In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. ~ Gibran

Monday, June 24, 2013

Make and Take Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Meringue Cupcakes!

Make and Take was at Pam's house this month, so we knew we were in store for some creative dessert making. Mission: Top Up Cupcakes! Yummers! Never seen one, never ate one. It was a rich and dreamy adventure! This recipe requires patients for the many steps, but it is worth it in every bite!

 1. Start by pureeing the fresh strawberry's. Leave little chunks for a beautiful texture and visual sensation.

 2. In a double broiler, whip the 1 1/2 cups sugar and 6 egg whites constantly until the candy thermometer reads 160 degrees. Test the mixture to ensure no grainy feeling in the meringue. If so keep over steam another minute.Then transfer to a mixer and beat until stiff peaks form with a nice glossy finish. The bowl should now be a slight warm, much cooler than when you started... about 8 mins.

3. Add the 3/4 pounds of butter cut into small pieces and incorporated as you go. Once all butter in the meringue, beat for 2 minutes until smooth.Now incorporate the fresh strawberry's into the meringue.

4. Fill a piping bag and build layers of the meringue on top a frozen cup cake. Use a little curl on the top for best look. Place the sheet of cupcakes in the freezer and have lunch :)

For lunch Pam made a fresh fruit salad, a chicken, orzo and roasted chickpea and cauliflower salad, and some fresh baked rolls. Delicious! To finish us off, ooooh I meant to say, for dessert, she made chocolate brownie waffles with hot fudge and ice cream. 

After our delicious lunch we retrieved the frozen cupcakes, which helps the meringue from falling off when you dip them in chocolate, we set to the task of dipping and adding sprinkles.

 These chocolate dipped mini-cupcakes pack a powerful flavor! One young man was quoted to say upon tasting them, "This is what angel poop would taste like"! Huuu, not sure about that, but we got the idea... Heavenly!

Thanks Pam for a wonderful day!


Summer Orzo Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Vegan, Gluten Free option; Serves 6 as a side, 3-4 as a main
Inspired by: Naturally Ella's roasted cauliflower, and taken from The Fresh Connection Blog

For the chickpeas:
2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fine grain sea salt

For the cauliflower:
1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper

For the salad:
1 1/4 cup dry orzo (I used gluten free orzo, but regular works too)
2 1/2 cups baby greens (I used a combo of arugula and baby kale)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp agave or maple syrup or honey
pinch, cayenne (optional)
salt + pepper, to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 400F.  Toss chickpeas with oil, lemon juice and salt.  Arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet.  Toss cauliflower with oil and salt/pepper.  Arrange on a single layer on a separate baking sheet.  Place the chickpeas and the cauliflower in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir both, then bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until desired doneness.
2.  While your chickpeas and cauliflower are roasting, prepare your orzo.  Boil water in a large pot. Add orzo and stir.  Boil for about 8 minutes (or follow your package directions).
3. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, garlic, syrup and cayenne pepper.  Set aside.
4.  Rinse baby greens and place in a large bowl.  Add the sundried tomatoes and parsley.
5.  Drain your orzo and add to the bowl with the greens.  Once the cauliflower and chickpeas are done, add these to the bowl as well.  Toss everything with your dressing.  Season well with salt + pepper.  Garnish with additional parsley, if desired.

Notes: This dish is delicious served warm or cold.  Kale and Arugula both hold their shape fairly well under the warm orzo and vegetables, however if you use spinach it will wilt more so I recommend adding an extra couple handfuls or waiting until the orzo, cauliflower and chickpeas have cooled slightly before adding them to the dish.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes taken from Smells Like Home Blog
Yield: 12-15 cupcakes
The recipe below will yield 12-15 cupcakes, enough frosting (about 5 cups) to liberally frost those cupcakes, and plenty of chocolate for coating them. All recipes can be doubled to yield enough for 24-27 cupcakes. The instructions for these cupcakes may seem a little long and somewhat daunting but I made sure to include some helpful tips. These cupcakes would be a super fun project to do with your kids (especially the dipping part), with a group of girlfriends, or by yourself if you need some baking solace, like I often do.
    For the cupcakes:
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp hot tap water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • rounded 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (light is fine), at room temperature
  • For the strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
  • For the chocolate coating:
  • 12 oz good semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1 1/2 standard cupcake pans with paper cupcake liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together; set aside
  2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and the sugar. Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted. The butter may not fully incorporate into the mixture but that's ok. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape up the bottom of the bowl to make sure no stray streaks of flour remain - quickly mix them into the chocolate batter.
  3. With a large cookie/ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 of the way full. Overfilling the liners will cause the cupcake tops to bake onto the pan - you don't want that. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cupcake is "springy" when gently pressed on the top. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream frosting: Puree the strawberries in a food processor until small chunks of strawberry remain and the mixture looks like jam; set aside.
  5. In the well-cleaned and dried stand mixer bowl, place the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of shallow water and bring the water to a simmer - the bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water. While the water simmers, lightly whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly. Once the mixture has reached a temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F on a candy thermometer and is completely smooth (i.e., there is no gritty sugar remaining when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers), remove it from the heat and attach it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted. Gradually increase the speed up to medium-high, whisking until the mixture is glossy and completely cool, about 8 minutes. The bottom of the bowl will be nearly cool as well.
  6. With the mixer on medium-low, plunk the butter into the bowl two tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate completely before adding the next two tablespoons. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium, beating until the buttercream comes together about 10 minutes. The mixture will be very loose at first and then it will curdle. Keep beating until it smooths out into a thick buttercream frosting. Once this happens, switch to the paddle attachment and mix the frosting on low speed for 2 minutes to release any air bubbles. Gradually stir in the strawberry puree until thoroughly combined.
  7. To make the chocolate coating: Add the finely chopped chocolate and canola oil to a medium bowl and set the bowl over a small pan of shallow water. Bring the water to a simmer - the bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water. Stir the chocolate and oil together while the water simmers until the chocolate is completely melted. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and oil together in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Pour the chocolate into a wide and short cup (mine was 12 oz, about 3 1/2" wide by 3" tall). The cup should be wide enough so that you can dip the cupcake inside without rubbing against the sides - check the cup size before you pour the chocolate in! Allow the chocolate to cool for 15 minutes.
  8. To frost and dip the cupcakes: Transfer the frosting to a disposable piping bag fitted with a large pastry tip (I used Ateco 809) or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped off and a pastry tip slipped in the corner. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes in large stacking swirls. Be sure to press the first swirl of frosting somewhat into the cupcake to make sure it sticks to the cupcake - this is important when you go dip the frosting into the chocolate coating as you don't want the frosting falling off into the chocolate. Set the cupcakes on to a wire rack with a piece of parchment or wax paper or aluminum foil underneath the rack.
  9. Take a cupcake, turn it up-side-down, and steadily dip it down into the chocolate up to the point with the frosting meets the cupcake. Pull it straight out of the chocolate, allowing the extra chocolate to drip off into the cup. Turn the cupcake right-side-up and place it on the wire rack. The frosting should be completely covered with chocolate but if any shows, use a knife to drizzle some chocolate into the spots where the frosting shows. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. Allow the chocolate coating to set-up - this can be done at room temperature or in the fridge for 15 minutes. Store finished cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
source: cupcakes adapted from these chocolate cupcakes, strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes via Pink Parsley, chocolate coating adapted from Martha Stewart

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