Cupcake Wars

I know it’s been a while, but here is the post I’ve been meaning to write finally. Nope, it’s not a recipe. Even better, a stunning and exquisite presentation of some pretty talented cupcake bakers around my area! We held the competition at a carnival & it’s funny because this marvelous idea popped up randomly during one of our planning meetings for the carnival. I, myself, was very surprised at the extent to which people decorated their cupcakes. Not only that… But the stands as well!!

When the judging time came near to discern the cupcake winner, it was pretty intense. Groups of people stood near the door in huddles waiting for the results. Friends, family, even the bakers themselves as well… No news came for a while. While it was quite noisy outside, me and the other judges were quite busy at a serious task. Tasting all the cupcakes that is. I didn’t think it would be difficult with only 8 competitors, but it was more time-consuming considering we had to discuss each cupcake, pros and cons. We already knew who each cupcake belonged to, so we asked the bakers to come in, one at a time, and describe their cupcake to us and answer any questions we had. It was quite the experience. Y’all should have seen the judges table where we split the cupcakes. Haha what a mess. Anyways, onto the cupcakes themselves :)IMG_7454One of the display tables with a variety of four cupcakes, all displayed differently. These varied from lemon cupcakes to cotton candy even! I absolutely love the creativity that each competitor demonstrated.IMG_7456The second table with the remaining cupcakes. Not all can be seen, but detailed pictures are coming after! Four different cupcake entries were here as well.IMG_7458Rose patterned Red Velvet Cheesecake cupcakes (YES there was indeed cheesecake inside- toooo yummy) & Chocolate Espresso cupcakes. Gotta say, these two cupcakes are my favorite combos ever :)IMG_7437These were 4 different cupcake flavors submitted by the same baker. They range from Red Velvet Cream Cheese, Reeses, Cinnamon, and even Strawberry topped with Cotton Candy.IMG_7452Beautiful Lemon & Raspberry Cupcakes with Lemon filling as well!! Lovin’ these healthy choices. Definitely make you less self conscious as you eat one after another of these cupcakes hahaIMG_7438Yet another creative entry which were topped off the mocha flavored icing along with those addicting chocolate sticks! My favorite flavor-espresso!!

IMG_7451Creativity hands down for this one! This competitor went all out and even designed a humongous styrofoam cupcake along with a colorful Candy Land-like stand with a glittery water interior to compliment the many toned Cotton Candy Cupcakes topped with fondant. Yes, they were just as beautiful inside as well.IMG_7440Dense & moist Lemon Cupcakes with a curd filling. The top was done creatively with chocolate molded swirls, assorted berries, and coarse sugar as well!IMG_7445Lemon Meringue Cupcakes blowtorched to give them the toasty look. A very light and healthy choice as well, although I prefer the other type of icing to this light meringue one.IMG_7443At LAST… The Winner of it all went to these Moist and delicate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes stuffed with Choc Chip Cookie Dough inside as well! The cookies on top were homemade too! This entry was submitted alongside to the Lemon Meringue Cupcakes on top ^^^. The other two places went to the extravagant stand of Cotton Candy Cupcakes as well as the Lemon Curd Cupcakes topped with the chocolate molds and berries.

Hope you enjoyed this medley of fanciful desserts. Do you have a cupcake that you would enter into a competition? Which of these ones was your favorite?

Peppermint Shakes & Macarons = Pure Joy

College winter breaks are seriously the best!! Totally beats the measly two weeks we would get back in high school. One of many things that I was looking forward to making once I had finished with the busyness of all my exams was macarons!! This soft delicate cookie along with the slight crunch you taste when you first bite into it, is truly one of a kind. The hundreds of flavors that you can make it in, not to mention the crazy fillings you can come up with, only make it more desirable. In a previous post, I made chocolate macarons with 3 different kinds of fillings- chocolate espresso, chocolate chip cookie dough, and chocolate coconut. This post along with the recipe can be found here. Today though, I made a pink coconut flavored macaron and filled it with chocolate espresso. Needless to say, they disappeared within seconds. Can’t wait to make these again!

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The day before I made these macarons, I was really craving something sweet. Hmmmm, what to get?? I decided I must get a shake! Sadly though, there are no places near my house that are known for their shakes. I was quite disappointed with the ones from Sonic. They tasted more like ice cream and were so thick I had to use a spoon to eat it. The best shakes I have tried where at Chicago at a chain restaurant called Steak N Shake. I guess you can deduce from the name that they must be famous for their shakes! There is a Steak N Shake in fact near my area, but the fact that it has not opened yet is killing me!!! Oh well, the next best thing I guessed would be a homemade shake. Being it the winter season and all, I’ve been reading about all these peppermint desserts so I resolved that I would make a Peppermint Shake. A quick search on foodgawker and I had my recipe ready to go. It really is quite easy. All you need is vanilla icecream, white chocolate, milk, and peppermint candy canes. Blend it all together and top with crushed candy canes and whipped cream and you are good to go!

