Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Iron Cupcake: Chocolate with a Peanut Butter Twist

"You got chocolate in my peanut butter!"
"You got peanut butter in my chocolate!"

Once again it's time for my Iron Cupcake entry for this month. This month's challenge was called "chocolate with a twist" which meant you were supposed to pair chocolate with something else. Here's what I came up with:

Is there any better pairing than peanut butter and chocolate? How about peanut butter, chocolate, and caramel! I'm not really sure what to title these cupcakes. I'm open to any suggestions, so if any of you have any brilliant ideas, please leave a comment and let me know. This cupcake is chocolate with peanut butter filling, topped with whipped cream, Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped peanuts, and drizzled with caramel sauce. Mmm, delish!

As is the usual drill, you can vote for me by clicking either on this link or or on my Iron Cupcake badge at the bottom of this page. Voting is now open and will go through January 2nd at noon. This time you get to vote for your five favorites, so hopefully mine will be one of yours!

The prizes for winning are:
A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
Something from Betty Turbo
Also a sweet art piece from CAKESPY
Last and certainly not least, corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, , HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, , JESSIE STEELE APRONS ; the CUPCAKE COURIER ; TASTE OF HOME books, . Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,
Learn more at the Iron Cupcake Cuphub:

If you want to experience this lovely chocolate peanut buttery cupcake for yourself, here's the recipe (sorry it has so many parts to it):

Chocolate Cups:
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening (no substitutes)
foil cupcake liners

Line six muffin cups with foil liners. Microwave chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl on high for 1 minute. Stir. If needed, microwave 30 more seconds or until ships are melted and smooth when stirred.
Using a pastry brush, coat inside sides and bottom of cup liners thickly and evenly with chocolate. Refrigerate coated liners for 10 minutes or until set. Recoat any thin spots (you can reheat the chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds if necessary). Refrigerate liners until very firm, 2 hours or overnight. Carefully peel foil liners from each chocolate cup. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
(If you want more than six cups, increase the chocolate cup recipe accordingly.)

I used a chocolate cake recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook. Here it is:
Betty Crocker's Chocolate Cake:
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 2/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
2/3 c. baking cocoa
1 1/4 c. water
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, beat all ingredients with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into muffin cups. Bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Peanut Butter filling:
3 T. butter
1 c. peanut butter
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Cream together butter, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar. Fill pastry bag fitted with 1/4 inch star tip with peanut butter mixture. Push tip into cupcake about 3/4 inch in and squeeze filling in slowly, withdrawing tip as you squeeze. You will feed the cupcake slightly expand. Wipe off any excess filling on top of the cupcake.

Once the cupcakes were cooled and filled and the chocolate cups were ready, I peeled the cupcake liners off some of the cupcakes and transferred them into the chocolate cups. They are then ready for the next steps:

Whipped Cream:

1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. granulated white sugar

Beat on high setting until whipped. Top cupcakes with whipped cream and garnish with peanut butter cups (cut up if desired) and chopped peanuts.

Caramel Sauce (Betty Crocker again):
1 c. light corn syrup
1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 c. whipping cream.

In a 2 quart saucepan, heat corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter to boiling over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in whipping cream and heat to boiling. Cool about 30 minutes. Drizzle over cupcakes while sauce is still slightly warm.
Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sunday Rolls

I inherited many things from my mother: her love of holidays and parades, her stubbornness, and countless delicious recipes. Sadly, a delicious roll recipe is not one of those. No, we were one of those families that relied on "Sister Rhodes" for our Sunday rolls. Because of that, for quite a while now I've been searching for a great roll recipe. My sister-in-law makes delicious ones but I keep forgetting to ask her for it, so I pulled this one out of one of my recipe books the other day and was very pleased with the result. They were everything Sunday rolls should be--light, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery. Mmm. The only thing I would possibly do differently next time is to brush them with melted butter before baking like my mom does to her Rhodes rolls. I just like the extra buttery flavor it gives them. So here's my new Sunday roll recipe. (And by the way, Lindsay, I would love to get your roll recipe too!)

