Monday, 30 January 2012

Mini Twix Cheesecakes

Oh Twix bars - how I love them.  And my Mom likes them too - so they kinda make me think of her.  When I was a kid, she would buy a Twix bar, eat one of the two and stash the other bar (in the wrapper) in random places.  So my brother and I wouldn't eat it. 

Mostly my brother. 

Most DEFINITELY my brother.  The kid was seriously a garburator (sp?).  For real.  Like, who in the world would get up and eat a whole entire meal at 3:00 IN THE MORNING after he's had three rounded, wholesome meals throughout the day?  My brother. 

I'm sure he's going to LOVE the fact that I blabbed that all over the Internet.  Don't tell him.

Anyway, back to my Mom.  She called and said I should come for a visit, and play with my sweet baby niece.  Oh - and also that she would make me THIS....


Even though the temperature was set to drop into the -30s (that's degrees Celcius friends!), I packed up my pillow and drove three hours to visit.  And eat turkey.  Let's be honest.

Since my Mom's birthday was coming up, I hummed and hawed about what to make - aside from her favourite cookies mind you.  I recalled seeing these Mini Twix Cheesecakes on Lindsey's blog Gingerbread Bagels and remembered how I poured over them over and over and desperately wanted to make them!

I want to just say a quick thing about Lindsey here before I move along.  She's so creative I can hardly wait to see what she'll come up with next!  And she's incredibly sweet to boot - so reading her blog is an absolute treat.

On with the cheesecakes.

Although I enjoy Oreo cookies as much as the next person, I decided to do something a little different with the base.

I had done a little snooping and pondering and decided to do a shortbread base.  I ALSO decided to be super-lazy and just use pre-made shortbread cookies from the store.  So I used an imported shortbread cookie from the States - Lorna Doone.  (Yep - just another item in the long list of things we can't get in Canada, however, I swear I saw shortbread cookies in my grocery store)

Here's where things got a little tricky.  These cookies are quite a bit smaller than Oreos and Lindsey uses as her measurement just a number of cookies.  So I had to figure out an approximate measurement. 

In the comments, someone asked Lindsey about the size of the bag she used when referring to "about half the package" and Lindsey responded with the bag size and about how many cookies were in the bag.  Thank GOODNESS.

Now here's where things get dorky.

I took the weight of the bag that Lindsey uses which is 439 grams, divided that by 51 which is the average number of cookies in that bag, and then multiplied it by 20 which is the number of Oreos Lindsey uses in her recipe.  It came out to 172 grams.  Then I pulled out the scale and weighed out shortbread cookies.

I know.  I'm a huge dork.

Just love me anyway.

Here's what you do:

Crush up those cookies in a food processor.

Add one tablespoon sugar.

Add 1/4 cup melted butter and combine well.

Scoop about a tablespoon into a paper lined cupcake pan and press the mixture into the bottom with your (clean!) fingers.  Set aside.

Now for the filling.

In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium low (DON'T OVER BEAT! lol!) for about three minutes.

Then add the sugar and beat on medium low until combined.

Add the vanilla extract and mix.

Slowly add the eggs and mix until combined.

Chop up Twix bars.  I used 7 regular-sized bars because my grocery store didn't have fun-size bars and I wasn't about to drive all over the countryside looking for fun-size Twix bars while Alberta was in the midst of it's first cold-snap of the year.

And darn it, but it was cold.

Back to the batter - remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in chopped twix bars.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion the batter into the cupcake liners.

I actually ended up with a lot of batter left over.  But not enough base.  Darn.

Then bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.

I pulled the cheesecakes out and let them cool on the counter a little while and then cooled them in the fridge overnight.

*Sigh*.  Waiting is so hard.

But it must be done in this case.  Cause Lindsey said so.

The result?

I could have actually taken the remaining batter and distributed it between the cheesecakes - there would have been enough room in the cup liners.

And oh. my. goodness.  They were SO SO delicious!  Perfectly cooked and when you'd get a little bit of the melty caramel from the Twix bar is was absolutely decadent.

Oh. My. Cheesecake.  They are so fantastic I can hardly stand it!

Thank you Lindsey for such a wonderful recipe!!!!

With a new recipe in tow, this is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Cupcakes A to Z: Bacon & Egg Cupcakes

Yep - you read that right.  Bacon and Egg Cupcakes.  Well - "Egg".

I think I saw this on Tastespotting and was instantly intrigued.

