Green Tea Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Time for another cupcake! This time green tea with cream cheese frosting. The pairing is unique

Ingredients:

For the cupcake

1.5 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp matcha powder (I use vanilla matcha from David’s Tea)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

For the icing

8 oz brick of cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, left out for 30 minutes
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Directions:

For the Cupcake:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Mix first 5 dry ingredients in a mixmaster.

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Add in butter, one cube at a time, until combined and mixture looks like coarse sand.

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Add eggs, one at a time at low speed.

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Add milk and vanilla slowly and beat for 2 minutes.

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Fill liners.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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For the Icing:

With a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.

Add the tsp of vanilla and mix slowly. If it is too thick at 1/2 tsp of milk at a time until you have the right consistency.

Science Fact of the Week:

I often asked what makes cake flour so special? Why do we use it? Now I’ve found the answer! It actually relates to protein! Cake flour has less protein in it, giving it a softer texture.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I have made this recipe a few times, originally from Ina Garten. There are a lot of steps, but you end up with a delicious soft red velvet cupcake thats worth it.

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp gel food colouring (+1 tsp water) or 2 tbsp liquid food colouring
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cup cake and pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp white vinegar

For the icing

8 oz brick of cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, left out for 30 minutes
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

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In a small bowl, mix gel food colouring with 1 tbsp of water and cocoa powder. Mix with a fork until it becomes a paste.

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Add cocoa food colouring mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined.

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Add eggs and mix well after each addition.

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Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

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Add vanilla to buttermilk. I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand so I made a substitute at home. I put 1 tbsp lemon juice in a 1 cup measuring cup and filled to the top with 1% milk.

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Add dry and wet ingredients, alternating between the two until well incorporated.

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In a separate bowl mix baking soda and vinegar. The two will bubble (similar to your grade 7 science experiment). Mix until it stops bubbling and add to the batter. Mix well.

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Transfer to muffin liners.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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For the Icing:

With a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.

Add the tsp of vanilla and mix slowly. If it is too thick at 1/2 tsp of milk at a time until you have the right consistency.

Science Fact of the Week:

As you can probably guess, seeing as this recipe relates to a classic middle school science experiment, it seemed important to explain the science of mixing baking soda and vinegar. The mixing the reaction generates carbon dioxide gas. This is an example of an acid base reaction. It helps the red velvet rise well to make a light and airy cupcake.

Cookies and Cream Mini Cheesecakes

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These little cheesecakes are a favourite for any event. Easy to eat without a plate or cutlery, these cheesecakes leave behind very little mess.

Making these, I intended to add a fudge swirl to modify the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Original. Upon realizing I forgot muffin liners (AFTER already forgetting Oreos) I rushed out to the grocery store with my friend to pick some up. I came home to find my house filled with smoke because I left the fudge melting on the stove. Luckily there was no fire and I baked some challah to cover the smell of smoke. Thanks DN for the support and help throughout this adventure.

Taking this as a sign that I shouldn’t change the recipe, the only changes I made were using light cream cheese and sour cream.

Ingredients:

18 Oreos (any type, try a fun flavour to change it up)
2 8-ounce packages light cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light sour cream
a pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275˚F and line a muffin tin with liners (that you purchased in advance). Place 1 whole Oreo in the bottom of each liner.

In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese.

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Add sugar and beat again.

IMG_0863.jpgCrack two eggs into a separate bowl and beat together.

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Add vanilla and the egg mixture slowly.

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Place remaining 6 Oreos in a ziplock back and break apart (using a rolling pin). Stir in oreos.

Divide batter into muffin liners and bake for 25 minutes. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

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These can be stored in the fridge (in an airtight container) for 3 days or the freezer for 1 month.

Science Fact of the Week:

Sour cream is a dairy product that results from fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria. Sour cream is high in healthy fats which may be protective against disease. It is also rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, riboflavin and phosphorous. These nutrients are essential for eyesight, immune health, bone health and energy.

Cake Pops

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For any family event my go to dessert is a cake pop. I make 3-4 different kinds, and have mastered the technique over the last 5 years. This recipe is a lot of work and requires patience, but the pay off is worth it. Make these and the number one question you get will be “where did you buy them?”

Buckle down and get ready for the ride, this post is a long one. Clear some freezer space and head to Michael’s with a shopping list in hand.

