Saturday, June 15, 2013

Apple Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

I recently joined Pinterest and discovered what a great tool it is for saving off those pictures of things to do, see, make, and taste in a convenient place for later retrieval. I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Salted Caramel Sauce, which I decided to give a try. I was a little skeptical at first as the salted caramel recipe has you heating up just plain sugar until it melts and turns dark amber after which you add butter and cream. Well, let me tell you, the caramel came out amazing.....the best I've ever tasted. Just be sure to closely watch the sugar as it goes from clear to dark amber quite rapidly. UPDATE: I have made the caramel sauce a couple times since and have experienced a problem with the sugars clumping up and not combining with the butter. The recipe has you turning off the burner then adding the butter. I found that it works better if you add the butter with the burner still on, whisking until the butter is incorporated into the sugar, then turn the burner off and add the cream.

After making the salted caramel sauce, I found this yummy looking recipe for Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. I made the cupcakes from this recipe, but since I happened to have some salted caramel sauce on hand already, I decided to slightly alter the buttercream recipe to use my salted caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from Baked Perfection

1/2 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce + some for drizzling over cupcakes

Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

After the cupcakes cool, simply pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and drizzle some salted caramel sauce over the top.....for a creamy, salted caramel bit of heaven!

I did happen to notice that not all baking cups are created equal. The cheaper ones are not grease-proof and don't look so pretty after baking. I will definitely need to invest in some higher quality, grease-proof baking liners in the future.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Czech Kolaches

Greetings fellow bloggers. Again, it has been too long since I have posted here. We have been so busy these past few months with my oldest son graduating from College, my youngest starting college, the holidays, and hosting an exchange student, Lukáš, from the Czech Republic. If you ever have an opportunity to host an exchange student, I highly recommend it. It is so rewarding. It is great fun seeing things new through his eyes, and at the same time, we learn so much from him about his culture, family, and country. Last year we hosted, Luís, from Brazil for several months and again it was so much fun. We continue to keep in touch with him and hope to visit him in Brazil one of these days.

Lukáš' family has shared several recipes with us including his grandmother's kolache recipe. These, my friends, are to die for! Now I've had kolaches from "The Czech Bakery" in West, Texas before, and I found them to be quite delicious, but I have to say, Lukáš' grandmother's kolache recipe is the best I have tasted.


Lukáš' Grandmother's Kolaches

4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Package(2¼ tsp) dry yeast
3½ Tbsp sugar
⅓ Cup + 1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
⅓ Cup + 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk
Grated Lemon peel
½ Tsp Salt
egg whites to brush over the top (optional)

1 Pint Cottage Cheese
3 oz Cream Cheese
1 Egg Yolk
½ Tsp Vanilla
Grated Lemon Peel
½ Cup Powdered Sugar

Crumb Topping
½ Cup Butter
½ Cup Flour
½ Cup Powdered Sugar

Jam, preserves, or Jelly of choice

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

To make the dough, add dough ingredients to bread maker in order recommended by the bread maker manufacturer. Use grated lemon peel for ½ of the lemon in the dough. Reserve the other half for the filling. Set the bread maker on the dough cycle and start it.

About a half hour before the dough completes, I start making the filling and toppings.

To make the filling, the Czech recipe actually specified curds with no cream cheese, but I had a difficult time finding them in the grocery store. I tried using cottage cheese, as is, the first time and the filling came out way too wet. The next time I made these I found it worked out better to put the cottage cheese in a fine strainer and run water over it to rinse the milk off from the curds and mix this with 3 oz of cream cheese with a mixer. Then add the rest of the filling ingredients including the grated lemon peel from the other half of the lemon. Mix until well blended. Set aside.

To make the topping, use a fork to blend the flour with the powdered sugar, then cut in the butter until crumbly. Add more flour or sugar if too moist. Set Aside.

When the dough cycle completes, you can begin assembling the kolaches as follows: Cut off a bit of dough, the amount you would use for some large rolls (I would guess about 2½ Tbsp). Roll it out till about ¼" thick. Spoon almost 1 Tbsp of filling in the center of the rolled out dough, then fold the sides up around the filling and pinch to seal. I place them in the pan with the pinched side facing down, but Lukáš' grandmother usually puts them in the pan with the pinched side facing up. If you put it face down like I do, you will need to poke a fork in the top several times to prevent it from bubbling up when baking. With your fingers, press an indentation in the top of the kolache as shown in these pictures.

If desired, brush some egg whites over the top. Spoon some of the jam into the indentation. The ones shown in my pictures have apricot and seedless raspberry jam. Try not to overfill as I tend to do or it will run down the sides. Sprinkle the topping over the tops of the kolaches then bake about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they bake. If they start to bubble up, poke them with a fork. They should have a nice golden color when they are done. This recipe makes about 12-14 Kolaches depending on how big you make them.

Many thanks to Lukáš' family for sharing this recipe, and many thanks to Lukáš for translating it for us ☺




Enjoy!! Have a great week!