Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snickers Cupcakes

snicker cupcakes

I made these Snicker cupcakes for my coworkers a couple of months ago and everyone raved about them!  One person commented on how gourmet and professional-looking they were (that's always fun to hear).

They are a little labor intensive, but totally worth it if you have the time.  If you wanted to make a quicker version of these you could omit the filling and just make the cupcake/ frosting/ garnish combo.

Snickers Cupcakes
Makes about 20 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. coarse salt
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature

For the caramel sauce:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup light cream
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
24 fun-sized Snickers bars, chopped

For the frosting:
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb. confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

For the garnish:
8 fun-sized Snicker bars, chopped


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.  Mix in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the caramel sauce, in a heavy saucepan mix sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in 1/4 cup water.  Stir in cream and corn syrup.  Cook and stir until bubbly (mixture may appear curdled).  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Let cool slightly.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a paring knife.  Prepare the filling by combining the chopped Snickers bars in a bowl with 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, and mix to coat.  Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake.

To make the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed 1 minute until smooth.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla, caramel sauce, and salt until incorporated.

Note: the caramel sauce should be just warm enough that it is workable, but not warm enough to melt the butter in the frosting. 

Add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and garnish with chopped Snickers bars.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats, caramel sauce from Better Homes New Cookbook

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting

I stumbled across these photos yesterday and realized I never blogged the recipe, shame on me!  These cupcakes are divine -- if you enjoyed peanut butter banana sandwiches growing up you will hands down love this cupcake.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 28 cupcakes


For the cupcakes
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature

For the frosting
1 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter (I don't recommend using natural peanut butter for this unless you like the grainy texture)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I never sift mine, but you can)


Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  In another bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with banana mixture, and beating until just combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (I like to use a 1/3 cup measure).  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes (I always check at around 17 minutes and they are usually done at that time in my oven).  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To make the frosting, cream the peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and mix on low speed until incorporated some, then mix on high speed until fully incorporated and fluffy.  Repeat with remaining powdered sugar.

To finish the cupcakes I like to pipe the peanut butter frosting on top and drizzle with some Hershey's chocolate syrup.  I was planning to make my own chocolate syrup for this batch, but totally ran out of time and had the Hershey's on hand.

Source: cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes; I found the frosting recipe on the Internet last year, but forgot to document the source

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pina Colada Sherbet

Pina Colada Sherbet

I've always enjoyed the taste of pina coladas, specifically the combination of pineapple and coconut.  I can remember ordering a virgin pina colada my sophomore year in high school at a luau my family decided to go to in Maui.  We were there for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary and I specifically remember the drink coming in a hollowed out pineapple (it was so cool!).  Now every time I drink a pina colada or make anything pineapple-coconut related it brings me back to that warm evening on the island.  It's nostalgic.

I made coconut cupcakes with a vanilla-almond cream cheese frosting for a friend's bridal shower last weekend and I only ended up using one can of coconut milk instead of two so it worked out perfectly that I had all of the ingredients already on hand for this sherbet.

Pina Colada Sherbet
Makes about 1 1/2 Quarts

1 pineapple, peeled and cored (4 cups, 1 liter puree)*
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) Thai coconut milk**
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice


Cut the pineapple into chunks.  Puree in a blender with the sugar, coconut milk, and lime juice until smooth.  Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

*I used two cans of pineapple chunks in their own juice.  Simply puree the pineapple first, then make sure you only have 4 cups remaining in your blender before proceeding with the additional ingredients (my two cans of pineapple yielded ~5 cups puree).  I do recommend using fresh pineapple though and plan to do so in the future.

**You can find canned coconut milk in the ethnic isle of your local grocery store.  This is not the same thing as coconut water.

Source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Friday, May 4, 2012

Panko-Crusted Salmon


I'm trying to be good about planning my meals each week and this last week I realized I don't have much variety in the types of proteins I serve for dinner.  I typically lean towards chicken and beef so I made it my goal to incorporate more fish/ shellfish and even some meat-free entrees going forward.

This recipe was easy to prepare and quick to the table (which I love on a work night).  From start to finish it took less than 30 minutes to prepare. 

I'm always curious to see what Kyle thinks about a new recipe.  It's funny because he eats every meal the same way - he'll start with the item he likes the least and save the best tasting item for last.  On this particular night I was surprised to see the salmon as the last item he planned to eat.  While halfway through his potatoes I strongly recommended he either a) try the salmon to confirm it was indeed the best tasting item on his plate or b) save the potatoes for last.  He didn't seem too worried about the salmon and afterwards commented that he liked it.  We both like to critique the food after each meal to see what we would change about the recipe next time, but for this recipe we couldn't think of anything.  It had a great fresh flavor and the crunch from the panko sits nicely with the creamy salmon.  I do recommend serving this fish with the lemon wedges as the recipe recommends; a spritz of juice from the the fresh lemon wedge gives the salmon a bright, fresh taste.

Panko-Crusted Salmon
Serves 4


2/3 cup panko
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (6-8oz.) fillets of salmon, skin on
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Lemon wedges, for serving


Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  In a small bowl, combine the panko, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly coated; set aside.

Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a work surface.  Generously brush the top of each fillet with the mustard and then season with salt and pepper.  Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each fillet to help the panko adhere.

Heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3-4 minutes without turning to brown the skin.

Transfer the pan to the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until the salmon is almost cooked through and the panko is browned.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Serve warm with fresh lemon wedges.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten