Friday, June 29, 2012

Dare To Be Different

Only 2 more weeks to go, YES! I've been counting down the days left until THE trip of my life. I've been daydreaming about all the things we will do or the places we will visit and after what seemed like an eternity, I will finally be able to see Mr. C again. This is the first time I am going on a trip somewhere I've never been to without planning like crazy. Sometimes, I have a little tendency to become a bit obsessive with the planning. This time, I'm just going to take the backseat and enjoy the ride. I still can't believe that we got the Schengen visa to Europe! I don't think it will ever quite sink in until I am there, standing in the midst of it all in real life. Thank you for all the blessings, Lord!

Now on to the cupcakes! Some people may love the combination of chocolate and coconut, others may not. It's not for everyone. A male colleague thought the coconut frosting was strange. Most of them liked it though found the topping a wee bit too sweet. I've paired the coconut-walnut frosting (I didn't have pecans on hand.) with my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe from Chef Chloe.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Power of Gratitude

Thank you - two very simple yet powerful words but also the words taken for granted the most. How often do we say thank you really?  The things that we take for granted are also the very things that most deserve our gratitude.

Sometimes we complain about the silliest, mundane things in life. We focus more on the things that are going wrong or the things that we lack rather than on the things that we should be grateful for. We compare ourselves to other people, never content with what we already have.We forget that there are other people out there who would be very happy just to eat one meal a day or have some shelter to sleep at night or have eyes that can see or feet so they can walk.

Life IS full of blessings and the world is full of abundance if we choose to see them around us. So I'm taking a moment to write down the things that I am thankful and grateful for.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mmmm... Something Smells Good In the Kitchen

It was a little crazy the 2nd half of last week. I had 2 orders on Friday and 1 on Saturday morning so I was baking Wednesday night and Thursday night as well and I haven't had much sleep. It's a real struggle to juggle work and this but there are just times when I can't say no especially to friends. I am too tired to bake when I get home from work and it's usually at 2 or 3AM that I find the energy to bake these days. I know I'm weird but I feel better once I'm a little rested. 

I made this for a friend who loves cinnamon. Who doesn't?! The smell of cinnamon (and also apples!) baking in the oven is so heavenly and irresistible! I divided the recipe in half since my electric oven isn't big enough to fit in a 9x13 inch pan and I had to use a 9x9inch pan instead. The cake was really moist. I have to give a bit of a warning though. The bottom of the cake was quite oily after baking so I had to put it on tissues to blot it out a bit. The cinnamon sugar butter swirls sank into the cake and created a nice yellow / gooey brown contrast on the sides when you slice it. And the glaze, well, it's extra icing on top! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Things Don't Go Your Way

In life, we often make a lot of plans but sometimes, they don't always turn out the way you expected or wanted them to. This was one of those times. Ironically, they say that our whole life is already planned out for us so why bother to make our own plans? Personally, I cannot imagine going through life without planning. It would feel like driving without any direction. 

I had first envisioned this cupcake to look like a Hi-Hat with a nice big swirl of peanut butter frosting on top, drizzled with melted chocolate and sprinkled with crushed peanuts. Unfortunately, after piping the frosting on the cupcake, I had the sinking feeling that something had gone wrong. It wasn't as smooth as I had thought it would be and almost looked just the tiniest bit curdled, which was kind of gross. I wasn't sure if that was exactly how the frosting was supposed to be but it certainly didn't look pretty piped with a round tip. I had to think and act quickly to save the day since this cupcake was actually an order from a friend who was paying for it. The only way I could think of was to cover the frosting completely with mini chocolate chips and chopped honey roasted peanuts. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Coco Rouge Velour Cupcakes

I know I've been away for a while and I apologize for my absence. I've been busy experimenting in my kitchen, endlessly making cupcakes one after another, week after week for my little home-based business so you'll be seeing a lot of cupcake posts from now on. I have a long way to go down my list and hopefully I can finish everything before my trip in July.

Oh, the great news! We got the Schengen Visa! Woohoo! Helloooooo Netherlands and Paris, here we come! I'm so excited and I'm already counting down the days and weeks until July. Paris has always been my dream ever since I was in highschool and I can't believe this is finally happening. This may sound silly but about 2 yrs ago, I created a vision board with all the things I want in life after watching a video on youtube about The Secret. That vision board, believe it or not, really works!

Moving on to the cupcakes...Red Velvet has always been my all-time favorite. I came across a photo online of a slice of cake called Coco Rouge Velour from a bakery in Montreal and thought it was an interesting combination, coconut with Red Velvet. Though skeptical at first, the cupcakes were surprisingly good. The chewiness of the coconut flakes added a nice texture. The batter was based on a vegan recipe and it yielded the most delicious, moist, best red velvet cupcakes I've ever had. REALLY. This is the 3rd time I've tried Chef Chloe's recipes and she has never let me down. She truly makes the most amazing, perfect cupcakes. Since these are made with oil and not with butter, these cupcakes will keep moist for days even inside the fridge.

recipe adapted from Chef Chloe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 bottle (15ml) Mc Cormick Red food color

1 - 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes for topping

Preheat the oven to 350. 

Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl to get rid of the lumps. Set aside. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients. Using a hand whisk, stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter between the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Frost the cupcakes.
Cover the frosting completely with sweetened coconut flakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1  8oz cream cheese, cold
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature for 10-15 minutes
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter until light and fluffy on medium speed. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth for about 40 seconds. Reduce speed to low and gradually add in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract. Increase speed back to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.