Key Lime Cupcakes

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Citrus isn’t very seasonal right now, but some times you just have to mix things up! One of my good friends got married about a month and a half, and I was fortunate enough to be a bridesmaid. I was also asked to make cupcakes for the rehearsal dinner, which would be about 40 people. When deciding on cupcake flavors, I had to take into consideration the fact that the she doesn’t  like chocolate! Yes, it may be due to her slight allergy, but still! :)Thus the joys of Pinterest! I was able to have her look at my cupcake board and see if anything jumped out at her. She picked out the key lime cupcakes I had pinned, but I wasn’t a big fan of the actual recipe so I took the concept and ran with it! Vanilla cupcakes infused with key lime zest, a tart kick of key lime curd, all topped off with a sweet vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Everyone loved them! I even tried to make them look fancier and wedding appropriate by attempting to pipe a rose on top. :) With the encroaching cooler weather, if you ever need a bright, delicious kick to remind you of summer, give these a try! Or they’d make a great weekend treat ;)One Year Ago: Italian Meatloaf

Key Lime Cupcakes
Note: Regular limes fan be used if key limes are unavailable.

Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons key lime zest, about 10 key limes
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Key Lime Curd:
⅓ cup freshly-squeezed key lime juice
⅓ cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
26 tablespoons (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the curd: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the key lime juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt. Place the daucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add the butter cubes and whisk until butter is melted and incorporated. Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Curd can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and key lime zest, using your fingers to really work the zest into the sugar. Add the butter and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; beat each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 20 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream: Set a heatproof mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F, or all sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot to the touch.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on low speed for 2 minutes, gradually increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form and mixing bowl is cool to the touch. With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add a couple tablespoons of butter at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating on medium-high speed until thick and smooth. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the vanilla; beat on low speed for 2 minutes to incorporate the vanilla and eliminate air bubbles. Spoon frosting into pastry bag fitted with large decorating tip.

To assemble cupcakes: Using an apple corer or a paring knife, cut out a well in the center of each cupcake; discard the cores. Fill each well with about 1 tablespoon of key lime curd; frost with vanilla buttercream. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator and bring to room temp before serving.

Source: Cupcakes adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, curd adapted from David Lebovitz, buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

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It’s finally starting to feel like fall here! I haven’t turned the air conditioner on for a few days and there’s a crispness in the air, especially at night. It’s so nice!! And with it finally feeling like fall, the craving of pumpkin and apples are really starting to push their way to the front of my mind. I don’t know if I saw these cookies the first time around, but thanks to round ups I was able to discover them (or potentially rediscover…).This was my first time making anything with browned butter because, like always, I’m slow to catch onto food trends. :P And oh my have I been missing out. The icing makes these cookies. They are of course good alone because they’re pumpkin, but the icing puts them over the top. I’m a now brown butter convert thanks to these cookies. I just make a delicious banana bread with a brown butter glaze. Again the banana bread is awesome alone due to the caramelized bananas, but the glaze sets it over the top. But I digress, if you’re a pumpkin fan try these! If you’re a browned butter fan, try these! And if you’ve never tried browned butter, try these ! Get my point? ;)One Year Ago: Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread with Spiced Glaze and Portobello Pesto Pizza

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Cookies:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups canned pumpkin puree
¾ cup half-and-half or whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing:
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon half-and-half or whole milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs until combined. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, half-and-half and vanilla and beat until very well blended, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined.

Drop by level tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 1 to 1½ inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies spring back when lightly pressed. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes than remove them to the rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter.

To make the icing: Add the confectioners’ sugar to a large heatproof bowl; set aside.

Put the butter in a small saucepan, set over medium heat. Gradually melt the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, cooking it until the butter becomes golden brown. Remove it from the heat and pour it over the confectioners’ sugar, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the half-and-half and vanilla and stir until the icing is smooth.

