March 19, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

The Red Velvet Cupcake seems to be one of the most frequently requested type of cupcake we get from friends and family, no matter what time of year. We think the classic combination of the tender and slightly sour cake with the sweet flavor and smooth texture of the cream cheese icing is irresistible for most.

After trying several Red Velvet Cupcake recipes, the one that we like the best, is from the blog: This is a lovely blog that we both really enjoy. Perhaps you might want to check it out as well! We love how specific she is with her directions.

This cake turns out tender and moist every time we make it. It really is important to be sure the ingredients are at room temperature as noted.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (a.k.a. Waldorf Astoria Cake)

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter (they should be 2/3 – 3/4 full). Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t overbake!

5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese icing (recipe below).
Recipe Notes: *Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions. As you’re mixing the cake batter, use a spatula to scrape down the bowl frequently throughout the entire process.

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).

Recipe Notes: If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese!

March 1, 2010

Pistachio Tea Cakes

Pistachio, what a wonder nut it is!  Over the last few years, this nut has slowly been making its way into my life.  Now that I discovered what a treat it is, I can’t stop searching for new ways to eat it. 

CJ and I like the idea of mini-size or bite-size desserts.  We feel that they are normal size portions that give a person a sense of satisfying a sweet craving without overdoing it.  That led us to purchasing “bite-sized desserts” by Carole Bloom.  So, imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this recipe for Mini-Pistachio Tea Cakes.  I could not pass it up and neither can you. 

Pistachio paste can be homemade, but it is much easier to purchase a can.  Whole Foods carries Love’n Bake Pistachio Nut Paste.  The nuts are toasted prior to the grinding process, which intensifies the flavor.  Be warned that when you open the can, there is a natural layer of oil on top that must be mixed in prior to using. 

Also, when a recipe calls for all-purpose flour for a cake of any type, I tend to use cake flour.  So, for all cupcakes and cake recipes I use cake flour.  Personally I like the texture of the final product better.

If you make these, you will not be disappointed.  This recipe is so simple and these little bitty pistachio bites pack a big flavor.  You won’t stop at just one tea cake. 

3 ozs Unsalted Butter, Softened
½ cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Pistachio Paste
½ tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Extra-Large Eggs, Room Temp
½ cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp Kosher Salt
2 tbsp Confectioners’ Sugar

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F and place mini-muffin pan on a baking sheet. 
  2. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. 
  3. While butter is beating, sift the flour and salt together and set aside. 
  4. Add the granulated sugar and beat until smooth. 
  5. Prior to adding the sugar and while beating the butter and sugar scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. 
  6. Add the pistachio paste and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. 
  7. Add the eggs one at a time and completely incorporate before adding the next egg. 
  8. Add the sifted flour in two stages, blending well after each addition and scraping down the sides before each addition. 
  9. Once all ingredients are well combined, pour into mini-muffin pans.  
  10. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. 
  11. After the cakes have cooled, dust the tops with the confectioners’ sugar.