Friday, June 29, 2012

Desserts for Dudes: Cupcakes-on-Tap...yep, beer cupakes

For the last Desserts for Dudes post this year, I'm rolling out the cupcakes.  
Cupcakes are not traditionally considered "dude food" around here. Too dainty, too swirly, too sprinkle-y. 

These, though, these are BEER cupcakes.  Beer is in the cake and the frosting.  And we don't pipe on the frosting,'s plopped.  Very manly.

To top them off: chocolate-covered pretzels.

For the beer, I used Breckenridge Brewery's Vanilla Porter.
I'll was 10:00am, and I had a few sips before using it in the recipe.  Let me just say, I know what my beverage of choice will be  tonight.  

The recipe is adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook.  As I went to put it in my Amazon cart, I noticed they provided a recipe on the page.  So, this is that recipe...adapted just a bit.

After trying it, I'm buying the book.  The cupcakes are deep, rich, and not one bit dry.  The frosting?  C'mon...BEER FROSTING?!?  It is divine. They're not overly beer-y either, just rich and delectable.


{adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook}

for the cupcakes:
12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup porter or stout beer, poured and settled before you measure
2 large eggs
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1 & 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

for the frosting & topping:
(feel free to use all butter instead of a mix of butter & shortening)

8 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
7-8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 TBSP porter or stout, poured and settled before you measure
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
Pinch kosher salt
1 & 1/2 cups coarsely chopped chocolate-covered pretzels

to make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.  Line 24 muffin cups with liners.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa until smooth.  Stir in the beer and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream until smooth.  Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until combined.
{Chocolate + Butter + Beer.  Now, tell me you don't want to bathe in that.}

Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and beat on medium speed until combined.  Scrape down the bottom and side of bowl as needed.

Divide the batter into the cups, filling about 2/3rd full.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed with a finger or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove and place on wire cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting:
Use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer and beat the butter and shortening on medium until combined and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, beer, vanilla and salt, mix on low until incorporated, then beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to dollop the frosting onto each cupcake.  Remember....these are manly piping. :)  Top with the chopped pretzels.

OK...did you make anything special for your dude this month (or last month, or this year)?

Link it up here.  No rules other than, it must be YOUR picture.  Link a blog post, instagram pic, flickr pic...whatever.  Let us see it.  No blog buttons to add or link backs here required.
(If you're reading this via email or a reader service, click on over to see and submit a link.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Red, White & Blue Star Cookie Towers

OK...these babies could not be easier, and the best part?  Four cookies in one.  Oh, yeah.

When cookie wizard Callye of The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle challenged a group of us to come up with a project using a simple star cutter, my mind went, well, two places.  ONE, to the set of graduated star cutters I had on hand, and TWO, to beautiful cookie "cakes," like these from Sweetopia.
Because of their height and the dash of disco dust, these cookie towers look like you spent many, many hours putting them together, when the truth is, they're super easy.  I like projects like that.

Let's get started.  You'll need:
  • star-shaped cookies, in 3 sizes
  • royal icing, tinted with AmeriColor Royal Blue (or Navy Blue...I mixed mine together), Super Red and Bright White
  • couplers and tips (#2 or 3)
  • disposable icing bags
  • squeeze bottles 
  • toothpicks
  • meringue powder
  • small paintbrush
  • disco dust, red or rainbow (white)

Use a #2 or #3 tip to outline the cookies. Reserve some white piping consistency icing and store in the refrigerator until the next day. 
Thin the remaining icings with water, a bit at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula, until it is the consistency of a thick syrup.  You'll want to drop a "ribbon" of icing back into the bowl and have it disappear in a count of "one thousand one, one thousand two." Four is too thick, one is too thin.  Count of 2-3 is good.  Cover with a damp dishcloth and let sit for several minutes.

Stir gently with a silicone spatula to pop and large air bubbles that have formed.  Pour into squeeze bottles.

