Archives for the month of: January, 2012

This weekend I met up with Michelle, my great friend of forever, to bake some plain vanilla cupcakes! They didn’t taste plain that’s for sure! We also made frosting from scratch and decorated our cupcakes with colored icing. We actually had a sweet request from one of the fellow BWFers for her sweetheart (scroll down to see the lovely final product).

Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions

Prior to starting, get the eggs and butter to room temperature. Grease and flour two cupcake/muffin pans, or add cupcake wrappers to trays.

Stir together the salt, baking powder, flour.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter in an electric mixer on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until combined.

Continue to beat and add the eggs. Beat well and add vanilla.

 
Add part of the flour mixture then part of the milk, then beat on low. Repeat until all of the milk and flour mixture have been added.

Combine and spread batter into cupcake pans.


Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden brown and toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool for at least 15 minutes then remove from pans.

 

Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar (around 8 cups)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

Beat butter on medium until smooth in an electric mixer. Beat in the powdered sugar well until smooth. Beat in 1/3 cup milk and vanilla. Beat in the rest of the sugar and the rest of the milk. It’s now ready to frost!

Add 3 drops of blue food coloring and 2 drops of green food coloring to make teal icing! Place in a icing dispenser to increase frosting precision.

  

Final product: Sweet on soooo many levels!

(Props to Michelle for the awesome handwriting! and Steven for the idea!)

 

I frosted these ones!

(I got a little frosting crazy on the big ones)

Recipe from Squidoo.

This week was the last week that one of my best friends Cristina was going to be home for winter break before heading back to Harvard to start another semester in her Middle Eastern Studies master’s program, so I invited her over to bake some cupcakes from scratch! This cupcake recipe is incredibly moist and the lemon flavor really kicks in through the icing. The batter for the cupcakes is very thick but that is what makes them so great when they come out of the oven! Enjoy!

Be sure to check out Cristina’s blog too!

Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sour cream

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.

  

Combine dry ingredients.

Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Batter will be thick (as shown in the last two images of this section).

   

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

  

Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

These (left) look like baby faces! And these (right) look like snowmen!

Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Yellow food coloring

Directions

Cream butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and water; beat until smooth. Add as many drops of yellow food coloring to get the desired shade of yellow frosting.

Frost cupcakes.

    

 

Recipe from allrecipes.com

After the Snickerdoodles, we made these delicious macaroons. It was a quick and easy recipe to make and we made half of them chocolate-dipped and the other half without chocolate. The dark chocolate we used was a pure dark cacao from Venezuela which contained 70% cacao, but if it is too strong for your taste, melt a chocolate that is not as dark.

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Beat the egg whites until foamy.

Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until all the sugar is incorporated and the peaks are shiny and stiff.

  

This one looks like a monkey! See it?

Gently stir in the salt, vanilla and coconut, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.

Place the mixture onto the baking sheets into small clumps.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until golden brown.

Keep an eye on them to make sure they do not over bake. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Heat the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over the simmering water, stirring constantly until melted.

      

Dip the macaroons halfway into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper until set.

  

We decided these looked like faces with the chocolate looking like hair!

Steven, Stephanie (Steven’s awesome little sister) and I met today for another BWF sesh! First we made Snickerdoodles, which was a first for both Steven and Stephanie but it was a success! EXCEPT, that the dough is a bit sticky so use an ice cream scooper to make the dough balls before flattening them out so it does not get stuck all over your fingers, like it did for Stephanie! Absolutely delicious though!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well mixed. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

  

Shape the dough into 2-inch balls.

 

Roll the balls in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Place the balls on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart and lightly flatten them.

 

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until light golden. Transfer to a rack and top with additional cinnamon sugar. Let cool.

If you read my first post, then you are familiar with Steven, the “Ice King.” One Saturday afternoon, Steven, my Super Sister and I met up to bake some M&M bars and carrot cupcakes. These carrot cupcakes are incredibly moist and the cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement. The M&M bars are a great to-go snack and the peanut butter chips match really well with the M&Ms but if you do not like peanut butter, you can combine it with any other candy! Enjoy!

M&M Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1-3/4 cups plain M&M’s, divided

Directions

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Bear in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in chips and 1 cup of M&M’s.

    

Spoon into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan; spread evenly in pan. Sprinkle with the remaining M&M’s. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. 

Courtesy of tasteofhome.com

Carrot Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 8 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. In a bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and eggs. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Add flour; mix. Stir in carrots.

  

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Frost cupcakes.

Courtesy of marthastewart.com

Before going to our Christmas party, my sister and I wanted to bring a cute gift that we could share with the Venezuelan Mafia party guests. We saw this cute idea on Pinterest and decided to make it! Pictures taken by my sister Laura Quintero; check out her other work at Sunshine Photography!

