the cake! the cake! and marshmallows, too

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Many many thanks to all of you who sent ideas (and encouragement) after last week’s puppy cake post. I promised follow-up on that cake and food for fun is here to deliver.Its deLizious facebook debut noted a resemblance to the … Continue reading

minty muffins? and just two more things

There’s nothing like the thrill of finding something completely new in the food world, though I’m often humbled by how little I know about what’s out there. Take Biscoff: After discovering it here on WordPress, and writing it up myself, I was mildly aghast at having been in the dark about this peanut butter-style spread made out of COOKIES.

Seeing mention of ice cream bread in an electronic newsletter was another wow, though I also wondered why I hadn’t heard of such a thing. Its simplicity–only two ingredients–appealed as did the concept of making bread from ice cream. How could I not give it a go?

Instead of a loaf pan, I used muffin cups (yes, amb, the liners are Valentine’s Day leftovers 🙂 ) and also subbed in 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt for the self-rising flour.

mint chocolate chip ice cream + self-rising flour

mint chocolate chip ice cream + self-rising flour

in the cups

in the cups

cooling it

cooling it

On paper it looks good: leavened flour plus ice cream, which is dairy, fat, sugar, and flavoring. It could work, right? They certainly looked tasty.

they look like cupcakes

they look like cupcakes

But they were meh at best. The texture was borderline gummy, and the flavor fell flat. Perhaps a dash of vanilla extract or even an egg would have helped, but I don’t feel strongly enough about this project to keep working at it. Why throw perfectly amazing ice cream away when it’s so tasty as-is?

But if you’re up for the challenge, I encourage you to give it a go and report back. Can you turn this recipe into something worth making?

As long as we’re here, I also want to give a shout-out to Bandhna and Trace in the Kitchen for their kind nominations. Bandhna, who tossed the Liebster and Versatile awards my way, writes with great enthusiasm and fun about life, travel, food, fashion, and technology. Her Foodie Fridays can’t be missed and even her fashion posts have been known to be almost edible 😉

You’ve met Trace here before and her posts are always worth a read. We share strong opinions about peanut butter as well as a love of all things food. Trace, to you I say: Thanks for the Sunshine, Sunshine 😀

I admit to not playing these awards games very well. While I for sure want to send oodles of thanks and appreciation to Bandhna and Trace, I’ll skip the Q & A part and send you here for further “nominations.” There are so many amazing blogs out there and to narrow it down–as well as find blogs that have yet to receive these awards–continues to stump me.

In the spirit of “just one more thing” (any other Columbo fans out there?), I’ll finish off with another Minnesota Soybean guest blog link. Go ahead and get your cinnamon-roasted soynuts on and circle back next week for more fun in food.

special ed. with pink mushroom cake, vodka gummy bears, and a bourbon ball

Summer crazies have temporarily stalled out food for fun, but I’m back tonight with a special edition highlighting three unrelated tales of fun food and drink:

Tale 1 First, a look back at last post’s Here’s Your D@mn Chocolate Ice Cream. I had lamented that this Humphry Slocombe recipe seemed a lot of work and though it was tasty, wondered if it had been worth the effort. The ice cream accompanied a birthday cake for my oldest daughter and what with those summer crazies, I made yet another cake soon after for another birthday party.

now that's a cupcake

now that’s a cupcake

I used a much-loved cake pan, which when sprayed well enough with baking spray makes two cake layers that come together to make one big cupcake. (When not sprayed well, it makes a big mess.)

All went as planned until it came time to frost. Many a poorly decorated cake has been featured at food for fun (here and here, just for starters), so it should come as no surprise that this one got out of hand as well. Instead of the sweet “cupcake” I’d planned, it looked more like a big pink mushroom. (Or where Smurfette calls home per deLizious facebook post.)

again, best-laid plans

again, best-laid plans

As with my other decorating disasters, the cake tasted far better than it looked. The big surprise, though, was how amazing the HS chocolate ice cream was served alongside. Whether it had aged a bit in the freezer, mellowing its flavors, or was simply a better match for white cake than it was chocolate trifle, I know not. But that ice cream really dazzled here.chocicecream

A word about the cake: Mr. Wonderful White Cake recipe was found in Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook. Corny name aside, it’s one of the best white cakes I’ve had.

do you like the cake saw?

do you like the cake saw?

Mr. Wonderful White Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two cake pans or spray with baking spray.

