Saturday, April 28, 2012

Coca-Cola Memories

I've been drinking Coca-Cola ever since I was a wee one. Except I never called it Coca-Cola, it was just "Coke". In fact, I referred to all soft drinks as Coke. What do you call them? Soda, soft drinks, pop? It was as if Coca-Cola was the king of all soft drinks, to me. Maybe it was the red and white striking can, or the fact that we could drink the fizzy beverage out of bottles when I was a kid, and that was just kind of cool. Coca-Cola is still my go-to soft drink when I'm craving something carbonated and refreshing.

Here is a picture of my older brother, Joe, and I bonding over a Coke when we were kidlets. In case you're wondering, that is a pink Miami Vice shirt I'm wearing. And if I remember correctly, he is wearing a He-Man tank. Ahhh, the '80's! Don't be jealous :-)

I've had that picture of my brother and I on my fridge for some time now and I've been wanting to make something sweet and delicious using Coke, when the people at Coca-Cola contacted me and asked if I'd like to make a recipe using the beverage. It just seemed like perfect timing and I couldn't wait to get started. I had so much fun with these cupcakes and photographing all the shiny red accompaniments- from the can to the cherries that topped the mounds of whipped cream on top of the cupcakes. Fun, I tell you!

I perused the My Coke Rewards website for a recipe that I wanted to make and  I couldn't decide if I wanted sweet or savory. But you know me, sweet always wins! I ended up adapting a recipe from Nigella Lawson for Coca-Cola cake and turning it into Coke Float Cupcakes. A Coke float is one of my favorite indulgences. When we were kids and we wanted soda my grandma would pour us a glass half full of Coke, then fill the rest up with milk. Sounds strange, I know, but it was like a less sweet version of a Coke float and it got us to drink our milk. Sneaky Grandma.

These cupcakes were kind of like that too. I started off with a cocoa cupcake infused with Coca-Cola, then added a Coca-Cola glaze and topped it off with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or lightly whipped cream. I was a happy camper! The Coca-Cola taste was subtle against the chocolate, but it was distinguishable. I liked the glaze under the cream because it kept the cupcake from getting soggy as the ice cream melted and remained nice and light and fluffy. The glaze also added a bit of sweetness and added another texture to the dessert.

I ended up making two different versions because I'm indecisive and I like having options. I liked the ones with ice cream but I have to say the cupcake version with whipped cream and a cherry were my favorite. It was just the perfect package all wrapped up in a red foil liner. It was creamy, sweet, fluffy and fun and I felt like a kid again sitting in my grandma's kitchen. After all my hard work in the kitchen I rewarded myself with a coke float. I was on a sugar high the rest of the afternoon, but it was well worth it. I hope you'll treat yourself to one too.

Coke Float Cupcakes adapted from Nigella Lawson

For The Cakes: 
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 3/4 cup Coca-Cola
For The Glaze: 
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • vanilla ice cream
  • whipped cream
  • maraschino cherries
  • sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners and set aside. 
For The Cupcakes: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside. 
In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola, heating it gently. Pour into the dry ingredients, stir well with a wooden spoon, and then add the liquid ingredients from the measuring cup, beating until it is well blended.
Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For The Glaze: Sift the powdered sugar and set aside. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and spoon in the sifted sugar, beating as you do, until you’ve got a good, spreadable, but still runny, icing.
Carefully dip the top of the cupcakes into the glaze allowing the excess to drip off or simply spoon the glaze over the cupcakes while they are still warm, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Serving: Once the cakes have cooled and the glaze has set, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or lightly sweetened whipped cream, cherries and sprinkles.

Makes about 15 cupcakes
DrinkCompensation was provided by Coca-Cola, but Coca-Cola is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this post. All opinions expressed are my own and not those of Coca-Cola.

Drink Coke. Make Cupcakes. Be Happy. 

For more Coca-Cola recipes, head on over to My Coke Rewards for more inspiration. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

An All Occasion Cake & A Winner

Last month for The Cake Slice Bakers we made individual warm chocolate cakes and they were delicious. You might be saying to yourself, "I don't remember seeing individual warm chocolate cakes. Where are they?" And rightfully so. I never blogged them because they looked like wrinkled old men and I didn't like any of the pictures. They didn't look good but they sure were tasty. Who knew "wrinkled old men" cakes could be so good? haha! You can click over to Becca's blog, Cookie Jar Treats, for the recipe if you're interested. I'm also linking to her blog because she is the lucky winner of Baking Basics & Beyond. Congrats Becca- email me with your address!

This month we baked a Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake Bundt. Yes, that's a mouthful but there's not one part of that title that I don't like. This cake has winner written all over it and it was a nice addition to our Easter dinner. I made the cake the day before we needed it and when it came down to serving it Sunday evening I was too full to eat dessert. So I didn't get a slice until the following day and I have to tell you- even on day three, this cake was not the least bit dry! I tend to shy away from pound cakes because they can be too dense and heavy and sometimes dry, but this one has changed my mind.