Fill in the outlines with the thinned icing. Use a toothpick to guide to edges and pop large air bubbles.

Let the cookies dry uncovered 6-8 hours, or overnight.

The next day, mix equal amounts meringue powder with water.  Use a small paintbrush to apply the mixture to the smallest cookies.  Sprinkle on coordinating disco dust.  Shake off the excess.

{I apply this dry.  I find it easier to work with a dry cookie than one with wet icing sliding all around.  Feel free to do what works best for you.}

Apply royal icing to the back of the medium-sized cookie.  Press this onto the top of the larger cookie and let set 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, apply a small amount of royal icing to the back of one small cookie.  Press on another cookie on the back and let the cookies set for 30 minutes.

Apply a bit of royal icing to the bottom tips of the small star sets.  Press onto the cookie towers.  Let the cookies dry 30 minutes.

{If you'd like, use a small DRY paintbrush to brush away stray disco dust.  WARNING: you'll never get it all and could drive yourself crazy trying.  Not that I'm talking from personal experience or anything.}

There you have it...cookie towers!  Easy, right?

Now.  Go you must (thought I'd throw in a little Yoda for no reason) to the other girls getting their STAR on today...

  1. Strawberry Shortcake on a Stick, The Decorated Cookie
  2. Patriotic Lace Cookies , My Little Bakery
  3. Independence Day Parade Cookies, Jill FCS
  4. Old Fashioned 4th of July, Vicki’s Sweet Treats
  5. Light up the Fourth Cookies, The Partiologist
  6. Declaration of Independence Cookie, Vanilla Bean Baker
  7. Badge of Liberty Cookies, Lila Loa
  8. Red, White & Blue Star Cookie Towers, Bake at 350 (you're here!)
  9. 4th of July Firecracker Cookies, Klickitat Street
  10. Star Cut-out Cookies, Glorious Treats
  11. Cookie "Pledge", Lizy B Bakes
  12. Star-Shaped Krispie Treats, Cookies and Cups
  13. Easy Star Cupcake Toppers, Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
  14. Rustic 4th of July Galletes, Haniela's
  15. Patriotic Cookie Wreath, Sweetopia
  16. Patriotic River Rafter, Ali-Bee's Bake Shop
  17. Funny Fox Cookies, The Bearfoot Baker
  18. Quilted Cookie Stars, Cookie Crazie
  19. Gimme Your John Hancock Stars, Life's a Batch
  20. Patriotic Cookie Stir Sticks, The Cookie Artisan
  21. Patriotic Floral Stars, SweetSugarBelle

Monday, June 25, 2012

Whole-Wheat, Whole-Grain Morning Monster Cookies and an Invitation!

Last year if you would have told me that I'd write two blog posts on running, I would have laughed (and laughed, and laughed some more).

What I always said when people talked about running was that "running hurts me."  It was the truth, and also, remedied with a more substantial sports bra. *ahem*

You might have seen a post back in the spring about my first 5K.  Since then, I've kept up with the running...albeit a slight foot injury had me on the sidelines for a few weeks and this Houston humidity is surely trying to kill me.

What has kept me going is a group of girls called the Red Faced Runners.  Yep.  Here we are in our Wonder Woman socks...
{That's me, top left...can't you tell?}

LISTEN UP....we want you to run WITH US!!!  
{More in a minute...}

We're all at different levels of running, but the common denominator, besides our red faces, is that we cheer each other on.  These girls are my heart when I feel like I don't want to get out there, or I want to quit and walk home. 

We also have a fearless leader, Cindy of Once Upon a Loaf.  Cindy is a real-live RUNNING COACH...and she's over at Dara's blog, giving some invaluable advice for starting a running program and training for a 5K.

First though, Cindy was nice enough to share a few quick points here:

1. Believe in the run.
2. Believe in the rest.
3. Respect must rule all.
4. Your body is your temple.
5. Your kitchen is your place of worship.
6. Equip yourself.
7. You run.  You don't jog.
8. Get after it.
9. Spread the love.
10. Have the time of your life!

