Friday, May 21, 2010

Blueberry Ricotta Cupcakes

So I have been toying with weird flavors lately, things that seem to not go together but do.  Thus, these cupcakes. This incarnation was inspired by Joy The Baker's Strawberry Ricotta Cupcakes and the fact that I had some blueberries in the fridge that needed using.


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg 
8 ounces ricotta cheese mixed with 1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup diced blueberries

~Center a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

The batter was creamy and a little wetter than I am used to....
And I was a bit nervous folding in the blueberries that they would masserate and make the dough all blue. They didn't tho, even tho I cut them each in half.

Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcakes papers and set aside.  
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. 
Dice blueberries and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  
Add the egg and beat for another 1 minute.  
Beat in the vanilla.
Add the ricotta mixture alternately with the flour mixture. Starting and ending with the flour mixture.  
Fold in the blueberries. 
Divide among the 12 muffin tins and bake for 13-17 minutes, or until risen and very lightly browned. 
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

They rose up nicely for me, but seemed to not be very golden. I did a finger tap test to see if they were firm and they seemed good after about 17 minutes. The truth is I thought they smelled done and took them out. The nose always knows!
I LOVE that the fruit shows through the muffin cups. They did seem to fall a little once I let them sit for a few, but they tasted fine so I'm sure it was meant to happen (I hope). 
I frosted them with a smidge of vanilla frosting, keeping them flat because I thought they looked neat, and because lately I am just not into heaps of too sweet frosting. 

I decided they were too plain and needed something and I needed to break in my new fondant cutters - so ploka dots it is! Can you spot the hidden mickey's (I am not referring to the plate either)??

The verdict on these after KC & I had one each for dessert last night was - YUM! They are almost like a muffin with a really cool texture from the ricotta. The blueberries tasted so great and knowing there isn't a lot of sugar in these made them even better! I def recommend trying these!!!

On a side note- I was fairly proud of the avocado/pineapple relish I made with dinner, to go over our ham steaks. mmmmm.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

1st Musical Monday

So I have a very vast array of musical taste and figured since I am trying to get his blog to be fairly well rounded I want to make a post a week about music. I am hoping in these posts to introduce  people to something new, or something they may never had tried to listen to before. Here goes.

This week's post is going to be about a genre of music: Nerdcore.

WTH is Nerdcore you ask?!?!

 It's something I only recently got into, via my very geeky husband, KC (thanks babe). I asked my husband to sum up Nerdcore in one quick sentence, he said "Music by nerds, for nerds".  I sort of disagree only because I am not exactly a nerd, just "nerd adjacent" to quote one of my favorite people, Wil Wheaton.  Wiki says this about Nerdcore .

The genre is so much bigger than I ever imagined it to be. There are countless artists out there and even more fans. I had no clue! You do have to have a bit of nerdy outlook in order to get the humor of the music but in general the appeal is pretty broad. If you give it a chance it really grows on you. The creativity is amazing, the intelligence in creating these songs and albums is just beyond words. In a lot of ways it parallels with my indy wrestling days, where the independent wrestlers worked so much harder than the mainstream wrestlers because they had to do that much more to get noticed. Same thing applies to Nerdcore artists. These guy (and gals) make this stuff themselves, every last bit of it. They use home studios and home computers, "studios" set up in their homes. They play shows at small dive bars and get a very small percentage of the door cover. The thing is, there is so much talent out there! I am learning all the time about some new Nerdcore artists. There is a huge underground world full of these talented people.

I myself have been to several shows in NY and in Boston, with KC. it's really a great time. people just having fun, without a care in the world. I am really glad I gave it a chance when I did. it's also something really fun KC & I can share.

Some of my favorites include: The Father of Nerdcore, MC Frontalot , Schaffer The Darklord ( I have seen him 3 times now- GREAT shows every time!) &  The Grammar Club (Featuring Shael Riley one of my fav singers in Nerdcore) .

A lot of these guys have free samples and albums so if you think you might enjoy some of it- try it out! It can't hurt right? I hope to get more specific next week, singling out an artist.

You know what they say, "The nerds will inherit the earth" be nice to your local nerds. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Random Baking

I have been doing a lot of baking these past few weeks. Not so many with the pictures but baking none the less. 

About a week ago I made these:

Maple Bacon Cupcakes.  I have a love affair with bacon lately and we are getting along just fine. These turned out kinda like a muffin more than a cupcake, or a bread even. They were really flavorful but not exactly what I expected. The frosting also turned out more like a glaze than a frosting, but it was maple-y sweet and added what the cupcake needed. 

FYI I always follow the recipe that I am making the first time (if it isn't my own). I might change these up if I make them again. The hubby liked 'em and agreed they weren't too sweet and had just enough bacon flavor.

Hubby has started a new job, and when they found out that I bake it was all over for him. He has been asked for a week about when I am making peanut butter cookies. So yesterday I decided to make them. The only issue - I had never made them from scratch before.

