Monday, August 30, 2010

Does anyone know if they make red velvet cupcake perfume?

Because I need it. I would be totally happy if I could smell like these every day for the rest of my life.

First and foremost, I would like to give a big boohiss to my husband's job that has taken him away to Texas until Thursday. Without him, leftover cupcakes are going to sit in my kitchen and I am going to have to dial up all the willpower I have to not continuously cram them into my face. This recipe made 3 dozen cupcakes, you guys. That is exactly 2 and a half dozen more than will probably be eaten at the office today. I'm in big trouble.

So what can I say about red velvet cupcakes besides the fact that I want to wear them as perfume? They are my favorite kind of cake (hence why I picked them as an option when I lost the meringue challenge). And cream cheese icing rocks.

When I started looking into different recipes though, I was somewhat appalled by how much oil some of them used. (I'm looking at YOU, Paula Deen.) That's when I came upon the absolutely most perfect cupcake for me. Not only because oil was out entirely, but because the recipe is said to be from the famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC.

Okay I have no idea why that would make it any more perfect for me. Maybe because I used my superior Google skills to find it? Whatever.

Super Special Secret Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes on the DL

Courtesy of some blogger that rocks for putting it online.

Yield: I just told you. My ass is going to be enormous if someone doesn't take some of these home.

Ingredients for the cake:
3 ⅓ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and lightly flour three muffin tins. Place cupcake papers in the tins.
  3. Sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  5. Whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
  6. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. Beat until each addition is fully incorporated.
  7. Stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. It will foam up just like in middle school science class and if you are anything like me, it will make you laugh like a moron. Add and mix well until the batter is smooth.
  8. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake each tray for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
And now the frosting:
1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

The original recipe calls for 5 cups of sugar, but I thought that was kind of overkill. Plus I like my cream cheese icing to taste a little like cream cheese.
  1. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla and beat well.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy.
  4. Cover and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.
  5. Put icing in pastry bag and then proceed to get it all over self, counter, floor, cats, and anything else that might be within a 15 foot radius.
I'm not joking. I have never destroyed my kitchen so thoroughly as I did making these cupcakes. I love them though. Please, someone take some. Please.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Must Give a Big, Public Thank You... my absolutely wonderful, perfect husband. Without him, this crazy weekend of baking madness could have never taken place. So, before getting into of the yummy details behind this week's recipe, I would like to first and foremost thank my husband for the massive amount of help and support he gave me this weekend so I could bake 2 cakes, celebrate a plethora of birthdays, and create this round of cupcakes. LOVE YOU!! XOXO!!

Okay, now on to one of my most favorite desserts ever, Red Velvet! This week, I could have taken the easy way out and used the same recipe for all of my baking, but thought I might try my own personal Red Velvet throwdown. I made a cake by Bobby Flay this weekend and loved the flavor of the cake and the icing was not a typical cream cheese icing, but a cream icing. That icing tasted great and was actually textured (probably because I did something wrong), but still tasted fantastic. I highly recommend anyone try it. Here is the recipe. For anyone into decorating, this icing is much easier to work with than any cream cheese icing, so if you've got some crazy decorating job or prefer your cakes to hold up more than 5 minutes outside of the arctic, I say go for this icing.

For these cupcakes, however, I tried Paula Deen. This chick can seriously bake. Anyway, I think I liked the icing from these better than Bobby's, plus that icing was waaaay quicker and easier to make. Perfect for cupcakes. As for decorating, it's a typical cream cheese icing that must be refrigerated as you go because simple hand heat will completely melt this. But, I think the flavor is FANTASTIC!!! The cupcakes require a lot more oil, y'all, than I'm used to, but I figured the closer you are to a heart attack, the better they probably taste. :)

Paula Deen's Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe Courtesy Paula Deen, 2007

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 24 Cupcakes

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1.5 cups vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 lb. cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. sifted confectioner's sugar
Chopped pecans & fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish (Note: I omitted this step)

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld elextric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in the oven for about 20-22 minutes, turning the pans once halfway through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Icing:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.

Cook's Note: Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pie it on with a big star tip.

Happy Baking!!
The way to a man's heart is undoubtedly through his tastebuds.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Red Velvet Cupcakes!!

Thanks to all who voted. Stay tuned till Monday when Sugar & Salt throwdown with some cute, red little treats. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And the Voting Starts...NOW

... voting has officially begun on the Sugar & Salt Throwdown. As Salt has forfeited this week, she had full rights to choosing three yummy dishes that you, our beloved followers, can vote on for us to make in two weeks (see below).

Salt's choices are (drumroll, please):
a. Red Velvet Cupcakes
b. Snickerdoodle Cookies
c. Key Lime Pie

Please vote on the handy-dandy poll to the right. We are also opening up voting on our Facebook page.