3/4 c. plus 1 t. sugar, divided
1/2 c. warm water
2 T. active dry yeast
1 c. butter-flavored shortening
1 c. boiling water
1 c. cold water
4 eggs, beaten
2 t. salt
8 C. all-purpose flour, divided
non-stick cooking spray

Dissolve one teaspoon sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast over it; set aside. Blend shortening and remaining 3/4 c. sugar. Stir in boiling water. Add cold water, yeast mixture, eggs, and salt; mix well. Add flour, 4 cups at a time; mix well. Let dough rise for one hour. Divide dough into thirds. Roll each third into a circle; cut into 12 wedges. Roll each wedge up crescent roll style. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; let rise another hour. Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

**Note: Recently a friend told me a trick she learned from a man in his 90s that baked all his own bread and which he claimed made his bread light and fluffy every time. The trick is to microwave your yeast/sugar/water mixture for a few seconds before adding it to your dough. I tried it with this, microwaving my mixture for about 5 seconds, and as far as I could tell it worked. At least it didn't seem to harm the dough at all, so feel free to try it yourself if you feel so inclined.**

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iron Cupcake: Cranberry Filled Eggnog Cupcakes

Doesn't that just make you want to run out and buy a festive sweater, put on Christmas music, and sit down to one of these cupcakes? I've gotta be honest, guys, I loved these cupcakes. Even more than my apple/cheese ones last month. Eggnog was just such a nice seasonal flavor to combine with this month's Iron Cupcake ingredient: cranberries. And top it all of with whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg. *Sigh* Heaven, I tell you.

Some of you may remember last month when I competed in the Iron Cupcake cheese challenge with my apple and Edam cupcakes. For those who don't remember, let me explain: every month you are told a different ingredient and challenged to incorporate it into a cupcake. You then post about it on your blog and encourage your readers to vote for you by clicking either on this link or on my Iron Cupcake badge at the bottom of this page. Voting is now open and will go through December 5 at noon. So go ahead and vote for me, pretty please. The winner gets the following prizes.

A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES at
Other prizes donated by Etsy artists:
Also a sweet art piece from CAKESPY
Last and certainly not least, corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, , HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, , JESSIE STEELE APRONS ; the CUPCAKE COURIER ; TASTE OF HOME books, . Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,

If you've managed to make it this far in this post, here is your reward: the recipe so you can whip up a batch of these for your Thanksgiving feast, or Christmas party, or just to snack on while you wrap presents. Enjoy!

Cranberry Filled Eggnog Cupcakes
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. rum extract
1 c. eggnog
2 1/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
Cranberry sauce (canned or homemade)

Let butter and eggs sit at room temperature for 30 min. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one. Beat in vanilla, rum extract, and eggnog. Blend in remaining ingredients except for cranberry sauce. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool. Fill with cranberry sauce (I filled mine using a tip on a frosting bag filled with cranberry sauce, inserting it into the cupcake, and squeezing a little cranberry sauce directly into the cupcake). Frost with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Whipped Cream:

1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. granulated white sugar

Beat on high setting until whipped.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jenny's Blue Ribbon Cookies

Aka my favorite gingersnaps ever. Jenny is my cousin, and when I was little I worshiped her. She was my favorite babysitter, she could turn even my short hair into a princess hairdo, and she could make these incredible cookies. Not to mention she was kind, funny, and just so darn cool. Now I am going to pass on one secret of her coolness--her gingersnap recipe. She won blue and purple ribbons at both the county and state fair for these cookies. They seriously taste like home to me--all warm and comforting and friendly. Now I know there is some controversy over how crunchy gingersnaps should be. Personally, I like the "snap" to come not so much from the cookie, but from the tendency to exclaim, "Oh, snap! These cookies are good!" after eating one. However, if you are one of those that likes your cookies to do the snapping, you can bake these a little longer and they'll get crunchier. If you bake them for the recommended eight minutes, though, you will get a soft, delectable cookie that tastes fresh for. . .well I don't really know how long it tastes fresh because they never stick around my house for long. But I do know they are good to the last crumbs.

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. dark molasses
2 t. soda
2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cloves
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg and molasses. Mix dry ingredients together in another bowl, then add to creamed mixture. Shape dough into small balls. Roll in sugar. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8 minutes (for chewy cookies) or longer if crisp cookies are desired.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

20 Things to do with Apples

"The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple."
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I love apples. The best apples are like biting into a perfect fall day, all crisp and cool and sweet. Mmm. Since fall will be over before we know it and with it apple season, I thought I'd pay homage to this lovely fruit before it's too late by listing 20 things to do with apples:

