Sunday, September 27, 2015

So Long, Summer!

Welcome to another riveting round of "Can She Find a Way to Put Booze in That?" ...the short answer is always yes. I mean, I'm still not good enough to turn water into wine, but I have found a way to add Baileys, Guinness, tequila, and hard cider to a lot of cakes and baked goods. I love a good 2-in-1 deal (except when it comes to my shampoo and conditioner- there are reasons these things need to be kept separately). Summer has been hanging on tighter than a clingy girlfriend with three cats, but thankfully with the fall equinox things have started to cool down around here. I'm hopefully mere weeks away from adding to pumpkin spice to everything I eat except steak because even I can't find a way to make that work, and in my family, beef is sacred and to be eaten only with a tiny amount of ketchup or A-1 (wearing stretchy pants while eating steak is optional but highly encouraged). I decided that in order to truly send off summer, I needed to come up with a farewell dessert. As it is plain to see, I will come up with just about the flimsiest of excuses to make dessert happen in this house. Vikings won the game? We need brownies to celebrate. I didn't trip over myself for a full 24 hours? Better bake some cookies. So I found a recipe for root beer float cupcakes and had a moment of pure genius. A few weeks ago I was having a really rough day (either grading papers or a bad hair day were involved), and I decided I was going to make myself  a root beer float with Not Your Father's brand root beer. These delightfully wonderful people came up with a root beer that actually tastes like root beer and is also packed full of alcohol. What I do for baked goods, these people did for a classic beverage. Sadly, I am not being paid to promote this boozy root beer, but if anyone wants to send a few cases my way, I am not going to object. Meet the spiked root beer float cupcake:
Seriously, they're not paying me to promote this product. I just love it that much. It fills me with glee (that could also just be the alcohol).

I'm sure everyone is aware that the best part of the root beer float is the creamy mix of root beer and ice cream that forms at the bottom of the glass. These cupcakes taste just like that with the added bonus of frosting that will give you a bit of a buzz. They are insanely easy to even if you had half a sixer of this root beer I'd still have faith that you could bake these without burning your house down. Just don't forget the oven mitts when removing from your oven. Can't say I didn't warn you.
I know, I had no idea root beer extract was a thing either, but now I want to put it in everything. Root beer extract is the new pumpkin spice in my book. I'm trying to break the basic white girl barrier...
I found to original recipe for these cupcakes here, so if you're weird and want booze-free cupcakes, have at it. I mean, I guess if you have kids you shouldn't make boozy cupcakes and then flaunt it to their tiny little faces that they can't have any. That would be mean and totally something I would do, which is another sterling example of why no one should ever leave their children with me. So here's what you need for the spiked cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup room temp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (loosely packed, not hard packed)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 room temp eggs
  • 1 tbsp root beer extract/concentrate
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of Not Your Father's or Coney Island hard root beer
Start by preheating your oven to 350 and lining your muffin tin with cupcake liners. This recipe yields 18 cupcakes, so if you have two muffin tins, throw in some more liners. Cream together the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes or until fluffy. While that is mixing, in a medium bowl throw together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Once the sugar butter is done, throw in each egg, one at a time, and mix well. Add in the root beer concentrate and vanilla and blend. Throw in a third of the flour mix and a third of the hard root beer and mix until just incorporated. Repeat this until you've used all of the flour mix and all of the root beer. Pour your batter into the cupcake liners until they're 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
My house smelled like the inside of an IBC root beer bottle, and it was fantastic.
Let the cupcakes rest in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Once my second batch was out of the oven, I started making the frosting. Normally I take a picture of the ingredients I use to make frosting, but this time I was super excited and somehow also tired at the same time because it was like 10 p.m., so I forgot. Don't judge me, I bake when the will strikes me. The Dark Knight Rises was on TV, and I just can't quit Christian Bale, OK?
And I mean, technically, the ingredients are pictured here...technically.
But enough of my sass and sexy Batman reasoning, here's what you need:
  • 1 cup room temp butter
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp root beer extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp hard root beer
  • Optional: maraschino cherries and sprinkles
Depending on how thick of a frosting you want, use more or less powdered sugar. I used 4 cups of powdered sugar because I wanted a frosting thick enough to hold its shape for piping. Mix together the butter and a cup of sugar for a minute, then add in the root beer extract, vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of hard root beer. Mix well before adding in another cup of sugar and another tablespoon of hard root beer. Repeat the process one last time with the remaining cup or two of sugar and the last tablespoon of extract. I loaded a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip for decorating.
So swirly!
I did a typical frosting job here and just started on the outside edge of each cupcake and swirled my frosting in a circle and piped a larger mound in the center of the cupcake to put my cherries into. I had some extra frosting by the end, so I only frosted one cupcake differently:
One of these things is not like the other, one of these things has 50 added calories because of all the frosting...
For the cupcake in the center, which honestly I liked the best, so go figure that it was the last one I decorated, I made a large mound of frosting in the center of my cupcake and then surrounded it by piping little stars one at a time around the edge. I finished off by literally adding a cherry on top and, of course, sprinkles of the red and white variety to complete the look.
Everything is just that much better with sprinkles.
There are very few adjectives that could properly sum up how amazing these cupcakes taste, but the ones that come to mind are delicious, soft, and a mouth-watering punch of root beer for your taste buds. Plus there's the added bonus of the fact that these cupcakes also come with alcohol content! I could eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I won't lie, I did eat one with my breakfast this morning in place of a donut. Life is all about choices, people. Choose the boozecakes, they're probably better for you than powdered donuts anyway. But between the Baileys cream cheese brownies from two weeks ago and now these spiked root beer float cupcakes, we're sitting pretty (and slightly leaning to the left) in this household. Time to go celebrate that Vikings victory with a cupcake. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When Drinking Baileys Just Isn't Enough...

