Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

Why hello. Long time, no see, my friend. I've been quite quiet over here, but that's mainly due to the fact that I don't have as much of a sweet tooth as I once had. In fact, the only times I bake these days are for special occasions. And instead of trying out a new recipe for someone's birthday/celebration/etc, I generally pick something tried and true.

So where does that leave South in Your Mouth? Well, as you can tell for over a year, it's left it silent. BUT, even though I'm not baking, I am cooking a LOT more and I figure that turning a once baking blog into a cooking blog isn't that much of a stretch.

So here we go. I realize, eventually I'll need to redo the header on the blog, etc. But for now, I'm just going to post a few recipes that I've really enjoyed of late.

This is a recipe that I've had for a long time. And I'm not really sure what took me so long to pull the trigger. The ingredient list does look quite long, but the ingredients are accessible and cheap and a lot of them I already have in my fridge/pantry on a weekly basis.

I'm sorry it's not brownies, but it's still pretty damn delicious.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad
Originally from Epicurious.
Written below as I made it.

This is a light and tasty salad. I felt like it had a bit too much of a lemon kick and I definitely felt like the mint and flat leaf parsley were a bit overwhelming. So, I've scaled those things back a bit. It comes together pretty easily, even with the extensive ingredient list. It's light, but it's still hearty enough to make it a main meal with some baked tofu thrown in. I will definitely be making this again. Maybe even a fall version with some root vegetables in it.

  • 1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 10 oz of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
  • 1 (14-oz) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth (1 3/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 8 oz of baked tofu (I used Trader Joe's Savory Baked Tofu. SO GOOD!) 
Roast eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. 

Toss eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

Cook barley:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes. 

Make dressing and assemble salad:
Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.
Cooks' note: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Madeleines

So, we got snow! A whopping 3 inches! Aside from the fact that it really messes up my marathon training routines and despite the fact that I HATE being cold... I actually really enjoy the snow. I love watching it fall, I love anticipating the actual amount that will fall (which I'm always disappointed in... wherever I live never ends up getting the amount suggested by the local weather news team), and I love seeing it pile up on the trees and the sidewalks.

And as of yesterday, I have a new favorite thing about snow... I love walking in it! Yesterday was really the first time I've ever walked to work when there was actual snow piled up on the sidewalks. I wore my trail running shoes to work and was digging the sound of my shoes crunching through the snow. Sometimes its the simpliest things in life that can put a smile on your face.

In other news, I finally checked out the Birth of Impressionism exhibit at the Frist Center this past weekend. Admittedly, Impressionism is one of my least favorite art movements, but that almost makes impressionist exhibits that much more exhiliarating! Because, I'm going into it expecting to be wowed by the brushstrokes and the artist's eye to method and detail... but inevitably there's always that moment where I lock eyes on a piece and am moved like I never expected. There were a couple of pieces in the exhibit that did that to me.

One was Wrestlers by Alexandre Falguière. I am a sculpture lover. Sculpture is by far my favorite medium and as soon as I laid eyes on that painting, it immediately made me think of a sculpture. The attention to the muscles and the human body in this painting were as moving to me as they are in sculpture. Which is saying a lot. And of course, it was no surprise to find out that the artist was not only a painter, but a sculpter, as well.

The whole exhibit was amazing (Whistlers Mother! The Birth of Venus!) and I was thrilled by the amount of people that were at the museum. Sure, it makes viewing a little more difficult, but I get great satisfaction moving around shoulder to shoulder with the people of my city enjoying something so remarkable and beautiful.

I found this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe to be in the spirit of my weekend visit to the museum. What better treat after milling around amongst Monets, Manets, Degas', Cezannes and Renoirs than a delicate madeline?

These came together so easily, but I must admit.. I've made madeleine's once before (for another TWD a couple years ago) and I'm still regretting the purchase of a mini madeleine pan. It's damn near impossible to not fill that tin up too much with batter. So, my madeleines end up being less than visually appealing blobs instead of cute, dainty shells.

I guess it doesn't really matter though, because they get gobbled up before anyone has a chance to look at them for too long.

Fluff Filled Chocolate Madeleines
Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

First of all, if you're a batter lover... then whoa nelly, this is the batter for you. Seriously, I probably ate about half the batter from the bowl. It was delicious. Light and frothy and chocolate-y. So very good.

