Homemade Apple Pie

I panicked.

I just didn’t think. That usually doesn’t happen. (I said usually…)

Hurricane Irene.

Ugh. Let me tell you about Hurricane-turned Tropical Storm Irene.

It was supposed to be the storm of the century. I actually don’t know if that’s true, but it seemed that way from the CONTINUOUS news coverage that it received.

Heavy rain, high winds, power outages, storm surge, possible tornadoes, mandatory evacuations, flooding. Crazy stuff, right?

We also have ceilings that leak. And our basement will always collect water when it rains hard. Oh, and probably the most important problem is we have DirecTV. A cloud can float over our satellite and we’ll lose our signal. Me? Without TV? For more than a couple hours? Legit freaking just thinking about it.

So the day leading up to the storm, I was getting prepared. I had my cell phone charged, my iPod completely charged. I had my laptop. I was prepared.

I also had a project to tackle before dear old Irene came for a visit.

My friends daughter’s first birthday party was on Saturday, and I was asked to make cupcakes. I love that little girl as if she were my own, so OF COURSE I would happily make those cupcakes.

Operation Lily’s Birthday Cupcakes went successfully. I did the buttercreams one night, the cupcakes the next, and Saturday morning I constructed them before delivery.

Mission Completed. The cupcakes came out completely adorable, and everyone seemed to love them!

After that was all taken care of, it was time to get the house in order. Supplies, batteries, pots to catch water that will eventually leak out of the ceiling, food, water, more food, and more water.

We were all good to go. The only thing left to was wait. Wait for Irene, wait for the ceiling leaks, wait for the TV to go out and wait for the power to go out.

I was ready. I was prepared.

And then I freaked out.

In all my running around making sure the house was ready and prepared, I realized something majorly wrong.

I DIDN’T BAKE ANYTHING TO HAVE IN HOUSE!!!

Stage 5 freak out.

And knowing that the power going out was a matter of when and not if, I couldn’t do anything about it!

Thinking my weekend was doomed, I went to bed that night and tried to forget about it.

And then something strange happened.

I woke up, and my air conditioner in my window was still on. My digital clock was still on. DirecTV was still working!

I HAD POWER!!!!!

I woke up feeling motivated, empowered, inspired.

The only question left to answer? What do I make?

When you’re inside stuck  with a leaky house, you need something to cheer you up. And nothing can do that better than pie.

Pie.

Who on this planet doesn’t like pie?

Fruit filled, cream filled, chocolate filled. All flavors and tastes for anyone!

I’ve been dying to make a homemade pie for a while, and what better time than this? And what better pie to make for the first time than good old apple pie.

And off I went!

Pie dough. No, not the ready made stuff you get in the baking isle of your supermarket. No.

No. No. No.

I know you’re sitting there thinking it’s just too difficult and time consuming to make your own pie dough. Heck, I was that person too! And it didn’t help when my mom tells me right before I started the pie “Oh my God, making pie dough is SO hard!”

Thanks, Mom.

Now, after making it, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry. It’s SO easy! It’s literally 5 ingredients.

Flour, Sugar, Salt, Butter, Ice Water.

And with this recipe, you can make the entire thing in a stand mixer! Brilliant!

Guys, this dough comes together in less than 5 minutes. I promise. It’s so easy. It takes longer to chill the dough in the fridge than it does to make it.

Take that, Mom!

After chilling the dough for 30 minutes, it was time to roll it out and cover the pie dish.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Once the bottom layer is trimmed and complete, cover it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. While that is chilling, combine the apples, sugars, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg.

I love how the spices dot the apples like little polka-dots.

Once the crust is done chilling in the freezer, fill it with the apple mixture and roll out the other half of the dough and place it on top.

Crimp the top and bottom crusts together so the apples can’t escape and make sure you cut slits in the top layer so the steam can release and your crust does not get soggy.

Me? I cut out a heart. Why? Because I love pie.

And you.