We're inviting you, challenging you (would love for you) to run WITH us the weekend of September 8th.

Pick a race in your area and let's run together!!!  (Click here to search a list of races.) can eat all of the cookies you want after the race.  (I'm not sure that's in Cindy's training plan, but it's part of mine.)

OK...let me share with you part of my running routine.  I like to run early.  Why?

A. It's cooler outside.
B. It takes me approximately 4.5 hours to dry my hair, so early gets me out of the house by noon.

Before heading out, I like to grab a quick breakfast.  I don't want to cook anything, so most mornings, I grab a Kind Bar (thank you, Teresa), but having a breakfast cookie like this already made and ready to go is even better.

I call these "Morning" Monster Cookies because they're chock-full of oats, whole-wheat flour (KA White Whole Wheat), peanut butter, and dried cherries replace the typical M&Ms.  OK...there are chocolate and butterscotch chips, too.  Sugar = energy, right?  Right.

Morning Monster Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
3 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 & 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup white whole wheat flour, King Arthur brand (all-purpose is fine)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup dried cherries

Melt the butter over low heat and set aside.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, vanilla, corn syrup, baking soda and salt.  Whisk in the melted butter.
Add the peanut butter, oats, and flour; stir until combined.  Stir in the chips and cherries until evenly distributed.  (This will give your arm a workout.)

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Drop the dough by 1/4-cupfuls onto the parchment-lined sheets.  Flatten slightly with your fingers.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then cool completely on a cooling rack.

{Based on a recipe for classic Monster Cookies from The King Arthur Cookie Companion.}

Click on over to Cookin' Canuck for more detailed tips from Cindy.  Be sure to visit the rest of the Red Faced Runners, too!

Kristen, Dine & Dish 
Robyn, Add a Pinch
Dara, Cookin' Canuck 

So, will you join us?  
{psst...join the fun on twitter using the #RFR5k hashtag.}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Desserts for Dudes: Cookie French Fries with Buttercream Ketchup

I'm not sure why the whole "Desserts for Dudes" theme has me making junk-food related cookies every year.

Beer & Hot Dogs?  Check.
Fried Chicken?  Check.

Next year, I'll have to work on bean burritos. we have cookie french fries.  Now, I may love french fries as much as my misters, but here's the difference.  When *they* eat them, the fries don't go straight to their hips.  Men.

These are so, so simple to make and, I'll be honest, both my boys (the Mr. and the kiddo) were a little blown away by them.

*Spend 2 days icing cookies that look like a super hero?  "Nice," they say.

*Spend 30 seconds cutting up cookies and sliding them into a french fry container?  "WOW! How did you DO that?" they exclaim. *sigh*

I've seen french fry cookies before...the ones that stick in my mind are Bakerella's...I mean EVERYTHING she does is fabulous.  Hers even had mini hamburgers.  The girl is a creative genius.

These are a bit different and I'll tell you why...
  1. I like fries the same way I like sugar cookies: tender.  Not floppy and definitely not crispy.  SO...I baked the cookies into squares THEN cut them once they came out of the oven. I got the idea doing this.
  2. Instead of coating these in sanding sugar, I sprinkled them with just a *bit* of sea salt before I popped them in the oven.  I love the whole salty/sweet thing. 
To cut the cookies (I used my go-to recipe), simply remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on the tray about 1-2 minutes.  Use a bench scraper or a thin cookie spatula to cut the cookies into strips.  Either cut on the diagonal, or cut straight, then lop off the ends on a diagonal.
Use a thin spatula to remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

As for the ketchup buttercream...(can we all just agree it's "KETCHUP," not "CATSUP?" That always creeps me out)...I halved Shelly's famous buttercream recipe, adding 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and AmeriColor Super Red food coloring.

