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Iron Cupcake:Earth – Cheesy Goodness!

23 Oct
When I learned of this month’s secret ingredient, I was really excited, and looking forward to the challenge. Cheese is not only a staple in our home, but is an ingredient that we truly love and use quite often. The range of cheeses available is astounding; from Velveeta to Morbier, from a baby Swiss to Drunken Goat. One of our favorite cheeses is Brie, so I decided to use it as the base for my plans.

One of our favorite local restaurants, The Blackhawk Grille, makes an appetizer that’s to die for; composed of almond and coconut crusted brie, fried, and served with a cranberry marmalade, it’s perfection in every bite. I wanted to do a filled cupcake this time around, and knew that I wanted a dense yet tender cake to hold it up. I also wanted to incorporate some form of crispness to represent the crust, and a soft icing to echo the meltiness of the brie.

I chose to do an almond pound cupcake, filled with cranberry sauce and topped with a brie and cream cheese frosting and freshly toasted coconut. There’s also a slice of rind on top – not only does it look beautiful, but for those who chose to eat is along with the cake, it will add a depth and earthiness which works nicely with the tart, sweet, and nuttiness that the other components add to the product.

I loved this, and will definitely make it again. Everything came together quickly, and held together nicely. I loved the nuttiness of the coconut, the lusciousness the almond paste gives, the crispness at the edges of the cake, the tartness of the filling, and the buttery mouth feel of the frosting. I’d also try it with a cranberry whipped cream and the brie incorporated into the filling. I sent these to the office with E Thursday morning, and after getting there at 8 a.m., they were gone half an hour later. I’ve heard good things from our taste testers, and I may be whipping up another batch of these for the holidays!

The finished product
almond pound cupcake with cranberry filling
and topped with a brie-cream cheese frosting,
freshly toasted coconut and a slice of brie rind,
which adds a nice earthiness to the cupcake

Cross shot to show the cranberry filling and the cake’s texture
Voting opens on Sunday, October 26th at 12 Noon, and runs through Thursday, October 30h at 12 Noon at Nobody Puts Cupcake in a Corner. As always, I would love to have your support, and appreciate your votes. Tell you friends, your family, your mail man, your dental hygienist
well, you get the point!

In the last round, I placed 4th out of 62 entries – not too shabby! This time, as the only representative of West Virginia, I’m hoping for 1st!

This month, the prizes up for grabs are the following:

Iron Cupcake:Earth is also sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers.

Remember, without our wonderful sponsors, Iron Cupcake would not be possible, so please support them and shop away! With the holidays fast approaching, nothing can be quicker (or simpler) than purchasing your gifts online – pick something special up for the baker in your life.

Almond Pound Cupcakes
adapted from an Odense original recipe
makes 16 cakes
  • 7 oz. almond paste
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and line muffin tins with paper cups.
  2. Using the large hole side of a box grater, grate almond paste into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the almond paste with the butter and the sugar until well-mixed.
  4. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well between each.
  5. Beat on high until light and fluffy.
  6. Combine the baking powder and flour, and add into the mix, alternating with the milk. Beat on low until just combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  8. Cool, in tin, on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  9. Take cakes out of tin, and cool on rack for another 30 minutes.
Brie and Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from “Cupcakes Galore,” by Gail Wagman
makes enough to top 12 cupcakes
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. Double-Creme Brie, rind removed
  • 1 t lemon juice
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and the cheeses until fluffy.
  2. Beat in lemon juice on high for 30 seconds.
  3. If too soft or liquidy, place frosting in refrigerator until it reaches a good spreading/piping consistency.
Cranberry Filling
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, canned
  1. Open can.
  2. Portion out 1/2 cup.
  3. Stir.

Seriously. That’s it.
You can make your own sauce, or you can be me, and pick the best money can buy, because it’s delicious.

Toasted Coconut
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
  1. Spread coconut on a baking sheet.
  2. Place in oven and broil on high until shreds start turning a light brown, and the smell of coconut starts wafting through your kitchen, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Cool for about 15 minutes, and use as desired.
  1. Using a serrated knife, cut a little cone out of the top of cupcake, and remove.
  2. Fill with cranberry sauce, replace cake cone, and lightly press to even out the top.
  3. Pipe or spread frosting, and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
  4. Enjoy!

Vote for Meeeeeeeeeee

28 Sep

Voting for Iron Cupcake has officially began, and is open until Thursday, October 2nd at 12 p.m.. Vote every day (it’ll let you!) and try to vote for me!!!

You can vote either by clicking on the Iron Cupcake badge on the right side of this blog, or head over to No One Puts Cupcake in the Corner, and vote on the poll which is usually to the right side of her blog. Remember, mine is Live, Laugh and Grow.

Feel free to tell your friends – this is my first entry, and it’d be a real moral booster to get even a few votes!!!

Iron Cupcake:Earth – Quite the Challenge

22 Sep

When I first learned about Iron Cupcake:Earth, I was really excited; I love to experiment in the kitchen, learn new techniques, and watching Iron Chef, so it seemed like the perfect competition for me. Ever since this month’s secret ingredient, basil, was announced, my mind’s been swarmed with ideas – citrus, melon, tomato and many others, working themselves out in combinations from the safe to the surreal. I knew I wanted to take part, and E was willing to be my guinea pig, so I signed up.

