Monthly Archives: August 2010

Play Dough

I need to make more bread. Not because I need to stuff my pie hole with even more carbs than I already do (definitely not because of that) but because, get this, bread is FUN!

See, growing up, I always had a lot of heart when it came to art class but never a lot of talent. I could color inside the lines with the best of them, had that down pretty good. But my drawing never progressed past the square house with the little puff of curly smoke coming out the chimney and a couple assorted stick figures. I made the most mangled and lopsided clay pots. Bless the heart of my dear mother, who displayed them quite proudly, even though they were far from impressive.

Hey, I tried hard. And it would be pretty heartless to fail a 9 year old in art class.

Bread dough is kind of like clay for the slightly domesticated. You can smush it. You can smash it. You can toss it in the air. You can mold it into pretty shapes. Even if you nearly failed art with your sad excuse for a pot like I did, you can turn a ball of yeast, flour and water into something pretty amazing.

Seriously, if I can make these lovely rosette-shaped dinner rolls, ANYONE can.

These easy dinner rolls are a snap to put together. If you’re nervous about yeast, this is a great starter recipe. The dough is easy to work with and although the shaping is a bit time consuming, I had a great time turning balls of dough into long thin ropes and twisting them into flower shapes. I may or may not have squealed with delight a few times. I do that. Squeal when I’m cooking. Don’t you?

Anyway, these rolls are kissed with a light onion and herb flavor which make for a soft, flavorful treat. The perfect accompaniment for everything from a bowl of chili to a roast chicken. Eric was ready to forget the rest of meal and just eat these bad boys for dinner last night. I don’t blame him, that would be this carb-lover’s dream come true!

HERB ONION ROSETTE DINNER ROLLS (Recipe Source: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon your favorite dried herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, Italian seasoning, etc.)
  • 1 beaten egg

DIRECTIONS:

1. Stir together 1 1/4 cups of the flour and yeast. In a medium saucepan heat and stir, milk, sugar, butter, salt, onion and herbs until just warmed (120 to 130 degrees) and the butter almost melts. Add to the flour mixture along with the egg. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down the side of the bowl and then beat on high for 3 minutes more. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (about 6 to 8 minutes – just eyeball it. It should feel smooth in your hands and no longer be sticky.) Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, turn once to coat all sides of the dough. Cover and let rise in  a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.


This is my dough-coverin’ towel. It looks like a towel that would cover dough doesn’t it?

3. Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly flour surface. Divide dough in half. Cover and let rest of 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet.

4. Divide each portion of the dough into 12 to 16 pieces depending on how many rolls you want.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 12-inch long rope.

6. Tie each rope into a loose knot, leaving two long ends.

7. Tuck the end on the top under the knot and the end on the bottom into the top center of the knot.


This is the part where I squeal. Look how cute they are!!

8. Place two to three inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size (about 30 minutes)

9. Brush rolls with a little milk, beaten egg or melted butter for a shiny crust, if desired. Bake in a 375 oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until rolls sound hollow lightly tapped. Immediately remove from pan and cool on wire racks. Makes 24 to 36 rolls.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Slow Cooked Sesame Country Style Ribs
Two Years Ago: Tomato Soup with Pasta and Basil

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Finally Friday!

We made it! TGIF! As my husband would say, doing his best George Jones impression, “It’s finally Friday, free again, got my motor runnin’ for a wild weekend…”

Don’t you just LOVE that song? Heh…

So anyway. I have one last sweet corn recipe to share with you to wrap this thing up. Thanks for hanging with me this week! It’s been real and it’s been fun. It’s even been real fun.

I’m ending the week with a classic – grilled corn 0n the cob! It’s the perfect weekend food. Whether you’re keeping it low key with just you and the fam, or inviting all your friends over, you really can’t go wrong with grilled corn.

I LOVE corn smothered in tons of butter. It’s heavenly. Although I typically try to keep the fat/calories in check by just adding a bit of Smart Balance and a sprinkling of salt, I just couldn’t resist making a butter bursting with tons of fun flavor to smear all over it at least once this summer.

A stick of butter is a blank canvas. You can mix in any spice, herb or flavor you want. This particular recipe features lime juice, tequila and chili powder. It’s got a nice kick from cayenne and the tequila and citrus flavors really pop. I’m a big fan of citrus and corn, the flavors compliment each other very well.

Now, grilling corn. Super easy. There’s a couple ways to do it. You can shuck it and just toss right on the grates. My husband thinks it gets too blackened and dry like that and doesn’t care for it that way so I don’t typically go that route.

