Friday, April 29, 2011

rum raisin ice cream

My husband loves rum raisin ice cream.  So when I saw a recipe for it while flipping through my David Lebovitz's ice cream book, I decided to make it for him.

The recipe starts by infusing rum with orange zest and raisins.  I let this mixture soak for a day, and then made the ice cream custard the next day.  Before churning, I drained the raisins, and then added the raisin-infused rum to the custard.  Then I churned the ice cream, and added the drained raisins during the last five minutes of churning.

The ice cream itself didn't end up having much of the rum flavor.  It almost tasted like vanilla ice cream - however, there definitely was a kick from the rum-soaked raisins!  Maybe next time I need to use a darker rum?  (I used a gold Puerto Rican rum).  I might also try adding the raisin-infused rum to the ice cream base earlier, and let that mixture sit in the fridge overnight before churning.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

easter cupcakes - brown sugar pound cakes with browned butter cream cheese frosting

There are a couple things that led me to this combination of flavors for my easter cupcakes.  First, I've been drooling over various pictures of easter egg nests (see here and here), which made me to want to make cupcakes decorated with mini nests.  And second, I recently scarfed down a whole box of Samoas Girl Scout Cookies (it may or may not have been all by myself), and it reminded me how much I love the combination of coconut, chocolate, and caramel.  This led me to make these brown sugar cupcakes with browned butter cream cheese frosting (the caramel flavor component), decorated with chocolate-coconut easter egg nests.

The day before making the cupcakes, I assembled my coconut-chocolate nests.  I toasted some shredded coconut, then mixed it with melted chocolate.  I pressed the mixture into a mini cupcake pan, and pressed in my Cadbury chocolate eggs while the coconut-chocolate mixture was still warm.  Then I put the pan into the fridge so that I could easily pop the nests out after they had hardened.

The next day, I made the same brown sugar cupcakes as I did for my Thanksgiving cupcakes, but instead of topping it with the Bailey's frosting (somehow Bailey's and Easter just didn't seem to go together), I decided to pair it with the browned butter cream cheese frosting that I made for my Halloween cupcakes.

The cupcakes turned out moist and fluffy, with a slight caramely brown sugar flavor.  And it went perfectly with the browned butter cream cheese frosting.

I even had leftover batter, so I made a few mini cupcakes too.  Perfectly bite-sized for the kiddos!

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 18, 2011


My cousin Angie gave me her old madeleine pan a few years ago when she was spring cleaning (thanks Angie!!!), and since then I've used it quite often.  The batter is pretty easy to whip up on short notice, and they only take 10-12 minutes to bake!  The only tedious part is having to wipe clean and re-butter/flour the pan for the second batch (since my pan only holds a dozen, and the recipe makes two dozen!).  

I use a recipe from my Barefoot Contessa cookbook for coconut madeleines, but I just omit the coconut (although one of these days I'll have to try it with the coconut).  The batter can get thick, so I use a mini-ice cream scoop to fill the shells.

The madeleines end up tasting like mini buttery pound cakes - perfect with your morning coffee, or as an afternoon snack with tea!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

orange creamsicle ice cream

My mom has been bringing bags and bags full of oranges to our house every weekend, much more than we can finish.  I was trying to think  of what I could make with all these oranges, possibly some kind of sherbet or sorbet?  A quick glance at my David Lebovitz ice cream book led me to what I was looking for .... orange creamsicle ice cream!

The recipe calls for grated orange zest in addition to freshly squeezed orange juice - perfect for using up lots of oranges!  And with the recent warm weather, orange creamsicles in ice cream form sounded perfect.

After blending up the orange zest with sugar, and then adding yogurt and heavy cream, it was ready to be churned.  The resulting ice cream was fresh, creamy, and perfectly orangey.  If you've ever had Orange Julius, that's what it reminded me of.  I'll definitely be making this one again!

Monday, April 11, 2011

mint-oreo ice cream

My husband's family was in town from Hawaii visiting recently, and his nephew Coby LOVES mint chip ice cream.  So I decided to make it for him with a twist - I made it with crushed oreos instead.

