Iron Chef Mommy

The journey of a mother and wife in her very own kitchen stadium

Archive for the ‘Sweet’ Category

Valentine’s cupcakes – the best part of the day!

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 19, 2010

So, the fact that I’m posting my Valentine’s cupcakes about a week late, that should give you some insight as to how busy I am. We were buried in snow… no, literally. Buried. Meaning there was 2+ feet of snow in my backyard. So, actually, my child was buried. Up to her waist. I have pictures. They’re adorable. Brett even took the snowblower into the backyard (that was money VERY well spent…and yes, I say that every time it snows) and make a huge 4 ft tall slide for her to slide down. We were freezing and soaking wet, but it was so worth it. She had so much fun, and kicked and screamed when we took her in because she was so windburnt.

So, we made Valentine’s cupcakes. After they were made, I went on an all out search looking for the memory card to my camera. Those of you on Facebook know what my morning was like that day. No wonder I didn’t get anything done. I was too busy flipping over my couches looking for it. So, this picture of my Valentine cakes is a bit grainy, my blackberry definitely can’t do what my camera can. But they looked adorable. And they tasted yummy. Until Saturday, when I headed to see my darling friend Angelina for her bachelorette party at the Sands Casino. We were getting ready and she mentioned the icing tasted a bit salty… then I thought back… that’s what I get for letting the 2 year old stand in front of the mixer with my back turned. She put a touch more in after. Oops. Oh well. The Sands was great. We had a wonderful time – we ate dinner at Emeril’s Chophouse and it was beyond fantastic. I mean, amazing. I had duck, which was perfection. It melted in my mouth. I wanted to ransack the kitchen and eat everything.

So, back to Valentine’s Day. I was pleasantly surprised that my darling husband had an adorable singing card and TWO boxes of chocolates for me when I arrived home Sunday morning. He rocks. Definitely a keeper.

These cupcakes are yummy. The cakes are moist and spongy and have a great flavor. It’s actually the recipe for Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes. The frosting is really yummy. At least it was before my princess dumped a bit more salt into them. I added Wilton Rose Pink coloring to the icing to bring that nice pink color and they’re topped with Wilton toppers and heart sprinkles. Oh, those are Wilton heart liners too.

So, here you go:

For the cupcakes:
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, ’cause I’m doing something wrong.***

Those are Amy’s directions. She gets 18. I halved the recipe and got 11. Oh well.

For the frosting:
3 c. confectioners’ sugar, sift if lumpy
1/4 c. Crisco
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk

In bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the Crisco, vanilla and salt. Alternately add milk and remaining sugar; mix until smooth and creamy. Add more sugar to thicken or milk to thin if needed for good spreading consistency. Frosts tops and sides of two 9-inch layers or one 9x13x2 inch cake.

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Posted in Baking, Cupcakes, Holiday, Sweet | 1 Comment »

I admit it, I’m a snob. There, I said it.

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 12, 2010

I bet half the bitches that hate me, or read this blog just to get some info on what’s going on in my life are thinking, wow, she really is a snob. Well, sorry to crumble your cookie girls, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Cookies. Chocolate chip to be exact.

I like to think I’m not addicted to any sweets (lie #1). I basically ate nothing but ice cream through my whole pregnancy with Madeline and wondered why I gained so much weight. Thank goodness for genetics is all I have to say about that (and my darling mother, the personal trainer). I got to a point when I was pregnant that my mother (and husband) basically had to pry the ice cream spoon out of my hands. I was addicted. Then there’s chocolate. For a few years, I was like Kyra Sedgwick’s character in The Closer. I had chocolate everywhere. It was in my desk at work, in my car, in my purse, briefcase, in the freezer. Hell, I even kept a bag of Dove chocolates in my nightstand (because the 12 steps to the kitchen was just too far). It’s been awhile since I’ve had chocolate in my nightstand. I like to think that was the coping with the stress of my job. Now I just keep it in the freezer… and there’s way less of it.

But, I’m not actually a huge dessert person. If I’m out to eat, I can actually just have a bite or two of whatever is there and be fine. My sweet tooth is satisfied. Cheesecake, chocolate cake… just a few bites are enough for me. Ice cream is a different story… I probably could never completely give that up. Same goes for chocolate chip cookies.

