Man...how is it I've fallen off the blog posting wagon again?! what is wrong with me?! Oh yeah, I haven't really been cooking. Last week was a FAIL. We didn't have the stuffed peppers because the husband thought they looked weird and wasn't crazy about the filling, so we pulled some veggie lasagna out of the freezer and had that instead. I had every intention of having the peppers for lunch, but then we ended up eating out for lunch like five days in a row. Weird because that NEVER happens. Friday night we didn't have dinner because he wasn't feeling good, so Saturday night we had Trader Joe's marinated ahi tuna, which ended up being a little mealy since it had been sitting in marinade for 24+ hours. Sigh. Sunday we went to my mom's for dinner, Monday the husband had a meeting at church and had dinner there. It's just crazy when I go through spells like this!
I did do some baking over the weekend for my Barefoot Bloggers group. The first recipe for September was chosen by Susy at Everyday Gourmet in honor of her birthday. Happy Birthday, Susy! This was a recipe I hadn't paid much attention to before (from Ina's Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook) because I don't like to do a lot of baking. It just seems to dirty so many dishes and take so much longer than cooking. But, the boy likes to bake with me, so I do it for him. Ah, the things we do for our kids. Anyway, I read the reviews of this recipe on the Food Network website and was surprised to see that a lot of people didn't like it. I'd never seen that for an Ina recipe before!! I was glad I read through all of them because I figured out how to change mine up so it would be a little better. I'll post the original recipe and then note afterwards how I changed it.
Barefoot Contessa Birthday Sheet Cake
Copyright 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All Rights Reserved
For the cake:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting:
24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.
For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.
Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Have the children decorate the cake with chocolate candies.
I really had no need to make an entire sheet cake, plus a lot of the reviews said their sheet pans weren't tall enough, and the cake spilled over. I HATE cleaning my oven, so I wanted to avoid that at all costs. In reading posts from some of the other Barefoot Bloggers, I discovered a couple people had done cupcakes! Perfect, I thought! So I cut the recipe in half and did cupcakes. I omitted the lemon zest because I'm not a fan of citrus and chocolate together, plus a lot of the reviews said it was overpowering. They also advised cutting the baking soda down to 3/4 teaspoon, so since I was halving the recipe I only did about 3/8. For the frosting, I used half semisweet chocolate chips and half milk chocolate chips. Did I think to cut the frosting recipe in half? Nope. Now I have a huge container of frosting in my fridge that I don't know what to do with. got any suggestions? Leave me a comment!
Anyway, I overfilled the cupcake pans, so mine ended up kind of square on top once the cupcakes puffed up while baking. Oops. Just gave me more surface area to cover with frosting! I really liked the flavor of the cupcakes themselves...great texture, great flavor. Denser than cupcakes you get from a boxed cake mix, which I enjoyed. The frosting was really, really sweet. I liked it, but I felt like I couldn't put too much on each cupcake because it was so sweet. Maybe because I added in milk chocolate with the semisweet chips. I don't know. I think I'd make these again but use a different frosting recipe for it. Ha! Who am I kidding...next time I need cupcakes I'll just go get a mix. ;) But, if you like to bake then give this a go!
My zany kitchen helper:
This is why I hate baking...all these dishes for 18 cupcakes?!
My square-topped cupcakes, pre-frosting:
Mmmm...M&Ms on top of cupcakes!