Wednesday, August 15, 2012

These Cupcakes Take The Cake!

My husband and I recently celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary and this feat called for a dessert worthy of such a celebration.  For as long as I've known him, my husband's favourite dessert has been Tiramisu.  We have some great Italian restaurants in our city that make fabulous Tiramisu, but this year I decided to make a version of my own.  Making an entire pan of this decadent treat seemed a bit daunting so I opted to bake it on a smaller scale. 
 Below is the recipe I used. It's a combination of three that I found while perusing my recipe books at home and online.   I will say that this recipe is quite involved and takes some time, but for me it was a labour of love.   It does make an impressive cupcake worthy of any celebration. 
 Lovin' from the oven at its best!     
You Will Need:
For The Cupcakes:
1 box of White Cake Mix
2 egg whites
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk *see below for my homemade version
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
*To make buttermilk:
 Place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
 Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line. Let stand for five minutes, then use as much as the recipe calls for.
For The Filling:
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon strong coffee
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
For the Mascarpone Frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature
½ cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Shaved chocolate for topping
 To Make:
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with cupcake liners.
  •  Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside.
  •  In a large bowl, gently whisk egg whites, egg, oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla.
  •  Stir cake mix into wet ingredients.
  •  Using half of the batter, fill cupcake liners about 1/3 full.
  •  With the remaining cake batter, add the strong coffee and mix. (You may need to add 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken the batter.)
  •  Scoop the coffee cake batter over the regular batter so that each cupcake liner is filled about 3/4. (So you have one layer of vanilla cake and a top layer of coffee cake.)
  •  Bake for 16-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cupcakes cool completely.

For filling: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl using a spoon.

To assemble:  cut a cone shaped piece of cake out the top of each cupcake.  I use the wide end of a large icing tip to do so. Make sure cakes are completely cooled before doing so. Generously spoon your filling into holes.

Pipe your frosting over the hole with the filling and the entire surface of your cupcake.  Top with chocolate shavings and dust with cocoa powder.  Refrigerate until set.

We even had a wonderful waiter!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Peachable Moment

As a parent you know that there are certain things you must introduce your children to; things you need to teach them as they make their way in life. There are the big things, we are all aware of those, but I'm talking about the smaller things, the things that aren't written about in the baby books and parenting manuals.

The art of eating is one of those things. Sure we know that we are supposed to introduce our children to solid foods.  We are even given guidelines to follow when it comes time to feed them rice cereal. We are told that we should give them vegetables before fruits so that they don't grow to prefer sweetness over the less desirable taste of veggies.  We also know that it is our responsibility to teach them to eat with their mouths closed, not to talk with their mouths full, to keep their elbows off the table. These are just a few examples of the things that we will teach them that will allow them to go out into the real world and make us proud.

     As they grow, you try your best to offer them a wide range of eating experiences and flavours.  My kids are not the best or most adventurous eaters to say the least, but I'd like to think that we did our part in getting them to at least try a variety of foods. As a parent, you come to know what your children like and dislike.  I know that my children, all three, can't stand the smell or taste of broccoli- no matter how it is disguised. I know that my children, all three, love the taste of ice cream and will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let them.  I thought that I knew all of my children's likes and dislikes.  I thought we had covered the bases in the trying all food groups department. I was wrong.
     The other morning we were having a nice family stroll around the local Farmer's Market when a vendor offered my children a peach.  Imagine my surprise when they all made a face as if she had offered them brussel sprouts! Try it I said, while smiling politely at the vendor.  "It's a peach.  You've had a peach before!" I was met with blank stares.  My daughter then asks me if it will taste like peach yogurt or the peach juice boxes I put in her lunch box. "Of course!" I say, "but surely you've had an actual peach before. Don't be silly!"  Still smiling (now sheepishly) at the vendor, and looking at my husband for some support, I take the peach. As we start to walk away I hand it to my fourteen year old. "It's fuzzy!" he says. Really?! I stop dead in my tracks. Has my oldest child never held a peach? Have any of my kids for that matter? I am a failure as a parent!

     Turns out, as we all shared the delicious and juicy, locally grown peach, my children discovered a new fruit that day. So it's a few years late getting to their palate; they tried it and they liked it. They really liked it! Fuzzy skin and all. 
     Needless to say I went right out and bought a basket full of peaches.  I have been offering them to my children ever since. I've even been baking with them. Below you will find a recipe for our new family favourite: peach crisp.  So delicious and sweet.  Perfect paired with vanilla ice cream.

     As the saying goes, it's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. Thank goodness!  Now...if only I could find a way to get them to eat broccoli...

Would you like peaches with that ice cream? 

You will need:

1/2 c. quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 to 1 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter, cubed and softened
2 1/2 lbs. peaches (med.)
1/2 - 1 cup sugar for sprinkling

~Combine oatmeal, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.
~ Add butter and cut into oats mixture with a pastry cutter or two forks. 
~ Arrange sliced peaches in a baking dish or in individual ramekins.
~ Cover with 1/2 to 1 cup sugar to sweeten.
~Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over fruit and press down slightly.
~Bake the crisp uncovered in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 40 minutes or until fruit is tender.
~ Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.