Supplies

Cake pop sticks
Cake pop treat bags with twist ties
Candy melts, any colour
Foam blocks
An opaque bucket – such as this one, but any canister you want to place the cake pops in for decoration
Optional: ribbon for decoration of canister and/or cake pops

This recipe is going to follow an untraditional format from previous ones. Instead of including the ingredients/directions for the cake, I’ll be providing the assembly instructions. These cake pops can be made with any cake and any frosting. The choices are endless and it is up to you! I’ve made red velvet with cream cheese frosting, green tea cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, chocolate cake with espresso frosting, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and even cookie dough.

This recipe is comprised of pictures of many different samples, however the classic favourite in our house is chocolate with espresso frosting. Please note: if you are making cookie dough, try this recipe and don’t include any frosting. Skip straight to rolling out the balls once you’ve prepared the raw dough. A shout out to SA for helping prep these. She helped make these cake pops right after designing our incredible logo.

Ingredients:

1 recipe chocolate cake
1/2 recipe espresso frosting

Directions

1) Prepare cake in a 9×13 pan and allow to cool.

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2) Carefully trim top and sides of cake to remove any “crunchy” exterior

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3) Prepare a 1/2 recipe of frosting

4) Place cake in a large bowl and add 1-2 cups of frosting and mix with your hands (varies depending on moisture level of cake). You want the cake pop to be able to stick together when rolled into a ball. Ensure that you add enough frosting so they don’t crack and crumble.

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5) Scoop a heaping tablespoon of cake from the bowl and roll into an even ball. Repeat until all dough is finished. This picture is from the vanilla cake pops, however the chocolate would look very similar.

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6) Place balls on parchment on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

7) Take balls out of fridge and melt a bowl of candy melts in a bowl (any colour)

8) Dip a lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, and then put it into the cake ball. Place the stick into the foam block to support it.

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9) Put the cake pops (with foam blocks) in the freezer for 1-2 hours

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10) Melt more of the candy melts (a full bowl) – can be done on the stove or in the microwave (any colour)

11) Dip the frozen cake pop into the melted chocolate and twist it so it is completely covered. Since the cake is frozen, it will harden quickly. Optional: cover the outside in sprinkles

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12) Place the stick back in the foam block and allow it to harden completely in the freezer.

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13) Optional: You can decorate the cake pops by melting a different colour candy melt. Place a small amount of the candy melt in a ziplock back. Seal it and place it in a large bowl of hot water. Once melted, cut a small tip off the corner and drizzle onto the cake pops.

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14) Once the cake pops are prepared, slide them into the treat bag and close with a twist tie. Optional: Add a ribbon for decoration.

15) Place a foam block in the container (cut to size). Arrange the cake pops into a bouquet in the container. Optional: Add a ribbon to the outside for decoration.

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Congrats! You made it to the end! This recipe is intensive, but a unique one. Give it a shot and it will be worth it.

Science Fact of the Week:

Our science fact of the week has to do with gravity and temperature. These cake pops are very temperamental. If you make them too large, they will be heavy and will fall off the stick. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down. Let’s just hope it comes down into our stomachs. As well, ensure that you are allowing the cake pops to cool between steps so that the balls and chocolate harden. This will ensure their stability on the sticks.

 

Oat Fudge Bars

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Have you ever longingly looked at the oat fudge bar in the Starbucks display window, tempted by the fudgy deliciousness?

These copycat Starbucks oat fudge bars will fill that void in your life. Make these and people will think that you stopped at the nearest Starbucks to pick up their entire stock of Oat Fudge bars.

They are great for a crowd, freeze well and are very simple to make. This recipe makes a 9×13 pan, however I multiply everything by 1.5 to fill a larger rimmed baking sheet.

Ingredients:

For the Oat Mixture:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup coconut oil (can replace with another stick of butter)
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups old fashioned oats

For the Fudge:

1 cup sweetened condensed milk (about 1 container)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 pan.

Cream butter (and coconut oil), sugars and eggs in a large bowl

Mix in flour, baking soda and old fashioned oats. Mix well.

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Take 3/4 of the mixture and press down into the pan similar to a crust. Ensure that the oats come up the edge of the pan slightly. This is what gives the fudge bars their delicious oat-ey crust.

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In a saucepan, melt fudge ingredients. Pour sauce over oat crust.

Take remaining 1/4 of oat mixture and “blob” on top.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350˚F.

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Science Fact of the Week:

You may be asking about the use of coconut oil here. Lately I’ve been swapping out half the butter, or half the margarine and using coconut oil instead. Coconut oil contains no trans fats, and is made of up healthier saturated fats (including Lauric acid). Lauric acid may lead to apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, therefore leading to possible health benefits.  It may also improve  hepatic (liver) antioxidant status and improve overall cardiovascular health. 

