Drunken Spice Cake

I opened up my cupboard last weekend and saw that I had yellow cake mix. I am starting to think that I have short term memory loss, as I cannot remember why I bought it. Anyway, it was the base for this week’s experiment that ended up going to work in a waft of cinnamon-scented goodness.
Even after all of the pins that are on my “Cakes and Pies” board on Pinterest, I still found this new recipe here: http://itsthelittlethingsblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/monogram-monday-crack-cake.html

What You Need
For the Cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 small box vanilla pudding instant mix
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup white wine

For the glaze:
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all above ingredients together
3. Pour into a Bundt pan
4. Bake for one hour

When the cake comes out of the oven, melt 1 stick of butter into 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of white wine. Pour directly into the pan on top of the still-hot cake. Let cool completely before removing.

photo 1

Comments
Let’s talk a minute on Bundt pans. I’m not sure why I have two, or even where they came from, but I have them. I think my mom had four or five, all pretty much the same size and shape. I’ve seen some gorgeous pans out there that make beautiful cakes. And I do like the way they turn out. However, I have yet to master the art of getting a cake out of one of these without somehow damaging the cake. They’ve stuck to the bottom, they’ve left their entire top level inside the pan, etc. When I am successful, it is because I’ve oiled and floured the thing to within an inch of it’s usefulness, and end up with uncooked flour bits all over my finished cake (which I end up brushing off with a pastry brush). If anyone has the secret to this, can you let me know?

Anyway, back to the cake. The recipe says to bake for an hour. However, I kept an eye on my oven, and my cake was done at about 40 minutes. Now, the oven had been cleaned the day before, so I suppose that it is possible that the extra-super-clean insides make the cake bake faster. However, I haven’t seen this phenomena repeated in the past week, so it’s tough to say.

I mixed all of this by hand – Just me, the bowl, and a big old spoon. Since I had to mix everything by hand in the days before my hand mixer and the stand mixer, it makes me appreciate the appliance that make our lives just a little easier. And sometimes I just don’t want to haul the stand mixer in from the garage (teeny kitchen does not make for lots of counter space).

However, even if this cake did lose a little bit of it’s top to the bottom of the pan, it still turned out quite delicious. I took this in last Monday, the same day that we welcomed a new coworker. After eating a piece, he asked me what new thing I had made for him every day. Great, I’ve created a monster…

Until Next Time,
Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

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Cinnamon Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting

I think everyone loves to eat at work.  Ok, at least we all love to eat where I work.  I think we make any excuse to buy and eat cake.  Or cookies.  Or anything, really.  Especially for birthdays.

Recently, we unanimously decided to bring in our own goodies for our birthdays.  That way, if we wanted to celebrate, we could.  But it wasn’t mandatory if it doesn’t fit in the monthly budget.  So, of course I took the opportunity to try out a new recipe on those poor unsuspecting fools…I mean my beloved coworkers.

Original Recipe Is Here: http://www.thekurtzcorner.com/2012/09/cinnamon-cupcakes-with-pumpkin-pie.html

What You Need:

For the cupcakes
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon

For the frosting
1 16oz container buttercream frosting
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (don’t get the pumpkin pie filling!)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (I used a lot more)

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Prepare a standard cupcake tin using your favorite meathod (I’m a fan of the little paper liners)
  3. Mix the cake mix, water, oil, eggs, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  4. Fill each cupcake well about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until done.
  5. While the cupcakes are baking, mix together the frosting, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch. I used my hand mixer on low, and added more cornstarch as my frosting was a bit on the thin side.
  6. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting. Garnish with a bit of nutmeg.  (Oops, I forgot to do this)

I know I’m not normally a cupcake maker.  But these had so much appeal that I couldn’t help myself.  And we don’t have much room to store a whole mess of cupcakes in the house.  However, these caught my attention during a recent Pinterest session.  They weren’t terribly complicated to make, and I loved the idea of mixing the pumpkin with the buttercream frosting.  I really cut down on the sweetness and gave the frosting a nice tone of all the lovely pumpkin spice flavorings.

