Butterbeer Cupcakes

My son was blessed with a snow day on his 13th birthday! We were able to load him up with his favorite meals all day long. 🙂

After having Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast, some sort of meaty concoction involving kielbasa, sliced sourdough baguette, melted cheese and garlic powder prepared by my husband for lunch, and his ultimate favorite, Thai One-Pot, for dinner, we topped off the day with these Butterbeer Cupcakes. ❤

He is such a Harry Potter fan; he has read the series over fourteen times, now losing count. After visiting both Harry Potter Worlds at Universal Studios in Orlando, he is a HUGE butter beer fan as well. (We tried every version available. 🙂 )

This recipe is from PastryAffair.com, adapted from Amy Bites. I added cream to the frosting and halved the ganache recipe. I halved the recipe below with success; I weighed one beaten egg to use “half” of an egg.

I can’t believe that I have a teenager in my house! So sad to make “13” Number Cookies

Yield: 18 cupcakes

For the Butterbeer Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream soda (I used Dr. Brown’s)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract and butter flavoring.
  6. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour mixture, cream soda, and then the remaining flour. Mix just until incorporated. Do not overtax!
  7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15 minutes one tin at a time, or 16 minutes for 2 trays (rotating halfway through baking), or until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when touched.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Butterscotch Ganache:

  • 5.5 ounces (1/2 package) butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips into the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

For the Butterscotch Buttercream:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch ganache (recipe above)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 T heavy cream (as needed)
  1. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Mix in the butterscotch ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt.
  3. Beat in the powdered sugar for 2 to 3 minutes, until incorporated.
  4. Add the cream a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved (I used 4 tablespoons).
  5. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To Assemble:

  1. Pour butterscotch ganache into a plastic squeeze bottle. Stab the tip of the bottle into each cupcake, completely immersing the tip, and fill with butterscotch ganache until it starts to overflow.
  2. Fill a pastry bag with butterscotch buttercream and pipe onto the top of each cupcake.
  3. Drizzle on the butterscotch ganache, as desired.

Notes:

  • If you have any leftover butterscotch ganache, it can be used as ice cream topping.
  • Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

I’m sharing my birthday treats at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #207 this week, co-hosted by my friends Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju and Lily @Little Sweet Baker. I also brought these cupcakes to What’s for Dinner Sunday! Enjoy! 🙂

One Year Ago: Crème Brûlée

Two Years Ago: Eleventh Birthday Longboard Cake!

Three Years Ago: Black Hole Birthday Cake

Four Years Ago: Minecraft Enderman Cake

Five Years Ago: Birthday Cake Gallery

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Christmas Cookies 2017

Traditionally, I make one new holiday cookie to share with our neighbors and co-workers. This year, I made an assortment of old favorites. I just didn’t find a new cookie that caught my eye!

Of course, when it was “too late,” a friend gave us a gift of homemade butter brickle.  It was beyond fabulous! I would love to add it next year, or something like it, like an English Toffee recipe that I found from the New York Times. But that’s next year. 😉

Happy Holidays to you all! Enjoy your time with family and friends. ❤ Best wishes for a wonderful 2018!

Cookies from the Top:

Cookies Left to Right:

Bottom Row:

One Year Ago: Christmas Cookies 2016

Two Years Ago: Christmas Cookies 2015

Three Years Ago: Christmas Cookies 2014

Four Years Ago: Christmas Cookies 2013

Five Years Ago: Christmas Cookies: 2012

Double Apple Pie

I have never made an apple pie that I didn’t enjoy. Apple pie is delicious! 😉 But, I am still seeking a pie that I absolutely love- a pie that will end the search for the perfect pie.

This pie was lovely, with notes of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I used a combination of apples and sliced them in a food processor. The pie crust incorporated vodka to ensure a flaky result; my Mother-in-law always utilizes this trick. The filling, thickened with tapioca and apple butter, held together perfectly. I baked it the day before Thanksgiving and it kept well at room temperature.

