Friday, December 19, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

Ok, so this post is WAY late, and I've already missed another TWD assignment for this week.  But, I have an excuse!  Every year my mother-in-law and I get together to bake Christmas cookies.  Well, I had to save this recipe for the day we were to make our cookies!  Plus, I was hoping the stuff I ordered on would arrive in time to make the cookies, so I could make cute little snowflake sugar cookies.  But, no such luck.  However, this cookie recipe was so wonderful, I will definitely be making snowflake sugar cookies using Dorie's recipe soon!  Everyone in my family who was over for cookie-making agreed that this recipe was the best sugar cookie recipe!  The pictures are of my little cousin, Ella, after decorating her sugar-cookies.  I used a special cookie-mold pan to make these.  The pan made the cookies come out really thick and chewy-cakey, which was really a delicious texture and flavor!

Thank You Milwaukee Cupcake Queen!

I want to say thank you so much to Sandy over at and FancyFlours!  I randomly was selected as a winner of a $100 gift certificate to, thanks to a contest Sandy was hosting.  I got pretty excited by all of the cool stuff I could order on this website, I actually had to delete a bunch out of my cart, because I went way overboard.  I will definitely be shopping their site again!  Here is a picture of all of the items I purchased with my gift card.  I paid a little over my gift card amount, but it was worth it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Iron Cupcake: Chocolate with a Twist!

This Iron Cupcake challenge was more challenging than you might think with an ingredient like chocolate!  While chocolate is very easy to incorporate into a cupcake, it's not quite as easy to be original, because your mind has to get passed the typical pairings for chocolate.  My initial thought was peppermint chocolate, because I love this combo.  But, after a few other combination musings I decided on orange-chocolate.  It is during this time of year that you really start to see those delicious chocolate oranges that give you the satisfaction of smashing something.  Also, I have memories of my mother always including an orange in the bottom of my stocking for Christmas.  She did this either to A: continue the tradition of fruit as a Christmas present, from back in the day when fruit was virtually unavailable during the winter or B: she needed something to fill the space to make it look like we had more presents.  I think it was A.

Honestly, these cupcakes are amazing, and I don't usually toot my own horn.  I will safely say that these are the best cupcakes I have ever made.  Anyway, this is a competition, so please vote for me here.  I could win the following fantabulous prizes:
-an original work of art from Betty Turbo
-a pair of cupcake earrings from Lots Of Sprinkles
-a piece of artwork from Cakespy
-limited edition cupcake pincushions by Moda Home, complements of Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery and Cupcakery Supply
-Head Chefs by Fiesta Products
-Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
-sponsored by 1-800-FLOWERS

And, without further ado, let me present you with my recipe for this month's challenge!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (Adapted from Martha Stewart's Chocolate Cupcakes):

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Zest of one large orange
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons orange blossom water + 1-2 tablespoons for topping baked cupcakes
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
2.  Into medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add orange zest and mix.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla and 1-2 teaspoons of orange blossom water..  With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of cream.
3.  Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
4.  Cool in pan 5 minutes.  Brush tops of cupcakes with more orange blossom water; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then spread with orange-chocolate chip buttercream frosting (recipe follows).

Orange-Chocolate Chip Buttercream (adapted from Wilton's buttercream recipe):
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1 large orange
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb)
2 tablespoons cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips, chopped into small pieces

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.  Add vanilla, orange zest, and orange blossom water.  Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.  When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.  Add cream and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Mix in small bits of chocolate chips.  Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TWD: Linzer Cookies

This week we made Linzer Cookies for our Tuesdays With Dorie baking endeavor.  They were much simpler than I had anticipated!  They were also very delicious!   It was actually perfect timing, because I had left over hazelnuts from the linzer-based wedding cake I made in the previous post, as well as raspberry preserves left over from that same cake!  I was so happy to not waste anything, for once!  It seems I often have left over ingredients that I forget about and when I do remember them, it is too late!  Not this time!  Thanks TWD!  By the way, if you can't tell, the windows are turkeys.