I literally could eat a box of chocolate chip cookies in a sitting, no question. Luckily, I’ve stopped myself before doing so, but I’ve definitely sat my ass down and gobbled up 10 or 12. Sometimes it’s while I watch the Biggest Loser. Sometimes I feel bad while doing it, but then I remember that once I feel my pants get tight, everything gets cut out for 3 weeks and suddenly, I’m even lighter than before I started (thanks again Mom, for the rocking metabolism). Anyway, they are my guiltiest pleasure ever. I appreciate them even more now, and here’s why-

After Madeline was born, before I even left the hospital, my mom and I agreed (well, she said she was going to help me so I had no choice basically!) that I would listen to her nutrition plan for 6 weeks to drop most of the weight I had gained and keep the nutrients I needed since I was nursing and needed extra calories. I agreed and figured I could do anything for 6 weeks. Besides, I’d just eaten probably a ton of ice cream in the last 6 months or so (the first 3 was nothing but Chinese food… gross, I know. don’t ask. I rarely go near it now). I was all set… then we walked in my door. My mom’s oldest sister sent me a box of cookies from Chip ‘N Dipped. Well, these darling things were the last thing I needed. But now there were 2 dozen of them in front of me. Giant chocolate chip cookies, half dipped in chocolate. Holy shit. Well, she packed up half of them right away. Then she told me everytime I lost 10 pounds I could have a cookie. That was it. I asked her right away if I could have 2 since I dropped almost 20 pounds just at the hospital. No dice. So I had no choice but to listen. I wanted those cookies. So I lost the weight and those cookies were every bit worth the wait. I would dream about them. I could give up a lot of things… never chocolate chip cookies.

Since then I have been trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I will be the first to admit I never had a lot of luck with baking cookies. Either my pan wasn’t right or the oven was too hot or the rack was too low, take your pick. When those things weren’t an issue, it was the recipe itself. I never got that “whoa” taste from cookies I’d baked at home. I’m very picky about my cookies. I like them to have a bit of crispiness around the edges with a softer middle that leave you craving a huge glass of milk. Well, I found them. Finally. Not only did I find the perfect recipe, but my oven decided to work wonderfully, my racks were way at the top, and the cookies were literally perfection. I ate one right out of the oven and two more once they cooled. I’m ready to polish off about 10 more, but it’s almost midnight so I’m thinking that’s not the smartest idea. So, if you’re a cookie person, these are definitely for you.

World’s best chocolate chip cookies

You’ll need:

2 eggs
1 (12 oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

You’ll have to:

First, mix together flour and baking soda and set aside.
Cream butter, white and brown sugar, vanilla and water in electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture a little at a time. Mix well until creamy. (You’ll want to make sure there are no lumps, but don’t overbeat… overbeating releases glutens in the flour and makes everything starchy and glumpy and weird). Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
Make little round balls, about 1 tsp apiece, and place onto well greased cookie sheet (I use Pam for Baking). Place on top rack in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove immediately from pans and cool on wire racks.

This recipe makes 36 cookies. Now, there’s nothing wrong with 36 cookies, except that I’d eat every single one of them. I halved the recipe and got 20 cookies.

They’re delicious– Even Madeline thought so when she tried to taste the cookie batter…..(or as she would say, “mmm….a-wishous!”)

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Miscellaneous, Musings, Quick, Sweet | Leave a Comment »

Cinna-who?

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 4, 2010

So, last week I attempted to make a coffee cake. It was delicious, although not very aesthetically pleasing. It looked really funny. I put the crumb topping on before I put it into the oven. When I took the cake out, it had disappeared! It sank into the cake. Now don’t get me wrong, it was really yummy. The crumbs were scattered throughout the cake so when you took a bite, it was a pleasant surprise. Next time (and after next time I’ll post the recipe) I’d probably let it bake and put the topping 10 minutes or so before it was done. Live and learn. Anyway, I got to thinking about things I’d like to try and make. Everytime I go to the mall, I walk past Cinnabon and my mouth waters. But- 4 bucks for a cinnamon roll? Come on. So I thought, I could do these. I found a recipe and went to work. I was surprised at how easy it was to do, considering I am not super experienced with working with yeast.

