Tag Archives: baking

Swiss buttercream chocolate bombs

*Names changed to protect the fabulous

For the past two months or so, I’ve been trying to conquer what I considered to be nigh unconquerable: the evasive Swiss buttercream. A simple enough concoction that’s essentially a meringue with a Paula Deen-approved serving of butter whipped into it, it’s notoriously difficult to master. I’ve seen professional bloggers finally post with glee about it. And pheasants, today, I have done just this: I am Mistress of the Buttercream! I’ve requested M call me this at least once a day for the next week.

From what I’ve seen (and tasted,) the big draw for real meringue-based buttercreams is not only the light and fluffy texture, but the high-gloss shine you get from it, and the fact that it doesn’t crust over the way normal frostings can. It tastes almost deceptively good for you in a light, airy sort of way.

On that note, I can tell you a little somethin’-somethin’ about these mini cupcakes and chocolate frosting: they’re rather addictive. The recipe I made creates two dozen of these little guys, and I’d been planning on a dessert night with our roommate Kamal* tonight. They may not last so long.

I was still making the buttercream when M came home today. As per usual, she immediately dipped a finger in and pronounced it edible. Edible?! I screeched, waving my hand mixer around like a child on speed. I’ve been working for twenty minutes on this! It’d better be tastier than “edible.” She then took one of the little cooling cupcakes from the plate beside me, dipped it in, and popped the entire thing in her mouth. This, she liked. I could see why; the evidence was smeared all over her face!

When it comes to the chocolate bombs, the chipotle puree and Nutella aren’t necessary, but they do bump up the flavor. The mini chocolate chips are also technically unnecessary, but they make the bomb itself very moist and smooth.

The bombs themselves can be made with any cake batter, but the chocolate-chocolate combination was a winner in this apartment.

About the buttercream, I have several tips:

  • Check the egg whites every minute or so while they’re on the double boiler. They should never get hot enough to burn your fingers, or anywhere near, but they will end up an opaque, very meringue white at the end.
  • Once you’ve added the butter to the frosting, it WILL look like you’ve messed up when it falls, and it may turn to soup. Keep whipping. As you add the butter, it will solidify and become the fluffy, gorgeously silky frosting you were looking for.
  • Try out your favorite flavorings, food colorings and additions to it! Experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really not such a thing as bad frosting, and as long as you aren’t adding heavy items to it, it should hold up just fine.

Pheasant’s chocolate bombs and Swiss buttercream

Yields two dozen chocolate bombs

For the bombs:

3/4 c flour (AP or whole wheat)

1/3 c cocoa powder

1 tsp coffee powder

1/2 c sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 c mini chocolate chips

2/3 c milk minus 2 tbsp

1/8 c vegetable oil (I used soybean)

2 tbsp fat free sour cream

1/8 tsp chipotle puree (optional)

2 tbsp Nutella spread

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (171°C.) Spray a 24-cup (or two 12-cup) mini cupcake tin(s) with Pam.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add in the wet, mixing until combined. It should be a rather thick, almost cookie-like batter. Drop by the tablespoonful into the muffin cups. When the batter is all gone, stick the muffin tins in the oven and set your timer for 11 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool completely before popping them out of their tins and frosting.

For the buttercream:

2 large egg whites (reserve the yolks for Hollandaise!)

1/3 c sugar

10 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp cocoa powder (or other favorite flavoring)

In a large, heat-proof mixing bowl (I used our Pyrex bowls) mix the egg whites and sugar together. Set a medium sauce pot, half-filled with water to simmer on the stove. Once it’s hot and simmering, place the bowl of egg whites over the water and whisk gently until you can dip (very clean!) finger in and not feel the sugar granules when you test it between your fingers.

Once this is done, using a hand mixer, mix on medium-high until it’s doubled in volume, white, and glossy.

Once you've whipped it well, it should look thick, glossy and beautiful!

At this point, add the vanilla and half the cocoa, as well as one or two tablespoons of butter. Continue to mix until the butter is completely incorporated, then add in the second. The frosting will fall a little as you mix, but don’t despair! It will set up nicely as you beat it. Before adding the last few tablespoons of butter, taste the frosting. If you want it more cocoa-y, add the rest of the powder. If not, don’t!

Once all your butter is incorporated and you’ve got thick frosting, spoon it into a piping bag (or in my case, a zip lock with the tip cut off) and pipe it on! 

Try not to eat them all in one sitting ;D

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Midnight Cowboy Muffins

Mmm...can you see those huge, beautiful bits of pepper?

Pheasants, you’re in for a treat tonight!

You see, I’ve got a mad craving. This morning’s spicy shirred eggs didn’t take the edge off it, either…I’m still mad about all things spicy. And so, in honor of that, I’ve decided to make some Midnight Cowboy spicy chipotle muffins.

I also made some sweet honey ones, but mostly, these are just what they sound like: sweet corn muffins with a spicy, smoky kick from the chipotle. I added a roasted red pepper for sweetness, and mixed in some cheddar for ooey, gooey pleasure, and they made these muffins beautiful, savory, and absolutely out of this world.

I served them all (sweet and spicy alike) with my quick chipotle compound butter. Pair them with barbecued meats, beans, or rotisserie chicken. Or,  you can do what I did, and just eat them warm from the oven, with a smile on your face. This, pheasants, is truly what dreams are made of.

Midnight Cowboy Muffins

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c sweet cornmeal

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

3 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 chipotle pepper, minced or pureed

1/2 tsp adobo sauce

1/3 large roasted bell pepper, seeded and minced

3 tbsp finely diced cheddar

So, I split my muffin recipe to make two sweet and four spicy. You don’t have to, but if you want an entire batch of sweet muffins, just mix in 3 tbsp or more of honey after the second paragraph.

