during my first week of the new job (and that's the secret to my success!).

But this isn't about my CookieMuffins except to say that they are a bit predictable at this point. People expect me to make CookieMuffins for all occasions now, so in an attempt to change things up a bit, I decided to make Cupcakes for Valentine's Day. Once I had decided on cupcakes, then came the week of trying to figure out what kind of cupcakes to make...

At first I had decided on baking hearts into the cupcakes as seen over here at Bake It in a Cake! I still want to try this, but I only had Sunday afternoon to bake and I felt that this might have a high failure rate (on my part, that is). I wanted something a little safer to bring to work the next day. I ended up back at the cliche idea of Red Velvet cupcakes – they are easy and everyone loves them...

But as I was getting ready to go buy what I needed a thought occurred to me: PINK VELVET! So, I went to the internets and found some recipes for Pink Velvet. Most seemed to replace the cocoa powder with white chocolate to give the cupcake a chocolaty taste, but to keep the batter pink. And then another twist presented itself to me in the baking aisle when I discovered a premium White Chocolate Vanilla Raspberry bar...

Thus the creation of my newest sweet hit: The White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting! (Recipe adapted from here)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups bakers sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • about 10 oz white chocolate raspberry bar, melted (I ended up using 2 1/2 4oz bars)
  • food colouring, gel is recomended

Pre-heat the oven to 350˚and line normal sized cupcake tins with liners (I like pretty coloured ones).

In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter at low speed until creamy.
Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 mins.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

Mix in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, beat in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the milk. Repeat.

While all that is going on, melt your white chocolate selection. I used a makeshift double-boiler (heat safe bowl over a pot of boiling water), over low heat, string until it was melted to prevent burning.

Add the melted chocolate and beat until incorporated. Try not to over-beat the batter. It should be thick. At this point, you could also add the pink food colouring (about 1/4 teaspoon), but I liked the little pinkish flecks in the batter that came from the raspberries. Note: the flecks ended up cooking out, so next time I might use colouring in the batter, too.

Scoop batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them 2/3 full. I like to use an ice cream scooper – it's the perfect size and it has that little lever thing that gets all of the batter into the cup for you.

These baked about 25 mins in my weird messed up oven. Use the toothpick trick to be safe. Cool on a wire rack when they are done. They should be fluffy, with a slightly harder top. I was told the consistency reminded people of madeleines.

I do have a confession: I feel like I can't make good frosting and so I don't really try that often. Instead, I used Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting (because it was 2 for 1) and dyed it to be a raspberry colour using a combination of red, purple, and pink gels – I had accidentally put in purple when I meant to use pink, but the colour turned out great anyway.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Valentines Day: Mixes and Cupcakes

If you know me, then you know that two of my favourite things are baking and music. And for Valentines day, I went all out with both. Aaaaand you'll know that doing a Valentine's post over a week later is about par for the course for me...

Anyway, for Boyfriend, I decided to make him a themed mix. Well, actually, it started with a vague Oldie's love song theme, but as I started to build it, 3 themes emerged. "Three themes?!" I thought to myself, "I'll have to make a Venn Diagram for something like that!" And I did!

  1. The Beach Boys – Wouldn't It Be Nice
  2. The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year
  3. The Commitments – Try a Little Tenderness
  4. The Rascals – Try a Little Tenderness
  5. The Turtles – Good Lovin'
  6. The Doors – Hello, I Love You
  7. The Rolling Stones – Let's Spend the Night Together
  8. The Kinks – All Day and All of the Night
  9. The Commitments – Treat Her Right
  10. The Crystals – And Then He Kissed Me
  11. The Beatles – In My Life
  12. The Beach Boys – God Only Know
I realize that The Commitments were formed in the 1990s for the amazing movie (check it out if you haven't – it's about Dublin Soul), but they were singing songs from the 1960s, so I figured it counted. Also, feel free to use this mix yourself. It's groovy boss wow.

Polar Bear paws and Bordeaux from See's and crazy unique roses from Boyfriend.

