Hit by a Pitch

Archive for the ‘dessert arsenal’ tag

Recipe: Birthday Cupcakes

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Cupcakes!

These are the cupcakes I made for Soren’s birthday. They were easy to make and everybody seemed to like them. Also, I’m pretty cautious about food safety and I’m happy to report that after the party, the leftover frosted cupcakes sat out (unrefrigerated) for a week and were less-than-super-fresh but still fine.

Cupcakes

Note: I doubled this.

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar (3/4 cup at altitude)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs (have them sit out with the butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/4 teaspoons at altitude)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with paper liners (one batch will make 12-15 cupcakes). In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a standard bowl on a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter for 8 minutes on medium-high (6 on a KitchenAid) (this is a long-ass time to cream butter and sugar but it’s worth it). As always, when mixing anything in a stand mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl, turning the mixer off when necessary, every couple minutes or so. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating (medium-high/6) for a minute or 2 after each egg. Add the vanilla and beat for another minute. With the mixer still running (turn down to 3 or 4), add some of the flour mixture alternately with the milk, a bit at a time (1/4 to 1/3 of each), beating until just incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape well, making sure you have everything mixed together.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 — they’ll spring back when touched).

Adapted from Simple White Cake Recipe on allrecipes.com.

Frosting

Note: I doubled this, too.

I used the Creamy Chocolate Frosting Recipe from allrecipes.com. I’m not a big frosting person but I liked it! My very slightly modified version of the recipe is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli natural unsweetened cocoa)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 5 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, and salt. In a standard bowl on a stand mixer, cream butter for a few minutes (at medium-high/6). With the mixer still at medium-high, gradually add sugar mixture alternately with milk. Then add vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy — 3-5 minutes.

To frost the cupcakes, I used something that looks like this that I got at Target. It was the same price as the cheapest bag + tips and seemed like it would be easier. I’ve never used anything other than a knife to apply frosting and I thought it was super-easy to use. I added some nonpareils, too. The cupcakes didn’t look all that exciting, but they tasted pretty good.

Enjoy!

Written by Tracy

November 7th, 2011 at 10:00 pm

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OMFGcookies

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I’ve been threatening to make cookies forever, but more often than not, laziness wins out and I have ice cream for dessert (vanilla ice cream with Heath bits is my default dessert option these days). (Most of my days fit into one of two categories: (1) days I have beer; or (2) days I have dessert.) In OMFGcookieshis old age (haha, just kidding, because if he’s old, what am I?) Ben has developed a bit of a sweet tooth. It’s gotten to the point where he (almost) wants homemade cookies more than I do. As the official baker of this family (Ben is the official cook), I finally got off my butt and made what might be some of the best cookies I’ve ever had. If these cookies and my favorite cookies of all time got in the ring like Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz, I’m not sure which one would sucker punch the other.

Like everyone else in the world, I’m really digging the savory-sweet thing. Deciding to go with chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, google brought me to “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!” So I made them. And let me tell you, this Savory Sweet Life blogger does not lie. You want these in your dessert arsenal.

I figured I’d share my high-altitude adjustments here. I did the math so you don’t have to! (I’m at Denver altitude — 5280 feet.)

High-Altitude Ingredient List

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened (I let this sit out for 20 minutes.)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (I let these sit out with the butter.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon smallish-medium coarse sea salt (I used 1 teaspoon.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Aside from the high-altitude adjustments, I followed the recipe. (Except! I used regular coarse sea salt because that’s what we had. Less-coarse sea salt would’ve been better, but I don’t think it would make a huge difference. Also I refrigerate the dough for several hours before baking. I think this helps prevent the cookies from getting too flat.)

Mmmmm cookies! My next baking project involves finding a recipe for and doing a test run of white cake with chocolate frosting. I’ll keep you posted!

Written by Tracy

September 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

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Awesome Chocolate Cake

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chocolate cakeIn addition to checking in at Murder Park and dodging bullets this weekend (a guy on a bike was shot a few blocks from our house yesterday evening), I made a reasonably awesome chocolate cake.

You’d think that someone who owns a cake stand bakes cakes on a fairly regular basis. Not me. Although I apparently needed a cake stand enough to buy one at some point, I make cake pretty much, um, never. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you when I last made a cake. It’s been years.

Anyway, I followed this recipe, because it looked good and didn’t annoy me (I hate overly fussy recipes). I mistakenly baked the cake at 350 instead of 300 (obviously for less time); other than that, I followed the directions as written but for high-altitude alterations. (At 5280 feet, I always decrease the sugar, baking soda, and baking powder by approximately 25%. If those adjustments don’t work for you, you can also increase flour (starting with 10% more than called for) and possibly increase baking temperature.) When I make this cake again, the only other adjustment I’ll make is adding another egg, as recommended by several commenters, because the cake was a bit crumbly. The frosting is insane madness, and I’m not a big frosting person. (I did have to refrigerate it for a while to get it to the right consistency.)

This is definitely the kind of chocolate cake you want in your dessert arsenal!

