Category Archives: Desserts

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cheesecake Filling

Or Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes. Either way, it’s a mouth-ful.

I don’t know what it is about fall that makes me love pumpkin so much. Or is it the other way around? Do I love pumpkin so much that it makes the cold and wet autumn season easier to bear? Recently I have been wondering if I would love pumpkin goodies as much as I do if I could have them all year round. The jury is still out on that one.

Either way, it is fall now and regardless if the chicken or the egg came first, I love me my pumpkin treats. Pumpkin pies… pumpkin cheesecake… lattes… scones…

Each year as we near Thanksgiving now I look forward to making my Cheesecake-filled Pumpkin Cupcakes for friends and family. I love the compliments I get on these easy-to-make treats, and they really are delicious. I’m not really a cupcake fan but these are just the right amount of pumpkin, of spice, of fluffiness.

I’ve adjusted a recipe I found a few years ago in the Rachael Ray Magazine to my own liking. If you don’t already have a great pumpkin cupcake recipe, try her’s. Since I didn’t have any Pumpkin Pie Spice (I don’t even know what that is, to be honest), I just substituted in spices that I would normally use for my pie (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc).

It’s sort of a multi-step mixing process, especially with the layering of the pumpkin and the cheesecake but it is so worth it.

First layer: Pumpkin batter

I recommend using the smallest cookie scoop you can find in your kitchen. It’s going to make the layering just a bit more manageable.

Cheesecake filling in the middle!

Both batters are a bit on the thick side so you’re going to want to tap the pan on the table a few times. Be sure to tap on a level surface so the cupcakes don’t slide. If you have trouble with this, try greasing the pan before the liners go in so they don’t budge later. Times like these are when I wish I had a vibrating table. Layer the pumpkin batter on top again, pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let them completely cool before icing. I’ve never tried the buttercream recipe that is included with the cupcakes’ so I don’t have any comments on that and don’t know if the two go well. I always prefer cream cheese frostings to buttercreams so I paired mine with Orange Cream Cheese frosting. I found the slight orange flavor was a better pairing than just regular vanilla – it brought out the spices in the pumpkin just a bit more, offering a great complimenting pair.

An ordinary Pumpkin Cupcake made extraordinary

If nothing else, baking these yummy treats will for sure brighten up a cloudy fall day. Hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving holiday!

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Cake Bites: what they are and how to make them

Friends of mine are probably already tired of me yapping away about my newly created Cake Bites. It’s only been one week since I officially started making them, but I’ll be honest and say I’ve been over-the-top promoting them. I just can’t help it! It’s the first product that I’ve created that is really taking off. And why wouldn’t they? Bite-size cakes, who doesn’t want that?

I was actually really surprised to find that no one else is making these yet. Instead, stores and websites are currently obsessed with cake pops. As cute as they are, I find that the popsicle stick useless and a waste of resources. If you’re going to have a bite-size dessert, shouldn’t it really just be bite-sized? As in, pop it in your mouth and that’s it?

I compare my Cake Bites to donut holes. I’m not a fan of donuts but I do love donut holes. Doesn’t make too much sense, right? I think it’s the ease of eating them, how you can (in most cases) control how many (really I mean little) you are eating, and how much more glaze you get compared to a donut bite :)

I really wanted to make them look like truffles too, like the chocolate. As you may or may not know, I used to be pretty obsessed with Godiva chocolates. I also fell in love with making chocolate candies after attending a 2-day chocolate making class in Torrance. I joined these two ideas together – donuts and truffles – to create Cake Bites.

I originally wanted to make them perfectly sphered, but I had bought these macaron molds from Amazon that ended up being way too small for macarons. I baked cake in the macaron molds, and it turned out great. Not completely circular, but good enough.

So fill the molds with the batter of your choosing and bake. Be careful not to overbake since they are so small. Once I overbaked mine and even though they were super easy to pop out of the molds that way, it did not taste good. Underbaking will also make it extremely difficult to pop the bites out. Some playing around with the oven might be necessary to find the exact minutes these babies need to be in there.

Let them cool down before touching them. If baked correctly, most of them should pop out if you give it a little shake upside down. Otherwise they should be easily peeled out. If they’re cracking while doing that, it’s probably just a bit underbaked. If that’s the case just invert the silicone mold (yay for silicone molds!) and de-pan that way. It’s still super easy, just a bit more time consuming.

Then, on half the shells, pipe just the amount of icing needed to adhere the two sides together. Find it’s other half (one of my favorite steps of macaron making!) and sandwich together.

Throw them in the freezer for a little bit so they are easier to handle. Meanwhile prepare the shavings and icings. Shaving chocolate is very, very easy. Literally take a vegetable peeler and start peeling away at a block of chocolate. If you can warm up the block (maybe in a warm oven for a few minutes), you’ll get much nicer shavings and ribbons.

You want to get your icing as soft as you can. In my case I just popped it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. After the now sandwiches are just a bit hard, cover them in icing. Use the method that is easiest for you. Throw them in then fish them out, or cover them with your hands, or drizzle the icing over them (though this method produces a lot of waste).

It’s important to completely cover the sides of the sandwich so the end product can resemble a sphere. If the sides aren’t completely covered you’ll be able to see the two layers, in which cake your Cake Bites will look a lot more like Whoppie Pies. Toss the covered sandwiches in your chocolate shavings and cover completely… and you’re done! After working with them the Cake Bites will be very soft and ready to eat. I store them in the fridge until serving because the chocolate will melt in the heat.

Make variations by using different icings and shavings

I bought little baggies from Joann’s and that’s how I’ve been serving them. Cute, no? :)

Easy, cute and delicious. Good luck!

