Sunday, January 20, 2019

London Fog Donuts


We all know donuts are the perfect snack for tea or coffee time. That fluffy yest squishy dough just begs to be served with a steaming hot beverage on the side. 
I decided to mix things up and make a donut that actually had tea in it! (See HERE for our coffee flavored Caramel Macchiato Donut)  I was a little saddened that the tea flavor wasn't a bit more prominent but it was still a delicious result. A London fog is Earl Grey tea with a hint of vanilla and milk/cream, in case you were wondering about the name. The subtle hint of tea in the cream filling is delightfully different than plain cream filling. I'm still going to work on making a more pronounced tea flavor but, until then, I will keep using this recipe as it was a huge hit with my tasters! 


London Fog Donuts

Ingredients
Donuts
2 Earl Grey tea bags
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
4 - 5 cups flour

Oil for frying (about 1 liter)

Filling
4 cups whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean
4 bags Earl Grey tea
2 pkg instant vanilla pudding 

Directions
Prepare donuts - Place the tea bags in the buttermilk. 


Heat the buttermilk to steaming. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Let cool a few minutes - it should still be warm to touch but not hot. Remove tea bags and discard. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
Whisk together melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir the yeast mixture into the egg mixture. Add enough flour to form a sticky yet solid dough. Knead for 2 minutes. You may need to add a pinch more flour if it is too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for an hour. 
After dough has doubled, roll out dough on a floured work surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out using a round biscuit/cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (You can re-roll scraps once to get more circles.) 
Cover with a tea towel and set somewhere warm to rise for 45 minutes. 

After donuts have risen for about 30 minutes, start heating your oil over medium heat. It takes me about 15 minutes to get my oil to 350. 
Fry donuts, 3 or 4 at a time, in the hot oil for about 1 minute on each side - they should be golden brown. You need a thermometer in the oil to make sure your oil stays at 350. If it is too low, your donuts will absorb too much oil and be greasy. If it is too high, they will be uncooked on the inside and burn on the outside. 
Set on paper towel, or on wire racks with paper towel underneath, to drain any excess oil. 
After all donuts are cooked, set aside to cool completely. When cool, take a serrated knife and carefully cut each donut in half horizontally. 


Prepare filling - After you are done preparing the dough for it's first rise, you should start your filling so it has time to steep. In a bowl, combine whipping cream, vanilla, vanilla bean (Note - half the bean vertically, scrape the seeds into the bowl, and then place the pod into the cream as well), and the contents of the 4 tea bags. Set this aside until the donuts are completely cool.
When donuts are ready, pour the cream through a strainer into another bowl. Discard the bean pod and the leftover tea bits. (Quite a few tea bits may go into the cream and that is fine. You just don't want them too thick.)  
Take half of the cream mixture and sprinkle in 1 pkg of the vanilla pudding mix. Beat with beaters until stiff enough to pipe. Pipe (or spoon) into the middle of the donuts. Repeat with the second half of the cream and the other pkg of vanilla pudding. I like to pipe a little star on top of each doughnut to fancy them up a little. 


I mix the filling in two batches because I find that mixing it as one big batch can sometimes result in a funky texture to the filling. Dividing it in two ensures it will work every time! 


There they are pictured with our Caramel Macchiato Donuts
As I mentioned above, the tea flavor is quite subtle but it makes for a fabulous treat. My recipe makes about 24 donuts but can easily be halved if you like. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Caramel Macchiato Donuts


I've been on a bit of a donut (doughnut?) bender lately. I've had so much fun creating new donut flavors so bear with me, there will be several donut posts coming your way in the next little while. 
I'm starting with my caramel macchiato recipe because caramel happens to be a little bit of heaven on earth, not to mention it is cold outside and coffee flavored things make life that much more bearable. 
I've also come up with a strawberry shortcake donut, a lemon cream pie donut, and a London fog donut. Stay tuned for those creations. 
Have you ever made donuts? You really should give it a try. The only thing that freaks me out a little is deep frying. All that hot oil is scary! I'm slowly getting over my fear though, getting to eat donuts is a pretty big incentive. 


Caramel Macchiato Donuts

Ingredients
Donut
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp caramel extract
2 tsp salt
4 - 5 cups flour

Oil for deep frying (about 1 liter)

Filling
4 cups whipping cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
2 pkgs instant butterscotch pudding mix

Directions
Prepare donuts - Heat the buttermilk to steaming. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Let cool a few minutes - it should still be warm to touch but not hot. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
Whisk together melted butter, eggs, caramel extract, and salt. Stir the yeast mixture into the egg mixture. Add enough flour to form a sticky yet solid dough. Knead for 2 minutes. You may need to add a pinch more flour if it is too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for an hour. 
After dough has doubled, roll out dough on a floured work surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out using a round biscuit/cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (You can re-roll scraps once to get more circles.) 


