Cupcakes for Chanukah! Recipes and more

Sorry for the lag in posting, lots of travel and family commitments but now, shes back…………………..

cup3 There are times in your life (like after eating a dozen latkes) when you just gotta have that certain something sweet BUT you really don’t want the guilt associated with gobbling up 5 bags of candy coins or a calorie laden mega doughnut topped with chocolate and filled with custard (granted, there aren’t too many times when I DON’T want that kind of doughnut). For me that’s when I reach for a cupcake. Just enough cake and frosting to satisfy but not so much as that I feel like I’ve over indulged and the “oh I blew my holiday diet AGAIN” remorse isn’t omnipresent.

The origin of the cupcake isn’t all that clear. Some historians say it’s because the original recipe contained 1 cup measurements (I cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar etc.) Another source I checked with said that long ago that cake batter was cooked in tea cups, hence the name, cup-cake. Either way it came about I’m just glad the recipes evolved into the sweet treats we love today.

Deciding what type of cupcakes to make and what to top them with can be truly a personal and existential experience. You can fill them, frost them, and dust them with powdered sugar or cocoa. Sprinkles are always nice and so is a couple of pieces of candy or chocolate stuck into the top of the batter just before baking. The possibilities are endless and the results are always irresistible.

With cupcakes you can indulge in your love of lemon, banana, chocolate or vanilla or both at the same time and not have to commit to eating a whole cake. One of the beauties of making cupcakes is that most cake recipes can be converted into cupcakes. There are, however, some exceptions, like angel and sponge cakes, they don’t have quite enough structure to pull off the smaller size, but those to obvious exceptions aside, I say go for whatever recipe you want and see how creative you can get. I prefer to use cupcake liners in my pans as I find it easier to take them out after they’ve been cooked and they help keep all those pesky crumbs from falling all over your lap or shirt.

 

Just a few cup cake rules before you get started.

 

1. Always grease or line you baking pan, easier to remove the cupcake

2. Never over fill the pan, it will make an overly large cupcake top

4. Once the pan or pans are full, put them in the preheated oven immediately. The longer they sit out, the less they will rise.

5. Cupcakes should be baked in at least a 350 so that the structure sets quickly and the cake doesn’t dry while it’s baking

3. Make sure you test the cupcake with a toothpick before you remove it from the oven to make sure it cooked throughout.

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Depending on how you decorate the following recipe they can be served as a snack or at a formal dinner and are equally at home at a 5 year olds birthday party or a wedding reception. I make the peanut butter ones every Chanukah and decorate them with chocolate candy coins.  Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER CUP CUPCAKES (dairy)

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
16 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cup cake liners in the muffin pan and set it aside. In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine or butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Mix to combine and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture with the milk. Do not over mix or you’ll get air bubbles in the cup cake. Fill each muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. Place a peanut butter cup into the center of each and push it down so it almost touches the bottom but so there is still some batter underneath the peanut butter cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to test where the candy is, you won’t get a true test of if the cupcake is done). Makes approx 14 to 16

 

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BANANA SPLIT CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk or non dairy substitute

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese or pareve cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoon soft butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Optional Toppings;

hot fudge sauce,

maraschino cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. In another large bowl combine the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until blended.  Frost and top with fudge sauce and a maraschino cherry

 

Modified from the Joy of Baking

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ZUCCHINI AND PISTACHIO CUPCAKES (pareve)

This recipe uses self rising flour if you don’t have it for each cup of self rising flour use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 zucchinis, grated

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

2 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease or line 2 12 muffin tin pans. In a bowl combine the egg, oil, and sugar and whisk until combined.  Add the zucchini, lime zest and nuts and stir together until well mixed.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, into the zucchini mixture and gently fold it in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake and for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then dust the top with powdered sugar. Makes 24.

 

Modified from about.com

 

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 oz cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

generous 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, milk and eggs and beat to combine.   Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until just combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.

 

1 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave but don’t over heat it, it should just be soft. Cool for about minutes. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and then pour the chocolate over the top. Add the vanilla and mix until the cheese and chocolate is combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Frost and serve. Makes 12

 

Submitted by Roger Mancref and Cheryl Rodrego Naples FL

 

CANDIED CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

Topping

6 chocolate candy bars, chopped into pieces (your choice)

1, 12 oz bag of any kind of M&M’s you like

Crush, cut and mash into tiny pieces

Mix together in a bowl, set aside

 

Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup cream

 

Cupcakes

12 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

 

Make the frosting first. In a microwave bowl melt the chocolate and cream together. Stir until smooth and then add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Cool in the refrigerator and when it is cool beat the frosting until it is spreadable.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 24 cupcakes molds. In a bowl combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepare tins filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting and then decorate with the chopped candy. Makes 24.

 

LUSCIOUS LEMON CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

 

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute

 

FROSTING:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon milk or pareve substitute

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease or paper line 30 muffin tins. Set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix to combine and then with the mixer running add the eggs. With the mixer still running add lemon zest and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. This will be a thick batter.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 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.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix until combined.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and milk; beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Makes 30.

 

 

 

Decorate from the Kitchen for the Holidays

                This is the time of year when some of the things that come out of your kitchen aren’t exactly eatable.  Don’t get me wrong, many of the “ingredients” are things that are front and center in some of your favorite dishes. However, with belts tightening due to the economy and the trend towards “homemade” rather than store bought gifts and decorations I thought it might be time to take a look at an afternoon project the whole family can participate in to make decorations or gifts and centerpieces that cost pennies and look like a million bucks.

                No matter if you just want to get the family together for fun “quality time” or are a project junkie nothing is more fun than working together on a get your hands dirty for fun to make beautiful decorations, toys or object d’art. I’ve had client’s hot glue buttons, and candy and yarn and lots of other stuff onto stuff to make place cards and napkin rings with everyone’s name on it for a dinner party and really funky picture frames.

