Thursday, October 27, 2011

Candy in a Cupcake













This recipe is basically an excuse to eat candy in cupcake form.

I found the recipe in Everyday Food Magazine, which called for Reese's mini peanut butter cups as one of the ingredients.  However, I was surprised to find an almost identical recipe for this cupcake on the bag itself, known as Reese's Peanut Butter Temptations.

In both versions, you're making a batter for a peanut butter cupcake, putting it in a mini-cupcake tin, and then pressing an unwrapped peanut butter cup into the batter until it surrounds the candy. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes until set, and then for Everyday Food's cute Halloween version, place a piece of candy corn on top of the warm chocolate. As it cools, the candy corn will stick to the chocolate.

The biggest difficulty in this otherwise straightforward recipe is unwrapping each individual candy, which takes quite a while. Also, even though the recipe says you'll get 48 cupcakes, I only ended up with enough batter for 36.

The "cupcakes" themselves looked adorable, and basically tasted mostly like a portion of peanut butter, covered in chocolate, covered again in peanut butter cookie dough. Nothing wrong with that!

Ingredients


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 48 miniature chocolate peanut-butter cups, such as Reese's
  • 48 pieces candy corn, for decorating

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two 24-cup mini muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar on high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and egg yolk, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture, buttermilk, and vanilla until combined.
  2. With the large end of a melon baller or a spoon, place 2 teaspoons batter into each muffin cup, then press a peanut-butter candy into each center until batter aligns with top edge of candy. Bake until puffed and set, about 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Immediately place a piece of candy corn on top of e

Friday, October 7, 2011

Loving Cakelove, with One Reservation

photo by Anthony Palatta













Ever since I saw a picture of this cake in Warren Brown's cookbook Cakelove, I've been determined to try it out. The results were pretty successful until the very end, but more on that later.

The great thing about this cookbook is that it gives pretty detailed instructions on how to make the cakes in its pages, which are so lovingly photographed, they could be classified as food porn. The book also gives clear explanations of how to trim and frost a cake, or why certain recipes call for certain ingredients (for example, why cocoa powder makes for better chocolate cake than melted chocolate--the fat clings better to the powder).

I've tried two of the cakes now and two buttercream recipes. The chocolate buttercream is definitely the best I've ever tasted or made. The lemon buttercream was nice, though a bit too light for my taste.

As for the cakes, both a lemon-flavored cake and this one, I found they were good, though a bit spongier than my favorite kinds of cake. (In fact, Brown refers to cake as "sponge" in his book.)  Also, they're a bit finicky with the ingredients and measuring. For example, most of the cake recipes require you to invest in potato starch, Brown's secret cake recipe weapon. And though Brown does list volume measurements as an option (cups and tablespoons), he really prefers you to weight your ingredients on a kitchen scale.

Following Brown's instructions, I was able to produce a well-done, moist chocolate cake (though it definitely didn't seem as heavy as a "pound" cake would suggest). I then turned to the frostings section of his book to learn how to cover the cake with a layer of chocolate ganache and then a drizzling of white chocolate, which looked so seductive in the book.

Unfortunately, the picture of the finished product was paired with a recipe for a thin "chocolate ganache glaze" that dissolved into the cake rather than set up on top of it. Another issue: run-off from said glaze built up like a well of water in the hollow center of the bundt cake. The recipe I needed, for "chocolate ganache" was on the previous page. Only after looking again at the picture and its caption did I realize that it said "Chocolate Ganache," not "Chocolate Ganache Glaze."

Did no one who edited this book realize that if you're going to show a picture of a cake, you might want to put it opposite the recipe for the frosting in the picture? Pretty frustrating.

In the end, the cake turned out fine, and the people I served it to were pretty happy.  I just felt a bit cheated, because I wanted it to look more dramatic, like the photo above:



.