Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

February 14, 2017

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February 14th….yup, you guessed it…It is Valentine’s Day. Does everyone know what amazing dish they’re making for their sweeties to celebrate the day? I tell you, I think I’ve got a real winner here with these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. The husband loves a good G&T. The two places which he ranks as making the best G&T’s out there are the Slippbarinn in the Marina Hotel in Reykjavik Iceland (kind of difficult to get there for us…) and Saison in good old Richmond Virginia (Dangerously close to us if you know what I mean!). Although each version of this classic cocktail has very different flavor profiles, they both share the use of grapefruit juice and garnish in their mix rather than the traditional lime. So that is what I did here. Bring on the grapefruit I say. Wow! These boozy little cupcakes are just perfect.

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So refreshing with bold citrus flavors and floral gin notes. And I should also mention that I frosted them with a pink grapefruit/gin swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Yeah, swiss meringue frosting rules. So fluffy, so light. It is everything you could ever want in a frosting.

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It is actually strange for me to say that recently I am really into grapefruit. I absolutely hated it as a kid and was at a loss as to why anyone would eat one. Can’t get enough of it now. I’m even sipping on a grapefruit flavored fizzy water as I write this. And G&T’s are also something I never cared for in the past. To me drinking any kind of gin was like licking a Christmas tree. But my opinion has definitely changed since I took a taste of the husband’s G&T at Saison. I couldn’t wait to order my own! Saison is our favorite restaurant in Richmond, which says a lot because Richmond is just chock full of fantastic eateries. A real foodie destination I tell you, but it is actually pretty difficult to tempt us away from Saison when we are in town. Not only has every morsel of food we have ever gotten there been delicious, but their cocktails are also simply superb – especially their G & T’s. One of the things that makes Saison’s G&T so remarkable is that it is a hopped G&T. They actually make their own hopped tonic. Now they used to sell little bottles of this magical tonic, but their G&T is such a popular cocktail for them, that they had trouble making enough tonic for both the bar and take out market. Here is where we totally lucked out. We happened to be there last week and the bartender had just made up a brand new batch of tonic. Not only were we able to enjoy it in a Hopped Gin and Tonic or two…we were also actually able to buy a little bit of the hopped tonic to take home with us. I used it in these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. That’s right…the ones we are scarfing down here are actually Pink Grapefruit Hopped Gin & Tonic cupcakes! OMG! So delicious! The hopped tonic is slightly bitter but also citrusy which pairs so well with the sweet grapefruit notes. Now I know not everyone can get ahold of that amazing elixir. Like I said, we really lucked out. But you can use regular tonic water and the results will still be stellar!

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So I don’t know if your Valentine is anything like mine….he is not so much into chocolate, but loves fruit desserts. And he loves G&T’s, so these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes are a Valentine’s Day dessert match made in heaven for him. I’d wager you’d love them too. And don’t forget, if you are ever in Richmond, you must grab a bite to eat as well as a Hopped G&T at Saison! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

  • Servings: 15 -18 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: Globe Scoffers

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 180 grams unsalted butter
  • 180 grams caster (superfine) sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 large pink grapefruit
  • 180 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 Tablespoons tonic water
  • 2 Tablespoons Gin (plus more for brushing over cupcakes)

For the Frosting:

  • 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoons Gin
  • grapefruit zest for garnish

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line muffin tins with cupcakes papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest until light and fluffy.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Add the flour/baking powder and mix until it is just incorporated. Take care not to over mix.

Stir in the tonic water and gin, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake wells. I use an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes on a metal rack. While they are still warm, poke several holes in each cake with a skewer. Brush liberally with gin and let cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add the grapefruit juice and gin slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.

If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.

When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with grapefruit zest and wedges as you prefer.

Enjoy!

Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools and Ingredients for Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop

King Arthur Self Rising Flour – You can also find this on Amazon, but have to purchase several bags of it.

India Tree Superfine Caster Baking Sugar

Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio – I have never actually tried these, but if you are into the idea of artisan tonics these might be fun to experiment with. Just add soda water to these syrups for a unique flavor profile.

 

 

 


Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka

February 5, 2017

img_5446So I gotta ask….are there any Nutella fans out there? Cause let me tell you I love me some Nutella! I did actually didn’t even know it existed until I was living in Ireland and my friend Theresa had a jar. I watched with amazement as she spread it over her toast. I was like “What! You can eat chocolate on toast!” I had no idea it was a thing. Yup, love at first bite. And I love bread as well, so this Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka recipe was a no brainer for me.

