Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Classic Snacks Made From Scratch:Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes

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Well those homemade deep fried doughnuts were a surefire hit around here and I hope everyone gets a chance to make the treats themselves sometime.Definitely to delicious to pass up the recipe opportunity;however with that being said I couldn't just pass this chapter up and not test out another "cakey treats" for everyone.

So for me I chose a treat that everyone should know based on one of the all popular hostess products. Now its not the Twinkie like most will guess, its actually the iconic creamed filled "Chocolate Hostess Cupcake" with the signature glaze and icing doodle.These are actually a store bought cupcake I have never tried myself;however don't worry I had tester's by me to compare the homemade version.

So to start with I found that the recipe was pretty simply layout with detailed directions.It also included quite a bit of ingredients that were luckily inexpensive.Now the recipe for the cupcake section was like any basic chocolate cupcake made with cocoa powder and kept moist with milk.It was really simple to create this cake batter since I used my stand mixer and it actually cut the time down compared to a hand-mixer or by hand.I also learned that this recipe is somewhat adaptable,especially in one part of the cake section.

For example,If you have muffin liner's around I definitely recommend to use them since they are a simple and guaranteed way to prevent sticking,breaking and to create a ridged decorative edge.Also, great for travelling and giving to friends and family to test out.If you don't like cupcake liner's you can easily grease the muffin tin like the recipe asks or you can remove the liner's after baking to create a nice decorative edge.Your choice in the matter.I also learned that a simple way to fill the muffin cup's is using a ice cream scoop since I always seem to see TV show cook's use them and I thought I should try it out.Then lastly a good tip is to always use a toothpick to test if the cupcakes are done and they are best when the toothpick comes clean.Anyways,thumbs up for the cupcake section of this recipe for simplicity and detail.

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So since I mentioned adaptability we all know that there is no way I can fool around with the signature marshmallow filling of this cupcake so I left that all alone.This marsh mellow filling was a brand new territory for me, so I watched closely to the directions and took my time.Its definitely a recipe you need patience for to create since you need to reach the right consistency before you can even fill your cupcakes.It was quite fun to learned how to make something you never had before.Thumbs up for the filling section of this recipe for simple detail and teaching me something new.

So now for the chocolate glaze and icing. Well these two recipes were the simplest sections to this whole recipe.The glaze was basically melting ingredients together to create a simple glaze to dip your cupcakes and the icing was simply mixed together for quick use in decorating.These are both quick to make and assembling can be done basically right away after filling.Thumbs up for the easy and quick directions.

Now for then fun part of the recipe, the assembling.Well this took a couple cupcakes to get close to the original.The filling took sometime of how much filling should be added and how big you want the holes to be before it breaks.I'm always hesitant with fragile work with baked goods can be.Once all the cupcakes were filled,covered and set it was time to add the glaze.Well I learned that dipping them is the wrong way to go even though the recipe ask you too because what happens is the filling leaks into the glaze so I used a cake spatula to spread the glaze on took some time this way, but I got the job done without anything getting wrecked.Then lastly, it was time for the signature icing doodle, which was quite simple to pipe using a small round top using an icing bottle or bag.The decorating part was a lot of fun and I learned some new skills to make my baked goods pretty.Thumbs up for the decorating part of this recipe.Good detail and quite helpful.

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So since I learned how this recipe tests out.What is this cupcake like in flavor,texture and comparability to the original.Well it heavily stays close to the original "Chocolate Hostess Cupcake" when it comes to the look of the overall cake with its color,glaze,filling and doodle.So now its just the flavor and texture to compare.Well this cake has a very dark chocolate flavor with a moist,slightly dense cake texture. The glaze is quite sweet with a semisweet chocolate flavor and is quite smooth.Now the filling along side is a marshmallow fluff that is very light,fluffy and creamy with a mild sweetness.This cupcake overall is very chocolaty and sweet.The less glaze that is used the better and its definitely needs to be paired with a of glass milk.They are also best eaten right away and all fifteen that I made were gone in like three days.