If you are looking for something slightly different from your-rum-of-the-mill chocolate or vanilla cupcakes, these will work perfectly.  I used one of my two frosting tips to pipe the frosting on these cupcakes.  And now I know why I’m a baker and not a decorator…

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Browned Butter Cinnamon Chip Bars

Various coworkers have been bugging me to bring baked things in again. I really haven’t brought anything in since the holidays, so it was definitely time to do so. I learned how to do something new, and I think it turned out very well…
Original recipe is here: http://picky-palate.com/2014/02/03/brown-sugar-cinnamon-sugar-cookie-bars/
What You Need
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal Flour
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cinnamon chips

2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with foil. Place butter into a saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter and cook until browned, swirling the pan occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
3. Pour the butter into a stand mixer. Add sugar and mix until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring well. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cinnamon chips, mixing until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Stir together the 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkling over top of pressed dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes until baked through. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes then cut into square and serve.
What I Did
So, I was making a batch of cookies at the same time, so I got the butters mixed up. It was a little too late for the cookies (which turned out fine even with the extra butter), but it gave me the opportunity to practice with browning butter. What a trip that is! I had never done that before, so I’m glad that the recipe came with instructions on browning butter. Just don’t turn your back on it. It goes from golden and frothy to brown and hearty in a blink of an eye.
See this?
photo 1 (2)
Compared to this:

photo 2 (2)

That is some browned butter in there!  When the bubbles come up a lovely caramel shade, then take it off the heat.

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I was a little hesitant about these. When I cut them, they seemed to be quite dry and hard. But after trying one of them, the bars seemed to be living up to their promises. I had Scott try one, and he said that they were really good.
So, with a little faith, I took them to work. And they disappeared quickly.
So, apparently they were better than I thought they were.

photo 3

That’s not a great picture, but I forgot to get a pretty one before I went to work.  They look a bit like inedible bricks.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies or, Attack of the Cinnamon Monster

I am not an ingredient snob.  I don’t need the finest ingredients to add to my baking.  I like a good deal the same as the next person.  So, when I was on a recent shopping excursion to the big blue box store (I do hate shopping there, but the prices are reasonable), I found a certain spice brand was selling for about 67 cents per container.  Score!  I picked up two containers of cinnamon since I knew that I was nearly out.  I was very happy with my find, almost as if I had been smiled down upon by the baking gods.

Life was good.

Fast forward about two weeks when Scott is clearing out the spice cupboard, and finds the three (three?) containers of cinnamon that we owned.  Yeah, I have a habit of not looking thoroughly through the cupboard before assuming we are out of something.  Its how we’ve ended up with enough peppercorns to last us for about five years.  (But Honey, I’m sure that don’t have any.  I looked!)

So, we have a lot of cinnamon to use.  This week, I threw together a “French Apple Crumble” to take to work and use up the last bit of apples from the family’s visit (It turned out strange.  I wanted more of a crispy apple…thing.  May or may not do a post on that… And I made more apple oatmeal muffins for breakfast (those will warrant a blog post.  They’re delightful).  And I made this recipe.

Original Recipe is here: http://thewednesdaybaker.blogspot.com/2013/11/brown-sugar-cinnamon-cookies.html

What You Need:

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
10 ounces cinnamon chips (Hershey makes these. I can usually find them year round)

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients except for the chips
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Stir in the cinnamon chips.
  4. Drop dough by rounded spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.

What I Did

I use any excuse to buy something baking related that I haven’t used frequently in the past.  When Scott said yes to my suggestion of these cookies, I jumped at the chance and didn’t let him change his mind.  Luckily, I was able to find the cinnamon chips without any trouble.  And I didn’t see any reason to change the directions as they were.

