Week 35: Chocolate Twinkies

Remember that twinkie kit I bought a few weeks ago? (See Way to Go Hostess.) Well, tonight I decided that I really needed to make them...only I made chocolate ones! They turned out to be very yummy...dark chocolate (you add 1/2 cup of strong coffee to the batter)...and they are so cute when the come out of the pans.

By the way, this Christmas turned out to be the best ever...the week before my step-son, John, graduated from the university. To celebrate, we went to Cintronelle, in Georgetown...it was the first time that we've been there. What a fantastic experience! The chef is Michel Richard...and he is such a cool dude! The restaurant is set up so that you can watch what's going on in the kitchen. One of the things on the menu for dessert is a cute little merengue snowman.

And, today, I was watching Martha Stewart and Chef Michel Richard was on there making the snowmen! Here's a link to the recipe for the Snowmen.

Christmas Eve, we had an awesome dinner for 12 at home...my mom, Bev, my sister Robin and her husband Jim, Laura, Nick, John, Catherine, Shelley, David, James and his wife Amanda. It was lovely. And, once again, the gourmet cooks in our family made the most delicious meal. Since I don't cook, I "Martha" the table setting and do the menus, etc...and cleanup, of course! On Christmas Day, we went to lunch at the Jefferson Hotel. It was lovely and the food was outstandiing. (I feel like I should be living on the treadmill right now! I upped my time on that damn machine and upped the incline and speed, too...just so I could keep up with all this great food!

Okay, back to those twinkies...they were fun to make, but squirting the stuff into the bottom was pretty hard to do....the cake part is very light and fragile and the recipe book that Hostess gives you has several different vanilla fillings to try....also, I was thinking that these can't really be the same recipes that we actually eat/ate when we eat the store bought version (of course, I'd never do that...would I??) because just look at the ingredients on the package...chemical words that I don't even know how to pronounce...what I'm using is all natural...we could never really create the same chemically processed twinkies (and would we want to???...but if you just look at these, they do really resemble that ole twinkie! And, maybe that's enough!

Hope you all have a safe and sane New Year's Eve...2006: Bring it on!

Week 34: Ornament Cupcakes (Chocolate Cupcakes with Easy Buttercream Frosting)

Here's the third and final cupcake in my series of three holiday-themed cupcakes. The first was the Candy Cane Cupcake. The second was the Snowball Cupcake. The recipe I used for this one is a basic dark chocolate cupcake compliemented by Linda West Eckhardt's Quick Buttercream Frosting from her book called Cakes From Scratch in Half the Time." It's a great book! I got the idea from the cupcake ornaments I've been finding this holiday. I searched around on the web and found a similar idea.

So, I made my weekly early Sunday morning cupcake supply trip, only this time it included a trip to CVS because the Giant didn't have any Mini M&M's which are desperately necessary...as well as the miniature Reese's Cups! I came home right away and made the cupcakes because my daughter, Catherine, was having her friend, Jesse, who is also a member of our monthly dinner club, over to bake holiday-type yummies. I needed to get out of there fast. I still make the worst mess in the kitchen, so it's best that I'm in there to suffer with it all by myself. Stuff is flying all over the place, including frosting. The kitchen laptop is coated with confectioner's sugar, something kind of crunchy...and who knows what else!??

They got started baking, and I took the frosting phase of this project into my office to work on the cupcakes. It took me a while to settle on an idea and then I really got cranked up and was able to use all the colored sugars I've been collecting. Each of the 24 cupcakes is different. However, this took all f'ing afternoon. I am not kidding you! But, I totally enjoyed myself and they really were fun to do. One negative thing happened: During the Photography Phase (smile) I had to go get something downstairs and I thought I closed the door. I had a very nice blue cupcake (see photo above) on a plate on this little table in my office...when I came back into the room, the door was open and my dog, Layla was staring at the now empty plate as if another cupcake would magically appear! Good thing I had already taken a couple of shots of that cupcake...she even ate the paper liner...I took one look at her and had another bite of the frosting...It's to die for! My office, however, will never be the same! Recipe up on Monday!

Cupcake Lovers: We Have Our Two Winners!

We had 150 entries in the Cupcake Cookbook Holiday Giveaway! Here are the winners: Lisa from Perth Western Australia and Tara Alton!

I wish I could give all of you a book...your entries were so creative and fun to read. I must add that I realized how much I look forward to reading the posts from my regular readers each week. I hope that those of you who said it was your first post on a blog will consider posting more often. It's a fun way to get to know people!