Cover with a tea towel and set somewhere warm to rise for 45 minutes. 

After donuts have risen for about 30 minutes, start heating your oil over medium heat. It takes me about 15 minutes to get my oil to 350. 
Fry donuts, 3 or 4 at a time, in the hot oil for about 1 minute on each side - they should be golden brown. You need a thermometer in the oil to make sure your oil stays at 350. If it is too low, your donuts will absorb too much oil and be greasy. If it is too high, they will be uncooked on the inside and burn on the outside. 
Set on paper towel, or on wire racks with paper towel underneath, to drain any excess oil. 
After all donuts are cooked, set aside to cool completely. When cool, take a serrated knife and carefully cut each donut in half horizontally. 
Prepare cream - In a large bowl, dissolve 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules in 2 cups of whipped cream.


Sprinkle 1 pkg of butterscotch pudding on top and beat until it stiffens up enough to pipe. 
Pipe coffee cream into the middle of each donut. You will need to repeat mixing the remaining granules, cream, and pudding. (I don't like to do it all at once as it sometimes makes for a weird texture. If you do half at a time it always works out!) 


Once they are all filled I like to go back and pipe a little star on top and then top with a half of a caramel candy.


Mmmm.... caramel and coffee. Is there anything better?


They look fabulous all snuggled up in a box to give as gifts.
This recipe makes about 2 dozen plus about 3 extra using a 3.5 inch cutter. You can half the recipe but, seriously, whyyyyyy? Make them all. Give them to people. Make new friends. 


Below they are pictured with the other flavor I just made... London Fog!
Be sure to come back for the link to that recipe. 
Coffee and tea donuts. Best idea ever. 


As with most donuts, these are best eaten the day they are made. Next day they are still okay but they start to get stale after that. You can, instead of cutting them in half, simply pipe the cream into the donuts using a piping bag and long tip. You wouldn't need nearly as much if you do that. Of course, that means there isn't nearly as much in the donut to enjoy. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread


One of our dad's favorite snacks ever is cornbread. Whenever one of us is in the kitchen he always asks, "you making cornbread?" - even if we are clearly making cookies or cupcakes. That's his subtle hint that he is craving some cornbread. 
He loves his with a bit of spice so we always throw in jalapenos and a good dose of cheese to add some texture. I'm not usually a fan of cornmeal in things because of the coarse texture but I make an exception with this recipe. Warm with butter... don't even get me started! I could eat half the pan in one sitting.


Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 jalapenos, seeded & finely diced
1 cup aged cheddar, shredded
1 cup corn (drained if using canned)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs

Extra
1/3 cup aged cheddar, shredded

Directions
 Preheat oven to 400. Lightly spray a 9 X 9 pan with cooking spray (Or line the bottom with parchment paper), and set aside. 
In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, jalapenos, cheese, and corn. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, honey, and eggs. 


Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. Do not over mix. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the 1/3 cup cheese on top.


Bake at 400 until top is golden and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 30 - 40 minutes. 


Place on wire rack to let cool. 


Serve warm or room temp. 


I looooove to slather on some butter while it is still warm...


So. Good. 
Cornbread can be tricky to get cooked through to the middle because of how dense it is. If you are having trouble then cover around the outside of the pan with strips of tinfoil, turn the heat down a bit, and continue cooking until the middle is done. 
FYI - this freezes very well. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Blueberry Buttercream


Lemon and blueberries go together like peanut butter and chocolate except, instead of being all heavy and decadent, they are light and fresh and airy. Make them during the dreary winter weather for a reminder of all things summer. Or, you know, make them whenever because they are ridiculously delicious and easy to whip up. The color of the blueberry buttercream is so beautiful. Put them on a plate of cupcakes and they will get everyone's attention. 


All you need is a few simple ingredients and about an hour and you could have these little beauties on your table!


Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Blueberry Buttercream

Ingredients
Cupcakes
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
zest of one lemon
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice

Buttercream
3 cups blueberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups butter, softened
pinch salt
5 - 6 cups icing sugar
3 Tbsp milk

Decoration
blueberries

Directions
Prepare cupcakes - Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. 
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Whisk in lemon extract and eggs until well combined.


Alternately beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with the sour cream until just combined. Do not over mix. Lastly, fold in the lemon juice.  
Scoop batter into the 24 lined muffin cups. 


I put a blueberry into the center of each cupcake but this is totally optional!!! 
Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. 
NOTE - these rise VERY well so do not fill the cup more than about halfway. As you can see mine were filled a little too much! (They were fine but just overflowed a little so don't look as neat and tidy!)


Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely. 
Prepare buttercream - Combine blueberries and lemon juice in a pot over medium heat. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes - until thickened. 
Press this through a sieve to remove any skins and seeds. Let cool completely. 


In a mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in 1/3 of a cup of the blueberry puree (reserve the rest for decorating). NOTE - make sure puree is completely cool or it will melt the buttercream. Don't worry if it looks weird, it will come together when the icing sugar is added.
Add in the salt and icing sugar, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat in milk to make it a spreading/piping consistency. Beat for two minutes on high to make sure it is smooth. (If you find it too runny, add a bit of icing sugar... too firm, add a tablespoon or so of milk.) 
Pipe or spread onto cooled lemon cupcakes. 


You can pipe the buttercream around the outside of the cupcake and then fill with a teaspoon of the puree...


Or you can pipe the buttercream in a swirl and top with a blueberry and a little drizzle of the puree. Or you can just spread the icing on.... whatever you prefer! The recipe makes enough icing to put a swirl on 24 normal sized cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. Which, as it happens, is how many cupcakes the cake recipe makes. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Caramel Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream


Can we just make cupcakes a thing again? Please?
I looooove cupcakes. Making them, decorating them, eating them.... love them. I'm not sure when they started to lose popularity but it's just wrong. I mean... it's cake you can hold in your hand, what's not perfect about that? Let's bring the cupcake back to its top-of-the-dessert-chain place; where it deserves to be. #cupcakesarethebest
These caramel cupcakes take about 5 minutes to make, 20 minutes to bake, and then the frosting takes about 5 minutes. Nothing complicated. Great for those just starting in the kitchen or for those who have had a lot of practice and just want something easy. There is no down side to cupcakes. 


Caramel Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients
Cupcakes
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp caramel extract
1 cup buttermilk

Buttercream
2 cups butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
4  - 5 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp caramel extract
2 - 3 Tbsp milk 

Decoration
caramel candies

Directions
Prepare cupcakes - Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cupcake liners in 24 muffin cups. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. 
In a larger bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in the sugars until smooth, scraping bowls as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and the caramel extract. 
Alternately beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with the buttermilk. 
Scoop into the 24 lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 until toothpicks inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. 


Prepare buttercream - In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Slowly beat in the icing sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in the caramel extract and as much milk as needed to make the frosting a spreading/piping consistency. Pipe onto the cupcakes as desired. There is enough frosting to pipe a full swirl on each cake - you will have extra if you only spread some on top with a knife. 


Cupcakes are just too fancy schmancy to fall to the bottom of the dessert pile. 
Look how pretty they are. 


In the box are our Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Buttercream (Recipe coming soon!), Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting (Cake recipe HERE), and Caramel Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. 
These go like crazy at bake sales, FYI. Aaaaaaand they make lovely gifts for friends and neighbors! 
NOTE - This recipe makes 24 - 28 cupcakes. I made 24 regular sized and then 12 mini cupcakes from one batch. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Whole Roast Chicken in the Instant Pot


Initially I was skeptical that I would use my Instant Pot. I was worried it would be another kitchen tool that got put on the shelf and was rarely used. I am glad to report that that hasn't happened. 
I love the ease of using the Instant Pot. Throw everything in, cook, only one pot to clean up. Like the slow cooker, but faster. (In fact, the Instant Pot has a slow cooker setting as well!)
This whole roast chicken was done in just under an hour and was wonderfully moist and flavorful. The skin doesn't get crispy as it would in the oven but that was the only thing different than a "usual" roast chicken. 


Whole Roast Chicken in the Instant Pot

Ingredients
 3.5 to 4 lb chicken
half an onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 lemon, quartered
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken broth 

Directions
Stuff the chicken with the onion, garlic, and lemon.
In a small bowl mix together the spices. Sprinkle the spices over the bottom of the chicken, turn chicken over, and sprinkle on top of the chicken as well. 
Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the metal rack that comes with the pot on the bottom. Set the chicken, breast side up, on top.


Close lid and cook on high for 30 minutes. (It is recommended 6 minutes per lb of chicken but I found my chicken needed a bit more time to be fully cooked.) Do a slow release for 20 minutes after the initial 30 minute cook time. 
Check with a thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked through. If not, you can place the lid back on and cook for a few minutes longer. 


Let sit on a cutting board for a few minutes to rest, and then carve. 


Serve with your favorite sides. 


Remember it does take about 10 or so minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure so add that to your cooking time as well. I think from start to finish this took just under an hour. 
You don't have to add chicken broth, you can use water if you prefer. I think the chicken broth adds more flavor though.