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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Twinkies

Before I write about how I made my Homemade Twinkies, I want you to watch this fascinating video of what is in the actual Hostess Twinkies.  Thirty nine ingredients, REALLY?  Envelope glue, five different kinds of rocks including limestone, and rocket fuel?  The cream filling has no trace of cream at all.  One man named Steve Ettlinger even wrote a whole book about deconstructing the Twinkie!  Ever since the Hostess company declared bankruptcy, people have been auctioning off these rubbery treats with starting bids of $200,000!  That is just crazy and I just have one word...  WHY?

These homemade Twinkies cakes may not actually last weeks, months or years like Hostess Twinkies but I think they are actually tastier than the original.  :)

Homemade Twinkies 


(yields 12-14 cakes)

Cake Ingredients:


  • 2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Creme Filling:

  • 1 7oz jar of marshmallow creme
  • 1 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Directions:

If you do not have an actual Twinkie Pan, here is a way to make some molds with stuff you have in your kitchen:

Fold a sheet of aluminum foil in half and then in half again to form a small square. Wrap the foil square around a 4-inch round spice container to form a canoe shape with the top left open. Remove the spice container and place the molds into a deep baking dish.

(You can also bake these in cupcake liners with the same baking time which is the method that I prefer but then again, I am partial to cupcakes.)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and spray your molds with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 60 seconds in between each addition. Reduce the speed and add flour mixture alternating with the milk . Add the vanilla extract and mix until the batter just comes together. Do not overmix.
  4. Fill your molds with batter (I use a 3 TBSP scoop)  and bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until the cakes are a light golden color and a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove from pan or molds.
  5. For the filling, beat all ingredients together until well mixed.
  6. Place creme filling in a piping bag with medium sized tip (any shape will work). Insert tip into three sections along the flat side of the cake, about 1/8 of an inch deep. Squeeze gently until you feel the cake give some resistance.
*cake recipe adapted from Buddy Valastro's recipe


Enjoy!



Friday, January 18, 2013

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes (aka Faustess Cupcakes)

I'm pretty sure there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of food bloggers who made these Homemade Hostess Cupcakes upon hearing of the demise of the Hostess company.  Well, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and make some of my own.  I used my standard dark chocolate cake recipe that I adapted from Cook's Illustrated magazine, filled them with a fluffy marshmallow cream then topped them with a chocolate icing.  Of course, I could not leave off the signature white icing curly-cues!  These are so very delicious.  Much tastier than the store-bought Hostess cupcakes!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
1 C good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
1 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1  tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 C vegetable oil
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1 TBSP white vinegar
2 tsp real vanilla extract

Filling:
1 7oz jar of marshmallow creme
6 TBSP unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate icing:
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter (melted)
2/3 C cocoa powder
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C whole milk
1 tsp real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

White icing:
1 cup powdered sugar

¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon whole milk
Splash vanilla extract


Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners.
2. Place the chocolate chips and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour in the hot coffee .  Let it sit for a couple of minutes then whisk the mixture gently until smooth.  Let it cool.
3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
4. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the 24 muffin cups. Bake the cupcakes until set and just firm to the touch, about 16 to 18  minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes then remove each cupcake from the pan, set on the wire rack, and let cool completely before filling and frosting, about an hour. 

6.  Make the filling:  Beat the marshmallow creme and butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Once it has all been incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a medium sized tip (any shape works).
7. Make the chocolate icing:  Beat together the melted butter, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt for 1 to 2 minutes.  Alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk. Beat for 1 more minute, until well incorporated. 
8. Make the white icing: Beat together the powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla on medium speed until well incorporated. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a small, round tip and refrigerate until ready to use.
9. Assemble the cupcakes:  Use a cupcake corer or the large side of a large pastry tip to core the centers of the cupcakes.  Fill the cupcakes with the creamy filling to the top of the cupcake.  Scrape any filling off with a knife so that the cupcakes are flat.


10. After you fill the cupcakes, spoon on about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate icing and spread so that it is smooth.  You may need to melt the icing just a bit in the microwave so that it is spreadable.  Once all of the cupcakes are iced with chocolate, put them into the refrigerator or freezer (or outside here in Idaho because it is freezing!) so that the icing firms up.


