Monday, February 23, 2009

Strawberry heart and apple blossom mini doughnuts

So friday was my birthday! Already 25 years old... seems like yesterday that I was just turning 20! Should I bake myself a cake? No, my mom will probably get one for me... but I need something sweet on my birthday! So what if.... a favorite and an innovation were on the way of being created.

I L-O-V-E doughnuts! Specially the ones filled with strawberry jam and covered in powdered sugar. So I had to have them for my birthday and because I love them so much I made them heart shaped.

I also love the combination of apples with cinnamon. The idea blossomed in my head that maybe I can turn this combo into a doughnut. I added half an apple peeled and grated (well strained) to half of the dough, cut them with a flower cookie cutter and filled them with a cinnamon whipped cream.

These little beauties made my day! The strawberry ones are a classic, they never fail you but the apple blossoms, as I call them, were quite a discovery! The taste of apple isn't too overwhelming but the cinnamon in the whipped cream really sets it off and enhances it.

For the doughnuts
1 egg
300 gr flour
15 gr fresh active yeast
100 ml milk, warm
30 gr butter
30 gr sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salf

oil to fry

Disolve the yeast in the warm milk. In the meanwhile, melt the butter and make a well with the flour. In the center, place all the other ingredients including the yeast milk. Combine the ingredients and knead the dough until you form an elastic ball of dough. Sprinkle some flour on it, place it in a bowl and cover it. Place in a draft-free room and let it proof for 2 hours.

Roll the dough to about 1 cm tick and cut out your doughnuts. They can be round or of any shape you want, as long as it's not too complex. This is not a good time to take out that dinosaur cookie cutter! Let the doughnuts proof again, covered, for another hour or so.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 degrees. I don't have a thermometer so I test the oil with a little piece of dough. Once dropped in the oil it should sizzle on the sides but not turn brown too quikly. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 3-4 doughnuts (depending on their size) into oil. Don't overcrows your saucepan! This will cause the oil temperature to drop and you won't be able to fry right!

Fry until golden, about 40 seconds on each side, and transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm or sprinkle with powedered sugar. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #4 tip with favorite jam, whipped cream, butter cream... go crazy! Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons of filling into doughnuts.

(I used half of the dough to which I added half an apple, peeled, grated and very very very well strained to make the apple blossoms. You might need a bit more flour for these ones to counterbalance the moisture added by the apples.)

Cinnamon whipped cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine the whipping cream, the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whip until medium soft peaks form and fill your doughnuts!

Friday, February 6, 2009

ICE February - Coffee: Have a cup of Tiramisu' cupcake!

Coffee has to be, no doubt in my mind, the hot beverage that is the most consumed in the western world. I just have to take a look around campus when I'm at school and one out of two, max three, students has a cup of some kind of coffee in their hands.

I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of straight-up coffee. I like it when it's mixed with some kind of other flavor. So I admit, when I first saw that this month's ICE secret ingredient was coffee, I cringed a little! But I took a deep breath, went back to my roots and thought "I'm Italian, coffee has to somehow, in some way, run through my blood... no problem!"

We could live off of coffee alone if that were possibile! We use it in every way we can, as much as we can and the two most popular ways to consume coffee for an Italian it's spiked with Sambuca (a sweet anise-flavoured italian liqueur) or in our national most famous dessert: Tiramisu' (which my mom also does with some Sambuca in the coffee used to soak the cookies in... addicted much?!).

So it all came oh so clear to me... a Tiramisu' made into a cupcake! This is a Sambuca flavoured cupcake with coffee buttercream, topped with a chocolate ganache and mascarpone cheese frosting. Of course I just couldn't resist making little coffee cups out of them (all out of fondant)!

If you liked my cupcakes, please vote for me!! To cast your vote go to No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner!! Voting starts on March 1st at 8pm and ends on March 6th at noon.

Sambuca Cupcakes
(yields 12 cupcakes)

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large egg whites
10 tbsp whole milk
2 tbsp Sambuca liqueur
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups; set aside.

Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg whites, milk, sambuca, and vanilla extract; mix until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; mix until just combined.

Divide batter among paper baking cups in muffin pan, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven until very light golden brown, approximately 24-27 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Coffee buttercream (from Tartelette)
(it will make more than you need but freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months)

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

In a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. While stirring bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook until it registers 240F. on a candy thermometer. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand held beater beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add the sugar syrup in a thin stream, beating, and beat the mixture until it is cool. Change to the paddle attachment and add in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, the espresso mixture, and beat the buttercream until it is combined well. Leave at room temperature so it will be easier to spread.

Chocolate ganache
(again, you'll probably have more than needed... make a Sacher Torte!)

90 ml heavy cream
90 gr bittersweet chocolate

In a heavy saucepan set over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the stove and pour on the chopped chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes and then stir until fully combined. Let cool until firm enough to spread on top of the cupcakes.

Mascarpone Cheese frosting (recipe from Martha Stewart)
(enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes)

1 pound mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, cream and confectioners' sugar until medium-soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful no to overbeat and use immediately.


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