Sunday, June 23, 2013

Creamy Dark Chocolate Ganache over Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

The BEST CUPCAKES just happened in my kitchen.
Dark Chocolate Cupcake 
w/ Creamy Dark Chocolate Ganache
Cupcake Ingredients
(makes 18 cupcakes)
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk (I used Low-fat milk instead of the suggested water from the box recipe)
You can pretty much prepare the batter with a wire whisk, but I used a stand mixer.

First, put the oil in the bowl mixer. At low to medium speed, add the eggs one at a time (incorporate each egg well before adding the next). Then add the milk and incorporate well. Finally, sift the cake mix in the bowl, one cup at a time, mixing in between. (yes, you should sift the cake mix). =) Once the cake mix is almost all incorporated, stop the mixer, and continue to incorporate batter with a spatula. (This helps to prevent over-mixing). Divide batter into cupcake pans lined with cupcake liners. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F, for 12 minutes. Check done-ness with a toothpick, should come out clean. Let cool in a wire rack.

Your cupcake should come out moist and soft.
Once the cupcakes were cool enough, I removed the cupcake liners so I can dip each one in the dark chocolate ganache! I probably didn't need to do this step, but I was just worried the ganache was going to get all over the cupcake liners, but luckily it didn't. Next time, I probably will keep the cupcakes in the liners.

Onto the ganache recipe, which I pretty much modified from this awesome cake book I've had for awhile.
I just happened to glance through the pages today and realized I had all the ingredients I needed already in our kitchen. Plus, this recipe was super easy to make!

Dark Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
First, place the chocolate chips in a heat resistant bowl. Set aside. Next, in a small sauce pan, heat the heavy cream and sugar together until you see the sides bubbling a little (should not be boiling, however). This step only took about 15-30 seconds for me. Then pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. With a wire whisk or fork, immediately start stirring the cream and chocolate together until well incorporated. You should have a rich, smooth and creamy chocolate sauce. GANACHE!

Let the ganache cool a bit. Maybe 5 minutes. Once it's cool enough, Dip each cupcake into the ganache and decorate cupcake however you like. I went with a simple dark chocolate chip on top of each cupcake. But you can also use chocolate sprinkles or chocolate shavings. YUM!
Of course I had to serve me one of these to try. It was probably the best chocolate cupcake I have ever ever made, just because of that creamy ganache! I think that really topped off the cake fairly well. Goes much better than any butter cream frosting out there, in my opinion.
I must say, I stirred clear from box cake mix for awhile because I wanted to bake from scratch, but I have yet to make cupcake from scratch that taste as good as this one! These cupcakes are the perfect after dinner dessert I crave so often. It's just the right amount to chocolate for someone who needs something sweet at the end of a meal. OMG is it soooo good! The creamy dark chocolate ganache goes so well with this cupcake. It brings out the moistness of the cake so well. I can seriously eat 2 or 3 of these at a time, but self control keeps me in check. ;)

WARNING: Try to share, or else you will eat them all!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vanilla Bourbon Cupcakes w/ Pink Vanilla Bourbon Frosting

Vanilla Bourbon Cupcakes 
w/ Vanilla Bourbon Frosting 
(Recipe adapted from here
Cupcake Ingredients
Makes 12 cupcakes 
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon 100% Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened, at room temperature)
  • 1 large egg 
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
NOTE: There were a few ingredients from the original recipe that I substituted, such as the milk, vanilla extract, and the salt. But I kept the measurements the same. I recently discovered this at my local Fresh & Easy market which I used for both cupcake and frosting recipes, and they turned out great!

Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cupcake pans with liners.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the milk, vanilla extract, egg, and egg whites until well incorporated.
  • In a stand mixer, mix the sifted flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds.
  • Mix in the softened butter and remaining 1/4 cup milk on low speed until moistened. Gradually increase speed to medium, until everything well incorporated. 
  • Add the egg mixture in 3 parts, beating on medium after each addition. 
TIP: Don't over mix, once batter is nice and smooth, stop mixing.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes. 
  • Check done-ness with a toothpick, should come out clean.
  • Let cool before frosting.
Frosting Ingredients
  • 2/3 stick unsalted butter (softened, at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp 100% pure bourbon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugars (sifted after measured)
  • 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
NOTE: I used Wilton's food coloring in Coral (Check out the Wilton color chart here).

Instructions
  • In a stand mixer, mix softened butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  • Mix in 1 cup powdered sugar.
  • Add 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream.
  • Repeat process until all ingredients are well incorporated. 
TIP: Allow plenty of mixing time. The more time you allow, the fluffier and stiffer you frosting will be.

Once you have your frosting the way you want, place it in a piping bag with you choice of piping tip. This time I used Wilton's #2D piping tip
I have been looking for this tip for awhile now and I finally found it at Michael's. It was the last one they had in stock, so it was definitely meant to be. lol...
I was super happy about how these cupcakes turned out, especially the frosting part. 
For the frosting technique, I went with the simple rose design. I still need practice, but I have improved from my last cupcake frosting job seen here. And it is sooo much FUN!
I used Martha Stewart's cupcake liners for these cupcakes. I just love how the pink floral ones look along with the rose frosting. It's the simple details...lol...

Enjoy & I hope you try this out!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 16: Bok Choy

She's a lookin' good!I am so happy to share how the bok choy is doing at 16 days!
The one good thing I like about growing the bok choy is that it does require once a day watering so I don't ever worry about over-watering. Veggies like water, probably because they are pretty much made up of water.
See her journey here, here, and here.

She's growing so fast. <3

Day 17: Planting Flower Seeds

This sucks! You are witnessing my failed attempts to planting seeds. 
Day 17. A little over 2 weeks that I was trying to plant flowers in our apartment. There are many reasons why this failed: lack of good sunlight, and possible over-watering. =(
It doesn't actually look that bad. At least the seeds sprouted. In fact, when I pulled the poppy sprouts out of the soil, there was quite a bit of roots that developed from such a tiny seed. But bottom line, the poppy seed planting was a fail! =( On the other hand, the zinnia seeds are not dead, yet. I am still hoping that it will have a revival. 

They were doing so well before. But I think our apartment was just not getting enough sun. Not to mention my natural instinct to keep watering. lol. I think I drowned them. 

Here is the zinnia at about week 1. I thought she was looking pretty good. See the little sprouts starting to come out? (so cute, right?)
Oh well, you live and learn. It was fun while it lasted. I will try again though. I still have some left-over seeds so I might give it another go when the weather is right. heheh.

=)

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes 
(Recipe modified from here)
Ingredients 
Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

NOTE: The main thing I did different from the original instructions suggested is that instead of adding the cocoa powder with the boiling water, butter, and sugar mixture, I decided to mix it in with the dry ingredients mixture. Here's my version of how I made these.

Preheat oven at 350 F. Line cupcake tray with liners. 

First, I mixed the softened butter into smooth, silky, buttery goodness using a stand mixer. Take your time with this and really cream out the butter.
Next, I added the sugar, and mixed those two ingredients really well. It should look really smooth and not so grainy/sugary looking. Then add your boiling water. 

In a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together (including the cocoa powder). 

In another separate bowl, mix the egg, sour cream, and vanilla. 

TIP: Pre-mixing ingredients in separate bowls helps to prevent over-mixing of the overall batter. I've realized that over-mixing cupcake batter can cause it to be too bread-y, and not so fluffy. So, pre-mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately first, then mix the two together (and hope you get a fluffy cupcake).
Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 way full. Bake at 350 F for about 15-18 min. Check done-ness with a toothpick (should come out clean). Let cool completely. 
While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare your frosting!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (w/ sour cream)
  • 1 cup room temperature (softened) butter 
  • about 3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
TIP: The most important part to getting a good consistency to frosting is your mixing time. I have gotten really runny (too goopy) frosting in the past. It just didn't hold up well enough for piping. The reason for that is that I wasn't mixing the ingredients long enough. I guess the longer you mix, the more air you put into the frosting, making it much fluffier and stiffer so mix away! Enough with the rambling, here's how.