Lisa and Tara: Please email me your addresses and I'll get the books out to you right away. Send your info to me at linda@mydogbaby.com

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. It nice to know there are so many cupcake lovers out there!

Week 33: Martha Stewart's Snowball Cupcakes with Snowball Frosting

This the second in a series of three holiday-themed cupcakes. The first was the Candy Cane Cupcakes. I found this recipe in the December Martha Stewart Living magazine. She calls them "whimsical wax creations" because she used beeswax sheets to make the little trees, etc. I could not find beeswax sheets anywhere around here so I thought a good substitute for beeswax would be fruit rollups! At least you could eat them instead of burning them! The cupcakes were easy to make...but you have to have bittersweet chocolate on hand. I made them this morning before we went to Butlers Orchard to get our Christmas tree. Then when we got back I needed to do some work on my annual "xmas" cd that I send out to my family and friends--this is the sixth year. So it wasn't until about 4:15 that I returned to the kitchen and began a real trial...opps, I mean, learning experience...that lasted until about 9:00 tonight!

The Snowball Frosting just looks easy. Here are the ingredients: 1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 tablespoons light corn syrup; 6 ounces whipping-quality pasteurized egg whites. It's a cinch, right? No Way! I must make note of one missing ingredient not on the list above: 2/3 cup of water (it is mentioned in the the text below the ingredients. So, I don't add the water, in fact, completely miss the water...I had no idea what it was supposed to look like! But, somehow I knew that tan was not the right color. That batch was a complete failure (however, don't forget the learning experience...now I know what not to do. right? Nod your head here) Second Try: Okay. Now I am seeing that this will take two people to complete, but not until I actually went through it a second time. The recipe calls for you to bring the corn syrup and water and sugar to boil in a small sauce pan until it reaches a temp of 235 degrees. Sounds easy, yes? But the next thing says, "meanwhile, put eggs white into the bowl...etc. etc. You're supposed to beat them up for a while and then when the other pot reaches the right temp, pour that into the egg whites. I was jumping from one side of the kitchen to the other so much that my dog Layla was hiding under the table! On the second run, the eggs got whipped to the "soft peak" stage and then had to wait until the other thing got to the right boiling point. So, while in the end the frosting did seem okay, it didn't reach completely reach the "stiff peak" stage. But, I did use it on the first batch of cupcakes.

It was only one the third try, with the help of two family members, Laura and Catherine (of the whatsheate.blogspot.com fame) that I was able to reach almost perfection of the frosting so that I could "deliver" something that actually imitated a snowball to the top of the cupcake. Whew! This one really wore me out....but they do taste extremely decadent...rich chocolate and almost marshmallow frosting! I think I need to talk to Jeff who sometimes comments here...he's in pastry school. Jeff: HELP!

Don't forget about entering my Holiday Giveaway Cupcake Cookbook Contest before Dec. 16. All you have to do is post to my post about it. Do it now!

Recipe will magically appear tomorrow, I promise!

Holiday Give Away! Two Autographed Copies of Julie Hasson's Cupcake Book!

I'm not sure that I mentioned...except to everyone in my household and other other friends and family types and anyone else within a 50-mile radius...that Julie Hasson, (pictured at left) author of 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, and I have been exchanging emails since October...At first I thought it was someone on her staff doing the writing, but she assured me that she is really her. Julie came up with the idea of the first-ever 52 Cupcakes holiday give away of two copies of her books, autographed by her!

Well, the autographed books arrived today! I love this idea...so now it begins...Here's the way it will work: Ready, Set, Go...It starts RIGHT NOW! To enter this contest, just make a comment on this post. The contest ends at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 16. I will draw two names...from whoever has posted...out of my favorite hat, and announce the two winners about an hour later. I'll mail the books out to the winners on Saturday, Dec. 17...just in time for Christmas! (unless someone from Australia wins...then it may take a little longer to arrive!) Okay...let's get it started!

(If I don't hear back with contact info from a winner by noon (EST) on the 17th, I'll pick another winner.)

Week 32: Candy Cane Cupcakes with Candy Cake Frosting

This the first in a series of three holiday-themed cupcakes: Candy Cane Cupcakes, based on a chocolate cupcake recipe by Emeril. The frosting is a vanilla frosting recipe I found on the web and I added crushed up candy canes to the frosting before mixing and then sprinkled somemore on top after frosting.

The second picture is James...one of my home-based cupcake testers...He wanted to eat it all in one bite but I didn't think that I could capture that event on my digital camera. So, I asked him to do it in two bites. This is his first bite! He really is a great eater!

Go to this set on my flickr account to see more of the Candy Cane Cupcake photos at HERE. Here is the RECIPE!