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Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

So I haven’t posted in a while… Doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped baking though! I have a couple of deelish recipes so keep posted this whole week. I actually went a whole week without cooking or anything because of college tests. It’s all good now though. To celebrate I made these moist and chewy espresso chocolate chip brownie cookies. Oh and also some cream cheese glazed cinnamon rolls which will appear in my next post!

P.S. Be expecting a bunch of pumpkin spice recipes coming up. Tis’ the season after all and I am all but obsessed haha :)

Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips ( you can use any type you want- i did half milk/semisweet)
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Put together the unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and butter in a double boiler. (put them in a small pan inside a larger pan filled halfway with boiling water). Stir until melted. Be careful not to overheat.
  2. Whisk together your eggs, sugar, and instant coffee granules for a couple minutes until thick.
  3. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and mix well.
  4. In a different bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in your last 1 cup of chocolate chips.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Put a tablespoon of batter about 2 inches apart from each other on the cooking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

‘Mazin Macaronz

Yes, I have finally made the epic macaron! And no, not that coconut macaroon that many people got confused with when I told them about these lol. Pictures of this vivid flawless cookie have always inspired me due to  the allure of the simplicity of it. I have to admit, my first try at making macarons was an epic FAIL. Although macarons are just a cookie, the steps in making them are exact and there are many opportunities for one to make a minor but fatal mistake. In my case, I think that I overmixed the mixture and as a result the cookies turned out sticky and small at the end.

No Worries! I was pretty determined and for the next try invited some friends over and we attempted another go at these delicate beauties. Do not let fear discourage you from making these cookies. From what I realized, all it takes is patience and preciseness and you will be good to go. It’s really just like any other recipe if you think about it, just follow directions. As you can see from the pictures, our second try was a SUCCESS :)

Chocolate Macarons featuring :

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Espresso, and Chocolate Coconut Fillings

We used a scale to measure all our ingredients because the recipe is in grams and you do have to be precise. For the almond flour, which is shown in this picture, we blended sliced almonds in a food processor to make it.

Mixing the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Filling!

The circles are not shown but we drew about 12 on each cookie sheet and used a juice cap as a template. Each cookie should be 2 inches apart from each other and the circles were roughly around 1 inch in diameter but that can vary due to your choice. We let the batter rest on the cookie sheets for about 45 minutes before putting it in the oven.

The cookies rose this time!! It was also exciting to see those little “feet” that are so notorious of the macaron. They are very delicate by the way, so be extremely careful when lifting them off the cookie sheets.

Macarons Ready to Be Iced

Our Deeelish Macarons! The left row is the chocolate chip cookie dough filling, followed by the chocolate coconut filling, and finally the chocolate espresso filling.

Chocolate Macarons

Ingredients:

  • 110 grams Almond Flour
  • 200 grams minus 2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • 50 grams Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Powdered Cocoa
  • 100 grams of Egg Whites (3-3 1/2 eggs; various opinions about aging them but I didn’t and they turned fine)

Directions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw the circles using a template such as a juice cap and space them 2 inches apart.
  2. If you don’t have the almond meal bought, then take almonds and pulse them in the food processor until fine.
  3. Measure all your ingredients that you will need using the scale and set aside for combining them later.
  4. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the food processor and pulse until well incorporated.
  5. Take the egg whites and beat them with an electric mixer in a large bowl for a few minutes until they are foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar to the egg whites mixture and beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients into the egg whites with a rubber spatula, about 50-60 strokes (you will know it is ready when the mixture flows like lava and makes a thick ribbon when lifted that will sink slowly)
  7. Fit a round tip onto your piping bag, fill with the macaron mixture, and pipe onto the predrawn circles.
  8. Let the batter rest for about 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 300 F.
  10. Bake for about 12 minutes and let the macarons cool before you ice them.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Icing recipe can be found here:

http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/2011/10/strawberry-milk-macarons-with-cookie.html

Chocolate Espresso and Chocolate Coconut Icings:

*this icing recipe can vary based on your tastes

-Simmer 1/2 cup of heavy cream and add it to about 2 oz of chocolate. Flavor it to your liking. We used espresso powder in one bowl and put sweetened coconut in the other. Simple amazing!!