Sunday, March 15, 2015

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Yesterday was the St. Patrick's Day celebration in Chicago.  It was also buddy, Lauren's, birthday and some of my best friends from college are in town as well! In fact, one of my friends is named Patrick so I was pretty pumped to celebrate St. Patty's day with my very own Patrick.  Last year, we went and saw the dyed green river and all of that so this year we decided to just hang out.

I started the day off with a nice 8 mile run outside!  I am so excited that spring weather is here and it no longer hurts to be outdoors.  It was fantastic.  After a much needed shower, my friends all got together and kicked off the day with green mimosas and cinnamon rolls!  We ended up hanging out on the porch enjoying the beautiful weather and it was just awesome.  After some pizza for lunch, we walked to a nearby Irish bar and saw some Irish step dancers.  This is something that I've always wanted to be able to do and I just can't figure out.  I mean, I am a decent dancer, but I just can't get my feet to do anything that resembles Irish step dancing and so I give those girls a lot of credit and I think it's crazy cool.  For dinner, we went to Cheesie's by the Belmont Red Line stop.  That place is so bad, but so good.  If you are ever in the area and respect a great grilled cheese sandwich, you have to go.  And then, we ended our night at Cesar's having some "killer" margaritas along with some delicious nachos.  Overall, it was a really fun day.  It's days like these where I am so grateful for the fantastic friends I have and the great city I live in.

Because it was the St. Patricks Day celebration and because it was a birthday celebration.  I decided to make Irish Car Bomb cupcakes.  I have tried a similar cupcake before and it was really yummy.  So, I wanted to make my own.  I was inspired by the Brown Eyed Baker and I made some adjustments to the recipe.  Here is what I came up with!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup Guinness beer
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
2/3 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Irish whiskey
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream

1. Make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 and line 24 cupcake wells with liners.  Or, if you want, I made 6 giant cupcakes in my silicon cupcake holders and 24 mini cupcakes in a mini cupcake pan.  Then, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a small saucepan, place butter, canola oil, Guinness, and cocoa powder.  Heat until butter melts and stir to combine.  Let cool while you beat the eggs and greek yogurt in a large bowl.  Beat in the chocolate mixture until well combined.  Beat in the flour mixture until just combined and fill your cupcake wells so that they are about 3/4 full.  For mini cupcakes, bake for about 12 minutes, for regular, bake for about 17 minutes, and for giant, bake for about 19 minutes.  Let cool completely.
2. Make the filling: chop the chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl.  In a separate, microwave safe bowl, pour the cream and heat for about 30-45 seconds.  You want it to be warm, but not boiling.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate completely melts.  Stir in the whiskey and the butter and then let sit so that the ganache starts to set.
3. Make the frosting: beat the butter in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy.  Beat in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it is well combined.  Beat in the Bailey's and continue to beat until your frosting because light and fluffy.  Add in more powdered sugar as needed.
4. To assemble: using a knife or a cupcake corer, cut out the centers of your cupcakes.  Spoon in the ganache to fill the centers.  Then, using a piping bag or an offset spatula, frost your cupcakes.  Serve immediately, or store in the fridge in a container.  Before serving, let the cupcakes sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi Day! 3.141592653...

Happy Pi Day everyone! Today is an especially epic Pi day as it is March 14th of 2015!  Since Pi starts with 3.1415 this is the first time this has happened in 100 years and I am pretty excited about it!  For school, I brought in oreo pie and chocolate chip cookie pie for my students and a ton of my kiddos brought in their own circular treats to share.  It was pretty great!

It also happens to be the St. Patricks Day celebration in Chicago and my friend Lauren's bday celebration.  Can today get any more epic?

The answer is yes.  Here is an epically delicious pie for you all!  This is like a "better than sex" pie and it was truly AH-mazing.  I hope you all have a fantastic Pi/St. Pattys/Whatever day and enjoy your weekend!

The Epically AH-mazing Pi Day Pie

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
1 tsp white vinegar
2-3 tbsp cold water
Your favorite hot fudge
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
8 oz light cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Your favorite caramel sauce (I recommend salted caramel)
2 cups cool whip topping
Mini PB cups, M&Ms...and whatever other toppings you want!