Now, a few things first. I halved the recipe. This is for the FULL recipe. I didn’t need that many because, well, I didn’t know how they were going to turn out, but mostly, I didn’t have that much flour left in the house. I am running VERY low. If you’re going to half the recipe, make sure you use a baking calculator like this one. Anyway, here’s the original recipe:

You will need:

2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons dry yeast (or two packages of dry yeast)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Canola oil (I use Canola, but you can use any kind of cooking oil) (you can also use shortening, if you prefer)
6 to 7 cups of flour

Then you:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit for a minute or two. Add the sugar and salt. Mix. Add the cooking oil (or shortening), 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
Stir in 3 more cups of flour. Begin kneading the dough, adding the final cup of flour. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in more flour, a quarter to a half cup at a time.
Let the dough “rest” for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 24 to 30 inches long by about 16 inches wide. Spread with soft butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the wide end, roll into a log.
Cut the cinnamon rolls into equal sized slices (approximately one inch wide each or slightly more) and place into two greased 9×13 pans. Put in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown).
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pans.
This recipes makes two dozen cinnamon rolls. If you want REALLY BIG cinnamon rolls, cut into 12 equal pieces 2 inches wide.
Total amount of time needed from start to finish (including time to bake) is about 2 hours.

Okay, now my edits. These were good, but a few things. Nowhere does it say how much butter you should use. I melted 1/2 stick and painted the dough with it. Eh. I would probably use more, and just let it get soft and spread it to get a thicker coat. I would say 3/4 stick for a 1/2 recipe to give you an idea of how much. Now, the consistency of these were great. They looked good, they were a great size. My only issue was the dough wasn’t really sweet. It needed something else – icing. Now, I was running late to bring these to a playdate so I did the only thing I know how to do – improvise. I grabbed the other half of the stick of butter, threw it in a small saucepan to melt. I added maybe a capful or so of vanilla and some confectioner’s sugar (roughly 1/2 cup or so) and whisked it together. It tasted pretty good… a little thick so I just put a few drops of milk in to loosen it up and poured it over the rolls. PERFECT. They were delicious. I’ve been picking at them for the last couple of days here and there.. throwing them in the microwave and then eating them. Faboosh!

Normally, this is where I would post a picture of these delicious creatures. However, my daughter has managed to break pieces off of each one and it’s now one big cinnamon cakey-thing in the tupperware. I should have snapped a pic before I dashed out of the house, but, live and learn. Next time, I promise. If it’s any consolation to any of you, they looked amazing.

This is a recipe that even the most novice can do. The most important part is to be patient and let the yeast rise as needed or they will come out tasting like bricks. Good luck!!

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Sweet | Leave a Comment »

cupcakes and more…cupcakes

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 13, 2010

Well I can’t believe it! My little girl, my princess, my angel is turning 2 tomorrow! How fast these last two years have flown by. I wish I could stop time, or slow it down. I love the little girl she is turning into, but I miss her as a little baby. She is smart, fun, and makes every day worth living. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter. I sit and reflect how I felt two years ago today… LARGE…uncomfortable, but savoring what I knew to be my last few hours carrying my daughter, feeling her first flutters, then later kicks that I swore bruised me from the inside they were so strong. She’s awesome, and she’s ours. I’m sure I’ll be doing more reflecting tomorrow as we celebrate her special day… but for now, a bit of fun!

So, we did a semi-party last year for her first birthday (since that’s really about the parents anyway). We had some of her close friends from Tri-County Tots, our playgroup that we’re in and some close family just have a cake for her. This year, we did a small cake/party at my mom’s last week when I was visiting on LI. Saturday we’ll do a cake at my in-laws for Madeline, my dad will be visiting and joining in the fun as well. Nothing over the top. She’s only 2. So, I thought it would be fun to have some of her friends come over for a playdate and cupcakes today. Needless to say, take 5 toddlers and cram them full of sugar at noon and watch the craziness ensue. You would have thought these kids never had treats before. It was so much fun to watch them and enjoy the cupcakes. I was up at 6am and had the first batch of cupcakes in the oven by 7:30, ran out at 9 for more milk and butter and by the time her friends got here, we had two different batches of cupcakes, each with their own icing and my coffee pot was brewing its second pot of the day. It was all worth it though to see Madeline’s face as her friends sang happy birthday and she blew out her purple candle shaped like a star.

Now, cupcakes. What kind? Where else would I go to find a yummy cupcake? Cupcake Rehab, of course. Marilla has some faboosh recipes up on there that I have always wanted to try. She posted a recipe for chocolate chip cupcakes a while back and I’ve been dying to make them. I figured this was my perfect excuse to!

