With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chocolate Silk Pie


There are things in this world that I really dislike: yogurt, cucumbers, and raw onions.

Sharks, scary movies, and jeans.

Yup, I said jeans.  If you ever see me wearing jeans it's because they were probably my absolute last option, and they'll be changed out of as soon as possible.  I've never liked jeans, I've just come to accept that.

Especially skinny jeans.  I was not made for the phenomenon that is skinny jeans.  I've never owned a pair, and I doubt I ever will.

There are things in this world that I love: mint chocolate chip ice cream, gummy bears, and all things pumpkin.

Dogs of all kinds, flowers, and jeggings.  Jeggings that look like real jeans, like skinny jeans no less.

Fancy jeggings have been my saving grace.  Ever since I've received a pair last Christmas (and 2 more since) I've been a new woman.

Then there are the things I REALLY love:  Family, friends, and Yoder's.

We've talked about Yoder's before right?  I don't think I can go into more detail about it right now.  It's too painful I haven't had it since March.

While Yoder's has so many things that are absolutely wonderful, one of the things they are best known for is their homemade pies.

I've been on quite the pie bender the past few months, and have gotten no greater joy then when I'm whipping one up and slicing and serving it to people.  Maybe it's my subconscious telling me I need more Yoder's in my life.

Maybe that's just the jeggings talking.

Even though I've never had this specific pie at Yoder's, when I whipped it up this summer it definitely made me think of it.  This pie is dense, decadent, and all around homey.  In my opinion everything that a pie should be.

I worked a little vanilla extract into my pie crust (is this ever a bad thing?) and it went so perfectly with the smooth creamy chocolate filling, the light airy whipped cream, and the huge chocolate curls on top.

** Note this was my first time trying homemade chocolate curls.  Although mine weren't perfect, I loved how they looked and felt they really brought the whole pie together.  You could always use chocolate shavings instead, or just even leave it plain with the whipped cream, whatever floats your boat!

While pie season may have moved into the more fallish types, such as apple and pumpkin, this pie can be enjoyed all year round and is so good you'll be inclined to do just that.

And wanna know the best part?  After eating a piece you'll still be comfy as can be in your jeggings.

Take that jeans.  Take that.


Chocolate Silk Pie
Servings: 1- 9inch pie (10-12 servings)

- 1 prebaked pie crust baked as directed and cooled completely

For Filling
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 8 Tbsp softened unsalted butter, cut into chunks

For Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp vanilla

For Chocolate Curls
- 1/2-1 cup dark or milk chocolate

Make sure pie crust is completely cooled.  To make filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate bowl with contents.  Combine eggs, sugar, and water in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  With an electric mixer, beat until thickened and the mixture reads 160 degrees on a candy or instant read thermometer. (5-10 min)  Remove from heat and continue to beat until fluffy and cooled (6-8 min more).  Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat until combined.  Gently fold in the refrigerated whipped cream until no streaks remain.  Transfer to pie shell. Refrigerate.  

To make whipped cream add heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to the same bowl of the electric mixer.  Beat on high speed until desired consistency is reached.  Spread all over the chocolate filling.  Refrigerate.  

To make chocolate curls, turn a baking sheet with a flat bottom upside down and make sure it is completely clean.  Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave, stirring every 15-30 seconds.  Spread chocolate in a thin layer over the baking sheet.  Place in the freezer for 3-5 min, long enough to be not sticky, but not long enough to be too solid.  With a metal spatula run thin strips of chocolate into curls (it will do this on its own as long as the baking sheet was perfectly clean.)  Continue with all chocolate for multiple curls.  Place all over whipped cream and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Art of Faking It (A Doctored Cake Mix Formula)

Sometimes, you're running on just a few hours of sleep.

Sometimes you drink 3 pumpkin spice lattes and 2 diet cokes in a day, just because you're so tired you don't feel like counting.

Sometimes, when that guy in your physics lecture is going on and on about how many girls he picked up that weekend.. or how many pounds he's been dead-lifting at the gym, you smile and nod, but you do not hear a word.

