Friday, 30 September 2011

Cupcakes A to Z: 100 Grand Cupcakes

When I was in Florida in September (that's for another post!), I picked up a "few" things that we just can't get in Canada.  Seriously - Americans don't know how good they have it.  There's all kind of things we can't get in Canada - Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light, Cream of Shrimp Soup, 100 Grand Bars, and the list goes on.  I seriously need a shopper in the States who can hook me up with groceries and send them to me!  lol!  Any takers?

There are even different chocolate bars and chips there that we can't get in Canada.   And before I started this project, I'd never even HEARD of 100 Grand Bars.  And they went on my "grocery" list for when Mom and I were on our trip.  You can't really imagine how excited I was to wander into Walmart and find them! 

So before I made these cupcakes I wanted to try the bars before committing them to a cupcake.  The packaging describes them as "chewy caramel, milk chocolate, and crispy crunchies".  Turns out they're like a Nestle Crunch bar wrapped around a chewy caramel.  So pretty much like the package says.  And I think they're super yummy!

The recipe for these cupcakes came from Jessica at The Novice Chef.  She's completely hilarious and I love her blog.  She used the Hershey's Chocolate Cupcake recipe and the Salted Caramel Frosting from Jamie at My Baking Addiction (who I also adore).  However, I switched up the caramel frosting.

I've made a "Caramel Frosting" before - you might remember that - I was happy with the way that it turned out, but I was totally confident that I could find a better one.

So I made my own caramel.  No seriously!  And I was completely terrified - I mean, a sugar burn (although I've never experienced one on my own) is pretty scary stuff.  The hot sugar basically GLUES itself to your skin and burns merrily away.  I kind of like my skin.  It keeps all my junk inside.

The first attempt resulted in burning the caramel.  I forget that my oven + my (gorgeous) pots = really high temperatures.  And sugar turns to caramel and burns in like four seconds flat.  I was positive my smoke alarms would go off - but I ran outside like a crazy person with the pot and tried to figure out what to do next.  I waited a couple of minutes and ended up putting the pot down on the deck (crossing my fingers I wouldn't somehow manage to ruin it - which is just my luck), grabbing the bacon grease can and pouring as much of the caramel out of the pot as I could.  Then I had to clean up that mess and try again. 

On Round 2, I stood there and watched that sugar like a hawk watches a mouse.  The SECOND it was kind of almost light brownish, I whipped it off the burner and added in the cream.  Make sure to add the cream slowly if you choose to make caramel - it has a tendency to splatter.  I used a deep pot, so I wasn't too worried about it, but was sure to add in the cream slowly and stir like a mad woman.

Boiling sugar - this is when I pulled it off the burner

And it totally worked.  It was a beautiful color and smooth and creamy - I almost wept.  And then I did Big Happy Dance.  After adding to the creamed butter and icing sugar, the final frosting was smooth, creamy, and perfect.  It piped beautifully.  If you want a REALLY significant caramel flavour, I would double the caramel that gets added to the butter and icing sugar.  But as it is - it's perfect with the chocolate cupcake.

I also realised after the fact that the recipe calls for salted butter - I used unsalted.  *shrugs*  Oh well.  Would the salt make a huge difference?  Who CARES - it was wonderful anyway!
Caramel perfection

Pretty beaten butter!

Caramel + butter + icing sugar = *DROOL*

Now that I've gone on and on about the frosting - let's just go back to the cupcake.  Now, I used the Hershey's Chocolate Cupcakes recipe, but since Hershey's cocoa is not actually AVAILABLE in Canada (or at least in my neck of the woods), I just used Fry's.  I suppose cocoa powder is cocoa powder.  Now, the recipe said that it would be runny, but it was REALLY runny.  It looked like pancake batter.  I was nervous.
Hello, Chocolate
The Cane Girl is not responsible for the loss of your digit if you stick it in there.

