marshmallow-y goodness

You would think with a title like “marshmallow-y goodness” this post would be about a recipe that revolved around marshmallows, right?  Well in this case, you’d be wrong.  We won’t even get to the marshmallow part for a while, but once we do it will make perfect sense.  Stick with me here folks. 

Last week there were two birthdays that I wanted to bake for and since it was for two separate people and the birthdays were celebrated in two separate places and because you can’t nicely cut a birthday cake in half and take one half to one party and the other half to the other party I opted to simplify things and make cupcakes instead.  Red velvet cupcakes.  I hadn’t made them in quite some time and they sounded good– plus, they’re usually a crowd pleaser so it seemed like a safe bet.

I’ve been on the fence about using food coloring for some time now.  I don’t use it except for red velvet cake and to color icing for Christmas sugar cookies but ever since I overheard a coworker say she made a connection between red dye in foods she’s consumed and her subsequently getting nightmares after consumption I’ve been even more freaked out.  But a little bit a couple of times a year can’t be too bad for you, right?  And how the heck can you make red velvet cupcakes if they aren’t red?  No one would know what to think.  (Yes, the thought has occurred to me to try using beet juice or some other such natural dye.  Some day when I have loads of time I will try this…)

My compromise was to use less red food coloring than the recipe called for.  The result was more of a burgundy-colored cupcake which I found to be quite aesthetically pleasing.  And no one questioned what kind of cupcakes they were– there was just enough red to them. 

Now here is where the title subject comes in… Years ago I was doing my usual routine of watching the Saturday morning Food Network lineup and Paula Dean made red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting and to that cream cheese frosting she added melted marshmallows.  Eureka!

Paula’s recipe calls for one cup of melted marshmallows but if one cup is good two is even better, right?  The answer is yes, yes two cups of melted marshmallows in cream cheese frosting is supreme.  And to continue with my kick of substituting mascarpone cheese for cream cheese in frosting I tried that here too.  It’s to die for.  Heck, I even forgot to sift my dang cake flour before mixing so the cake from my batch of cupcakes was a little dense but the heavenly frosting more than made up for it.  No complaints whatsoever from the birthday peeps!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from Red Velvet Cake with Raspberries and Blueberries found at www.epicurious.com)

  • 2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with muffin cups (this recipe makes about 18 cupcakes) and set aside.

Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.  Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend.  Using electronic mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.  Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when touched.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.  Frost with Mascarpone Marshmallow Frosting (recipe below).

Mascarpone Marshmallow Frosting (adapted from Grandmother Paula’s Red Velvet Cake Icing recipe found at www.foodnetwork.com)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone cheese
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups melted marshmallows
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar

Blend mascarpone cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add marshmallows and confectioners’ sugar and blend.

chess pie, take two

After making the chess tart a few weeks ago I quickly researched other versions of chess pie and found one that involves two things I know and love: blueberries and mascarpone cheese.  I happened to have some mascarpone cheese leftover from something I baked a few weeks prior, so thought it was a sign from the heavens.

This pie was not as sweet as the chess tart and the blueberries and mascarpone complimented each other well.

A short post today but will be back later in the week with a rustic cherry pie.  My favorite!

Blueberry Mascarpone Chess Pie (recipe by John McMillan published in Fresh Home magazine)

  • Pie dough (see recipe below)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup Mascarpone cheese

Roll dough out and place in 9-inch pie plate; flute edges.  Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil.  Bake at 450 for 8 minutes.  Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer.  Cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, milk, butter, 1 tablespoon flour and vanilla.  Toss blueberries with remaining flour; fold into filling.

Pour into crust.  Drop cheese by teaspoonfuls over filling.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (cover edges with foil during the last 25 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary).  Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate leftovers.

One Crust Pie Pastry (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook)

  • 1 cup all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball.  Shape into flattened round.  If desired, wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes to firm up the shortening slightly, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky and lets the water absorb evenly throughout the dough.

Roll pastry on lightly floured surface using floured rolling pin into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down pie plate.  Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate; or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate.  Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

how about cupcakes???

I had kind of a rough day at work a few weeks ago– it happens.  My cube-mate/friend/very-talented-artist painted this lovely picture for me to cheer me up.  And it worked!  It still makes me smile when I look over at it in the glare of the fluorescent office lights.  You need stuff like that.  Not only does it make me happy, but it inspired me to recreate it in real life!

 Who doesn’t like cupcakes?  I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t.  They’re cute, fun, pretty, taste great– what’s not to like?  I have made them in many iterations over the years but never strawberry-flavored, and since I picked a whole bunch of the lovely little berries last weekend I figured now is the time.

I did a bunch of research for a recipe before making them and wound up shooting from the hip with an adaptation of a strawberry cake recipe I found from Martha Stewart.  Her recipe was unfrosted and suggested baking the strawberries into the top of the cake but I wanted to mix them into the batter instead.

I decided that a cream cheese frosting might be nice on them, but then thought I’d shake it up a bit with mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese.  I think it was a wise decision.

Voila!  You would have thought that my friend painted the picture after I made the above, right?  Nope.  Other way around.  Good thing I have a small flowered plate!

Strawberry Cupcakes (adapted from Strawberry Cake recipe found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped cleaned strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place muffin cups in 12-cup muffin tin.  Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.  Fold strawberries into batter with a spatula.  Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  If desired, frost with strawberry mascarpone frosting (recipe below).

Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ strawberries, cleaned and pureed in food processor or blender

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter and mascarpone cheese until smooth.  Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in pureed strawberries with a spatula.