Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Root Beer Float Cupcake

The Youth Group at my church hosted a Mother/Daughter 50's night in our Coffee Shop and asked me to cater the event. I stayed with the 50's food theme and decided to create a Root Beer Float cupcake.  Cupcakes seem to be EVERYWHERE these days, so I figured I'd be all trendy and current since that's how I roll for once.  I figured I wasn't the first person in the world to come up with the idea and after a quick Google search discovered I was about the millionth person.  Almost every single recipe I read (close to 30) involved using root beer in the cake batter and going with a vanilla butter cream frosting.  That just wasn't for me, so I went in another direction and came up with this recipe.
I used the Wilton Muffin pan to make the "jumbo" size cupcake.  These tins were about 1/3" deeper than other jumbo pans in the baking pan aisle.  I found these at my local Super Center in the cake decorating section.  Since they were bigger than usual, it used more batter.  I think I was able to get around 22 cupcakes from one box.  I did not line the tins, opting to use Baker's Joy with great results. 

About 8 years ago I saw at trick on TV for kicking up cake mixes and have been doing this trick ever since and have not been disappointed.  I use a Super Moist cake mix, add an extra egg, vanilla, and use milk instead of water.  Of course you don't have to make this in a muffin tin, and could use 9x13 or cake rounds, I just like the idea of cupcakes.

The frosting was my favorite cream cheese butter cream into which I added root beer concentrate.  I've always seen Root Beer concentrate by the extracts in the baking aisle and pondered who in the world would use that and for what?  Now. I. Know.  I had never used this concentrate and was a little afraid of the word "concentrate" so I went the, "it's easier to add to than take away" rule for cooking.  What I discovered was that it took a considerable amount more than I thought to achieve the root beer flavor.  I would guess it was triple what my expectations were, so much for being afraid of a word.

I piped the frosting on using a pastry bag with no tip, because I wanted the wide stream of frosting that, again is super popular in the baking world.  I was going to add a bendy straw, but decided that coffee stir sticks would look more elegant.  I couldn't find root beer barrel hard candy to save my life, that was my first choice in garnishing this cup cake, so I went with cola jellies instead. 

All in all I think the end result was visually appealing and, if I do say so myself, tasted really good.  It truly tasted like a root beer float.

White Cake:

1 box White Moist Deluxe Cake Mix (Duncan Hines is my favorite)
1 1/4 cups Milk
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (or vegetable)

In a stand mixer, add the cake mix and remaining ingredients.  Mix on low speed until combined, then on high for two minutes.  Bake according to package directions for the pan you are using.

Root Beer Butter Cream:

1 stick Butter (room temp)
8 oz Cream Cheese (room temp)
1 Tablespoon Root Beer Concentrate
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 lbs. Confection Sugar

In a stand mixer add first two ingredients and Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, adding both extracts, blending together completely.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar, blending to incorporate until desired consistency is achieved.  Pipe or frost onto cooled cupcakes.

Note: Taste your frosting and keep adding concentrate until you reach the flavor level you want.  Like I said, earlier, I used more than I thought I would.

Oh, one more thing.  I took the picture of the cupcake with my camera phone, in an empty cabinet.  Not too shappy, huh?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lemon Pie

 My Mom got a craving for lemon pie over Labor Day and asked if I could make her one.  Of course I told her I would be happy to make her a lemon pie, the whole time my brain was scrambling to figure out how in the world I was going to make a lemon pie.  I had never made nor seen anyone make a lemon pie filling before.  I spent about three hours researching the internet and my Mom's cookbook collection and came up with a recipe, the combination of many, which we all liked very much.  I didn't use fresh lemon juice or add lemon zest, however I think that would up the lemon flavor considerably.  That's my next tweek, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.

   This lemon pie is the perfect combination of tart and sweet.  I opt for whipped cream topping instead of meringe, however you could easily make a meringue.  I'll give you the recipe for whipped cream and meringe topping.  Before we go any further, I have to say this is the easiest pie in the world to make.  If you can stir you can make this pie.  Take some time to get your ingredients set up and this will come together lickity split. 

Let's get started

Pre-baked 9" Pie crust
4 egg yolks (save the egg whites if you are making the meringue)
1/3 cup corn starch plush 1 tablespoon
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup lemon juice

You will need one medium sauce pan, one small bowl, and one medium size bowl.  In the sauce pan, place one cup of water, and the sugar together.  In the small bowl, place the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water, whisking until smooth, set that aside.  Now in the large bowl, add the lemon juice and eggs, whisking until smooth.  

Turn the heat to medium and stir the sugar and water together until it comes to a boil.  Pour in the slurry (that's the cornstarch and water mixture) and stir.  Pay attention to this because it will get really, really thick.  Once it comes to a thick gel, take it off the heat.  Now, in the large bowl, with the egg and lemon juice in it.  Slowly add about half of the hot gel.  Make sure you are stirring the mixture while you are slowly stirring the yolk and juice.  Add that back into the sauce pan and turn the heat back up to medium.  Bring this back to a boil, add the butter and stir until the butter disolves.

Pour the lemon filling into the pie crust.  If you are adding the whipped cream, you will want to cool the pie completely, at least one hour, then spread the whipped cream on top before serving.  Follow the directions for meringue, below. 

I use Pillsbury pie crust.  It's what I grew up eating and I can't really make it better than that, I've tried and I just like it better.  If you like to make your own or want to try a totally from scratch pie, I really good crust recipe is here

To make the crust with no filling is called blind baking.  Once you place your crust in the pie pan, bake it in a 450 oven for 10-12 minutes.  Make sure you poke holes in the crust, all over, before baking.  Or, place some tin foil in the pie pan and add about two cups of rice or dried beans.  You can keep the beans/rice in a jar and use them over and over.  The foil acts only as a holder for the beans or rice, which give weight to the crust helping it not shrink.

Whipped Cream:
One pint of whipped cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Add all to a stand mixture or large bowl.  Whip/mix until it is thick and creamy.  It should take about three to five minutes.  You know it's ready when you lift the whisk or beater out of the cream and it holds a peak.

4 egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar

2 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.  Spread on filled pie, making sure to cover the edges.  Bake in a 400 degree oven until the meringue is golden brown.