I served it at the end of our Thanksgiving feast along with my favorite Pumpkin Chiffon Pie and Pecan Pie Bars. Most of us eat small slices of whichever dessert strikes our fancy- topped with either whipped cream or served with vanilla ice cream. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 2 ½ cups/300 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon/2.5 grams coarse salt
  • 2 ½ sticks/20 tablespoons/285 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 4 tablespoons/60 ml vodka
  • ¼ to ½ cup ice water

For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds/1 1/3 kilograms apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (1/8-inch) (I used a combination of Sweet Tango, Envy, Granny Smith, and Fuji apples)
  • ½ cup/99 grams granulated sugar, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons/30 grams dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons/30 grams quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 ½ teaspoons/3 grams ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons/22 ml lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons/45 grams apple butter
  • heavy cream or milk, as needed
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, as needed
  • vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
To Make the Crust:

  1. In a food processor, pulse together flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms 3/4-inch pieces.
  3. Mix vodka with 4 tablespoons ice water (or use 1/2 cup ice water).
  4. Add half the ice water mixture to dough, pulse a few times, then continue adding liquid a tablespoon at a time until dough just comes together (you might not use all the liquid). Dough should be moist, but not wet, and hold together when pinched. If there are visible pieces of butter in the dough, all the better.
  5. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface, gather dough into a ball. Remove a third of the dough and form into a disk. Form remaining dough into a disk.
  6. Cover both tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.

To Complete the Pie:

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger disk to a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork, then chill crust for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. While dough chills, heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  3. Line chilled crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed. (You can bake the crust up to 24 hours in advance.)
  4. Toss apples with sugars, tapioca, spices, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the lemon juice. Fold in apple butter. Transfer apples to crust and press gently to make sure fruit is tightly packed.
  5. Roll out remaining dough disk to a 10-inch round. Use a knife to cut strips 1 3/4 inches wide (or desired width). Arrange strips over the filling in a lattice pattern.
  6. Brush top of crust with heavy cream or milk. Sprinkle with granulated or turbinado sugar.
  7. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling thickly, about 1 hour 15 minutes more.
  8. Let pie cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before cutting.
  9. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche.

One Year Ago:

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Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Thanksgiving Menu 2017

I selfishly love documenting my holiday menu because it is such a wonderful reference in the future. Hopefully, others may benefit when planning for the holidays as well.

I had considered trying a new Thanksgiving turkey and gravy recipe this year, but I was quickly outvoted. 😉 As much as I enjoy experimenting with new dishes, this year’s feast was comprised of many favorites from previous years. I did add a new roasted rainbow carrot dish and double apple pie. I am still searching for ultimate stuffing and apple pie recipes.

In addition to our tasty holiday feast, we had two surprise highlights from our celebration. The first was a “turkey hat” that my brother brought on Thanksgiving morning. Many photos were taken of everyone wearing it! Fun. 🙂

The second highlight resulted from roasting the turkey upside-down. (We had tried this for the first time last year and the meat was incredibly moist.) The roasting rack is lined with buttered ciabatta bread so that the turkey doesn’t stick when it is time for it to be flipped over. The resulting “turkey bread” was indulgent and absolutely delicious. I’m going to have to incorporate it into some sort of a dish next year.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you and Happy Holiday season!

Thanksgiving Eve Eve:

Thanksgiving Eve:

Thanksgiving Day:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Dinner:

Leftover Dishes:

One Year Ago: Thanksgiving Menu 2016

Two Years Ago: Thanksgiving Menu 2015

Three Years Ago: Thanksgiving Menu 2014

Four Years Ago: Thanksgiving Menu 2013

Five Years Ago: Thanksgiving Menu 2012

Gâteau de Crêpes

This incredible cake was a truly a Father’s Day tribute. I made it for my husband to celebrate what an amazing dad he is to our kids. ❤ We enjoyed it after spending the day at a gorgeous New York State Park, Planting Fields Arboretum.

Making a crêpe cake was also a memorial to my dad. When I was growing up, my dad made crêpes on Sundays for breakfast and he taught me how to make them. When my family brought me to college in Boston, we went downtown to a beautiful Williams-Sonoma and my dad selected crêpe pans to give me as a “going away to school gift.” I treasure them.

