Tsoureki Rolls

20170416_173641The Easter season has come and gone for another year so today I bring you one of the items I served at our table. Tsoureki is a very popular sweet bread in Greece similar in texture to a French brioche. It is traditionally served at Pascha (Easter) but is also commonly consumed at other holidays or as a daily accompaniment to coffee/tea.

20170416_172825Most Greeks will tell you that making your own tsoureki is a daunting task to perfect, which is why many simply purchase it from local Greek bakeries verses making it homemade. I myself have purchased the bread for many years since I always place more focus on preparing other traditional offerings. However this year I decided to take up the task of making tsoureki homemade for Easter and the process honestly did not live up to the horror portrayed.

20170415_143020The perfect Tsoureki is a buttery soft yet flaky dough flavored with the distinct aromatic spices ground masticha (mastic) and ground mahlepi. Masticha or Mastic is a tree resin found on the Greek island of Chios. Mahlepi or mahleb is a spice derived from ground cherry seeds. These two spices are what give tsoureki its distinct taste and alluring sweet aroma. Without them the bread becomes no different from a French brioche.

20170416_173625If you are a regular follower of mine you’re probably wondering what my take on this traditional bread will be. Although I love tsoureki in its traditional loaf form I always like to make a fresh twist to established recipes as my own signature of sorts. With tsoureki, I sought to streamline the traditional braided design into a more portable portion. Tsoureki is traditionally braided into a long loaf or a crown shape. For my recipe, I portion out the dough into equal sized rolls and braid them the traditional way. I then place each braided roll into a muffin tin. This strategy makes it easy to provide the perfect amount of tsoureki for the expected amount of guests for holidays and is a far less messy alternative for kids, especially since they do not have patience to wait for a slice to be cut. If you want to try tsoureki and share it with family and friends, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. You will be delightfully surprised at how great of a roll this is!

Tsoureki Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. Dry Yeast
  • 1/3 cup Warm Milk (100° to 110°)
  • 15.75 oz. (about 3 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Ground Mahlepi (may also be labeled mahlab/mahleb)
  • ½ tsp. Ground Masticha (may also be labeled mastic)
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs; lightly beaten
  • 6 ½ tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened & cut into large cubes
  • 1 tbsp. Water
  • 1 Large Egg White
  • Sliced Almonds; optional

Preparation:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine yeast and warm milk. Dissolve yeast in milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, mahlepi, masticha, salt, and eggs. Add flour mixture to the milk mixture. Set mixer to low-speed and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula as needed. Continue to beat dough on low speed for 5 minutes or until dough is soft and elastic and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Set mixer to medium speed and add half of butter to the dough until just incorporated. Add remaining butter cubes to dough and beat until incorporated. Continue to beat dough at medium speed for 4 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough into the bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place free from drafts for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Once risen, gently press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains the dough has risen enough to proceed. If indentation does not remain allow more time to rise. Once indentation remains, punch dough down then form into a ball. Return dough to bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Uncover dough and let stand 90 minutes or until dough is at room temperature. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent it from drying out), cut dough into 6 equal pieces.
  6. Working with one piece at a time, break into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long log. Pinch together the 3 logs at the top and braid down like you would hair. Pinch the end of the braid and pull braid into a ball formation, tucking the end of the braid underneath the ball to secure. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions to make 24 rolls total. Place rolls into cups of a muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine water and egg white; stir with a whisk. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture. If using almonds, gently press 3-4 onto the top of each roll. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

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Chocolate Baklava Bites

20170325_105856Ζητω Η Ελλαδα!!! Χρονια πολλα Ελλαδα!  Long live Greece and Happy Greek Independence Day to all the Greeks around the world! Today is a national holiday in Greece as it marks the start of the Greek war for Independence (March 25, 1821) from the Ottoman Empire (Turks). As a tribute to this important day in Greek history it is only natural I had to make one of if not the most famous Greek dessert around the world…baklava.

