Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ham and Mushroom Muffins

I decided to take a break from sweet cupcakes and made these yummy ham and mushroom muffins for breakfast this morning. Unfortunately, they were a little bland and only mediocre. But the recipe can definitely be altered for a flavorful masterpiece! The recipe is from my Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.

The recipe calls for you to..
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Melt 3 1/2 tablespoons butter into a saucepan over medium heat.
1/2 small onion, finely chopped and
1 cup button mushrooms (couldn't find them so I used regular mushrooms, sliced)
Sea salt
Black pepper

Put in a large bowl..
2 3/4 all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Mix in a separate bowl..
1 cup whole milk
1 egg (I used two for more moisture in the muffins)

While mixing, slowly pour in the flour mixture. Then use a wooden spoon to stir in the mushrooms, onions, and 2 1/2 oz. smoked ham finely chopped (I used regular deli ham but I recommend using the smoked ham to give the muffins more flavor).

Spoon into cases and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Like every Hummingbird recipe, I couldn't believe the thickness of the batter. Those foreigners are crazy, but I guess the English like their dense biscuits. From experience with the Hummingbird recipes, I decided to add an extra egg to add more moisture to the batter and make the muffin rise more than their usual recipes allow. The extra egg worked out well, but next time I would try adding more milk instead to see what a difference it made.

Hummingbird Bakery must be plotting to destroy the hand mixers of all competing bakers' because although they recommended it for the batter, smoke was literally coming out of mine before I added an extra egg. Even then, I  spooned the batter into a standing mixer to give the poor guy a break.

Finally, I think chopped basil or sauteed shallots would add a lot to these muffins and I'll definitely try to throw one or the other into the batter next time I make them. Until then, experiment on your own!

So to conclude my tips for this recipe..
DO NOT use a hand held mixer - a standing mixer will be much less hazardous to your kitchen appliances
DO use smoked ham, not just simple honey ham deli meat
DO add an extra egg or an extra 1/3 of a cup of milk
Test out throwing in some chopped basil or sauteed shallots

Have a happy breakfast!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pretty in Purple

Happy birthday Aunt Sharee and cousin Zachary! This post is very late, but these cupcakes were decorated for their birthdays about a month ago.

The flowers are made from Wilton's royal icing recipe. The royal icing dries like cement so it's perfect for decorations. It is edible but it looks better than it tastes. I don't usually eat the flowers I make, but other people do! Maybe it's just to please me haha.

I made the flowers the day before because they have to dry completely before decorating or else they'll break. Also because I would be running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done the day of. The flowers last days so you could really make them a week in advance if you wanted to. They were made using piping bags and different piping tips.

I iced the daisies first, using white and yellow icing. I used a Wilton flower template for guidance and placed them on a curved plastic board for a realistic shape. All of the flowers were piped onto wax paper to assure easy removal when time to decorate.

The secret to a flat yellow center of a daisy is to gently push the yellow icing down with your finger after 5 minutes of drying. Its then dry enough to not stick to your finger and gets rid of the spiked yellow center.

I used purple and yellow icing to pipe the violets. Again, I used the Wilton template for guidance and the curved board for the realistic effect. I swear these violets gave me carpal tunnel. But it was worth it!

I used the Hummingbird Bakery cream cheese frosting recipe.
Using and electric mixer, beat together..
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
Then add 4 oz. cold cream cheese.

Beat for at least 5 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy, but do not overbeat or else it will become crumbly.

I dyed the cream cheese frosting lavendar with Wilton's food coloring, which is the best of the best. I iced the cupcakes up with a large round piping tip. I wish the frosting had been a little more firm; it would have made the icing process much easier. Next time I'll pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes before icing.

I hope you like them!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Black Bottom Cupcakes

These black bottom cupcakes definitely rank somewhere in my top 3 favorite cakes. The recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which was given to me by my lovely sister Sam.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Start by mixing..
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Separately combine..
1/4 sunflower oil - who knows where these pro bakers are getting this "sunflower oil". I am confident that it
                             does not exist. I used safflower oil from Stop and Shop
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while the electric mixer is running. Increase the speed of the mixer as the mixture thickens.

When I made this batter I honestly thought I had done something wrong. The batter is as thick as dough and almost broke my hand held mixer! I reread the recipe about 10 times trying to find my mistake, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong, so the chocolate dough was there to stay. Turns out that I didn't do anything wrong, the batter is just crazy thick. When following the recipe I recommend adding a little more oil to make the cake a little more moist, and I also recommend using a standing mixer so your hand held mixer is not destroyed.

Make the cheesecake filling by beating together..
4 1/2 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Do this in a standing mixer on medium-slow speed until the filling is smooth and fluffy.
Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips, but do not overmix! Otherwise the cream cheese will start to crumble.

Spoon the chocolate batter into the liners and spoon 1 tablespoon of filling on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting can be used on top of these cupcakes if you have a sweet tooth, otherwise, the filling does the trick. Serving with chocolate milk adds a perfect finishing touch.
I cannot say with certitude that this is not part of my body.. okay enough Weiner jokes. To put ALL raging rumors to rest, and to please my sister, this is my father's wiskery mouth not mine.

Enjoy your day!