There was a funny incident with my mixer, which nearly always ends up like this:

mixer shit

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Scott was peering over my shoulder as the first pans came out of the oven.  He waited about 60 seconds before snatching one up and devouring it.  To which he said, “These don’t suck.”  (Scotty speak for, “Dang, these are good!”).  So, going to keep this recipe for the future!

photo(7)

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Churro Muffins

I made these for a coworker’s birthday last week, and I am extremely happy with the results.  When I found them, they were simply called “Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins”.  When the time came for the actual eating of the muffins, someone said that they tasted exactly like churros.  Ahhh…churros….If you’ve never had one, they are very near to heaven.  They normally come in a long and thin shape, usually fried before being coated in cinnamon sugar.   Disneyland has a churro stand around every corner.  Alas, they are a little harder to come by in its East Coast cousin, the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, which is right around my corner. 

Anyway, I loved these little guys so much, that I really can’t wait to make them again! 

Original Recipe is here: http://shopgirlmaria.blogspot.com/2013/10/cinnamon-sugar-donut-muffins.html

 

What You Need:

For the Muffins

2 cups flour

1 ½ cups sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

½ tsp vanilla extract

 

For the Topping

4 – 6 tbs unsalted butter, melted

½ cup sugar

½  tsp cinnamon

 

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either grease the muffin pan or line them with paper liners
  2. Whisk together the milk, melted butter, vanilla and egg in a bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until your batter is smooth. It will be reminiscent of pancake batter, so pretty thin.
  3. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ of the way full.  Bake for 15 -17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool a few minutes
  4. While muffins are cooling, prepare the topping by melting the butter and combining the sugar with the cinnamon.  Do not combine with the melted butter.  Brush the butter on top of the muffins with a pastry brush.  Dip the tops of the muffins in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat.  Alternatively, you could dip the entire muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture after removing from the paper liners and coating with butter.

 Image

What I Did:

Okay, so I broke my own rule and didn’t post the recipe exactly as I found it.  The above is what I did.  When I found the recipe, it called for dipping the entire muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture, but I thought that they would be good with just the tops done.  And I was right!

 

Reaction:

The coworker who I made these for had some really good ideas on some different spins that I could do for these.  She is a cupcake goddess, and given enough funding I would quit my job, make her quit hers and we would go and open our own bakery.  Keep an eye out, it just may happen…

Anyway, the best that I can decipher through the muttered mouthfuls was that these were very good.  I made two other types of muffins to go with them, and I think that next week we may visit this muffinpalooza again…

 

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

 

Bake Sale Part 1 – Cinnamon Roll Bars

Ahh…the bake sale.  Perpetually the go-to money maker for all things.  At work, we generally use it to raise money for a cause.  We’ve raised money for Share our Strength (The Great American Bake Sale), and this time around, we used it to raise money for our back to school drive to help fill backpacks with school supplies that are distributed to children whose families do not have the money for everything they might need for the school year.  This year, we raised $560, which will definitely fill a lot of backpacks!

This post is the first in a series of recipes of what I made for the bake sale.  These cinnamon roll bars seemed to be the biggest hit of everything that I made.  I got more compliments out of these than anything else!

Original recipe is here:  http://blissfulwhimsy.blogspot.com/2012/03/cinnamon-roll-cookie-bars.html

What You Need

1 box yellow cake mix

½ cup melted butter

2 eggs

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon

Icing

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups powdered sugar

 

And Here’s What You Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all bar ingredients and pour into a greased 9X13 baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  While baking the bars, mix together the icing ingredients.  Once the bars are removed from the oven, pour the icing over the top.  Let cool in the pan.

What I did

I followed the ingredients to the letter, with the exception of substituting soy milk for dairy milk.  But, that was the only change that I made.  The batter for the bars is not so much poured in as it is pressed into the corners and evenly distributed with a rubber spatula.

Image

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There was a corner that was a little wonky, so I decided that would be the “quality control” sample.  I instantly loved the warm, gooey, slightly granular texture of the bars, a bit like biting into brown sugar that has been hard pressed into a bar.  But with so much delightful cinnamon flavor!  I shared my sample with Scott, who also commented on the uniqueness of the texture.  I wish that mine had turned out a bit more like the original recipe picture.  There’s a lovely thick layer of frosting on those, though due to the intensely sweet nature of the bars, it might have been a little overpowering.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes