Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot Fudge Sauce

Some moms are great with crafts, some are great letting their kids go crazy outdoors, some will read for hours, my specialty lies in the kitchen.

My kids have been breaking eggs since age 2 and dumping and mixing like pros. My oldest (6) is both knowledgeable enough and safe enough to stand at the stove and stir something for me if need be. He's even starting in on some very basic knife skills.

The last week of summer we came up with all kinds of fun stuff we wanted to make in the kitchen together. Homemade bread, handshaken butter, homemade drumsticks (cone and all!) and some of their dinner favorites.

One night that week we had planned a night out for special treats but something came up and we were unable to head out. I needed something fun, easy and fast. In stepped in this handy go to recipe for hot fudge sauce. Seriously, it took 5 minutes or less and we were able to use it in a couple different ways. It even stays good in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli dark), 1 can sweetened condensed milk and 4 tablespoons butter

Throw it all in a pan and heat while stirring until....

it looks like this
Couldn't resist a pic of my sweetest helper

The boys wanted theirs in milkshake form. Hot fudge, couple scoops of ice cream and milk

I went more classic with a sundae and started by adding a little salty, just crushed salted peanuts.

The the husband in all his brilliance kicked it up by adding sliced bananas. It may not sound amazing, but I promise it was divine. Not that the pictures would show it. I do most of my cooking in the evening which does not lend itself to good food photos. I promise you thought it was delish.

This would also be an easy gift thrown in a mason jar and topped with some cute fabric and rafia or ribbon.

I got voted into awesome mom status with this. Hopefully you will be equally adored by whomever you choose to bestow this on.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Finally, after much delay....I'm sharing my chocolate cupcake recipe.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it can be easily halved, so at the end I'll give you the recipe which usually puts out about 28-30 cupcakes or the one that does about 14. Because all those extra cupcakes sitting around can be bad for a girl.

My ingredients of choice. Sorry midwesterners but the White Lily flour may be inaccessible to you. Although you're getting more and more restaurants who serve sweet tea, so who knows...maybe you'll get lucky. In case not, I would go for King Arthur all purpose flour. It does make a difference.

The rest of the characters are easily interchangeable except the vanilla. I really like Trader Joe's Pure Bourbon Vanilla, mainly because I think they have the best price on a great product. Whatever you do don't get the imitation vanilla. It's not good. And you will thank me later when I eventually post my buttercream recipe in which quality products is key.

Everyone simmering. When I say heaping, I mean as much as you can possibly fit on the spoon.

Then add it to the flour and sugar mixture waiting for you in your mixer. I usually measure it out while waiting for the water to simmer.

The whole shebang all mixed and waiting for it's cupcake liner home.

The final product waiting for some buttercream. Pardon my well used muffin tins. They've been around.
These are some of my favorite substitutions. This particular batch actually had the Guinness substituted for the water as they went on to be Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's buttercream. I will often sub the coffee or Guinness for the water (using equal measurements).
The Reese's and the Oreos I add to the cupcakes once in the liners. I usually use a miniature peanut butter cup, or cut a full one in half. For both the peanut butter cups and Oreos I fill the cupcake liners half full, add either then add just enough batter to cover. If you're being less lazy than I usually am and want your peanut butter cup precisely in the middle of your cupcake you can bake the cupcakes about 4 minutes then add the cup pushing down lightly then continuing to bake. Sometimes the filled cupcakes require an additional minute or two of baking time.

I usually tell when my cupcakes are perfectly done by lightly pressing on the tops. If they spring back (and don't sink in) they are done. In my oven 12 minutes at 2/3 full liners is perfect, but keep an eye out and check at 11 minutes. The quickest and easiest way to kill a good cake or cupcake is by over-baking.

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe (about 30):
Amounts for half batch (about 14) in parenthesis.

2 cups flour (1 cup flour)
2 cups sugar (1 cup sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4 tsp salt)
2 sticks butter (1 stick butter)
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa (2 TBS cocoa)
1 cup boiling water (1/2 cup water)
1/2 cup sour cream (1/4 cup sour cream)
2 eggs (1 egg)
1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2 tsp baking soda)
1 teaspoon vanilla (1/2 tsp vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place water (or other liquid substitutions) in a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Add butter and cocoa to water and stir to combine. While still stirring bring back to a light boil then remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. With the mixer on slowly add water and cocoa mixture. Mix until combined.

While still mixing add sour cream, when fully incorporated add eggs one at a time. Add baking soda and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 12 minutes.

So there ya go. Chocolate cupcakes, how I make them, and the tips I've learned along the way. I feel like I have a lot of good tips I've learned from baking and cooking. Especially as a mom of 3 who has the impossible task of both making something my kids will eat and exposing them to new cuisine, tastes, and flavors.

It's hard work to figure out the cooking and baking world on your own, and I've spent about 10 years doing just that. So I'm going to try to add a new element to this blog, and my "work". If you have a question, post it. I don't always catch every post on here, so feel free to email me or post on CupKates facebook page (where I get email updates on postings) and I'll get back to you. I might not know all the answers, but I'd love to try and help.

I'm also going to start trying to post some of the recipes I make for dinner, and my meal plans for the week. Sometimes it will be something I just threw together, and others it will be recipes I tried and tweaked (which lets be honest is most of where "new" recipes come from now days anyways. There is nothing new under the sun...). I also have lots of shortcuts I'll share that I have found make my life easier while trying to make things that are as healthy and natural as possible.

So that's where we're headed on here. Thanks for coming along for the ride!