Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blondies, Cupcakes, and Fudge, Oh My!

You didn't seriously think I would only talk about the quiche and cake au chorizo I made the other day, and not the sweet part, did you?

My daddy was mentioning how it seems that the French attach a lot more importance to the difference between le salé and le sucré in a meal, and eating sweets before dinner, for example, is pretty uncommon. Even if I can eat any candy you want before dinner--I guess that's the American side of me--I do make a point to have both types represented when I cook for guests. Hey, my sweet and salty even get different tables in my teeny-tiny apartment.

Even though I love cooking main courses, the real fun always starts when I make dessert. This time around, I wanted to change things up and stray away from the temptation of my sour-cream chocolate cupcakes. They're so easy to make and super moist, but it was time to try something new. I was pretty disappointed with my red-velvet cupcakes when I first made them over a year ago, so I was determined to get them right this time around. And when it comes to getting a recipe right, the perfect thing to do is often to turn to Cook's Illustrated, or in this case the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. The only thing I changed from the recipe was to add less food coloring--and obviously my cupcakes were less-than-red--but they were indeed delicious.

I also baked what I like to call my blondie, adding a little more butter than usual for a successful result. For once, I "only" had three bite-size blondie squares, explaining why there is finally a picture up.

Here it is!

Baking is like getting married: besides having something blue, it's nice to get a mix of novelty and tradition. In search of a petit plus, a little sweet something that would add to the cupcakes and blondies, I immediately thought of my Grandma's fudge. All that sugar, butter and chocolate is as retro as can be, but also completely addicting. Did I mention that I wanted all of my fudge squares to be, well, square? That meant cutting the edges off. And who was I to decide that the uneven, ugly edges should go in the trash? I found a better place for those, and I'm sure you can guess that it wasn't outside or in someone else's stomach. No way.

Now that my teeth are probably set to hurt indefinitely because of my sugar intake, here are my recipes.

Then maybe we can start a club for people who could eat sweets at any time of day, even if they're French. Don't even think about it if you're the reasonable type.

(you can also find the lighter, chocolate-chip version here)

NB: adding more butter makes baking time a little longer, and also makes the blondies thicker.

6 TB melted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 TS vanilla extract
1 cup m&ms, or Smarties, depending on the country you're in and the supermarket you go to

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Mix melted butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, and flour. Mix until just combined.

Add M&Ms and combine. Place in a 8x8 (for thick blondies) or 9x13 (what I have) pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few delicious blondie-pieces attached.

Let cool (if you can resist) and cut into small squares.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 TS baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk, room temp
2 large eggs
1 TB white vinegar
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB natural cocoa powder
2 TB red food coloring
12 TB unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks, or approx 170g), softened
1 1/2 c. sugar

For Frosting (this is my recipe, in grams)
300g (2 packs) "nature à tartiner", or St. Moret
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
2 TB sour cream
2 TS vanilla extract, more if needed

Heat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla together. In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and red food coloring together to a smooth paste.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Beat in the cocoa mixture until the batter is uniform.

Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Place 1/4 cup throughout each lined muffin tin and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15 to 20 minutes. Let them cool in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting: Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy, adjusting sugar and vanilla to taste. Spread evenly on cupcakes or pipe.

Grandma's Fudge
I halved the recipe, making enough for a 9x13 rectangular pan and approx 30-40 bite-sized pieces

4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick, or 113g)
1 can evaporated milk (lait concentré non sucré), 12 oz.
12 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate bits
Two 8 oz. Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars (I just went ahead and used Nestlé Dessert for the whole thing--if you've got better chocolate than Hershey's the fudge can only taste better!)
4 TB Marshmallow cream

Stir sugar, butter, and evaporated milk together and put on stove. Boil until soft ball stage (235°F) about 10 to 12 minutes. You will notice that it thickens.

Remove from stove and add chocolates; stir until blended.

Add Marshmallow cream for regular fudge (what I did) or...

Separate into two bowls. Add 2 large TB Marshmallow to one, and 2 large TB of peanut butter to the other.

Stir and put into 9x13 lightly greased pans. Cool in refrigerator, cut and serve.

Print this post