Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Garden Party Themed Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I had recently made a cake with all kinds of flowers in a garden party theme, and then decided to reverse it a couple weekends later into cupcakes, with pretty little flowers made using the Wilton flower tip. Flowers are just so pretty to decorate with, and this made a truly lovely batch of cupcakes. I used made a batch of chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, with my favorite peanut butter frosting. Really, there's no better flavor combination for a cake or cupcake than chocolate and peanut butter! These are perfect for a lovely summer party.

Sasha's Garden Party Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Cupcakes (adapted from Julie Hasson)
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup smooth lowfat peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl - the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Beat the sugars and the butter in the  basin of a stand mixer until well combined. Then  beat in the peanut butter until smooth, followed by the egg and vanilla. Alternatively beat in the flour mixture and the milk and beat until smooth. Fill cupcake molds (lined) 3/4 of the way to the top and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Peanut butter frosting
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
pinch salt
1/2 cup creamy non-fat peanut butter
2 T milk

Vanilla buttercream (for decorating)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T milk
gel based food coloring in pink, purple and yellow

Beat together the ingredients for the peanut butter frosting for about five minutes in your stand mixer until smooth. Frost the cupcakes using a frosting bag.

Make the regular vanilla butter cream the same way. Once you have beaten together the ingredients into a smooth frosting, divide into three bowls and color with a drop or two of the gel food coloring. Make the petals using the wilton flower tip, and use a traditional dot tip to make the dot in the center with the yellow buttercream.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Peach Salad

Here's a new post on a lovely peach salad, perfect for the summer. Can I just add that it is absolutely too hot outside - actually 104 here in New York, which is heat beyond where a nice juicy peach is really helpful. But peaches are great in the summer, so I couldn't resist this peach salad, with fried goat cheese.

Sasha's Summer Peach Salad (serves 2)
Mixed greens
4 oz goat cheese
2 eggs
panko bread crumbs
toasted almond slivers
prosciutto or braciole (optional)

1/2 cup canola oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1 T diced mint

To prepare the goat cheese, form a 4oz package of goat cheese into four balls. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Heat canola oil in a pan, and then coat each ball of goat cheese in the egg and then with panko bread crumbs. Repeat coating in the egg and panko for a second layer. Fry immediately in the oil until nicely browned but not melted, about four minutes or so on medium high. The key here is for the balls to be nicely browned, soft and warm, but not either melted or frozen on the inside.

Slice the peaches and assemble the salad with toasted almond slivers, peaches and greens. You can add prosciutto and/or braciole as well if you prefer.  Top with the vinaigrette mixture above.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Banana Pecan Bread

I love banana bread and pumpkin bread, but I am not into making either in the most unhealthy way possible, with lots of butter. I just can't enjoy it that way. The following banana bread recipe is perfect because it uses canola oil rather than butter, just like the majority of my muffin and bread recipes. The combination of bananas and pecans is stellar, and this bread makes a perfect snack anytime. A slice of it is the perfect way to start your morning! I made mine in my mini silicon bread molds that I got at Crate & Barrel.

Sasha's Banana Bread (makes 1 full size loaf or three mini loaves)
4 ripe bananas
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 325 and prepare your molds. Mash the bananas using a food processor. In a mixer, on the lowest speed, combine the sugar, oil and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients until fully mixed. Mix in the bananas until combined, and stir in the pecan choppings. Pour the batter into your molds and bake until a toothpick comes out clean - this took about 45 minutes for the mini molds, but might take between and hour and an hour and a half for a full sized loaf. Allow to cool before un-molding and slicing. You can make larger batches and freeze, as well. 

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