What kind of a recipe blog would this be without a recipe for red velvet cupcakes? Not a very good one, I would wager. Red velvet cupcakes happened to be one of the first posts on The Catalyst Cupcakes and I figured that now that I have a much better understanding of how to make a really good cake, it was time to resurrect that old post and revamp the recipe to one that works better. Also, my D&D group requested them for our next session. (Yup, I don’t just play video games!) Thus, I give you the best red velvet cupcake recipe that I could muster.
For gatherings, so many people make something like a Duncan Hines red velvet cupcake box mix. How dare you, I say! Make your red velvet cupcakes from scratch! Homemade red velvet cupcakes are superior for so many reasons, including the self-satisfaction of something made with your own hands and quality ingredients.
I have to admit that I generally don’t understand the obsession with red velvet cupcakes (or just red velvet cake). Maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot of it that was badly made or made from a box cake mix. The flavor of most that I’d had really wasn’t very special at all and the crumb was all wrong for what I consider a good cake. Also, it was just chocolate cake with a lot of red food coloring dumped in. That’s just wrong! I shouldn’t have to worry about staining my guts red when I eat one of these, should I? No for that’s essentially a pretty red delivery vehicle for cream cheese frosting, am I right? Well whatever the reasons for the obsession, there’s no denying that it tastes good and if you’re looking for something with a great texture, not overly sweet and pretty to look at in the form of a cupcake, you can’t go wrong with what I think is the best red velvet cupcake recipe I’ve ever had. They taste so good, I can see how a properly made red velvet can be obsessed over.
Like I said, I don’t like all of the red food coloring that gets added to a traditional red velvet cake recipe. I have seen as much as 2 fl ounces to as low as 1 tbsp. So I go with a red alkalized cocoa powder from my local kitchen store. It may be hard to find for a lot of people so you might have to go with a few more drops of red gel paste than I used. The red alkalized cocoa powder helps give the cake a more natural-looking color that doesn’t make you afraid to eat it. Another addition that I make is to add a small amount of all-purpose flour to the cake flour to give it a bit more stability than the typically quite soft texture that is common with many varieties of known Red Velvet cakes.
My cream cheese frosting is based off of my Swiss meringue frosting. I think it’s important to have a light frosting so that you can eat more than one cupcake. That just makes sense to me, because if people are going back for seconds and thirds, you win. I’ve had cream cheese frosting that was so sweet it made my teeth hurt and I didn’t want to eat more than half of it or just scrape the frosting off. And a cupcake filled with frosting? Forget it. I won’t eat it. The frosting for red velvet cupcakes should complement the light flavor of the cake, not overpower it! So I hope you make this version of the frosting too.
Cocoa nibs: Roasted, peeled and crushed up cocoa beans. Also, my new obsession! I’ve seen these little things around for the last couple of years but never thought much about them. I love chocolate, so you would think that I would have tried them by now but as you know just because you watch TV doesn’t automatically mean you watch Mad Men (which we don’t). I don’t know exactly what spurred me to give them a try, but the accumulated exposure to them in a zillion food blogs and all over Pinterest probably brought us to this point. Well, I threw some into a batch of semifreddo a couple weeks ago and now I’m obsessed! The bitter, chocolatey/coffee flavor plus the added crunch these provide is something that I don’t know how I lived without all this time. So of course I had to make some cocoa nib macarons with them!
Each ounce of cocoa nibs contains:
3 grams of protein
10 grams of carbs
13 grams of fat (but doesn’t raise cholesterol)
Cocoa nibs are a good source of potassium, chromium, copper, calcium and zinc. Cocoa nibs are also a rich dietary source of magnesium (which many Americans lack). They are chock full of antioxidants which as you know fight off disease. The flavanols in cocoa nibs also help with emotional and cardiovascular health. It’s like eating a bunch of chocolate without getting all the sugar you don’t want. A big win in my book! They can be added to ice cream, yogurt, tossed in your cereal or just eaten in small handfuls (although by themselves they can be an acquired taste for some people).
My kitchen would be a sad place with out basic pantry items like vanilla extract and vanilla sugar. Vanilla extract was something I have always had in my mind to do because it’s used in almost every dessert we make. Some bulk Mexican vanilla beans (Mexican vanilla beans are the best), vodka, and a pretty bottle from the local kitchen store plus lots of patience was all it took to make this vanilla extract. What makes this so great is that it is so basic, and both the sugar and extract are items that you will use often. There really isn’t any reason you shouldn’t learn how to make your own vanilla extract (and vanilla sugar).
I love being inspired to try new things from the blogosphere, especially when it is something that you frequently use and gives you that satisfaction of having made it yourself. This particular adventure was inspired a few weeks ago by Zoe of Zoe Bakes, the co-author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. She is an inspiration to me for many reasons. First, her story of how she used to come home and bake to relax from a long day at work. Her husband had seen the difference in her, and he encouraged and supported her desire to follow her passion. It is very close to my personal story, but with a slightly different ending. The real clincher for why I adore her, is she is also a local Minnesotan.
First food post on the new blog! I hope you are excited as we are. This new look makes feel completely invigorated. I have a list tacked up in my kitchen of things to make, and that’s just for May. Once the seasonal fruits and vegetables come in to play, it’s game on baby! I can’t wait for the weekend trips to the farmer’s market to start!
We could not think of a better recipe/item to kick off this season of cold treats. My friends, this is happiness in every spoonful. Salty, sweet, cold, creamy. It ticks every box for texture and balance of flavor for us. I made it on a whim, and as soon as Frank scraped the last spoon full out of the pan, he realized he ate it all before he got around to taking pictures. Silly man, but he still won. I made it again. It turned out just as amazing. This time around he took pictures first, yet was quite happy to finish off the bowl after he was done.