Stick it in the oven for 50 minutes, making sure the crust gets a beautiful golden brown and the apples are bubbling. You’re all done!

Come, on. Who wouldn’t want to slice right into that?!

I totally wanted to. And I did.

And the smell? Ahh, it’s just so warm. The smell of the cinnamon and apples cooking together is making me countdown the days until Fall.

The pie was everything you expect apple pie to be. Filled with warmth and love. The perfect ending to a crazy weekend.

So thank you, Irene. Thank you for sparing our house and letting our power live on. You let me make pie. My gratitude is never ending.

APPLE PIE

Recipe by Annies-Eats

Double Crust Pie Dough
5-6 medium/large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ lbs.), peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)

Directions:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round.  (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.)  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess and crimping the edges.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Position an oven rack in the upper-middle position.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice.  Toss well to combine.  When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly.  Dot the surface of the apples with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface.  Place the dough on top of the apples and crimp the sides, combining the two dough layers. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash.

Place a baking sheet on the lower oven rack.  Place the pie on the upper rack and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50-60 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Obviously it goes without saying that serving this pie with vanilla ice cream is probably the greatest thing ever. Do it. All the cool kids do.*

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Light Chocolate Bundt Cake with Coffee Glaze

I don’t like change. I like to be prepared for things.

Surprises? Sure. Just as long as I know what’s going on 😉

I like routine. Something about it is comforting to me. It’s something I can count on.

I have a lot of routines, habits, tendencies, superstitions, whatever you want to call it.

I have a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread everyday for lunch. I can’t even begin to tell you how many I’ve had in my lifetime. And I’m still not sick of it. There are times I still crave it.

If I’m driving somewhere, I take the exact same route every time. And when there is a detour, I’m instantly panicked.

When I hear a song or an album I like, I listen to it non-stop until I can’t handle it anymore. Until the thought of listening to it for the 5,000 time would be torturous.

When I go to New Jersey Devils games, I wear the same shirt/jersey until they lose. I get the same food at every game too. As soon as warm up’s are done, I get an order of chicken fingers and french fries. I honestly can’t remember when I got something to eat other than that. I like it. It’s my thing. And I won’t change it. Diet, no diet. I will always order chicken fingers.

You know, as I sit here thinking about it, I could go on and on about my routines/habits/tendencies/superstitions for sports (in particular) forever. And it’s making me think there may be something slightly wrong with me.

If the Devils score a goal, and I’m home sitting in a particular way, I will not move. I will stay that way because obviously the way I’m sitting is affecting them on the ice. They play better when I’m sitting with my legs crossed.

Duh.

You still want to be my friend, right?

Every morning when I get into work, I turn on my computer, open my email first, then my internet. I like my toolbars on the bottom of the screen in a particular order. And if they get messed up, I’m thrown off.

Think I’m crazy yet?

Every day at 9:00, I make my coffee. And it’s always the same kind. Sumatra Reserve Extra Bold. Once that’s made, I sit at my desk with my lovely, wonderful, amazing coffee, and I go through my emails.

Every day.

If you ever need to find me during a weekday, that’s where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing.

Coffee and emails. To me, a match made in work heaven.

You know what else goes with coffee?

Chocolate.

Tehehe

And this bundt cake combines the two perfectly.

Light Chocolate Bundt Cake with Coffee Glaze.

I know what you’re thinking. “Light?”

I know, I know. I thought the same thing too. Well, actually not really. I was kinda excited about the “light”. After making so many decadent desserts, it was nice to make something that wasn’t so heavy.

So how is it not heavy you ask? 2 things:

– There is no butter in this recipe. Nada, zero, zilch. Whoa, I know. Instead of butter? Vegetable Oil.

– Also some of the chocolate is replaced with cocoa powder.

I know, I know. It’s not CRAZY changes, but it’s something. And you know what? You will never taste the difference!!