Sometimes you eat the biggest slice of birthday cake on your birthday, even though you're already full.  Because it's your birthday, and everyone deserves to eat a piece of cake on their birthday.

Sometimes, someone asks you to make cupcakes when you're in this state of delirium.. and you have the oomph to get yourself in the kitchen and make something from scratch... and sometimes you don't.

I know there are plenty of bakers out there who are on a strict "no box mix - I would never touch one with a ten foot pole" plan.

Simply put, this isn't me.

While it's true I'm just as much of a proponent of from scratch baked goods as the next person, I'm the first to admit how convienient box mixes can be when you're in a pinch, or tired, or a beginner at baking... or hell just feel like making something super easy.  And when doctored up the right way, box mixes can taste out of this world too.  They can.  Just trust.

I'm a firm believer that if someone is handing me a cupcake, whether they bought it, or made it from a mix, or made it from scratch.... I'm a big fan.

Therefore I share with you my formula for doctored cake mixes.

Doesn't matter the flavor, use this no matter what and you will love it, you will swoon.

I love formulas.  They are one of the reasons I fell in love with Chemistry.  I don't have to waste time memorizing fact upon fact upon fact.  Just give me one formula to know that I can use in all situations.  Believe me when I say, it's a beautiful thing.

So the next time, you're running short on time, or new to baking and not sure where to start, or just feel like making cupcakes without all the fuss of from scratch, give this a try.

There are worse things in life to fake it about then cupcakes... and you know what, the truth is there's nothing fake about these cupcakes anyway.

They're honestly delicious, just the way they are.


Doctored Cake Mix Formula

- Cake mix of your choice
- Vegetable Oil
- Nonfat Milk

Preheat oven to temperature listed on the cake mix box for cupcakes or cake.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a large bowl pour in cake mix.  Measure amount of vegetable oil listed on box and pour in.  Replace amount of water listed on box with nonfat (or 1%) milk and pour in.  However many eggs are called for on the box, add plus one additional egg.  With an electric mix, beat until no lumps remain.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 way full and bake for time amount specified on box, rotating the pans halfway through (I do mine for 15-18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean).  Let cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack.  Top or frost as desired.  Enjoy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Campfire Cupcakes

Some of my favorite times throughout the summer and the fall are the times spent out around a bonfire with people I love.

It's such a great way to bridge the gap from the hot summer nights to the cool autumn ones, and both have such unique and wonderful qualities that make them so great in their own ways.

And of course you can't have a good bonfire without s'mores; at least in my life you cant.

These ooey gooey wonderful treats enjoyed by a bonfire on these crisp nights were the inspiration for these cupcakes.  I dreamt them up at 2am one night while laying in bed, and by the next afternoon they were a reality.

A delicious, delicious reality.  

Everything that is great about a s'more and campfires in general is wrapped up in these adorable and wonderful cupcakes and can be enjoyed at all times throughout the year.

You have a basic chocolate cupcake, topped with perfect chocolate buttercream, rolled in some crushed graham crackers.  

Did I forget to mention that these are filled to the brim with marshmallow fluff?

These are filled to the brim with marshmallow fluff.  So good.  So unbelievably good.  And easy!

These cupcakes were a ubiquitous part of the summer barbecues at our house and most certainly will make many more appearances as the fall rolls on.

So while the weather is still great, make these cupcakes.  You will not be disappointed.  Just don't forget to invite me over when you do so.

As for me, I'll be sure to keep having some bonfires of my own this autumn.  Our most recent one was with Grammy and her best friend Connie.

Until I can have another one though, I guess these cupcakes will have to do.  Somehow, I think I'll survive.