You can also grill it in the husks. I pull the husks back and get as much silk off as I can then pull the husks back up over the ear. The corn has to be soaked for a good 20 minutes before throwing it on the grill less you want to start a massive  inferno in your grill. 😉 Doing it this way eliminates the over-browning but it’s an awful lot of work. Usually, I go for the best of both words by shucking the corn and then wrapping it in foil. Works great!! It still gets a little golden brown and kind of steams in the foil, leading to perfectly tender and delicious corn. Slather with your favorite toppings and enjoy the weekend! 🙂

GRILLED CORN WITH TEQUILA LIME BUTTER (Recipe inspired by: my local paper)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Fresh corn on the cob, grilled to your preference
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons tequila
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat butter, lime zest, chili powder and cayenne together in a bowl with an electric mixer. Add lime juice and tequila and beat until combined. The mixture will be soft but there should be no liquid showing. Beat in salt. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
  2. Spoon butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap in the shape of a log and roll it into a cylinder. Twist ends of the plastic wrap in opposite directions to firm the cylinder and roll it gently on the counter to eliminate air pockets in the center. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: the longer it sits, the better it tastes. I’d make the day before, if possible.) Melt over hot corn and serve.

ENJOY! 🙂

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A Woman Scone-d

We’re cruising through this sweet corn celebration! The good news is, it’s ALMOST Friday. There is light at the end of the work week!

I typically don’t get real ambitious with breakfast. In fact, we’ve been married over 4 years and I don’t think I’ve ever made a big breakfast for us. No waffles, no pancakes, no bacon and eggs. I am such a bad wife! I just don’t have it together in the morning. Even on the weekend! My husband calls my morning alter-ego “Angry Erin.” He will go to extreme measures to avoid her. Smart man.

The scone is perfect answer to the homemade breakfast for the morning challenged. Make at a time when you are more coherent, toss in the freezer and then bake as you want them. Perfect! I actually hadn’t made scones until this past weekend, but after making a Sweet Corn and Rosemary variety, I can’t wait to experiment with other flavors. The subtle sweetness and rich butter flavor make them the perfect breakfast treat.

This particular recipe has a sweet flavor from the corn, a slight crunch from the cornmeal and a great floral flavor from the rosemary. I topped mine off with a glaze of apricot preserves and honey and it was the perfect sweet compliment. Another unexpected and fun way to use up those plentiful ears of corn!

SWEET CORN AND ROSEMARY SCONES (Recipe adapted from: GroupRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut in 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from about two ears)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups half and half
  • Egg wash
  • Apricot-Honey Glaze (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Mix with fork.
  3. Add butter and blend with fingertips or pastry blender until butter is evenly mixed in chunks.
  4. Blend in lemon zest and rosemary and corn kernels.
  5. Beat egg in small bowl with half and half. Pour into flour mixture and stir with wooden spoon.
  6. Turn out onto floured board and lightly knead.
  7. Lightly roll our dough to form 12-inch circle. Using a biscuit cutter or plain 3-inch cookie cutters, cut out dough or cut into triangles (I cut mine into 8 triangles).
  8. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash.
  9. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool slightly.
  10. Make the glaze: In a small bowl microwave two parts apricot preserves and one part honey until warmed through and loose, about 15 seconds. Drizzle over scones. Serve warm. Makes 12.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Grain Gripe

Day 3 already! Is this week flying by or what?? I guess that’s a good thing, but I’m going to be sad when my celebration of sweet corn is over. Luckily, we still have a couple more weeks to enjoy it before it disappears.

A recent conversation about vegetables left my husband more than a little disappointed. I kind of  shattered his dreams and his good intentions. I didn’t mean to, but it was time he knew the truth. The eating of vegetables is STILL a bit of a struggle in this house. We take two steps forward (he gobbles up the veggies “hidden” in my homemade chili) and then two steps back (not even two hours ago he picked every piece of zucchini and yellow squash out my delightful brown rice side dish) Overall, he has made strides and I’m very proud of him but we still have a little work to do. I am confident we will get there!

Recently, while munching on some delectable corn on the cob with dinner, Eric declared proudly: “I eat some vegetables. See! I love corn!” Nom, nom, nom.

I chuckled and shook my head as I informed him, ever so gently, that corn doesn’t count. He was pretty shocked. I think our conversation went something like this:

Mr. Frowny Face: HUH?! What do you mean corn doesn’t count?
Slasher of Good Intentions: Corn is not a vegetable.
MFF: Then what is it?
SoGI: It’s a starch, babe. A grain. Like wheat and rice.
MFF, with a look of dead seriousness on his face: I can’t believe you’re taking corn away from me.
SoGI: Sorry. Here, have some more carrots. 😉

On the plus side, it is in fact a whole grain so replacing a pasta side dish made with white flour with corn on the cob is definitely a step in the right direction, but let’s not go around stretching the truth and call corn a vegetable. A spade is a spade as they say, right?

