I love to bake and I bake A LOT but lets face it ... I'm no Martha Stewart.
Martha Stewart has managed to market herself as the standard by which all things "proper" are measured. We have begun to measure ourselves against this unrealistic expectation that she's created.
Why can't I create 30 adorable crafts out of toilet paper tubes and glitter in under hour for my child's preschool class?
When I plant Martha Stewart flower seeds in my garden, why they don't produce wedding worthy bouquets like it shows on the package?
Why is it that I can't complete even the simplest Martha Stewart project without a minimum of 7 trips to Home Depot and spending at least three times over the estimated cost?
Why does her "chrysanthemum" paint color look absolutely stunning on the can and like a sunburnt pumpkin on my dining room walls? (Wish I was kidding.)
Why does every Martha Stewart recipe that I try to make, have 25 steps and a list of ingredients that I've never even heard of?
How did I break my Kitchen Aid mixer and end up covered in white goo when I tried to make her homemade marshmallows? (Most expensive marshmallows EVER.)
I think you get the point. My intent is not to discredit Martha Stewart because clearly, she's an expert on a lot of different things. I'm simply saying that even though she tries to convince us otherwise, we are not all going to have perfectly decorated homes and become expert souffle baking, crafting, painters and sewing, gardeners who can accomplish anything while looking flawless and un-stressed. Quite the opposite really. I can tell you that after I've conquered ANY Martha Stewart project, I look like I've been through the battlefield.
I can appreciate her ideas but sometimes her execution is slightly unrealistic for the average person. Maybe if I had her team of specialist working alongside me, my cupcakes would come out looking like they should be on the cover of her magazine. Then again - even that might not be enough help.
So why am I droning on and on about Martha Stewart? I've decided to make a conscious effort to stop using Martha Stewart as the standard by which I judge my baking. I am going to stop comparing my desserts to hers. Even when I follow a Martha Stewart recipe, I'm going to expect my finished product to look entirely different than the one shown in the professional photograph.
The Devils Food Cupcake recipe that I found on Martha's website is a perfect example. Her cupcake looked absolutely amazing but were not realistic for the average baker like myself.
I made a few modifications to her recipe and added my own frosting but you really can't even tell that these 2 cupcakes came from the same recipe. See what I mean about unrealistic expectations?
So if you want to try Martha Stewart's Devils Food Cupcake recipe - I recommend that you give MY version of the recipe, a try. I don't weigh out all of my ingredients perfectly and my pictures aren't perfect but then again ... neither am I. But this is a realistic and achievable Devils Food cupcake recipe.
Devils Food Cupcakes Chocolate Frosting
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup hot water 5 cups powdered sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda 8 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.
Whisk together water and cocoa until smooth.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Scoop batter into prepared pan and bake 23 minutes. (I made 18 jumbo cupcakes.)
Cool completely on wire racks.
To prepare frosting: Beat butter in mixer for 5 minutes.
Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.
Beat in melted chocolate.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with chocolate jimmies. (A whole lot easier than making homemade chocolate curls.)
My intent for this blog was not to offend Martha Stewart. I will be the first to admit that she is a marketing genius. Martha Stewart has her name on everything from cupcake liners and sprinkles to closet organizing systems to plants and shovels to glitter and glue. There's something to be said for someone who can market her brand in that many different areas. You can hardly walk through an isle of Home Depot without seeing something with her name. I have to give her credit for that. I do hope that you will try some of her projects and recipes but I also hope that you will have more realistic ideas about the end result than I did.
The cherry trees in Atlanta are in full bloom this week. They are absolutely breathtaking. Every Spring I ask myself, "Why don't I have a cherry tree planted in my yard?" This is the year - I am going to plant a yoshino cherry tree in 2025. Lucky for me, I have neighbors with some pretty great cherry trees that I can enjoy until I get mine planted.
You have to admit - these trees are pretty incredible right now.
Seeing all of the amazing cherry trees this week had me thinking about cherry cupcakes. It only seems logical that I would bake a black cherry filled chocolate cupcake with cherry buttercream while the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Black Forest Cupcakes
2 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup plus 4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter. melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup hot water
10 ounce bag frozen dark pitted cherries
4 Tablespoons sugar
10 egg whites
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
40-48 Tablespoons butter
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in bowl.
In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla and butter.
Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.
Add hot water and mix until combined.
Divide batter between paper lined jumbo sized cupcake pans. (I made 13 cupcakes from this batter.)
Bake 24 minutes at 350. Cool on wire racks.
While cupcakes cool, prepare cherry filling. Combine cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan.
Cook on low heat until thickened and syrupy.
Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
Use a cupcake corer to cut a hole in the center of each cupcake.
Fill each hole with a Tablespoon of cherry filling. Reserve 12 cherries and extra cherry juice.
Prepare a batch of cherry buttercream using reserved cherry juice to flavor buttercream.
Pipe cherry buttercream onto filled cupcakes.
I think I could sit down and eat a bowl of the black cherry filling - all by itself. (Seriously, it's that good.) It's really good inside of a rich, dark chocolate cupcake though too. I love the combination of the chocolate cake, the sweet cherry filling and the smooth creamy buttercream. I hope you like it too.
Spring is officially here. Even if it doesn't FEEL like Spring - the calendar says that its Spring -- and that's good enough for me.
From the very first day of Spring - pastel hued, Spring inspired cupcakes started to take over my kitchen. I just cant get enough of the yummy spring flavors like bright, sunny lemon and sweet, juicy strawberry.