My old blog started off simple enough. I love to bake and I wanted to share my recipes that I concocted/adapted/cried over with the greater world. I started off with just WordPress.com and my iPhone and the love and support of my husband’s stomach. Thus, The Catalyst: Cupcakes was born, because it all started with a love for cupcakes! That went on for well over a year and naturally as both my baking skills and my husband’s love of photography has evolved, so has our ideas about the direction of our blog. I’ll always love my old blog (which now permanently redirects here) for the motivation it gave me to keep baking and cooking and trying new recipes, both sweet and savory. But as I was saying, we have evolved to a point now where we deemed it necessary to change gears a little bit, both in blog design (getting off of WordPress.com) and blog direction. While I will continue to bake and cook and my husband will eat and take pictures (usually while gesturing wildly and complaining about the light) we decided to combine both of our blogs into one. He canned his photo blog a while back and we felt he could contribute to the blog by posting recipes of his own as well as other things that are food related (or that spark his interest and aren’t too-far off topic, he says).
Thus, Sugar & Snapshots began in earnest after the first of this year. Frank wrestled with boiling a blog down to its essentials and making a good understated layout that focuses on the food and the recipes. I think he did a great job :)
We are very excited to get going with this new blog just as Spring is in full swing here and we will soon have fresh seasonal ingredients to cook with (and photograph)! So feel free to kick the tires and sub to the new RSS feed and stalk us on Pinterest! We’re excited to see where this all leads to!
This recipe has been printed from Sugar & Snapshots http://sugarandsnapshots.com/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new/
Oh Julia, you do know best. You changed the world of home cooking forever and we are so grateful for it. No one will be able to impact the professional and domestic inspired way of cooking like she did. When I first purchased her very famous book I could barely contain my excitement as every recipe is pure gold. We try to cook out of it as often as possible and every recipe we have made out of it tastes perfect. The Queen of Sheba cake was no exception.
It was dense and moist, and the rum flavor just made it sing. The frosting, oh my goodness, the frosting. I could have eaten a bowl of it and for someone who does not like chocolate frosting at all (and is also somewhat allergic to chocolate) this was a big deal. This frosting tastes like chocolate silk. My one word of advice for this cake is do not, by any means skimp on the quality of the chocolate you use. You will taste the difference and for utter and complete decadence use a high quality 55-65% cocoa chocolate bars or buttons.
Since I had not made this cake before I wanted to make a small sample to test it. To see what adjustments I may have to make in regard to temperature, technique, and flavor. Why would I question Julia? Well it was because I have never made an almost flour-less cake like this before so I was a little concerned – completely unwarranted as it turned out perfect! When the trial cake came out of the oven Frank would not stop eating chunks of it and said “I want to smear this all over my face, it’s so good.” In the movie Julie & Julia they make this cake seem very decadent as Julie’s husband smears it all over his face moaning “It is so good”. We used to laugh at it and think how odd, and what a waste of cake. Now we completely agree with the reaction in the movie it is spot on. This is now his favorite chocolate cake, and it was hard for him to admit that after the Chocolate Ginger Cake.
Chocolate chip cookies! A repost! And an anniversary of sorts!
I got a text from a close friend that just said she was coming by to make chocolate chip cookies. No reason other than just “it’s a long story”. It ended up being for one of those great “I win” moments in a relationship when someone presents you with “the best” of something and it ends up being sort of unmemorable. Then you get this smirk on your face as your mind starts going and you know you can do better or know someone whose is better. Being almost as competitive as my friend is, I was all for this cookie competition.
It also happens to be just over a year since my old oven broke and was replaced with the new one I have now. The first test of my new oven involved this classic cookie so it is very fitting (and freakish coincidence) that I’m making them again. Oh what a pain that was, to get a new oven through our apartment’s management company. Just getting it installed and working correctly was a day full of phone calls and complaints and some frustration on the part of the guy who finally hooked it up. I made these chocolate chip cookies for my husband and also as a thank you gift to my building manager who had to put up with me calling him and nagging about the stove more times than should have been necessary.
These are really good cookies but wow did I have some problems with consistency yesterday. Every time I bake a recipe that uses U.S. customary units I have such inconsistent results that I’m disappointed and irritated until I make them right. Thankfully I remembered the advice of all great pastry chefs and I busted out my kitchen scale and weighed my ingredients this time and officially converted my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe to metric. It makes a such a huge difference and results in the perfect cookie every time. Some day I will write a post singing the praises of using a kitchen scale like this one for baking, but in the mean time I hope you give it a try. You will be very pleased with the consistent results you get and how much sense it makes to weigh dry ingredients (and sometimes wet, like egg whites) rather than measure by volume.
The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles. I had my recipe in mind from the second I had seen the challenge published. I wanted to create a healthy breakfast muffin of my own with my favorite ingredients.
The inspiration for these came from my grandma’s apple sauce cake. Growing up in Washington State, we had a back yard full of trees with fresh fruit to use. Apples were used in a lot of our desserts, my favorite being an applesauce cake. Translating it into the muffins was quite easy. At first this may seem to be a slightly difficult or time consuming recipe but trust me when I say this is one of the best muffins I have ever had. It turned out just perfect! Aside from the streusel topping (which is optional, but comes highly recommended from my husband to not omit) this recipe contains no butter or oil and very little sugar. The final result is still a light, moist and quite flavorful muffin that is perfect for that walk to the bus, or quick breakfast before driving to work.
I ended up being short on muffin cups so being my industrious self, I cut out 4″x4″ squares of parchment and pleated them to use as muffin cups. They turned out really cute and I think I will be using them again, since they just look fun. Next time I will add a tutorial, I promise.