Emeril's Forgotten Kisses Meringues earned Sugar an overall score of 4 Yums!

I would like to state for the record, that Salt's meringues taste AWESOME!! I could not stop eating them. Although the texture wasn't that of a meringue, the flavor was fantastic and she probably would have kicked my butt had they firmed up. I'm not even a mint fan, but I loved her peppermint meringues, so I highly recommend everyone try them.

Now, for the sad news, we will be taking next weekend off as a bye week to prep for football season. No..not really, but we will be taking off because Salt has some awesome family events that she must attend to and Sugar will be attempting to hit a golf ball without taking someone's eye out. For that reason, the voting will close on Friday, August 27 for our next bake-off on August 30. This gives each of you 2 whole weeks to vote like crazy on the culinary concoction of your choice. Happy voting!!

In the meantime, if we discover any more tips, tricks, or failures from baking land we'll be sure to keep you posted.


Yeah...don't try this at home....

I'm swamped right now. At work and in life. So when I had to pick what we made this past week, I wanted to do something that I had made (successfully) before and also something that I could lazily copy/paste directly out of my personal blog. Smart right? It always worked for art history papers in college.

Well it didn't work out so well for me this time. I ended up forfeiting this weeks challenge because my meringues fell flat. Like literally. They were like little pancakes. The flavor was VERY good, but I just don't think I left them in the oven for long enough. Lesson learned...moving right along.

Here's the recipe, but pay no attention to the baking times. In fact, I'm not even going to post baking times. Refer to Sugar's recipe if you want baking times because hers came out crispy just like these things are supposed to.

Mint Madness Meringues
by: Me. I take full responsibility for this crap.

What you need:
4 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (I had no idea what this was…you can find it in the spice section at your local grocery)
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup of semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels
Peppermint extract

First of all, you want to separate your eggs. Pour your newly separated egg whites into a mixing bowl and combine it with the salt and cream of tartar. Beat “until soft peaks form”.

Add a little bit of the peppermint extract. Caution: This stuff is STRONG. You don’t need very much. And if you get it on your hand, you will smell like peppermint for the rest of the evening, regardless of how many times you wash your hands or take a shower.

Finally, gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Grease cookie sheets and drop tablespoon-ish sized dollops of this mix onto them. Now refer to Sugar's post about how long to bake these bad boys because mine were seriously underdone. Delicious, but underdone.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This May Be My New Diet Cookie....

Well, I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of meringues in the world. I've made some lemon meringues the past few Christmases, and maybe ate annoyed that it got stuck in my teeth, and then stopped eating them for another 12 months. So, my expertise in the meringue genre is limited and I actually didn't realize the possibilities that existed until I searched for recipes.

I chose for this week, Emeril Lagasse's Meringue Cookies ("Forgotten Kisses"). They are a vanilla meringue with chocolate chips. And, after kicking myself for putting nuts in the brownies last time, I omitted the walnuts in this recipe so I could partake in some taste testing this week.

The meringue batter tasted like marshmallow before baking, so that was a little surprising. However, I tasted one of the little cookies after 2 hours in the oven and it was like a diet little chocolate chip cookie.

Meringue Cookies ("Forgotten Kisses")

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
30 min
Cook Time:
2 hr 0 min
about 4 dozen cookies


  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or finely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until fluffy but not at all dry. (Be careful not to over beat.) Add the sugar gradually, about 3 tablespoons at a time. When 1/2 of the sugar has been added, add the vanilla extract. Continue beating and adding remaining sugar in batches, until all of the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is very shiny and tight. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Working one teaspoon at a time, push a teaspoonful of meringue from the tip of 1 teaspoon with the back of another teaspoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between cookies. Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and turn the oven off. Leave the cookies (undisturbed) in the oven for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, or until cookies are crisp and dry.

Happy Baking!!



The way to a man’s heart is undoubtedly through his taste buds.

Oh - Big PS. DO NOT use egg whites in a carton. They will not fluff up the same way fresh egg whites will.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meringue Monday!!

Salt has requested that since she is such a great baker that she's really not had the opportunity to choose our treat for next week that she choose meringues for next week's throwdown and voting begin next week. This is also due to her deep craving for meringues. So, on Monday we shall bring you these little sweet treats.

The flavor of meringues is completely in the air, so this will be an interesting throwdown as there could be 2 totally different meringue recipes competing against each other.

(Image Courtesy of McCormick)

On a side note - Sugar's rating for Guy Fieri's [Not So] Craisy Oatmeal cookies was a 4.6. This is with scientific accuracy and a grand total of 3 voters (our whole office was on vacation last week and the cookies were gone by the end of the day Monday).