1. Make the crust: place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Cut cold butter into cubes and place in food processor with vinegar.  Pulse until you have a sand like combination.  Pour water in, 1 tbsp at a time, while pulsing, until your dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.  Once chilled, heat oven to 400 degrees and roll out pie dough so that you have a large circle.  I usually try to go for a circle with a 12 inch diameter.  Then, place pie dough into a 9 inch pie pan and form crust to your liking.  Place in preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until dough starts to brown.  Cool
2. To make the filling, melt the dark chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Once melted, whip with the cream cheese and heavy cream until you have a light and fluffy filling. 
3. To assemble the pie: spread hot fudge into your cooked pie crust so that it covers the bottom.  Then, spread the chocolate mixture on top.  Next, drizzle caramel sauce over the chocolate filling.  Finally, top with the whipped topping and sprinkle extra hot fudge/caramel/other toppings on top.  Place in fridge to chill until you are ready to serve.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beer Brownies with Spent Grain Flour

Oh jeez, it's been over a month since I posted here! Sorry! I have been so busy with school, grad school, and wedding planning!  Life just gets in the way, you know?

However, I have still been cooking/baking up a storm over here. In fact, I have made some pretty great recipes recently.  For example, for the Super Bowl, I decided to make a bunch of stuff that I was craving and just sit around and eat while I watched the commercials (err...I mean the game?).  I made Vegetarian Buffalo Dip, Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites, and Beer Brownies.

Yep...Beer Brownies!  Also, they just happened to be the best brownies I'd ever consumed.  I adapted the recipe from Joy the Baker and used my own Spent Grain Flour and new favorite, dark beer.  They are just AHHHMAZING!  Finch's Stout for the beer, Spent Grain Flour from the time I homebrewed, and lots and lots of gooey chocolate. How can you go wrong?  I even made this again for Valentine's Day!

Let's talk beer.  I am usually not a Stout kinda girl, but this beer from Finch's is pretty fantastic.  It has this amazing coffee flavor that I just adore.  Plus, Finch's is local (right in the heart of Chicago) and so the Mariano's grocery store down the street carries their beer!  If you are not a beer fan, you can also use coffee and the brownies will still be fantastic, you just can't call them Beer Brownies then!

Beer Brownies with Spent Grain Flour

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup spent grain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark beer (I used Finch's Stout)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, spent grain flour, cocoa powder and salt.
3. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of boiling water with the butter and bittersweet chocolate.  Stir until melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the beer.
4.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs with both sugars until pale yellow and well combined.  Pour in the warm chocolate mixture while continuing to stir.  Beat until combined and then mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool for 20 and then cut into pieces.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream

So, I am sitting in the cafeteria because it is finals week and I am supposed to "supervise" aka babysit the children who do not have a first period final and do not want to go to the library to study.  It's times like these where I just love my job....

After this awful time of doing nothing, my finals actually begin and I have a geometry final and algebra final later today.  Although this morning time is pretty much the worst, I am excited to see how my students do on their finals today.

To pass the time, I am sitting with my English teacher friend and we are grading/chatting.  This is really not as bad as it could be.  I could be the person who has to walk around and ask students to settle down even though  it is a totally free time in the cafeteria...I mean, do we really expect them to study in here?

Of course, I am also sitting here thinking about food.  If I wasn't, I wouldn't be writing this blog post.  When I was thinking about what to write, I realized that on a cold day like today, it would be nice to think of something awesome like ice cream!  I can't put into words how much I miss summer and therefore how much I miss ice cream.  A while back, I decided that I wanted Moose Tracks because it is the best and so I made homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream.  It was freaking amazing.  I spent a day eating it while watching a Sex and the City marathon on HBO and I truly don't have any regrets about it.  I forgot to share the recipe here, but I figured that its never too late or too cold to talk about ice cream.

Moose Tracks Ice Cream

1 egg
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup skim milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
20 mini peanut butter cups, halved
1-2 cups fudge sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Make the fudge sauce: place the sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder in a medium pot.  Heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil while whisking constantly.  Cook while boiling for about 1 minute while continue to whisk.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Transfer to a container and let cool completely in the fridge.
2. In a large sauce pan, pour 1 1/2 cups of half and half and heat over medium until steamy and then remove from heat.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.  Pour in 1/2 cup of the warm half and half and beat until combined.  Pour the entire mixture back into the half and half saucepan.  Heat over medium, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon. Don't let it boil.
4. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and whisk in the rest of the half and half, skim milk, salt, and vanilla.  Cover and place in fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  
5. Once your ice cream mixture is chilled, freeze in ice cream machine according to directions.  Once down, pour into a bowl and stir in the fudge sauce and peanut butter cups.  Place in freezer to harden.