Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mini-Layer Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Marshmallow Cream Frosting and Strawberry Filling

To download the recipes used to make Mini-Layer Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Marshmallow Cream Frosting and Strawberry Filling, click on the following links:

  • For the Strawberry Filling recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Marshmallow Cream recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Coconut Frosting recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Cupcake recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Mini-Layer Cake Assembly recipe, click HERE.

A warm Kissing the Cook greeting to new follower Grinelda. Welcome!

Sometimes, a recipe idea evolves over time, becoming more and more refined as it develops. And sometimes, you’re sitting around one day thinking, “I haven’t had cupcakes for a while. Think I’ll work on making some.”

This recipe came from the second one.

The concept is simple: making cupcakes that are actually miniature layer cakes. And although it looks like a long recipe, that’s just because I’m describing here how to do everything from scratch: the preserves for the filling; the frosting; the marshmallow cream used to make the frosting; and the cake itself. Recognizing that not everyone is as obsessive as I sometimes am about things like that, however, I’ve broken the recipe below down into parts to make it easier for you to use ready-made items. If you prefer, any or all of those items can be purchased instead of made from scratch, and the making of this recipe will be made faster and simpler. It’s completely up to you.

On a related note, some readers may be a bit fearful about forming and frosting a miniature layer cake. No need to worry. I don’t have much experience with cake myself, and it still worked just fine. If you are an experienced cake maker who can frost a cake more beautifully than the basic way I’ve shown here, think of that as an extra bonus.

An extra benefit of this recipe is that it actively illustrates a couple of very useful techniques for reducing the fat in baked items while keeping a good texture and taste. Butter substitute and egg substitutes can be used, but they must be used correctly.

  • For butter substitute, this means using a firm textured brand. (I used Smart Balance, but there are other good ones as well.) A firm-textured substitute will stand up to being left out to get to room temperature, an absolutely critical step in making the cake and the frosting. The softer textured ones can start to break down at room temperature.  And, as always with butter substitutes, adjust the quantity to ¾ of the amount of full-fat butter you’d use. (For example, 4 Tbsp of full fat butter would be replaced by 3 Tbsp of butter substitute.) This is because butter substitute has a  higher moisture content.

  • To replace eggs, packaged egg substitute works well in many ways. My main issue is that it doesn’t fluff the same way fresh eggs do when cooked. You can offset this by replacing one of the egg substitute eggs with two fresh egg whites beaten into beautiful fluffiness. Just be sure to use fresh egg whites; the packaged ones I’ve tried using don’t fluff when beaten.

I hope you will give this recipe a try. In spite of the fact that, as usual on this site, the fat in the recipe has been greatly reduced, the results are delicious.

This recipe makes 10 mini-layer cake cupcakes.

In preparation for some things we’ll having coming up, set the following out for an hour or two to get to room temperature. (Don’t skip or short-cut this step; it may seem like a small item, but it’s the difference between the frosting and cake recipes working and not working.)

  • Frosting: ½ cup of firm-textured butter substitute

  • Cake: 2 egg substitute eggs, 2 fresh eggs, 1/2 cup of firm-textured butter substitute, and 2 Tbsp skim milk.

With those ingredients set out on the counter to reach room temperature, we’ll start by making the strawberry jam filling. (Although I like to think this jam is better than the kind in a jar, skip this part if you prefer to buy some instead.) This makes about pint of jam, which is much more than you’ll need for the cakes. It’s just easier to make more, and also gives you a delicious jam to have on your toast!

Place a small, glass plate in the freezer.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon. Stir till combined, then cook over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Add 1 pound of chopped, hulled strawberries, a pinch of salt, and ¼ tsp of dried rosemary, and continue to cook over low heat.

The strawberries will gradually break down as the mixture cooks and thickens. Cook with very little stirring.

When a small amount of the liquid gels on the frozen plate, the jam is ready.

Place in a jar and refrigerate until needed.

Now we’ll make the marshmallow cream that we’ll use later to make the frosting. (You’ll need a candy or frying thermometer for this. Skip this part if you prefer to buy a jar of marshmallow cream.) This makes a little more than 2 cups of marshmallow cream, which is the amount we’ll need for the frosting.

