Tag Archives: featured

Confetti Cupcake Bites

23 Apr

OK so I haven’t posted in a long time. It’s the end of the semester and I’m swamped. Also, for my last post, I was featured as one of “Today’s Specials” on Foodpress (yay!)…so maybe I was also just trying to quit while I was ahead? Regardless, I’m back into the baking groove now as I procrastinate on finishing final projects and prepare for an Easter celebration tomorrow:)

To make up for lost time, I decided to embark upon a rather time-consuming and intricate dessert, yet one that was well worth the effort! I am talking, of course, about Cupcake Bites. What are cupcake bites, you ask? I didn’t know myself, until just the other day when I stumbled upon these adorable treats on Bakerella’s website. Cupcake Bites are a variation of the increasingly popular Cake Balls. They’re essentially crumbled cake, mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, covered in chocolate, and topped with sprinkles.Except that rather than being rolled into balls, Cupcake Bites are shaped like cupcakes. Oh and they’re so ridiculously cute that they don’t even look real. How can you go wrong with that?? That’s right, you can’t!

I tried to make my Cupcake bites festive by using Confetti Cake mix by Duncan Hines and Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. I couldn’t find the candy cup mold suggested by Bakerella, but instead used a Wilton silicone daisy mold, which seemed to do the trick. I used pink candy melts for the “frosting” and topped them with cute Easter sprinkles I found at Target.

A cross-section

What do you think? Cute as a button or what?

Easy Cupcake Bites (recipe by Bakerella— she her website for pictures of the process– my changes are in parentheses)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix, prepared as directed on box for 13×9 cake (I used Duncan Hines Confetti Cake mix)
  • 16 oz can cream cheese frosting (see recipe for homemade version below)
  • 1 lb package chocolate bark or candy melts for cupcake bottom
  • 1 lb package colored candy melts for cupcake top
  • Decorations (I used Target’s Easter sprinkles)

Special equipment: Candy Cup Mold (I used Wilton’s daisy mold)

Preparation:

  • After the cake is baked and cooled completely, crumble into a large bowl. The texture should be fine and fluffy. If you cannot get the cake fine enough with your hands, use a food processor.
  • Using the back of a large spoon, or with your hands if you want to get messy, mix the cream cheese frosting with the cake crumbles
  • Roll the mixture into about 1 inch balls (Test that the size is accurate by placing them in the mold. The diameter of the balls should be slightly smaller than the mold). Lay the balls on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.
  • Chill in the freezer about 15 minutes, until the balls are slightly firm, not frozen.
  • Melt the chocolate and and colored melts in the microwave according to the directions on the package.
  • Using a spoon, fill each mold cavity with a small amount of chocolate (for me, it was about halfway full). As soon as you fill each cavity, place one of the balls into it. Carefully push it down until the force causes the chocolate to push up and fill in around the size of the ball. You  may have to experiment with a couple to get the right amount. Stop pushing once the chocolate reaches the top edge.
  • Place the mold tray filled with the cake balls in the freezer for about 6 minutes to let the chocolate set. Remove and then gently pull up on the cake ball to release from the candy mold.
  • Next, one at a time, holding the bottom of the cupcake, dip the top into the colored chocolate.
  • Decorate with sprinkles.
  • Place the decorated cupcake bites in the freezer for another 3 minutes.
  • Enjoy and impress!

Makes about 50 cupcake bites, depending on the size of mold you use.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting (recipe by Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted and beat until creamy, about 30 seconds.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowls as necessary.
  • Add vanilla and increase mixer speed to medium. Blend until frosting is fluffy, about 1 minute.

Makes enough frosting for your cupcake bites.

An Easter gift for you!

Strawberry Shortcake: I Found My Soulmate

3 Apr

Strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert.  I am from the camp that strawberry shortcake must be composed of strawberries, whipped cream, and a biscuit. That’s right…a biscuit. Not angel food cake, not pound cake, certainly not those heavily processed dessert shells sold in stores…a biscuit. Said biscuit must be served warm, split in half horizontally, and spread with a touch of butter.