Written by Tracy

May 31st, 2011 at 5:26 pm

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Recipe: Blueberry Buckle

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You probably already have this recipe or one just like it, but what the hell. This is one of those things my mom used to make all the time. It’s a super-easy summer dessert.

blueberry buckle

Ingredients
Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons at altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar (2/3 cup at altitude)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 pint blueberries

Topping

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour a 9″ square pan (or an 8″ or 9″ round pan if, like me, you don’t actually have a 9″ square pan).

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Using a stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, cream the butter and sugar for approximately 3 minutes until fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the milk. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in the flour mixture by hand until just combined. The batter will be lumpy and very thick. Gently fold in the berries. Pour (or, more accurately, plop) the batter into the prepared pan and set aside.

Put all topping ingredients in the bowl you used for the flour mixture. Mash together using a fork, a fork and a knife, or two forks — whatever works. You want it to be nice and crumbly, with no big chunks of butter. Distribute the topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes (test by inserting a knife in the middle of the cake; cake is done when knife comes out clean).

Enjoy!

Written by Tracy

May 15th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

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Low-Tech Strawberry Sundaes

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Song: Still Sound by Toro y Moi (March 31 at Larimer Lounge!)

I feel kind of dumb writing this (Hey hey, that’s never stopped me before!), but I’m doing it anyway because I’m not certain everybody in the world knows about it. I figured everybody did, but I asked Ben and he didn’t before I introduced him to the concept. It’s one of the best and easiest desserts in the universe.*

This is straight from my childhood. I can’t even tell you how many times my mom and I sat at our kitchen table in Arlington Heights and ate low-tech strawberry sundaes (this is the name I just made up) out of the plastic bowls we used (each one was a different color, which might explain my love of Fiestaware). (My dad is not a fan of sweets, except he’s more a fan of sweets than he is of anything involving tomato sauce [I know right?!] and used to eat plain noodles with sugar sprinkled on top when my mom made spaghetti.) There are plenty of fancier ways to make strawberry sundaes, but these are pure, simple, delicious, taste like summer, and are perfect to have in your dessert arsenal for times you want something good but don’t want to do much work.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of strawberries
  • 1/4-ish cup white sugar
  • vanilla ice cream (I’ve been digging Breyers All Natural Extra Creamy Vanilla)

Directions

Rinse the strawberries and remove stems (or leafies as I want to call them because they never really have stems). Cut strawberries in half (or quarters if the berries are large or you prefer) and put them in a plastic bowl that has a cover. Sprinkle sugar over the strawberries (I always start with 1/3 cup of sugar but before I use it all I think to myself damn, that’s a lot of sugar, and stop when I’ve used approximately 1/4 cup), cover, and shake very well to distribute the sugar. Put the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours (shaking occasionally if you feel like it — this is fun but not really necessary). You’ll end up with slightly soft, sweet strawberries and delicious juice.

To serve, scoop vanilla ice cream into a bowl and add strawberries and some of the juice. I still eat this the way I did as a kid. I eat the strawberries and then mix the ice cream and strawberry juice together until I have something approximating delicious, homemade, lightly flavored strawberry soft serve. So good. Enjoy!

(You can see a photo of tonight’s sundae here. It’s too bad to post but does provide a visual if you are so inclined.)

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Note
*Disclaimer: If I’m going to talk about best desserts in the universe, I have to mention my ultimate favorite best dessert in the universe. Do you have one of those? It’s like this: You’re at a restaurant and you don’t normally order dessert because holy crap restaurants give you so much food and by the time you eat like 1/3 of it you’re so full you know you’re going to spend the next few hours whining about how full you are and you can’t believe you ate so much (I used to refer to this as Indian-restaurant full, because the time I got the most full of my life was at a vegetarian Indian restaurant on Devon in Chicago) and you’re already thinking about getting your fat pants down from the attic, which you totally swore you’d never have to do again. Wait, where was I? You’re at a restaurant and you’re full but you sideways eyeball the dessert menu because you don’t want to order dessert but you have to see if your ultimate favorite best dessert in the universe is there because if and only if it is, you kind of have to order dessert because it’s, like, meant to be. My ultimate favorite best dessert in the universe is bread pudding. Is that a weird one? I love bread pudding more than any other dessert, real or imagined, in the world, and that includes other awesome desserts like cheesecake (our relationship really blossomed when I was pregnant — Denver peeps, the plain cheesecake from Pasquini’s is A++ would eat again), churros, banana won tons, and the best types of pie (such as strawberry rhubarb, French silk, and pumpkin). I’ve made bread pudding exactly once in my life, not because it’s hard but because it’s the kind of thing I really shouldn’t have around, because I’ll just eat the hell out of bread pudding until, well, I have to get my fat pants down from the attic. Maybe I should have a bread pudding party, where I could make a few varieties and invite people over to eat most of it so I can’t. That’s probably weird. I don’t think people are really this into bread pudding, are they? I should sign myself up on Meetup as someone interested in a group about bread pudding. There have to be more of us out there.

Written by Tracy

March 21st, 2011 at 9:20 pm

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