Month: September 2013

Apple Streusel Cupcakes

I’ve been a bad blogger the last three weeks. I’d like to say it’s been an especially busy month, but that just isn’t true.

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The truth is, I’m no busier than usual, maybe even less busy. And I did continue baking and cooking while on hiatus. But for the last month or so, my focus has been on mind and body restoration.

My life has always been, Go, go, go. I’m a hard-wired, type-A girl. And then a couple months ago, I fell in love.

Or more precisely, I fell back in love. With BODYFLOW, that is.

I should back up a bit. For the better part of the last year, I’ve been in and out of pain in my hip and one side of my lower back. I finally broke down and went to see my ortho, which in turn led to about six weeks with a physical therapist. I discovered that my lower body was out of alignment, and some muscles were out of balance. I spent half the summer trying to realign, rebalance, and most importantly, relearn  — how to sit, how to sleep, how to get in a car…

As part of my journey, I started taking Les Mills BODYFLOW, a mind-body class that draws from the disciplines of Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates, about twice per week. I used to be a regular BODYFLOW participant before becoming a group fitness instructor. As instructors, we’re taught to be member-centric. While I don’t speak for every instructor, I do know that the busier I am, the less time I take for myself.

Anyway, I quickly remembered what the class meant to me as a member — recovery for my body, calm for my mind. We work on strength, but also flexibility, balance, grace, and calm. Aside from strength, none of these comes naturally to me, and that’s exactly why I need it in my life. In other countries, BODYFLOW is called BODYBALANCE, and balance is exactly what it provides.

When I found myself with the opportunity to attend an instructor training for BODYFLOW, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and continue my journey.  I spent the last two weeks preparing for the training, which I attended this weekend, and for the next couple of months I’ll work toward finishing my certification.

This has absolutely nothing to do with apple cupcakes, except to say that I just haven’t had time in the last two weeks to post. I promise — there are more recipes in the queue!

Anyway, you are going to love these cupcakes. It’s almost like coffee cake, and I’d venture to say it would make an awesome breakfast or brunch cupcake, perhaps without the galze. If you’re going for true cupcake, keep the glaze — just know that it’s going to make the cupcakes a lot sweeter.

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Apple Streusel Cupcakes

Adapted from Cooking Light

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons amaretto, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup finely chopped apple

Streusel:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Optional Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons (or more) 2% reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon almond liqueur

Preheat oven to 350°. Place muffin cup liners in 12 muffin cups.

Reserve one tablespoon of flour. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl beat together sugar, cream cheese, and butter with an electric mixer until well-blended. Add liqueur, vanilla, and egg; beat at medium speed until well-blended. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and milk, stirring until well-blended. In a measuring cup or bowl, toss together apple and remaining 1 tablespoon flour.

Add flour mixture and sour cream mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until blended. Fold in apple mixture. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. (Note: you’ll think you have too much batter, but these don’t really rise like regular cupcakes or muffins.)

For streusel: Combine 2 tablespoons flour, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal; stir in almonds. Sprinkle streusel evenly over cupcakes. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, and remove the cupcakes from pan.

For glaze: Combine powdered sugar, milk, and liqueur in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in additional milk if necessary. Drizzle glaze over cupcakes.

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Glazed Chocolate Bundt Cake

I’m watching the Nebraska-UCLA game, and it’s ugly.

Actually, ugly is an understatement. As I type this, we’re halfway through the fourth quarter, and it’s all I can do to keep the TV on. I need chocolate.

A couple weeks back I made this chocolate cake for an office happy hour / birthday, and it would totally fit the bill for what I need to take my mind off this atrocity of a game. It’s pretty quick to come together and feeds a lot of people. I used some amazing almond tequila from  my vacation to Mexico, but any liquor that pairs well with chocolate would be great if you’re so inclined.

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Glazed Chocolate Bundt Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 16

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons liquor (almond, hazelnut, orange, raspberry or other flavor of choice), if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 14-cup Bundt pan. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix milk and sour cream in a small bowl.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour mixture, alternating with milk mixture, ending with flour. Spoon batter into pan. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Invert cake. Make ahead: Cake will keep for up to 1 day.

Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter and liquor and mix until smooth. Let stand for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. (RHRW Note: Wait *several* minutes, especially if you used booze. Don’t plate the cake until AFTER letting the glaze set — use something easy to clean up, such as a waxed paper- or foil-lined jelly roll pan.) Pour glaze over cooled cake. Slice, and serve.

Dairy-Free Coconut Raspberry Ice Cream

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One of my dear friends drives a yellow Mini Cooper. It is a perfect metaphor for her disposition. We first met as coworkers, when her laughter would echo through the building. We both moved on from that company years ago but have remained friends, and she’s someone I count on for advice, support and a good gab session.

She has pretty significant food restrictions, almost none by choice. If you didn’t know her well, you might not even know, but I always worry about excluding her from the ritual that is shared food experience.

I happened across this recipe for dairy-free ice cream a few weeks ago, and we agreed it would be a great treat to try when she came over to catch up on episodes of Scandal.

I was out of rum (what??), which will definitely play up the coconut flavor. Use at least one can of full-fat coconut milk and let the ice cream soften a bit before serving to avoid an icy texture.

Coconut Raspberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Kiran Turan

2 13.5-oz. cans of coconut milk (full-fat or one can each full-fat and light)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
2 tabelspoons coconut rum (optional) 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (if not using rum, increase to 2 teaspoons)
9 oz fresh raspberries, divided (1 1/2 containers)

Freeze ice cream bowl and chill coconut milk im the refrigerator overnight.

In a blender, combine coconut milk, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and rum. Blend until smooth.Pour this mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Rinse the blender.

While the ice cream churns, make raspberry puree. Add 6 ounces raspberries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar into blender (or use a handheld blender). Blend away until smooth.Strain raspberry puree to remove seeds.

While ice cream continues to churn, slowly drizzle in raspberry puree. With remaining raspberries, smoosh between your thumb and forefinger and drop into the ice cream bowl.

Transfer ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze for a few hours (until solid) or overnight.

Allow ice cream to soften for a bit before serving. Serve ice cream topped with toasted coconut flakes and fresh raspberries, if desired.