Sorry Hubs.

Anyway, when I make corn as a side dish I typically don’t serve with it another starchy dish like rice or potatoes. That’s just…too much starch… Except when I’m feeling a little indulgent. Then maybe I pair it with pasta. And bacon. And a creamy sauce.

This Summer Corn Fettuccine is a little decadent, but it’s sweet, creamy, delicious and totally worth it. The sauce is rich and sweet and pairs well with the salty bacon and the little kick from the hot sauce. It is a bit of a once-in-a-while type meal but it feels good to indulge every now and then, especially in the summer. The fresh flavor of the corn really shines through here and the leftovers were wonderful. It’s the perfect summer pasta dish! My only note would be to reserve a bit of the pasta’s cooking water to thin out the sauce a bit so it coats the noodles better. Other than that, it’s great as written! The full recipe appears below. I cut it in half and got 4 pretty generous servings, so feel free to adjust to fit your needs!

SUMMER CORN FETTUCCINE (Recipe Source: Rachael Ray via FoodNetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Salt
  • 1 pound fettuccine (I actually used linguine, and I prefer whole wheat)
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 6 ears corn on the cob, shucked
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup half-and-half or cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • A few dashes hot sauce or 1 or 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup torn sweet basil leaves or 1/4 cup chopped tarragon leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium heat. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until rendered and crisp, pour off all but about a tablespoon of the fat and return bacon to skillet. Put a small bowl inverted into a large bowl, steady the corn cobs on the smaller bowl and scrape the ears. Add 3/4 of the scraped corn and any corn liquid to the pan with the bacon. Add the shallots and red pepper and liberally season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining corn and half-and-half to a food processor and puree until smooth.
  4. Pour the stock or wine into the corn and vegetables, and simmer over low heat for a minute to reduce. Stir in the thyme and corn-cream mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, to thicken. Add the hot sauce or cayenne and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Drain the pasta and add it to a large serving bowl. Pour in the sauce, add a couple of handfuls of cheese, about 1/2 cup and toss. Add reserved pasta liquid as needed. Top with torn basil or chopped tarragon and pass the remaining cheese at the table. Serves 6.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Crack Corn

Welcome to Day 2 of my Corn Fed series!

One of my favorite guilty pleasure snack foods is caramel corn. I love it. LOVE. It’s serious.

The problem is our relationship is…complicated. When caramel corn is around, I cannot resist it. Even if it’s so-so, boxed, stale caramel corn, I will STILL stuff it in my face until my stomach hurts. There’s just something about the combination of light, crunchy popcorn and sweet, buttery caramel I can’t resit. The way it sticks to your teeth, the way it makes your fingers sugary and lickable. I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

And when it’s fresh, sweet, GOOD caramel corn (preferably mixed with fresh cheese popcorn a’la Garrett’s in Chicago), forget it. Hold my calls, do not disturb, I am busy. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can tear me away from my forbidden love. I cannot be held responsible for any bitten fingers should you try to stick your hand in my bowl. You’ve been warned. 😉

For all of the above reasons and more, I keep my distance from caramel corn. Most of the time. Usually. Except for a few times a year when the stars align perfectly and I happen to find myself in the great city of Chicago following the scent of freshly popped popcorn across many city blocks to the nearest Garrett’s. Then I just gotta get my hands on some. It’s fate.

Now, I’m featuring SWEET corn recipes this week not POPcorn recipes. That’s another week for another time. What if I told you you could have sweet delicious caramel corn flavor all mixed up into creamy, dreamy ICE CREAM! And what if I said it actually starts with fresh corn on the cob? You’d say I was crazy, right? Caramel corn ice cream? Really, REALLY?!

Yes. Really. And it’s really easy. And really good. And it really does taste like caramel corn! This ice cream is so unexpected I just had to try it. The corn flavor is there for sure, but it’s subtly sweet. The caramel really makes the flavor POP (I’m just full of CORNY jokes, aren’t I? 😉 )

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to swap out the 2% milk for whole. It is ice cream after all – might as well go all out with it. Otherwise I kept everything the same. Then I stuffed my face with it like I do actual caramel corn. Then life was good and my tummy was happy. 😉 I kind of loved this stuff. And I kind of wish I had some in front of me right now. It’s actually quite wonderful and I hope you’ll consider giving it a try. Enjoy it!

