Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea Time Cupcakes

One of my favorite things is sipping tea while snacking on some juicy strawberries. Earl grey tea seems to be making it's way into a lot of popular dessert recipes and I wanted to get in on the action. I decided I would make strawberry cupcakes and top them with a creamy earl grey frosting. Surprisingly, it was really hard to find a recipe for strawberry cupcakes. I found a lot of recipes using box cake mix and jello mix, which is kind of gross and not what I was looking for. The other recipes where just vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting. After searching around some more, I decided to use a vanilla cupcake recipe and alter it.

Alright, so how did they turn out? Just okay. The cupcakes don't taste like earl grey tea at all. They are very faintly strawberry, not what I had planned. I didn't write this into the recipe because it didn't end up making a difference; I thought if I "juiced" some of the strawberries through a fine mesh sieve, it would make the batter pink and taste more like strawberry. I think I would have had to add a lot of juice to make this actually work and I don't know how that would affect the liquid ratios in the recipe. The cupcakes do taste really good, but just not as flavorful as I wanted them to be. The texture turned out well, the tops are kind of crunchy and the insides are fluffy and moist.

Okay, on to my next "fail": The frosting. I don't really like butter cream. Why did I decide to make it today? I think I was feeling kind of lazy and butter cream seemed to be the answer. My mixer isn't working properly, so the classic 7 Minute frosting was out because I knew my arm would fall off if I tried to whip it to perfection by hand. Anyway, I made the frosting with butter, a little whole milk, powdered sugar, a very small pinch of salt, vanilla, and some pink gel food coloring. It looked awesome, super smooth and creamy. It was kind of too sweet for my taste though. So then I added some earl grey tea and some finely chopped strawberries. I folded them in and something terrible happened. I don't know exactly what though. The frosting kind of...broke. I don't know if it started separating because I over whipped it, or if I should have whipped it more after adding the strawberries, or even if the liquid from the strawberries didn't incorporate. After mixing and tasting and adding and tasting, I feel totally sick. I over did it. And now I have 22 cupcakes and a ton of gross looking butter cream. Ugh.

a nice close up of my gross looking frosting

Tea Time Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup finely diced strawberries
1/2 tablespoon finely ground earl grey tea (I used one teabag)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and tea together in a medium bowl.

3. In a separate, larger bowl, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Fold in strawberries.

5. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.

6. To the butter mixture, add about one quarter of the flour mixture and mix well. Add about one quarter of the milk mixture and mix well. Continue alternating the flour mixture and milk mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.

7. Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.

8. 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.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I was just checking Design*Sponge and reading a photographer's recipe for sangria. There was a link to his blog and I just saw these pictures of a couple who has been married for 60 years. They are too much. I don't usually get all soft on the internet, but look at how sweet these are! AHH!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vegan Banana Quinoa Muffins

Yesterday I made muffins. This recipe for quinoa muffins looked interesting but a little boring. I added the use of whole wheat flour and made them vegan with a few changes. The muffins came out really moist and dense. The quinoa made them kind of nutty, which is awesome with the banana.

This photo is from the original recipe, with rasins and all purpose flour.
This gives you a good idea of the texture.

image from MSLO

This recipe made a lot of muffins, so after scooping the batter into muffin liners, I froze some of the un-cooked muffins. Every time I make something and tell Kyle it is in the freezer, we both have to laugh a little bit, because I am serious, it is an obsession. It is so easy to bake off a few goodies at a time, they just need a few minutes longer in the oven. Wrap the frozen muffins tightly and bake within a month or two so they don't get freezer burnt.

Also, I made the quinoa the night before, so it was cool when I mixed the ingredients together. This seemed easier and made more sense to me. I made a little extra and made awesome veggie burgers. Instead of making a yogurt sauce, I crumbed some feta into the mixture.

Something about baking vegan has been really fun, like a science experiment. So far, all of my recipe "improvements" have turned out great. It's also nice to know that I can share all of these treats with all my friends no matter what their eating habits.

Sorry, no photos...I was too concentrated on the muffins.

Vegan Banana Quinoa Muffins
makes 18 muffins

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, line muffins tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, pecans, pumpkin pie spice, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, soy milk, mashed banana, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
  4. Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.