Spread a rounded teaspoon of icing on each cookie. Add more half-and-half as needed to lighten up the frosting if it begins to stiffen. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Source: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Mile-High Buttermilk Biscuits

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I love biscuits and scones. There’s something about butter and flour being mixed into a fluffy, tender baked good that is just divine. Now I’ve made other biscuits before (including pumpkin of course!), and those were awesome, too, but I just can’t help but try new recipes. These are relatively simple as far as biscuits go, though being a Cook’s Illustrated recipe they do have some additional steps. They’re essentially drop biscuits, and they kind of bake up like pull-apart rolls.The results are nothing short of biscuit perfection. They’re light and delicious and were the perfect choice to bake up while my weeknight bolognese cooked on the stove. If you’re like me, constantly looking for new biscuit (or any bread) recipes, give this a try. You won’t be disappointed!One Year Ago: Pizza Dough and Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Mile-High Buttermilk Biscuits
Yield: 12 biscuits

Dough
2 cups (10-ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1½ cups low-fat buttermilk

For Shaping and Finishing
1 cup (5-ounces) all-purpose flour, distributed on a rimmed baking sheet
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan and the inside and outside of a ¼ cup measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the dough: In a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda; pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter, dispersing evenly over the dry ingredients, then pulse 8 to 10 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Pour the flour-butter mixture into a large bowl; add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula just until everything is incorporated. The dough will be wet, sticky, and somewhat lumpy.

To form the biscuits: Use the prepared ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop level ¼ cup mounds of dough, then drop them into the flour on the baking sheet. Continue until all the dough has been scooped (there should be 12 mounds). Use some of the flour from the baking sheet to dust the top of each mound. Flour your hands, then, one at a time, pick up each piece of dough and gently shape it into a rough ball, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Shake off the excess flour and place in the prepared cake pan. Repeat with the remaining mounds of dough, fitting 9 biscuits around the outer edge of the pan and 3 in the middle.

Gently brush the top of each biscuit with the melted butter. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and continue baking for another 13 to 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the biscuits cool for 2 minutes, then invert them onto a clean kitchen towel. Flip the biscuits over and break them apart. Allow to cool 5 minutes longer before serving. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container and reheat at 475 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Pumpkin Roundup!

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I’m a little late to the party but Fall is officially here… well, it was officially here over a week ago but we’ll just ignore that fact! Even though it’s Fall, we’re going through some crazy heat wave in Northern California. At least it’s cooling down enough at night to open windows and let in some cold, crisp air. But so many blogs are posting pumpkin recipes, and they all look so good, and I just can’t help but crave all things pumpkin and apple!

I bake with pumpkin all the way into spring, so it’s almost a year-round thing for me, but once summer rolls around I tend to lean towards fruits and bright flavors. Thankfully, we’re now into Fall and I can officially get away with using pumpkin again and not being deemed a weirdo! Well… still a weirdo, I guess, just for one less reason now! :) Anyways, please check out the pumpkin goodness from this last year! These are some of my favorites that I’ve made multiple times already, or hope to make again soon. Enjoy!!

Pumpkin for Breakfast (or dessert…)!
1. Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread with Spiced Glaze
2. Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake
3. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
4. Pumpkin Waffles
5. Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Pumpkin for the rest of the time!
1. Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes
2. Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats
3. Pumpkin-Apple Soup
4. Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
5. Pumpkin Biscuits
6. Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Espresso Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Whenever I’m in the mood for sweets, and I want them quickly, cookies are my go-to dessert of choice. They whip up quickly, bake in a relatively short amount of time, and can be eaten warm so they don’t need to cool as long! These cookies in particular are fast since it uses melted butter and can be mixed by hand. I based this recipe off my Oatmeal Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, which is heavily adapted from Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. All these are great to make with kids, by the way. I made the original chocolate chip cookies with my 4 year old nephew. He got to help mix, and even help scoop the cookie dough (and maybe sample some dough too…)! He had so much fun that he wanted to make cookies again the next time he came over. :) But these oatmeal cookies are sort of an adult twist on a classic. The coffee flavor is mild but definitely present, and pairing it with chocolate and oatmeal makes it the perfect breakfast cookie, afternoon pick-me up treat, or even dessert. I might have been sneaking a cookie for breakfast every now and then myself… Give these cookies a try the next time you have a sweet craving!One Year Ago: Kimchi Fried Rice

Espresso Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons espresso powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugars by hand or with a mixer until thoroughly combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly until just combined. Gently stir in the oats, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop ¼ cup scoops of dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are starting to harden and brown, but the center is still soft without being overcooked. Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes then move cookies to wire racks to finish cooling.

Source: Inspired by Brown Eyed Baker