Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Another birthday at the office this week meant another excuse to make delicious sweets.  This time, the girls planted the seeds that something with mint and chocolate would be a good idea. Then during the afternoon, I got an email with a link to the Cupcake Bakeshop recipe below from the birthday boy. The truffle cupcakes sound delicious, but the mint idea made me think of a recipe for Mint Chocolate Cupcakes from Tasty Kitchen.  So, I decided to at least use the dark chocolate ganache from the truffle cupcakes, since all the best mint and chocolate combos have dark chocolate.  The cupcakes were really yummy and definitely worth making again! Thanks again to Nigel for helping!



Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
From ManicMother on Tasty Kitchen


FOR CUPCAKE BATTER
2 cups White Sugar
1-¾ cup All-purpose Flour
¾ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1-½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Milk
½ cups Vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
¾ cups Boiling Water

FOR GANACHE (from Cupcake Bakeshop):
6 ounces (170 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

FOR FROSTING:
½ cups shortening
½ cups Unsalted Butter
3-¾ cups Confectioner's Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Clear Imitation Vanilla Extract
1-½ teaspoon Mint Extract
3 ounces, fluid Heavy Whipping Cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

FOR THE BATTER
In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 min. Stir in the boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake 12-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

FOR THE GANACHE
Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.  Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.  Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.   Let cool until at spreading consistency.

FOR THE FROSTING
To make the frosting, mix together the shortening and butter, until smooth. Add powder sugar, mix well. Add salt, vanilla, mint extract, and whipping cream blend on low speed until moistened. You can add more powder sugar for a firmer frosting. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy.
Using a pastry bag, pipe the frosting on top of the ganache (if you don’t have a pastry bag, fill a Ziploc and cut a tip.) Yields 2 dozen cupcakes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Freestone Peach Pie

In Ontario, apparently there is one time of year to get delicious, juicy peaches, and that time happens to be now! (Thanks to Lisa for the heads up). Of course, besides being delicious by themselves, I thought these Freestone Peaches would make a lovely pie.  Peach pie happens to be my favorite kind, with the right peaches, it can be even better than apple pie!  The pie was delicious, though very, very juicy. Probably could have used more thickener (corn starch or flour). This pie also reinforced the fact that I prefer the Crisco pie crust recipe (just use the one on the box, but substitute half of the Crisco with cold butter).

Thanks to Nigel for the help peeling the peaches and eating the pie :)



Peach Pie
10 cups Peaches (freestone)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Some lemon juice
Sugar (up to 1/2 cup)
Corn starch (I just put a few spoonfuls)

Boil some water. Pour the boiling water over peaches in a large bowl. Let sit for 15-20 seconds, then transfer peaches to a colander and rinse with cold water. The skin on the peaches should peel off very easily. Cut peaches into 8ths and put back into the original bowl (after draining the boiling water). Mix peaches with cinnamon and lemon juice. Add sugar and corn starch before filling the crust.

Crust (from the Tenderflake box)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 lb. Tenderflake
Water (ice cold)
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 egg

Mix together flour and salt. Cut in tenderflake (lard) with 2 knives. In a measuring cup, lightly beat one egg, add water and vinegar to fill up to 1 cup mark. Slowly add water mixture to flour and lard, but only enough to get the flour to stick together. Make two equal sized balls and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Roll out each ball between 2 sheets of wax paper. Put one in the bottom of the pie pan and reserve the other to put over the peach mixture. Press the edges of the two crusts together along the edge of the pie pan. Paint a little egg or milk on the top of the crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes on 425 F and then turn down to 350 F and bake for another 35-40 minutes. (You may want to cover the edges of the pie crust to keep from burning.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers and Salsa Fresca

This weekend, I had Mexican food for the first time in ages at a lovely place called Ahora in Ottawa. It was almost like being back in California and it inspired me to make my own version of Chile Rellenos (the one thing they didn't have on their menu!).  I also really wanted to make tomatillo salsa, but unfortunately my favorite place to get produce only had 3 wimpy looking tomatillos, so I made regular tomato salsa instead.  The Chile Rellenos were lightened up a lot by skipping the breading and stuffed with chicken. They turned out really well and had just the right amount of spice!  The recipe wasn't really complicated, but it took me a long time to get organized.


Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers

2 boneless chicken breasts
4 medium to large poblano peppers
1/2 can diced tomatoes with jalapeƱos
1 cup shredded cheese (mix of chedder and monterey jack)
1 tsp. ground Mexican chili pepper

  • Roast the peppers under the broiler on a baking sheet. (Pay attention to them so they don't burn) Take them out of the oven and place in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, peel the skin off the peppers, leaving the stem intact. 
  • While roasting peppers, boil the chicken breast. I added a few pats of butter to the water. Start with the water on medium-high, and when the water starts to boil turn the heat down slightly. The chicken  should reach a temperature of 180F. (I wish I timed this for you all... sorry!)
  • When the chicken is done cooking, remove from water and let cool. Using 2 forks shred the chicken breast. Dust with ground chili powder. 
  • Take the roasted poblanos and cut a slit down the side. Remove the seeds. 
  • Stuff peppers with shredded chicken and a few of the diced tomatoes. 
  • Arrange peppers in a glass baking dish (pie pan or 8x8), sprinkle more tomatoes around the peppers and cover everything with cheese. 
  • Bake until cheese is melted and serve.
Salsa Fresca

4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced and de-seeded
1 jalapeƱo, diced and de-seeded
2 cloves garlic diced
Cilantro (to taste, since I hate cilantro I only used a few sprigs)
Lemon or lime juice

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor and serve. Makes about 1-1 1/2 cups salsa. 
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