For the containers?  I just walked into McDonald's and asked if I could buy some of their small french fry containers without the fries.  Kiddo waited in the car...waaay too embarrassing, but the McDonald's manager didn't bat an eye.  Plus, they gave them to me for free.  Bonus!!!

 {That caption is for you, AJ.}

Do your dudes dig fries?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Savory Sweet Life...simply delicious

{Blackberry & Peach Crisp ala Savory Sweet Life}

You may already know Alica Currah of the blog, Savory Sweet Life.  Alice is one of those bloggers with whom you instantly feel a connection.  I'm not sure if it's her recipes, or her pictures, or her writing, or just her down-to-earthy-ness (it's a word, look it up).

Anyway....Alice has cookbook which was recently released (I'm guessing the first of many), and I think you'll love it as much as I do.  See that crisp up there?  That's from the book.  You need it.
Alice's book is called Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion.  And well, the title sums up the book pretty completely.  Divided into sections, the book is filled with recipe inspiration for everything from Christmas Morning to a Tween Birthday Bash.

Kiddo already has his eye on this...

And, sigh....this is calling my name...

You KNOW this is on the "must make" list...

It IS called SAVORY Sweet Life; you know desserts are always first in my mind.  Once the weather cools, though, I am *so* making this...

Isn't the photography beautiful?  Alice took the pictures, too.  That cover photo immediately drew me in.

I made the Alice's Blackberry Crisp (adding peaches as she suggests for a variation) for Father's Day, and oh baby, is it amazing! 

Savory Sweet bookstores now! :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Key Lime Cake Truffles...and Do-overs

Do you ever wish you could have a do-over?
Take a few of mine for example.  Let's see, I would like a do-over of:

  • bangs from the 80s.  The bangs my friend (a male friend, mind you) referred to as the "mall claw."
  • ...the time when I was about 19 and rear-ended the car in front of me at a stoplight because a boy driving a car in the next lane was smiling at me.
  • 3rd grade, when a plant sitting on a windowsill got stuck in my hair as I walked by and, yes, dumped *soil first* onto my head.

Oh, I have more.

When Frigidaire and Foodbuzz asked a few of us if there was something we'd like to do-over, you can see, I had plenty to choose from.  Frigidaire is asking you to share your do-over story on their Facebook pageFor each story shared, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children and one person will win the "ultimate do-over."  
{I wonder if they could transport me back to the 80s for those updated bangs?}

I decided that I'd really like a do-over of  making cake balls, or truffles.  I've made them many times, but they're never round, smooth, or perfect enough for me.

Well, in December I was in the presence of know, Bakerella?  Although time didn't permit her to do a full demonstration, I actually witnessed her ROLL a cake ball.  I figured...I was in the presence of greatness, some was bound to rub off on me.

So, I made Key Lime Cake Truffles.

Yes, they are smoother than my first.  Yes, they are yummy.

No, they are not perfect.

PS...don't mail order candy melts to be shipped to Texas in June.  Just don't.
{Another do-over.}

Key Lime Cake for Truffles

1 (18.25 oz) lemon cake mix
1 (3 oz) package lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
1 & 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 TBSP Key Lime extract

Preheat oven to 325 (350 for glass pan); grease a 13 x 9" pan and set aside.

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low until combined.

Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 33-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely before crumbling the cake, rolling and coating.

To make the cake truffles, crumble the cake in a large bowl.  Stir 1/2 teaspoon Key Lime extract into a container of cream cheese icing.  Stir 3/4 of the icing into the crumbled cake.  Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet.  Chill the rolled balls in the refrigerator for several hours. 

Melt the candy melts or almond bark as directed on the package. Thin with a bit of oil or Crisco if necessary.  Dip the cake into the melted coating and cover completely.  Sprinkle immediately with graham cracker crumbs.

Let dry on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
This post was sponsored by Frigidaire. When you share your own do-over moment at, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children's U.S. programs. Plus, Frigidaire will help cover the costs for one lucky visitor to win the ultimate do-over.

What would YOU do-over?