In a mixer bowl, beat 2 fresh egg whites, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cream of tartar until fluffy. Add 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar to the egg white mixture and continue beating until peaks that are a little firmer than soft peaks form.

In a small saucepan, mix 1-1/2 Tbsp water, ½ cup light corn syrup, and 6 Tbsp granulated sugar together. Using a candy or frying thermometer, cook over medium heat until it boils and comes to 246 degrees (what candy makers call “firm ball”).

With the mixer on low, drizzle the syrup into the beaten egg white mixture.

When all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Cover and refrigerate the marshmallow cream mixture to cool.

After the marshmallow cream mixture has cooled, use it to make your frosting. (Skip this step if you’re using a prepared, packaged frosting.)

Using a mixer, blend 2 cups of marshmallow cream and ½ cup of room temperature butter substitute until smooth.

Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1-1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and ½ cup of untoasted coconut flakes and beat till mixed. (Optional: If desired for a looser texture, also add 1 – 2 Tbsp of skim milk.)

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now we’ll make our cake. (If you’re using a packaged cake mix, make the simple syrup and then skip down to where we pour the batter onto the baking sheet. Just make sure you have enough batter for 12 regular cupcakes.)

Prepare a simple syrup by combining ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine 2 fresh egg whites, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cream of tartar in a bowl and beat until fluffy.

Combine ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup room temperature butter substitute in a mixer and beat together till creamy. (Be careful not to over-mix.) Add 2 egg-substitute eggs; 1 cup all-purpose flour; 3/4 tsp baking soda; 1-1/2 tsp baking powder; 1-1/4 tsp vanilla extract; and 1 Tbsp skim milk, and mix until a smooth batter forms.

Fold in the beaten egg whites.

(If you’re using a packaged cake mix, here’s where you’ll resume the recipe.) Pour the batter into a 9” x 14” x ½” baking sheet that has been coated with butter substitute and floured. Use a spatula to spread the batter.

Shake to make the batter even within the baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through for more even baking.

Let cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet, then turn over onto a cooling rack. (Cooling the cake upside down will also help flatten it.)

When the cake has completely cooled, use a 2-1/2” round cookie cutter cut the cake into circles. (You should be able to get 20 circles if you plan it right.) Each circle is going to be one of the layers of the cake.

To assemble and frost our mini-layer cake cupcakes, repeat the following steps for each mini-layer cake.

Toast about a cup of shredded coconut.

Place a 6” square of wax paper or parchment on the work surface. Put a dab of frosting in the middle. This will hold the cake in place while you work with it. It will also allow you to rotate the cake as necessary to make applying the frosting easier.

Place one of the cake circles on the dab of frosting. Place additional strips of wax paper or parchment under all the bottom edges of the cake to keep the wax paper square clean while you frost the cake.

Brush some of the simple syrup on the top surface of the cake.

Place some of the frosting in a piping bag, or a sealable plastic bag with a corner cut off. Place a ring of frosting around the edge of the cake. (This will help keep the filling from oozing out, and will provide additional support when the top layer is applied.)

Place some of the filling on top of the cake, inside the edge created by the frosting. (About ½ tsp will probably be enough.)

Place another cake circle on top to form the upper layer.

Lightly brush the top of the upper cake circle with simple syrup.

Place a dollop of frosting in the center of the cake. (Don’t worry about the sides just yet. This step is only for the top.)

Using a spatula or butter knife, spread the frosting out from the center till the top is covered. Bring the frosting slightly beyond the edge of the top layer.

To do the sides, frost about ¼ of the cake at a time. Similar to how you did the top, apply a dollop of frosting and spread it over the area.

Using the wax paper square to turn the cake, work your way around the sides until the entire surface is frosted.

Apply toasted coconut or other garnish to the iced cake.

After removing the wax paper strips, set aside on a tray to refrigerate and firm up the frosting.

To download the recipes used to make Mini-Layer Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Marshmallow Cream Frosting and Strawberry Filling, click on the following links:
  • For the Strawberry Filling recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Marshmallow Cream recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Coconut Frosting recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Cupcake recipe, click HERE.

  • For the Mini-Layer Cake Assembly recipe, click HERE.

You’re now ready to wow your family or guests with these tasty (and just a bit whimsical) dessert cakes!

