Friday, March 15, 2013

Deep Dark Chocolate Cupcakes {Rebake} w/Whipped Mascarpone Frosting (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)

Some things are just not meant to be brought back.

Dinner, Circa 1950.

Sure, it was the golden age of domesticity, but what the heck were those housewives making?!

Vegetable and meat jello?

I'll be taking a rain check, thank you.
Stick me in a cryogenic freezer and ship me back to the land of deep fried oreos!

Village People's Y.M.C.A.

I know it's your wedding, but please, let's keep this macho-cheeseball of a song where it belongs. 
In 1978.

Guys, overalls are coming back!  They're coming back???????!

This. is. a. travesty.

Of course, I'm guilty of wearing a pair or two everyday in the 90's.

But I was a kid!
I didn't know any better.

What I thought was the perfect solution to hiding my awkward teenage body was actually a fashion conspiracy to keep me looking like a large, lumpy sack of denim.

Because Junior High is about pain, people.

The truth of the matter is:
Everything comes around.


Whether it looks exactly like it did before, is not the question.
The fact's back.

Thankfully, for every terrible idea there is an equally wonderful one begging to be rediscovered.

Like jean jackets,

All forms of hair braids,

even "Sexy."

Oh, and these cupcakes.

I made these way back in the dark ages of this blog when I had no idea what I was doing.

I still don't really know what I'm doing, but at least now I'm organized about it.
Progress, people!

But even then, when everything was a complete mess, I still stumbled upon an amazing chocolate cake recipe.

We're talking I'm lookin' no further.  I'm plantin' my roots.  And unless someone asks me to try out their recipe because they guarantee that it is better, this is the chocolate cake I will be serving from here to kingdom come.

It's my chocolate cake "go-to."

The only problem was I hadn't made it since then.

That's the food blogger dilemma.  You find something amazing, but you can't ever make it again because you are supposed to be making "new" recipes, trying "new" things.

Well, you know what?

I'm breaking the rules.

Because this cake is too good to be forgotten.
...and mascarpone cheese is so absolutely divine, I needed it again too.

But in true blogger fashion, I've tweaked it.  (Don't shut me down, Google!)
Today, it's whipped!

See?  I'm still fit to be in the kitchen.
I can't really explain this cake to you, other than it has the perfect balance of moist and denseness.
It's not too heavy, not too dry.  It's amazing.

Also, this frosting is very "whipped creamy."  Light and fluffy.  If you want something more solid, cut the cream in half.  Next time, I am going to do this.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
copied from A Bloggable Life
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 1 3/4 Cups of Flour
  • 3/4 Cup of Cocoa (Hershey's Special Dark, if you want this coloring)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water

Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 8oz Mascarpone Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Paste (or Extract)
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 2 Cups of Heavy Cream
  • Stabilizer: Unflavored Gelatin/Cornstarch (I did not do this and my frosting did not hold for longer than 30 minutes)

Makes 24 Frosted Cupcakes
Preheat Oven to 375F Degrees then lower to 350F Degrees
Bake for 15-20 minutes
Needed Muffin Tin & Cupcake Liners

1) In a large bowl, add sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir until combined.
2) Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. 
3) Mix in boiling water until combined.  Batter will be very thin and runny.  (See bottom righthand
    picture.  The batter doesn't even stick to the beaters).
4) Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
5) Carefully pour batter into cups about 3/4 full.  I used a measuring cup to do this since the batter
    was so runny and I still managed to make a mess. 
6) Place pan into 375F Degree oven.  After 7 minutes lower oven temperature to 350F for the
    remaining 8-13 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when toothpick inserted into the center comes out
7) Allow cupcakes to cool completely in the muffin tin before removing.

1) Place a medium sized bowl in the freezer to chill.
2) In another bowl, mix mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
3) Take bowl out of the freezer and beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. This will take a few
    minutes so be patient (make sure you start with clean beaters for this!) {Here is where you would
    add your stabilizer...otherwise use immediately}
4) Fold cheese mixture into whipped cream.  I found this very difficult and ended up mixing with the
    beater very carefully and quickly.  Keep chilled.
5) Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Blog police, you'll never get my pearls!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Baking Basics: Storing Cookie Dough

So, I'm freaking out right now!  The good kind of freaking out.

