Post #30: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Sometimes I feel like the only things worth blogging are totally homemade.  100% from scratch, or I'm not impressed.  But!  I always have a box of cake mix or brownies in the ol' pantry, just in case I get a craving and don't have time to from scratch it.  Today is one of these stories. 

I had just put in my morning workout, had a yummy lunch, but something was missing.  Something...sweet.  But, I didn't feel like messing up the kitchen for the 543498573495th time in 2 days, so I went for my boxed cake mix.  Milk chocolate.  I had no frosting.  Crap.  Well, I'll make the frosting from scratch then.  No fuss, no muss!  Then my eyes saw this little box of strawberry creme pudding mix that I had to buy because I'd never seen it before.  Then the wheels started turning.  I could do something with this.  And so I did.  :o)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

For the Cupcakes:

1 box of your favourite chocolate cake mix.  Prepare according to the cupcake directions.  (A really dark one would work nicely!)

For the Filling:

1 box of Jell-o strawberry creme pudding mix.  Prepare according to directions.  I did half heavy whipping cream, half milk.  Creamy, rich, and wow!

For the Frosting: 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (the love of my life!)
1 - 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip these ingredients until nice and fluffy in your mixer.  Easy as that.  This makes a crap ton of frosting, fyi!  Also, this is the best buttercream I have ever made, hands down! 

To Assemble:

 Make the pudding filling while the cupcakes cool.  When it has set up, it is time to fill!  I have a handy dandy Wilton cake decorator with a filling tip.  It injects right down into the center of your cupcake, fills it up, and leaves nary a trace that the cupcake was ever disturbed.  If you do not happen to have one of these (they are $12 at WalMart, so why the hell not?)  you can do this the slow poke way: take a knife and cut a circle out of the top of each cupcake.  Keep the "lid" you have just created, and remove a small amount of cake from the middle.  Proceed to spoon the filling into your little crater until it is full, then replace the "lid" and you're good to go! 

Top with the frosting, and serve these bad boys.  They are SO yummy!  I was impressed fo sho.  Easy too.  Start to finish, less than 1 hour.  How sweet it is!


Post #29: Cheddar Biscuits a la Red Lobster

Mr. Pirate and I are not soup people.  I don't think I have ever made soup.  Ever.  The other day, mom sent me home with a giant container of New England clam chowder (her soups are the - the only soups I've ever loved!).  Her clam chowder is thick, rich, chunky, and has bacon.  In other words, it's perfect.  These biscuits are just the frosting.  ;)

I made these at dinner time, so no more natural light!  This is the best I could do!  :(

Cheddar Biscuits

2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
4 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup cold whole milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 pinch salt


Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine Bisquick and cold butter. Don't combine too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of peas.
Add cheddar, milk and 1/4 tsp garlic.
Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.
Drop 9 equal portions onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are light brown.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp garlic powder and parsley flakes.
Use a pastry brush to spread garlic butter over tops of biscuits.


Post #28: Pumpkin Donut Holes

Annie's Eats is one of my favourite blogs ever.  In fact, the last three new recipes I have tried have been from her! 

This was my very first time making donuts, or anything that even resembeled donuts.  Roughly 34987324 of the blogs I follow had pumpkin donuts as their most recent recipe all at once, so I knew I had to try too. 

First of all, let me say and I made these with the enormous help (and comic relief!) of my little sister. She's so much fun to cook with! She will probably read this, so thanks for all of your help and laughs...and I'm sorry you deep fried your finger! ;)

Now, let me just tell you, donuts are a lesson in patience.  If the oil is too hot, they burn quickly on the outside, while staying doughy on the inside.  If the oil is not hot enough, the colour is nice, but they lose the crispiness that a fried cake-style donut should have.  Lucky for us beginners, this recipe yields enough dough to allow for errors...and don't I know it!

At first, we tried donuts.  We rolled the dough, cut it, donut holed it, and put it to the fryer.  They turned dark quickly, which sucked, but they still tasted good.  We figured we'd try donuts on more time, this time, a tiny bit thinner, with the oil turned down.  These ones turned out a little better, but not great looking.  LOL!

That was when we switched to donut holes exclusively.  We stamped them out with the mouth end of a normal sized shot glass, and it worked perfectly.  The holes took about 2 minutes to fry, were done all the way through, were crisp without looking burned, and maintained all their crispy outside-cakey inside goodness - just the way we like.  :o) 

The downside was that they only really taste good for the first few hours.  I know fresh is always best, but I was expecting them to hold up for at least a day.  But then again, when you buy donuts at the store, they don't keep well either.  In Annie's recipe, she made a glaze for them - I didn't.  I just rolled them in cinnamon sugar.  Perhaps a glaze would lock in the freshness.  I'll have to try it again and find out!

Give them a try!

Pumpkin Donuts (or Donut Holes!)

Yield: about 16 doughnuts and doughnut holes
For the doughnuts:
3½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
Canola oil or peanut oil, for frying
For the cinnamon-sugar:
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the spiced glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
2 tbsp. milk
To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter and beat until well blended. Stir in the egg, then the egg yolks, and then the vanilla until incorporated. Combine the buttermilk and pumpkin in a liquid measuring cup and whisk together. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Once the dough is mixed, cover and chill for at least 3 hours or until firm. (The dough still seemed quite soft so we did an additional 30 minute chill in the freezer.)
On a well-floured work surface, roll or pat out the dough to a ½-inch thick round. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Using a 2½ to 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Use a smaller cutter (or a wide pastry tip) to cut a hole out of the center. Reroll and cut the dough scraps as necessary.
Add oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven to a depth of about 2-3 inches. Attach a thermometer to the side of the pan and heat the oil to 365-370˚ F. Add the rings of dough to the hot oil so that they are in a single layer and not touching. Fry, turning once, until both sides are golden brown and doughnuts are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes total. Use a skimmer/strainer to remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined rack. Bring the oil temperature back up to the target range before repeating with the next batch of doughnuts. Use the same process for the doughnut holes, frying for a shorter time.
To make the cinnamon-sugar, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish and whisk to blend. When the doughnuts are just cool enough to handle, dip half of them in the cinnamon-sugar to coat completely, shaking off the excess.