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Chestnut Mousse Verrines and an untouched site

Work has been all consuming lately that I haven’t touched this blog OR my “new” website since my last post. I didn’t want to continue posting here at this WordPress Blog but since the site is no where near finished, an update here is better than nothing!

I realized that I never posted about the Chocolate and Chestnut Mousse Verrines that I made back in February. Here are some photos but as for the recipe, I basically followed Tartelette’s blog. I believe I made mine with a dark chocolate mousse instead of milk chocolate and used my own ganache recipe, but other than that, same ideas going on. I loooove chestnuts so I very much enjoyed these verrines but unfortunately found that not too many other people share this sentiment. They weren’t bad by any means (I am told, anyway) but not life changing for others.

mixing in whipped cream to melted dark chocolate for the first layer of the verrine

Although.. in the process of making these Verrines I realized that I have been misusing the word “mousse” for quite some time. Apparently what I’ve been making in the kitchen are in fact not mousses but Bavarian Creams. Generally all the “mousse” recipes I’m familiar with require cooking over the stove, which would technically make it a Bavarian cream. Tartelette’s recipe only requires the mixing of chocolate (or whatever ingredient) with whipped cream, which is what a mousse actually is.

mixing chestnut paste with whipped cream to make mousse! doesn't this look dreamy?

Okay so maybe that wasn’t very interesting to you but I thought it was fascinating! Fascinating and also very confusing. I think I might just continue to call them all mousses, if that doesn’t offend anyone. I hate to be incorrect but doesn’t it seem a little bougie to call it Bavarian Cream all the time?

obviously I was partial to the chestnut mousse

I also love making chocolate decor pieces. The only thing that keeps me from playing around with my chocolate temperer more is that it’s extremely messy, and I am so impatient. Plus melted chocolate is so hard to clean! Only when I’m in a very patient state of mind do I play around with transfer sheets.

decorated with chocolate pieces and shavings

My next post will be more fun, I promise.

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Banana Cream Tart

A few months ago, a couple friends and I spent the day in SF just for… well, eats. We woke up at 9am (way too early for a Saturday morning), got in the car and drove an hour to the SF Flea Market for this glorious sandwich:

Porchetta Sandwich from Roti Roli

But in good foodies-fashion, after something savory we needed something sweet. The savory truffle macaron (yea, truffle macaron – you read that right) that we tried at the Ferry Building just couldn’t quite be classified as dessert in our books. After much searching and googling, we ended up at Tartine Bakery.

We ordered a few items, none of which were very memorable except for their Banana Cream Tart. What I remembered most about is was that it cost $6.50 for a tart of 4″ in diameter :( But I must admit that was rather beautiful, pretty good and sparked my own Banana Cream Tart creation.

I needed to make a few changes though to fit my liking. My main problem with the Tartine treat was that the shell was incredibly hard. I’m not sure if this was on purpose or if the tart shells were old, but to say that I was afraid for the utensils wouldn’t be a gross exaggeration. They used a napolean-like pastry dough for the shell instead traditionally using something like shortbread. It had a nice texture since pastry dough is very flakey, but I didn’t think the use of it in a tart was necessary. In addition, I found their banana custard too liquidy when I tend to like my custard nice and thick… and, well, fatty :)

The last change I made in my version was leaving their dollop of caramel syrup out. My heavier custard and sweeter whipped cream made this ingredient excessive. I did like how Tartine lined the insides of their tarts with dark chocolate though – a trick bakeries use to increase the shell’s shelf life – so I followed through with that step. It does give the pastry a nice, unexpectant touch.

one thin layer of chocolate, banana custard, whipped cream, chocolate shavings and powdered sugar

So I was out $6.50 but stumbling across this creation was well worth the money, the trip and even the few extra pounds I’ve put on since :)

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Lemon Meringue Tartlets

“Tartlets… tartlets… tartlets… word has lost all meaning.” :D

I’ve never had meringue up until I made these little things… which isn’t really a good thing considering I’m not certain how meringue is SUPPOSED to taste; but according to my mother – who has failed multiple times making it, can you believe it! – she says it’s pretty good.

First things first! Bake your tart shells. Really you could make these in any size, but I wanted mine bite-size so I opted for the smallest tart shells I could find. If you don’t have any, Bed Bath & Beyond sells them for pretty cheap.

Depending on the shells, bake them until crisp. Be careful not to overbake them though because you’ll have to stick them back in the oven later.

Once the shells are cooled, fill with your favorite lemon custard/curd recipe. Flatten the top with a spatula.

The first time I made these, the meringue was way too sweet. I also found that it was hard to make the meringue stiff too when it contained that much sugar. So here’s the recipe that I use now:

Meringue for Lemon Tartlets:
3 egg whites (room temperature is best)
3oz granulated sugar
pinch of salt

In a stand mixer, whisk egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar and salt until meringue becomes glossy. Turn to medium-high until meringue forms peaks and starts to slightly pull away from your whisk and bowl, about 5-7 minutes.

Using a decorators tip, pipe meringue onto the lemon tartlets. I was quite generous and too ambitious with mine because I wanted a really tall tart — but the meringue doesn’t like to defy gravity; it tilts and starts to weep :(

Then I like to bake the tarts. It seems like people only bake their lemon meringue tarts when a torch isn’t available, but I like to do both. Letting them sit in the oven for a little bit creates a slightly crunchier outer layer of the meringue, which I really like. When you only torch them, it looks nice, but the meringue is still soft inside. So I throw the tartlets back into the oven at 300 degrees for about 8 minutes, then TORCH! If you don’t have one, they are supppper fun and handy too. Bed Bath & Beyond to the rescue again.

Let the tarts cool a little bit because the contents will be HOT, but then consume immediately afterwards :)