20170325_105650As with everything I bake I try to put my own creative spin on it and these mini baklava bites are no exception. I know my version of baklava will probably drive all the yiayia’s (Greek for grandmother) crazy because it does not resemble anything to the traditional baklava they are used to making. However, I feel that given a taste of these bites even my harshest critics would find it hard to resist admitting how great these came out.

20170325_110032-(1)Traditional baklava is a blend of toasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, or walnuts depending on the baker) layered between buttery sheets of fillo then soaked in honey syrup. For my version, I decided to add a hint of chocolate because who doesn’t love chocolate. In order to incorporate the traditional flavor provided by ground hazelnuts, I used some leftover Greek Merenda spread, which is the Greek equivalent of Nutella, to provide a rich hazelnut chocolate flavor.

20170325_105905For such a small dessert these bites do not lack any of the flavor or richness found in traditional recipes. They are great to serve at large gatherings because one recipe makes 30 and their bite size cuts down on the messiness of cutting into and eating the original. I recommend trying this modern version of the classic Greek dessert! Kali Orexi!

Chocolate Baklava Bites

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Walnuts
  • ¾ cup Almonds
  • ½ cup Honey (preferably Greek)
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 3 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup Hazlenut-Chocolate Spread (such as Merenda or Nutella)
  • 2 boxes Mini Fillo Shells; 15 shells each

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange walnuts & almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden & fragrant, about 5 to 8 minutes. Allow nuts to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, add the honey, water, and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until honey dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 230°, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm. Discard cinnamon stick.
  3. Add the slightly cooled nuts to the bowl of a food processor along with the sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Pulse to combine.
  4. Place hazelnut-chocolate spread in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds or until melted. Place mini fillo shells into wells of 2 mini cupcake tins. Working quickly place 1 tsp. of melted hazelnut spread into the bottom of each fillo shell. Next, top each fillo shell with 1 tsp. of the nut mixture. Bake in oven until filling is hot and fillo is golden, about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour 1 tsp. of honey syrup into each fillo cup while warm. Allow syrup to soak in and then add another 1 tsp. to each cup. Refrigerate at least 5 hours but preferably overnight for flavors to develop.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Boozy Black & Tan Brownies

20170314_183558Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To most Americans (Irish ancestry or not), the day is likely spent sporting green colored clothing, eating corned beef & cabbage, and having an excuse to drink way too much Guinness or Bailey’s. This St. Patty’s Day I chose to make a boozy delight to honor the famous Irish stout, Guinness. These brownies are named after the well-known drink of the same name made up of part Guinness part Lager, however it would be wise to never order this drink in Ireland. If you happen to make that mistake you may be met with a bit of anger as the drink shares the same name as the British soldiers that were sent to Ireland to fight back the Irish rebels in the Easter Rising of 1916.

20170314_183739I will admit these brownies did not turn out quite as planned but rather than hide it I will share it so that others do not make similar mistakes. I expected the brownies to be a bit taller as I used straight from the bottle Guinness as opposed to flat. The problem likely occurred due to my little kitchen helper getting overzealous with the stirring of the batter. My second issue arose completely at the fault of my own. The brownies were not quite the texture I desire of a brownie. They resembled more of a cake-like bar and even seemed as if they were undercooked despite being left in the oven 5 extra minutes than intended. I think this was a result of using a glass baking pan instead of metal. This is only a theory though as it was the only difference compared to when I usually prepare brownies. Regardless of my few errors these were still delicious. Most desserts that claim to be boozy you can never taste the alcohol after it cooks but with these you definitely feel it. Give them a try!

