Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

It's not really strawberry's cupcakes.... sliced and filled with cream and berries if you follow the recipe.  I didn't.  I just used the cupcake recipe and tried to ice a few.  I wanted to try out my decorating kit I bought eons ago.

I made some icing and from the descriptions tried to wield the specific tips and bag to practice a few things on a piece of plastic first..... hahahhahah.........what a laugh. wasn't all that amusing...but, I did have to laugh at my own efforts after awhile.  I don't think my icing was nearly stiff enough to do the job.  But...I think I sort of got the hang of leaves.... but, only sort of...

 It's a good thing our Mom used to say.."if you're not worth a laugh you're not worth very much."   I'm not sure she meant it quite like this..but.. eh.... what the heck.  It's worth a giggle.
Even just putting on a plain swirl was tricky... one needs a steady hand to get this looking right.  Man...those guys on Cupcake Wars are a whiz in comparison!  they ice hundreds in the time it took me to do 4... well, actually after 3 I gave up.

And, now for my question ... why would anybody want a cupcake with this much sickly sweet icing on it in the fist place?  yecchhh!

I scraped off the huge amount of icing on the rest of them....and just spread a bit on instead... with a knife.  However, if you like lots of sweet icing... please don't let me spoil your fun...feel free to ice them any way you like.

Interesting thing about this eggs.  I couldn't for the life of me believe they would rise and be fluffy enough.... but, they rose nicely, are moist and a pretty darn great tasting little cupcake.  This from somebody who doesn't usually make cupcakes.. because I prefer muffins.  I used to think of cupcakes as ....well,...  as cake.  And I find store bought muffins are usually just cake being passed off as muffins.  Dry, tasteless and crumbly. So, I never buy but always bake my own.  To me muffins are more dense, less cake-like...more moist and sort of rustic.

However,  I wanted to try cupcakes for Valentine's, without further ado, here is a recipe I found on the food network...

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
1  cup sugar
1/3  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  tsp. baking soda
1/2  tsp. salt
1 cup coconut milk  (I used regular milk)
1/2  cup vegetable oil
2  tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1  tsp. vanilla extract
1   tsp. instant espresso powder

Line 40 cups from mini cupcake pans or 16 cups from regular size muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.
Sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.  In separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and espresso powder until smooth.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a fork or small whisk.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners.  The cups should be filled about 2/3 full, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 22 minutes for the mini cupcakes and about 25 minutes for the regular size cupcakes.
Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Slice off the top 1/3 of each cupcake and slather with your favourite frosting and sliced strawberries.  Place the top of the cupcake back on top and add an additional bit of frosting and sliced strawberries.  Dust with confectioners sugar.  Eat three immediately.

NB:::  instead of the coconut milk.... use regular milk or buttermilk or add some lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk to make your own buttermilk.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I have a book titled simply,"Bread".  Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.  They come from France and Italy... they know bread! I love this book.  All sorts of information about bread baking at the front...and then... a great series of recipes with pictures.  Perfect for knowing exactly what things should look like and how to do it.

This one is called Focaccia Farcita and it says it is a "filled Italian hearth bread".  It says focaccia comes from the Latin word focus which means "hearth" and traditionally, the embers of the hearth are where focaccia was baked.  They refer to it as a moveable feast because of the fillings and toppings which can be used.  You can use anything you like long as it cooks in the same amount of time the bread takes to bake..or... partially cook veggies before adding them if you like.

Focaccia Farcita
2  tsp. dry yeast
1  1/4  cups water
3  1/4 cups bread flour (I used all purpose)
3  tbsp olive oil

for filling and topping
1/2  cup crumbled Gorgonzola  ( use what you like )
7   oz. mozzarella, sliced
1  handful of basil leaves  (I just used some dried basil and oregano)
1/2  tsp coarse salt
2  tbsp fresh rosemary leaves... (I only had dried and just used a sprinkle)
4  tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast into 1 cup of the water in a bowl. (I always use 100F water so it doesn't kill my yeast) Let stand for 5 minutes; stir to dissolve.  Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the dissolved yeast and the oil.

Mix in the flour.  Stir in the remaining water to form a soft, sticky dough.  Add more water 1 tbsp. at a time if needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead until smooth, silky, and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Punch down and divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Chafe for 5 minutes... then let rest for 10 minutes. (it just means forming dough into balls by cupping your hands gently around the piece and applying light downward pressure while rotating the dough in a steady clockwise motion til a nice even round shape is formed).

To make the filling.
Roll out each piece of dough into a 9 1/2 inch round.  Place one round on an oiled baking sheet.  Arrange the two cheeses and basil (or whatever else you decide to use) over the top, then seal in the filling using the second round. Leave a little space around edge for sealing. Gently pinch the edges of the dough together with your fingers.

Cover the dough loosely with a dish towel.  Proof until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Use your fingertips to gently press into the surface of the dough to form dimples about 1/2 inch deep.  Sprinkle with the coarse salt, rosemary leaves and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. (I found this coarse salt just wayyyy too salty for us... so won't bother with this step next time... your call.)

(looks like a moonscape)...

Bake in preheated oven for 30 -  45 minutes, until golden.  Drizzle immediately with remaining olive oil, and serve warm.

optional..... I used some black olives and sun dried tomatoes in mine.... mmmmm...   it also talks about roasting cherry tomatoes and using those.... sky is the limit with our "moveable feasts" and focaccia ..