Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the Dawg days!

Happy Birthday, E-dawg!!
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It's her special day! If you find yourself in close proximity to an E-dawg today, wish her well.

For my part in her celebration, I whipped her up a batch of cupcakes last night. (She's off work today, and not looking at the internets, so's I can tell you guys about these 'cakes).

When she visited San Francisco this summer she fell in love with some ice cream she had at Bi-Rite. The flavor was salted caramel. And, it sounds divine, doesn't it? I love a salty-sweet intersection (to use a Hurd-term). When I was deciding on a cake/cupcake flavor she said "SALTED CARAMEL? HEY, MAYBE SALTED CARAMEL?"

She doesn't typically enjoy chocolate cake, but I went out on a limb because I know she likes coffee-flavored desserts and went with a dark chocolate-espresso cupcake (the chocolate is subtle; it's the espresso that stands out) with salted caramel frosting. And, I kept a little of the salted caramel to the side to drizzle over the top, then gave a couple quick grinds of some Himilayan pink sea salt.

Of course I had to try one (or, uh, two), and they are really yum!

I adapted the cupcake recipe from this blog. My notes are in brackets:

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes
6 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup espresso, cooled [ek: I used instant espresso powder, constituted it in boiling water, then cooled it]
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 9 baking cups on a baking sheet (or 12 muffin liners in a muffin pan).
In a large bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugars, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together espresso, buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour the espresso mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Evenly distribute batter into prepared cups.
Bake at 350F for 15-19 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
After 5 minutes of cooling on or in the pan, remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 9 egg-shaped cakes or 12 regular cupcakes.

For the frosting, I adapted from a recipe I found here.

Salted Caramel

4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup [ek: I used brown rice syrup here because it's organic and less highly processed. However, I didn't get the same consistency that this recipe mentions--i.e. couldn't get the caramel to harden enough to make candies even after all night in the freezer--and, I think it may be the syrup. But, that said, it's still amazingly delicious, and the drizzle looks lovely]
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea [ek: I didn't think the salt was prominent enough, so I added more. Probably around another 1/4+ teaspoon]

1. Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat.
2. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is incorporated.
3. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
5. Do not stir from this point on, but it is important to carefully shake the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn.
6. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
7. *** This is the dangerous part *** Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Wear oven mitts, stand away from the pan, and be careful. The mixture will bubble up significantly.
8. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
9. Measure 1 cup into a Pyrex measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Note: There was a small bit of extra caramel that I poured onto a small plate that I covered in aluminum foil and greased with vegetable oil. I transferred the plate to the freezer for about 30 minutes. I chopped the caramel quickly into squares (its starts to get soft) and topped each cupcake with a square. [ek: see my note above, re: the syrup and hardening]

Salted Caramel Frosting

2 sticks butter
8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar [ek: i only used 3 cups of powdered sugar, and it was plenty]
1 cup salted caramel

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
3. Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
4. Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
5. Sift 2-3 cups of powder sugar, in 1 cup increments and beating between each, until you arrive at the thickness and sweetness you desire. I used 6 cups. The frosting wasn’t super thick, but it was starting to get pretty sweet. [ek: again, I just used three cups of powdered sugar]

1. Frost cooled cupcakes with a generous amount of frosting.
2. Sprinkle each cupcake with sea or kosher salt. I ground some rock sea salt onto each. [ek: i used a Himilayan pink sea salt]
3. Top with a caramel candy, homemade or otherwise. [ek: and, here's where I used the extra salted caramel that did not set into candy for drizzlin']

Dang. These are good. And, look how cute!
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I'm gonna go hang and devour cupcakes and drink some Beaujolais nouveau with E-dawg this evening. Good times! It is her special day and

In other news Kramer is treating me like a queen! She just offered to ride her bike over to Spice Island, and then drop off a batch of Java Fried Rice for me! Kramer is the wind beneath my wings! Oh, hells yeah!

Kramer delivery:
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Java Fried Rice joy:
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I've been doing some good eatin' in the past few days! Last night I again had my soup (I've been calling it "peasant soup" in my head; not really for any particular reason except I love the way it sounds, and I think that peasants would enjoy it. I'm a peasant, and I enjoy it!). I stopped on the way home for some creamy brie and a whole wheat baguette. I had those with a glass of the aforementioned Beaujolais nouveau, and some squares from a Barcelona bar to follow it up with. Perfect. This would have been a good meal to eat while listening to Edith Piaf. (I just netflixed La Vie En Rose, so I'm kinda obsessed with her right now).

My lovely peasant dinner:
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And, for no good reason except that I Love Lolcats:
funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Have a fabulous holiday weekend, peeps! I am thankful for each and every one of yinz!


pleasantlyfurious said...

Those cupcakes look in-freakin-credible.

Confession: when i first started reading your blog, I didn't realize that when you'd mark recipe notes with "ek" it stood for your initials and your personal additions or changes - I thought it was "ek", like, "ew" or "uck" and you were marking ingredients you didn't like.

ellen said...


hands down! Thanks for making my birthday so delicious