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

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

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Skinny Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cake

pumpkin3Happy Halloween everyone! As today comes and goes Thanksgiving will approach soon thereafter, with pumpkin being the favorite flavor to represent the season. Pumpkin pie may be the go to classic but pumpkin cake is a close runner up. What is not to love about a moist, fluffy cake flavored with delicious pumpkin and warm, comforting spices??? I certainly can’t think of anything! Then you add the rich layer of cream cheese frosting that not only creates an adored classic combination but it also locks in the cake’s moisture for days. At this point it shouldn’t take much convincing to get any pumpkin lover to give this recipe a go.

pumpkincake1However, if flavor and texture are not enough to convince you to try this cake the ease itself should persuade you. A sheet cake is the easiest type of cake to make and it can feed a lot of people (both essential perks for the holiday baker). Simply prepare the batter, spread into the pan, and bake. Once the cake cools you spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on top and cut into squares to serve. There is no trimming or chilling layers or preparing huge batches of frosting, making this cake the perfect addition to the holiday table or as a quick treat to whip up for a work, school, or church function.

Pumpkincake2If having said all of that still wasn’t enough convincing, how about the fact that this cake is a much lighter version of all its competitors. Traditional pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting run well over 350 calories per slice and triple the amount of fat content found in this recipe. The cake is easily made lighter by swapping traditional all-purpose flour with whole-wheat while organic light brown sugar stands in for the typical refined version. The cream cheese frosting is lightened up with the use of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, minimal butter, and organic powdered sugar that again stands in for the refined alternative. This cake is a much lighter and welcoming change from the traditional pumpkin pie and will yield approximately 24 servings (1 square). If you are following Weight Watchers, one square of cake is equal to 3 Points or 5 Points Plus.

Skinny Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cake

Cake Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. Whole-Wheat Flour (approximately 2¼ cups)
  • 2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Organic Brown Sugar (such as Wholesome’s); packed
  • ¼ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin Puree
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray (Olive Oil)

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. 1/3 less fat Cream Cheese (Neufchatel); softened
  • 2 cups Organic Powdered Sugar (such as Wholesome’s); sifted

Formula:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the cake, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pie spice, and salt in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk until just incorporated.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl) combine the brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until incorporated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Gently fold in the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan, making sure to smooth out well as it will not smooth itself while baking. Bake the cake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.
  5. While the cake cools, prepare the frosting by combining the butter, vanilla, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or medium bowl). Beat the mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until mixture is smooth and well combined. Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Square)

PumpkinCakeCreamCheeseFrostingWeight Watchers: 3 Points or 5 Points Plus

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: TRISHA KRUSE
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2015

Carrot Cupcakes

Spring is officially here. The plants are in full bloom, spring breakers are flooding the area, and the Easter holiday is just around the corner. I must say I do love the smell of Orange Blossoms in full bloom, which scents the air of citrus when I walk out my door. It is most definitely the best perk of living outside the city and near the orange groves. The thing I hate most about spring happens to be the spring breaker tourists, which remind me of the long few months ahead of tourists. I shouldn’t much complain about tourists I suppose, as they do keep me busy in business equaling  more hours and a larger paycheck. However I can’t get myself to like the onslaught of invaders crowding the Florida roadways with maps on the steering wheel driving twenty miles under the speed limit looking for the nearest Disney World signs and causing me to leave for work and school hours in advance just to get anywhere on time. Perhaps the best part of spring is Easter as I love all holidays. I love the food, I love the cute Easter bunny toys and bags and chocolates. It is with the Easter bunny in mind that this cupcake has come about. What better way to lure the Easter bunny to your home then with his favorite food inside it… the carrot. Carrot Cake is traditionally…well a cake cut into squares and covered in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. But in order to make it more accessible for mom or dad err I mean the Easter Bunny to eat on the go after hiding countless Easter eggs and baskets around the house, I present to you the Carrot Cupcake.

These little Easter delights are a mouthful of moist and richly spiced cake with a fluffy sweet cream cheese frosting. The Easter bunny would never know these cupcake versions of the 1970’s cake fad were once considered health food as they are so deliciously satisfying as a junk food treat. By adding chopped walnuts and raisins, they are also more interesting and a bit more eclectic when put against the traditional cake. Even though the Carrot Cupcakes are reminiscent of a bake sale offering for children they are most definitely a grown up treat. So to all the Easter Bunnies out there this year…enjoy a treat designed just for you!!!

Carrot Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup Flour
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • ¾ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ # Carrots, peeled and grated/processed
  • ½ cup Raisins, chopped
  • ½ cup Walnuts, toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350°. Line a standard sized muffin tin with cupcake liners. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the muffin tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Once cool frost cakes with a thick and even layer of cream cheese frosting (formula follows).

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened but slightly cool
  • 1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened, cut into pieces
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract

Formula:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar together until it appears light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese one piece at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition (you should have about four pieces). Add the vanilla and mix gently until no lumps remain.
  2. Using an offset spatula, gently spread a thick layer of frosting over the cooled cupcakes.