Butter and line with cornmeal six average-sized muffin tins. Preheat your oven to 375°F (191°C.)

Mix all your dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, sour cream and vegetable oil. Mix wet into dry and stir to combine.

Add in the chiles, pepper and cheddar, stir to mix well, and place into 6 muffin tins. If you like, drizzle them with honey and pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until done. Let cool, and enjoy with my Chipotle Compound Butter!

See how warm they were? Mmm. These didn't last long at all!

Chipotle Compound Butter

1 1/2 tsp adobo sauce

1/2 tsp honey

1/2 stick softened butter

Mix them together. Roll up into a piece of saran wrap and refrigerate until firm, or just use as is!

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Whole roasted pumpkin

How was your Halloween, pheasants? I’d like to tell you that I had the best Halloween ever, but I’m not sure that’s true. It wasn’t bad, though. M and I went over to her parents’ house to hand out candy and generally not be alone.

On the plus side, though, I roasted a pumpkin.

Pumpkin mania has finally hit this household, pheasants, and it started pretty innocently: we went to the pumpkin patch (at my behest) and collected two medium pumpkins, as well as one large and one (very) small. Then, we took them home, and I opened up supper down there to clean him…and I roasted the seeds. M had never eaten roasted pumpkin seeds before, and I had to practically pry the bowl of them from her in order to eat two or three. She’s been hooked ever since…she’s even taken to staring dreamily at the pumpkin displays whenever we go to the grocery store. And I’m not sad for this, pheasants, but far from it. I’m ecstatic!

I’ve got to say, whole roasted pumpkin is one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes. It’s something that just screams autumn to me: a whole squash, orange and shiny, fading as it roasts down to a burnt sienna with a gorgeous, burnished skin. M was quite pleased with the mini pumpkin I roasted a week or so ago, mainly because, once finished, it was so small and the skin so thick that it was practically an ornament, not just a cute pumpkin. She wanted to keep it, but keeping it…would have been really gross. So, we threw it away. By the way, we christened all the pumpkins we got from the patch; the pumpkin top left was named Gene, and the one below was named simply, Supper. There were also Ricardo and Harvey, but Ricardo was turned into M’s carving pumpkin and Harvey is way too big to cook.

This is Supper. Isn't he just clever?

Anyway, roasting a pumpkin is not only fun, but it’s easier than many people seem to think. Really, it’s so much easier than carving a pumpkin. Then, you just clean out the seeds (another reason to serve pumpkin for supper!) and stick it in the oven. Boom, done. Easy, wasn’t it? Well, you have to oil the skin, but that’s all of, what, two minutes, tops?

Anyway, pheasants, I am shamelessly endorsing my love of pumpkin and urging you to try a whole, roasted pumpkin sometime. There are so many things you can do with them, both sweet and savory. My personal favorite is a simple roasted pumpkin, flesh scooped out and topped with a little kosher salt and brown sugar. The salty/sweet mixture is delightful with the pumpkin, and really brings out that squash-y flavor, I think.

Try layering mushrooms of any kind (porcini, buttons, chanterelles, etc) together (try a mix!) and add a little truffle paste to make a truly scrumptious, sumptuous supper. Or, for a truly fascinating new take on a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, try my pumpkin pie within a pumpkin recipe!

Within Supper up there, I layered tomato, celery, garlic, onion and spinach, placing about a quarter cup of chicken stock inside before capping him and placing him in the oven. When using vegetables like that in a pumpkin, go with smaller ones; they don’t have nearly as much water in their flesh, so you’ll end up with a stuffed roast pumpkin as opposed to vegetables swimming in a pumpkin water soup.

I can imagine that fruit would be good inside a pumpkin, too…maybe place an orange studded with cloves inside, and grate some nutmeg and cinnamon in there. Flavors are good, and pumpkin is just so healthy that it’s impossible to not look at it and think, I will love eating this. A pumpkin is a beautiful thing, pheasants!

Pheasant’s Roast Pumpkin

1 medium or small pumpkin (2-8 pounds, tops)

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/8-1/4 c. chicken stock or water

Set your oven to 375°F (191°C) and carve up your pumpkin. To do this, insert a sharp knife (facing away from you) into the flesh of the pumpkin 2-3 inches away from the base of the stem. Then, keeping your knife at a 45° angle, carve a circle around the stem. If it doesn’t pull away once it’s completely cut, go back again and make sure you’ve cut through all the flesh between the pumpkin and its cap.

Pull the cap off, and cut off the stringy bits (but NOT the meat.) Proceed to clean the seeds from the pumpkin itself. You don’t need to scoop out the strings…they’ll just cook down and they taste exactly like the pumpkin anyway. Once you’re done with that, place the pumpkin on a foil-lined baking sheet and dribble the oil over the skin, rubbing it around until the entire pumpkin is coated and shiny. Don’t forget to oil the cap! It may not seem like it, but those two teaspoons of oil will indeed cover the entire pumpkin. Once the oven is preheated, pour the water into the pumpkin, stick the whole thing into the oven(capped!) and let it roast in there for about 1-2 hours, checking at the 1 and 1 1/2 hour points to check the flesh. To do this, take the cap off and prick it with a knife. If the knife slides in easily and the flesh seems very soft (mashed potatoes consistency) then it’s done! If not, let it go for a while longer.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 pumpkin’s worth of seeds, cleaned of orange goo

salt

garlic powder

Spread out the seeds on a Pam’d cookie sheet, and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt. Stick them in the oven with the pumpkin, taking them out every ten minutes to toss, until golden. If you have a convection roast option on your oven, this is a great time to break it out!

Questionable content: 

What types of stuffed or roasted pumpkin recipes have you created?

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