It’s still so moist, and chocolately, and decadent. I also just love the dark, rich, chocolately color of the cake. You can just tell by looking at it that it’s going to be something so wonderful.

Something magical happens when you combine coffee and chocolate. Add some instant coffee or instant espresso to your batter and watch out! You don’t necessarily taste the coffee in the cake, but it just enhances the chocolate flavor and makes it that much richer.

If you need a chocolate fix, this is definitely the way to go without feeling too guilty about eating a slice (or 2..).

And when you combine the cake with the coffee glaze? Ahh…so great. It just brings it to another level.

The glaze is fantastic because instead of thinning the powdered sugar with vanilla extract or milk, you use freshly brewed coffee.

Chocolate and coffee. Coffee and chocolate. Such a great combination.

Maybe even better than coffee and emails.

I like my chocolate cake with coffee glaze with…coffee.

LIGHT CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE WITH COFFEE GLAZE

Recipe by Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup boiling water
2 cups (14 oz) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F and place a rack in the bottom third. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.

Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

Add the chocolate, cocoa powder and instant espresso to a large heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the mixture, then cover the bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth and the mixture is combined. Let cool for about 2 minutes.

Add the brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla to the chocolate mixture, and whisk vigorously until smooth. Sift half of the flour mixture over the batter and gently whisk to incorporate. Sift in the remaining flour mixture and whisk gently until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan and level the top. Bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out and let cool completely on the rack.

COFFEE GLAZE

1 cup (4 oz) confectioners’ sugar
5 teaspoons brewed coffee
3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)

Combine everything in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cake; let set for about 15 minutes before serving.

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

I love fruit. I truly do.

I do, I do, I do.

I have fruit every day. Every single day.

When I’m at work, I go to Shop Rite during my lunch and I get a huge serving of pineapple (and sometimes I mix in cantaloupe) from their fruit bar. Look at me being adventurous and mixing fruits. Gosh. Sometimes I can’t even handle myself.

That’s my 3:00 snack. And I never get sick of it.

On the weekends, I’ll have whatever is in the house. And there is ALWAYS fruit in the house.

I have yet to find any fruit that I don’t like.

Except maybe mango’s. Not my favorite..

Plus anything with a big pit like that and makes it difficult to eat should be illegal. I don’t want to fight for my food.

In fact, growing up, my parents never really had to force me and my brother to eat fruits and veggies. We both just pretty much loved them all. And just like fruits (aside from the whole mango/pit thing), I have never met a vegetable I didn’t like.

To this day, I am completely content with just having a vegetable side dish with dinner and no starches (Shock! Gasp! The Horror!). Sometimes I’ll just steam my veggies and be as happy as a clam. (Side note: I never understood that saying. Why are clams happy? Maybe because they love fruits and veggies too?)

Not into steamed veggies? Have you ever tried roasting veggies? Can I BE asking any more questions right now?

Forget about it. I literally could eat an entire sheet of any roasted vegetable. Love.

Just speaking of roasted vegetables is making me think of my favorite vegetables: Butternut Squash.

I think butternut squash is THE MOST underrated vegetable on the planet. Why it is not used more often completely boggles my mind.

And when it’s roasted? It’s the GREATEST thing ever. On the real.

Listen at me, people. Try roasted butternut squash. It will change your life. So. Good.

And plus I just love colorful food. I mean, it’s orange. Orange! How fantastic!

Right.

Now where were we?

Fruit? Ah yes. Sorry about that. I just get so excited.

I think I get my love of fruit from my Dad. He always is snacking on peaches, blackberry’s, plums, nectarines, blueberries. You name it. He loves it.

So in honor of my fruit-loving father (and because it’s summer, and summer and fruit just go together, AND because I have yet to make anything besides chocolate and more chocolate on this blog) I made some Blueberry Crumb Muffins.

Blueberry muffins are one of Dad’s favorites. And he also loves crumb cake. So what do I do? Combine the two!

A fantastic blueberry muffin with a crumb topping. Do I know the way to my father’s heart or what?!