So - for these 100 Grand Cupcakes, you freeze a 100 Grand bar, cut it up, and drop it into the batter.  The idea is that the cupcake will bake around the bar and when you bite into the cupcake, you bite through a chocolate bar.  Sounds cool right?
Chopped 100 Grand Bars ready to go
100 Grand Bars languishing in their cake batter
Naked cupcakes

And here it is - 100 Grand Cupcakes.  A chocolate cupcake filled with a 100 Grand Bar and topped with Caramel Frosting and 100 Grand Bar pieces.  Except for this one - cause I kinda forgot.

Stop licking your screen and pay attention for a sec.

I'm about to show you a horror.  Now - I'd like you to think that I'm some kind of savant and that I created this beautiful masterpiece and all was fine and dandy.  But sadly - it didn't work out for me.  Maybe the batter was too thin.  Maybe I should have floured the bar (or dusted it with cocoa - thanks Kay!).  Who knows.  The CUPCAKE however was absolutely moist and decadent.  I'm not going to lie - I was a little disappointed that it wasn't EXACTLY what I was expecting.  I guess at some point I'll try it again.....  And even though it didn't work out it was still yummy.  I even took some for Kay and force fed them to her and she concurred.  But I was also holding a big stick (read: broom) at the time so she may have felt obligated to tell me they were delicious to avoid bodily harm.

But you really need to see what happened on the inside.
See all the crunchy nugget and caramel goodness at the bottom?  That's not supposed to happen.
Maybe next time it'll work out.  And even though it wasn't perfect, I will say again that I was so so happy with the frosting and the cupcake.

The recipe for this is below.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Seafood Enchiladas and Migraines

A few Thursdays ago (which now seems like a lifetime!) when my Mom and Dad told me they were stopping in on their way to see my brother and his family, I actually had to think REALLY hard about what to make.

This recipe for Seafood Enchiladas had been staring at me from my online recipe box for quite a while now - and I was starting to get uncomfortable with it.  I honestly couldn't stand it anymore, so they were the meal for the evening.

Let me start by saying that I think these were probably awesome.  I couldn't hardly tell though.  Migraines apparently affect taste buds.  But I had terrific feedback from my parents.  Considering the pan was pretty well devoured by end of dinner time - I'd say they were being honest and that I would add these to my personal files.

That particular Thursday started out just with a headache upon waking - which I'm pretty used to (at this point I was going on day 8 of daily headaches).  My only defense is "take a couple Advil and hope it goes away".  So I ran my Thursday morning errands and came home to do Thursday afternoon chores.  I mistakenly thought the headache would get better - but when I came in at 4 to shower and change, the headache had officially been upgraded to migraine status.  And by that point - I was pretty much screwed.

A visit to the doctor the following day confirmed that I am indeed, having migraines (I'm not sure if the daily headaches I've been having are migraines, but Thursday was DEFINITELY one).  And migraines aren't only restricted to one day - oh no.  Migraines are, at the very least, two day magical events that make me want to scream - except I don't because it hurts.  Yep, I get migraine HANGOVERS.  Yay me.  It's super-fun. 

I'm sure Mom and Dad would have understood if they showed up and I said "hey - here's a frozen pizza and a bottle of wine, I'm going to lay down".  But I had already bought everything.

And I totally intended to take process pictures and final pictures, but I was too busy trying not to barf in the filling.  I did snap a few though.

Butter and Onions frying - the start of something good!

Chopped shrimp - not too small!

Baked and ready to go!

A closeup of the yum....

Anyway - the enchiladas were easy and really yummy - but for an added punch I would add fresh cilantro.  Oh, and the recipe says to use 6 10-inch tortillas, but I went ahead and used all 10 (but they were only 6-inch) in the package - cause I didn't really need them hanging around.  And if you like really saucy enchiladas, you should double the sauce.

