Search My Blog

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mini Carrot & Ginger Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

I don't really think that I have a sweet tooth. Yes, I do occasionally crave a piece of dark chocolate or a homemade sweet, but in most cases, I would choose savory over sweet anyday.

The exception to this seems to be carrot cake. For a cake filled with vegetables, carrot cake is pretty delicious and sweet. In fact, I love it so much that I wanted my wedding cake to be carrot cake (over-ruled by Chocolate-Raspberry....).

Carrot cake is deliciously moist, and of course, topping it with sweet, velvety cream cheese icing doesn't hurt!

Mini Carrot & Ginger Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Makes 60 Mini Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes
2 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup White Sugar
3 Large Eggs
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, grated
2 cups Grated Carrots
1 cup Canned Crushed Pineapple, drained
2/3 cup Chopped Walnuts

For the Icing
1 cup Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 3/4 cup Icing Sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin tins.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the white and brown sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla and ginger. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups until 2/3 full. Bake for 11-13 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the icing, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a bowl until completely smooth. Add the icing sugar, half a cup at a time until the icing is smooth. At this point, you can spread onto the cooled cupcakes or you can place in the fridge and cool for 1-2 hours and pipe the icing onto the cupcakes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

I think Thumbprint cookies are my favorite kind of cookie. I love the way they look and the richness with the sticky sweetness of the filling.  

Every year, my mom makes them at Christmas time, rolled with sesame seeds and filled with red jam (for my mom's thumbprint cookie recipe, click here).

And I often take this recipe, and switch thing up, by rolling the cookies in nuts or sugar, or filling them with nutella or cream cheese.  Today, I am twisting this idea even further by playing with the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly.

I mean, who doesn't like peanut butter and jelly? And in a cookie, it's got to be a winner!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from
Makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup White Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tbsp Milk
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
Sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, peanut butter, brown and white sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir to incorporate.

Roll the dough into 2 cm balls. Roll in white sugar and place on lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes, pull out of oven, and using your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon, press to form holes in the centre of the cookies. Fill with jam and bake again for about 5 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Split Pea Soup with Crispy Ham

Soup is a funny thing. It calms you when you are anxious, it soothes you when you are upset, and it makes you feel better when you are sick.

Yet so many of us do not really think of soup as a year round, go to meal. Yes, we eat it as a starter sometimes in a restaurant, or make it conveniently out of a can, but we don't make as much soup from scratch as we should.  And let me tell you, soup in it's purest form, with just a few basic ingredients, is the best remedy, healthiest meal and most heartwarming liquid in a bowl that there is.

So, when you are feeling up for it, make a huge pot. Portion it. Freeze it. Keep it around for rainy days or surprise visits by friends. It will be the best thing you ever did. You will see.

Split Pea Soup with Crispy Ham
Makes about 8 cups

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 Large Onion, peeled and chopped
3 Celery Stalks, chopped
2 Large Carrots, chopped
5 Cloves Garlic, peeled
2 cups Green Split Peas
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Cooked Ham Slices or prosciutto, cut into strips

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic, and cook until they just start to soften (about 10-12 minutes). 

Stir in the split peas, bay leaves and dried thyme. Then fill the pot with water to cover the veggies and peas by a couple of inches. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes until peas and all veggies are completely soft. Remove bay leaves and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a small frying pan, add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the ham strips and cook until crispy. Use as garnish on top of the soup.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

S'mores Cupcakes

Camping is one of my favorite pastimes. Pitching the tent. Hiking. Building fires. And of course, campfire cooking.

In 2009, when we went camping in Eastern Canada, I shared some of my campfire cooking with you: Campfire Toasted Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Fire Roasted Chicken Thighs, Cheddar Baked Potatoes, and of course, Warm Baked Apples filled with Nutella.

I think that was the last time we went camping (living in the Middle East, camping is not a very popular pastime) and since moving back to British Columbia, I have been dying to go!

So, while I was drifting off, thinking about ideas for cupcakes for my best friend, it's no surprise that camping came back into my mind. And then I thought of S'mores. The sweet, sticky, oozy marshmallow with the rich chocolate and the crunch of the graham cracker. So I decided to recreate S'mores in a whimsical cupcake.

This cupcake has a graham cracker crust, layer of chocolate, dense chocolately cupcake, graham sprinkles, broiled marshmallows, a chocolate drizzle, and topped with a graham cracker garnish.

Yes, it is a lot of steps and yes, it does take some time, but it is so so worth it! They looked fantastic and the taste was to die for. How could you possibly resist?

S'mores Cupcakes
Makes about 5 dozen medium sized cupcakes

For the Crust
1 1/2 cups Graham Crumbs
1/2 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Butter, Melted
3/4 cup Semi-Sweet Mini Choc Chips or Finely Chopped Chocolate

For the Cupcakes
(I used the One Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe for these!)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large YOLK
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water

For the Toppings
Marshmallows (I used mini but you could also use big ones)
1 1/2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
Dark Chocolate Chips
15 Graham Crackers, broken into large pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line your muffin pans with paper liners or spray your cake pans with cooking spray.

Combine the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press about 1 tsp into each cupcake mould. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and yolk, milk, oil, vanilla and water, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and combined (about 3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add chocolate cupcake batter on top of the graham crusts until the cups are about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with a little of the graham crust. Bake for about 20-25 minutes (for medium sized cupcakes).

Let cool on a wire rack. Turn the oven to broil. Once cool, top with marshmallows and broil for about 30 seconds until the marshmallows are browned. Make sure you watch the marshmallows as they brown quickly and burn easily.

Once browned, remove from oven and using your fingers or a spoon, just press down the marshmallows.

In a microwave proof bowl, heat chocolate chips for 20 seconds at a time, then stir, then heat again, until completely melted. Place the chocolate into a ziplock bag and cut a small corner off the bag. Drizzle the chocolate over the top of the cupcakes. Garnish with a piece of graham cracker.