Friday, May 31, 2013

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Well, I did it.  I finally jumped in and entered my very first cupcake war!  Luckily for me, I am blessed with a good friend who gave me the encouragement that I needed to submit my registration form. 

The Royal Cupcake Challenge was held at the Renaissance fair on Mother's Day.  The rules were simple: Bake 3 unique cupcake flavors and decorate each with a Renaissance theme.  (4 cupcakes of each flavor for a total of 1 dozen cupcakes.)  Easy enough - right?  I thought about it for a few days then finally decided on my three "unique" flavors to enter in the competition.


A Dark Knight cupcake - a chocolate stout cupcake filled with a dark chocolate gananche filling and topped with a layer of chocolate ganache and a swirl of chocolate buttercream.  


A Pink Princess cupcake - a pink lemonade cupcake filled with a white chocolate mousse and topped with cream cheese frosting and a snickering sickerdoodle cupcake.  

 A Snickerdoodle cupcake - a cinnamon sugar cupcake with a cookie crumble crust and toasted meringue buttercream.

The pink lemonade and the snickerdoodle are cupcakes that I make fairly regularly.  The the chocolate stout cupcake was a new one for me so I gave it a trial run a few days before the competition.  I made a half recipe so my portions are going to look a little different than what is printed here. 

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
6 ounces dark stout
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons butter, melted

Chocolate Ganache
3 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

Line 24 cup cupcake pan with liners and spray liners with pam.  Melt butter in microwave.  Cool.

Whisk together eggs and yogurt.
Add beer and vanilla.

Sift together dry ingredients.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well blended.

Whisk in melted butter.

Scoop batter into liners.

Combine ganache ingredients and microwave for 30 seconds until melted.  Chill in refrigerator to thicken slightly.

Spoon a dollop of ganache in the center of each unbaked cupcake.

Bake 20 minutes at 350.

Cool on wire racks.

I could hardly wait until the cupcakes cooled to taste one.

I cut one in half to check the ganache and it was still intact (By that I mean that it didn't ooze into the cupcake during the baking process.) but it did sink to the bottom.  Minor mishap.

I sampled this cupcake - the entire thing!  I could taste the chocolate stout but it wasn't overpowering.  It was delicious and not overly sweet.   I decided that it would be even better if I added more chocolate ganache to the top of the cooled cupcakes.

Since these were sample cupcakes, I frosted a few for sampling.  I used a white chocolate frosting and chocolate jimmies for these yummy treats.

Now to turn the rest of these cupcakes into dark knights.  I printed out a cupcake wrapper patterns from the internet to use as a template for my wrappers.  I cut some slits in the top of mine to resemble a castle.  I used hot glue to secure the wrappers. 

I made shields and swords using black candy melts and silver dragees.

For those of you who are anxiously awaiting the results of the Renaissance Fair Cupcake War - I did not win.  It was a lot of fun to participate and even though it was stressful, I would definitely do it again.  These are the pictures from our day at the Renaissance festival. 

Yes, that is my husband with his face in a chocolate pie.  He didn't win the pie eating contest either, but - he had pie! 


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ever had a recipe that you've used for years and years and one day, it doesn't turn out?  For no apparent reason?  These Neiman Marcus cookies used to be my old standby for chocolate chip cookies.  They are packed with rich chocolaty flavor and hearty oats and nuts - simply delicious.  I probably made these cookies over 4 dozen times and then one day I made a batch and they simply didn't turn out.  I was convinced that I had just done something wrong so I waited a week and made them again - another failure.  I combed through the recipe, line by line, trying to figure out if I had missed a step or changed brands on a certain ingredient.  I never did come up with a legitimate reason for the sudden cookie flop.  Eventually I stopped making my favorite chocolate chip cookie after several failed attempts to correct the issue.

Last month, I ran across my old favorite cookie recipe and I decided that it was time to give them another try.  It's been at least 3 years since I've even thought about making these cookies.  The wounds of failure have healed and I was ready for another attempt. 

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter                                ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar                                1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar                     1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs                                        12 ounces chocolate chips
1  teaspoon vanilla                    1 ½ cup walnuts
2 cups flour                               2 ½ cups oatmeal

Cream butter and sugars.

Add eggs and vanilla.

Mix together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Add chocolate chips and nuts.

Roll into balls.

Bake 10 minutes at 375. 

The cookies came out perfectly!  I wish that I could tell you what changed and what I did to correct the problem but the truth is - I have absolutely no idea.  For now, I will just appreciate the fact that they are turning out just as I remember.

There is just something about larger than life pictures of chocoalte chip cookies that I can't resist.