                In the event you want to enlist the whole group in a project that takes a couple of hours I would suggest making center pieces, frames or napkin rings hat  not only reflect the personality of the maker but can actually enhance the beauty , aroma and ambiance of the table you’re decorating or gift your giving.

                The following recipes are all super simple to throw together, require a minimum amount of time and the ingredients are all readily available and any grocery or convenience store (in case you decide that 3 o’clock in the morning is the best time to get your project started). Don’t be put off by some of the weird amounts or proportions of the ingredients these recipes require. It’s all good.  

                In the event that you don’t want to bake or make your fun and funky gifts or decorations I’d like to suggest a fabulous alternative. A great friend and super talented Israeli artist friend of mine Laura Burch makes the most amazing felt dolls and other creations that are PERFECT to decorate any part of your house for any time of year but especially Christmas, Kwanza   or Chanukah or any birthday party or give as a gift to that special little girl or guy in your life. You can find her creations (as well as tons and tons of other creatable delights) at her blog http://www.lauraleeburch.com/blog/2010/11/waldorf-flower-dolls

               

CINNAMON SENTED DECORATIVE DOUGH

3/4 cup applesauce

1 cup ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon white glue

 cookie cutters

toothpick or drinking straw

yarn or ribbon in bright colors

In a bowl combine the cinnamon, nutmeg and applesauce and mix to combine. Stir in the white glue. This will form a stiff dough. (if dough is too wet add more cinnamon, if too dry add more applesauce)

 Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on waxed paper. Cut with cookie cutters. Make a hole in top of ornament with toothpick or drinking straw.  Gently place the ornaments on a cooling rack to dry. The ornament should dry at room temperature for about 2 days or until it’s thoroughly dry. Gently turn the ornament at least once every 12 hours, more if it’s starting to curl around the edges. You can also bake these ornament is you want them to dry more quickly. Preheat oven to 200. Place the ornaments on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an 1 hour on the bottom rack in your oven, making sure they don’t burn.  Let the ornaments sit on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes and then let them cool for at least 12 hours until totally dry. Cut the ribbon or yarn into a 2 foot piece and then fold it in half.  Insert the ribbon or yarn through holes and tie it close to the ornament to secure the yarn or ribbon to the sting. Attach to presents, trees, garlands or anywhere else you’d like the scent of cinnamon

Cinnamon dough creations can be stored in a zip lock baggie from year to year and they do keep their cinnamon aroma. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

SIMPLE DOUGH FOR CRAFTS

 I suggest cookie cutters that impress a design into the dough as opposed to cookie cutters that simply cut out a shape,

1 cup Salt

1-1/2 cup Warm water

4 cup Flour

Preheat oven to 200. In a bowl combine the salt and flour together. Add the water slowly and knead until the dough is stiff and like. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut the dough desired shapes from dough using cookie cutters or similar objects (dust them with flour to prevent sticking). Make a hole in the top of each ornament using a pencil, straw, toothpick or similar object. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet  for 1 hour. You can use, tempera, watercolor, or spray paints to color and decorate the ornaments. Brush on, spray on, or use a toothpick to drop “dots” of paint for eyes, ears, clothing and more. You can make colored dough by mixing in a few drops of food coloring to the dough before you roll it out. Roll and bake or dry out per recipe’s instructions. You can attach candy pieces like red hots, gum drops, M&M’s, lemon drops,  gum balls, and or sprinkles after the ornaments are done. Use white glue or paint to attach the candy. I have also used clear nail polish or shellac to fix the designs. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size

CORNSTARCH DOUGH FOR DECORATIVE CRAFTS

You don’t cook these ornaments so you’ll need a few days lead time to make them before you can use them. Cornstarch dough creates smooth white ornament that is sort of like plaster. If you want all white ornaments just spray or paint them with a shellac or clear nail polish instead of painting them.

1 cup cornstarch

2 cups baking soda

1-1/4 cups cold water

Cookie cutters

Acrylic or enamel craft paint (optional)

Clear thin shellac or clear nail polish

Combine the cornstarch and soda in a saucepan. Gradually add the water until the mixture is smooth.

Stirring constantly, heat until the mixture reaches a moist, mashed potato consistency. Turn the dough onto a plate and cover it with a damp towel and let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Knead the dough when it is cool enough to handle. Roll the dough on a cornstarch dusted surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters (dipped in cornstarch before you use the for cutting.) Using a toothpick or straw pierce a hole at the top of each ornament . Place the dough ornaments on a cooling rack to air dry. It will take several days at room temperature for the ornaments to dry and harden before they will be ready to be decorated. File any rough edges after they have dried. Paint the ornaments with acrylic or enamel paints. When the paint is dry, coat the ornaments with a clear protective coating. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

 
 
 
MARTHA STEWARTS GINGERBREAD DOUGH FOR DECORATINGAlways trust Martha to come up with a spectacular way to decorate ANYTHING. These are NOT eatable.

3 tablespoons shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup water

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon of cloves, ginger and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy, stir in molasses. Sift the dry ingredients together. Stir them into shortening mixture in 3 parts alternating with a 1/4 cup of water each time. Dough will be stiff. Refrigerate overnight. Cut dough into 3 pieces. Knead to warm dough slightly, then roll each piece out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookie out with a gingerbread pattern of your choice.

Use a drinking straw to punch hole in center if ornament will be hanging. Place cookies on cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes, turn oven off and let cool in oven. Remove from cookie sheet and place on rack to dry for about 3 days to totally harden. These cookies are purely for decorative purposes and not to be eaten. If you wish you can seal cookies with 3 coats of clear acrylic and decorate with colorful acrylic paints when dry.  Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

© Eileen Goltz decorating dough10A