Monday, May 31, 2010

Rainy Memorial Day



It's a rainy holiday here in Trenton--hope that everyone still had a fun day even if your original plans got washed out. We're headed to my grandma's in a little bit for dinner, and I wanted to make something for the holiday. I really like the mini cupcakes, but I like how bright the big ones turned out too! :) Dipping the frosted cupcakes in the corresponding color of sugar was really effective and it made them look much more festive.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Reading

It was a relaxing Sunday. No baking, but quite a bit of reading. After mass this morning, I spent the day reading and cleaning--I finished Little Bee and was in a pretty good mood afterward. Though the book can't quite be described as uplifting, it certainly had its moments, and I think I had forgotten how nice it is to read a book for fun. Little Bee wouldn't necessarily my top choice recommendation for a summer read, but it definitely gave me food for thought, and I'm glad I got the chance to read it. Next up on the "fun" book list is The Help by Kathryn Stockett, a book my grandma was overjoyed to be able to pass along to me (I'm not usually super excited to get book recommendations from people--it's just that my book list is already so long) after I asked her for it.

Before I start that, though, I'm finally getting really into Vanity Fair and having a great time with Becky Sharp and her friend Amelia as they continue along their adventures both together and separately. We'll see how much longer my sleepy eyes stay open, but I won't be closing them for lack of interest.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Doughnut" Mini Muffins



Ingredients:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup margarine, melted
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup margarine, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined. Fill prepared muffin cups with batter.
Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
While muffins are baking, place 1/4 cup of melted margarine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let cool and serve.

Today I made mini muffins that taste like (and really look a little more like) cinnamon-sugar donut holes. So far the only one who has tasted them is my dad, but he almost immediately grabbed a second one, so I assume they turned out pretty tasty. Each tiny muffin packs quite a punch, though, with the amount of butter not only in the cake itself but also smothered all over the outside.



I'm taking a day off from Vanity Fair and reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I'm not very far into it, but so far I like the style a lot. It's about a woman who calls herself Little Bee, and I am just beginning to explore the new life she enters after finally being allowed to leave the Black Hill Immigration Removal Center in Essex. I'm excited to take a couple of hours and see what happens as she finally gets to live her life independently.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Post-Mass Coffee Cake



Ingredients:
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and 1-1/4 cups of sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9-in. springform pan. Combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan. Cool completely before cutting.

When we got home from mass this morning, I decided I couldn't sit still so I started baking again, this time a chocolate chip coffee cake with a cinnamon sugar crumble. I can't say I'd want to eat this cake for breakfast simply because it's quite sweet, but it made a great midday snack and would also be a wonderful dessert.

Sleepy Saturday



Ingredients:
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions:
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture (the dough will be soft). Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.



Yesterday was a very lazy day for me. I'm working on starting the research and reading for my thesis next fall on the role of the governess in Victorian fiction, so I spent most of the day laying around reading Thakeray's Vanity Fair. Part way through the day, my little brother reminded me (ever so nicely, of course) that we'd been out of baked goods for approximately twenty-four hours since the family polished off my Cheshire Cat cupcakes. I decided that some tea cakes would be tasty with a cup of coffee, so I appeased him and made some cookies to accompany my reading. I used a recipe I found here.

Cheshire Cat Cupcakes

A friend of mine from work is getting married in Disney World (jealous!), but she's having her shower at home and looking for some cute Cheshire Cat cupcakes. Her mom asked me if I could play around with a design for some, and this is what I came up with.


They're just chocolate cupcakes with colored vanilla frosting, skittles as the eyes and nose and gumdrops as the ears. I used airheads for the mouths--which I really liked the look of--but after a few days they had melted completely off the cakes.

Strawberry Cupcakes




While I was babysitting my cousins, Mackenzie asked if we could bake the strawberry cupcakes she'd been waiting to make. It was boxed cake mix, and neither of us particularly liked the way they tasted, but I think our decorations turned out pretty cute. Getting the cupcakes to stay in the teardrop shape for the strawberries was a little tricky, but we really liked the way the sprinkles and frosting looked, and they were really easy to decorate.