Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chocolate Almond Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Not gonna lie. These were freaking unbelieveable. One of the best desserts I've ever made. Certainly the best chocolate cake-based recipe I've ever made. The cake was light and fluffy. The frosting was phenomenal - not too sweet but sweet enough. Not the easiest to eat if you want to stay neat (cake crumbs and coconut flakes will fall about) but who cares? You won't, once you take a bite.

I had wanted to make Ina's coconut cupcakes but wanted to make something chocolate. I found this recipe that I had long ago printed from Epicurious and decided to use Ina's frosting. Delicious. While I plan on trying her coconut cupcakes, I can't wait to make these again. One aspect of these that I particularly enjoyed is that they incorporate actual almonds, not almond extract, to get the nutty flavor. Not a fan of the extract, love the actual nut.

If you like Almond Joy, you'll like these. Even if you don't, so long as you aren't adverse to coconut, you'll like them. Yum.
Chocolate Almond Cupcakes
Source: Epicurious.com
Yield: 30 cupcakes

3/4 cup blanched almonds (or rounded 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds)
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 cups sweetened shredded coconut (from two 14-ounce bags) [I used less than this, due to not needing as much to coat the frosting.]
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 (13 1/2-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Source: Ina Garten, FoodNetwork.com

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1 1/2 lbs confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In food processor, process almonds and 1/2 cup sugar until finely ground. Add 2 loosely packed cups shredded coconut and pulse twice to chop slightly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and whisk in flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Melt chocolate in microwave, being careful not to burn. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and remaining 1 cup sugar at high speed until fluffy, about five minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate and beat at moderate speed until incorporated. Add 1/2 of flour mixture and mix at low speed until nearly smooth. Add coconut milk and vanilla and mix at low speed until blended. Add remaining flour mixture and mix at low speed until smooth.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups (paper cups), filling to about 2/3 full. Bake until tester inserted in center of 1 cake comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool in pans on racks.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Pour remaining shredded coconut into 9-inch-square baking dish. Spread frosting on cakes and invert each into coconut to coat frosting liberally. Garnish with Jordan almonds, if desired.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Not your usual coffee cake (made from refridgerated bread sticks!) but probably the easiest you'll ever make. This loaf found on My Kitchen Snippets was delightful. Michael and I polished off all but one piece. My father in law came over just after breakfast and inquired why I didn't make two.

It turned out a bit smaller than I expected, and I had twice as much cream cheese filling than I needed, but that's good to know for next time - and there will be a next time - so I can make two just as easily as one!

This loaf would be good with pretty much any kind of fruit. I used blueberries not so much because that's what was in the original recipe, but because I had them on hand.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Source: My Kitchen Snippets
*Refer to the link above for more detailed photos of making the loaf.

6 oz of low fat cream cheese (I used 8 oz - the whole block)
1 egg, separated
3 Tbsp of powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
1 (11 oz) tube of bread stick dough

For the glaze:
1/2 cup of powder sugar
2 Tbsp of lemon juice (I ran out of lemon juice so I subbed lime)

Preheat over to 350.

In a bowl combine soft cream cheese, powdered sugar and egg yolk. Mix until well combined. Remove breadstick dough from the tube, unroll it and separate the dough and you will have two rectangles. Join the dough up by placing both dough rectangles horizontally on a lightly greased baking sheet. Press the steam together. Spread cream cheese mixture onto the center of the dough. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the cream cheese.

Separate the dough perforations up to the cheese mixture (you might need a scissors for this). Slightly pull and stretch the dough strips. Start from the top and braid dough strip to cover the filling. Make sure to tuck and seal both ends of the loaf. Beat the egg white and brush it all over the loaf.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. (I had to bake mine a bit longer and the dough was still not cooked all the way in the center). Cool the loaf. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle all over the cool loaf before serving.

Gooey Butter Cookies

Michael and I had friends over a few weeks ago who were home for the weekend. Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis speciality, so I decided to make the cookies as a reminder of home. A bit time consuming to make, only because you have to make the dough and let it chill for a few hours before rolling into balls, but otherwise easy to make. They were perfectly soft and Michael had to force himself to stay away from them otherwise he'd have eaten them all. I thought they tasted a bit too much like the cake mix. I'll make them again, however, and maybe next time try another flavor mix. (Note that the original recipe is for chocolate cookies).

Gooey Butter Cookies
Source: Paula Deen, Food Network.com
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies

1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18-ounce) box moist yellow cake mix
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

French's Fried Onion-Crusted Cubed Steak

I bought cubed steaks on sale, thinking they'd be really tough, but I thought they were worth the try anyway, given the price (about $4.25 for 4). I bought them with no real recipe in mind, having recently discovered that Michael is not a fan of country fried steak - the only recipe I knew to make with cubed steak. So I went home that night (many weeks ago... this poor blog has been sadly neglected of late) and came up with my own recipe. Turned out pretty delicious, and not tough at all.

I served the meat with sides of egg noodles and broccoli and packaged brown gravy.

French's Fried Onion-Crusted Cubed Steak
Source: Yours Truly

4 cubed steaks
1 small can French's Fried Onions, crushed
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
To taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder
2 eggs
Flour for dredging
Olive oil or butter

You'll need three wide-bottomed bowls. In the first bowl add a cup or less of flour. In the second, beat two eggs. In the third, add the crushed onions through garlic powder and mix. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add olive oil or butter to the pan. Starting with your first cubed steak, dredge in flour, then in the egg, then coat as best you can with the onion mixture. Add to the pan and repeat with the other steaks. Fry for a few minutes on the first side before turning so that the crust browns nicely. (Sorry for the lack of specific timing, I didn't write it down). Turn over, adding more oil or butter to the pan in necessary. Remove to your plate and drizzle brown gravy over the meat.
Surprisingly delicious and easy, though not so good for you. Still, it was worth it, and I'll make it again. Even the leftovers were good.