Here’s her recipe:

First you take:

* 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour
* 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 7 tablespoons butter
* 7/8 cup sugar (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)
* ½ cup milk
* 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
* 3 large egg whites
* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Then you:

1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Mix milk and vanilla in a separate small bowl.
2. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl.
3. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
5. Bake cupcakes about 22 minutes or until testers inserted into centers come out clean. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.

Now, the icing. Chocolate chip buttercream. Can we say yum? It’s beyond delicious. Here’s her recipe, word for word.

Ingredients:

* 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
* 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
* ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth.
3. Fold chocolate chips into buttercream. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

The icing was delicious, and like her, I ate a little bit out of the bowl.

Now, a few things. The recipe is halved, so you get 12 cupcakes (at least I did). She had an issue with them not rising enough to clear her cups, I did not. I filled them about 3/4 and they rose enough to clear the tops a little bit, so if you’re using regular muffin tins, 2/3 to 3/4 of the way is probably fine. I love a recipe for 12 cupcakes. That way they all get eaten. When there’s 24, I end up eating the last 9 or so and feeling like a big fat cow. So kudos there. Yay!

Then, I thought I’d make a funfetti cupcake. Two of Madeline’s friends (who, ironically both could not make it, for different reasons – one is now a big brother and the other is sick) have peanut allergies. So, Nestle chips that are made in a plant with peanuts were out. I thought I’d do funfetti, because it’s basically a plain cake mix with a little fun. I’m not a boxed cake mix person. I keep one in the cabinet for “holy shit” reasons but that’s as an absolute LAST resort. Since we weren’t snowed in, I stole another one of Marilla’s recipes. She made her own, which she found at iheartcuppycakes and I had to try them out. I mean, who doesn’t like funfetti? Come on now.

So, if you want to try your hand at them, here’s what you need:

* 1 ¼ cups flour
* 1 ½ tsp baking powder
* ¼ tsp salt
* ¾ cup sugar
* 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* ½ cup milk
* 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating on low. Then add vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture.
5. Fold in rainbow sprinkles.Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full.
6. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

Now, they were just fantastic. Amazeballs, faboosh, beyond delicious. First of all, the batter was amazing before it was baked (yeah, I licked the spatula after they were in the oven. So what?) They were fluffy and moist and delicious.

Also, yes, I know. My pastry bag skills need some work. Don’t judge. How well would you frost 2 dozen cupcakes at 10am with a toddler underfoot trying to stick her fingers in the cupcakes? That’s what I thought. Besides, they tasted awesome. I should know. I ate 3 of them while watching the Biggest Loser. I know, I know. But, it was all worth it. I mean, look how happy she was!

Posted in Baking, Birthday, Cupcakes, Dessert, Musings, Sweet | 1 Comment »

Chocolate keeps you warm

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 4, 2010

It is beyond frigid here. It’s so cold I can’t stand it. I opened the front door to get the mail and couldn’t believe it. Yesterday brought us 15 degrees with a wind chill of -1. Not cool at all. We were planning a nice relaxing day staying warm on the couch in sweats until we got a phone call around noon. Brett’s great-grandmother (she’s 85, mind you) decided she was going to WALK to church and came home to realize she locked herself out of her house. Oh – and she had a minor stroke 2 weeks ago so you can imagine how angry we were that she went out by herself in this weather. Her neighbors are friends of ours so they called us to say she was there. So, the good guy my husband is, got all bundled up and headed down there.

In the meantime, I decided to make some yummy cookies, chock full of chocolate, because I love nothing more than warm, sweet food on a cold day. They are delicious!

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chocolate chips, 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars, chopped or M&M’S
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

I left the walnuts out since I knew Madeline would want some. I used dark brown sugar and I also used 1 cup milk chocolate chips & 1/2 cup semisweet mini chips. They tasted great that way.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl stir together butter, both sugars, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir chocolate chips and walnuts, if using, and stir to distribute evenly.

For cookies: Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

For bars: Pat dough into a greased 9 inch square baking pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into squares when cooled

*my first pan in the oven came out with the bottoms slightly darker than I would have liked. I moved the rest to the top rack and baked them at 350 for about 14-16 minutes and they came out perfect.

All in all, this was a great recipe. They’re VERY chocolatey, so for those of you who love your chocolate as much as I do, they’re perfect. Also, while I could sit down and eat about 35 chocolate chip cookies in one sitting, I could really only eat one or two of these and they hit the spot perfectly. Beware that this recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies though!

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Sweet | Leave a Comment »