Now I did get some feedback on these cupcakes and everyone told me "that these are better then the original" since they are no addictive or bad aftertastes.When baked good are homemade they are always better since they are freshly made.Everyone loved these simple and fancy cupcakes and they were gone really quickly.A+ for the recipe and cupcake.

I hope everyone tries out this recipe and compares the homemade to the original.It's a lot of fun to create these cupcakes and decorate them. Everyone will be certainly impressed by your skillful work and will be surprised how simple they are to make.So go on and make them and let me know how similar they are in the comments.I give a thumbs up for recipe, flavor,texture and comparability.

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The Recipe

Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield:12-15 cupcakes
Difficulty:Easy to moderate
Equipment:stand mixer,standard muffin tin,liners, pastry bag with small round piping tip. 

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1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp ( 4 ounces) chilled unsalted butter,cut into cubes
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole or reduced fat milk


2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Chocolate Frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole or reduced milk
3 ounces semisweet chocolate,coarsely chopped

White Doodle Icing

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp whole or reduced fat milk
1 tsp light corn syrup

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Preheat oven to 350F.Spray or line the muffin tin.

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Together I added the flour,sifted in the cocoa powder,added the baking powder and salt in a large bowl,then whisked thoroughly to remove any lumps.

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In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment,I creamed the butter and sugar together for 2- 3 minutes on medium speed until pale and fluffy.Then reduced the speed to low to add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding each one.Then I added the vanilla and stirred until combined.( Tip: Can easily use a handheld mixer)

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Then I added the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture,alternating.One third of flour,mixing on low until just combined and then adding half of the milk until just combined.Repeated with third of flour,mix and then added the remaining milk,mix and then added the final portion of flour,stirred until just combined.

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Divided the batter evenly using an ice cream scoop into prepared muffin wells.Then baked for 15-20 minutes until set in middle and using the toothpick test. Once slightly cooled I removed the cupcakes from the muffin tin and let cool completely on a wire rack at room temp.

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Make The Filling:

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While the cupcakes were cooling, I filled a small straight sided sauce pan with water half way.Then I brought it to a simmer over medium-low heat.Then I placed the egg whites and sugar in a large glass bowl and set the bowl over the simmering water.Whisked continuously for 1-2 minutes, until sugar dissolved and liquid was slightly opaque,frothy and warm to the touch.Removed the glass bowl and poured into the clean stand mixer.

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Using the whisk attachment,I whipped the mixture on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes,until the liquid  was opaque and glossy.Then I added the cream of tartar and vanilla, then whipped until the marshmallow mixture formed stiff peaks when the mixer is turned off and whisk is lifted. (Took 1-2 minutes or more)

Make Frosting:

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Stirred the powdered sugar,corn syrup, vanilla and milk together in a glass bowl.Placed over top of the simmering water and cooked,until warm to the touch.Chopped the chocolate finely and then stirred it in,until melted.Removed from the heat once completely melted in mixture.

Assemble The Cupcakes

Using a sharp paring knife, I cut a wide deep hole into each cupcake while making sure not to cut completely through and leaving at least 1/2 inch border to the cupcakes.(Tip: Also making sure not to discard the top pieces). Then I filled each cupcake with marshmallow filling,smoothing it over and then placing the top piece back on, pressing gently.Let cake set for a few minutes.

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Then to add the glaze I used a cake spatula to spread the glaze on to each cupcake.(My Tip :You can also dip each cupcake into the glaze and letting excess glaze drip back into the bowl;however you are risking the filling leaking out of the cupcake and into the glaze.) Best to control it using a spatula.

Then set on a wire rack to allow the glaze to completely set for at least 30 minutes.

Make And Pipe The Doodle Icing: 

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Whisked the powdered sugar,milk and corn syrup together in a small bowl,until a thick glazed formed.(Tip:Might be to thick,be sure to add a little milk and if it becomes to liquidity add more powdered sugar)

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Then filled my piping bottle and attached a small round tip ( Pastry bag can be used as well).Then I pipped small circles of icing down along the center of each cupcake.Then I allowed the cupcakes to sit for at least 1 hour so the frosting and icing could firm up.

