Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Samoas Cupcakes


One of my friends is totally crazy about Samoas cookies.  Not that I can blame her.  Chocolate, coconut, and caramel is a pretty hard combo to resist.  I'm just as crazy about the Samoas ice cream that Dreyer's recently came out with. 

So, with Samoas on the brain, I decided to make my own version of a Samoas cupcake.  I used King Arthur Flour's golden cake recipe as the base, whipped up a caramel coconut filling, and topped it all off with rich chocolate ganache. 

Oh boy was it ever good.  I loved KAF's cake recipe.  It was so moist and fluffy and had a nice crumb and great vanilla flavor.  I think this will be my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, at least for now.  With the yummy, gooey filling and luscious frosting, this was the best Samoas I've ever eaten.  Thank goodness that I had people I could give these cupcakes to, or else I would have devoured the whole batch.  It's nice to know that I can now have Samoas more than once a year.

Samoas Cupcakes (Sweet as Sugar Cookies)

Vanilla Cupcakes (King Arthur Flour)
2 c. sugar
3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 c. milk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs

Caramel Sauce (In the Pink and Green)
1/2 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. salted butter, cubed
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. heavy cream, at room temperature

10 Tbsp. sweetened shredded coconut

Chocolate Ganache 
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream

For the cupcakes:  
Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

Cream the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and sift the mixture.  Add half the mixture to the wet ingredients and beat to combine.  Add the milk and stir to combine.  Then, add the rest of the flour mixture and mix well to combine. 

Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tins.  Bake at 350F for 20-25 min. until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the muffin pans and place on wire racks to cool. 

For the caramel coconut filling:  In a medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat, whisking as it melts.  When it turns a deep amber color, add the butter and stir until melted.  Add the heavy cream and whisk till the caramel is smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Add the shredded coconut till combined.   

For the ganache:  Place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small bowl and heat for 1 min. at 50% power.  Stir and repeat the process as necessary till smooth.  Chill the ganache briefly until it reaches your desired consistency. 

For the assembly:  Cut a small cone from the center of each cupcake.  Fill with 1-2 tsp. of the coconut-caramel filling.  Spread with chocolate ganache. 

Makes 24 cupcakes

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Snickers Banana Cupcakes

Years ago, my dad asked me if I could make banana cake, not banana bread, but cake.  At the time, I didn't know of any good recipes for banana cake, so the request went unfulfilled.  Recently, I decided to try one of the banana cupcake recipes that was out there on the internet, but it turned out horrible.  The cake was dense beyond belief, gummy, and stuck to the wrappers.  Absolutely inedible.  After that, I worried that perhaps a good banana cake just did not exist.  Maybe bananas were meant to be made into bread and only bread, or, if cake was possible, it was always going to be heavy and dense.


Then, I came across this recipe for Banana Cupcakes on the blog, the Brown-Eyed Baker.  From the pictures, it looked like the cake would actually come out, dare I say, fluffy.  The crumb looked light and most definitely did not resemble banana bread of any sort.  So, I decided to give things another go.


And, I was thrilled with the results.  The cake, yes it was cake, was fluffy and soft and light and super moist to boot.  There was also a wonderful banana flavor in every bite. I frostedthese cupcakes off with a peanut butter buttercream and then, since I had a bag of peanut butter Snickers minis (which are totally yum), I decided to top the cupcakes off with them (cause more sugar is always a good thing).  Add a drizzle of melted chocolate and these cupcakes were a mouthwatering combination of banana, chocolate, and peanut butter.  Simply irresistible. 


So, what do you know, a good banana cake DOES exist.  Next time Dad, your wish is my command.  

Elvis Cupcakes (created by Sweet as Sugar Cookies)

Banana cupcakes (from Brown-Eyed Baker)

1 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
5/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter 
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
3/4 c. mashed very ripe bananas
1/4 c. buttermilk (I used plain nonfat yogurt)
2 Tbsp. milk (I added this)

12 Peanut Butter Snickers minis

Peanut Butter Buttercream (Sweet as Sugar Cookies)

1/2 c. butter
5 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
milk (to desired consistency)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. 

Cream the butter with the sugar till light and fluffy.  Add the bananas and mix well.  Add the vanilla and the eggs and beat for 1 min. until well combined.  Mix in the flour mixture, alternating with the yogurt, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake for 20-25 min. until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 min.  Remove the cupcakes from the pans and place on the rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:  Beat the butter with the peanut butter until well combined.  Beat in the powered sugar till light and fluffy.  Add milk until it reaches your desired consistency.  

Makes 12 cupcakes

1.  The batter seemed a little dense, so I added a little extra milk to the recipe, about 2 Tbsp.
2.  The original recipe called for buttermilk, but I used nonfat yogurt since that's what I had.
3.  The original recipe called for a combination of butter and shortening, but I just used butter.    

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Brown Butter Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies


Even though I've found the BEST chocolate chip cookie HERE, I still can't resist trying yet another recipe.  Besides, this recipe was kinda different from all the others since it called for the addition of ginger.  It sounded like a delicious twist to your everyday cookie.