CARAMEL CORN ICE CREAM (Recipe adapted from: Cooking Light via MyRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 1  cup  half-and-half
  • 2  cups  whole milk
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 3  large egg yolks
  • 3  tablespoons  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 12  small soft caramel candies

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine corn and half-and-half in a food processor; process until smooth (about 1 minute). Pour pureed corn mixture into a sieve over a large bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Add 2 cups milk, sugar, salt, and egg yolks; stir with a whisk. Pour mixture into a large saucepan; cook over medium heat until thick (do not boil), stirring constantly (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 30 minutes or until mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill the ice cream until very cold or overnight.
  2. Combine 3 tablespoons milk and caramels in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes or until caramels melt, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Pour corn mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in caramel mixture. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 2 hours.

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Is this heaven?

So. Let’s be honest. What do you know about Iowa?

Not a whole lot, right?

You’ve probably heard about that crazy presidential caucus thing that goes on here once every four years that makes the media nearly wet their pants with excitement.

Yes, there’s that.

You are probably picturing miles and miles of cornfields, stalks reaching high toward a crystal blue sky dotted with puffy clouds and shivering in the summer breeze. Weather-worn barns with quaint, red-shuddered farm houses watching over fields of happily grazing cattle. Gravel roads. Pick up trucks. Country music on the radio. Oh, and stars! Millions of them overhead, brighter than you’ve ever seen.

Yes, there’s all of that too. But, wow, there is so much more!

Maybe you’ve never been to Iowa. Maybe you have no reason to come to Iowa and never will. That’s okay. We understand….

But we, all three million or so current residents of the great state of Iowa, want you to know that if you do find yourself around these parts, you will be welcomed with open arms and warm hearts. Because in Iowa, in this the very heart of America’s Heartland, people still smile when they pass on the street. They still reach out a helping hand to a neighbor in need. In Iowa, small town main streets thrive, pulsing with life, laughter and a sense of community and pride. Everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, and everyone can feel at home.

I am not a native of Iowa, but it has been my home for more than five years now. I still long for sunshine and beaches when the wind blows, and the snow falls, keeping the temperature outside well below the freezing mark. I grumble and scowl when my favorite bands don’t stop within 200 miles of me on their concert tours. I still miss my Nordy’s and H&M when I step into my much smaller shopping mall.

Despite all that, Iowa is a great place to live. I can see why people who grew up here and leave and want to come back. It’s homey and comforting. Iowa is like a family that wraps their arms around and you and won’t let go. As the famous line from Field of Dreams goes:

“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.”

I am especially grateful to call Iowa home this time of year. Right in my very own backyard, I have access to some of the most delectable and delicious sweet corn you have ever tasted in your life.

I wait for it oh-so patiently every year. As we start creeping up on the end of July, I know it’s coming. Sweet corn season. Farm stands with hand painted signs pop up in parking lots and along rural roadsides. Farmer’s market vendors pile entire truck beds with hundreds and hundreds of ears, packaged by the dozen and ready to go. There really is nothing like it in the world. Sweet corn IS summer in Iowa. Golden like the sunshine, and sweet like the breeze. It is literally bursting with juice. It may even shoot across the table and hits someone else in the eye when you take a bite. It’s okay, though. There’s never any hard feelings when that happens. 🙂

As a special treat, I’ve decided to take some time and share with you a recipe featuring sweet corn every day this week.

It’s just a way for me to showcase my absolute favorite thing about summer: CORN! There will be a few surprises, maybe a few things you haven’t thought of before, but there is sure to be something to help you use up all the EARS of corn that are coming out your EARS. Heh. That’s a pun. 😉

First up, a truly fresh and delicious summer side dish. This Roasted Corn Salad from the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook is colorful and vibrant, bursting with everything that’s great about summer. Fresh sweet corn off the cob, yellow squash, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, basil. The homemade balsamic vinaigrette really takes it over the top. I literally could not stop eating this. I topped grilled chicken with it for dinner and then ate the rest cold for lunch all week. It’s great warm, at room temp or cold and would be a great make-ahead option for a summer get together or potluck.

A few changes from the original recipe – first, I cut it in half. If you’ve made a PW recipe before, you know they feed a crowd. I also cut the amount of garlic, but that’s just a personal preference. I find raw garlic can be really overpowering and I really wanted to taste the veggies here. Feel free to add more if you like. The original recipe also called for drizzling the veggies with olive oil before placing on the grill. I figured there was enough oil in the dressing, so I skipped that step so I could maintain some good crunch on the vegetables after grilling. Worked out well. My changes are noted below. 🙂

Stop back tomorrow for another great sweet corn recipe!

