Monday, July 06, 2020

Mini Cupcake Pies - (cake that looks like pie)

My daughter's birthday was last month, and while all the girls are getting older and their theme parties are a bit more chill, I always still try to make a fun cake for their birthday.  She was just going to have some friends come over to play video games, and didn't have a particular theme in mind. Then I realized that she plays a game on the computer where they make virtual pies all day. I had this idea to make cupcakes look like miniature pies.  We searched around on Pinterest and came up with a few ideas to base our cake/pies on.  They turned out super cute!!

Mini Cupcake Pies are probably the cutest thing ever!
 
All you need are:

24 cooked, cooled cupcakes (from a box or from scratch)
Silver cupcake liners (to look like pie pans)
1 large bag of mini MnM's, colors sorted
2 tubs of store bought frosting (or make your own butter cream)
Unsweetened cocoa power
Yellow food dye Wilton basket weave tips (47 for cupcakes or 1D for larger cake pies)

Bake 24 cupcakes and let cool completely. 

For the frosting you can make your own or a few cans of store bought vanilla, though in hindsight the homemade buttercream might set up firmer around the edges of the "pie".

Cake, that looks like tiny pies. Adorable!

To your white frosting, place a 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powered and a few drops of yellow food dye into the frosting until you get a "pie crust" type color. Add small amounts of cocoa as needed.

Unsweetened cocoa powder and yellow food dye will give you frosting a "pie crust" peachy color
Frost each cupcake with a bit of the crust colored frosting 

It's sort of an odd shade, a light skin color, or peachy/brown
Then carefully place tiny MnM's in one color (red for "cherry", blue for "blueberry", etc.) My teen had fun doing this.  Once you get the top fully covered in mini MnM's then you are going to pipe a lattice (we used Wilton basket weave tip 47) a few strips one way, 

It looks like little blueberries under a lattice crust

Then a few stripes the opposite way.  Don't worry about the edges, you can cover that up with a little "ruffle" type edging to make it look like a real little pie crust.

Messy edges will be covered up with the next stop
Next, go around the edges of the cupcake with the same tip in a ruffly "edge of the pie" type pattern, mostly a wave pattern.

Blueberry pie! The first time we did this, we used store bought frosting and it got a little warm, but still did an okay effect
Next try a few more colors of "pie filling"

Ooo cherry pie!  We ended doing 4 mini pies of each color
For the orange and yellow MnM's (lemon and pumpkin) pie, we didn't do lattice work for those, and thought they would look nicer with a little blob of white "whipped cream" (white frosting pipped with a star tip).

Twist on the star  tip as you pull up to get that "dollop" look
These tiny pies started to look pretty good as we did the different flavors

Did someone order a chocolate mini pie cupcake?
We put a variety on a sheet pan and it turned out to be a great way to display them.


The teens went gaga over these little beauties.


My middle was turning 14.  These number candles fit in one pie perfectly



We had a little left over batter, so I decided to pour it into a full-sized pie pan and then we whipped up a pretend pumpkin pie, which was the birthday girl's favorite pie in the fall.  It looked pretty realistic when we were done. (Note: We took the extra pie crust frosting, which already had that brown crust hue, separated it and put red and yellow food coloring in it until it resembled a pumpkin color). More white dollops of white frosting with the flower tip to give it some flair.

Fake pumpkin pie cake... looks pretty realistic
Here it is all lit up with candlelight

Happy pumpkin pie funfetti cake to you...
See, it really was cake all along.

Great for any holiday, even April Fools!

I hope you liked our little fake out fun food here.  We had a blast making these together, and there's not a ton of activities you can do with your teen where they are chatting and enjoying themselves making tiny food.







Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Easy BBQ Pulled Pork - Crockpot

Do you ever go digging around deep in your freezer, and way in the back you find a hunk of frozen meat you should probably use up soon?  Well I found a very nicely sealed pork butt (I believe they come in a pack of three at Costco) and it had been in the freezer for an undisclosed amount of time. It was a long enough time that I had totally forgotten how I had cooked the first two). Not to let a good thing go to waste, I went searching online for the best way to use this cut of meat, and decided to try out the best looking recipe I could find for you.  Needless to say it was easy, cooked all day in the crock pot, and pulled apart quite easily -  all saucy and yummy  and ready to pile up on fluffy slider buns.