I definitely overfilled my mini madeleine pan... but with a regular sized pan I dont think it would be a problem. To be honest, my favorite part of the madelines, were the crispy-ish edges that resulted from overfilling the tins.

The only issue I had was a lot of my madeleines came out with a gross white dusting (from the flour dusting of the pan), so next time I would definitely use cocoa instead of flour to dust the pans. (Of course you were technically supposed to fill these little cakes with marshmallow fluff and dunk in a chocolate glaze. Both of which I skipped. So, if that were the case, the flour coating on the outside wouldn't have mattered).

I do see myself making these again sometime. Or at least making the batter. ;)

Visit Margo of Effort to Deliciousness's blog for the complete recipe.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Happy New Year!

I've had the most amazing 2010. I've traveled all over the country this year with trips to:
Raleigh, NC- New Years trip for 2010
New Orleans, LA- 30th Birthday Drunkfest
San Francisco, Monterrey, Big Sur and Wine Country: For Big Sur Marathon and Wine Tasting!
Utah- To pace a best friend in his first 50 mile race!
NYC- For 4th of July weekend!
North Carolina Mountains- For college friends 8th annual drinkfest!
Lexington, KY- Bourbon Chase Relay Race
Chicago, IL- Fun weekend trip with friend!
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico- Amazing Yoga Retreat!
Richmond and Charlottesville, VA- For NYE 2011.

Now, I’m one of those annoying shits that is “too cool” to do whatever everyone else does. Example A: I don’t have a facebook account. Example B: I don’t do New Years Resolutions until my birthday on February 1.

But incidentally… if I were to do New Years resolutions when everyone else does… one of my new years resolutions would be to stop being such an independent/individuality obsessed asshole.

I do have a fairly good argument against the whole idea of Resolutions anyway… I mean, why wait till some arbitrary day?? Jan 1 is just like Jan 4 or December 18. What the hell does it matter? When I wait till my birthday… it seems to mean a little more… like… with turning this XX age, I will become more mature in the following ways… (although, admittedly… some of my yearly resolutions are things that others surely think are LESS mature… like… date less! Drink more! Et al.).

Anyway… if I were to have new years resolutions (which, these aren't! I swear!) these would be them:

1. Drive less. Sure, I drive a lot less than the average person. I walk to work a lot, I walk to yoga when the weather's nice, etc… but… I have this annoying habit of driving to the grocery store 3-4 times a week. For whatever reason, I can’t buy 12 pounds of apples at one go, so I go every other day and buy enough to last me two days. THIS HAS TO STOP. So… my goal is cut this down to twice a week. ALSO… a new grocery store/health food store just opened up and the route there doesn’t require me to cross through any major intersections… so…

2. I’m going to buy a bike! Not a fancy lance Armstrong bike with shimano somethings and hydraulic something elses…. No, just a roam about town bike that I can ride to the grocery store and to the farmers markets this summer. And possibly the bar, or friends houses, etc.

3. Keep in touch with friends better.

4. Get up to date with the music scene. Seriously this is a big one… I used to be a music fanatic. And then I kinda fell off the wagon. Last week I made a new cd to listen to on itunes and I kid you not, half of the songs were like from 2008 or 2009. Ugh. I’m so behind!

5. Read more! I cancelled my cable subscription when college football season was over in the hopes of reading more. I really think that watching episode after episode of The Real Housewives of New York was hindering my ability to carry on a half-way intelligent conversation. A few years ago, I made a goal of reading 50 books for the year… and I got to around 30, which was still awesome. So, this year, I’m going to revive it. 50 books for 2011! (Now, I need to stock up mountaineering, sailing, and city history books!).

6. Set a new PR in the following distances: 5k, Half Marathon, and Marathon!

7. Drink less beer and less shots. It’s a problem when people know that you love tequila shots.

8. Get out of North America for 2011! Shouldn’t be a problem since I’m going to Scotland and Ireland with the family this spring… but… also trying to plan a trip to Israel for this year. Fingers crossed on that one. Jesus Trail or bust!!!! Or maybe I’ll just go to Peru.

9. Blog more often!

2010 was the best year of my life.. and I see no reason why anything has to change as we roll forward into 2011! And I'm hoping for all the best for your 2011s, as well!