And seriously. Who doesn’t love muffins?

Something about them just warms my heart. I feel that every baker should have a solid muffin recipe.

You don’t? No worries. I got ya covered.

You’re basically just starting with a regular blueberry muffin batter. Well, not just any “regular” muffin batter. You want a REALLY GOOD muffin batter. So good that if you “spill” some  by “accident” you can just use your finger to clean it up. Geez…who does these things??

Once you have the batter separated into the muffin tins, you take your crumble mixture which contains flour, brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon and baking powder, and sprinkle (generously) on top of each muffin.

What? You want a closer view?

Oh heck yes. They’re like little rocks of awesome.

Then put them in the oven and let your house be engulfed by the smell of warm blueberries and sugar.

And when they come out of the oven?

TA-DA!!

Goodness gracious. Just look at the blueberries oozing out of the muffin. Pure beauty.

Let them cool in the pan for a couple minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once they were barely done cooling, I just couldn’t help myself. I grabbed one.

Time to reveal the goodness!

Don’t be shy, little muffin. It’s going to be okay.

Oh yeahhhhh. Look at all that blueberry craziness.

Close up. Can you handle this?!

End scene.

BLUEBERRY CRUMB MUFFINS

Recipe by Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Crumb Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

Muffins
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 pint blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.

To make the crumb topping:  Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon to a medium bowl; stir with a fork to combine.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar to the pan, using a rubber spatula to combine with the butter.  Pour the butter/brown sugar mixture over the flour mixture and use the fork to stir until all of the flour is moistened.  Set aside while you make you muffin batter.

To make the muffins:  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until pale in color, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.  With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the flour mixture then the milk and finally the remaining flour mixture, beating only until just combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl then add the blueberries, folding them into the batter.  Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the muffin pans, filling each about 3/4-full.  Break the crumb topping into small pieces and scatter over the tops of the muffins.  Bake for about 22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the muffin pans to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pan to the rack to cool completely.

S’mores Brownies

I really don’t even need to say much in this post.

Why?

Just look at the title again.

S’MORES BROWNIES.

When talking about s’mores there is no need for superlatives. No need for me going on and on about how fantastic graham crackers, chocolate and toasted marshmallows are when you mix the three together.

Three’s company?

Nah. In this scenario, three is perfect. Just perfect.

Sweet, sweet summertime.

When else can you sit in front of a fire, glistening from all the bug spray that’s on your legs, arms, neck, shoulders, face, hair, mouth, eyes, and pretty much every piece of open skin, and make one of the greatest creations known to man-kind.

I find that people are quite particular when it comes to toasting their marshmallows.

Me, personally? I like to get the outside nice and toasty-brown (that’s a color, right?) and peel off the toasted layer. Once I do that, I bring the marshmallow back to the fire and repeat until I am unable to do so. This way, every time I have some marshmallow, it has that unmistakable smokey flavor from the fire.

But for S’mores?

You really can’t just quickly toast the outside because the inside will still be somewhat firm.

No.

My method is to place your marshmallow near the outside of the fire (where you still get the heat but not the direct flame that burns the marshmallow) and sit there and be patient.

Hard to do because your mouth is completely watering thinking about eating it, and hard because your hand is just crazy burning from the fire. But persist people. PERSIST!

By doing this, the marshmallow gets a nice toast, but also gets heated all the way through so when you squish it in between the glorious sandwich of chocolate and graham crackers, it melts perfectly. It just oozes and makes sweet love to the chocolate and graham.

Food porn. That’s pretty much what is going on.

And at this point, everyone knows how phenomenal just plain s’mores are. So how do you take it to the next level?

Did you even know you COULD take s’mores to the next level?

Oh YES. YOU. CAN.

Insert: Chewy Chocolate Brownies.

I’m not even going to play hard to get at this point.

Here’s the deal, people.

Graham cracker crust, chewy chocolate brownie layer on top of that, then cover with the marshmallows and toast.

