Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Is All You Need

Think of Valentines day as the Super Bowl for women.
We are girls.
If you are a boy and don't want to be romantic, then marry a boy.
Otherwise bring on the bon bons and kisses.

I personally would rather have creative romance than a gift.
Creative romance takes a lot of thought and feels so much more loving.
Gifts are cool too.
Especially big sparkley ones.
Or 5 pounds of Godiva chocolates.
Or beautiful lingerie.
Or a pretty Range Rover.
But plan a romantic dinner in the snow under the moonlight with a bonfire, I am yours.
Write me a love letter like men used to when they were away at war, I am smitten forever.
Blindfold me and....oops, I can't write that here.

Back to Valentines day. Yesterday.
Sophia is my valentine of course (see fluffy white photo on the right).
One day, perhaps there will be a human one.
But Sophia can't eat sweets because she is shall we say, extra fluffy.
That means that most of these went to work.
Either that or I become extra fluffy too.

The cupcake recipe began here and ended up quite different. With so many egg whites in this batter it is somewhat like an angel food cake. They smell lovely baking and the cake is dense and lemony.
Filling the cupcakes is not hard to do although I did a different method this time. The recipe is from Giada de Laurentiis and is so creamy and luscious with a bit leftover, perhaps for some crepes. The filling is the reason for making these and could actually just be used on each other to make Valentines day even more fun.
And the frosting is a bit tart, which you can vary by how much lemon and powdered sugar you choose. I like it a little tart which I think works well with the filling and cake.


makes 24 cupcakes

3 c cake flour
2 t baking powder
8 large egg whites
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 c sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
Zest from 2 lemons
1/2 c half and half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
Finely zest 4 lemons and set aside (some will be used in the frosting).
Then juice the lemons, strain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder.
In another clean medium bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy.
With mixer running, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes, and increased to about 4 cups, set aside in refridgerator.
In a large bowl, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.
Add vanilla to butter mixture.
With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to the butter sugar mixture in three parts, alternating first with the flour, then the lemon juice, then the zest, then flour, then half and half and ending with the flour; beat until just combined, set aside. This will be a fairly heavy batter.
Gently fold 1/3 of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined.
Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.
Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, until cups are 2/3 filled.
Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Invert cupcakes onto wire rack; then reinvert and let cool completely, top sides up.
If the batter is overfilled the cupcakes may stick to the pan a little. Use a rubber spatula and gently release them.

When completely cooled, begin to fill cupcakes with strawberry mascarpone filling.


2 8oz container mascarpone cheese
1 c fresh strawberries or thawed and drained frozen strawberries
1/2 c sugar
2 T lemon juice

In a food processor combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice.
Process the mixture until smooth.
Chill about 2o minutes if it is too runny.
Using a melon baller or a serrated spoon, cut a hole through the top of the cupcake making a reasonable size space for the filling, saving the cut tops.
With a spoon, fill the hole almost to the top.
Replace a slice of the cut top piece to sort of seal the tops.
Proceed with frosting.

Below is the way I normally fill cupcakes but this cupcake recipe was too dense for this method and does not expand and open up a space.
Chill the strawberry mixture for 20 minutes if it is a bit runny.
Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small-medium tip.
Push the tip gently through the top and almost to the bottom of a cupcake and squeeze in the strawberry mixture until the cupcake plumps but before it cracks.
Continue with the remaining cupcakes.


2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 1/2-3 c confectioners sugar
1/2 t vanilla
4-6 T fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons

With an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy.
On medium speed, beat in confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until you have added 2 1/2 cups, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl as necessary, add more as necessary.
Mix in 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Then lemon juice.
Increase speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Then lemon zest beating briefly.
Frost cupcakes with buttercream, piping or swirling to cover.

Chill the cupcakes for 20 minutes, but remove before serving.

I did figure out that if you use the sawtooth piping tip there is a lot more room for error thankfully.

Friday, February 5, 2010


No more raindrops
No more raindrops falling through my roof

How blessed can one girl be?
Just look.....

Super Daddy
This man can still kick ass and take names.
And took pity on a poor girl and put a real roof over her head.

And his silent partner.
If you have never met an angel,
I hope you are blessed one day by someone like her in your life.

And there has been so much more in the past few years.

Growing up there was nothing I wanted more than a family big or small.
After a lot of drama, at 18 I got mine on a permanent basis.
I gave up the love of my life to be with them.
And I have been blessed beyond measure.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Butterscotch-Pecan Bars with Caramel Drizzle

Back to after Christmas sales at the supermarket.
I have now worked there for 32 years, 3 months and 16 days.
I remind the world of that statistic quite often.
I sooo need a life!!!
Anyways, there were cookies on clearance for $1.
Not great cookies.
But okay cookies.
I ate a few but they weren't really worth the calories. Like I really care about calories.
I didn't mention I bought 4 containers did I.
I threw the cookies in the food processor, thought of yucky ex's, hit the on button and watched them be ripped and slashed to shreds by the sharp blades of Cuisinart death.
Just kidding.
Or am I?
Makes you wonder, if you are a yucky ex that is.
See, this is why women eat chocolate.
It's chocolate or valium.

These are the unworthy cookies.
But put the crumbs in freezer containers, add butter or cinnamon or maybe finely grated citrus peel, and you have something quite worthy for a great crust for cheesecake, or a base for bar cookies, or buttered and toasted for over desserts, etc. when you need it..
I have done this before with other cookies that just weren't up to par.
I do the same with leftover bread.
Slash and pack.
Where's the chocolate?

Yes, I would rather bake than cook. I like to cook but love to bake. There is more of a reward from baking. It is sort of like when you go shopping for something to wear. Cooking results in an outfit. Baking results in jewelry. I personally would rather be naked wearing diamonds.

Now, I mostly only eat chocolate so how do I describe these?
Short and sweet....

Adapted just a little from Chocolatier
32 bars (they say) I say cut them how you want

For the bar cookies
8 T butter, melted
1 1/2 c cookie crumbs
1 1/2 c pecan pieces
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 c butterscotch chips
1 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut
1 c Eagle sweetened condensed milk

For the caramel drizzle
1/4 lb caramels, about 13, unwrapped
1 T plus 1 t milk
1/4 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 dregrees.
Lightly coat a 10" x 10" (or comparable) pan with nonstick spray.
Pour the melted butter in the pan and tilt to cover the bottom with butter.
Sprinkle cookie crumbs evenly over butter and lightly press down to absorb butter into cookie crumbs.
Toss the pecan pieces with vanilla extract and then spread over the crumb crust.
Then spread the butterscotch chips over the pecans.
Then the coconut.
Evenly pour the condensed milk over the coconut.
Bake for 30 minutes until light golden on top.

For the caramel drizzle.
Place the unwrapped caramels and milk in a small saucepan over low heat.
Cook slowly, stirring once the caramels begin to melt.
When completely melted, blend thoroughly.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
With a spoon, drizzle the caramel quickly and lightly over the cooled bar cookies.
Let stand for 1 hour until completely set.

Cut with a sharp knife.
You can store them in an airtight container, preferably in one layer or with waxed paper in between. Or do like I do, leave them in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, keep a fork in the pan and have a bite every time you walk past.