And to start things off with a bang... here's a recipe that I made for my brother's birthday (back in June).
Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream

from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

This recipe was super easy and the cupcakes turned out very moist! But... I have to say, pastry cream, as it turns out, isn't my favorite topping for a cupcake (a filling, perhaps). So, next time I make banana cupcakes, I will frost with a proper frosting... cream cheese, vanilla, chocolate... not too picky.
For the Cupcakes:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4)
1/2 cup buttermilk

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream
3 cups half-and-half
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the pastry cream:

In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a simmer and keep warm. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together until the mixture is pale, about one minute. Whisk half of the half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, then pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened and boiling, about 6-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a container. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.

Chill at least one hour, overnight is better.

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs, and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl again and add the bananas, beating until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, giving the mixture a final stir to ensure it's combined.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove them from the pans and cool completely.

Assemble the cupcakes:

Place the vanilla pastry cream in a plastic disposable piping bag or a zip top gallon sized bag. Cut the end of the bag so that the opening is about a half inch in diameter. Pipe a dollop onto the cupcake (alternatively spoon a dollop onto the cupcake) and garnish with a dried banana slice.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TWD Rewind: All American Apple Pie.

Last night I got to spend the evening with one of my best friends. She was only in town for a few days and between making time to see her family, Monday evening was the only spare time she had to squeeze me in. I was grateful to have the whole evening with her!

It's funny. You go through life having someone live down the road from you for several years... you go to dinner or lunch, you go to the museum, you go shopping... but you also go through some months where you don't really get together. You're busy, she's busy. It happens. But you still know what's going on in each others lives.

Last night I realized... I really had no idea what had been going on with her for MONTHS. And it made me very sad. Just because she's moved to the other side of the country, and just because I feel guilty that I've made trips to Montana, San Francisco, Mexico, etc and have yet to make it out to visit her in the Pacific Northwest is no excuse for allowing months to go by with little or no communication.

Luckily, things with her are great! She's enjoying her new town, making friends, and she absolutely loves her job. But, it definitely put things into perspective for me. I've slacked. I just assume that we'll always be great friends and we'll always pick up right where we left off when we do talk or get together... and while that's true. It's not fair. To either one of us.

Friendships are relationships, too. And just like anything in life... you have to give it attention for it to grow and bloom. And this year in particular, I've not kept my end of the friendship up very well.

I've taken our friendship for granted. We never fight or have arguments, so I know that we'll always be friends. But, that's not enough. This year I was the type of friend that called her maybe twice (once on her birthday), I was the type of friend who made plans to visit her and then bailed, I was the type of friend who only emailed or texted her a handful of times. I was, in a word: SHITTY.

So, as of today (or last night, really) I'm determined to be a better friend to her. Just because she's on the other end of the country, is no excuse. I miss her! I miss knowing whats going on in her life, I miss talking to her, I miss telling her whats going on in mine. And even if I can't go and see her as much as I'd like.. I can certainly call or email her!

In some ways... this recipe reminds me of my friend and I's friendship and how I've treated it this year. It's a recipe where you know what it's going to taste like. Who hasn't had apple pie, right? So, I never made it. In fact, I've never made any apple pie! There are so many other glamorous dessert recipes to be made, no?

But, I finally decided to make this pie for Thanksgiving. And oh my god... I had no idea an apple pie could be so good. I was reminded that the uncomplicated, familiar things in life are sometimes best. There's nothing flashy or unusual here. It's just good basic ingredients thrown together to make a most excellent pie.

All-American Apple Pie
Recipe by Dorie Greenspan
Chosen by Emily of Sandmuffin

Dead simple, folks. The hardest part is cutting up the apples, which I initially bought an apple corer/slicer for, but once I realized that it was still getting some of the core in the slices, I shoved the task off onto my mom to cut up (I highly suggest this step!)... so yeah... for me, this pie was a breeze!

Dorie's pie crust has definitely become my go to pie crust recipe. It's easy and so delicious. This coming from a girl who used to despise pie crust (and still despises all shortening based pre-packaged crusts).

If you have an apple pie lover in your life... this is the recipe to yes. This pie recipe might have just trumped my other favorite pies: pecan and cherry. It's that good.

Recipe found on Emily's Blog, HERE.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes

A perfect weekend is...
Dinner and drinks with one of your favorite people, at your favorite restaurant and
then out for your favorite drink: Clapless Belle. Yum.

Shopping with your favorite shopping partner and actually finding some cute things at your favorite stores, followed by lunch at your favorite Indian restaurant.