And hey, while you’re at it, take some extra graham crackers and shove them inside the warm toasty marshmallow.

OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG.

I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

I swear, that should be framed and put in a museum somewhere..

You know how some people want to go swimming in a pool in the summer. I don’t. I want to dive right into that brownie. No swimmies required.

Ok maybe not without a dip in the marshmallow first…

There are moments when you bite into something, and you just have no words. No words because it’s just too perfect. Too out of this world crazy good that it doesn’t NEED words.

This is one of those moments.

….

I want to say a HUUUUUUGE thank you to Ana Silvelo-Barreiros for taking these UH-MAZING photos.

I told you I was working on getting better pictures, and I am a girl of my word.

I hope you love the photos as much as I do :). This woman is incredible!!

….

S’MORES BROWNIES

Recipe by Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients

For the Graham Cracker Crust:

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Brownies:

Chewy Brownies Recipe
1 bag mini marshmallows
Additional graham crackers, broken into pieces

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with foil, leaving some overhang, and then butter the foil; set aside.

2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt, mixing well. Add the melted butter and, using a fork, toss until the entire mixture is moist. Dump the graham cracker mixture into the prepared baking pan, pressing it into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, prepare your brownie recipe. Pour the brownie batter over the cooked graham cracker crust, spreading it into an even layer. Bake the brownies according to the directions.

4. As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, switch the oven to broil. Pour the bag of mini marshmallows onto the brownies, covering it in an even layer. Pop the pan back in the oven for a few minutes. Keep a close eye on them – you want them to start to char so you get that s’mores flavor, but don’t want to completely burn them.

5. As soon as the pan comes out of the oven, top the marshmallow layer with the pieces of graham cracker, pressing down slightly so that the pieces of graham cracker get nestled into the marshmallow.

6. Cool completely and then cut into squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Cannoli Cupcakes

I’m Italian.

And Irish. And Scottish. And Russian. And German? Maybe? I think. The jury is still out on that last one.

That was up for debate after a weekend at the New York Public Library with my brother after researching our ancestors. We thought we were German, but SURPRISE! The Wally’s originated in Russia. (I knew my love of beets would finally be explained…)

So German, or Russian. It doesn’t really matter. Plus, it doesn’t have anything to do with cannoli’s.

Hi.

My Mom’s side of the family (The Salerno’s) is straight up pinky-wearing Italian. And I love every second of it.

I was talking about my family with a friend of mine and I was trying to describe it. I guess the only way to describe a family get-together could be summed up in one word: LOUD.

There are always 7 conversations going on at once.  Everyone is always screaming over everyone else because they are never sitting next to whoever they are having a conversation with.

And the laughter. Oh, the laughter. Especially with my family. That’s how we show love. With laughter.

And food.

Because I grew up in the family I did, if you don’t like to eat or don’t have a sense of humor, it is impossible for me to even want to know you. Harsh? Ehh…whatever.

And Holy Meatballs…the food.

I was just always surrounded by it. Pastas, meats, veggies, carbs, and more carbs.

H.E.A.V.E.N.

And dessert. Always dessert.

Tiramisu, Biscotti, Ricotta Cheesecake, Pastries, Tarts.

Cannoli’s.

Cannoli’s.

Cannoli’s.

Cannoli’s.

Love love love love.

Deep fried pastry shell filled with a glorious sweet, creamy filling. I personally like mine studded with little chocolate chips instead of pistachio’s. But hey, that’s just me. And what on earth is not better with chocolate chips?

When I was younger, I wasn’t a big fan. But when I grew up, I swear I had a palate transplant and didn’t even know about it.

I just love everything about them. And hello…it incorporates one of my favorite cheeses: Ricotta.

When I little I used to eat it with a spoon straight out the container. So creamy and delicious and addicting.

I swear, I don’t do it now that I’m older. Promise.

So yeahhh….

Where was I? Oh, right. Cannoli’s.

So I did what I usually do with things I like. I make them in cupcake form.

