Thursday, March 26, 2015

Like Hostess- chocolate cream cupcakes



Its always nice and terribly in vogue when lavish attention and generous shoutouts pour in to treats that're all the rage. Brought from ovens of eponymous bakeries and hotspots, the phenomena happensever so once in a while. Like, take for example, those doughnut- croissant hybrids  that have everyone and their mother talking, Time magazine calling them off as one of the world's greatest inventions. Crowds line up bright and early to grab one of only 300 of these food portmanteaus, everyday. Quite lofty and admirable, right? 

Is it attainable, the degree of hurrah? I don't know, but we may soon find out.

FYI, Today's piece is not about the cronut. We haven't reached that level of fancy yet.

While I may not ever set my alarm to 4 am to wait in line( don't quote me on that) for chef-made one-of kinds, there is one thing certain, I can reach a gracious level of happy when within five minutes I am able to pull up to my grocery/food warehouse/pharmacy, too, and score boxes of my alltime favorite goodie pack. And before you judge, people, mind you, I belong to a finickier lot, in the sense that only the best junk reaches my table, stuff I'm willing to put my name on line for. And so this junkie's confession goes.

I am, always have been and probably always will be obsessed with Hostess cupcakes, the snack cakes, reminiscent of an old school, mellower chocolate, slick cream centers and pullapart frosting that I've been fixated towards most of the several decades that be my life-and no, we are NOT counting. Oh, the quaint finish- in-5 double packs/ enoughmaybetoshare carton of 16 individual wraps, smitten I am, which possibly may be cause for the vertical position the Elliptical machine I climb assumes these days.

At this point, I believe I've made a bunch of you quite uncomfortable. Why here I am, the food purist (say what?), always harping on a wholesomeness and heartiness of Homemade and Handmade having the gall to profess such blasphemy. Before I further with this and have you leave ahead of my chance to redeem myself, let's take a look at what I've worked out for the future.

It was my 99 few quick searches and consequence of the 20 or more blogwanderings,  that brought me to the conclusion that those who did manage to replicate and fine tune something of this magnitude fared exceptionally well and with much élan. It left me very little room for doubt. Come next hour great kitchen craftiness was about to happen. Aah the excitement. Squeals. Happy dance. Even a Happy song.  *Clap along* Ahem...and I may or may not have been alone.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about being able to riff elements to create a replica recipe that's so beloved to a general population. Though, I don't know if it may actually be the copycat that some wish to call it. There really is no match of  ingredients, with the exception of cocoa and sugar. Then, of course goes the the Story of the Several Unknowns involved in packaging and processing, my resolve is not to mention any of that here, as it goes against my coda, owing to the unwavering idée fixe I have over the Original.

Starting with a fantastically moist crumb, there are many levels of awesomeness in these incheshigh cakes. Smooth, fluffy marshmallowish buttered cream- why cant everything be marshmallow-added?- plumps perfectly within and goes on for a final squiggle adornment. Glossy ganache, granted with a half dark/half milk approach slicks over tops and lends to the glorious semihardened magic. This is an astoundingly good cupcake.

Don't let the vast range of  process and assembly deter you. And one word of advice, root on the side of patience, which in this case will ever err you no wrong. Once you know your capabilities in recreating and delivering a decidedly great show, straight from fluffy surprise middles to cream doodles, you'll definitely reach my same conclusion, the outcome far outshines the effort. 

Even if you're not a Hostess fan, this is your gift, one you'll be delighted to have, with enough empathy to now understand my plight of helplessness for years gone by, all the while dusting crumbs off your own stuffed cheeks.

In appearance and physique, it may be a knockoff. But even I, self professed, nonrelenting Hostess loyalist I've come to be, have accepted the fact that this homemade version definitely does take the cake.


    This is that cake recipe we use on most occasions calling for chocolate cake and has shown up in past stories. 

(Cake recipe adapted from Hersheys Perfectly Chocolate-chocolate Cake: filling adapted from foodandwine.com)
Ingredients:
For the cake~
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
For the filling~
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 ½ tbsp heavy whipping cream
For the ganache icing:
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsb unsalted butter, softened
Directions:
To make the cupcakes~
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Line 2  standard 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. 
  • Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl of stand mixer or any large bowl.
  • Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed either of stand mixer or with the hand mixer for 2 minutes. Turn off mixer. Stir in boiling water and incorporate with all ingredients with large spoon or ladle. (batter will be thin). 
  • Divide batter evenly among lined muffin cups, about 2/3 of the way.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.
To make the filling~
  • In the bowl of mixer, beat butter and sugar on low-medium speed. 
  • Once blended, add marshmallow fluff, cream and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. 
  • Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a round 1/4-inch tip, and fill bag with all but 1/4 cup of the filling. Put the extra 1/4 cup in a pastry bag fitted with a smaller round tip or a ziploc with a tiny corner snipped and keep aside.  
To make the ganache icing~
  • Pour the cream in a glass bowl. Bring to a boil in the microwave by cooking for 1 minute increments until it begins to bubble. Don’t let it boil over.
  • Remove the hot cream from the microwave. Add in the chocolate and butter. Let stand covered for 1 minute, then open and stir with a spatula until chocolate is melted and smooth. If not, place back in the microwave and heat on 50% power for 20 seconds intervals until its blended and completely smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken for 10-15 minutes.
To assemble~
  • Take the cupcakes, plunge tip end of larger filled pastry bag into the center of the cupcake. Press and fill roughly about 2 tablespoons full or just until you feel the cupcake swell. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
  • Dip the top of each filled cupcake into ganache, flip and set aside. Repeat with remaining. Allow icing to set, about 20 minutes.
  • Take the smaller pastry bag/ziploc bag of filling and pipe a continuing squiggle across the top middle of each cupcake. 
  • Place any remaining cupcakes in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
The hands of this diligent worker gets the job right.
Doll 'em up and customize. The pretty monograms brought much cheer to the schoolgoer duo of the house.
Easy peasy. A fill made breezy.
Glossy shiny and so good looking. You can't help but audition a few licks, you know just to test if its all right and so...
******
A psalm so close to my heart~

Even when it seems like no one's there to help, assuage your fears, lessen your hurts, heal your pain. 