Like a kid in a candy store.

But not the lame store in the mall with stale, three-plus year old candy.


The type of candy store you find at historic landmarks, at state capitals...we're talking barrels of candy lining the walls, aisles, windows. 

That's the kind of candy store I'm in.  

I'll admit it's pretty lame because what I have to announce really isn't that big of a deal.

I mean, I didn't win the lottery.
I didn't get to put my handprints into a slab of cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
And I didn't get asked out by Jason Segel to be his date to an awards show or even just for a drink.

Sure, what I have to tell you is pretty cool...
....but I just don't want you to be misled by my over-exuberant display of excitement. 

Nat's Adventures in Baking was featured in the "Back For Seconds" Link Social yesterday!

Click to see.

See?! How totally rad is that?!
Somebody actually read (er.....looked at pictures) on my blog!! 
(It's you obvi)

I really shouldn't reveal that I'm so utterly shocked that another human being would take notice of my work.  
It comes off as annoyingly self-depreciating or as a sneak-attack, undercover ego trip.  
"Ah, you guys read my blog, ah, I'm so shocked...yada yada.  of course you read my blog, duh!"

But I can't help it.  I'm so stunned.  
I've been linking my posts to blog socials (basically, an arena to share your posts with other bloggers) for months, but I've never been the most viewed post for the week!  

I knew sprinkles were the key to success!

Sprinkled Pies.   Check.
Sprinkled Puff Pastries.  Check.
Sprinkled Popcorn?  Sure, why not.  Check.

Oh, it's on. 
Do you ever wish you could have freshly baked cookies all the time?

Of course you do!

I never have dough leftover from a cookie batch. This is mostly because if you make it...they will come. "They" meaning your family, friend, significant other, cat, dog, mouse...doesn't matter. If cookies are made, they WILL get eaten...that very day...that v-e-r-y moment.

So today's baking lesson is on how you can easily store the cookie dough you slaved over, help stave off the rabid beasts at home, and have ready-to-bake cookies right at your fingertips. 

There are two ways to do this:
1) "Log" - Refrigerator Method
2) "Individual" - Freezer Method

"Log" Cookie Dough Storage (Refrigerator Method).  Lasts 7-10 Days
1) This method is extremely simple.  All you'll need is some plactic wrap.
2) Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface.
3) Scoop all of the cookie dough on top, and fashion into a log shape the best you can. 
4) Wrap dough in plastic.  Make sure all areas are covered completely as you don't want them to dry out.
5) Once wrapped up tight, roll the log against the counter to smooth any "lumpy" ends.
6) Store dough in the fridge.  Can be stored for up to a week or so.
7) When you want cookies just slice and bake! 
8) This method only works in the fridge because a frozen log is quite hard to cut!

So obviously, I didn't take any pictures of that method.

Mostly because I'm so lazy that I don't want to have to slice cookies later.  I want to just plop pre-portioned bits on a baking sheet and eat away!

This next method is my preferred choice.  For when you want to have cookies available for a long time. 

Pre-formed Individual Sized Cookie Dough Storage (Freezer Method).  Lasts 1-2 Months
1) This method is just as easy, only it takes a little more time because you need to "flash freeze" the 
     individual portions first or the pieces will stick together.

2) With a spoon, fashion small balls of dough and place on a non-stick cookie/baking pan.  
3) Place pan in freezer for about an hour.

4) Once pieces are firm and mostly solid, place in a heavy duty ziploc bag.

5) Squeeze out all the air...all of it...or at least as much as you possibly can.  The less it is exposed to air 
    the longer it will last and you'll avoid freezer burn.  
6) Write date on bag and store in the freezer.  Can be stored for up to two months.  The more you take 
    care to always seal the bag and remove air, the longer you can keep having ready-to-bake cookies on 
7) When you are ready to bake, take out desired pieces and let defrost on a baking sheet.  *Tip: If you 
    have a Silpat you can bake them frozen.  The mat helps conduct the heat evenly. 

If you'll excuse me, I have some cookie dough to eat bake.