These cupcakes can be made a day in advanced and kept at room temp They should be eaten within 3 days.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Classic Snacks Made From Scratch:Cakey Treats, Entermann's Doughnuts

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The next chapter of Classic Snacks is dedicated to the popular Cakey Treats such as Sno-balls,Hostess Cupcakes,Entermann's Doughnuts and even Twinkies.The original treats in this chapter are actual cakes I have never even tried myself while some are only sold within the states.So since I was unable to compare these versions to the original I chose a recipe that really interested me on a level where I would gain experience in a brand new field,  such as deep frying.So since I was set on that idea I chose to make my very own deep fried Entermann's Doughnuts,which are vanilla based doughnuts with varieties such as chocolate dipped and powdered sugar.This specific recipe was quite an adventure and learning experience for me,especially for a person that's completely new to the skill and original treat.

For me, I was able to learn so much from this recipe and cookbook about deep frying.This recipe with its simple ingredients and simply laid out directions kept me comfortable and in control.Casey has done a great job within this recipe for all to understand and made a smart choice to dedicate a section in this cookbook called "Deep Frying 101" to share her experiences and helpful tips.She was able to cover my basic questions on deep frying including electric deep fryers, homemade deep fryers,thermometers,safety and even how to filter my own oil.I found this lay out to be a great choice since knowledge is power and you definitely need it when Deep frying can be quite tricky and dangerous business.

So for me I was able to chose to make my own deep fryer following Casey's advice on what pots I can use along with oils and thermometers. It was quite a fun adventure in deep frying for me with using my own large stock pot,heating oil and even filtering my own oil for my next deep fried treat.All I got to say so far is if you need that extra help for deep frying even for another recipe you will find some great tips within this cookbook. I give a big thumbs up to direction and knowledge for the reader's since it's so important to keep everyone safe and happy.

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So since the ingredients,safety and directions were really helpful.I still had quite an adventure with this recipe with positives and negatives.The positive started out with how simple the doughnut batter was to make;however there was a few hiccups just before the prep for deep frying.First I ended up with a broken Candy/Oil Thermometer and then secondly I did not have enough canola oil for my stock pot.So I was panicking for a short time however I was super lucky that I had close family members that were just in town at the time so I was able to contact them to pick me up those very items from the local cooking shop and grocery store.These are the very people that test out these treats so I would imagine they wouldn't want to miss out on any doughnuts. 

So now that I had my new and improved Metal Thermometer and more canola oil then I can use.It was time to heat up the oil and roll out the dough. It was definitely the funniest part in the deep frying experience with just a few minor adjustments along the way, which are explained in the recipe with extra tips.Even with these minor hiccups and adjustment I was still able to pull off making homemade deep fried doughnuts and it was quite a learning experience.Two thumbs up for the interesting adventure!

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Now for the moment of truth, the flavor and texture test.These doughnuts without any enhancement were deliciously sweet with a strong vanilla flavor.The doughnuts were the best when just cooled with their light crumbly and soft texture.They were exactly what I was hoping for in a deep fried doughnut and surprised me how well they turned out.They were perfectly risen and kept their round shape quite well during drying.They were also very delicious with a chocolate glaze and powdered sugar.The homemade version of Entermann's chocolate dipped doughnuts had a very sweet chocolate glaze that was very smooth and rich.The sweetness may even be a little over powering for some and I completely understand based on how much chocolate to sugar is used.So if you cannot take too my much sweet then the powdered sugar versions are the way to go.They are actually my favorite since they just have enough sweetness and messiness for anyone.

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Overall,  I really love this recipe and the doughnuts were awesome.I had the best time making these doughnuts even with some minor hiccups along the way.It was also a lot of fun to decorate these goodies,especially when I got the chance to use sprinkles for the chocolate dipped.It makes them so much more enduring and doughnuts are all about the appearance anyways.So I hope everyone tries this recipe out for themselves and if you have tried the original versions of Entermann's Doughnuts,especially these varieties then be sure to come back and let me know if this is a homemade match to the store bought.So all I got to say is this review gets two big thumbs up from me for  experience,recipe and delicious doughnuts!

Anyways,I'm on to making another store bought cakey treat.What will it be? Well stay tune!