In return, Boyfriend bought me chocolates and flowers and took me to our favourite Sushi restaurant. He wasn't sure what to get me at first and for some reason he's was worried about it...

Me: Don't get me chocolates, I'll get fat.

Boyfriend: OK–

Me: Actually, no. I need you to go to See's and get me Polar Bear Paws. I need Polar Bear Paws.

So, while he was doing that, I made White Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes for work. Here's a preview, and I'll do a recipe post about them later...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LifeList : Hip Hop Dance Class

I have always wanted to take a Hip Hop Dance class. Seriously. It sounds crazy, especially if you knew me in my "punk" years. But, it's true and I've always been too embarrassed to actually do it for the following 3 reasons:

  1. I am super, super white and I dance like I am super, super white.
  2. Every class that I have seen has some crazy awesome girl in it who should be teaching the class. I don't need to stand near that kind of performance, thanks.
  3. I am fairly certain that my 1 year of Jr High Cheerleading in 8th grade knocked any rhythmic dance skills I may have had right out of me. I am left with the ability to only do very stiff armed cheerleading moves. And the pogo.

So, for years I've suppressed the urge to dance. What I do a clubs (on the rare occasions I find myself in a club or club-type place) is not horrible – for the record I do NOT dance like Elaine from Seinfeld thankyouverymuch – but it's definitely not great either.

When I started my new job at Big Computer Company and I found out that they had a Hip Hop Dance class at their fitness center, I was stoked. What better place to take a Hip Hop class than at a Big Computer Company?! "There is NO way," I said to myself, "that I will be the most awkward person in the class here!"

Well, it turns out I was half right. There are people in this class that are more awkward that me, but like, awkward in an awkward-in0everything-they-do kind of way. And at my first class I am momentarily reassured by their presence and I'm not too nervous... Then the music starts. All these awkward guys must take this really seriously because they are good. And I am awful and lost and rather gangly.

The format of the class is that they work on a new routine each month, so of course I was lost on my first day, because I showed up part way through the month. But a few classes go by and I start to get better, at least I feel like I begin to pick things up quicker. And I start to feel pretty good about myself. Which is when I find out that the classes are recorded and posted to YouTube so that we can practice at home – no, seriously. And that's when I see myself in the video, visible through the mirror in the room, trying to do the routine and horribly failing. At one point, I do that thing that little kids do when they are overwhelmed: I stop and put my hands up around my face and freak out. I do this on video.

This is where I freak out. It's hard to see but that is panic on my face.

But, you know what? I'm having a blast and I love it. I love that I'm not that great but that no one cares because we are all doing this for ourselves – no recitals or performances, it's just us. And I lvoe that I can laugh at myself and that I've made some friends in the class and we laugh at each other when we can't figure out a move.

I've also realized that my suspicions about Cheerleading are true. I am amazing at these stiff-arm-movement parts of the routine. By contrast, there is this one girl who I usually watch when I get lost, who cannot get these movement right. I'm there, "That's the ONE part I can do!" So, she keeps asking me how it goes and I get excited because I'm good at something. And when I celebrate because I nailed it, everyone laughs because they know it's my little victory. It's fun.

I couldn't be bothered to find a pic of me when I was 13, so here's one 14 years later proving my boobs have not grown in that time at all!

I've been doing this for a little while now and I really do feel like I'm getting better. Once I got comfortable with the people and the format of the class, and got shoes that didn't make me fall on my face, things started improving. And then I hurt my back and had to miss a week of classes. So, last night, when I finally got back to class, I was behind and this was the last time we would be doing this routine. I just wanted to catch up with everyone and learn the end before we moved on...

So there's this move, right at the end, where we had to hop on one foot, keep the other straight out, and move our ams up and down – yes, it looked about as weird as I am describing it. And I could not do it right. At all. Not matter how hard I tried, this was not happening. You know how when Kermit The Frog gets excited and he flails his arms about? That's about how I looked doing this move.

This isn't actually me. It's Kermit, but I get the confusion.

The good new is that I'm fairly certain that no one got video proof of me doing that move. In fact, let's just pretend it never happened.