Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Biscotti and cupcakes

Yesterday I channeled my inner June Cleaver and I baked my little heart out. Granted I didnt do it while wearing a poofy skirt and pearls, but I think any 1950s homemaker would be proud of me.
Betty Ann(Mother In Law) brought us some fresh apples on Sunday so I needed to do something with them. Yes, I did have some as God intended but I also thought that I could make a yummy dessert with them. Now, I hate apple pie. Yep, I do. I know, I am just a commie but I cant stand the mushy apples. If you gave me the choice between a slice of the world's best apple pie and a fresh apple, I would go with the apple. Ya know what is funny, I actually make a decent apple pie. Anyway I was looking for something different so I thought that apple cupcakes would be a good way to go. I turned to my friend Martha(you may know her as Martha Stewart) and decided to use her apple cupcake recipe.

Apple Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely shredded apples, such as Macintosh (about 1 3/4 pounds)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. -Now, in my great wisdom, I had packed away my kitcheaide mixer. DUMB MOVE, so I ended up using a hand mixer. If you use a hand mixer, the butter and sugar will mix and end up sand like rather than a creamy mix. I just used the hand mixer for 5 minutes and then creamed them together with a spoon for 1-2 minutes.
Mix in eggs and vanilla.Reduce speed to low; mix in apples.
Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.
Fill lined cups halfway with batter; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from tins; let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, frost cupcakes.

Now my dear friend Martha recommends cream cheese frosting and I like that pairing but hubby hates it. I asked him what he wanted on top of these cupcakes and his reply was "cinnamon frosting". Okayyyyyyyyyyy never heard of it but he threw down the culinary gauntlet so I needed to answer. A quick Google search yielded a great recipe. I frosted half the cupcakes with the traditional cream cheese and the other half with a cinnamon-honey buttercream.

Cinnamon-Honey buttercream frosting
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*Frosting recipe from the Serious Eats blog

I also made biscotti yesterday. Biscotti is easy plus I wanted to do a trial run of some recipes. I've signed up with
Operation Baking Gals to help bake goodies for a solder overseas. I decided that biscotti would be a great idea so I wanted to tweak my recipes before I go ahead and bake dozens upon dozens.

Chocolate Chip Biscotti*
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Combine butter, sugar and eggs, mixing well.
Beat in vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients.
Add to egg mixture.
Add chocolate chips.
Batter will be very stiff and sticky.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
With floured hands, divide the dough in 2 loaves about 12 inches long (like French bread).
Place loaves on 10 x 14 inch sheet, leaving at least 3 inches between.
Flatten each loaf slightly, evenly. DONT FLATTEN TOO MUCH! This is important.
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or firm to the touch.
Cool slightly; lower oven to 375 degrees.
While still warm, slice loaves in diagonal slices, about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
Arrange on ungreased sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until firm.
Do not brown, you dont want the chips to burn.

Once mine were cooled, I coated one side in chocolate...oh yeah, I went there!

Pictures are forth coming. It took me 3 hours to write this short blog entry, the two babies are just so demanding, ya know.