In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, butter, and vanilla; beat with electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes longer. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cakes directly to wire racks to cool completely. Frost as desired.

Tale 2 Another bit of cocktail news means that Weary Chef can’t be too far away. I found a link through one of her Happy Hour posts for vodka gummy bears and was smitten. With young kids underfoot, there are always gummy bears to be found, and I loved the idea of infusing them (the gummy bears, not the kids) with vodka.

I did exactly as instructed and was unimpressed when unveiling the batch a week later. My cute little sugar bombs had melted into the vodka, leaving me with a thick (albeit colorful) syrup. Anyone who has read food for fun knows that this wouldn’t stop me and I was forging ahead regardless. I mixed some of this goo with carbonated water and loved that it was sweet, fruity, bubbly, and boozy. It went down easy for sure. I’m curious as to why my bears melted down when I Sing in the Kitchen seemed to keep hers intact. Maybe gummy bear brand matters? Regardless, it was a fun cocktail.

the bears make it silly, but it's still a goo cocktail: refreshing and potent

the bears make it silly, but it’s still a fine cocktail–refreshing and potent

Tale 3 You’ll need to hop over to Blog of Funny Names for this tale. A recent guest post highlights another Kentucky favorite: Ruth Hanly Booe and other funnily-named folk who made Rebecca Ruth bourbon balls the internationally known confection they are today.

Many thanks for stopping by during what I know is YOUR crazy-busy life. Your visits here are always appreciated 🙂

blogging with friends and secret-ingredient cupcakes

We’re shaking things up a bit here at food for fun today as I’ve invited a friend to drop by. Amb is an awesome and amazing blogger and though I’ve yet to determine exactly what her blog is about, I do know I enjoy reading it every weekday morning and it never fails to make me smile.

Amb recently asked me to help her with a project after we found we work quite well together. You’ll need background, so will send you over to her blog for that. Please do come back here to finish the story, but no rush. I’ll wait. If you’ve already been to amb’s, feel free to visit the following link to review the foods of the 1970s while you wait. (Don’t be confused–it’ll all make sense after everyone has been to amb’s.)

*     *     *

Everyone back? Ready to finish our tale? Hungry? I’m sure amb will be here shortly. Did you enjoy her superfluous blog? As mentioned earlier, it always makes me smile 🙂

Speaking of smiling, I’ll warn you that amb can get a little, um, excitable. But her heart’s in the right place and if you just let her be amb, you’ll learn a thing or two about what really matters in life. She even posts the occasional food piece! Oh, here she comes now…

amb: *sound of door slamming, feet pounding* Hi Liz! I’m so excited to be here!! I’m here, and I’m starving. All this talk about how Argo gave audiences thrills in the movie theatres this year is making me thrill for a little snack of my own. I brought some friends over from Words Become Superfluous. Can they have a snack too? *amb pauses for breath* Sorry Liz, I think I regressed to my 10-year-old self for a minute there. Your young daughters would not be impressed with me! What I meant was, thanks so much for inviting us over. You have a lovely blog. May I please have something to drink with my snack? Do you have any of your famous fruit-infused water?

Liz: I do indeed have something to share. Our earlier discussion (thanks again for the invite to WBS, btw–had a blast) gave me a great idea for an Argo-licious snack. Ta-da!

the Argo-licious snack

the Argo-licious snack

amb: uhh, Liz? I can’t believe I’m questioning anything to do with free chocolate, but …. what’s the connection to Argo?

Liz: You’re the one that got me thinking on this. Argo had layers–we saw Ben in his brown shirt with its pointy collar, but he was more than just Ben in an outdated polyester suit. He was CIA. We saw what looked to be a group of Hollywood movie folk scouting for location, but digging deeper you find U.S. embassy staff running from the enemy. These people all had secrets. These cupcakes have secrets, too.

cupcakes with secrets

cupcakes with secrets

amb: *looks around a bit uncertainly* Um, I know you mean well, Liz. And I just love your blog with all the crazy-fun food, really I do. But this one leans a little more to crazy than it does fun. *voice down to a hushed whisper* I brought people with me and you want me to tell them that your cupcakes have Secrets? This is a bit wackadoo, even for me.

