Friday, May 14, 2010

Breakfast Beignets

Yes, another food post, but this needs to be blogged about. I hate the smell of frying food in the house, and that's a good thing. Otherwise, I'd be making fried foods A LOT more, and I would probably weigh A LOT more! But once in awhile I get a longing for something fried. This morning it was Beignets, also known as French Doughnuts. Usually they're made out of a yeast batter, but I also like them yeast free, using a cream puff batter (choux pastry). Natalie loved them. She had a plate full before leaving for seminary. Skip even woke up and had a couple as well. I'll try not to eat the rest before I leave for work.

Easy Yeast Free Beignets

½ cup butter
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
Oil for deep frying
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the water. Add salt and flour, and stir until a sticky batter is formed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.

Heat the oil to 375F. Fry mounded teaspoons of dough, several at a time, for about 6 minutes. They are done when they are light, golden brown on each side. Drain them for a few minutes on a clean kitchen towel and serve warm, dusted with the confectioners’ sugar.

Makes about 30 small beignets.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Caramel Cupcakes

Last month I had an obsession, and finally I've gotten around to posting about it. I was reading a book about colored maids in Mississippi called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. (It was a great book, soon to be made into a movie.) In the book it seemed that in every other chapter someone was making a caramel cake. I love everything caramel, and I can't recall ever eating a caramel cake, so I thought I should try. Cupcakes seem to be the thing these days, and everyone knows there aren't as many calories in a cupcake as in a slice of cake, so I researched recipes and found a likely contender. They turned out so good, I made them twice.

First you have to make CARAMEL SYRUP which is not too difficult, and is VERY yummy:

Heat sugar and 1 cup water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and comes to a boil. Continue cooking, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush but without stirring, until mixture becomes golden amber in color. Immediately remove from heat and cover the pan with foil with a small hole cut out of the middle and slowly pour in 1 cup of water. (This is for safety reasons. Otherwise it will steam and bubble up and you'll burn yourself pretty bad.) Return to heat and continue boiling and stirring for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof container and let cool completely before using.

For the CAKE part:

10 Tablespoons butter
1 1/4 Cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cream
1/3 Cup caramel syrup
2 eggs
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Cream butter in mixer until smooth.
2. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
3. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl.
4. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
5. Sift flour and baking powder together.
6. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients.
7. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.
8. Add another third of the dry stuff, then the other half of the milk and finish with the flour mixture.

Bake as cupcakes for about 15 minutes.

One of the best parts is the FROSTING. (You get to burn butter on purpose!)


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Pound powdered sugar
4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 Tablespoons caramel syrup (see above)
Kosher or sea salt to taste

1. Cook butter until brown.
2. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
3. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

I will definitely make these again. Sure hope you're around when I do!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Good Day

It's a good day for me when:

  • Exercise is done by 5:45 am and consists of at least 15 minutes of running.
  • Natalie gets to seminary in the morning (Maybe not on time, but we keep trying).
  • Breakfast is a fruit smoothie with fresh strawberries.
  • I'm wide awake at work and have time between piano duties to read a chapter in my current novel (Book 5 of the Mitford series).
  • It's teacher appreciation day, and they're serving Mexican food in the library.
  • It's still the first week of May and I have all the bills paid.
  • Ryan comes over to study and raid the fridge.
  • All my piano students are on time with at least one song practiced.
  • Natalie and her friend wash the van without being asked.
  • The weather is amazing - sunny, warm, and little humidity
  • There are plenty of yummy leftovers in the fridge, so dinner is get-your-own.
  • At least three things are crossed off of my to-do list.
  • I eat a couple of dark chocolate Lindt truffles.
Not a bad day at all!