Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beer and Pretzel cupcakes

These cupcakes were part of my Super Bowl Sunday fare~
You can't taste the beer. It simply adds texture to the cake.

                     Beer & Pretzel Cupcakes
Preparation: Makes 12 cupcakes | Preparation: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cupcake (adapted from Alice Medrich)
1 cup (4.5 ounces) all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.3 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) SCHARFFEN BERGER Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Guinness Stout
Ganache Frosting
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
14 oz. chocolate, chopped
Pretzel Topping
12 pretzel sticks
2 oz chocolate, melted
2 oz caramel, warmed
Add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Add in the butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for one minute. Add 1/4 cup of the  beer into the mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add remaining beer. Beat for 20-30 seconds until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thin enough to pour. Divide it evenly among the lined cups. Bake 18-22 minutes just until a toothpick inserted into a few of the cupcakes comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool. Frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool.
TIP: For light tender cupcakes, spoon flour and cocoa lightly into measuring cups (instead of dipping the cups into the flour or cocoa) and then sweep the measures level without tapping or shaking them.
To make ganache frosting
Bring heavy cream, butter and vegetable oil to a light boil. Pour hot heavy cream mixture over chocolate. Using a spatula gently fold chocolate through heavy cream until well combined. Set aside to cool for at least an two hours or until frosting consistency is acheived. Frosting will thicken as sits.
Assembly:Pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcake. Cut pretzels into shards and place on top of cupcakes. Drizzle chocolate and caramel on top.

Winter Blues

Gearing up this year for my WINTER BLUES menu was met with procrastination, procrastination, procrastination......
Finding the materials I've used in the past was a challenge. I thought I had it all so organized- the outdoor blue lights, the strings of blue lights and garland, candles, glasses....I found some things but not everything. But the key in having fun are the people, for sure.

 The menu came together nicely and it was fun. I opted not to do Blue Point Oysters this time. Instead I found some delicious ahi tuna recipes. My husband made some 'fun cocktails' that were served in blue barware.
We started with a warm and creamy cranberry, blue cheese wonton cups followed by Sesame Crusted Tuna with Papaya cream.
Trending this year is Gnudi- the popular kinds are spinach gnudi, and a squash gnudi. So easy and so delicious.


I got home from work a little late. Guests were coming at 6 and I was glad I opted to make a crockpot Salsa Chicken.
The dinner was finished off with Mango filled Cream Puffs with a Spiced Mango- Mojito Sauce- compliments January 2014 Bon Appetit!
Here is the recipe for the gnudi I made:
Ricotta Gnudi
Mix together:
1 cup whole milk ricotta
½ c grated pecorino Romano
1 egg
5-6 T fresh bread crumbs
½ tsp salt
grated nutmeg to taste
Then let this sit so the breadcrumbs can thicken the mixture, about 30 minutes.

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Roll the dough into small balls with well floured hands and place them on a floured baking sheet.Add the gnudi in batches being careful not to crowd them-( the balls will get larger as they cook because they will absorb water).  If they break up in the water, you might need to add more flour to them.
Carefull slip them into the boiling water. After they bob to the surface, cook 2 minutes. Remove from pot and serve with more pecorino or a sauce of your choice.

You can also add 12 ounces fresh spinach to a pot of boiling water, squeeze dry and then chop in a food processor. Then add it to the ricotta mixture.