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes of strawberries
  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • Vanilla glaze

Vanilla Glaze

  • Ingredients
    • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons milk
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon butter

    Directions

    Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy.

    Courtesy of allrecipes.com

Directions:

Grease a mini muffin pan. Make the brownie mix and place the batter in two mini muffin pans and bake.

While they are baking, Cut the top leaves off of the strawberries.

Make the glaze (recipe above). Once the brownies are ready, take them out of the mini muffin pan and cut off the tops so that they are flat across.

Place some vanilla glaze on top of the brownie and put an upside down strawberry on the glaze over the brownie.

(This actually was an accidental heart that came about when I was putting the glaze to attach the strawberry. Now it is the official BWF logo! Follow me on Twitter @Official_BWF)

Decorate each hat by adding a dab of glaze to the top of the strawberry and also add a border where the strawberry meets the brownie.

Enjoy!

 

 

Venezuelan Christmas dishes are a great opportunity to share time with family in the kitchen during the holiday season. This year, I made these three principal Venezuelan Christmas dishes with my parents, both born and raised in Venezuela.

Hallacas

Hallacas is the main Christmas dish. The general recipe is the same throughout Venezuela but the ingredients of the filling vary throughout the Venezuelan regions. This recipe is representative of the recipe prepared in the Andean region of Venezuela in the state of Merida.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 bundles of green onions, chopped
  • Yellow achiote
  • 1/4 liter of oil
  • 3 pounds red meat
  • 1 pound of pork
  • 1 can of GOYA chickpeas
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 2 garlic heads
  • 5 pounds of plantain leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds of yellow Harina Pan maize meal (cornmeal)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 20 oz of olives
  • 4 oz of capers
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • string

Directions

Day 1: Cook chicken breasts in 1 liter of water, 3 green onions and salt. Separate the chicken from the broth (this broth will be used with the dough the following day).

Place oil in a pan with the achiote to pick up the color of the achiote. Set aside. Cut meat and pork into very small cubes. Add chopped green onions, chickpeas, ground nutmeg, salt, garlic, white wine, and a half of the colored oil. Refrigerate overnight. Thaw plantain leaves.

 

Day 2: Clean, wash and dry plantain leaves and cut into squares.

Shred the chicken and add it to the rest of the stuffing.

To make the dough, use the chicken broth from Day 1 and add half of the remaining colored oil. Mix with the dough until it is very soft and combined with the oil and chicken broth. Slice the onion into thin strips and sauté them in a bit of oil. Once they are soft, add the remaining colored oil and set aside. Then, Cut red pepper into thin strips. Place the colored oil onions, red peppers, olives, capers and raisins in separate bowls. Also bring out the dough and meat stuffing.

  

Grab a handful of dough and make a ball out of it. Then place it on the plantain leaf covered with the colored oil in the center of the leaf. Place the ball of dough over the oil and spred out into a flat circle. Then add the meat stuffing, red peppers, olives, capers, raisins and a bit of the colored onions. Finally, bring up both sides of the leaf (like a taco) and roll the leaf down and fold the ends of the leaf towards the center (like a present). Wrap the hallaca-filled leaf with the string.

   

 

To cook the Hallacas, set a big pot of water to boil. Once the water is boiling, place hallacas in the pot for 3 hours. After the 3 hours, drain the water and once the hallacas are cold, put them in the refrigerator. When you want to eat one, boil again for 20 minutes and enjoy!

Pan de Jamón

This bread is the perfect side to accompany the Hallacas. It is essentially a loaf of bread filled with ham, raisins and olives and covered with a honey glaze.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 pounds of flour
  • Honey
  • 2 pounds of ham
  • 7 oz of bacon
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 7 oz of chopped olives
  • 4 oz of capers
  • 1 egg yolk to cover the bread

Directions

In one cup of warm milk, add the sugar and yeast. Mix and cover for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, mix the milk with sugar and yeast with the eggs, melted butter and salt. Then add the flour and knead the dough. Set aside for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

Knead again and roll out the dough with a roller into two separate rectangles.

First place a very light layer of honey on the dough. Then add ham as another layer with about four strips of bacon on top.

Leave a frame of dough around the ham so it can be rolled easily once all ingredients are placed inside. Sprinkle the raisins, olives and capers to finish the filling. Do the same on the second rectangle of dough.

Roll the dough tightly along the longer side of the rectangle so that it is a long and skinny roll (as opposed to a short and fat roll).