Liz: Sorry, amb. *shrugs and smiles* Sorry folks. I could have been clearer. These fudgy chocolate cupcakes have a secret ingredient. Crazy as it may seem, these cupcakes contain condensed tomato soup! I remember enjoying these sweet treats years ago, but couldn’t find the original recipe, so even its origins are of a mysterious and top-secret nature. But one thing that’s not top-secret is that they’re really very good and no one would identify the tomato soup without having been told first.

amb: Alright! I get it! So the perfect snack to have while you’re watching Argo is …

Liz:  Classified Top-Secret Ingredient Cupcakes 🙂 Recipe follows and I hope you enjoy. Many thanks to amb and friends for coming over. And congrats again to Mimi. (If you’re unsure who Mimi is, start over and follow the link back to amb’s. 😉 ) I’d love to have you over again, amb. We should do this again.

amb: Sounds like a plan, Liz! We’ll have to cook up another project again soon! Bye, food for fun readers! Bye, Liz!

Liz: So there you have it: My fun friend amb and a recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Am glad you dropped by for this Special Edition of food for fun and look forward to seeing you again.

Classified and Top-Secret

Classified and Top-Secret

Classified Top-Secret Ingredient Cupcakes

Icing is optional, but if you do go that route, these pair well with cinnamon-spiked cream cheese frosting.

  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In medium bowl, stir together soup and baking soda.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In mixing bowl, beat together butter and granulated and brown sugars with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Alternately beat in soup and flour mixtures just until flour is incorporated. Stir in chips just until mixed. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean and tops spring back when touched. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Makes 18 cupcakes.

peach. bourbon. ice cream. tarts.

Next Monday I’ll attend the annual business meeting of Les Dames d’Escoffier. I’ve written of this group before, and always look forward to being a part of their events. The company is good for sure and the conversation almost always revolves around food. And then there’s the food itself: always spectacular. Often the group meets at a restaurant or has a meal catered in, but the September meeting is traditionally potluck.

Because Les Dames membership is made up of those who enjoy being in the kitchen, you’ll never find a bag of chips and storebought dip at their potluck. This is a group of women who will make their own chips and dip or, better yet, offer up a whole-grain salad, basket of homemade biscuits and jam, or an amazing fruit-and-cheese platter. Because of the high bar that’s been set, I admit to being intimidated when bringing that “dish to share.”

It’s not that I don’t think I can turn out decent fare, but I tend toward basic (the biscuits and jam mentioned above? mine) while many of the Dames kick it up a notch and bring dishes that wow. Today I’ve given a test run to what I hope will pass muster at Monday’s meeting.

With the help of my new ice cream maker, I made a batch of Bourbon Peach Brown Sugar Ice Cream (again, thanks, Accidental Locavore for passing on the link!). With so many fun ingredients, it seemed appropriate for this group. But ice cream isn’t made for a potluck spread, so to turn it into a servable dessert, I started by pressing graham cracker crumbs that had been mixed with enough melted butter to moisten into mini muffin cups. Next in was a small spoonful of homemade cajeta sauce that was leftover from another project. A small scoop of the softened ice cream went on top after which the “tarts” were frozen until solid. Before serving, a dollop of bourbon-kissed whipped cream went on each along with a dusting of graham cracker crumbs. They turned out prettier and tastier than I’d hoped. Yay! They’ll go well with whatever wonderful dishes the Dames bring.

bourbon-peach-brown sugar tart shells with bourbon whipped cream

pretty, tasty, heavenly!

wow cupcakes

My 10-year-old surprised me last night by saying she wanted to bake something. As much as I love to cook (and she loves to eat), it’s her younger sister who is most often interested in helping in the kitchen. Encouraged by eldest’s sudden interest, I offered to help her find a recipe for whatever it was she wanted to make. She envisioned small white cakes baked in our small custard dishes and topped with fluffy mounds of white frosting. After looking through a few recipes for white cake, she settled on one from Better Homes and Gardens Old-Fashioned Home Baking.

She started her project later in the evening, so after filling four custard cups and 14 muffin cups, she headed off to bed and left me in charge of baking. She had filled the cups more than the recommended two-thirds full, which led to batter bubbling over and burning on the oven floor–yuck. The overflow batter also burnt slightly on the pan, making the cupcake edges slightly toasted. Initially, I saw this as a problem (and the messy oven floor was definitely that), but the toasted cupcake edges had a slightly tough (in a good way) chew and a roasty toasty sweetness that kicked the cupcake concept up a notch. Serendipitous yum.