Bacon in or on desserts is all the rage right now (uh, though I might have missed it).  Candied, plain, baked in, and topped with.  And I am a bacon lover.  Love.  Bacon.  The guys I work with call me "The Baconator".  I'll probably need a bypass before I'm 40.  But I'm NOT giving up my bacon.

After reading through the recipe I decided that instead of topping with a butterscotch candy, I decided to just use frosting to make the "yolk".  But I LOVED her idea of using poppy seeds to emulate pepper!

This time around - I started with the frosting first.  I rarely do that, but I wanted to let the color "set" in the yolk.

Tip for newbies: over beating cream cheese results in clumps.  Make sure you don't over beat your cream cheese!

That's it - just cream cheese and icing sugar
With a little Wilton White-White.  I'm not sure if it made it any whiter or if it's just this picture.

I made the frosting and separated out a little bit of it and colored it with Wilton Orange.  I added in a little Wilton Yellow to make it a little bit more "yolky". 

The "yolk" frosting

After the frosting was finished, I set about making the cupcakes.

First, I fried up the bacon and crumbled it into small bits.
Hello lover.  Uh, I mean bacon.

Check out my sweet new mixer bowl!

Check out my sweet FlexEdge Beater!  Told you I got spoiled this year!

Anyway, I used a cake box mix to make these cupcakes - and it tasted pretty good too.  Mix everything together and toss in the bacon bits.

Oooh!  Oooh!  Check my sweet new spatula from Dee!!!

It's true - I got spoiled ROT.TEN.

Then bake.

After they were baked up and cooled, I spread the white frosting on the cupcakes and smoothed it out the best I could.

Then I took my (clean!) thumb and make a small indentation in about the center of the cupcake.

I filled a piping bag with the "yolk" frosting and used a large round tip to pipe a roundish yolk and smoothed it out the best I could with my finger.

And to finish it off, I dropped some poppy seeds on top to fake pepper.

And our thoughts?

My personal opinion is that the bacon didn't really seem to be terribly prominent in the cupcake.  Also, the cream cheese frosting was a little strong against the vanilla cupcake.  I also think that I left the cupcakes in a little too long and that they were a little dry.

Everyone else (there were four of us) at the table thought they were wonderful!

But, for me, it was the aesthetics of the cupcake!  They're so cute and fun to look at!!!

And since these cupcakes have bacon in them - I can totally eat them for breakfast.  Right?  I mean - you would understand how I could confuse these for eggs from afar and while my eyes are all bleary from my sweet dreams? 

Wouldn't you?

I won't post the recipe, here, but you can find it if you follow the link below.

Full on "breakfast foods", this is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Source: That's So Michelle

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cupcakes A to Z: Autumn Spice Cupcakes

Let me start by saying that these cupcakes wrap up the letter A.  Three months ago when I started this project, I figured I'd be waaaaay further ahead then this.  For reals.  I figured I at LEAST be nearing the end of the B's.  Then "life" happened.  Either I've been not feeling well, spending time with family and friends, or busy with other stuff.  And those things push the cupcake project up on the shelf to be looked at later. 

And you know what?  That's okay.  I'm fine with that.  It means I've been living.  LIVING.  It's way more important than cupcakes.

I made these by accident with the Apple Spice Cupcakes.  I thought I had looked closely enough, but I would absolutely not group these with an Apple Spice.

Have you ever smelled cardamom?  Holy moly that stuff is strong and it made me really nervous about how these cupcakes would taste.

And these are naked - so no pretty pictures.  Because I made them on a test day!  Apparently, I should have looked a little closer.

And when I tried them - I DID. NOT. like them.

Now - don't get me wrong, I'm all for a savoury type of dessert, but the cardamom was not my cup of tea.  And they weren't DISGUSTING - but I took one bite and knew they weren't for me.

And you can tell I didn't like them by the length of this post.

I gotta go brush my teeth.

This is the Cane Girl, freshly minty - signing off.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Cupcakes A to Z: Appletini Cupcakes

I think that when I saw the Appletini Cupcakes by Naomi at Bakers Royale on Tastespotting was when I really wanted to start doing cupcakes.  They were so pretty, I was absolutely smitten.  I wanted to be able to make something that people would look at and say "Wow!  Those are beautiful!"

If you've noticed anything about my previous cupcakes, you would have noticed that I'm generally happy with the cupcake and a swirl of icing.  I don't ever feel like I need to decorate them that much more.  But Naomi made these for her 1st Blog-a-versary, so I wanted to do them (and her) justice by going that little extra mile.