I only had one slice of this cake and when I was done, I was wishing I had another. It was so light and fluffy with just the faintest taste of orange zest speckled through the cake. The star of the cake was the cinnamon swirl running throughout the cake, which made it sweet and spicy. Mr. H said it reminded him a lot of a breakfast coffee cake because it was so lightly sweetened. He's right, this cake would be nice at breakfast or for dessert any time of year.

On a side note, this is what Hayden gets to go while Mommy takes pictures of food. (He's going to have so many questions someday.) He loves sitting in his highchair and "playing drums" on the arm rests or looking at the trees through the kitchen windows. On this particular day he was enjoying a snack. He is quite the curious eater and wants to try everything I eat. He follows my fork and watches me pick my food up and put it in my mouth. Just the other day at dinner while he was sitting on my lap, he reached out for my fork and put it in his mouth. I was eating gnocchi with tomato cream sauce and he loved it. :-)

Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake from The Cake Book
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Cinnamon Streusel Swirl:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Buttermilk Pound Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (1/4 ground teaspoon nutmeg may be substituted)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • powdered sugar for dusting
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust the pan with flour and shake out the excess.

For the Cinnamon Swirl: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, breaking up any large lumps of brown sugar. Add the melted butter and stir until blended and crumbly.

For the Pound Cake: Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom (or nutmeg) into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at a medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until well blended and light, about 4 minutes. At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract and orange zest. At low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions and mixing just until well combined.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the batter. Scrape the remaining batter on top and smooth it into an even layer.

Bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.

Dust the cake lightly with powdered sugar right before serving.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate Monster Cookies from Baking Basics and Beyond- A Review and Giveaway!

A couple weeks ago I shared a recipe for Cowboy Cookies that had crushed cornflakes in them. I really liked that addition so when I was sent this cookbook, Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair, for review I knew I'd be making Chocolate Monster Cookies. These cookies were LOADED with flavor from oats to cornflakes to little candy coated chocolates. What makes these cookies different is that there's cocoa in the dough. Why didn't I think of that?

This recipe makes a boat load of cookies- a whopping 8 dozen! I cut the recipe in half and made about 4 dozen large cookies, still quite a bit for sharing. I chose to add Spring colored M&M's to my dough but you could also use chocolate or butterscotch chips. The thing is, the dough is so flavorful I'd be happy without the added bursts of chocolate. And when have you ever heard me say that? These cookies were crisp on the outside and had a slight chew in the center. I liked them a minute or two underbaked for a chewier cookie. They were excellent with a tall glass of ice cold milk.

Baking Basics and Beyond is a great book. It's loaded with all kinds of basic information from how to grease and flour pans, to how to make whipped cream, melt chocolate to how to assemble and frost a layer cake to how to make the perfect pie crust and what "blind baking" means. There's a wealth of knowledge in this book. The recipes are thorough and come with Baker's Notes on how to achieve success with each baked good. There are both sweet and savory recipes in this book and while not each recipe is accompanied with a photo, the ones that are included are great quality and in color. With over 120 recipes in this book, there is something for everyone- most are from scratch but there are a couple that call for boxed brownie mix or jarred caramel sauce. This paperback is perfect for both beginner and skilled bakers and would make a great gift or a nice addition to your cookbook collection.

Chocolate Monster Cookies from Baking Basics and Beyond
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  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or 12 oz. M&M's
Heat oven to 350 degrees F with oven rack in middle. Lightly grease cookie sheets (I used parchment paper).

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a very large bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on medium-high speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat til dough forms.

Scrape dough back into the very large bowl. Add the oatmeal, corn flakes, and chips and stir until well mixed. (I added the fillings to the mixing bowl and stirred them in by hand).

Using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheets. Drop 6 cookies onto each cookie sheet.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until set in the center and the edges are lightly browned. For softer cookies, reduce baking time slightly. The cookies will still look a little moist in the center. Cool cookies 1 minute on the cookie sheets them place them on wire cooling racks.

These cookies should be stored loosely covered at room temperature.

Makes about 8 dozen cookies.

Reprinted with permission from Baking Basics and Beyond, Second Edition, by Pat Sinclair, Agate Surrey, December 2011.

GIVEAWAY: I mentioned there was a giveaway, right? Agate Publishing is giving away one copy of Baking Basics and Beyond (Second Edition) by Pat Sinclair to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave me a comment on this blog telling me why you want to win this book. I'll announce a winner on Friday, April 20th. One comment per person, please.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Cleaning- 13 New Recipes

Today I have a collection of recipes that I've made over the past couple years that never got blogged and have been taking up valuable real estate on my computer. It's about time I shared them with you, so here they are. For the recipes, just click the links under the coordinating picture. Enjoy!

1. Zucchini Cake- This recipe comes from Debbie at Mocha Me. She made a zucchini coconut layer cake but peeled the zucchini cake for an all-white interior. I omitted the coconut, made it into a Bundt and topped it with a thick glaze. It was a really moist cake.

2. Honey Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes- This recipe is from Coleen at Coleen's Recipes. I topped mine with a cooked blueberry topping for a hearty breakfast.

