Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Luxurious Chocolate

Chocolate Lover's Cupcake



Silky soft chocolate buttercream floating on a fluffy chocolate cupcake coated in dark chocolate ganache. Hurry up, we're dreaming.

Stress relief tip of the day:
Rhythmic exercise—such as running, walking, rowing, or cycling—is most effective at relieving stress when performed with relaxation in mind. As with meditation, mindfulness requires being fully engaged in the present moment, focusing your mind on how your body feels right now. As you exercise, focus on the physicality of your body’s movement and how your breathing complements that movement. 





Chocolate Lover's Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients


Batter:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coffee, water, or coconut milk
½ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips

Buttercream:
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Directions:

To make the Chocolate Cupcakes: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.

Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

For the ganache frosting:

Combine the heavy cream and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.
Fill a medium saucepan with an inch or two of water and place over medium-low heat. Place the bowl over the saucepan and let the mixture melt, stirring until it is shiny and smooth. Remove the bowl of chocolate ganache from the saucepan; let it cool slightly, for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Working with 1 cupcake at a time, carefully dip each cupcake top in the warm ganache, twisting your wrist as needed to make sure the cupcake top gets completely coated. Allow the ganache to set for 5 minutes before frosting with buttercream. 

For the buttercream:

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool, about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanil
la. Using a flexible spatula, fold 4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled, into buttercream mixture. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.

Cake adapted from Chloe Coscareli


Mary-Yum's Sugar Therapy



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tea Time

Swiss Berry Cookies

Crisp, delicate cookies with a touch of strawberry and raspberry. Perfect for your afternoon tea.

Stress relief tip of the day:
Try an herbal tea.  Studies suggest that teas such as mint, chamomile, lavender and ginseng can help alleviate stress.  Also a simple black tea has shown a reduction in levels of cortisol, a stress related hormone.


Swiss Berry Cookies (Spitzbuebe)
Recipe from Saveur

MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN

INGREDIENTS
3/4 lb. (3 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 egg yolks
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Mary-Yum's Jam

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Beat butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Increase speed to medium; beat until light and fluffy. Add yolks one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition to combine. Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula; give the dough one last stir. Transfer dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and press it into a 9" × 11" rectangle. Cover with more plastic wrap, place on a large plate, and let chill for 1 hour.

2. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Divide chilled dough into 6 pieces. Rewrap 5 pieces individually in plastic wrap and chill. On a lightly floured surface, work the dough piece gently with a rolling pin to warm it slightly. Keeping surface and dough floured, roll dough into a 9" square. (If dough sticks, gently run a spatula underneath it, to release it.) Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut out 9 circles of dough and transfer them to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet about 1" apart; reserve scraps. Repeat process with remaining chilled dough pieces. Combine leftover scraps into a ball. Reroll dough and continue cutting circles. Using a 1 1/4" round cookie cutter, cut a hole in the center of half of the circles—these are the tops. Bake all cookies in batches, rotating pans halfway through, until just pale golden, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool completely.

3. Put preserves into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring, over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring, until thickened and reduced by about one-quarter, about 5 minutes. Transfer preserves to a bowl; let cool. Put remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into a sieve; dust cookie tops. Turn whole cookies upside down—these are the bottoms; spoon about 1/2 tsp. of preserves onto each. Using a small spatula, spread preserves to within 1/8" of the edges. Cover each with a cookie top. Transfer remaining preserves into a plastic bag and snip the end. Using it like a piping bag, pipe a small amount of preserves into each hole. Serve cookies immediately or store between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tips:
-Cut shapes with a cookie cutter and freeze on a tray for 24 hours.  Remove from freezer and transfer to a freezer bag.  Enjoy a couple of cookies fresh at any time of the day or save large batches for those unexpected guests.
-Swap out the strawberry-raspberry jam for your favorite preserve.  




From Mary-Yum's Sugar Therapy


Friday, January 6, 2012

A Crunchy & Sweet Breakfast

Belgian Waffles

The buttery, yeast-like sweet smell can wake anyone up on a lazy Sunday.  Make this dough the day before and impress your morning guests by simply pressing into your waffle iron. 

Stress relief tip of the day:
Sleep for a good six to eight hours a day or take an afternoon nap. people who don't get enough sleep are very vulnerable to stress. Sleep is the time when your body is able to rest and rebuild itself. If you don't get enough sleep, your health suffers and your levels of anxiety rises.


Belgian Waffle Recipe

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (about 1cup), plus more for brushing
1 cup Belgian pearl sugar (see Note)

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk the brown sugar and yeast into the lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour with the salt. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix at medium speed until shaggy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each.

Whisk the vanilla with the 1 cup of melted butter. With the mixer at medium-low, gradually mix in the butter until smooth; the batter will be thick and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Step 2: Stir the pearl sugar into the risen batter. Cover again and let rest for 15 minutes.

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 250°. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron and brush it with melted butter. Gently stir the batter to deflate. Using about 2 tablespoons of batter for each, cook the waffles according to the manufacture's directions until they are golden and crisp; brush the waffle iron with melted butter as needed. Transfer the waffles to plates or keep them warm in the oven, then serve.


MAKE AHEAD
The batter can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated overnight.

NOTES
Belgian pearl sugar is available at specialty shops and at amazon.com.












Recipe adapted from Food and Wine Magazine


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Pops

Pumpkin chocolate chip cake pops

Deliciously sweet and soft with the tangy-ness of cream cheese.  Taste buds rejoice.

Stress relief tip of the day:
Humor. Laughter is one of the most effective therapies for stress relief and bringing down levels of anxiety. A laugh can decrease levels of stress hormones like cosrtisol and adrenal, causes endorphin levels to rise and strengthens our immune system. It increases the intake of oxygen, stimulates organs like heart and lungs, stimulates blood circulation and exercises stomach muscles.


Recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Pops

Ingredients
Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 can of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


Coating:
2 cups chocolate chips or melting chocolate

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.  


Spread dough in a 13x9 inch dish that has been pre-greased. Bake the cake until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely. 

Meanwhile make the cream cheese frosting.  Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer then add butter and beat until smooth.  Sift powdered sugar, beat until it has disappeared then add vanilla.

After cake has cooled, crumble the cake into a large bowl.  Mix it thoroughly with cream cheese frosting.  Roll the mixture into little golf balls and lay on a cookie sheet. Insert a popsicle stick and lay on a piece of wax paper overnight.

Melt chocolate in the microwave stirring every thirty seconds until smooth.  Coat balls in chocolate and allow to dry.

Top with sprinkles or drizzle with melted chocolate.


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