ROASTED CORN SALAD (Recipe adapted from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut in half and seeds/rib removed
  • 3/4 quarters of a cup fresh diced tomatoes (use whatever kind you like. I used grape tomatoes, cut in half)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 very small, or half a large garlic clove, pressed or finely minced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat.
  2. Place corn directly on the grill and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the kernels begin to brown. Add remaining vegetables (except tomatoes) and grill until softened but not overcooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Roughly chop the veggies and scrape the corn off the cobs with a sharp knife (you’ll make a mess doing this, just be ready). and place in serving bowl. Add the diced tomatoes and toss.
  4. Make the dressing: Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl until combined. Add the the basil, salt and garlic and whisk again. Pour the dressing over the veggie mixture and toss until coated. Serve at room temp or chilled. Makes about 3 cups.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Beautiful Disaster

HEY! Look what I have for you!

Cake, filling and frosting, piled into a fluted glass and garnished with fresh fruit. They are begging to be demolished by your spoon. Strawberry-lemony goodness in every bite. YUM!

I could say that when I got out my little muffin tin and flour and sugar and things that fateful Sunday morning a few weeks back that I intended THIS to be my desired outcome. You would never know, would you? Nope.

Well, that’s not how I roll.

Truth? This is actually what happens when cupcakes fail. I know. Shocking, right? These cute little individual desserts are looking mighty proud of themselves for being composed of a huge, embarrassing failure. 😉

The original goal? Lemon buttermilk cupcakes, filled with homemade lemon curd and topped with creamy strawberry frosting. Luckily, MOST of the pan turned out swimmingly. Only like four failed. One of which I just devoured all alone in the kitchen while standing over the sink with out even the faintest hint of shame. (Great cake, by the way). The other three I made trifles out of with the leftover frosting and filling. So really…win/win (win!)

So what went wrong? I overfilled my tins. Again. I always do this! Argh! So frustrating. I physically cannot stop myself for adding just a tiny bit more batter to each cup. This particular cupcake spread as opposed to puffed, so the cakes with too much batter stuck to the pan wouldn’t come out without breaking apart. Hence the huge embarrassing failure. Although…correct me if I’m wrong but when a recipe says it yields 24, I should be able to cut it in half and get 12, right?

I’m thinking yes.

ANYWAY! Enough about failure. Let’s talk about the SUCCESSFUL cupcakes.

Ooooo. Ahhhhh.

Mainly, I want to talk about the successful frosting. Oh. Em. Gee. The frosting. I’m still reeling from this creamy, dreamy strawberry frosting. This recipe from Martha Stewart is a unique Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream made from combining egg whites and granulated sugar in a double boiler and cooking until the sugar dissolves. Then it’s beaten with a whisk attachment until stiff peeks form. Add butter and the strawberry puree and you’ve got something that’s really pretty amazing.

THIS is how frosting is SUPPOSED to be! Be gone, oh ye gritty, sickeningly sweet, leave the corner pieces cake frosting you are used to. This frosting…well, you may or may not want to sneak off for a private moment somewhere and lick your beater and bowl. It’s okay if you do. I won’t tell. 😉 It’s so smooth and decadent, it’s like biting into a sweet, pink cloud.

STRAWBERRY LEMON CUPCAKES (Cake, filling and frosting all from Martha Stewart Cupcakes)

This is just a slightly modified version of Martha’s lemon meringue cupcakes. Instead of topping the cupcakes with the lemon curd, I cut out a small, coned-shaped portion in the middle of each cake, and spooned about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling inside. I replaced the slightly torched 7-minute frosting with the swirly strawberry frosting instead. A delicious and addicting flavor combination with a wonderful presentation. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Makes 24 cupcakes

First, make the filling:

LEMON CURD

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Next, make the cake:

LEMON BUTTERMILK CUPCAKES

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (be careful here, start with 2/3rds full and see what you think…) Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Make the frosting and assemble:

STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (8 ounces), rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
  1. Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth.*
  4. Using a small paring knife, cut a small cone shaped portion out of the middle of each cupcake. Reserve the cones. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon filling into each cake. Top with reserved cone and press it down slightly into place.
  5. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of each filled cupcake. Garnish with a strawberry and a lemon wedge. Serve immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator but bring to room temp before serving again.

*The frosting can be made ahead of time. Just transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.  ***EDITED***: Beth over at Easy as Pie tried to make this frosting ahead of time and didn’t care for the result. Check out her post to see her experience. Make the frosting ahead at your own risk, I suppose! 🙂

ENJOY! 🙂

Two Years Ago: Banana Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Frosting – another Martha Stewart winner!

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