I also built the cake on a special cake plate that once belonged to my French grandparents. ❤

I’ve wanted to make a crêpe cake for quite some time. My food-blog friends Suzanne and Mimi inspired me to finally make this fabulous dessert. Thanks, ladies! 🙂 This recipe is from the New York Times, via Smitten Kitchen.com. The original recipe adapted the batter from ”Joy of Cooking” and the pastry cream from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. I omitted the Kirsch, made the crepes in advance, and increased the sugar in the filling.

I’m sharing this special dessert at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #178. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 12

For the Crêpe Batter:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For Assembly:

  • vegetable oil, such as canola or corn
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or more ( I used 4 T in the cream plus 2 T for brûlée)
  • 3 tablespoons Kirsch, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional (if not doing brûlée)

The day before serving, make the crêpe batter and the pastry cream.

To Make the Batter:

  1. In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside.
  2. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter.
  4. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To Make the Pastry Cream:

  1. Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch.
  4. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl.
  6. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  7. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

To Make the Crêpes & Assemble the Cake (the next day):

  1. Bring the batter to room temperature.
  2. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crêpe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil (I used a brush), then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface.
  3. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crêpe with your fingers or a thin metal spatula. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds.
  4. Flip the crêpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crêpes. (I made 22 crêpes.) Note: I tightly wrapped the crêpes in plastic wrap and refrigerated them for several hours before assembling the cake.
  5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more.
  6. Whip the heavy cream with the 1-4 T sugar and the Kirsch, if using. It won’t hold peaks.
  7. Fold it into the pastry cream.
  8. Lay 1 crêpe on a cake plate.
  9. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup).
  10. Cover with a crêpe and repeat to make a stack of 20 (or 22!), with the best-looking crêpe on top.
  11. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving.
  12. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crêpe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice like a cake.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Iceberg Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Ranch Dressing

This post is belated because I’m still recovering from my husband’s extravagant birthday feast. Recovering from preparing it… and from eating it (for many, many days!). 😉 I must say that it was well worth every minute AND every bite.

His special celebratory feast usually involves fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. I have made Caesar salad as our “vegetable” in the past, but this year he requested a wedge salad. Yay! I love a change.

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used 4 tablespoons of buttermilk to adjust the consistency of the dressing. I also adapted the way the iceberg lettuce was sliced to modify the serving size and simplify the eating process. We all LOVED it!

For the Green Goddess Ranch Salad Dressing:

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives and/or scallions, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mild vinegar, such as white-wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • buttermilk or milk (optional)
  1. In a large bowl or blender, whisk or blend all the ingredients except the buttermilk.
  2. Add just enough buttermilk to thin to the desired consistency, if needed. (I used 4 tablespoons.)
  3. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine. Shake well before using.

Note: Dressing will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Complete the Salad:

Yield: 4 Servings

  • Green Goddess Ranch Dressing (recipe above)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • English cucumber, cut into slices
  1. Prepare Green Goddess dressing and set aside.
  2. In a 9 x 13-inch pyrex baking dish, bake bacon at 350 degrees for 20 to 3o minutes, until crispy.
  3. Place 1 iceberg lettuce slice/wedge and 4 to 6 cucumber wedges on each plate.
  4. Pour some dressing over top with crumbled bacon and minced chives over each serving, as desired.

One Year Ago:

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Four Years Ago:

Berry Breeze

Mr. BrookCook searched for the perfect Mother’s Day cocktail and this was it. 🙂 Springy, tasty, and, in the vein of a Moscow Mule, topped with a splash of ginger beer. I loved it!

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Camille Austin of Hakkasan in New York City, via Town and Country magazine. It would also be perfect for the upcoming holiday weekend- and all summer long.

Yield: 1 drink

  • 2 oz lemon vodka
  • 4-5 blackberries
  • .25 oz fresh lime juice
  • ginger beer, to taste
  1. Muddle blackberries in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add vodka and lime juice; shake over ice.
  3. Strain into ice filled double old-fashioned glass or copper mug.
  4. Top with ginger beer, to taste.
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel, a lime wedge, and/or blackberries. Serve.

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