Pumpkin cupcakes

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Nothing special to say about these. After I made pumpkin-stuffed snickerdoodles, I was left with some pumpkin and decided to use it up by making pumpkin cupcakes. I frosted these with plain chocolate buttercream to which I added a bit of cinnamon.

Pumpkin cupcakes
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree or mashed butternut squash
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix wet ingredients together. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients into wet.

Preheat oven to 175C. Divide batter among cupcake papers lining a cupcake pan. Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out clean. Cool on baking racks. Frost/decorate as desired.

Cupcake graveyard

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I used a very basic, and incidentally, vegan chocolate cake recipe to make these cupcakes – although I added in a few teaspoons of instant espresso powder to make them mocha cupcakes.

The cupcake recipe is below. They are frosted with a basic chocolate buttercream and then dipped in Oreo crumbs (Oreos make good dirt/earth). Then the tombstone cookies are added. Various other decorations can be added to suit your tastes.

Chocolate cupcake recipe (vegan)
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa

(2-3 teaspoons instant espresso if you’re going for a mocha thing, like I did)

Preheat oven to 175C. Mix the wet ingredients. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the wet ingredients. Divide among cupcake pans lined with cupcake papers. Bake 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle of cupcakes comes out clean.

Frost/decorate as desired.

 

Ginger cookies with pumpkin spice chips

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I have made many different variations of ginger cookies/ginger snaps in recent years. I used to have a standard recipe – the one with which I grew up – but I tried others that used fresh grated ginger, some that didn’t call for molasses (not always easy or possible to find in Europe) and some just to change things up.

This time, having no molasses and wanting to use some pumpkin spice chips someone had given me (I really wasn’t sure about these – they seemed a bit too ‘toxic’ and unnatural in flavor…), I adapted a bit. I had a lot of golden syrup on hand and decided to use that in place of molasses…

Ginger cookies
Preheat oven to 180C
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pumpkin spice chips

Mix all ingredients except the final two listed. Add the chips, if desired, at the end when dough is well-mixed. You can wrap and chill for a while if you prefer.

Roll dough into small, walnut-sized balls, roll in sugar and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes.

Lemon pistachio bars

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I have been making some variation of lemon bars since I was a kid. Mostly my mom made them because they are easy and quick. I followed suit, as they are generally a no-fuss crowd-pleaser. But somewhere along the line, the recipe I’d been using all my life stopped working. The filling would never solidify/thicken, so it was like a lemon soup inside while the outer edges were virtually burned. I don’t know why this is – it just didn’t work no matter what I did.

So when I decided to use up a stockpile of pistachios and wanted to move beyond my standard recipes, I thought lemon and pistachio would be a good match. I used the standard shortbread crust I have always used for lemon bars; I searched around for other filling recipes… but oddly, though I found a different one, it’s still basically the same as the one I’ve always used with a reduced amount of sugar, which is probably better. Maybe I just whisked/beat it better than in the past. Or something. There are only so many ways to make lemon filling, right?

The people who ate these raved.

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Lemon pistachio bars
Crust
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
chopped pistachios

Combine base ingredients until crumbly. Press mix into an ungreased 13×9 inch pan. Bake until golden brown (about 20-30 minutes).

Reduce oven temperature to 160C

Filling
4 eggs, well-beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
a pinch of salt

Whisk eggs; add all other ingredients except lemon juice and zest, which should be added last. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into squares.

You can sift powdered sugar on top of the cut bars.

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Lemon meringue cupcakes

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It was originally my intent to make several kinds of curd (lemon, pineapple and kiwi) but really didn’t have time, so I stuck with lemon. I was also thinking I would try to shape the meringue like ghosts (Halloween, you know?) but I was finishing these after several marathon days of baking and couldn’t be bothered. I just plopped the meringue onto the tops and broiled.

Lemon meringue cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375F/180-185C. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the milk. Beat for a few minutes until the mixture is light. Alternately beat in dry ingredient mix and the remaining half cup of milk. Half-fill each cupcake liner.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (insert a toothpick into the center of cupcakes to check for doneness; a clean toothpick means the cupcake is ready). Cool on baking rack.

When cooled, hollow out the center of the cupcakes, discard the middle parts.

Fill the middle with lemon curd. Top with meringue topping. Broil in the oven or use a cooking torch to brown the meringue.

Make your own lemon curd

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Why buy pre-made lemon curd when it’s easy to make your own?

Lemon curd
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
6 tablespoons butter

Whisk all ingredients but butter in a saucepan. Stir in the butter over low heat on the stove. Whisk until mixture thickens (between 6 to 10 minutes).

Cover with plastic wrap, ensuring that the wrap is on the surface of the curd so that it doesn’t grow a skin. 🙂

Chill.

I used this to make lemon meringue cupcakes.

coconut cream bars

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Despite ending my amateur baking activity/fetish/obsession (?), I was still motivated to try something new and experimental (motivated by getting rid of ingredients, that is): coconut cream bars.

I had never made these before so I tried something new. I don’t usually taste-test my own baking (that’s what working in an office full of sugar-hungry people is for!). But in this case, I felt a bit worried, so I put one of these coconut cream bars in my mouth as I was setting up all the baked goods for my office to test. Once I could tell it tasted fine, I spit it out and threw it away. I know. I’m a fucking weirdo.

What I can say is that I think the biggest, best difference about these simple bar cookies is that they are made with brown sugar, which adds more depth and flavor.

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Coconut cream bars
Crust
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter

Preheat over to 175C. Line a 13″x9″ rectangular pan with parchment.
Mix all ingredients together and press evenly into pan.
Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 160C.

Coconut cream filling
3 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups coconut

Whisk all ingredients but coconut together. Stir in 3 cups of coconut. Pour over crust and top with remaining one cup of coconut.
Bake 25-30 minutes.