Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sugar & spice

I've thought of another thing that made January the pits: no baking. No baking! No wonder I was wallowing around in the dumps.

How I love to have a good reason to bake (beyond just the two of us stuffing ourselves silly), and within the last couple of weeks, excuses have been popping up all over.


I may have shared this recipe before, but it's so fantastic, it deserves a second appearance. Muffins are my favorites to bake (at least right now); they're such tidy little packages of comfort, they usually require only one bowl, and they freeze so well. I've used this recipe for ages, and I can't remember where I found it, although I do think it was originally meant for a loaf of bread.

Banana Cinnamon Swirl Muffins
3 over-ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Dash salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat to 350 and grease a muffin tin (that non-stick cooking spray with flour is great for muffins). Mix together the bananas, butter, sugar, egg & vanilla. Sprinkle soda & salt over banana mixture. Add flour & gently stir, being careful not to over-mix. Spoon a bit of batter into each cup & sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Top with more batter & more cinnamon sugar. Bake about 20 minutes (18 for me because our oven runs on the hot side.) 

*Add chopped walnuts for extra yum! Be generous with the cinnamon sugar!


And now prepare to have your socks knocked off. As far as I'm concerned, this is the Pioneer Woman's greatest culinary triumph. (Her recipe is intended as a layer cake, but I use it for cupcakes, and it makes a pile. Around 22, I think.)

Coffee Cream Cupcakes 
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
3 Tbsp instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and line two muffins tins with cupcake papers. Mix together the flour, sugar & salt. Melt butter over medium-low heat. While melting, add coffee crystals to 1 cup boiling water; set aside. When butter has melted, add the coffee & let come to a boil about 10 seconds; set aside for just a minute. In a separate bowl, mix together buttermilk, eggs, soda & vanilla. Pour the butter/coffee mixture into the flour & stir gently. Add in the egg mixture & stir gently until combined. Fill papers 3/4 full. Bake about 18 minutes. 

I made these yesterday for a friend's birthday and you can see that I very thoughtfully ate one to make sure they weren't poisonous:

Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
2 Tbsp milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp instant coffee crystals

Beat cream cheese & milk until smooth. Beat in vanilla, salt, powdered sugar & coffee crystals.

*This isn't the Pioneer Woman's creation; I found it on the internet, but again, can't remember exactly where. The consistency ends up being fairly thin; the batch I made this morning was definitely much too runny for piping & actually seemed more like a glaze. Adding more cream cheese and powdered sugar would bulk it up enough for piping, I think. 


This has nothing to do with baking, but I've been awfully hard on winter, so here's some evidence that it hasn't been all gloom & doom:

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