Because why the hell not?

There is a reason there are so many cupcake stores in the wonderful land of ours.

Cupcakes are just lovely.

Deal with it, cupcake haters. Get on board.

I wanted a Cannoli Cupcake recipe. I wanted a REALLY good one.

And by golly Dominic the Donkey…I found one.

Let me tell you about this cupcake.

You know a cupcake is going to be a superstar when I could strictly just eat the plain cake part and die a happy girl.

The cake was just so unbelievably moist and flavorful from the ricotta, orange zest and Marsala wine.

What the what?! Marsala? In a cupcake?

Yes. Trust me. It’s only one tablespoon, but it just adds a little “umph” to the cake. Just that little extra depth of flavor that makes it crazy good.

Oh goodness…just thinking about this cake is making me go CA-RAZAYYY.

But that’s not all there is to it. Of course it’s not. Do you really think I would give you a cannoli cupcake recipe that’s just cake? Hellz to the N-O.

You’re probably thinking “Oh, it’s just topped with a cannoli buttercream.”

Stop it. Stop it right now. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve just done.

Bad, bad reader.

What you do next is you cut hole in the middle of the cupcake and fill it with an amazing ricotta, powdered sugar, orange zest and chocolate filling.

And then as if THAT weren’t enough, you then top the cupcakes with a wonderful Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

And THEN to top it ALL off, you sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top!!

WAH!!

Sorry..it’s just too much to handle.

And remember the cake that you cut out to put the filling in?

Yeah…don’t throw those suckers out.

Take them…put a dab of the filling on it, and then a dab of the buttercream.

Insert in mouth. Enjoy.

They’re like mini cannoli cupcakes of joy!!

Ahhh…it’s the best part about being a baker. Free samples.

I brought these cupcakes into work for a co-worker because it was her last day of work for the year. (again…co-worker of the year)

Everyone completely fell in love. They went crazy.

And honestly, after the free samples I had, it was seriously hard to disagree. Impossible even!

They were great!!

Gosh, writing about these is really making me mad that I haven’t made them in a while.

I need that cake. I crave that cake.

I hope you need it and crave it as well.

And if you don’t like it? Well, I won’t even go there.

Life lesson: Never disagree with an Italian family.

CANNOLI CUPCAKES

Recipe by What’s Cookin, Chicago?

Cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon Marsala wine
1 cup milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two muffin pans with cupcake wrappers; set aside. 2. Combine all of the dry cake ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a different, larger bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, vanilla, Marsala wine, and milk. Add in the ricotta cheese, orange zest, and powdered sugar to the wet ingredients and then add in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined.
3. Pour the batter into cupcake liners, 24 in total. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pans to a cooling rack. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the cannoli filling.

Cannoli filling:

1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon zest of one orange

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped fine

DIRECTIONS:

1. To make the cannoli filling, stir together the ricotta cheese and confectioners’ sugar using a spoon. Fold in the orange zest and chopped chocolate.

2. When the cupcakes are cool, cut out the middles of each cupcake and using a pastry bag, pipe the cannoli filling into each cupcake, about 1 heaping tablespoon. After all the cupcakes have been filled, make the buttercream frosting.

.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting:

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Chocolate Chips, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.

2. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Pipe the filling into a pastry bag and frost the filled cupcakes as desired.

3. Garnish with chocolate chips

I just wanted to make a note about the photo’s I’ve been using.

I take pictures with my cell phone. Yes. It’s true.

I have a camera. A very nice camera.

But I just do not know how bloggers can take pictures while they bake and have the time/patience to focus and take such pretty pictures.

I’m a mess when I bake. Flour is everywhere, the kitchen is a mess. I don’t know how they do it.

So just please bare with me for now. I’m hoping to have some pretty pictures of my goodies soon.

With a non-blackberry camera.

WOW…look at me stepping up in this world!

To celebrate..I want a cannoli cupcake.

And a cannoli.