Tuesday, November 23, 2010

thanksgiving turkey cupcakes - brown sugar pound cakes with bailey's irish cream frosting

After being inspired by Bakerella's Thanksgiving cake pops, I decided I wanted to make turkey cupcakes for Thanksgiving.  (And no, they are not made out of turkey!)  I went with brown sugar pound cakes (recipe from Martha Stewart once again), with a Bailey's Irish Cream frosting.  

Then I piped the turkey's body out of chocolate cream cheese frosting.  I added candy corn for the feathers, and an M&M for the face (I originally tried using Whoppers, but the eye balls didn't stand out enough).  I dotted the eyes with an edible food marker, added an orange rainbow chip for the beak, and an upside-down heart confetti sprinkle for the wattle.

I haven't had candy corn for years, but I remember loving them as a kid (I could eat them by the handful).  But when I tasted the candy this time, I couldn't believe how they were much too sweet!  So I ended up  removing most of them when eating the cupcake.

As for the cupcake and the frosting, I loved the combination.  The brown sugar pound cake was caramel-y and not too sweet, and the Bailey's in the frosting complimented the cake perfectly, and gave it just a little touch of Holiday cheer.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

pan-fried mantou

One of my favorite snacks as a kid was mantou, which is a type of Chinese steamed bun.  It's slightly sweet and very dense yet fluffy, similar to the bun you'd find in a char-siu-bao (or manapua, if you're from Hawaii).  When I was little, my favorite way to eat these was steamed, covered in butter, and dipped in sugar.  But as an adult, my favorite preparation is sliced, pan-fried with butter or olive oil, and lightly salted.

I'm not sure if this is just something we do in my family, or if it is widely prepared this way, but BOY is it good!  It's crunchy, toasty, slightly sweet and slightly salty, and perfect with a cup of coffee or as a side starch to any meal.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

thanksgiving turkey

When it was time to sign up to make something for Matthew's preschool Thanksgiving party, I hesitated.  Did I want to make an apple pie?  Maybe pumpkin pie - since the previous time I signed up to make pumpkin pie, I had made pumpkin cupcakes instead.  I couldn't decide, so I held off signing up so that I could have more time to think about it.

Turns out I didn't have to decide.  My husband came home a couple of days later and informed me that Matthew's teacher had asked us to make the turkey.  The turkey?!  I guess no one else wanted to sign up for this task.  It's only like the biggest and most important part of a Thanksgiving meal!  I can understand why no one would volunteer for this!

Luckily, I have a favorite way to roast my turkey.  I generously season the cavity with salt and pepper, and then stuff it full of aromatics - I use garlic, lemons, whole sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary from our garden, in this case), and a whole quartered onion.  Then I slather the outside with lots of olive oil, and season with more salt, pepper, and chopped herbs.  Tuck the wings under, tie up the legs with twine, and it's ready to go in the oven!

Unfortunately for my husband and I, we didn't start this task until the night before, just after midnight.  Which meant that it would be done cooking in the middle of the night.  I was able to take a nice nap on the couch though, and my husband woke me around 4am when the turkey was out of the oven and we could finally go to bed.  (Thanks hon!)

It was worth it though.  Matthew was very proud that he brought the turkey, and all of the kids (dressed as pilgrims and indians), teachers, and parents all enjoyed a nice, although chaotic, Thanksgiving lunch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

fresh grape sorbet

I love anything Chez Panisse and/or Alice Waters, so when I was browsing for new ice cream recipes and happened upon David Lebovitz's blog, and then found out that he used to be a pastry chef at Chez Panisse, I had found my new ice cream idol.

One weekend my mom brought over two giant bags of fresh grapes (she is constantly bringing fresh fruit to our house, faster than we can finish it!), I decided that I had to try his fresh grape sorbet recipe.  The resulting sorbet was so delicious and refreshing - even my father-in-law declared it as his favorite ice cream!

Friday, November 5, 2010

trick-or-treat cookies

Last year at Halloween, we didn't get to pass out any candy because we went trick-or-treating at a friend's neighborhood and didn't get home until late.  So we had this huge unopened bag of chocolate candy left over.  Fortunately, I had just read an article on GOOP that had a recipe for cookies that are made with leftover Halloween candy.  It's a perfect way to use up your leftover candy!

I've made different variations of this cookie, but my favorite combination of candy is Almond Joy, Milky Way, and Hershey Bars.  The coconut in the Almond Joy, mixed with the caramel in the Milky Way, and the chocolaty goodness in the Hershey Bars makes a perfect combination!

Just chop up the candies and mix them into the cookie dough like you would with chocolate chips.

Use a mini ice-cream scoop to make uniform cookie dough balls, and then bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for easy cookie removal (and clean-up!).

I'm planning on making these again this weekend with our leftover candy.  This time I'm going to freeze the cookie dough after I've scooped them into balls, so that they're easy to bake off a few at a time whenever we're craving some chocolate candy cookies!

Happy Friday!