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Now it is not by chance that I’m blogging a recipe which features Nutella today. Today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

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Last year, the founders have transferred Nutella Day to Ferrero the company who owns that most beloved spread. Take a peek at their Facebook page and see how folks are celebrating the day! I love Nutella so I usually try to participate with a Nutella laden recipe every year. Last year I celebrated with Nutella Sea Salt Stuffies:

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The year before I made cookies as well,  irresistible Salted Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwich Cookies – sweet salty bliss I tell you!

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I was still all about the cookies and the salty / sweet thing three years ago when I blogged about  Salted & Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies feature silky, decadent Nutella, creamy caramel, nostalgic malted goodness and rich chocolate chips, all rolled up together in a crunchy chewy salted cookie

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And then there was my  Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart which was quite stunning if I do say so myself.

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But let me get back to the stunning Nutella treat we have on hand today: Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka. Oh Lawdie…this bread is delicious! Babka, which has a Russian/Polish culinary pedigree (the name is derived from “baba” which is Russian for grandmother)  is made with a rich yeasted dough. You end up with something that is somewhere between cake and bread. Every brioche like morsel is so tender it simply melts in your mouth. And can we just talk about the fillings? Well there are as many variations in the fillings as there are grandmothers! You can have a fruit filled Babka, a chocolate Babka, a cinnamon Babka, a chocolate cinnamon Babka, or a Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka as we have here today. Babkas can be topped with a streusel, soaked in Rum or drizzled with a glaze. They can be shaped many ways as well, baked in a bread tin, free-standing or as I have done here, shaped into the dramatic Israeli version which is known as “kranz cake”. The possibilities are endless!

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Now all that being said, making this luscious filled rolled and twisted bliss is no simple undertaking! You’ve gotta want it…and believe me you will. It is so worth it. The good thing is you can break it up into steps and take up to 3 days to bake the bread if you wish. Or if you’re hardcore, get up early in the morning and blast through the whole thing in one day. Midnight Babka sounds great to me too!

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Laden with butter and lashings of Nutella and chocolate chips this bread not only has mouthwatering good looks but can back it up with to die for taste. Great as a dessert, for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee, you just can’t beat this time-tested comfort food treat. So Happy Nutella Day…I’ve gotta go tear into some Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka!

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Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka

  • Servings: 1 large loaf of bread
  • Difficulty: moderate - with a lot of rise time
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 Tablespoons (.66 oz / 19 grams) instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz / 170 grams) lukewarm milk (95°F or 35°C)
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz / 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted or at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons ( 3 oz /85 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (.25 oz / 7 grams) vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks (3 oz. / 85 grams)
  • 3 1/3 cups (15 oz / 425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (.25 oz/ 7 grams) salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 1 jar (13 oz.) Nutella
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved and set aside for 5 minutes.

Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment for a stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla to the eggs yoke and whisk together. Then add the yolks to the sugar mixture in four portions, mixing thoroughly until each is incorporated before adding the next. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 2 more minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during the process.

Stop mixing and add the flour and salt, then pour in the milk mixture. Resume mixing at low speed until a soft, supple, tacky dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes adding flour as necessary to make the dough pliable. Form dough into a ball.

Place dough in a clean, highly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 1/2 hours. It will rise, but won’t double. If you are taking my advice and making this Babka over several days, after the rise, place the dough in the refrigerator overnight to be rolled out the next day.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Line a 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper and mist it with spray oil. Spread the Nutella evenly over the parchment paper. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place into the refrigerator to firm up. Once you have rolled the dough out, you can easily transfer this Nutella chocolate chip square directly on top of the babka dough. Easy peasy!

Once the dough has risen, or on day two, roll it into a 15″ by 11″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface. It should e between 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Lay the refrigerated Nutella Chocolate sheet on top of the Babka dough and peel the parchment away.

Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and place it seam side down on the work surface. With firm but gentle pressure, rock the log back and forth. Using a metal pastry blade, cut the log down the middle lengthwise. Rotate the dough so that the cut edges are facing up. Place one piece over the other and continue to criss-cross the pieces to form a braid. Pinch the ends of the braided pieces together to seal.

Cover the braided loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 2 -3 hours. At this point, you can proceed directly to baking or refrigerate the loaf overnight. If holding it overnight, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake it.

Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Bake loaf for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan. Bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until the sides of the loaf are a rich golden brown. The internal temperature will reach about 185° F (85° C). I the tope begins to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil

Allow the Babka to cool for at least 90 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


Pasture’s Pimento Cheese

February 1, 2017

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Here it is…February already. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is on the way. Groundhog Day is nigh! I gotta admit, I don’t feel like we’ve really had any winter yet. There has only been a few wee dustings of snow in the morning and the temperatures have only ventured into the real wintery territories a handful of times. So yeah, I hope that Punxsutawney critter sees his shadow tomorrow.

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only ones celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 6th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Six years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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Last year I shared one of my favorite recipes: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

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I’ve posted some other tasty “Anniversary Edition” recipes since then as well like Banana Rum Muffins:

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And who can forget when a genuine Crack Pie made an appearance:

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And this year I have really got a winner of a recipe for you. A definite favorite around here – Pimento Cheese!

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It is the perfect appetizer to bring along with you no matter what the festivity! This magical “caviar of the South” is so delicious and quite versatile. You can serve it with crackers (Ritz preferably) and veggies, it is delicious scooped up with a Frito, you can mix it into the yolks of deviled eggs, you can spread it on burgers, it makes one heck of a decadent grilled cheese or if you’re short on time it is pretty wonderful simply spread between two slices of bread! The husband and I have been spending a lot of time in Richmond Virginia and let me tell you…they love some pimento cheese in that town. This particular recipe I’m sharing today comes from Chef Jason Alley and is served in one of his restaurants, Pasture. If you are ever visiting Richmond, do yourself a favor and stop by for lunch or dinner. Pasture specializes in Southern Cooking, but with a modern twist. Instead of those huge plates of food you would get a grandma’s house, Pasture serves up small plates which are meant to be shared. Their seasonal menu is full of dishes made with fresh locally sourced ingredients. You will definitely find this Pimento Cheese on the menu (year round) along with many many more amazing offerings.

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Pimento Cheese is pretty easy to make, but I would like to give you a bit of advice that will make your Pimento Cheese completely over the top delicious. First of all, grate the cheese yourself, don’t buy bags of pre-shredded cheese. Why? Because the pre-shredded cheese is coated with a cellulose product to keep it from sticking together. This makes it a bit less creamy, so just take a few seconds and grate the cheese yourself. The second thing is the mayonnaise. You’ve gotta use Duke’s! Seriously. Not Hellman’s. Dukes. Dukes is actually the 3rd largest brand of mayonnaise sold in the United States. However, its popularity is largely limited to the South. But there it has a cult following. Using any other brand is out of the question. And truth be told, Duke’s tastes different. It has more egg yolks and has no added sugar giving it a much brighter, tangy flavor and a creamier texture. And lets face it, mayonnaise is a pretty important ingredient in Pimento Cheese, so if you can, go with the authentic Southern brand, Dukes. As far as the roasted red peppers. I actually roasted the peppers myself. It is pretty easy. You just put the peppers on a parchment lined baking tray and pop them into an oven which has been preheated to 400° F. You roast them for 20 minutes and then turn them over and roast them for 20 more minutes. Remove them from the oven and place them on a cutting board. Cover them with a bowl and allow them to steam for 15 minutes. Steaming them will make the skins very easy to remove. Then you peel them, seed them and there you have it. Easy peasy. Though perhaps an easier thing would be buying a jar in the grocery store. I’ll let you decide. That’s pretty much it. I will admit though that I have gilded this lily of a recipe once or twice by adding a bit of chopped bacon and some diced jalapeño peppers to up the heat. What can I say? Everything is better with bacon and we love our spice. But I’ll wager you’ll be very pleased with Pasture’s unadorned version. So what in the world are you waiting for?!! Might I remind you that the Super Bowl is happening this Sunday!

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Pimento Cheese

  • Servings: 4- 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Chef Jason Alley – Pasture Restaurant

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, roasted , peeled, seeded and finely diced*
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 sprigs tarragon, leaves removed, minced
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise, Duke’s preferably
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • chives for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-blended.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to one day.

Serve with crackers (preferably Ritz), pickles and crudités.

Enjoy!

*You can buy roasted red peppers in the the grocery store. If you are interested in roasting your own: Place the peppers on a parchment lined baking tray and pop them into an oven which has been preheated to 400° F. Roast them for 20 minutes and then turn them over and roast them for 20 more minutes. Remove them from the oven and place them on a cutting board. Cover them with a bowl and allow them to steam for 15 minutes. Peel the skins and remove the seeds.

Pasture’s Pimento Cheese brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:

Duke’s Mayonnaise

 


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