What I really liked about these cookies was their texture.  They stayed thick, even after baking, and had this amazing crisp exterior that gave way to an absolutely perfect chewiness within.  It was the kind of cookie that you'd get from a bakery.  And, even though I couldn't taste the ginger, they still tasted fantastic.  I gave these to someone for their birthday and was told that they couldn't get enough of them and that they were gone in no time.  Which means that these cookies are definitely worth making (and giving if you can bear to part with a few of them).

Brown Butter Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine)

11 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. + 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Melt 10 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan (set the remaining 1 Tablespoon aside). Cook over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns brown and develops a rich nutty aroma- about 5-8 minutes, depending on the heat. {Note: The butter will go through a "foamy" stage, once it settles down, keep a close watch on the colour.} Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

Combine the cooled brown butter with the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter.  Beat with the sugars.  Add the egg and beat to combine.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger powder.  Add to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and mix well.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. For each cookie, measure out about a 1/3 cup of dough (I made my cookies smaller - about 2 Tbsp. each). Form each into a ball, place on the cookie sheet, and flatten slightly (to a little less than 1/2-inch thickness). Once all the dough has been measured out, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and chill for about 12 hours. {Note: The longer you chill the dough, the better the flavour!}

When you're ready to bake: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line another cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place about 4 cookies on the sheet--leave about 1-inch of space between each cookie. Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden in colour.

Note:  I forgot to let them chill for the 12 hours, but will definitely do it next time.  Either way, the cookies still tasted great.   

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Barbecue Chicken Sandwich Rolls

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Jessica of The Inquiring Chef.  Do you know that she lives in Thailand?  So lucky!  I absolutely love Thai food and I can only imagine the wonderful access she must have to both the food and the exotic ingredients to make it.

Her blog is filled with yummy recipes that she came up with herself and it was with great joy that I chose to make her Barbecue Chicken Sandwich  Rolls.  In case you didn't know, she grew up in Kansas with some great barbecue so these rolls are part of her personality and I wanted to showcase that.  Besides, I love barbecue myself as well as baking bread, so this recipe was perfect for me.

I had some chicken tenders in my freezer, so I poached those and used them instead of roasted chicken.  I also made my own barbecue sauce instead of using storebought.  In addition, I changed the method of making the rolls a little, but otherwise, kept the recipe the same.

Eating these rolls reminded me of my favorite baked char siu bao (now I totally want to fill them with char siu aka Chinese barbecued pork).  The rolls were super fluffy and soft, slightly sweet, and paired deliciously with the barbecue chicken filling on the inside.  My only regret is that I didn't use more filling in the rolls.  But, even then, my family declared this recipe to be fantastic and they thoroughly enjoyed eating them.  I would love to try these rolls with other fillings in them, the char siu for instance or curried chicken or even sloppy joe filling.  The possibilities are endless.

And, speaking of possibilities, since I'm very much a sweets person, I went ahead and filled some of the buns with leftover chocolate ganache that I had in my fridge.  Voila!  Chocolate filled sweet buns.  Spread them with some raspberry jam and ohhh so good.  So, if you do what I did, you'll have dinner and dessert with one recipe.  Can't beat that.

Thanks Jessica for your delicious recipe.

Barbecue Chicken Sandwich Rolls (adapted from The Inquiring Chef)

3 Tbsp. warm milk (I used yogurt)
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water 
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar (I increased this to 4 Tbsp.)
3 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour (plus about ½ cup extra for shaping the rolls) (I used 1 c. bread flour + 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. salt
2 ½ Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs (separated – 1 for dough and 1 for egg wash)
2 cups shredded and roughly chopped, roasted chicken (I used poached chicken breasts)
½ cup barbecue sauce (can use storebought or your own homemade sauce)

Combine the warm water with the yeast and a pinch of sugar and let sit for 5 min. till foamy.  Combine the yeast mixture with the melted butter, sugar, milk or yogurt, and the egg and mix well.  Add 1 cup of bread flour and the salt and mix well.  Add the rest of the flour and mix well till combined.  Knead the dough as best as you can until it forms a smooth ball.  Put the dough into a well-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

Combine the chicken with the barbecue sauce and mix well.     

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using lightly floured hands, remove 1/4 of the risen dough and gently roll it into a cylinder, approximately 8 inches long.  (The dough will be quite sticky, but add only as much flour as you need to prevent it from sticking to your hands.)  Using a knife or dough scraper, cut the cylinder of dough into 8 even pieces. Flatten each piece into a circle. Drop one teaspoon of the chicken mixture into the center of each dough circle. Pull the sides of the dough around the filling and twist them together firmly to seal the chicken inside. Place each filled roll, seam-side down on parchement paper.

Let sit until doubled in size, about 30 min.  Preheat oven to 350F.  
Brush the top of each roll liberally with a beaten egg.

Bake until the surface of the rolls are golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:  Alternately, you could fill each piece of dough with a teaspoon of chilled chocolate ganache.