I ended up spending 4 hours, 2 different recipes and 3 flavors before I had a batch I liked enough to give away. No I don't have control issues, not me. 

The first try on recipe #1 taught me a great lesson...peanut butter cookies spread- A LOT! 
It was one giant cookie. So these have bacon in them. I tried to tell you I have a thing with bacon.... and he loves him some peanut butter cookies too. 

I randomly found this recipe a while ago and wanted to try because generally peanut butter and bacon are a bit odd for a cookie flavor. Turns out they are good friends and hang out well together, albeit a bit squished together on this particular pan. They didn't have too much bacon flavor, just enough to give you a hint of it. 

Then I mixed some choc hips into a bit of the batter because I like peanut butter cups. The batter for the bacon and for the choc chip ones was a weird batter with not much too it. The cookies were good but a bit crunchier than i like in a cookie. 

So onto the next recipe, with a completely different set of ingredients. 

They came out moist and a bit chewy and a bit crunchy at the same time. I made them straight peanut butter and carefully shaped each one and made sure they didn't stick to each other. The results, to me, turned out to be store quality looking cookies, if I do say so myself.

Even I can get behind these cookies and maybe even eat a few. I'm not usually a huge fan of peanut butter cookies.  Hubby took them to work today so for aforementioned co-workers so I'll find out later what they thought. If they didn't like them they are (1) crazy and (2) never getting baked for again. 

On a side note I also made these last week: Cinnamon Sugar Cupcakes . They turned out great! Not too sweet and very cakey, almost like a muffin. I seem to be on the savory cupcake kick. 

Who knows what else I'll make this week...but hopefully I can wait until the cookies and leftover cupcakes are gone to add anything else. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

KCs Birthday Cake.....& A Personal Revelation.

KC's Birthday was April 20th. I did a little something to surprise him, I baked him a cake. Every year I make him whatever flavor cake he wants. He picked out my cookie cake and changed the chips to white chocolate and peanut butter chips. Done. What he didn't realize is that I was accepting a challenge for his cake that he made as a joke. He saw some cake on TV that some Chef made that was decorated with fondant and all that and said
"Why don't you make me a cake like that?" 
So I ,jokingly asked him what kind of cake he'd want and he said  Metal gear themed cake. Metal Gear is his FAVORITE video game series. So I decided a week before his birthday that I needed to make this happen.

I am  by no means a trained Chef, but in the end I KNOW this cake came out great. I winged it for the most part, making up the plan as I went, in probably a most unorthodox way. But here it is. 

I decided to make my own fondant. Nuts I know. But it was the same price to buy it premade as it was to buy the ingredients and make it. I also read that it tastes better when you make it yourself. So here is my mess.
It was STICKY. I made 2 batches because I had NO idea how far it would stretch or how it would fit on the square sheet cake I was making. Let's just say there are still colored balls of fondant in my fridge. One batch would have done it.
It took me 2 tries on almost everything i rolled out because I wasn't putting enough stuff on the counter to keep it from sticking. And the layer that ended up on the cake (above) still had a line in it, but it would get covered so I left it alone.
I had no idea how to do this so I printed out a page of paper on the printer and used it as sort of my stencil. I used my crappy pizza cutter and KC's exacto knife to cut it all out. You can also see what the finished picture should look like.
I cut around the fox part after cutting out the black layer. I whittled my stencil down to nothing by the time I was done, but the method worked.  I also did a little bit of free handing of the smaller spots with more detail. I think I added to it and changed it and fixed it a hundred times before KC got home. I piped the words on with reg icing I colored with the same food coloring as the fondant. Some of the small details I would have fixed but I had neither the time or energy. It took me about 5 hours start to finish to do it.
And now my baby....
I waited with it covered in foil until KC got home then bombarded him with the video camera as soon as he walked in. The video can be seen Here.  He was stunned.
I think he liked it.
I really didn't wanna cut it at all, but it turned his 25th birthday at midnight and I told him he could cut it, but only the white part, I was NOT ready to cut the fox yet.
It was yummy and the marshmallow fondant was actually tasty! I was really happy with it. We saved the rest until a few days later when we went out to eat with a bunch of friends to celebrate. We brought the cake with us. We figured cutting it with people you love will make the sting less. It did, I guess. LOL. We did eat away at the white parts through the week but the fox stayed in tact.
One final shot before it is gone.
The aftermath.

We didn't take any cake home that night. It was hard to see my fox cut but everyone loved the cake and that made it all the better.

So what is this personal revelation I wrote of in the title? I want to do this for a living. Seriously. It was hard work and time consuming but I had so much fun and I was alone doing it. So I am looking into classes to hone my apparently god given skills and we will see where we can go from there. I need to save up a bit but I am def making baking and some decorating a weekly thing for me to keep into it.
Anyone need any cakes made? :)