Seafood Enchiladas
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 pound fresh crabmeat
1/4 pound shrimp - peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
8 ounces Colby Cheese, shredded (I used Monterey Jack)
6 (10 inch) flour tortillas (I used 10 6-inch tortillas)
1 cup half-and-half cream (I used heavy cream)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic salt (I used garlic powder)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, saute onions in 1 tablespoon butter until transparent.  Remove the skillet from heat and stir in crabmeat and shrimp.
  3. Mix half the shredded cheese into the crabmeat and shrimp.
  4. Divide seafood and cheese mixture evenly between the tortillas.  Roll the tortillas up around the filling and arrange in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  5. In a saucepan over medium-low heat combine cream, sour cream, 1/4 cup butter, parsley and garlic salt.  Stir until the mixture is lukewarm and blended.  Pour the sauce over the rolled tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  6. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
I served these enchiladas with Mexican Rice (it was from the box - I know it's "laziness", but don't start with me), sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dealing With My "Little" Problem

I know it's been forever since I've posted.  The house was an average of 30 degrees Celcius every day.  I did make cookies one morning for dinner with Dee and her boyfriend....  And it was so hot I was sweating everywhere - specifically trying not to sweat in the cookie dough.  So there it is.

I figured out how to start cleaning out my "Recipe Hoard".  It came to me shortly after I posted about having this huge recipe collection and just how I was going to get it cleaned up. 

I really wanted to start with cupcakes as my main focus.  Cause I love 'em!  And the bulk of my hoard is cupcakes.  So that's what I'm going to do.  I'll do other stuff as well, but this Winter - it'll be all about the cupcakes.

But what to call this project?  How to decide where to start?

If you know anything about me, you should know that I like to be organized, have a plan, and I don't like random and unexpected. 

I thought about printing a list of all the cupcakes recipes I have saved and putting them in a hat and drawing one a week.  Nope, too random.  I thought about having other people pick.  But then they'd have to look at my cupcake list and would realize I have a problem.  Not gonna work.  But if you read my post on my "problem", then you already know about it and like me anyway.  I wanted to do "seasonal" cupcakes - you know, Red Velvet at Valentine's, Candy Corn Cupcakes at Halloween, etc. etc.

Then it came to me.  And it will totally work because this is the way I think.  If that makes any sense.

Project Name:  Cupcakes A to Z
Process: Alphabetically (obviously) (Can you guess what my full-time career is?)
Time Frame:  When it starts being cool enough to have my oven on until it starts being too HOT to have my oven on!
Special Note:  I'll be halving the recipes anytime I possibly can.  My pants will thank me in the long run.  Oh, and I also have discovered that you can freeze cake batter...  Which will help my pants even MORE! 

Now, I can already see that I will have a problem when I try to do the Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes.  Since it's not Easter there are no Creme Eggs around.  And if there are, I'd be afraid to buy them.  I'm afraid they'd be stale and horrible.  So there might be a couple of cupcakes that I have to tackle out of order.  Darn it - I wonder if it will throw me off.

And where to stick any new cupcake recipes that fall into my lap?  Well - if I haven't gotten to the letter it falls under yet, it won't matter.  If I've passed that letter - I'll just put it up next.  And do I revisit cupcakes that I've already made?  I would really love to do the Apple Spice Cupcakes again, and I would love to do Guinness Cupcakes because the Bailey's Buttercream bombed so badly and now I know better. 

Oh, how I love having a plan.  Now to execute.

I spent quite a bit of time organizing and arranging my collection of recipes.  I also have a "Cupcakes" folder specifically for cupcakes and a copy on a USB stick that goes pretty well everywhere that I go.  That way I can update the folder easily if I find a new recipe to add to my arsenal.

Because I also have multiples of the same recipe, I will do side by side comparisons - because they can all be so different, and then I can figure out what I like.

I'm looking forward to the process - but somewhat intimidated because I know that my decision making abilities are somewhat restricted.  For example - what if I try 5 different recipes and like them ALL?  A sane person only needs one recipe.

Anyway, at this point I have a stunning variety of cupcakes to try - not including variations from different bloggers.  And as soon as my days off start I'll be starting this project.

I'm sure getting things wheedled away will make me feel so much better.

Aren't you excited?  I know I am!

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.