It's that glorious time of the year when the temps are falling and white girls everywhere are Instagramming their pumpkin spice lattes. While I will pumpkin spice all the things eventually, I'm too caught up in yelling at my TV because sitting at the precipice of Autumn means one wonderfully American thing: NFL football is back on TV, baby. My dogs are going to have to readjust to my fanatical screeching, as to my knowledge, doggy ear plugs have not been invented (if I just gave you your million dollar idea, I expect to be cut in for a substantial profit). I get extremely worked up over most sporting events (hockey, tennis, NASCAR, professional bowling...), but football will always take the cake for me. Well, in this case, it will always take the brownies for me. To celebrate the arrival of what SHOULD be fall weather (New Mexico has other ideas) and the return of football, I made a batch of brownies. But these aren't just any brownies, my dear readers. The brownies are filled with a layer of Baileys cream cheese.
Because sometimes, just drinking Baileys isn't enough.
I am almost entirely certain God put me on this Earth to try to find or create as many dessert + booze combinations possible and spread my creations on to mankind. A sort of dessert prophet, if you will. As of the posting of this blog, I have not been struck down by lightning nor has it started raining fire and brimstone, so I think I've made my point. Anyway, I know you're familiar with my Guinness chocolate cake with Baileys frosting, so you know that I keep a hearty stock of Irish cream in my home. I'm a firm believer that Baileys can fix just about any problem a person might have. Not a morning person? Some Baileys in that coffee will perk ya right up. Teenagers driving you crazy? A good Baileys buzz can make even the grumpiest of children tolerable. In a place where drinking Baileys isn't socially acceptable (shudder)? Eat it, instead!
Always keep spare chocolate on hand for emergency booze brownies.
I know, it looks like a lot of ingredients, but these are quite simple to put together. I found and made some changes to this recipe. You need:
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons of butter (you're gonna melt it, so no worries about coming to room temp)
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 C semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I could only find giant jars of espresso powder, and I hate coffee, so the leftovers will exist until the end of time.)
  • 4 eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 jelly roll pan or baking pan with cooking spray. If you want thinner brownies, go for the jelly roll pan. If you like thicker, jaw-stretching and/or possibly jaw dislocating brownies, use a 9x9 pan (and increase baking time). Start by breaking up the baking chocolate into small squares and nuke following package directions until softened (but not fully melted). Get a large pot and bring the sugar, butter, and water to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and immediately add in chocolate chips, baking chocolate, vanilla, and espresso powder. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Let this cool off for about 10-15 minutes so you don't scramble your eggs. I'd eat scrambled chocolate eggs, but this isn't that kind of fusion recipe, so mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and then make your cream cheese filling to pass the time.
Cream cheese and Baileys...I could've just eaten this with a spoon.
To make the filling you'll need:
  • 2 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese at room temp
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/3 C of sugar (or more if you like sweeter filling)
  • 1/4 C of Baileys (or more if you're not busy drinking while baking...kidding. But if you use more sugar, throw some more Baileys in there, too, so the flavor is still there.)
Ready for this? Throw everything in the mixer on medium/high for 3 minutes. That's it. It needs to be that simple in the event you have been sampling the sauce while putting together everything else. So easy, a drunk baker can do it! Now, once the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, beat in each egg one at a time, and then slowly whisk in the dry flour mixture little by little until everything is incorporated. Take half of this chocolate batter and pour into your pan. Smooth out evenly like so:

Sadly, not enough batter to have any extra to lick. *Le sigh*
Then take the cream cheese filling and drop dollops of it over the bottom brownie layer.
Smooth out relatively evenly with a small spatula.
Finish up by spreading (gently, oh so gently) the rest of the brownie batter on top of the cream cheese filling.
 Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350. Start checking at about 20 minutes to see if the filling has set and the bottom layer has cooked using the toothpick test. If you're baking in a deeper pan like an 8x8 or 9x13, you'd probably need to cook for double the time. I mean, I'd be more worried about what might happen to your jaw if these brownies were baked in an 8x8 pan, but live your life the way you want...just don't burn the damn brownies. Once cooked, cool on a wire rack completely and then slice away.
Pictured: my life goals in one photo.
Oh my GOD, these are the richest chocolate brownies I have EVER had in my LIFE. So rich it necessitated all the caps lock moments happening in the previous sentence. The filling is so delightfully sweet to offset the denseness of the chocolate brownies, and together these ingredients form a moment so blissful even angels would weep over their pure deliciousness. I'd like to think so anyway; after all, I am the dessert prophet, so I'm acutely aware of how heavenly these Baileys brownies are. I'd better go say a Hail Mary or two before pushing the envelope any further. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!