Additionally, strawberry shortcake must include sliced strawberries in a sugary strawberry sauce, simply made from combining strawberries and sugar and letting the juices develop in the refrigerator.

And of course, strawberry shortcake must be topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? You would think not, but it was with great frustration that I have spent years in search of the perfect strawberry shortcake recipe reminiscent of what I remember from my childhood. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across a new recipe yesterday that includes the essential elements described above, but that was not quite like what I remember from my childhood. It was better. Simply perfect.

This recipe for strawberry shortcake includes a delicious shortcake that is essentially a giant biscuit pressed into a 9×9 pan. The top and sides of the shortcake become slightly crispy, while the inside is soft. It is easily split in half to make something of a sandwich with strawberries inside. And it’s not really a sweet biscuit; the sweetness comes from the other elements of the dessert.

In fact, a main reason that this strawberry shortcake is out-of-this-world-delicious is the whipped cream.  I usually just use store-bought whipped cream, but this time I made it myself. The hit of lemon zest in the whipped cream transforms the strawberry shortcake into something exciting and unique.

I cannot imagine a better strawberry shortcake. Thus,  my quest for the perfect recipe has ended. Why continue when I am head-over-heals in love with this dessert?

In sum, this strawberry shortcake is my soulmate. But I’ll be nice enough to share it with you 🙂


Strawberry Shortcake (adapted from recipe by Mary Nolan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and sliced
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Unsalted butter, to taste
  • Whipped Cream with Lemon Zest, recipe follows

Preparation:

  • Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. Place mixture in prepared baking pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces, split each piece in half horizontally, and spread with butter, to taste.
  • Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with the shortcake top, and a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Whipped Cream with Lemon Zest (recipe by Mary Nolan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Preparation:

  • Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Where do you stand on the strawberry shortcake debate? Are you a biscuit-lover like me, or do you prefer some other vessel for your strawberries?

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

19 Feb

If you’ve read some of my recent blogs, you’d know that I’ve essentially become obsessed with cauliflower. You may be thinking that it seems to be an odd vegetable to be the object of such enthusiasm, as it doesn’t really taste like anything. WRONG! It’s all in how you prepare the cauliflower. Simply roasting it with olive oil, salt, and pepper really brings out the cauliflower flavor. Roasting is cool like that.

Thus, roasted cauliflower has become a popular side dish in my house. I had been thinking I needed to find some other recipes where the cauliflower was elevated to be the star of the dish. As if by destiny, this month’s Food Network Magazine Italian Issue included an enticing recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Risotto. Of course I had to make it right away!

I loved the dish. My husband said it was the best risotto he’s ever had. It was incredibly creamy, with great cauliflower flavor in the risotto itself (from the chopped stems– brilliant). The roasted cauliflower and almonds on top provided amazing texture as well as substance.

Plus, it was so easy to make! You only have to “stir vigorously” once at the end. This part was a great arm workout, if only for 2 minutes 🙂 But other than that, you just let the risotto do its thing in the oven. What could be simpler?

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto (adapted from Food Network Magazine March 2011)

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, florets cut into 1/2 inch pieces, stems chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups aborio rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz fontina cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:

  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 475 F. Toss the cauliflower florets with 1 tbsp olive oil on a baking sheet. Spread in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Roast on the upper oven rack, 5 minutes. Add the almonds and raost until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 more minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion and cauliflower stems and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, 2 cups of water, and 1 tsp salt; cover and bring to a boil. Transfer the pot to the lower oven rack and bake until the rice is tender, 15 minutes.
  • Remove the rice from the oven and add the butter, fontina, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir vigorously until the risotto is creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among bowls and top with the roasted cauliflower and almonds.

Makes 3-4 servings.