Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes January 17, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 9:49 AM
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After an extended business trip to NYC (thanks, snow), I was super excited to have a relaxed weekend at home and get back in my kitchen. Sunday afternoon I decided it was time to get moving on the perfect chocolate cupcake.

From one of my new cookbooks, The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011, I was immediately drawn to their ultimate chocolate cupcakes. Bittersweet chocolate, fresh coffee, ganache and vegetable oil caught my eye as key ingredients for a flavorful, moist cupcake. And, wow, I was right. I was stunned at how great they turned out.

However, I didn’t stop there. I used the ‘cupcake plunger’ my mother gave me for Christmas to remove a part of the center of the cake and fill it with ganache. Also, there was a recipe for vanilla Swiss buttercream that I couldn’t pass up. Unlike traditional buttercream, you warm the egg whites and sugar while whipping them to prevent a grainy texture and create a lighter icing. Oh, and a little natural vanilla bean gave it an additional punch oh flavor and authentic vanilla look.

Now I just need to find some folks to share them with before I eat them all!

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More Focused In the Kitchen for 2011 January 5, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 1:27 PM
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Looking back on all my blogs from 2010, it’s clear that my cooking strategy was more about experimentation rather than refinement. So for 2011, my goal is to be more focused in the kitchen and get better at preparing the following:

  • Cupcakes: As far as desserts go, cookies have always been my forte. I’ve done a few rounds of different kinds of cakes and icing but still haven’t found the best go to recipe. I got some great advice last year about weighing my dry ingredients and I got an awesomely retro kitchen scale.
  • Artisan bread: Last year was a good start to this, but I realized that I need a real broiler pan. Most of my bread was good yet a little dense. When baking some ciabatta bread in my mother’s kitchen (with a real broiler pan) the difference was staggering. My makeshift broiler pan couldn’t hold enough water to really steam the dough.
  • Grilling: Apartment living makes this a challenge, but I got a new Le Creuset grill pan for Christmas to make indoor grilling more of a reality. Below is a photo of my first go at it.

I found some delicious-looking swordfish fillets at the HEB which appeared to a perfect protein to grill with my new pan. The fish was amazing looking and tasting. There is nothing better than real grill marks.