Campfire Cupcakes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

-12 Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 batch Perfect Chocolate Frosting
- 8-10 graham crackers, processed in a food processor to rough crumbs
- 1 jar marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  Prepare cake batter as directed and scoop into lined pan, filling each tin 2/3 way full.  Bake until a cake tester comes out clean (15-18 min).  Let cool completely.  When cupcakes have cooled with a small pairing knife cut out a small cone from the top of the cupcake, being sure not to cut all the way to the bottom.  Fit a plastic icing bag with a large circular tip and fill with the marshmallow fluff.  Place the bag into the cupcake and squeeze gently until the fluff reaches the top of the cupcakes.  Cut out all of the cupcakes and fill like so. Replace the top piece of cupcake is desired (optional).  Spread cupcakes with frosting, completely covering the fluff.  Place graham crack crumbs in a small (cereal size) bowl and roll the sides of each cupcakes in graham cracker pieces.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: A Mary original

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brain with Blood Clot Cupcakes

I love science.

All of it.

Earth science.  Life science.  Space science.  Anatomy.  Chemistry.  (Well, maybe not physics.)

The point is that when I saw these cupcakes I absolutely swooned.  Almost anatomical (I tried my best)  brain cupcakes, that oozed out blood clots when you bit into them?  I was positively overjoyed.

I also realized that with Halloween coming up it was a spooky time to debut these gruesome treats so even people who were not so science-minded could enjoy.

All of mine ended up being shaped only slightly differently, but I kind of think that's half the fun.  While waiting to bite into mine to reveal the blood clot inside all I could think about was brain surgeons.  And whether they would love them or hate them.

And as I was thinking this I tried to emulate my all time favorite brain surgeon.

Ok, I know Derek Sheppard (Patrick Dempsey) isn't a real brain surgeon.  But if anyone had to operate on my brain.  You know I'd hope it'd be him.

^This is me being thrilled I found a way to work a P.Demp picture into this blog-post/monologue.

I made these cupcakes using my favorite vanilla cupcake base and basic vanilla buttercream tinted with just a little red and yellow food coloring and cocoa powder to get that pinkish-grayish brainy hue. (YUM). 

The blood clot effect was achieved by plopping some cherry pie filling right in the middle of the cupcake before baking.  I used a medium decorators tip to achieve the shape of the brain.  The full instructions are listed below.

These could not have been easier and were truly so much fun.  Both for Halloween and science lovers alike.  And not one person in my life was too grossed out to eat one.  When I mentioned whipping up some anatomical bleeding heart cupcakes the next week, that was a different story.

We'll just have to see how those go.


Brain with Blood Clot Cupcakes
Servings: 12


For Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Filling:
1 can of cherry pie filling

For Frosting:
1 batch of basic buttercream
red food coloring
yellow food coloring 
1/4 tsp cocoa powder

To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard size muffin tin with white paper liners.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk briefly to combine.  In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until fluffy (2-3 min).  Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add the milk and vanilla and beat lightly until combined.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined.

Pour 1 1/2 Tbsp of batter into each muffin cup.  Plop 1 Tbsp cherry pie filling in after.  Cover the cherry pie filling completely with more batter, filling the cupcakes 3/4 way full.  Bake for 18-22 minutes (rotating pan halfway through) or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes for 15 min in tins.  Take out of tins and cool completely.

Make buttercream as directed, adding 2 drops yellow and red food coloring and cocoa powder.  Beat until color is consistent and well combined.  Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a medium circular tip with the buttercream.  Using a cooled cupcake, start decorating.

To decorate hold bag at a 45 degree angle and draw two straight lines directly next to each other in the middle of the cupcake.  Go back and forth all the way down half of the cupcake 3 times to make one side of the brain.  Complete the same motion on the other side to make the second side of the brain.  Eacj brain should have 3 layers at the end.  It helps if the buttercream is cold for this.  If you buttercream gets too soft during this process, place in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before continuing.

Buttercream is forgiving.  If you don't like how something look, scrape it off and try again.  It gets easier and easier to more you decorate.  And remember no two homemade cupcakes will look exactly the same, that's what makes them so special.  Enjoy!

Vanilla cupcake recipe adapted from: Magnolia Bakery
Cupcakes inspired by: Annie's Eats