1. Make apple crisp
2. Make apple cake
3. Make baked apples
4. Make apple-head granny dolls
5. Make apple sauce
6. Make apple cider
7. Serve them with sausages
8. Cook them with pork chops
9. Waldorf salad
10. Cut them in half and use them like stamps
11. Bob for apples
12. Give one to a teacher
13. Make apple dumplings
14. Make apple tart
15. Make apple pizza
16. Put them in a quesadilla with some pepper jack cheese
17. Make apple butter
18. Eat them right off the tree
19. Make apple and Edam cupcakes
20. Throw an apple core at someone

This Chicken is Not Done

I tried a new recipe recently and really liked it. Except for one tiny problem--it took forever for the chicken to cook! The recipe said to cook it for 15 minutes, add the broccoli, then cook 10-15 minutes more, which I did. Then I cut into the chicken and it was still pink. So I cooked it 10 minutes more, which my very hungry stomach wasn't too happy about, and it turned out still looking like this. By that point I was so hungry that I went ahead and ate it anyway, which maybe wasn't very smart, but I didn't get sick. In all fairness, under the fluorescent lights of the kitchen it didn't look this pink. So let this be a warning to you: If you try the following recipe, make sure you don't do it when you're really hungry.

Gingered Chicken Dinner
1 1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each)
1 T. butter
1 c. uncooked instant rice
1 c. frozen broccoli florets, thawed

In a bowl, combine first six ingredients to make a marinade. Marinade chicken breasts in half of it overnight in the refrigerator, save the other half for later. Drain chicken breasts and discard used marinade. Brown chicken in the butter in a small skilled over medium heat (about 2-3 min. each side). Mix rice with the other half of the marinade and place in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Put chicken on top and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Top with broccoli, recover, and bake 10-15 minutes longer (or however long it takes to get that darn chicken cooked).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oatmeal Pancakes

Mmm, pancakes. There's just something about waking up to a pancake breakfast that does something good for the soul. Or, if you're like me and can't get up early enough to make them in the morning, pancake dinners are also great! I was introduced to these yummy oatmeal pancakes when my sister-in-law married my brother and brought with her lots of great recipes. My husband, who is not usually a pancake lover, often requests these. He especially likes them with buttermilk syrup, which is a recipe I got from my cousin's husband. Wow, good thing my brother and cousin married who they did or I might never have tasted this delicious breakfast. I posted the syrup recipe earlier with the apple and Edam cupcakes, but I'll post it again here for your cooking convenience.

Oatmeal Pancakes
3 c. quick oats
1 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. soda
2 T. sugar
6 T. oil
4 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 t. vanilla
1 t. maple flavoring

Combine oatmeal, flour, salt, sugar, and soda. Mix well; add oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and maple flavoring. Mix thoroughly and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Cook thoroughly on hot griddle until batter bubbles on top, and bottom is medium-brown.

Buttermilk Syrup
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. buttermilk
½ c. butter/margarine
2 T. corn syrup
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients (everything except the vanilla) and bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Yet another cupcake post. I've decided that my obsession with cupcakes may trace back to elementary school when the fact that I have a summer birthday meant that I could never bring cupcakes to school on my big day like the other kids. Maybe it made me feel like I had to compensate for my lack of cupcake-coolness by baking them now whenever I can find the slightest excuse.
My most recent excuse came when I was invited to a Halloween party and given the assignment to bring a dessert. Here's what I made:

Devil's food cupcakes with chocolate frosting, sprinkles to make the spider look hairy, allsorts for eyes (I must have looked slightly crazy digging through the bulk candy bin finding all the ones that looked like eyes), and black licorice legs. The legs were really supposed to be made of black string lace licorice according to these instructions, but wouldn't you know it, the grocery store was out. I guess everyone else was making these cute little daddy-long legs for Halloween too. I hope you all had a sweet Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Apple and Edam Cupcakes

Wow, two posts in a row about cupcakes. You're all probably going to think I'm obsessed, but I just created an original cupcake and I couldn't wait to post about it. A little while ago I heard about a contest called Iron Cupcake: Earth where each month they give you a new unusual ingredient that you're supposed to use in a cupcake. This month's ingredient was cheese, and here's what I came up with:

This is made with a moist, no-too-sweet apple cake recipe with a slightly tangy Edam melted on top which nicely balances the sweetness of the mascarpone frosting and drizzle of buttermilk syrup. I know the picture's a little blurry. It really makes me wish I had a better camera.