Today the cupcakes were frosted after my young baker whipped up a batch of Fluffy White Frosting, also from BH&G. I was impressed with the results and she was pleased as well. After sprinkle fun, the cupcakes were enjoyed for dessert.

And I have this to say about the cupcakes: Wow. I am all about frosting, often leaving the cake behind. Not tonight. This cake was amazing. The crumb was perfect–moist, light but dense. And the flavors were so pure. A hint of vanilla, rich butter (big fan of Kerrygold), sweet but not overly so. And the “burnt” edges added to the wow. I ate every last crumb, as well as any strays left on my husband’s and daughters’ plates. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who loves white cake. I’ve never tasted anything like it. Look up Perfect White Cake in the dictionary and this is what you’ll find.

amazing buttermilk cupcakes with fluffy white frosting

The frosting was a basic 7-minute variety and I was impressed that my daughter could pull it off. (I don’t always.) As with the cake, the vanilla and sweet flavors were nicely matched. The perfect frosting for the perfect cupcakes.

Buttermilk White Cake

Adapted only slightly from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook. The batter can also be poured into greased muffin cups and baked accordingly.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour 2 (9-inch) round baking pans.

In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on Low 30 seconds or until combined. Beat on Medium to High, scraping side of bowl occasionally, 2 minutes. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes longer.

Pour batter into pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before filling and frosting.

Fluffy White Frosting

from Better Homes and Gardens  Old-Fashioned Home Baking

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In small saucepan, combine sugar, water and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.

In medium bowl, combine egg whites and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on High, while slowly adding sugar mixture. Beat 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Makes about 4 cups.

cupcake redux

Those who love to play in the kitchen–whether cooking or baking–are usually fairly flexible. If we run into snags (and maybe it’s just me, but I run into plenty), we either toss out what we’ve done and begin again OR take a different path and see where it goes. I’m almost always in the second camp as I hate tossing something I’ve already spent time on.

Take a recent project: frosting my oldest daughter’s birthday cupcakes. Her party is this weekend and I’ve been making and freezing cupcakes for weeks. Now that the party is days away, it’s time to think about frosting. My original plan was to make three: white, chocolate, and caramel. I found fun recipes (check out Baked Explorations–lots of crazy-good recipes, all very do-able) and the chocolate frosting went off without a hitch. The caramel came next and involved stirring homemade caramel sauce into a white buttercream. I made the mistake of stepping away from the caramel (oops) and returned just in time (so I thought) to take the pan off the heat. But the temp had crept just past 300°F and my “caramel” crystallized as I stirred in the cream and butter. I tried to melt it down over low heat, but you can’t change the laws of chemistry. No go.

Not willing to give up, I knew the buttery cream that wasn’t melding with the overheated sugar mixture would add great richness to any frosting; I stirred some into the whipped butter base that was waiting for the caramel sauce. I added extra powdered sugar for thickness and chopped the hardened caramel (almost brittle, really) into very small pieces and mixed those into the final frosting for crunch. It took a few more tweaks with brown sugar, vanilla, and salt, but I got to a place I liked. After all the extra ingredients, I had plenty of caramel frosting. No need to make a third flavor. I was done.

With a cup or so of chocolate frosting and maybe three times as much of the light-brown caramel, I started thinking kitty cats. The birthday girl had included our orange tabby’s picture on her party invites. Why not turn these cupcakes into cat faces? I’m not much for putzy cake decor, so wanted to keep it simple and use what we already had. A few mini m&ms and candy corns later, I had a cute–if slightly demented–kitty cat staring back at me.

Believe it or not, these are the same cupcakes from bacon birthday cupcake post. Not as pretty, but better suited for a 10-year-old’s birthday party.

I get that this cupcake looks terribly homespun. I have no future as a Cupcake Wars contestant for sure. My “cat” looks childishly simple, sad, and slightly devil-ish. But our party guests will get that these cupcakes are supposed to look like cats. And these guests will absolutely enjoy the cupcakes’ tender crumb and knock-out chocolate flavor (complete with a Hershey’s kiss dropped into the batter of each). Most important, my daughter will know I personalized her birthday cake. The cupcake’s appearance isn’t even a little bit spectacular (though again, the flavor is!), but as with all of the “playing” I do in the kitchen, things don’t always go as planned. And in the end, my baking (and cooking) projects come from the heart and are great fun.