Boozy Black & Tan Brownies

Tan Brownies Ingredients:

  •  6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 1 ½ cups Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4.5 oz. (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Chopped Walnuts

Black Brownies Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate; finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Guinness Stout
  • 4.5 oz. (1 cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Salt

Preparation:

  1. Place one oven rack in lower third of oven and move 2nd rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan (preferably metal) with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To prepare tan brownies, place 6 tbsp. butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla. Combine 4.5 oz. flour, baking powder, and ¼ tsp. salt. Add flour mixture and walnuts to sugar mixture, beating until just combined. Spoon into prepared baking pan, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula or other utensil. Bake for 15 minutes on lower rack.
  3. Meanwhile, to prepare black brownies, melt chocolate and 4 tbsp. butter in a large microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute (or until melted), stirring in 20 second intervals until smooth. Add sugar, stirring until well combined. Add 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, and Guinness, stirring with a whisk until well combined. Combine flour and salt, stirring well. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring to combine. Pour mixture evenly over cooked tan layer of brownies, making sure not to spread the batter and combine it with the tan layer.
  4. Bake brownies on center rack for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MARGARET JOHNSON
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

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Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

20170227_000907Cheesecake is a delightful dessert rich in flavor and smooth on the palate. As much as I enjoy a slice of cheesecake I absolutely despise making it on my own. Cheesecake is up there on my list with Creme Brulee & Souffles when it comes to a severe inclination to avoid said recipes. It is not that I can’t make them it is just more tedious and I don’t enjoy making them like I do cakes and cookies. Baking is an outlet for me to reduce stress. Cheesecakes tend to create stress by wondering if the darn thing is going to crack despite doing everything correctly. There is only so many times you can get scalded by the hot water bath before you throw even cooking out the window. However, after taking a look at what I have prepared lately I was starting to see too much repetition. I decided I needed to venture out of my comfort zone and give myself a challenge like I had when in culinary school. The first item that came to my mind was the dreaded cheesecake.

20170227_001556My favorite flavor of cheesecake is cherry and I have made it a thousand times. My love of cherry cheesecake in particular stems from my childhood when I would make the No-Bake Jello brand Cherry Cheesecake box mix. Although it was a heck of a lot easier cheesecake to make, it wasn’t necessarily a real cheesecake (probably why I enjoyed baking it growing up). Besides the taste the cherries lend cheesecake, I also love the appearance. The red is a great contrast to the light cheesecake base and makes for a stunning dessert every time. I wanted to replicate this stunning look but with something other than cherries. That is where cranberries come into play.

20170226_172628I had some leftover cranberries frozen at their peak and needed to use them up so it seemed like a perfect fit. I made this for Valentine’s Day but it can be made for many other events such as anniversaries, Christmas, Independence Day, or even Go Red for Women parties which bring awareness to heart health. Although this is a skinnier recipe than traditional cheesecakes, I highly doubt the American Heart Association would define it as a heart healthy recipe. On average, cheesecakes similar to this one run about 575 calories and 22 grams of saturated fat while this cheesecake is 321 calories and 6 grams saturated fat (saving over 250 calories and 15 grams saturated fat per slice).

Although I enjoyed this lightened up version of a traditional cheesecake I would make a few changes next time to appeal more to my own taste. I think I would prefer a regular graham cracker crust to the chocolate, despite my love of the stunning color contrasts the chocolate crust provides. If you follow the recipe as is you will witness how much a simple swirl of tart cranberries provides an elegant touch to rich filling encased in a chocolate graham crust. Enjoy!

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cups Fresh or Frozen Cranberries (thaw if frozen)
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Raspberry Liqueur (Chambord or Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka)
  • 3 tbsp. Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 12 oz.(2 ½ pkg.) Block Style 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese; softened
  • 1 cup Plain Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 2 large Egg Whites

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil (or place in a turkey size oven bag and seal at top). Grease pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place crackers in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Drizzle with oil and pulse until moistened. Press mixture into bottom and ½ inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Place cranberries, sugar, liqueur, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes or until cranberries have softened and mixture is syrupy. Cool for 20 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth with an immersion blender or pour contents into a food processor and pulse 1 minute.
  4. Combine 1 cup sugar and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Beat with stand or hand mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add the whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the 2 egg whites at high-speed until soft peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Spoon cranberry mixture over filling & swirl together using the tip of a knife. Place springform pan into a metal baking pan larger than the springform pan. Add hot water to the pan to create a depth of about 2 inches. Bake for 55 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake barely jiggles when pan is touched.
  6. Turn off oven. Cool cheesecake in closed oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and run knife around the outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: ANN TAYLOR PITTMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Christstollen

20161230_125955With the holidays over and a new year already rung in I can calmly and fondly look back over the past month’s chaotic fun. While everyone else was making Christmas cookies galore I was making a German traditional pastry called the Christstollen. The Christstollen goes by many names. Sometimes it is simply called Stollen, other times it is called Weihnachtsstollen (Christmas Stollen), and Americans know it as the dreaded fruitcake….but no matter the name they are all one in the same pastry that is made during Advent/Christmas time each year.