What flavor meringues do you suggest for us?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 9, 2010

So This Guy Walks Into Rosemary, A Coconut...

...and puts it in his oatmeal cookies. Since Salt is away this week, I've decided to make the oatmeal cookies I probably should have made two weeks ago instead of the eh, so-so ones I threw together before vacation. This week I made Guy Fieri's [Not So] Craisy Oatmeal Cookies, without the dried cranberries. The recipe was actually really easy to make. I just love how he threw the coconut in the cookies to make them extra-moist, but the thing that really threw me was the rosemary. Yes, rosemary. I was a little leery at first, but the cookies turned out pretty good.

So, here's the recipe. Please make it and let us know how you like them. Also, get your voting minds ready for Salt's return so you can vote on what we make next week.

Guy Fieri's Craisy Oatmeal Cookies

(Not So Craisy when Sugar Made Them)
Copyright 2010 Guy Fieri, Food Network


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I added a little extra)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (Omitted by Sugar)
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, soda, powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a mixer. Mix in honey and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in coconut, dried cranberries, oats and rosemary. Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture. Form into balls, approximately 2 tablespoons. Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake until cookies turn golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Let sit 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!!



The way to a man’s heart is undoubtedly through his taste buds.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Results Are In, But Salt Is Not. :(

Sorry for the lack of graphics on our results post, but Salt is out on her vacation this week and without her mad graphic design skills, I'm kind of lost. But, anywhoo, here are the results of our brownie bake-off.

Salt: 3.6 Yums
Sugar: 4.4 Yums

Sugar gets her first win!! Yay. So, now we have a change in our Throwdown that will interest all 47 of our loyal followers. Salt will be choosing 3 things that she wants to make for the next Throwdown. We will post her choices as a poll next week and our followers will get to vote on what we make next. :) When she returns from getting tan and relaxing, the official ballot will be posted for you.

As for this week, since Salt is out I've decided to go with the Guy Fieri oatmeal cookie recipe and have it judged to make up for my baking sin from last week. We'll see how this one goes over. The recipe will be posted on Monday and results on Wednesday. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And mine were butterscotch!

My brain has been a total mess of work and vacation preparations this week, so I apologize that I forgot to write out my recipe. Let's just say that I already know I did not win, but my brownies were still pretty good. If you love butterscotch (which some people do and some people don' husband happens to like it very much which is why I went in this direction) I can pretty much assure you that you will enjoy these.

Plus they are a cinch to make, which made me enjoy them even more.

They are adapted from a Nestlé recipe.

Yield: 2 dozen brownies
1 cup (6-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup (6-oz. pkg.) butterscotch morsels
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Melt semi-sweet morsels in a saucepan with the stick of butter, stirring until smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in eggs.
  4. Add flour, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda.
  5. Stir in butterscotch morsels, saving out a few to sprinkle over the top.
  6. Pour batter evenly into a greased 13"x9" baking pan.
  7. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out slightly sticky.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Outrageous Brownies (That I Haven't Tried)

So, we are a day behind on baking this week and brought our brownies in for taste testing today instead of yesterday. We also changed our ballots a little this week to allow for a "comments" section. Our wonderful judges (coworkers) have offered some suggestions to recipes verbally, however, we thought that writing these down so appropriate corrective measures could be taken would be a great idea.

I chose to bake "Outrageous Brownies" by Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network website. They had awesome ratings, but the reason I chose them was because the prep for these brownies was different than any other I had made. I love how the butter and two chocolates were melted together first and then added to the batter, then more chocolate chips were added to the batter later on. Yum! I tasted the batter before adding nuts in and it tasted fudge-y and rich.

The recipe calls for a 12x18x1 pan, but as a warning to all: the batter will completely fill the pan. Completely, to the edge and just shy of overflowing. However, when the batter bakes, it rises perfectly straight up over the pan, so no worries. While the recipe shows melting the chocolates and butter in a bowl over boiling water, I just used a double boiler. This took probably about 30 minutes for everything to completely melt on medium heat. I did adjust the heat setting a few times to avoid chocolate burning. I suggest working on mixing the other ingredients while stirring and melting the butter & chocolate.

Outrageous Brownies
(Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

1 lb. unsalted butter
1 lb. plus 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 c. chopped walnuts


1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

2. Butter and flour a 12x18x1 baking sheet.

3. Melt together the butter, 1 lb. of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.

4. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

5. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 c. of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.

6. Toss the walnuts and 12 oz. of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 c. flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (NOTE: I had to bake for an additional 5 minutes, 20 minutes total after releasing air). DO NOT OVERBAKE! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares

NOTE: This made 30 big brownies for me... not sure how big she is cutting the brownies, but the more the merrier :)

Happy Baking!!



The way to a man’s heart is undoubtedly through his taste buds.

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