Monday, June 29, 2009

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins


Yesterday, we invited the family over for brunch. With extra rhubarb in the garden, I decided to bake some muffins to serve alongside pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, and fresh fruit. The batter is moist and delicious. If you're not a rhubarb fan, you could certainly substitute your favorite fruit - blueberries or raspberries would be delicious. You can substitute whole milk for the buttermilk if you prefer. I would give the credit for this recipe to epicurious.com, but the credit should really go to one of the commenters of the recipe who suggested changes that made the recipe so much better. Almost all of the subsequent commenters used his suggestions, and I'm glad I did too! These are just as moist and delicious the next day, although the streusel will soften a bit.


Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
adapted from epicurious.com
For topping:
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For cake batter:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 cups fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Use cooking spray to coat muffin cups and top of pan.
Make streusel for topping:
Whisk together oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.
Make batter:
Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 2 batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined. Add confectioners' sugar to the rhubarb and toss to coat. Immediately add rhubarb to the batter and gently fold it in.
Divide batter evenly among 18 muffin cups (cups will be almost full). Crumble streusel evenly on top. Bake in middle of oven until tops are golden and a tester inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pan on a rack 3 minutes, then loosen edges of cakes with a small sharp knife or small metal spatula. Remove cakes from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rhubarb Custard Pie


I grew up eating this pie. My mom would make one or two every year when rhubarb was in season - it's definitely a family favorite. I think the recipe came from the old, falling apart, three-ring, Betty Crocker Cookbook which I'm sure my mom still uses. I think it's the only cookbook she owns! Here's one place the apple fell far from the tree - I must have over 50 cookbooks! Our rhubarb patch is thriving this year, thanks to a good dose of manure earlier this Spring and maybe because of the cool weather we've had so far this summer.

My father-in-law had a birthday last week. He and my husband prefer pie to the more traditional cake, so we often make pies for their birthdays. Mark's mom made a delicious Strawberry Pie and I brought a Rhubarb Custard Pie. They actually tasted quite good together if you, like me, were to have a little slice of each on your plate. Add vanilla ice cream, and you've got the perfect birthday treat. Happy Birthday!

Rhubarb Custard Pie
from Mom

3 eggs
3 tablespoon milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
one recipe Pate Brisee

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly and add milk. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Add the rhubarb and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the pastry-lined pan. Dot with 1 T butter and cover with top crust and crimp edges. If desired, brush the top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. With a knife, cut 4 holes in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to eat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

For Baby's Baptism...why not serve cupcakes!


In May, a friend asked if I would make 10 dozen cupcakes for her grandson's baptism. She gave me the freedom to choose any flavor I would like to make. Deciding on the flavors was the toughest part! Here's the lineup:

Almond cupcakes, filled with raspberry preserves, and topped with an almond buttercream and toasted, sugared almonds. The inspiration for these came from that Sky High cookbook I've been talking so much about.

Coconut cupcakes.

Hostess cupcakes: chocolate cupcakes with a marshmallow creme filling and topped with an espresso chocolate glaze and garnished with vanilla buttercream piping.
Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins topped with Banana Ganache Frosting and garnished with a dried banana chip.

Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting, garnished with real chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla Cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing garnished with pastel sprinkles.





Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cupcake of the Month - Buckeyes


Another grand slam from Sky High! The chocolate batter was very thin and pours right into the cupcake liners (use a bowl with a spout). I thought maybe I'd done something wrong, but the cake turned out moist and very light. I did add another 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the frosting because I thought it should be more "peanut buttery". A word of wisdom if using the recipes from this book for cupcakes: if you like a good bit of icing on your cupcakes and you use the large icing tips as I do, you may not end up with enough frosting for all the cupcakes because these recipes are meant to be made into 8" triple layer cakes. A mini Reese's peanut butter cup, cut in half, makes a nice garnish.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes
Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake
( ) are my notes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (or substitute peanut butter cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper. (or skip this and line at least 24 cupcakes)
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, (2o minutes for cupcakes), or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out) - (I used about 1 cup of peanut butter)
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Nestle chocolate chips)
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Dinosaur Day" Butter Cookies


The kindergarten class at school has been learning about dinosaurs and last week they had their annual "Dinosaur Days" special evening for friends and parents and put on a play. The reception required lots of cut-out dinosaur cookies. I thought these were delicious and quite special when topped with royal icing decorations.


Butter Cookies
Makes thirty-six to forty 2 1/2-inch cookies. (made about 25 dinosaur cookies)
From Cook's Illustrated, Published November 1, 2003.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter , ( 2 sticks) cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature (about 65 degrees)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

1. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.
2. Remove bowl from mixer; knead dough by hand in bowl for 2 to 3 turns to form large cohesive mass. Turn out dough onto countertop; divide in half, pat into two 4-inch disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks; defrost in refrigerator before using.)
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 dough disk to even 1/8-inch thickness between 2 large sheets parchment paper; slide rolled dough on parchment onto baking sheet and chill until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with second disk.
4. Working with first portion of rolled dough, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter(s) and place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Repeat with second portion of rolled dough. (Dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and re-rolled once.) Cool cookies on wire rack to room temperature.

Royal Icing

4 egg whites
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice

Beat egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar and beat for several minutes until fluffy and smooth. Transfer to containers and tint as desired. Add water a teaspoon at a time to achieve the right consistency. Keep covered as the icing will harden when exposed to air. Apply base color to cookie with the back of a spoon and use a toothpick or piping bag to apply decorations once the base color has dried a bit. Allow icing to dry several hours or overnight before packing or stacking.

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