Please visit again next week for another (and, I promise, shorter!) delicious, home kitchen-tested recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Baked Potato Chips with Warm, Savory Claim Spread/Dip

To download cookbook style copies of the recipes below:
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Baked Potato Chips
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Warm, Savory Clam Spread/Dip

Snacks matter.

It’s true. Whether you’re having a casual get-together, serving hors d’oeuvres before a more formal meal, or gathering with friends to cheer for your favorite sports teams on television, good finger food practically guarantees a successful event.

Chips and dip, of course, is a classic combination at such times. The bad news about that is that, in this case at least, classic is a euphemism for overused and boring. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Friends, this is the week we liberate your guests from using the mass-produced contents of a greasy foil bag to carry onion soup mix flavored sour cream.

This dip is a delicious, easy to make savory clam spread served fresh and warm. As spreads go, this is the real deal; there’s no sour cream or cream cheese used. It’s all about the clams and the seasonings.

And when you make your own fresh clam dip, you’re not going to want it put on those corporately-produced, preservative-laden fried things that have been sitting in bags in the snack aisle for who knows how long, are you? Of course not! You deserve better than that, and so do your friends. We’ll be making our own fresh potato chips, baked not fried, and seasoned the way you want them seasoned. It’s a chip worthy of the dip.

This is good stuff, folks. And with every chip-serving occasion from Thanksgiving football to Christmas parties to New Year’s Eve and the Superbowl coming down the road before you know it, this is something you’ll be glad to know about.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.
  • The chip recipe calls for russet potatoes. This is because russets have less moisture than most other kinds of potato, making them ideal for making crisp.
  • You’ll note that the spread recipe calls for canned clams. Although I generally try to avoid using canned foods, there are certain exceptions, including clams. In his great recipe for Oregon Clam Chowder, James Beard wrote that canned clams are ok to use, and that’s all the convincing I need.
  • To bake properly, the potatoes need to be sliced very thin and as evenly as possible. This is best done with a mandolin.
  • If you do have any leftover clam spread, you’ll find it makes a fabulous sandwich. I put some of mine on a hot dog bun to make a kind of improvised clam roll that was out of this world.

This recipe makes four generous servings of chips, and about 1-1/2 cups of dip.
Since the chips need to cool before serving, we’ll make those first.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse two large russet potatoes.

Slice the potatoes thin, 1/8” or less. (It’s best to slice and bake one potato at a time. Each potato will be spread onto two baking sheets, so it’s not likely that both potatoes, after being sliced, will fit in the oven at the same time.)

Dry the potato slices using paper towels.

Arrange the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment or silicon baking sheets. Lightly apply cooking spray, and season with 1-2 tsp salt and (optional) 2 tsp of dried herbs.

Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. (Begin checking the chips after about 10 minutes and remove any that appear to be done before putting the baking sheet back in the oven.)

Transfer the chips to a rack and let cool before serving to make the chips crisper. As you’re transferring the chips to rack, you’ll be able to feel which have gotten crisp. Put any that are still soft and need more baking time back on the baking sheet and bake for a few more minutes.

While the chips are cooling, let’s make our dip.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine two 6-1/2 ounce cans of minced clams (including liquid) and 2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice in a saucepan.

After bringing to a boil, lower to a simmer for five minutes.

Add the 6 Tbsp butter substitute; ½ cup minced onion; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; ½ Tbsp hot sauce; and 1 dash Worcestershire, and simmer another five minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add 1-1/2 tsp dried oregano; ½ tsp dried basil;
2 tsp dried parsley; ¼ tsp sugar; ¼ tsp salt, and a pinch of fresh ground black pepper, and mix till combined. Stir in 1 to 1-1/4 cups of plain bread crumbs (fresh crumbs are best) and until the mixture has the consistency of oatmeal.

Place the mixture in a small (about 2 cups) baking dish, and garnish with 2 Tbsp grated parmesan and paprika.

Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with the chips, or with crackers, cheeses slices, etc.

To download cookbook style copies of the recipes below:
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Baked Potato Chips
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Warm, Savory Clam Spread/Dip

Be warned: these can be habit forming!

Hope you enjoy this fresh, unique light snack. And that you’ll visit here again next week for another delicious recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)