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The Recipe

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Entermann's Doughnut's

2 large eggs
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (1 oz)  unsalted butter.
1/4 to 1/3 cup whole or reduced milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) cake flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Vegetable or canola oil for frying.

Chocolate Dipping:

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate,coarsely chopped (a scant cup)


Standard doughnut cutter (or 1 and 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter)(My Tip: Can find this size in a pastry cutter set)
Electric deep fryer (or a large pot and candy/oil thermometer)

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I measured and melted the unsalted butter and let cool.

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Then I whisked the eggs and sugar together by hand in a large bowl for about 30 seconds until pale and thick.Then added the butter, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla,whisk until combined.

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In a large bowl, I whisked the cake flour,unbleached flour, baking powder, salt.Then gently stirred in the dry mixture into the wet ingredients, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. (My tip: Using a folding motion will be the most gentle way to mix) The batter will be thick and sticky. If its to thick to stir, add the 1/3 cup of milk to loosen it.Then I covered the batter filled bowl and refrigerated for 1 hour until risen and dried.

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Heated 2 inches of canola oil to 375F in a large heavy bottom stainless stock pot with high sides using a metal candy/oil thermometer.I made sure to not over fill my pot and made sure that the oil didn't come more then halfway up the pots sides.I attached the candy/oil thermometer and your suppose to not let it touch the bottom since you will get an inaccurate temperature.However my thermometer attached was to long for the height of the pot and ended up touching the bottom. So when I checked the temp I had to make sure to put the thermometer on an angle and lift it slightly up,then wait for the correct temp.It took about 15- 20 minutes to reach 375F on high heat.Meat thermometer cannot be used in replacement for this recipe.

For me I placed two small dry kitchen hand towels on a large baking sheet and placed a low cookie rack on top. However the recipe does recommend to line a baking sheet with paper towel and an upside down wire cooling rack. Didn't have any paper towel on hand.

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I floured my work surface and patted the chilled dough into a square.Then I dusted the dough and rolling pin with flour.Then I rolled the dough into a 10 inch square that was 1/2 inch thick.I then floured my cookie cutters and stamped out donut shapes.I learned to always re flour after each cut since the dough is very sticky and soft.

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Once the oil reached 375F, I turned the temp down slightly to prevent the oil from getting to hot.Then I carefully lowered the doughnuts(holes as well) into the hot oil, using a metal spatula.I learned in the deep frying 101 time varies for each equipment used and for me it took maybe 1- 2 1/2 minutes to reach golden brown per doughnut using heatproof tongs to flip each one.However after a while I would just flip them once one side reach golden brown and removed once the other side had matched.It also takes practice to reach golden brown because my first few came out crispier then the next batch.However for a guideline the recipes does say each doughnut should take no more then 3-4 minutes and to always make sure to flip them for even browning.

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First is the best shade of golden brown,middle is getting closer to over done and third is way over done.

 Then I transferred each donuts on to my prepared baking sheet to cool completely.

Add The Chocolate Glaze

I filled a small, straight-sided saucepan half way with water and brought it to a simmer over low heat.

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I coarsely chopped the semisweet baker's chocolate.

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Then I stirred the powder sugar,corn syrup,vanilla and milk together in a large glass bowl.I placed the bowl over the simmering water and cooked,stirring until liquid was warm to the touch. Then I added the chopped chocolate and stirred it constantly until fully melted.

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Once the doughnuts were fulled cooled. I dipped half of them into the chocolate glaze and allow the excess glaze to drip back into the bowl.Using a slotted spoon is quite useful for this step.Then I place them on the wire cooling rack and let them set,which takes at least 30 minutes.Half of the chocolate ones I decorated with Easter/ spring sprinkles and the other half I left plain.

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The rest of the doughnut I decorated with powdered sugar. I placed 2-3 tbsp of powdered sugar in a large plastic resealable bag and placed two or three doughnuts at a time.Sealed the bag and shook it until all were fully coated.Then repeated.You will most likely have to add more powder sugar as you go.These are best served right away.

The doughnuts can last up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temp.However for me they lasted like 4 -5 days for me.Depends on the weather.