20161230_130118Now although Christstollen is technically a fruitcake certainly do not confuse it with the horrific impostors often found in the states. Christstollen is a rich yeast dough filled with brandy-soaked fruit, toasted almonds, and finished with a sweet touch of glaze. There is a reason why Christstollen is one of Germany’s most famous and long-standing Christmas confections. German recipes for stollen date all the way back to the 13th century. Although Stollen recipes have been slightly modified over the years as products like butter became more common and affordable to use the overall formula and resulting taste remained the same.

20161230_130001Now you may wonder why Stollen is typically made by families only during the Advent/Christmas season. Traditionally, the bread gets its shape because it is supposed to resemble a swaddled baby Jesus. Although it is a Christmas bread many bakeries will still bake Christstollen year round and simply call it stollen instead of naming it after Christ. Since the holidays have already passed you can do the same and enjoy a timeless German tradition.

Christstollen

Ingredients:

  • 16.9 oz. All-Purpose Flour (3 ¾ cups); divided
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • 2 tbsp. Brandy
  • ½ cup Dried Cherries
  • ½ cup Golden Raisins
  • ½ cup Reduced-Fat Milk (2%); warmed to 100°-110°
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 pkg. Dry Yeast
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 2 Large Eggs; lightly beaten
  • ½ cup Sliced Almonds; toasted
  • 1 ½ tsp. Grated Lemon Rind
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 tbsp. Reduced-Fat Milk (2%); divided
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar

Preparation:

  1. Weigh 15.75 ounces (approximately 3 ½ cups) flour in a large bowl. Add salt and nutmeg. In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine orange juice and brandy. Microwave brandy mixture for 45 seconds. Add cherries and raisins; let stand for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile combine warm milk, sugar, and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir butter and eggs into yeast mixture. Add the juice mixture, almonds, and lemon rind. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding the remaining ¼ cup flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to hands (expect the dough to feel sticky).
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough. Divide dough into 2 equal portions and roll each into an 11  8 inch oval. Fold 1 short end toward the center and fold the other short end toward the center until it overlaps the first end. Place loaves seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise again for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine 1 tablespoon milk and 1 egg. Uncover shaped dough and brush the top and sides gently with the milk mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on wire racks.
  5. When ready to serve combine 1 tablespoon milk and powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Drizzle over loaves. Serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Slice)

nutritionlabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 6 Smart Points, 4 Points Plus, or 3 Traditional Points

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JULIANNA GRIMES
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

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Honey Almond Butter Snickerdoodles

20161221_134325The cookie section of the dessert table is a prominent feature for almost every culture’s Christmas celebration. Whether it is Gingerbread in America, Pizzelles in Italy, Melomakarona in Greece, Madeleines in France, Kringla in Norway, or Shortbread in Scotland cookies are a must for every family to prepare. In our house we always make sugar cookies cut out in fun Christmas shapes and decorated with different colored frosting and edible adornments.

20161221_132755Aside from our traditional offerings I always try to offer a new cookie for everyone to try and I also share it here with all of you. Typically I make several different cookies around Christmas but this year I have only made two because that is all a 3-year-old and newborn will afford me. I will be making other sweets but cookies were a place I could shave down my offerings and save time.

