26.5.15

Coconut Chai Cupcakes

Life is beautiful and busy, and suddenly April has come and gone with no cupcake posting from me (we were doing tea flavors, if you recall)! Susanna visited me for two weeks (post on our adventures forthcoming!), and she pretty much whipped up this project for me. I made dinner while she made cupcakes--isn't that a nice trade-off? I loved having another woman in the kitchen with me! Not only did she make the cupcakes, but she also took pictures, and collaborated on the frosting. So, you see, I can hardly take credit for these delicious beauties, but I can certainly post them on my blog and rave about my sister's baking prowess!





Feast...joy...savor...coming as soon as these cupcakes are finished!


Cooking: a beautiful mess. The smartphone seems to be used just as much as the hard-copy cookbook these days!









Cooking: a not-so-beautiful mess


The frosting was a fun adventure! After a tip from a friend, I went and devoured (figuratively, not literally) "The Battle of the Buttercreams" in which an adventurous cook makes more buttercreams than I knew existed and tests them out in a blind taste taste with a final winner and overall scores.




Susanna and I opted to make the winning buttercream, but before we got to taste it, we had to stir...

...and stir


...and stir! It was a long process. Prepare yourself. I was ready to call it "good" several times, but Susanna kept saying that it wasn't truly bubbling yet, and we needed to keep going. She was right, of course.







And it turned out amazing. Such a silky texture with a rich, buttery flavor that simple powdered sugar and butter could never achieve. German buttercream has ruined me forever.





Oh the joy! Can we eat them yet?






Not quite--first you must have a staring contest with the cupcake.


I have it on good authority that Susanna won this staring contest. 

These cupcakes turned out incredibly moist with good coconut flavor, though I wish I could have increased the coconut flavor without resorting to artificial flavoring that didn't taste quite as good as true coconut. The tea flavor is delicate, and an excellent background for the coconut. These were also probably the easiest I've made so far (and not just because Susanna did all the work!), but the complex buttercream kept us in the kitchen for a good while. There really were no negatives to this recipe, and I'd certainly make it again!

Coconut Chai Cupcakes
Adapted from Food and Wine
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chai tea powder (an unsweetened concentrate, such as Blue Lotus)
6 large eggs
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut flavor

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and tea powder until blended. Whisk in the eggs, honey, coconut oil, milk, vanilla, and coconut flavor until completely blended and smooth.
  2.  Divide the batter equally between 12 lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking tin to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the tin and place on the wire rack to cool completely.

German Buttercream
Adapted from The Tough Cookie

150ml milk 
1 bag or 2 teaspoons good quality black tea
50g (or ¼ cup) granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
3 egg yolks 
50g (or ¼ cup) granulated sugar 
1/2 teaspoon coconut flavor
200g (or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 1.  Heat milk in the microwave and add tea (if using a bag, open the bag and empty the leaves into the milk). Allow to steep for 5 - 10 minutes, depending upon taste, and then strain the tea leaves from the milk.

2.  Make a simple custard. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, 50g of sugar and the vanilla. In a heatproof bowl, combine the cornstarch with a little splash of the milk mixture. Stir to a smooth paste. Add another splash of milk an stir to incorporate. Whisk in the egg yolks and sugar until frothy and well combined; set aside. Gently heat milk/sugar/vanilla mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the milk mixture has reached boiling point and bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan, slowly drizzle the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Once all the milk has been added, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over low heat. Whisking continuously, wait until the first bubbles appear and the mixture has thickened. Pour into a clean heatproof bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to body temperature (set bowl in cold water to hasten cooling process). 

3.  Once the custard has cooled sufficiently, mix in the coconut flavor and the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon of butter is incorporated before adding the next. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or for up to 2 months in the freezer in a freeze­proof container or bag.

4. To use buttercream that has been refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 3 hours in a warm kitchen) or microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until it's soft. Then mix through until it's spreadable again. Thaw frozen buttercream in the fridge overnight, then allow to come to room temperature before use and, once at room temperature, mix briefly until smooth. 

5.  Serve at room temperature. If you've assembled a cake or decorated cupcakes, allow cake or cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving (about 3 hours in a warm kitchen). 

Cupcake Party: Chocolate Edition

Cupcake Party: Savory Edition


Cupcake Party: Tea Edition

10.4.15

My Favorite Things!


Embarking on this cupcake adventure two months ago has convinced me that anyone who is unhappy needs a cupcake in their life.   Cupcakes and tea.  And daffodils. We would all be much happier people if we took some time each month to measure a sand castle of flour, crack some golden eggs, and inhale the mood-lifting powers of vanilla extract, don't you think?  

I certainly do!  And since our theme for the month melds two of my favorite things--cupcakes and tea--I am a happy girl!  

How did I arrive at my Green Tea with Peach Buttercream Frosting flavor for my cupcakes, I can just hear you asking?  It was simple, really.  I decided that since peach green tea lattes are like nectar from heaven, it would only be logical that a cupcake version would be just as delightful! 
My gluten free flours! (Not quite a sandcastle, but you can use your imagination, right?)