Special Thanks To:

Keri Fisher

Peter Mendoros – Photography


All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Happy Tuesday everyone. Sorry for the momentary disappearance from my blogging recently but I have just acquired a new job and have been dedicated to learning my training. Let me tell you it took too much out of me and whenever I would come home it was way too much to even think about looking at a computer screen, let alone writing all night. So on my day off, my gift to you is a post on Pumpkin Spice cupcakes. My mood was feeling simplistic and this is the result. It probably would have been better to post this around Halloween or Thanksgiving perhaps…well at least the fall season, but of course me the procrastinator waited until almost Spring! Oh well, as the saying goes better late then never.

 So to start these simple Pumpkin inspired cupcakes, you can do one of two things based upon your skill level or your alotted time needed. You can either make the cupcake batter from scratch or you can buy a boxed spice cake mix and build on it from there. I suggest for the best results to make the batter from scratch but as always sometimes we have short notices and we all have lives and it is often hard to spare enough time for kitchen matters. Completely understandable. Regardless they will turn out delicious, impressive, and best of all… simple. If you choose to make the spice cake batter from scratch you will need a handful of spices on hand. For the most important spice, Cinnamon, I chose to use a certain variety for in this formula.

Although it is not required that you use China Cassia or Ceylon Cinnamon as I did, I do recommend using either as it does add an exoticism to the flavor of the cupcake. Some of the other spices you will need is Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. This combination of spices provides a perfect compliment to the Pumpkin and gives rich flavor to the cupcakes without overpowering the pumpkin flavor, only enhancing. Keeping in mind not to overpower the pumpkin or spice flavoring of the cake itself, I chose a Simple Buttercream formula for the frosting, flavored only with a hint of vanilla as not to detract from the cake but rather enhance it with a smooth creaminess up top. With the theme of pumpkin in mind, the frosting is tinted orange. For this I used Wilton’s Orange dye to achieve a light pastel orange that remains soft and elegant on the eye. You don’t want it to be the actual color of the pumpkin which is much darker and brighter as it will take away from the sheer elegance and look more like a store bought kid’s party cupcake, which is fine for your child’s birthday but for this particular formula we want adult, classy cupcakes here 🙂 One the pastel orange color is mixed, grab your decorator’s bag and a star tip (I used #843). You can choose to decorate the tops in any way that you wish however. I have provided you two simple examples. The first and perhaps easiest is simply piping the typical swirl topping around the entire surface of the cupcake. I did two sweeps around to give height to the cupcake then topped it with some prepared nut topping anyone can find in your local supermarket near the packaged nuts of your baking aisle or near the ice cream toppings. The other option is to use a small star tip and gently press down and lift to create mini stars across the entire surface of the cupcake. These look fancy but are extremely simple to create. I suggest you do some of both to add contrast to your presentation. Now for those who do not like pumpkin, you can also leave out the pumpkin puree and solely have a spice cake. Both are delicious!!!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

*Cake*

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix or the following…
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ginger
  • ¼ tsp. Allspice
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. Mace
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened/room temperature
  • 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin Puree

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350°. Line two 12-count cupcake pans with paper liners. Grease lightly with cooking spray. In a bowl, either prepare the spice cake mix according to package directions, stopping before proceeding to the step asking you to fill the cupcake tin with batter…or sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and mace together. 
  2. In another bowl, mix together the sugars, butter, and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. If using the homemade version or the box mix, be sure to add the pumpkin puree now. If making a spice cake without pumpkin, proceed to step 3. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until combined and smooth.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each no more than halfway. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, being sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Prepare the buttercream frosting.

*Buttercream Frosting*

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Vegetable Shortening
  • ½ cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. Milk

Formula:

  1. In a bowl, cream the shortening and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla. Gradually add the sifted Confectioners’ sugar until all sugar is added and combined. The mixture will appear dry. Add milk and whisk well until smooth and creamy. Add a few drops of orange food color until desired pastel color is achieved.
  2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large or small star tip. Pipe along the top of the cooled pumpkin spice cupcakes in a circular motion, building up a round height or gently press down and gently pull up and away creating mini stars all across the surface. If not piping the mini stars, sprinkle some nut topping or your favorite chopped nuts on top. Serve.

Special Thanks To:

Peter Mendoros – Photography


All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012

Sugar & Spice Apple Turnovers

In most areas of the country, the leaves have fallen, temperatures feel closer to winter, and most importantly, the orchards have been cleared of their fruit before the frost and measurable snow sweeps in. Perhaps the two most significant fruits which remind me of fall are the apple and orange. Having already covered oranges in my previous post, I move on to apples. Since it is the holidays and time is certainly limited for all, finding a formula which is quick and simple to make is dire. These apple turnovers are sure to please with their comforting sweetness, warming spice, and short preparation time.

Although I enjoy the better flavor and texture of homemade puff pastry, who honestly has the time or patience these days to do such a laborous task. Certainly not I!!! For those never have attempted making homemade puff pastry, I will give you a word of wisdom. For the average home baker, the frozen stuff is just as good 😉 I say this because I have personally done the homemade version of puff pastry in my Bread’s class at Le Cordon Bleu, and I know what goes into this process. Believe me, it is not fun. Of course once those turnovers come out of the oven they certainly are worthwhile having known the process it took to get to that point but then you forgo your waistline as you feel compelled to eat every last one of those suckers knowing you worked so hard at them. Up you go 10 pounds like that. I will describe the process of making homemade puff pastry so those who have no idea what I’m talking about can get a better understanding of its complexity. First step of the process is to mix up your dough. Next it is rolled thin and into a large rectangle then spread with heaping amounts of butter. *Another quick word of wisdom…if you make this homemade you will never want to eat a turnover again because the amounts of butter which go into puff pastry can be nauseating. Continuing on with the process, the dough is folded over itself to cover the dough. This is called the puff pastries first turn. There need to be at least four turns in this process before you can move on to cutting the shapes for turnovers and after each turn the dough must rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. It is a time consuming and especially aggravating process when your dough decides to tear on the last turn exposing your butter pack in the center as did mine in class. That is why I choose use the trusty and reliable frozen puff pastry from Pepperidge Farm for this formula.

So with all of that said, we will begin this formula by thawing our frozen puff pastry sheets. Besides, even the greatest pastry chefs take shortcuts sometimes. It’s nonsense to believe they don’t. Bakery profits can double with little tricks such as these. Another trick of this formula is making use of all the apple has to offer. Not only will I use the apple for the filling, but also the juice it excretes. Less waste = more profits for businesses and the better the home cook feels about baking at home more often. It is important when buying apples to select a variety which can hold up to the harsh heat without turning to mush. The best choice for this formula is Granny Smith Apples. This variety is firm enough to hold it’s shape and also provides a tartness which compliments the sweetness added later. Now that we have the correct apple variety, let’s make sure it’s prepared properly. If left sliced, the apple would not cook all the way through before the puff pastry would essentially burn. Well unless the apple is sliced extremely thin but who has the patience or fingers to spare??? I certainly don’t and refuse to subject my stubby yet precious fingers to knicks with each knife slice trying to achieve such a silly feat. So instead the food processor is yet again a trusty reliable friend. With a few pulses, the apples come out a rough small dice. The perfect size for filling to give that slight crispness we love about apples but also making sure they soften in the short cooking time.

Once the apples are chopped, it is important to strain them for a few minutes. This rids the filling of excess juice which would make the filling runny and the puff pastry soggy. Both no good. And don’t throw out that excess juice. We will need it later. Make use of anything and everything. Remember the pastry chef can make or break a restaurant. Same applies to a household. Can make or break you. If it breaks you to bake at home you wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. So conserve and get creative. That juice will be our glue to hold the turnovers together and be a low-fat alternative to spread on the top for color, flavor and again glue for the sugar and spice topping as opposed to the typical choice of butter/margarine. Now apples alone wasn’t going to cut it for the sole component of the filling, especially in their smaller state. The ultimate staple I use for toast came in handy for this formula. It gives the apples a much desired flavor boost and brings all the pieces together into a thick and delightful filling. What is this secret ingredient you ask??? Why Apple butter of course. But as always if you don’t have apple butter on hand as I do or it’s difficult to find at your local grocer, you can certainly use applesauce as a suitable substitute. If using applesauce I prefer the spiced variety over plain. It will usually state on the box somewhere that it contains cinnamon. Musselmanns being my preferred brand although any will give great results.

*A few quick notes before I present the formula: If you don’t have a food processor, don’t result to slicing the apples or chopping them by hand. Run them across the coarse side of a grater. The recipe can easily be doubled or cut in half for your desired amount. If you need to make these ahead of time, go ahead and follow the formula as directed, filling the puff pastry, folding them over and freezing them on a baking sheet. Once completely frozen you can transfer them to a more space friendly airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored up to 1 month. When ready to bake, thaw the turnovers at room temperature for about 20 minutes then proceed with the formula.

Sugar & Spice Apple Turnovers

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Ground Cloves
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples; peeled, cored, & chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 cup Apple Butter
  • 1 pkg. (2 sheets) Frozen Puff Pastry; thawed
  • All-Purpose Flour; For dusting

Procedure:

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle & lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  2. Pulse the apples, remaining sugar, lemon juice, and salt in food processor until roughly chopped. Set a fine mesh sieve/strainer over a small bowl. Place apple mixture in sieve. Allow the apple mixture to rest/strain for 5 minutes in sieve. Reserve juice. Transfer apple mixture to a bowl and stir in apple butter.
  3. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 10 in. square. Cut the dough into four 5-inch squares. Fill each turnover with strained apple mixture. Brush the edges of each turnover with the reserved apple juice, then fold and crimp edges with a fork to seal. Place turnovers on a plate and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining sheet of puff pastry and apple filling.
  4. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Before transferring turnovers from the plate, brush the tops with reserved apple juice and sprinkle with cinnamon spiced sugar. Place turnovers on sheet pan and bake until evenly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time to prevent oven hotspots and promote even baking. Transfer finished turnovers to a cooling rack and allow to cool slightly. Turnovers are best served warm but can be eaten at room temperature as well.

Special Thanks to: Peter Mendoros & Jeremy Sauer

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011