20161221_135214Now Snickerdoodles are no secret around the holidays. Many Americans already add them to their cookie trays, even swapping out the cinnamon sugar for festive red and green decorating sugar. Although their exact origin is unknown it is believed that Snickerdoodles are German in origin. Although I could have easily stuck with the traditional recipe (as there is nothing wrong with it) I always like to try new things, hence the addition of honey almond butter. I came across some Justin’s brand Honey Almond Butter on clearance at my local supermarket and couldn’t pass up the deal. With a bit of experimenting, it turns out that the addition of almond butter to a classic snickerdoodle makes a fantastic cookie.

The honey almond butter provides a richer twist on the classic recipe while still retaining the signature soft interior and crispy cinnamon-sugar coating that has made this cookie a lasting favorite. Not only is this cooking satisfying but it is also a healthier option to provide for those who may not want to indulge in the extremely calorie/fat laced frosted sugar cookies this Christmas. Merry Christmas and Enjoy!

Honey Almond Butter Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • 3 oz. Whipped 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese
  • ¼ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 2 tbsp. Honey Almond Butter (such as Justin’s Brand)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Large Egg Yolks; lightly beaten
  • 4.75 oz. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1.5 oz. Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • Cinnamon-Sugar; for topping

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place the brown sugar, cream cheese, unsalted butter, and almond butter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a stand or hand mixer beat the mixture on high-speed until well combined. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and beat again until well blended.
  3. In another large bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer on low-speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
  4. Using a rounded tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle tops of the dough rounds adequately with cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating cookies halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on the pans for 1 minute. Remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and cinnamon-sugar. Serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Cookie)

nutritionlabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 4 Smart Points, 3 Points Plus, or 2 Traditional Points

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MICHAELA ROSENTHAL
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

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Maple Frosted Pecan Spice Cupcakes

20161212_113728The temperatures have officially dropped for the year and much of the country has a dusting (or few feet) of snow on the ground. We may not have snow here in Florida but the temps have dropped enough that I still get the instinct to stay inside bundled up in blankets and make something warm to keep me cozy. This time of year I usually start making cookies as part of my Christmas cookies series with the hopes of helping those looking for ways to add a new type of cookie to the traditional holiday offerings. I promise those recipes are coming soon but I had to fulfill a wish from my 3-year-old who kept asking for cake.

20161212_113623Anyone with a toddler or preschooler knows a slice of cake is extremely messy so I typically offer cupcakes instead. This typically cuts down on the mess minus a few crumbs here and there. I chose to keep with the holiday spirit and select a cake that combines all of the aromas associated with this time of year. Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit more than cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves permeating the air with their wonderful aroma as the cake bakes. Throw on some Christmas music and voila you have holiday cheer in your house without having to make the dreaded (at least in my house) sugar cookies.

20161212_113521What takes this cake to the next level is the frosting. I will warn you this frosting is not the easiest to work with but it is totally worth the effort. The maple adds the perfect complement to the spice cake and makes it feel as if you purchased them from a fancy pastry shop. If the frosting starts to set up on you too quick add a few drops of cream or water until it reaches a spreadable consistency once more. A toasted whole pecan on top adds the finishing touch and a delightful crunch!

Maple Frosted Pecan Spice Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Spice Flavored Cake Mix (or your favorite spice cake recipe)
  • 1/3 cup Chopped Pecans; toasted
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • Dash of Salt
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 18 Whole Pecans; toasted

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Fill a 12-cup and a 6-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to box (or recipe) directions. Once batter is prepared, gently fold in the chopped pecans until just combined. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each liner ¾ full with batter. Bake cupcakes until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
  3. While the cupcakes cool prepare the frosting. In a saucepan place brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, maple syrup, butter, and salt. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring only until the sugar dissolves. Cook mixture for 3 minutes without stirring. Remove mixture from the heat and scrape into a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and beat with a hand mixer on high-speed for 2 minutes (or until mixture has cooled slightly and thickened). Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Using an offset spatula, move quickly to frost each cupcake. If the frosting sets before you have completed all of the cupcakes add a few drops of cream or water until the frosting is back to a spreadable consistency (the frosting will set faster if your cupcakes have completely cooled). Place a whole pecan on the center of each frosted cupcake. Serve.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: KATHY FARRELL-KINGSLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

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