BBQ pulled pork in the crock pot - YUM

You only need of few common ingredients that you probably already have on hand. I found this recipe here.

Ingredients:
1 (4 lb) pork butt
2 cups of chopped celery
1 onion chopped (or half bag frozen onions) 
1 cup of Ketchup
1 cup of BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder (optional - did not use)
1 tsp of seasoned salt and pepper to taste 

Start dumping things into a crock pot: 2 cups of chopped celery and 1 chopped onion


 Next add a cup of ketchup and a cup of BBQ sauce (your favorite)



Next add in 1/2 cup of water, the garlic powder, chili powder, seasoned salt and black pepper to taste.

It always feels better if you put a few fresh ingredients in
Stir that around until you get an official looking "sauce"


Hey!  That's looking promising
Place the thawed pork butt in the crock pot and push some of the sauce over it.


Cook on low in the crock pot all day 7-8 hours until you can pull the meat apart with a fork.


I jabbed it with a fork there at the top and could see it was ready for shredding.
It should shred easily and this cut of meat has very little fat, but I pulled the pork out on the plate and skimmed off any undesirables from the sauce before putting the meat back into the pot and shredding it.

Smokey, tangy, juicy BBQ pork heaven.
It shreds very easily and the sauce gets incorporated throughout all of the meat as soon as you start stirring.  Do a little taste test here.  If it needs more seasoned salt, or a little extra straight BBQ sauce, this would be the time to do it. 

Next, pile up some BBQ meat on a soft little slider bun. The beauty of sliders is that you can have more than one! Any party that has tiny sandwiches is a win win in my book.

BBQ pork sliders!  Easy party food!
After that the work is all done.  Keep the crock pot on low to keep the meat warm, and let the guests serve themselves. This works great for a large gathering, and this recipe easily doubles if you are serving a bigger crowd.


BBQ pork sliders - makes a fun meal
This also works great on a regular week night just feeding the family.  Throw things in the crock pot in the morning, and return to deliciousness at dinner time.


I like my meat to slider ratio - equal parts meat and soft bun
Everybody seems to love these little babies.  It also makes great left overs (if you have any, that is). Store the meat in a plastic container and save a couple of extra slider buns and take it to work for a fun lunch. 

 
Enjoy!



Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Chocolate Souffles

Sometimes I have these (what I perceive to be) very tricky items from the high-brow foodie world that I would like to try and make one day. To accomplish them successfully would not only be a check off my lifetime bucket list, but give me a boost of confidence to maybe try the others. Things like creme brulee, beef wellington, pavlova, lobster thermidor, and chocolate soufflé!.  

Chocolate souffle... the dessert of your dreams.
I can proudly say I have now officially checked one of these culinary giants off my list... and YOU can too. Don't freak out, stay with me here. True there is some fluffing of eggs and folding in ingredients, but this is almost a foolproof recipe, and if I can do it, YOU can do it.  Not only was it out of this world delicious, it was a lot easier than I ever thought or imagined!

You will have to thank Tricia Yearwood for this recipe. I happened to catch she and her sister making these with super simple ingredients (for the most part just butter, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate), oh hey, wait, I have those - and it looked so divine I just had to try it! Special note: This recipe contains no flour so I believe it is gluten free as well.

If you listen closely, it is whispering "maaaake meeee".
Here' the play by play:

You will need six 6oz ramekins, baking sheet, and preheat oven to 400º

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons of softened butter (plus extra to butter ramekins)
1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tablespoons (plus extra to sugar the ramekins)
8 oz of bittersweet chocolate chopped (I used bittersweet chocolate chips 60%) 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 large egg yolks (room temp)
6 egg whites (room temp)
Raspberry sauce (Tricia's or I made my own simple sauce below)
(Raspberries, water, sugar, cornstarch)
Powdered sugar for dusting.

First use some extra softened butter to coat each of the ramekins and then coat with sugar. 


Sugar on the sides will help the souffle "climb" up the walls and poof out of the top
The helpful hint here was to pour a bit of sugar in the first ramekin, then spin it around to coat, then dump the remaining sugar into the next ramekin and repeat.  Worked like a charm.