Christ is. Your help. Your anchor. Your healer. Your shield. Your savior. Lover of your soul.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night." Psalm 121: 1-6

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Indian Sloppy-Joe sliders


Confession: Sometimes, the eloquent recipe writing that flies from these pages and ensuing million noble words punched onto the hollows of hyperspace do me very little service on nights when I have an almost empty refrigerator and zero motivation.

Then there are the spent afternoons(which often lead to nights) chasing up countless hours of recorded television.

And of course, the rare occasion sees these phenomena coincide and carom into a most undesirable sequence of events, beginning with where I find it terribly strenuous to feed the many mouths in my house. *Sigh* 

Yet, and I think  I've said it before(?), mindless sensible screen watching is oftentimes the preset to subsequent wisdom/spark of happenings/ culinary sightings that occur within the depths of this kitchen. Yes, great things happen when I watch TV.

So, while I was navigating through dual movie ques, the latter being those of my first language vernacular-keeps me on top of things, you know- it occurred that there may be that pound of ground beef, one nearing its lifespan, awaiting freedom from its term on freezer's second shelf. One thought led to the next and soon enough I was rolling in ideas, stopping in time to find the familiar 24 pack of plush buns, a staple I often find on sale, in the bread basket. Odds ever in my favor? Serendipity? Let's just call it dinner.

Indian styled Sloppy Joe slider. A  piquant hearty almost- burger on sliced mini bread, modelled on taste composites found within fancy Indian menus, and the ultimate in sandwich fulfillment. Where lean mincedmeat opens up to one of its most elevated callings, spice-plus-lots-of-things-nice infused ground, centered between two clouds of Hawaiian bread, small enough to be considered a slider and an obsession I believe I cannot live without. Gaahh. 

Not as sloppy as its American cousin, Indian Joe consists of elements more adhering and in quantities that allow the contents to not drown in pools of sauce or cause spontaneous bursts of combustion on mouth's contact, and bring cause for the thousand napkins. The fact that it forks together in less than twenty minutes beats any felled meat dripping in canned tomato glue, hands down.

It's a swift succession affair. Individual components drape in, gather momentum, and pull together for an immensely unifying outcome, a satisfaction customary of all decent Desi-ized food. With zero overlap in flavors, a mere twospooned mound will find you in awe of the allying balance between Heat, Salt, Sweet and Tang. 
This answer to a higher summons definitely will not be your average Joe. Instead, it's a cult-creating blueprint, and all yours, folks. You needn't even  ask.
Conveniencewise, this is that soccer night/piano night/anyactivitythattakesyourspaceup night dinner. But it expands to more than that, because you've achieved in a portable two bites, what merited chefs do in  elaborate, ethnic-inspired meals.

Careful, careful. This midget of an almost burger, one which can deceive you into the 10-in-a-serving lie, has serious addictive qualities. Certain, beyond a doubt, you really can't eat just one. Take it from the expert. The one in her nextsizupyogapant predicament.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tsp cayenne or Indian chili powder* 
  • 1-2 tbsp coriander powder 
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use 93% lean)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 c water
  • ¼ c tomato ketchup
  • 1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp softened butter
  • 24 Hawaiian rolls(two 12 packs) or any mildly sweet rolls
  • handful chopped cilantro

Directions:
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until it shimmers. 
  • Add the chopped onion, saute until translucent.
  • Add garlic, ginger, stir until they cook down, about 1 minute.
  • Add the diced tomato, cayenne, coriander, cumin. Stir once around to combine. Add beef. Take heat to high and stir beef until it sizzles and is slightly browned (it won't cook all over, but the idea is to create a slight browned crust throughout parts of the meat.
  • Add pepper, salt, water and bring meat mixture to boil. 
  • Once it reaches boil, reduce the heat and stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and sugar. 
  • Simmer, half covered until meat cooks through and mixture thickens, 8-10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat.
  • In the meantime, turn on oven's broiler.
  • Separate Hawaiian rolls, lay on lined baking sheets, white sides up. Spread with butter.
  • Place under broiler, I minute, or until browned, keeping an eye not to burn.
  • Take rolls out and place 1-2 tbsp meat filling onto bottom part of bun. Sprinkle with cilantro.
  • Cover with the top part of roll.
Notes~
Feel free to adjust the cayenne pepper, spice powders to your level of comfort.

Thank you Scoop Whoop for tucking BFMK green chutney sandwiches into your 13 things you can make under 10. How could you ever go wrong when mentioned along the same ranks of toast and condensed milk? Honored indeed.
Want to make mini a healthful meal? Double up and create larger sandwiches with more filling on whole grain buns or bread, swap beef for turkey and so. And doubling the filling could also lead to other epic pairings, with rice, over noodles, side with appam
Oh endless, the possibilities. 

Hey! Don't leave. I wanted to show-off take you through Firstchild's birthday party (hold the applause, please). She wanted Indian themes, with movies stars, flowers, and giant pinterest-like flower poufs jumping off walls, ceilings and cake. Complete with lots of cutting, gluing, tissuepapershaping, food coloring, marshmallow mess, this took me in more than I anticipated. It was crazy, but methinks we had some fun.
******
"You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!" Matthew 5:14-15 (The Message)