The stars of the show!  I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of matcha powder (Japanese powdered green tea) in the cupcake batter to give it the green tea flavor.  Although you can't tell in the photos, the flours and batter were distinctly green!  Once baked, the green color faded, and the green tea flavor was subtly present.



These cupcakes turned out more crumbly and dry than I liked, so I took inspiration from a favorite cake of my childhood.  I poked the cupcakes with a fork, and then spooned some of the peach syrup over top to moisten them.  It definitely improved the texture!  


Next up: frosting!  Why is it that I always spend more time looking for the decorating bags and tips than I do actually frosting?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!


Topped with dried peaches and sprinkled with matcha powder, the little darlings are picture perfect!  Note my adorable spring cupcake liners!


The Verdict
My instincts were spot on with the nectar from heaven inspiration, and the flavor was amazing!  This particular cupcake recipe, however, definitely let me down on texture.  I'm going back to my tried and true almond and coconut flour recipes next time for the moistness and flavor they pack in!  However, I will definitely be adding matcha powder to more baked goods, as well as making this delectable frosting recipe again!  

Do you ever bake with tea flavors?  I'd love to get some of your favorite tea recipes!


Green Tea Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream
Recipe adapted from this one
Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 tablespoons Matcha Powder
1 1/2 cups  milk
2 eggs
Heaping 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup peach syrup

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake tin with 18 paper or parchment liners.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, starch and dry ingredients together. Add in the milk, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat with a mixer until the cake batter is smooth. Do not over-beat.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into the cupcake tins.  Smooth out the tops with wet fingers.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and dome shaped, about 15-18 minutes, depending upon your particular oven and altitude.

Cool the pan on a wire rack briefly, then gently pop out the cupcakes and continue cooling on a rack (this avoids steaming the bottoms).

When cupcakes are entirely cool, poke the tops with a fork and spoon the peach syrup over top.  Let sit while you make the frosting.


Peach Buttercream Frosting
From The Cupcake Diaries by Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peach syrup 
Toppings: matcha powder, dried peaches

Combine the ingredients in a mixer and whip together at high speed until light and airy, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Scoop the frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a  large round tip and frost each cupcake with a swirl.  Sift matcha powder over each cupcake, and top with half a dried peach.

Cupcake Party: Chocolate Edition

Lauren's Double Peanut Butter Chocolate
Sarah's Chocolate Chunk Lava Fudge
Mikaela's Hazelnut Mocha

Cupcake Party: Savory Edition

Lauren's Spinach Feta
Mikaela's Cupcakes & Croutons 
Sarah's Carrot Ginger Coconut Muffins

1.4.15

My Favorite Ways to Use Essential Oils


My mom taught me how to use Young Living essential oils for everything from earaches to helping our pets. I've loved using them in my own home now--in fact, they make an appearance almost every day!

1. Headaches

I use essential oils most often to ease headache pain. I've heard it said that the type of oil that works for you depends upon what is causing your headaches. As one who has found headache relief through chiropractic care--diminishing my headaches from three a week to one or less--the oils that help me may not help you. But I've found myself especially grateful for oils since becoming pregnant, as I'm trying to avoid pain medication! The oil combination, which I apply to the base of my neck and wherever the pain seems to be most prominent, is:
  • Stress Away
  • Valor
  • Pan Away
  • Deep Relief
  • Peppermint
This has been the only "concoction" that diminishes my discomfort--succeeding sometimes when pain medication won't even help!


2. Colds

Just last week, Joel was battling a cold. With lots of internally ingested oils, vitamins, and diffusing oil at night, his bad cold fizzled within three days. I took smaller amounts as a precaution and amped it up when I began to get a sore throat, certain that I was in for an unpleasant illness. I was delighted to wake up the next morning feeling completely fine! Who ever heard of a one-day cold? Some of the oils we took internally to strengthen our immune systems were:
  • Thieves
  • DiGize
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Euclyptus radiata
Some of the oils I diffused were:
  • Thieves
  • Eucalyptus radiata
  • Raven

3. Mold

Oh yes. We found mold. In our bedroom. Last fall. It's a long story that includes ripping up the carpet and replacing our mattress. Maybe I'll tell it sometime. But for now, let me just say that diffusing Thieves in the room for 48 hours was my go-to approach for killing any unseen, unknown mold spores. 

4. Bruises and cuts

I love putting a drop of lavender on the wound! It is soothing and helps disinfect and heal!

5. Hot Chocolate

Have you had lavender hot chocolate? It's amazing. Especially for this pregnant mama who is craving chocolate all the time. One drop is usually too much--try dipping a toothpick into the oil and then into the hot chocolate. Stir and taste. This amount provides the perfect balance of chocolate and floral for me! 

Obviously, I'm not a doctor (unless your doctor prescribes hot chocolate!). These are just my own experiences from daily living, but I hope that they help you! Feel free to leave a comment for me if you'd like more information, and if you're interested in purchasing oils from Young Living, I'd love for you to use my member number in both the sponsor and enroller boxes: 1981538 

Wondering why I use Young Living's essential oils? Here's a good, succinct summary on my choice.




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