This year, I came up with a new Spring cupcake flavor that I think really captures the essence of Spring. It's fruity and bright and it even looks like a warm sunny Spring afternoon to me. If you're a fan of strawberry and lemon - you NEED to give this recipe a try. You won't regret it.
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcake Batter
12 ounces frozen whole strawberries, thawed
3/4 cup whole milk
6 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
Lemon Cupcake Batter
1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
2 tsp pure lemon extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Strawberry and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese
16 Tablespoons butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons strawberry jam
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Place strawberries in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 6 minutes.
Pour strawberry mixture into a fine mesh strainer over a small saucepan.
Press mixture through strainer until just solids remain.
Place pan of strawberry juice on stove and heat on low until reduced to 1/2 cup and thick and syrupy.
Whisk together egg whites, vanilla and milk.
Whisk mixture into strawberry pan.
Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in bowl of standing mixer.
Cut in butter.
Add strawberry mixture and beat until combined.
In a clean mixing bowl, combine oil, shortening, vanilla and lemon extract. Whisk together until fully combined.
Switch to flat beater and beat in eggs, one at a time.
Combine dry ingredients.
Add dry ingredients to mixer, alternating with buttermilk.
Now you have both batters that you need to make these delicious cupcakes.
Scoop some of each batter into paper lined cupcake pans. Swirl batters together with a butter knife.
Bake 22 minutes for jumbo cupcakes. Cool on wire racks.
To create frosting, cream together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream in bowl of standing mixer. Divide frosting in half. Add lemon extract to half and strawberry jam to the other half. Fill a pastry bag with both frosting flavors and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes - guaranteed to give you Spring fever.
I am amazed at the number of people that I run into that still avoid eating anything with the word "vegan." People tell me all the time "Why even bother eating a cupcake if it's a vegan cupcake?" The funny thing is that the reason that you SHOULD eat the cupcake is because it IS vegan.
It really isn't hard to take the animal products out of a cupcake recipe. Taking out the eggs and making a few simple substitutions like replacing the butter with oil or shortening or even applesauce makes a really delicious, moist cupcake. If you don't label it "vegan" no one will ever be able to tell the difference.
I've made several different batches of vegan cupcakes but this one is my far my favorite: http://mystoryinrecipes.blogspot.com/2012/11/vegan-chocolate-cupcakes-with-coconut.html.
I love. love, love this chocolate cupcake recipe. Vegan or not, this recipe produces rich, dark, moist, chocolatey cupcakes - every time.
As much as I love the cupcake recipe, I needed to come up with a chocolate vegan frosting that was just as delicious and also nut free - which rules out my favorite coconut whipped cream. I came up with this super creamy and delicious chocolate frosting and believe me - you will NEVER miss the butter in this chocolate frosting.
The key to these yummy cupcakes is in the margarine and the soy milk. These are my favorites.
Vegan Chocolate Frosting
1 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
5 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate
1-2 Tablespoons soy milk
Cream together margarine and sugar in mixer.
Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add just enough soy milk to make a spreadable (or pipeable) consistency.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
As a side note - this is also a great recipe for my lactose free blog followers. Now you can have your cake - and your chocolate frosting too.
When I first started my personal chef business in 2007, I got the occasional request for a gluten free dessert but it was pretty rare. Oh how things have changed in the last 8 years. Here it is - 2015 - and gluten free desserts are everywhere . Now it seems strange if I don't get requests for gluten free desserts.
My gluten free clients aren't just looking for gluten free food - they're looking for really DELICIOUS gluten free desserts.
To be quite honest, my repertoire of gluten free desserts was pretty slim back in 2007. I just wasn't making a whole lot of them and to be honest, gluten free recipes of any kind, threw me for a loop. I searched through recipes with all kinds of ingredients that I wasn't familiar with. Faced with an ingredient list that I couldn't pronounce or even begin to find in the most specialty of supermarkets, I was more than a little intimidated to try new gluten free desserts.
Fortunately, I've learned a few things and picked up a few tricks about gluten free baking over the years. One of the easiest things that I've learned to do is to use almond flour or almond meal in place of white flour.
Almond flour (sometimes called almond meal) is simply ground almonds. It widely available at most grocery stores (I buy mine at Wal Mart or Trader Joes) AND it's delicious.
It's a great way to incorporate protein and fiber into an otherwise nutrient deficient dessert too. I've used almond flour in place of white flour in cakes, cupcakes, coffee cakes, tarts and even cookies. (It doesn't have a strange aftertaste like some of the other gluten free flours that I've used either.)
There are a lot of health benefits to using almonds in baking. I love that it can be substituted for flour to make a gluten free version of my favorite treats AND I love the fact that it boosts the nutritional content of anything that I add them to. Need more proof that you should be baking with almonds? Check out these facts about almonds:
My latest almond flour/gluten free creation is a Lemon Ricotta Almond Coffee Cake.
This super moist breakfast cake is super simple to put together and really delicious. The bright lemony flavor and the nutty almond texture makes this cake the perfect feature of any Spring brunch menu.
Lemon Ricotta Almond Coffee Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
2 1/2 cups almond meal
10 ounces ricotta
Sliced almonds, to decorated
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the base and sides of a 9 inch round cake tin with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined.
Add the almond meal and beat to combine.
Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form.
Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture. Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, decorate the cake with almond flakes.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch.
Dust with powdered sugar to serve.
If you don't want to tell anyone that this yummy coffee cake is gluten free- that's up to you. You're secret's safe with me. I'm willing to bet that no one will guess that it's made without flour. :)
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