Now, you may remember that I mentioned I made this for a contest. The way to win is by having people vote for you online. So if you so choose (and I would be very happy if you would), you can vote for me from on October 26th at noon to October 30th at noon by visiting this site (you can also get there by clicking on the Iron Cupcake badge at the bottom of my blog). The winner will get the following prizes:

- A sweet cardboard cupcake (it's cool) from ART ON THE MENU
- Cupcake earrings from Lots of Sprinkles
- A t-shirt from Bakelove Bakewear
- Head Chefs by Fiesta Products
- Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
- A Jessie Steele Apron
- The Cupcake Courier
- Taste of Home books
- Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers

Now some of you might want to know how the whole concoction tasted before you decide to vote for me, right? So I'll tell you, it was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. I really love this apple cake recipe which my husband's mom used to make, and I was impressed that the Edam went so well with it. It honestly didn't taste weird--even my husband who doesn't normally like most mixings of sweet and salty liked it. It was nice and subtle and balanced out what could otherwise have been a too-sweet cupcake. The mascarpone frosting was mild, nice and smooth, and light. Finally, I've always loved buttermilk syrup and it was a nice finish to the cupcake. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm bragging, but I was so pleasantly surprised that these turned out so well. I really thought they might turn into a baking disaster, and on that subject I really should include this side note: the cupcakes themselves didn't turn out really great. The recipe warns that if you bake them as cupcakes they don't rise very much, and it wasn't lying. They were really pretty low in the middle, but it's great what frosting can cover up. Here's a picture:

I only melted the Edam on some of them in case my husband didn't like it. Now, for anyone that's interested, here are the recipes:

Apple Cake:
2 c. chopped apples
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
grated Edam cheese (optional)
Mix sugar and apples and let stand 1/2 hour. Stir in oil and eggs. Add flour, salt, cinnamon, and soda. Mix well. Bake in greased and floured loaf pan or cupcake tins if desired (but this cake doesn't rise very high). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes in loaf pan or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes. Remove from oven and top with grated Edam cheese.

Macarpone Frosting:
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
Mix together with electric mixer on high until smooth.

Buttermilk Syrup:
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. butter/margarine
2 T. corn syrup
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients (everything except the vanilla) and bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm.

Now if you made it through this mammoth post, congratulations, and don't forget to vote for me starting on October 26th!

A Success!

Whew. I am so glad my first food post is about a success and not a flop. I made flower cupcakes this weekend for a friend's baby shower, and I think they turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Granted, I used a cake mix and canned frosting, but the decorating part was all me (and an idea I got from Family Fun magazine). Here they are:

What I love about these cupcakes is that they are so simple to make with such cute results. All you do is take a candy and put it in the center of the cupcake (Family Fun used gumdrops, but I prefer the fruit flavored Mentos). You then get a marshmallow and sort of squish it flat with your hand (not too much or the petals end up being to long). Then cut the marshmallow into three with kitchen shears, do it again with another marshmallow, and arrange the marshmallow petals around the candy center and there you have it. See how easy that was? And everyone ends up being so impressed. Little do they know the only skill it takes is being able to squish a marshmallow.
Oh, and if the dessert stand in the picture looks a little weird, it's because I couldn't locate a tiered dessert stand for the life of me, so I ended up making my own with glass plates and upside-down drinking glasses. Not to bad for on the fly, but I still will be adding a tiered dessert stand to my Christmas list.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I was introduced to a great baking blog the other day by a friend and after oohing and ahing over the many fantastic and mouth-watering delicacies the blogger cooked up I thought, "Why couldn't I have a blog like this? I could post all the great things that come out of my kitchen and people all over the world will be inspired by what I cook up. And then I remembered the time I tried to make a cake that looked like a pizza with fondant toppings and I couldn't even get the dog to eat the sicky-sweet mess, or the time I accidentally added three cups of Karo syrup to no bake cookies instead of three tablespoons and then I realized something: That other blogger is totally out of my league. For every five nice things that come out of my kitchen there's at least one disaster. But if teaching junior high has taught me anything, sometimes mistakes are just as valuable a learning tool as triumphs, and so the Baking Becca blog was born. If you'll notice, under the title it describes me as a "domestic goddess in training" meaning I haven't quite reached that state of goddessness where I never make mistakes, but I'm learning. And so, for your learning enjoyment I intend to post all my baking adventures, whether they are successful or complete flops and maybe someone somewhere will learn from my mistakes and not have to make them too. Enjoy!