First take your room temperature butter and cream it well in a stand mixer on low-medium speed (you need a stand mixer). The stand mixer does a better job at really creaming the butter. Mix for about 5 minutes or until you get a nice creamy consistency. Then, add your sifted sugar, mixing it in 1 cup at a time and mixing in between and really incorporating it into the butter. 

In a separate bowl, mix your sour cream and vanilla together. And add it little by little into the butter and sugar mixture so you don't end up with too wet of a frosting. Start out by adding only half of the sour cream mixture and add as needed. Mix really well, about another 5 minutes on medium speed. Look and see if the frosting is starting to look more and more stiffer. 

Once you are satisfied, place into a piping bag and frost away.
You'll have to excuse my ugly frosting job. This was my first trial of the frosting recipe and I was piping these cupcakes at four in the morning. hehe. I will have to try this recipe again so I can practice on that. 

Happy baking.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wedding Ideas

Summer is approaching, which means more weddings! I love browsing through my favorite wedding blogs, Pinterest, and attending actual weddings for ideas for my own wedding... I don't have a specific theme set yet, but I do tend to favor vineyard weddings and outdoor/backyard-type weddings. Here's a few photos from various online sources of wedding decor i really love. 


(Photos are taken from StyleMePretty.com)

It doesn't hurt to have a lot of ideas for a wedding. But that is also my biggest problem when it comes to choosing themes, colors, and ideas about my own wedding. For me, it all comes down to a few main things:
1. Budget Friendly
2. Small & Intimate
3. Simple Outdoor
I don't really plan on a big wedding. Just something small and intimate where I can have close family and friends gather to celebrate our big day. Although it is still far in the making, I do look forward to that day!

<3

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Garden Updates

It's starting to look like a jungle in the apartment. Not gonna lie, I never thought I'd turn into a plant lover, but it is very addicting and at the same time gratifying to see something you plant come to life. It all pretty much started with just a few plants. Now we have several in the apartment, and we are running out of rooms to put them... The good news is all the plants so far are alive and thriving, so much so that I've needed to transplant them into much bigger pots.
First up, the snake plant. It looks more comfortable now in its new bigger pot. It used to live in a much smaller one (like the size that the green onions are in now). It's amazing how fast they grow! I can't wait until the snake plant gets much bigger and longer. 
Here's the snake plant BEFORE.

Here it is NOW. 
Much roomier, and gives the roots more than enough space to expand. =) 
Next up is the succulent. Here it is BEFORE.
It looked great, but it just seemed too crowded. I also felt that the stems were getting so long that they were hitting the other stems. It was time for more space. lol. 
Here it is NOW.
Much better. 
Now onto the vegetables. The bok choy is growing fast! It has gotten big enough for me to actually pot it now. It used to just sit in a cup of water. See the progress here and here.
Now she's got some big girl pants on and lives in an actual pot now.
The green onions have gotten potted too. It started out with just tiny little roots at the bottom. See more here and here. In the photo below, you can't even see any roots.
But now the roots have gotten so long, long enough for me to plant into soil =) It grew so much in only six days. I was really happy about this one.
So into a pot it went with the rest of its buddies.
One last one I will show you is the dumb cane plant. This was one of our first plants we took home. It used to look like this...
It has since been sprouting new leaves, and growing taller and taller. So in to a much bigger pot she goes.
...i'm glad they all look alive. ahahha. jungle-y. but alive. I hope they all don't get too out of control, though. but I do hope they last forever. it would be nice to look back a few months from now and see the progress...

<3