In the end, I chose a cupcake that wasn’t complicated or pretentious, but simple, flavourful, and delicate. Since most of my kitchenware is still in storage, the only tools I had at my disposal were a balloon whisk and a mixing bowl. Yup, I created this using pure muscle! The biggest challenge, strangely enough, came not from the cupcakes themselves, but from pure luck. From the canister holding 5 litres of flour breaking in half while full, to the smoke alarm going off as the result of hot dishwater, it’s been quite the trip. There were at least three incidents that caused me to almost pull out my hair and quit, but I’m glad I didn’t – these babies were worth it.

For the Basil round of Iron Cupcake:Earth, I’ve made a cupcake that I like to call the Interlude, as to me, it pairs together the best that both Summer and Fall have to offer, so it’s perfect at a time like this. The cake pairs apple and mango that have been marinated in Balsamic vinegar and roasted in the oven with some fresh Italian basil, and the icing is a thick glaze featuring lemon and more basil. I had my doubts, but these were amazing! They had an almost bread pudding texture, due to my lack of completely creaming the butter and upping the fruit content, and they were delicious both with and without the icing, hot or cold.The basil shone through without overpowering the other flavours, and everything meshed really well.

My test-tasters were E and his friend Travis; Travis, who hates both fruit and anything green, was up first. I didn’t want to turn him off, so I didn’t tell him any of the ingredients, and he didn’t get icing on his. His first reaction? “This is really good – what’s in this?” When I told him, he was surprised that not only did they taste great, but that he liked them – he said he’d definitely eat more of them. E loved them, and had them iced, both warm and straight from the fridge. He gave them a 9 1/2 out of 10, and judging by how quickly they’re disappearing, they’re a winner in his eyes, too. I’m definitely going to be making these again, and I wouldn’t change a thing – this was definitely a memorable experience, and I can’t wait for the next challenge!

As much fun as this was, it’s still a competition, which means some incredibly awesome prizes are up for grabs, such as:

A current publication from the publication library of Taste of Home magazine

Head Chefs by Fiesta Products

A metal signet ring from Metal Sugar

“Hello Cupcake,” by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

The Cupcake Courier

A Jessie Steele Apron

Voting begins on Sunday, September 28th and ends on Thursday, October 1st at Noon at No One Puts Cupcake in the Corner – You can also click on the badge in the right sidebar to vote. Don’t worry, I’ll write up another entry reminding you to vote, and hopefully, it’ll be for me!

Now onto the cupcakes!

This recipe has three parts: the roasted fruit, the cake itself and the glazed icing, and is the amalgamating adaptation of one of Chockylit’s cupcakes and A Good Appetite’s icing. This makes 12 cupcakes, and is a definite must-try!

For the Balsamic Roasted Fruit:

  • 1 apple, sliced in half and cored
  • 1 mango, sliced in half, pit and peel removed
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the fruit in a container, and drizzle vinegar on top.
  3. Cover with lid, shake for 10 seconds, and let marinate for 20 minutes.
  4. Once marinated, drain fruit, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, turning fruit over once during cooking.
  5. Cool for an hour, remove the skin from the apple, and cut the fruit in chunks.
  6. Set aside.

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup roasted fruit
  • 4 large basil leaves
  1. In an electric mixer (I used a whisk), beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add egg beat until combined.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to the mixer along with the milk and beat to combine.
  5. Chop the basil leaves.
  6. Fold the roasted fruit and the basil into the batter.
  7. Scoop into cupcake papers about two-thirds full.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, and then rotate the pan.
  9. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the Glazed Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • milk
  1. Mix powdered sugar, lemon juice, basil and 1 teaspoon of milk.
  2. Add more milk as needed by 1/2 teaspoon amounts until you achieve your desired icing consistency.
  3. After icing, allow cupcakes to sit until set, about an hour.

Have Etsy, Will Travel

11 Sep

Lately, I’ve been feeling….docile.

Which for me is a little odd.

I’m normally a fairly high-spirited (though E would say high-strung) person, always ready at a moment’s notice for any adventure. Now, it seems, I’ve lost a lot of my get up and go and have lost a little bit of my lust for life.

I’m not really sure what it is; my stay at home life, the overwhelmingness of still having so much stuff to move in while the stuff that is here is kinda everywhere, the getting used to a small town life and being a wife.

Whatever it is, I’m going to have to work extra hard to get myself out of this slump.
Setting challenges for myself is one way, such as participating in Iron Cupcake, or cleaning one room and organizing 3 boxes per day. Small goals, but when I’m already stuck, I don’t want to overwhelm myself, which can make it worse.

One way that I stay focused and motivated is to set rewards for myself. This is also known as ‘falling in love with stuff you can’t afford’. Whether it’s a day at the spa, a new power tool, going out for a special meal, or that purse/shoes/painting/etc. you’re longing for, dangling the carrot might be the solution. For example, I’ve decided that by October 1st, I want the library and sunporch to be empty of everything but the necessities, which if you’ve seen either, you’d realize that I have my work cut out for me. Should I succeed, I get to buy myself this beauty:

A 16×20 canvas by Will Jump For Cupcakes on Etsy, $115 seems like a steal for this piece of awesomeness. I’ve even picked out the space for it on a wall in my kitchen. However, I feel guilty spending the money when I’m not working. So, I’ve decided that when I’ve put in the sweat equity, I can give myself a little allowance and get myself something special. In time, maybe I can buy him some friends: