Friday, May 25, 2012

Mango Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Each month, we get an order from the Community Co-Op. Even though we always give it a good try, it's been known to happen in our home for the fruits and vegetables to sit on the counter or in the fridge until they go bad and have to be thrown out. Quite often the reason is we receive some sort of fruit or vegetable we have no idea what to do with. Take last month, for example, where we received a bunch of leeks. What do you do with those? I think the only time I've ever had leeks was when it was served with something I had ordered in a restaurant. So, Katie went searching for recipes and found a really good leek and cauliflower soup. We've discovered something new.

This gave me an idea. I've given myself the challenge to try and use something each month from our co-op order in a recipe and post it here.

Last week, we received a bunch of mangoes. The only time I have had mangoes was in a mango lassi (a sort of Indian smoothie). Our fourteen year-old, Liam, is the smoothie maker of the family. Maybe I'll have him someday do a guest post on either mago lassis or one of his many creative flavor creations. 

I, however, wanted to use the mangoes in something else. As it turns out, there was another birthday at the office—perfect opportunity to try a new dessert. Caving into pressure to join the cupcake craze, I chose to try out mango cupcakes. 

Happy Birthday, Julie Anne!

The hardest thing about the cupcakes is cutting up the mangoes. I learned how from this guy here. Everyone at the office loved the cupcakes. The mango flavor is really nice, and the cupcakes were very moist. The cream cheese frosting was a perfect compliment. I flavored it with vanilla extract, but if you want to go with a Caribbean theme, I think rum extract would work well.

The cupcakes did stick to the paper liners a bit. I think next time I'll try spraying the liners with a cooking spray.
All in all, this turned out to be a keeper recipe, and I tried something new with mangoes. I'm excited to see what we get in our next co-op order. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Battenburg Cake

Ever since Katie, Chloe and Liam had the opportunity to visit London last summer, we've been a little obsessed with all things English—from Chloe being in love with all the members of the boy band, One Direction, to Katie reading London travel guides and watching QI, to me becoming addicted to all the BBC shows on Masterpiece Theater. And, we can't wait till the London Olympics begin. We will watch every minute of it including sports I totally hate (weight lifting and boxing) or completely don't get (rhythmic gymnastics and dressage).

Each year for our Christmas Eve dinner, we eat dishes from another country. This year, we had a British feast. I made a Battenburg Cake for dessert. Now, as far as I know, this is not a typical Christmas dessert in England, but you can read the story of how we came to love this cake here. Sorry it's taken nearly five months to post this. Better late than never, I guess.

This cake was so amazing, I'm sure I'll make it again during the Olympics. In fact, I think I'll spread the spirit of the Olympic by trying and sharing lots of new recipes from across the pond. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle

We've been making this recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle for a long time. In fact, I think we clipped it from a magazine back during our innkeeper days over fifteen years ago. The bed-and-breakfast inn where we worked had a British Isles theme, and to me, trifle is very British. We love this recipe because it's a real show-stopper, it feeds a lot, and it's incredibly easy to make. If you don't have time to make your own pound cake, just pick up a loaf of Sara Lee's at the store. I promise no one will know.

I'm always surprised, however, how many people here in the States have never seen or heard of a trifle. When I made this one for the office recently, there was maybe only one in the group who knew what it was. I think this needs to change, and I'm willing to do my part to spread the love of trifle. I think I might try making more this summer. Just imagine the endless cake, fruit and flavor combinations.

The trifle always looks spectacular, and everyone thinks you spent hours. They're also afraid to be the first to dig into it. I say to just take a big spoon and go for it—like ripping off a band aid. It's so good the bowl will be empty soon anyway.

Of course, this was for another birthday at work. But, we were celebrating a few months early. Andrew's birthday is in July. I, too, have a summer birthday, and I know what it's like to never be able to celebrate your birthday with all your friends during the school year. I also never liked it when my elementary school teacher would lump celebrating all the summer birthdays onto one day. It's not really the same. Since most of the students, including Andrew will be gone for the summer, we chose a day in April to be Andrew's special day.

Happy early birthday, Andrew! I'll try and remember to send you a birthday greeting on your real birthday. Or, if you happen to be in town, let me know. It never takes much convincing for me to make something to bring into the office. I've seriously got some wild and crazy trifle ideas I'd love to give a try.

And look, they match!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Peach Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Two posts in two days?

You better believe I am serious about getting caught up. (especially when it means I get to watch the season 2 premier of Sherlock if I reach my goal)

This cake may look just like the one in the previous post. But, the only similarity is that they both come from the same book, All Cakes Considered. I'm definitely a fan of this book.

I've never had a peach cake, and this sounded really good. And topping it off with a cream cheese frosting enhanced with a dash of ginger made it sound amazing. However, since I was still on my no-sugar kick for Lent, I was just going to have to go on faith.

The occasion for the cake was a lost bet. Or maybe it would be better to say it was a reward for an accomplished goal. To make a long story short and not bore your with the details, the two young ladies below, Erika and Megan, said they could complete a task related to one of our events at work that has traditionally taken weeks for students to accomplish. They said they could do it in four days. I didn't really think it was possible, but I didn't want to squash their enthusiasm, so I offered a cake as a reward. When I got a text informing me they were able to check that assignment off their list, I congratulated them and asked when they wanted their cake. The day they chose just happened to be Megan's birthday. There you have it—two birds with one stone cake.

Well done Erika and Megan!
The cake was a huge hit with everyone. Katie even came by the office to try it. She said the cake is a definite favorite. In addition to the frosting, she loves the cake texture and the flavor of the peaches. I look forward to making this again when I'm not off sugar.

I apologize for the picture above. The cakes I make for the office are usually finished right before I rush out the door to work. I never get a chance to set up a proper photo. Oh well, I think you can still get the idea.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sour Cream Spice Cake with Orange Butter Frosting

I've have sadly neglected this blog. I know, I should be reported for blog abuse.

I've been baking though, and I've been taking photos of my culinary creations. However, I just haven't sat down at the computer to write up the posts.  And once I got behind, I began feeling guilty. And, the recipes kept piling up. I'd look at the computer and think about writing, but then I'd feel overwhelmed. It turned into vicious cycle. It was much easier, and frankly more enjoyable, to go watch Masterpiece Theater than blog. I got hooked (like practically everyone I know) on Downton Abby, I watched all of Little Dorrit and Great Expectations, and I was glued to season one of Sherlock.

Well, I have a bit of free time this evening, I am determined to get one recipe posted. To get the others finished, I've made the goal of getting caught up before season two of Sherlock airs this Sunday. Let me tell you that is motivation enough for me. We've been waiting so long for season two. They left us with such a cliff hanger, and the guy playing Moriarty is creepy beyond belief.

So, among the recipes I have to post are several birthday cakes. Here is one I made for my student Taylor, whose birthday was months ago. I got the recipe for spice cake with orange butter frosting from one of my new favorite cookbooks, All Cakes Considered. At the time, I couldn't try it because I had given up sugar for Lent. However, the smell was incredible, and everyone's reactions proved to me this cake is a winner. Now that Lent is over, I'm looking forward to making this cake again (and there goes the 10 lbs. I lost, too).

Happy Birthday, Taylor!
It was a serious temptation not to take even a little taste of this frosting it looked so good. I had to quickly give the boys the beaters to lick and rinse the bowl and get it into the dishwasher before I lost all self control.