 Completing your favorite household task: cleaning and organizing your closet.

Baking your favorite cupcake recipe and decorating them like little monkeys.

Putting on a bib for one of your favorite marathons and lining up at the start line.

Finishing a marathon with some of your favorite running partners
(and indulging in your favorite local brew afterwards).

Eating at your favorite restaurant AGAIN with some of your fellow marathoners
 and recounting the race with pizza and more beer.

Finishing the weekend with a cup of fro-yo with your favorite toppings: granola and coconut.

In my mind... a weekend doesn't get any better than this past weekend.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from one I found somewhere online.
One recipe makes 27-31 cupcakes

I'm not a huge cupcake fan. But how can you not be a sucker for a moist, buttery cupcake? Which is how I found myself on a mission to find the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe... after tasting a delicious one at a bakery in Chicago.

To be honest, I hate the cupcakes at Nashville's local bakeries. Too dry, too big, too much frosting, too many whacked out flavors.

This is the kind of cupcake I like... plain and simple.

To decorate as monkeys for the Harpeth Hill Flying Monkey Marathon that I ran this weekend, I used chocolate frosting, nutter butter peanut butter snack cookies, a vanilla wafer with the top quarter cut off with a serated knife, and icing (white, black, and red). They look a lot like bears, but hopefully most people realized they were monkeys!

This cupcake recipe is awesome. My favorite, for sure.

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar and add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer until light in color and fluffy in texture. Gradually whisk in the oil, buttermilk, and extract and combine well.

Add your flour, baking powder, and salt and slowly stir to combine (add a little bit of the flour at a time to make the stirring easier).

Transfer to muffin pans that have been lined with paper muffin cups. Fill the cups up about 2/3 of the way up. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until springy in the center. Cool completely before frosting.

Especially Dark Chocolate Frosting

(from the back of the Special Dark Hershey's cocoa box)

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup Special Dark Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (might need more)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups of frosting.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies, Healthi-fied.

Back in July, I went to NYC to visit a friend. It had been about 8 years since I had last been there and in a few short days, I quickly fell in love with the city.

The thing that had always kinda bugged me about NYC previously was the overstimulation. Everywhere you look there are people, cars, bikes, shops, pigeons, hot dog stands. It's so alive and in the past I unfairly held that against it. Back then, I didn't know how to quieten the outside world within my own head, so I would find myself drowning in the everything else-ness that NYC was.

But, 8 years later, I'm a much different person. I can easily silence the noise around me and enjoy things at my own pace, instead of allowing the bustling city to force its hustle upon me.

It was incredible. Central Park! The Ballet! The Bus rides! The Subway rides! The East River Greenway for running! The Brooklyn Bridge! Brooklyn! The Whitney (my first real Edward Hopper painting experience!!!)! The tree-lined streets! The people! The Clearance FLOOR (oh my god an entire floor!!)  at Anthropologie! I have a serious, serious crush on NYC right now. Granted, in general... I'm pretty city-crazy right now. NYC isn't my only city crush.. I'm still reeling from a San Francisco courtship earlier this year and just last weekend Chicago spun me around like a top. So, I'm definitely not a one-city loving woman.

My favorite times in NYC were spent just wandering around. Seeing the storefronts and the homes. Changing course at the drop of a hat, to avoid a no-walk crossing sign. Sitting on numerous park benches in Central Park, and various other parks, to watch the people buzzing by.

When I left to come home, I felt a sense of jealousy. How fair is it that some people get to live and work in that city??? I was merely a visitor, living out of a too small suitcase. Damn you New Yorkers and your fabulous city!

Oh well, the good news is that it's an easy city to get to for visiting (easier than San Francisco, that's for sure) and until then, I can try to be inspired by things that I experienced there. Like vegan baked goods!

For lunch one day I ate at Angelica Kitchen. I had a delicious salad, but what really stuck with me was some of their baked goods! I can't really remember what all that was ordered, but it was all really tasty. I do remember the homemade vegan fig newton!! Yum!!! And there was also some sort of deliciously homey tasting oatmeal cookie and a maple tofu whip!

These peanut butter cookies came out of an attempt to try and find a way to make a simple, healthy, vegan sweet snack. And... they didn't turn out perfect (not quite up to Angelica's standards), but they were damn tasty and I had no problem eating them. A base to build upon and perfect, if you will.