And.  I was taking them with me to my parent's house for Christmas.  They definitely NEEDED to be pretty!

A quick overview for you.  These Appletini Cupcakes are a vanilla cupcake topped with an appletini glaze and FURTHER topped with an appletini-infused Swiss meringue buttercream, dredged in white sanding sugar and topped with a cherry.  I really wanted cherries with the stem on, but I couldn't find any!  Talk abut sad.  (Is it weird that THAT'S what makes me sad?)

Also - do you know that it's IMPOSSIBLE to find Apple Schnapps around here?  Seriously - I went to two different liquor stores and called a third and none of them had Apple Schnapps.  So I decided just to sub in Apple Sour Puss.  When I got home I "googled" and some of the responses I found were that I could sub in the Sour Puss and no-one would know any different.

I baked up a batch of vanilla cupcakes.  I had actually planned on making all of them, but - as luck would have it - I was 11 liners short.  Of course.

The "stuff"

Mix the dry ingredients

Mix the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla

Combine the milk and sour cream

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture and mix until just combined

And bake till done
Then you make a glaze out of the Appletini.  Now, on Naomi's website, it says "Make the 3 servings".  I had to only assume that meant "Make three martinis, combine two and put one aside".  And then I had to guess what "1 part" meant.  In the cocktail world, and general "part" is 1 oz.  That's two tablespoons. 

The Appletini Stuff

Just to test it out, I made the first martini like that.  But it made a HECK of a lot.  I added four tablespoons of icing sugar to make a glaze, but I had to add quite a bit more to make it an actual "glaze".  As it was before I added more icing sugar, it was more of a syrup.  So I just added icing sugar until I got to the consistency of a glaze.

I have no idea if that's right at all.  I'm kinda winging it here.

Then you stab a bunch of holes in each cupcakes and brush the Appletini glaze over top.  It should seep down into the cupcake and infuse it with the Appletini flavour.

With holes and glaze

Then you make a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Heat water and sugar in double boiler until smooth between your fingers
Whip to a meringue and add in the butter a bit at a time

And at the end, you toss in two "servings" of Appletini.  But after I had made one serving for the glaze and realised just how much it was, I was hesitant to throw so much into the buttercream. 

So I made ONE serving and added the whole thing to the buttercream.  Believe me, I had the time to start this one over if it was messed up.

I have to remind myself that flavour will generally change and "brighten" overnight.  So I didn't want to make the buttercream too terribly strong.

In the end, I added two servings to the buttercream, but I thought that it made it a little soft for piping - I probably should have chilled it for about five minutes or so to set it a little.

To decorate - I used a large round tip to pipe and then rolled the edges in sanding sugar.

I obviously need to practice with my round tip!

And top with a cherry.  I was so disappointed that I couldn't find maraschinos with the stem attached.  And I probably should have let the cherries drain first, because this one started to drip. 

The result? 

I couldn't taste the Appletini at all.  Basically it was just a vanilla cupcake.  But it was really, really pretty!  And the cupcake itself was lovely and moist.  And the Swiss Meringue was really good - easy and not fussy!

I'm sort of disappointed that the flavour of the Appletini didn't come through at all.  I wonder why the boozy cupcakes never taste boozy?  I suppose you could try it for yourself and see if you get different results.

Still not drunk off cupcakes, this is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

How Technology Is Helpful

When I'm at work I drive a new(er) SUV.  It's a 2011.  It's HU.MON.GOUS compared to my little red Saturn.  And when I get home and plop myself down in my little red Saturn, I feel tiny and terrified.  But I pretend that I'm in my big SUV-and-I'm-not-scared-of-all-you-big-guys-and-you-should-move-for-me-see-how-big-I-am?


When I jump up and plop myself down in my work truck and fire the "old" gal up - this is the message that I see.....

Uh.  Really?

Sorry - this picture was taken in the massive shadow of "Big Ben" - this spot is in shadow all day long.

Wow.  Thanks.

No really, without you I would have never realised!  Without you I would forget that I live in the land of ice and snow for 6 months out of each and every year - for the LAST. 31. YEARS.  Where have you been all my life?

Thanks Technology.  You're the schizz.

Relieved that I now know about the ice, this is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Blog Design Update

Hi everyone!

Now you can follow me via e-mail! 

I'm not terribly sure how it would work, but if you enter your e-mail address in the "Follow By E-mail" and click submit, every time I update the blog with a new post you will get an e-mail....

I think.

I have no idea.  Will someone please let me know if it works?!?!?

The Cane Girl.