Another Cupcake Adventure!

Yesterday was husband’s 30th birthday (happy birthday!!), so of course that was the perfect excuse to make cupcakes again!
Image

From his birthday dinner on Sunday at the same French restaurant from my birthday.  Mollie, if you’re reading this, your bread pudding is yummier!

 How can anyone resist making cupcakes for this face??  (I might get in trouble for posting this, but oh well! Hahaha)

Image

Anyways, in the past, husband has mentioned certain desserts of mine that he really loves – lemon blueberry bars, apple crisp, and lemon herb muffins with lemon glaze that I made once.  Since lemon made 2 out of the top 3, I decided to make lemon mint cupcakes with lemon frosting.

As you may (or may not) remember, in my last cupcake adventure I confessed my distaste for American buttercream and that I planned to venture into the world of Swiss meringue buttercream for my next frosting attempt.  Why?  Well, I’m not a huge fan of the gritty, super sweet American buttercream frosting, and Swiss meringue buttercream is supposed to be much less sweet with a smoother texture.

Although the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m really trying to make the same kind of frosting that Sumi of Sumi’s Oven makes, which to me is the gold standard for frosting.  I wish I could just get her recipe!  She made our amazing wedding cupcakes that I still sometimes daydream about even nearly 2 years later.  Mmmmm.  She’s also so nice, very professional, and very reasonably priced if there’s anyone in San Diego looking for someone to make a cake for an occasion 🙂

So anyways, after doing a lot of research online, I ended up referencing this really great tutorial on Swiss meringue buttercream for the recipe and for tips and technique.

I’ve never made a meringue before so I was super excited by how pretty mine turned out!  Some people say to only use fresh egg whites, but I used the liquid pasteurized egg whites and had no trouble.

Image
To this you just add 3 sticks of cubed, cool butter (I know, so bad!) and whip forever until it becomes smooth and creamy, and then add flavoring.  In my case I added the zest of 2 large lemons and the juice of 1 lemon.

For the cupcake part, I used Sally’s recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  Her recipes seem to be on point every time I use them, so I actually subscribe to her site now for ideas.  The only thing I changed was that I melted the butter with mint to infuse it with the flavor then strained out the mint leaves as described here.

Image
The cupcakes were really good. Soft, moist, fluffy, and nice and lemony with a hint of mint flavor.  The buttercream was, well, too buttery.  I know that it’s called a BUTTERcream for a reason, but still, I have trouble stomaching all of that butter.

Image
So I’m still searching for the perfect frosting recipe.  I may try this same recipe next time, but cut down the amount of butter and see if it still holds together.

And that’s it for this cupcake adventure!  This one was much easier and less messy and frustrating, which makes me think that practice makes perfect! 🙂

Homemade Chocolate Chip Bagels

So, I had a craving for chocolate chip bagels yesterday and thought I would try my hand at homemade!  Why?  Well, as much as I love any kind of baking, I think that baking with yeast is the ultimate.  It smells so nice and doughy, kneading is a workout, and plus there is such satisfaction in seeing your dough rise nice and puffy.

These bagels weren’t the prettiest, but they tasted really yummy.  The texture was perfect – a bit crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  I accidentally ate 2 entire bagels within 5 minutes when they were hot and fresh from the oven.  At least I didn’t put any cream cheese? 🙂

choco chip bagels

I got the recipe and photo tutorial from here, which was super helpful since I’ve never made bagels before.  There are many steps involved, but at least most of it is waiting around!

Things I would do differently next time:

1. Add more chocolate chips to the dough.  I thought I had added plenty (about half a cup) since it was turning the dough brown and getting all over my hands when I was kneading it in.  But still, there weren’t enough!  I will probably add 3/4 cup for the same batch next time.

2. Instead of dipping the bagel in cornmeal, I think I’m going to sprinkle a layer of cornmeal on the baking sheet.  My bagel bottoms were covered in cornmeal, which I didn’t find all that pleasant.  I ended up brushing a lot of it off.

3. Figure out a way to make my dough more of a ball instead of looking so piecemeal.  Maybe it’s my kneading technique or something, I dunno.  Either way, I want my bagels to be smooth!

4. Drive to Panera and just buy a chocolate chip bagel next time I have a craving. 🙂

Crochet Project Tally

Here’s the final tally (and some photos!) of my crochet projects from 2013.

11 owl hats (5 baby/child, 6 adult).

2 blankets (1 baby, 1 adult)

IMG_5206Pattern for this baby blanket can be found here.

ImageChevron afghan, pattern can be found here.

2 infinity scarves (made with very thick yarn and a gigantic hook to speed things along)

3 crochet beards (only 2 turned out decent looking), made with thick and warm alpaca yarn

IMG_0328Pattern used for this beard here.  It is meant to be sewn into a hat but I just added earloops so that it could be worn by itself.

beard 2

My sister decided to borrow what was intended for her boyfriend. 🙂 Pattern for this one can be found here.

Whew!  So I’m going to give my hands a break from all this crocheting that I’ve been doing since August and get back into baking for awhile.  There are homemade cinnamon rolls rising in the oven as I write this which I cannot wait to BAKE and then EAT, especially on this chilly snowy day. 🙂