Birthday Cupcakes

birthday-cupcakes

To help a good friend properly celebrate her birthday, I made some yellow cupcakes with fun decorations.

Box cake mixes are usually of high quality and save loads of time, so I used the Duncan Hines’ Butter Recipe Cake Mix to make the batter. The cupcakes only took 18 minutes to bake to perfection in a 350 degree oven. As the cupcakes cooled, I whipped Rich’s Vanilla Bettercreme until it formed a soft peak, which took about 10 to 15 minutes on medium speed. After piping on the frosting, I transformed the plain cupcakes into gorgeous delicacies by drizzling on chocolate ganache and caramel as well as sprinkling on colorful metallic edible pearls.

I am pleased to report that my friend enjoyed the cupcakes so much that she kept them all for herself.

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Orange Cranberry Scones

ocscones

It is the season for a piping hot cup of tea or fall inspired flavored coffee like pumpkin spice. A great complement to any warm beverage is a flaky pastry. My preferred treat is a twist on the classic scone, adding layers of flavor with orange zest and dried cranberries. A light drizzle of orange frosting over the scones provides a hint of sweetness.

 

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup frozen butter, grated

1 heaping teaspoon orange zest

1/2 cup cranberries

1 egg

1/2 cup sour cream

 

Mixed the dry ingredients together. Add the grated butter and mixed with your hands until crumbly. Incorporate the orange zest and cranberries. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and egg. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork. Use you hands to bring the dough together. Flatten dough onto a floured surface until its about 1/2 inch thick and round. Slice into 8 equal parts and place it on a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 minutes.

As the scones cool on a wired rack, whisk together about a 1/2 cup of powder sugar, a tablespoon or two of fresh orange juice, and a dash of vegetable oil. Drizzle the frosting over the scones. Enjoy!

 

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

cheesecake

Living in a major city means that everyone’s schedule is hectic and demanding. Figuring out a day that works for both parties requires making plans a month in advance, and even then they can fall through with a last minute work assignment or social conflict. In order to stay connected with my fellow city dwellers, I host large brunches or dinners every 3 to 6 months, inviting about 70 friends with hopes that at least 50% will RSVP. Since my friends love me, I generally get about 40 people who attend. There’s so much preparation, cooking, and baking to be done!

My cheesecake is quite popular, but since I have a number of baked goods to make within the few hours between after work and sleep, I usually opt to make cheesecake cupcakes, which only take 20 minutes to bake instead of the usual 50 minutes for a springform pan cheesecake. These cupcakes are so easy to make and feed 24 people. The best part is that even if the cupcakes have cracks in them, the cream cheese mousse covers up the imperfections. To make them look even fancier, garnish them with a piece of oreo cookie.

Ingredients

4 bricks cream cheese, divided

1 cup sugar, divided

~40 oreos crushes

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon whole milk

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 container of cool whip

Oven temperature 350 degrees F.

  1. Remove cream filling from 30 oreo cookies. Crush the cookies and then add melted butter to the mixture. Spoon a tablespoon of cookie crumbs into the bottom of each lined cupcake tin. Afterwards, crush the remaining cookies, including the cream, in a baggie for later use.
  2. Use an electric mixer to whisk 3 cream cheese bricks and 3/4 cups sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, creaming the mixture. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Afterwards, spoon in the milk to make the cupcakes even lighter. Gently fold in the crushed oreo cookies.
  3. Put batter into cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling, whisk the remaining cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Whisk in cool whip. Put mousse into pipping bag.
  5. Once the cupcakes are fully cool, pipe the mousse onto the cupcakes and then garnish with a slice of oreo cookie.  Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosted Cinnamon Rolls

Rolls

I’ve tried a number of different yeast roll recipes, and I can confidently tell you that this is the best. I found it on my favorite website for dessert recipes – Allrecipes.com. This 90-minute cinnamon rolls recipe will produce up to 12 gooey rolls that will electrify the palate. I made some small modifications to the recipe.

As for the frosting, this sweet topping will make the rolls even better. Use one-third a cream cheese brick at room temperature (important!) that should be creamed until fluffy. Add a 1/2 cup of powder sugar and then a tablespoon of whole milk, creaming the mixture and then repeating the process until it turns into a sweet glaze. Add a dash of vanilla to finish it off.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine, softened

Frosting

2.5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/2 cups powder sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in butter; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

At the same time, mix the yeast and lukewarm water together and set it aside to activate.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water and yeast mixture, egg and milk, beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll out dough into a 12×9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with soften butter, and then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal size rolls and place cut side up in 12 lightly greased pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Serve warm.

When Trapped Indoors, Bake! #Blizzard2016

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For three days, I was confined indoors like all Washingtonians awaiting for blizzard Jonas to pass through the area. Thankfully, power held steady throughout the storm. After catching up on my Netflix queue, I itched to move, do something productive.

Opening up another internet tab, I went to my favorite cooking website — Allrecipes.com. It is seriously the best place to find simple but delicious recipes. The website has a handy search tool that allows you to specify which ingredients you want to include and which ones you don’t. Given that I couldn’t run out to the store to buy more milk, the search bar saved me time and disappointment. There’s nothing worse than having every ingredient besides one or two that cannot be substituted.

Browsing the website, I came across a soft pretzel recipe that was straightforward and had high marks. The recipe called for flour, sugar, yeast, warm water, oil, and salt. For the most part, I followed the recipe but cut the flour down from five cups to three and a half.

After mixing the ingredients together and letting it rise, I divided the dough into 12 pieces and rolled them out until they were about a foot long and as thick as a finger. Twisting the dough into a shape of a pretzel, I dipped them in a baking soda and water solution for about one minute on each side before placing them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Eight minutes later and ta-da! Golden, soft pretzels.

These pretzels were so yummy, and I’m going to make them an appetizer for my birthday party this year. I know my friends will love these little treats.

For the recipes, please visit: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/24272/buttery-soft-pretzels/?internalSource=staff%20pick&referringId=16220&referringContentType=global%20nav