A Taste of Yellow: Sunny Caramel Cupcakes

March 22, 2008

With so many different foundations and charities out there, it’s always hard to choose which ones to support. Do you go with the big ones that already have a huge backing and are more likely to make a bigger difference with the money? Or a smaller one that can really use even the smallest amounts?

It’s a hard decision, but one of the ones I try to support is the LiveStrong Lance Armstrong Foundation. It’s one of the bigger ones out there (you see the LIVESTRONG bands everywhere now), but his story, coming back from a tough battle with cancer to not only succeed, but to completely dominate his sport, is incredibly inspiring.

So when I saw there was a food blogging event created by Barbarah of Winos and Foodiesto support this foundation I knew I had to join in. Barbarah is asking all bloggers to participate in the blog event A TASTE OF YELLOW by making a dish containing some type of yellow food in memory of those we have lost and those still fighting cancer.

The deadline for this event is April 19th, 2008, and the roundup of all entries will be posted on LiveSTRONG Day, which falls on May 13th this year. If you want to participate simply cook and blog about some type of yellow food and send a picture and a link to Barbarah. This is blog is about my small contribution.

I wanted to make something that could bring a smile to anyone. Something happy and sunny, that would bring thoughts of spring. The season that at least to me, represents changes, and new beginnings. I saw this recipe on Katie’s Kitchen for caramel cupcakes, and I knew it was perfect. Hopefully these sweet treats will usher in a nice warm spring, and I dedicate them to everyone out there fighting cancer, with the hope of many more springs to come. 

Caramel Cupcakes
Source: Katie’s Kitchen 

125g butter, chopped
100g white eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
2/3 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 self-raising flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325F

Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, syrup and milk in a saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk sifted flours then egg into mixture.

Divide among cupcake tray and bake for 30 minutes for standard size cupcakes. Move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

I tried to make an Italian Meringue for the icing but it didn’t really turn out and I didn’t have enough eggs to try again so I just used a whipped cream frosting. Just whip some cream until it’s nice and thick and peaks begin to form then add a box of instant pudding. I chose french vanilla.

 

Frost the cupcakes by either spreading it with a knife or pipe it on. Make or buy some fondant, roll it out as thin as you want it then using cookie cutters, cut out as many flower shapes as you want. If you want to do layers of different sizes, brush some water on one side of the smaller one to seal the two pieces together. Place on cupcakes as desired.

Just a few notes about the recipe. It calls for golden syrup and self rising flour. According to Wikipedia, golden syrup is used as a substitute for honey for those who can’t eat honey, and it’s much like corn syrup. You can use either if you can’t find it in a store, or you can order it on amazon.

As for self-rising flour, if you don’t have any you can make it easily by mixing 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Just make sure you mix it well.

As for these cupcakes, they are really easy to make and have a wonderful, subtle caramel flavor. They are definitely worth trying.

There is still plenty of time to join in this event and it really is well worth it. Give it a try if you get the chance.

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Pie Day and My Naked Pie

March 14, 2008

Raise your hand if you know what today is. That’s right! 3.14(159265) and that makes it Pi Day (or pie day).

During my random blog surfing last month I stumbled upon Evil Chef Mom’s blog about Pie Day (you can read that blog here). At that point there were already 15 people signed up to bake a pie for this happy day. I personally can’t think of anyone that doesn’t love pie of some sort, and as much as I love puns and plays on words as well, I just had to join in.

I even knew right away what I wanted to contribute to the event. Most people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen have a cache of recipes that they want to try eventually. Not just a pile of cookbooks, but recipes that have actually caught their eye, their imagination, or immediately elicited drool. This one, a tart with a cookie crust, and gooey caramel under a brownie-like layer is understandably something I have been dying to try for quite a while but things kept happening to prevent it.

First, I was planning to do this as a thanksgiving treat for myself but at that time my money was too tight to buy the ingredients I needed. Then I realized I didn’t have the right pan and had to budget for that, and so on, and so forth. You get the picture. Well finally the pan had arrived so I was just waiting for a good opportunity to make it.

Then came Pie Day! And as it is right before I meet up with my friends for a big convention, I can now finally bake my topless pie. Such a yummy naked contribution. 🙂

bite or pie

I am really happy I finally did this. It came out beautiful and is just as tasty as it sounds. The brownie top layer was chewy and super fudgy and the caramel was so warm and sweet and creamy, I would have crawled into it if I could have.

caramel pie

Double Chocolate Caramel Brownie Tart
adapted from recipe found on Cookingclub.com

Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut up
1 egg, beaten

Filling
20 caramels
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (6-oz.) pkg. semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1. Place flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder in large bowl; whisk well to blend. Add butter and cut with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Add 1 egg; beat 30 seconds or until dough just begins to form. Form dough into flat round; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead.)

2. On floured surface, knead dough to soften slightly. Roll dough into 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick; place in 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Run rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Line crust with foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges begin to set. Remove foil and weights; cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Place caramels and 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk in small saucepan; heat over medium-low heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Pour over crust and spread evenly.

5. In medium bowl, stir together remaining sweetened condensed milk, 1 egg and melted butter. Add melted chocolate chips; stir to combine. Pour over caramel.

 chocolate pie

6. Bake 35 minutes or until top is dry and center is set. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I wasn’t quite happy with the crust the first time I tried it (yes, I have made this twice in the last week lol) so I added two teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of butter the second time around. The dough was much easier to deal with but I haven’t tasted it yet. Up to you if you want to try it the original way or my way. It has a crisp, cookie-like texture and plenty of chocolate either way, but it was a little hard to work with because it was a little crumbly even before it was baked and my major sweet tooth thought it needed a touch of sugar.

chocolate caramel tart

Other than my little change to the crust this thing is great. As soon as we cut into the second one I’ll let you know how the revised crust turned out. In the meantime, enjoy, and Happy Pie Day 🙂