 

Set aside for another 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, cover the top of the roll with the egg yolks. Put in the over for 1 hour at 300 degrees F and if it is not golden after the hour, leave for another 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Hallacas and Pan de Jamón

 

My BWF partner tried them and liked them a lot! And she is not Venezuelan!

Dulce de Lechosa

A common Christmas dessert is this papaya dessert that is soaked in sugar overnight to create a delicious syrup that surrounds the papaya. 

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds of unripe red papaya
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves

Directions

First, clean and peel the papaya.

Cut into four slices that run up and down the fruit. Then, take off the skin and seeds of the fruit.

Finally cut into small slices.

In a large pot place a layer of papaya and then a layer of sugar. Continue to do this until there is no more papaya or sugar.

 

Place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, add cinnamon sticks and cloves and cook on the stovetop until the papaya is cooked and the sugar turns into a light syrup.

 

My sister, the other Super Sister (check out About section), and I decided to make peppermint bark to give away to my amazing coworkers as Christmas presents, and a bit for us as well! Even the original BWF co-founder, Lauren (check out About section), was able to try some when she came to visit!

This is an incredibly easy recipe that needs no actual baking. Honestly, what took the longest time was unwrapping the candy canes and each individual Hershey kiss! Besides that it was very simple and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (about 2 cups) milk chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces (about 2 cups) Hershey’s peppermint white chocolate chips
  • 8 peppermint candy canes
 
Directions

1. Unwrap the candy canes and place them in a food processor. Pulse on/off several times for 5-10 seconds each, until the canes have been crushed into small pieces.

2. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with smooth aluminum foil.

3. Melt or temper the milk chocolate. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet and use an offset spatula or knife to spread it to an even thickness, a little more than 1/8″ thick. The chocolate does not have to reach all sides of the sheet, as it will be broken up later anyhow. Place the tray in the refrigerator to firm up while you prepare the white chocolate.

4. While the milk chocolate hardens, melt or temper the white chocolate. Stir in most of the candy cane bits, reserving about a quarter of the mixture to put on top.

 

5. Remove the tray from the refrigerator and spread the white chocolate in an even layer over the dark chocolate.

6. While the white chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces over the entire surface evenly. Press down very slightly to ensure they stick. Place the tray back in the refrigerator to firm up for 30 minutes.

7. Once the peppermint bark bark is completely set, break into small, uneven pieces by hand.

Courtesy of about.com

Delicious snack and tasty gifts!

Tori (one of my amazing college roommates) invited Anna (another one of my amazing college roommates), Michael (a high school friend) and I to bake and decorate homemade sugar cookies. Unfortunately, I missed the actually making of the sugar cookie dough but I did make it in time to see Tori’s lovely mother use an incredibly handy cookie dough gun to make Christmas-themed cookies. After they came out of the oven, it was our task to decorate them. Tori had a very distinct way of icing the cookies and they came out beautifully:

Anna and I were given our own set of cookies to ice and lets’s just say we got a little distracted with the creation of the Christmas monkey who lived in the forest of Mount Christmas…

 

Some of them did come out nicely though!

And they were delicious! Thanks Tori!

The first BWF event was hosted at Magaly’s house, one of the many beautiful members of the “Venezuelan Mafia” (see About section).

There were about 15 people in the kitchen working on four recipes: Red velvet cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, sugar cookies, and a lemon bundt cake.

Red velvet cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Courtesy of foodnetwork.com

 
Cream cheese frosting:
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Courtesy of foodnetwork.com

  

These are both easy recipes to complete but mixing the powdered sugar in with the cream cheese can be a tiring task but luckily Steven’s strong arm helped us mix the icing to a smooth consistency and because of his performance was given the title “Ice King.” After finishing both of these quick recipes, we iced the cupcakes and simply decorated them with Christmas-themed sprinkles. They were delicious!

 

Sugar cookies:

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Cover dough, and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. On a clean floured surface, roll out small portions of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are barely brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Courtesy of  allrecipes.com

    

After letting the cookies sit in the refrigerator, we used Christmas-themed cookie cutters to make santas, Christmas trees, reindeer, ornaments, and stars. We used the leftover cream cheese icing that we made for the red velvet cupcake and turned our cookie icing portion of BWF into a competition to see who could decorate each shape the best. There were some clear winners, and some clear losers for each category (I’m pretty sure you can tell which ones won and lost from the second picture!)

Lemon Bundt Cake:

This recipe was actually a box recipe but it was still fun to make together! To top off the lemon bundt cake, we drizzled melted German chocolate over the top to add a delicate touch and a tasty complement to the lemon cake.

 

And here are some of the BWF-ers of the day:

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