Earl Grey Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Now it’s my turn to give this a shot.
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This summer I developed a bit of a scone addiction. It began when a colleague of mine suggested I try the scones at the coffee shop around the corner from work. Within a week I had tried nearly every flavour. Favourites included Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Espresso and Maple Oat. My colleagues even teased me because the scone would disappear before I even walked into the building door.

Naturally, as the curious person I am, I started looking up recipes. After trying a few others, I settled on The Blueberry Lemon Scone from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Based on some helpful suggestions from friends and a couple of my own ideas, I tweaked this recipe slightly, but I’ll save those hints for a future post.

Outside of The Science of Baking Laboratory, I’ve spent my summer working in an actual research facility. Once a week we have a team lab meeting, and I or my father has baked for every single meeting. I’ve used my lab as test subjects for each of my scone recipes (I don’t think they are complaining). The original blueberry lemon recipe inspired me to create different flavour combinations, and I now prepare a bowl of each flavour following the base of the initial recipe. Today’s post is a delicious Earl Grey Scone that pairs nicely with a cup of coffee.

As noted in the original recipe, working with frozen butter is what makes these scones what they are. I use a food processor to grate the butter, and a pastry cutter to incorporate it. If you don’t happen to have these tools, the butter can be grated by hand, and a fork is a great substitute for a pastry cutter. I also choose to weigh the ingredients to ensure precise amounts, but again, if you don’t have a scale, standard measuring tools will be sufficient. My scone addiction has prompted me to expand my university kitchen (I now own my own food processor – Thanks Mom!). Next up, an electric mixer!

Ingredients:

For the Scones:

2 + 2 tbsp. Earl Grey Tea (I use David’s Tea Cream of Earl Grey)
3 tbsp. boiling water
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour (plus extra for counters)
6 tbsp. (75g) granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, frozen (I throw it in the freezer ice drawer about 20 mins before I start making the scones, and take it out only when I’m ready to use it)
scant 1/2 cup heavy cream (I use 35% Cooking Cream)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the Glaze:

1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or 1/2 of a vanilla bean, seeded)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

First, mix the boiling water with 2 Tbsp. of earl grey tea leaves. Alternatively, you can use two earl grey tea bags. Let it sit on the counter to cool down. This is the earl grey concentrate that gives the scones a strong earl grey flavour.

Next, take the other two tbsp. of tea leaves and grind them to a fine texture (I use a single-serve blender similar to the magic bullet). I grind them until they about the size of a sugar granule. If you are using tea bags, this isn’t necessary.

Mix the tea with the next 4 ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl.
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In a small bowl, whisk the scant 1/2 cup of heavy cream, vanilla, earl grey concentrate and egg.
FullSizeRender 7.jpgGrate the butter (by hand or in the food processor) and add to dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter (or fork) to incorporate. (Please note: this picture is from the blueberry scone recipe – normally you would be able to see the small tea granules similar to the photo above)FullSizeRender 8.jpg Pour wet ingredients over the butter mixture and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Make sure not to over-work the dough.
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Flour a work surface to place your dough on. Shape the dough into a long rectangle (as pictured here).FullSizeRender 10.jpg

To cut the scones:

  1. Cut vertically down the middle (creates two pieces)
  2. Cut each half in the middle vertically as well (creates four pieces)
  3. Cut horizontally down the middle (creates 8 pieces)
  4. Cut each of these pieces diagonally (creates a total of 16 scones)

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Bake scones for 12-17 minutes. 15 minutes usually works perfectly for me.

If you want scones on demand, these freeze well (pre-cut) in an air-tight container. Ensure that scones are not touching each other (divide with parchment). They can be stored in freezer for a few weeks before baking. Add two minutes to baking time when baking from frozen.

I’ve now prepared extras to keep in the freezer, and just take a single scone out to bake in the toaster oven when I’m craving it. In the toaster oven I’ve found they need about 13 minutes from frozen (but I’m skeptical that we have an aggressive toaster oven).

Allow the scones to cool on wire rack.

Mix ingredients for glaze in separate bowl. Top cooled scones with glaze.
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Matcha green tea scones (on the right) coming soon!

Science Fact of the Week:

Earl grey is a black tea synthesized from Camellia sinesis. Black tea contains polyphenolic compounds. These compounds have been associated with prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease). Although this isn’t the usual delivery vehicle for tea, you can easily pair these scones with a warm cup of earl grey tea to enhance the health benefits.