Healthy-ish Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from a flourless peanut butter cookie recipe like this one.

Again, this isn't going to be an actual recipe (because I havent perfected it yet), but more of an instruction of what I did.

I started with a flourless peanut butter cookie recipe and instead of egg, I used flax meal with a little bit of water. And instead of sugar, I used date pieces. Originally, I wanted to puree my dates into a paste and incorporate into the dough to sweeten it, but I had the date pieces that were hard and cut up. You know what I'm talking about?? Anyway, they wouldn't pulverize in the food processor, so I just threw them in whole. Thinking of them kind of like a chocolate chip, except a stud of sweetness in the salty peanut butter.

I completely forgot to add any kind of leavener. So, next time, I'll definitely add some baking powder or soda or both.

Overall, these tasted like baked, kinda sweet, intensely flavored peanut butter. A bit crumbly, but satisfying in a weird way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hostess Cupcakes

I know you know what I'm talking about... even though it's something that you love and are passionate about... sometimes it falls by the wayside. You can't predict it and sometimes you can't fix it. I go through this with all my hobbies. It's the ebb and flow of life, I suppose.

And with this blog, I feel like I've lost my writing mojo. I've always loved to write. I've always written terrible short stories and poems. I've got notebook after notebook filled with characters, plots, pieces of dialogues and intros. But for the last year or so, it's been a struggle for me to even bang out a simple, entertaining blog post about some damn cupcakes.

What is wrong with me???

The one thing I do know about writing is.. the worst thing you can do is stop altogether. I've always read and learned that one must power through the block and even if you get pages and pages of worthless drivel... eventually... you'll find the otherside.

So, this is my attempt. I'm just going to ease back in and see what happens.

Such is my writer's block that I made these cupcakes back in JULY. That's right folks. Back when it was still flaming outside, back when I was in the midst of my 30 day vegan/macrobiotic/just eat fruits and vegetables diet. That was a long time ago.

I've become good friends with some running partners. And these cupcakes were made for one of those friends. It was his birthday, he was having a party at his new house and instead of being the lovable party-goer that brings booze (like I normally am), I was the lovable party-goer that had shunned alcohol for the month, so I brought the next best thing... cupcakes (because, let's be honest.. I can say no to a cupcake wayyy easier than I can say no to booze).

It was a fun night. My favorite kind of night, actually... I didn't really know if I'd know anyone at the party besides my friend who was the man of honor for the shindig... so it forced me out of my comfort zone a bit. And as those nights usually turn out.. it was a total blast. I met new people, I got to meet my friend's girlfriend and see their awesome new house.

It was a great time. And these were the cupcakes that I made. I know nothing about what my friend likes in baked goods. So, I figured a crowd pleaser would be chocolate cupcakes. And to make them a little more festive. I mimicked that of a hostess cupcake... with a thin layer of icing, with a white squiggle and a gooey white center.

Per my diet that month, I didn't taste these cupcakes, but... I was told that one of the kids that was there was asked what her favorite part of the party was... and she replied... the cupcakes! A good sign, no? (Nevermind the fact that of course at a party full of grown-ups, the cupcakes are going to be the star for the kid!).
Hostess Cupcakes

I did a bunch of different things for this recipe. First off, I made Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe for Baby Grands Cupcakes that I found in her delicious and amazing cookbook, Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Which, I incidentally won on Hilary's awesome website, Nosh With Me awhile back and am just now getting around to thanking her on the blog! (I'm an awful blogger, I swear).

After the cupcakes were baked, I scooped out part of the center of the cupcake and filled with a mixture of marshmallow fluff that had been diluted with a little bit of water so that it was runny (next time, I dont think I'll dilute it). I put the marshmallow mixture into a ziploc bag and piped it into the center of each cupcake. After that, I covered all the cupcakes with a layer of chocolate ganache. And put squiggles on the top to mimic the snack cakes with pre-bought white cookie icing in a tube.

I thought they turned on beautiful! But, they also turned out very, very messy. The marshmallow center kinda of oozed into the whole cupcake and instead of being a filling it made it into a gooey center (no complaints on the flavor!). So next time, I would pipe the fluff straight into the center (maybe even make it a little stiffer by mixing it with some confectioners sugar!).

Easily adaptable to your favorite recipes for the components. Definitely a fun way party cupcake!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Marshmallow Fluff
Chocolate Ganache
White Icing

Follow assembly instructions above!