3. Giant M&M Cookie- I've made this recipe several times. It comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and her version calls for chocolate chips. I've made it with chocolate chips before but this time I opted for colorful M&M's for a kids birthday party. It is so easy to make and yields a crispy chewy cookie great for sharing.

4. Sugar Cookie Bars- I saw these all over the Internet a couple years ago but resisted them until last Fall when I made them for a dessert bar. I got this recipe from The Repressed Pastry Chef and it feeds a ton of people.If you like soft sugar cookies, these are for you.

5. Cranberry Pecan White Chocolate Rice Treats- This is a great recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. You start with your basic rice krispie treats and dress them up with pecans, white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. I added a few extra on top for more color.

6. Mocha Crinkles- This is another recipe from BHG that I made a while back. These cookies were so soft and fluffy, with the unexpected ingredient of yogurt in them. They are relatively low fat but by the taste, you'd never guess it. They have great mocha flavor then are rolled in cinnamon sugar. yum!

7. Spritz Cookies- This one is from my friend Michelle of One Ordinary Day. She sprinkled colored sugar on her while I chose to plop an M&M in the middle before baking for more of a flower looking cookie. I then filled them with a little melted chocolate. This is a holiday classic made fun.

8. Gateau Breton- This is a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum that I made with my friends Ingrid and Michelle last Spring that just never got blogged. It is a rich nutty, buttery dessert. It's a cross between a cake and a shortbread.

9. Lime-Pepper Tilapia- As soon as I saw this recipe from Leslie at La Cocina de Leslie, I had to make it. I love tilapia and this one had a crunchy coating then spiced with lots of lime zest and pepper.

10. Glazed Meatloaf- I've been making this recipe from Martha's Mom (Mrs. Kostyra) for years. I pretty much follow the recipe but I like to caramelize the onions before adding them to the meat mixture. I also add beef bouillon granules instead of salt and omit the parsley. It makes a very moist meatloaf topped with a sweet glaze. It makes great sandwiches the next day too.

11. Basic Buttermilk Waffles- I made these so long ago but never blogged them. I got the recipe from my local newspaper but the recipe is from Alton Brown and can be found on Food Network. I served them with fresh berries, syrup and bacon for that sweet and salty combo.

12. Chocolate Coconut Hedgie Cookies- This recipe comes from Technicolor Kitchen. I like that you coat them in powdered sugar and when they bake they spread and crackle. Not only were they pretty but they were loaded with coconut which made for a chocolate-y chewy cookie.

13. Caramel Turtle Rice Krispie Treats- This treat is from Glorious Treats. You take a basic rice krispie treat and top it with melted caramels and chocolate and sprinkled with toasted nuts for a decadent twist on a childhood favorite.

Have you made anything lately that you haven't blogged about?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Belgian Waffles for Easter Brunch

I learned something while making these waffles. I learned the difference between a standard American waffle and a Belgian waffle and I thought I'd share that information with you as well. I always thought that Belgian waffles were the same as American waffles just thicker, but that's only part of it. American waffles are raised solely with baking powder while Belgian waffles get their rise from yeast. The yeast also lends a tangy flavor and lightness to the waffle. Since the Belgian waffles are thicker, the grooves are deeper which accomodate all kinds of fruits syrups and sweetened whipped cream.

We've made these waffles several times since discovering them in Williams-Sonoma's Breakfast book. This is also the same cookbook that I found the delicious Sour Cream Coffee Cake. The first time we made them we only made one batch, which didn't last very long. Now when we make them, we double or triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers- they reheat wonderfully in the toaster. You noticed I said "we" right? That's right, Mr. H likes these so much even he helps make them. I heat the wet ingredients and he measures and stirs out the dry. We're a good team when it comes to making waffles.

This is a triple batch of waffles.

One of the things that I like about these waffles, other than the taste, is that most of the prep work is done the night before you make them. Overnight, the yeast mingles with all the other ingredients and does it's thing, making the batter light and airy. In the morning all you have to do is whip up the egg whites and fold it into the batter and breakfast is done in no time. These really are the best waffles I've ever made or eaten. If you try them, I hope you love them as much as we do!

Belgian Waffles from Williams-Sonoma's Breakfast
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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sparkling mineral water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
The night before you plan to serve the waffles: In a large bowl. whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, salt and yeast. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat. combine the whole milk and the sparkling water and heat to lukewarm (105 degreesF). Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Cover tightly and let stand overnight at cool room temperature.

The next morning: Preheat a Belgian waffle iron. Whisk the egg yolk into the batter. In a large clean bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Thoroughly stir about one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites, without overmixing.

When the waffle iron is hot, ladle 3/4-1 cup of batter into each waffle section and spread with a wooden spoon so the grids are evenly covered. Close the iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until the waffle exterior is golden brown and the inside is light and springy, 4-5 minutes. (The first waffle may not be perfect. Adjust the amount of batter and cooking time if necessary.)

Keep waffles warm in a low oven. Serve with whipped cream, fresh fruit or maple syrup.

Makes about 2 large waffles.

Happy, happy waffles!
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