Saturday, August 2, 2008

Key Lime Cupcakes

Cupcakes are (maybe "were" now) the new black. The cupcake craze has gone a little overboard this year with cupcakeries cropping up all and selling the tiny cakes at $3.50 a pop. After spending $7 on two dry cupcakes at Sugarbaby's I decided maybe I don't need to eat cupcakes (I have, however, heard great things about Crave). But, when I saw this Key Lime Cupcake recipe in bon appetit, originally from Buttersweet Bakery in Altanta, I thought it sounded fun and it would give me a reason to buy neon-green food coloring. I also had some amazing Key Lime Cheesecake Cupcakes at a shower recently and so it's been on my mind.

Turns out this recipe is a keeper. The cupcakes are incredibly dense but the lime flavoring isn't too strong and the icing is just perfect. I have always heard that the secret to good Key Lime Cheesecake is using real key limes and I would suspect that would also help out this recipe.

After I had all the batter mixed I had a flashback to the Avocado Soup I made recently. It was almost the identical color and texture. We're taking these to a BBQ today and Allen has already decided we'll tell everyone they're spinach cupcakes. We'll see how that goes over.

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon neon-green food coloring
3/4 cup buttermilk

Frosting Ingredients:
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard cupcake pan with 12 paper liners. Whisk both flours in medium bowl until smooth. Add sugar, beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then next 3 ingredients (batter may look curdled). Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions.

Spoon scant 1/3 cup batter into each liner.

2. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minute. Remove from pan; cool.

Beat all ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Spread over cupcakes.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stilton Pear Salad

I know, I know. Salad? Boooring. But wait! This one's boring but tasty!

My sister started making this recipe about 10 years ago (I'm getting freak'n old!) and at the time I didn't like blue cheese or pears (still really don't love either but have come to respect what that they can do for a salad) and so I've made many versions of this recipe substituting with goat cheese and apple or other cheeses and fruits it is really malleable to your liking (though best with the original recipe). Also, if you don't have Stilton any of the blues will do, including Roquefort or Gorgonzola.

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups red- or green- leaf lettuce (preferably young lettuce, available at specialty produce markets and some supermarkets), or a combination of both, rinsed and spun dry
1 large red Bartlett pear
1/4 pound Stilton, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup candied pecans

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified. In a bowl toss the lettuce with half the dressing and divide the salad among 4 plates. Halve and core the pear and cut it lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange one fourth of the pear slices decoratively on each plate, divide the Stilton and the pecans among the salads, and drizzle the remaining dressing on top.

Caramelized Pecans Ingredients:
1/2 tablespoon Butter
1/2 cup Pecan halves

Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat and add sugar and nuts. Stir constantly until sugar loses grainy appearance, about 5 minutes. Pour nuts onto sheet of aluminum foil and let cool about 15 minutes.

A few random notes:
1. Lately my candied pecans have turned into rock candy surrounding pecans. You really have to let the sugar melt at a pretty high heat and then stir constantly to get the pecans covered in the caramelized sugar. I can't find my original recipe for this salad but I'm not sure if that's the issue or if my caramelizing skills have gone down hill.
2. My mom has ingrained in my head to save up little glass jars for making vinaigrette and dressing. You can just pour all the ingredients in the jars and shake. Plus, if you have leftover you can put the lid on it and use it for your next salad.