11. Once the chocolate icing is firm, take your pastry bag with the white icing and pipe the curly-cues across the top of each cupcake. You can also pipe little words across the top.  :)


Enjoy!




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu


Every Saturday I love to watch America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country on PBS.  Oh sure, the recipes are always a little more work than others but so worth it.  My inner foodie geek is always hoping to learn something new!  A few weeks ago they made this recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu. Now, my husband, who we shall call Special K, is not a fan of chicken but it seems that if you stuff it with ham and swiss and roll it in buttery bread crumbs he is able to um, choke it down.  Actually, he loved it and so did the rest of my family.  So much so that they scarfed it down before I could take a photo!  I love this method of making it which calls for cutting a pocket in the chicken breast instead of pounding it out and rolling it.  What do you know, they actually made something easier for once!  I hope you try this recipe.  It is super delicious!

Chicken Cordon Bleu
From 
April/May 2010
Serves 4 to 6
To help prevent the filling from leaking, use large, 8-ounce chicken breasts and thoroughly chill the stuffed breasts before breading. 

Ingredients

  • 25Ritz crackers (about 3/4 sleeve)
  • 4slices hearty white bread, torn into pieces
  • 6tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8thin slices deli ham (about 8 ounces)
  • 2cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 4boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 pounds total)
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 3large eggs
  • 2tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1cup 

Instructions

  • 1. MAKE CRUMBS Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pulse crackers and bread in food processor until coarsely ground. Drizzle in butter; pulse to incorporate. Bake crumbs on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to shallow dish. Leave oven on.
  • 2. STUFF CHICKEN Following instructions to left, top each ham slice with 1/4 cup cheese and roll tightly; set aside. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. cut pocket in thickest part of chicken, and stuff each breast with 2 ham-and-cheese rolls. Transfer chicken to plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
  • 3. COAT AND BAKE Beat eggs and mustard in second shallow dish. Place flour in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat stuffed chicken lightly with flour, dip into egg mixture, and dredge in crumbs, pressing to adhere. (Breaded chicken can be refrigerated, covered, for 1 day.) Transfer chicken to clean baking sheet. Bake on lowest rack until bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes, and then move baking sheet to middle rack and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown and chicken registers 160 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

    Enjoy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cocoa Powder 101 - Natural Vs Dutch Process

I have a little confession to make... I am a food geek.  Everyone knows I am a foodie but what you may not know about me is that I am totally obsessed with the science behind cooking.  I have seen every episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown (um, twice) and I'm an avid follower of Cook's Illustrated magazine, their cookbooks and their TV show, America's Test Kitchen on PBS.  These shows really dig into the geeky side of cooking and baking and I just um, eat it up.

This morning I was shopping for some bulk cocoa powder online and I was thinking that some of you just may not know the difference between natural and Dutch process cocoa powder.  I didn't think that it would be a very good idea for you to go on living without this knowledge for one more day, hour, minute even.  So, I did a little research (gotta love Wikipedia!) to bring you Cocoa Powder 101 - Natural Vs. Dutch Process.  You're welcome.  :)


Cocoa solids are the low-fat component of chocolate. When sold as an end product, it may also be called cocoa powdercocoa, and cacao. In contrast, the fatty component of chocolate is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is 50% to 57% of the weight of cocoa beans and gives chocolate its characteristic melting properties.  Cocoa liquor is the melted combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Cocoa solids are obtained by extraction from the cocoa bean.


Dutch process chocolate or Dutched chocolate, is chocolate that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste compared to "natural cocoa" extracted with the Broma process.  It forms the basis for much of modern chocolate, and is used in ice cream, hot cocoa and baking.
The Dutch process was developed in the early 19th century by Dutch chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten, whose father Casparus is responsible for the development of the method of removing fat from cocoa beans by hydrolic press around 1828, forming the basis for cocoa powder. These developments greatly expanded the use of chocolate, which had been mostly used as a beverage in Europe until that time.
Because Dutch process cocoa has a neutral pH and is not acidic like natural cocoa, it cannot be used in recipes that use baking soda as the leavening agent, which relies on the acidity of the cocoa to activate it. Rather, Dutch process cocoa can be used in recipes that use baking powder (instead of baking soda) for leavening.
Well folks, there you have it.  I hope this information was absolutely as mind boggling, earth shattering and life changing for you as it was for me!
Cheers to you!
Lori