Six ramekins fit nicely on the half-sheet pan
After that you'll want to melt the chocolate. Use a double boiler (or make a quick one, - boil water in a pot on the stove (low boil) with a metal bowl placed over the top, but not touching the water below).

Place the 8oz of bittersweet chocolate and the 4 Tablespoons of butter in a heat safe bowl and place over the double boiler. 

Chocolate and butter. I think Paula Dean is smiling down from somewhere right now...
 Mix slowly and make sure the chocolate is melting gently. 

Activate smell-o-vision here
 Once smooth remove from heat and set aside.

Beautiful melty chocolate.
Combine three room temperature egg yokes and 2 Tablespoons of warm water into a stand mixer and beat until frothy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until thick ribbons form, about 5 minutes. 


It will turn this lovely pale yellow color
  Very lightly fold the yolk mixture into the cooling chocolate mixture.

Fun.
Fold gently until combined and set aside.


Folding just means to lightly lift the heavy chocolate from the bottom up into the fluffy egg yoke mixture.
Meanwhile, in a clean mixing bowl, add the 6 room temp egg whites plus the 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar.

How this tiny bit of liquid turns into a bowl full of fluff is one of those cooking miracles
Beat on medium speed until frothy and add in slowly the 1/2 cup of sugar until combined and not gritty. Beat for about 3 more minutes, until stiff peaks form.

If you can master this by the way, you can also make Pavlova (coming soon to a blog near you)
Working quickly, start by folding 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the set-aside chocolate mixture until the color lightens.

More folding.  It's fun to watch the colors combine
then fold in the remaining egg white mixture gently until blended.

You are now ready to make souffles!
Spoon souffle mixture into the six waiting butter/sugared ramekins on a cookie sheet.

Wow that fit perfectly.
 Smooth out the tops.

We accidentally missed the smoothing out part, it was our first time

Put into the preheated 400º oven immediately and bake for 18 minutes or until the souffles have risen over the tops of the ramekins. While these were cooking we started to be very quiet, whispering and paying reverence to that old wives tale not to make too much noise around a souffle or it will fall.

Eighteen minutes later... this was what we were pulling out of the oven.
I can't tell you how amazing it felt to peek in the oven (through the glass mind you, never with the door open) and see these little babies poofing up over the top of the ramekins like an honest-to-goodness souffle. I was beyond excited.

Make a quick raspberry sauce.  I did not use Tricia's but you are welcome to. I just threw a couple handfuls of frozen raspberries into the pot with a little water, a 1/4- cup of sugar (depends on sweetness of raspberries you have) and a little corn starch. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the sauce has thickened.  I did this while the souffles were baking - but I was so excited about the souffle's rising I didn't take any pictures of my sauce making.

Remove souffles from the oven. 


Seriously, I can't believe that actually worked!
This is the hardest part. You must, and I mean you MUST eat these immediately.  If you don't eat them right away, they will get disgusted with you and collapse under protest. They must be hot, fluffy, and go in your mouth right away for you to be able to enjoy the highest possible souffle goodness.

Hello my love!
Dust with powdered sugar.

It's snowing!
We placed the still hot ramekins on cute little dessert plates.

(Use oven mitts to move hot souffles. Thanks Pioneer Woman for the adorable plates)
Top with warm raspberry sauce and prepare to to be delighted!


Hot, steamy, fluffy, raspberry-sauced chocolate souffle

Like this might be the best thing that ever happened to eggs and chocolate!


Oo-la-la
Can't get enough!  The outside was a little crisp and lightly crunchy, but once you dove inside there was a warm gooey fluffy cake thing that was almost indescribable. 


Holy yum batman!
Look at that sweet/tart raspberry sauce spilling over the sides.

After a few bites you are looking into a chocolate, raspberry abyss.


This is my new. favorite. thing.

Here's my youngest enjoying her first souffle at the tender age of 12.  I had to wait 40 years to try my first, she's a lucky little lady.

This is the BEST she kept saying

So... this was SO worth it. Don't be intimidated. You can do this.  You want to do this. You owe it to yourself to do this.  Report back to me when you do.  God Bless you Tricia Yearwood, I have now checked chocolate souffles off my bucket list.



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