The ice cream base is made with milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, and peppermint extract.  We also added a tiny bit of green food coloring, but you can add more if you'd like a brighter green color.  The crushed oreos were added during the last 5 minutes of churning.

I think I added a teeny bit too much mint though, so I called it "extra minty mint-oreo ice cream" when I served it.  But overall, it was a great combination!  It reminded me of eating Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies.  I'll definitely be making this again, but with less of the mint :)

Update: I also made mint thinmint ice cream with Thin Mint cookies instead of Oreo cookies, and it is really delicious as well!  Try it for even more mint flavor in the ice cream!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

japanese cheesecake (soufflé cheesecake, a.k.a. salvaged cream cheese frosting)

I was really rushed when making these fresh strawberry Hello Kitty birthday cupcakes for my friend's daughter's birthday.  As a result, I not only messed up on the cupcake batter (that's a whole other story), I also messed up on the frosting.

While making the cream cheese frosting, I had decided to add some pureed strawberries... bad decision.  I normally make my fresh strawberry buttercream using strawberry puree, and the frosting comes out great because my buttercream always needs a bit of liquid to buttercream anyway (usually milk or water).  But I had forgotten that cream cheese frosting is already a very loose frosting, and when I added the strawberry puree it became very goopy.  And un-pipeable.  I tried adding small pieces of cold butter, thinking it would make it thicker.  But it only made it really lumpy.  So I had to start over with a new batch of cream cheese frosting!

After I was finally done decorating the cupcakes, I still had a batch of goopy, runny, lumpy strawberry cream cheese frosting, unused and sitting in my fridge.  I didn't want to throw it out - what could I turn this into?  And then I remembered a recipe for Japanese-style cheesecake that I've been meaning to try out.  I quickly checked the recipe - it called for cream cheese.  Check.  It also called for sugar and butter.  Check, and check - all of those were already in the frosting.  All I needed to add was flour, cornstarch, salt, and eggs!

So I ended up turning my runny frosting into a fresh strawberry Japanese-style cheesecake.  I used this recipe - It requires one-fourth of the cream cheese required in NY-style cheesecake, and the batter is lightened with whipped egg whites.  After I baked it in a water bath and then let it cool, I couldn't wait - I had to try it.  The cake turned out light, fluffy, and lived up to its nickname of "cotton cake".  I usually see this cake decorated with fresh fruit and glaze, but I actually thought it tasted great just plain.  The next time I make it, hopefully I'll have the will power to refrain from cutting into it before it's decorated!

Monday, April 4, 2011

fresh grape popsicles

Recently we've been making lots of popsicles for my son, even before the warm weather came on.  At first we just used orange juice, but then one weekend we had an abundance of grapes in the fridge, and I decided to use them to make fresh grape popsicles.

I used the same recipe for fresh grape sorbet that I had made before.   After simmering the grapes on the stove with a little bit of water, I pressed them into a strainer to extract all of the juice.  Then I added honey and a little bit of sugar.  And then I just froze the mixture in my popsicle trays instead of churning it in the ice cream maker.

They turned out great!  The popsicles had a very, very intense grape flavor.  Everyone loved them.  I'm going to try making all my popsicles with fresh fruit from now on!

Friday, April 1, 2011

more hello kitty cupcakes

My good friend's daughter Naomi loves Hello Kitty (just like me!), so I made her some fresh strawberry Hello Kitty cupcakes for her 3rd birthday this past week.

Ever since my original post on these cupcakes, I've made them so many times I can't remember!  They are probably my most requested cupcake.  The first time I made them, I paired them with my fresh strawberry buttercream.  But I thought the combination was too sweet, and a little too much strawberry.  So now I prefer topping them with my tangy cream cheese frosting instead.

The hardest part about making these cupcakes is dicing the strawberries for the batter.  You need to dice them extra extra tiny, or else you'll get huge chunks of wet strawberries in your cupcake (which scared me the first time I made these because at first I thought it was uncooked batter!)  One of these days I'm going to try pureeing the strawberries instead, but I have a feeling it just wouldn't be the same as a delicate white cake speckled with tiny pieces of strawberries.

Hope you had a happy, happy birthday little Naomi!  I can't believe you're three!