Monthly Archives: May 2011

Red Velvet Cupcake Throwdown

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It’s that time of year again. The sun is starting to shine, farmers markets are popping up around the block and I’m no longer hibernating in my apartment for fear of another Snowpocalypse. It’s also time for another throwdown.

If you’re a dedicated reader of my blog – and I assume you all are – you remember the famous peanut butter cookie throwdown of 2010. It was pretty epic. Because I lost. I know, I know. It was a huge shock to us both. But I have to say, my competitor really put his best foot forward. When I ran into Chad a few weeks ago and found out we both live in Chicago, we knew it was fate. A rematch would ensue.

I suggested cupcakes for round 2, and Chad came up with the red velvet theme. I’m no red velvet expert, but I am a ginger who loves cream cheese frosting, so I wasn’t about to complain.

I scoured the internet for every red velvet cupcake recipe out there, and you’ll never guess where I found the winning recipe. My weird friend Sarah (the one who doesn’t like sweets) sent over a recipe from Paula Deen, Food Network’s Southern butter-lover, and I knew it was going to be the winner.

I was a bit concerned about Paula at first because of a few of my long-standing pet peeves:

  1. People who refer to their husbands as “hubby.”
  2. Anyone who describes food, or anything for that matter, as “yummy.” I’m fine with the word without the “y”, though (the same does NOT apply for #1).
  3. Not enough frosting.
If I had to guess (not that I watch her show often), Paula Deen has a problem with two out of the three of my pet peeves. Not enough frosting? I was not concerned. The theme was set. We just needed a place and time. I suggested Saturday because my friend, Joanna (red headed videographer from the last throwdown…see below) was in town visiting.
A personal photographer AND a day of cupcakes? That’s my kind of Saturday.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Food Network’s Paula Deen 

Makes about 24 cupcakes, or 12 full size and a ton of mini cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a dark chocolate variety)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (a bit less than 1 entire container)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
A GingerFoodie Creation

  • 1 pound (or 2 regular sized packages) cream cheese (please don’t buy the low-fat variety for this one)
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ~ 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp real maple syrup (I use the leftovers from my morning brunch)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
    1. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Well, really you should sift. But we aren’t all so lucky to own one of those.
    2. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring and vanilla. I saved a couple drops of red dye for my frosting decorations.  Beat with an electric mixer. Be sure to watch those sneaky eggs…
       Oops. When that happens, you have nothing to do but replace it with a fresh one. But that won’t be room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, this is the process to warm the egg. That’s not weird at all. I think babies were on the mind this weekend…
  1. Anyways…then, add in the dry ingredients to the wet with your hand mixer until well combined.
  2. Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 of the way full (trust me on this one). Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
While the muffins (this is what they’re called without frosting) are in the oven, get to the good stuff. I sort of eyeballed this recipe since I made it up, so go with your gut.

Make sure that the cream cheese and butter are fully softened before even attempting to mix them together. An electric mixer is sort of a must. My opponent found out the hard way. Then, slowly add in the powdered sugar. Finally, add the vanilla, salt and cinnamon. I mixed in the maple syrup last by hand since it can get pretty sticky. Wait until your cupcakes are fully cooled (read that one friends I will leave unnamed who don’t wait long enough before frosting). You can even put them in the fridge for a bit if necessary.
The frosting technique is to move the cupcake, not the knife. Don’t tell anyone I told you. My videographer/frosting master/Joanna may have shared this piece of information. I made some minis for my guests tasting. And they we’re pretty darn cute.
Let’s get to the competition. My competitor Chad walked in with his crew and cupcakes. They were not red. The cupcakes I mean. Advantage to me? I thought so. I didn’t want to get too cocky after last time. But just look at these things.
Some people said they resembled something else…if you can guess in the comments what it is (appropriate jargon only) you win a prize.



The three judges did an incredible job of deciding on the criteria and rating system. Check out how they rated us plus the final verdict by watching this very special video.

In case you were too lazy to watch my awesome video, I’ll spoil the surprise…
I won!! Check out that killer prize. I know, I know. I’m one lucky girl.

So the score is 1-1. We’re in need of a tie-breaker. And it looks like it’s going to be lasagna. Stay tuned for more to come. GingerFoodie Out (I’ve been watching too much American Idol).

The Best Breakfast You’ll Ever Eat

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Everyone prefers something a little different in the morning. Some like bagels (oh hey, Gotham). Some prefer cereal (boring). And some are just happy with a fresh glass of orange juice (my dad for the past 20 years). I like anything sweet, doughy and satisfying. Pancakes, muffins, french toast…these will all do. But you haven’t really eaten breakfast – or lived for that matter – until you’ve tried this Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread. The second I saw photos of it, I knew I had to make it as soon as I had a working oven.

I moved into my new apartment downtown about a month and a half ago. Everything seemed perfect…except one little thing. When it came time to test out the oven and the burners, they didn’t work. At all. Panic set in. I started sweating. Well, nothing unusual there, but I was really very concerned about you, my loyal readers, and my own health and well-being.

Thankfully, we had a brand new oven put in because of the serious damage.

Beautiful! Check it out in action.

Anyways, it was a slow start, but I did eventually get to cooking and baking. And this bread was at the top of my list. When I saw that yeast was one of the ingredients, I knew it would be a complicated recipe, and one that I would need an assistant for. Enter Viewpoints Community Manager Erica. She’s basically a celeb on Viewpoints.com. But in my apartment she does what I tell her to do. She unpacks my kitchen supplies, kneads dough and eats as much Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread as she can fit in her stomach.

I woke up at the crack of dawn (that would be 9:30 on a Sunday morning) to find out that the dough takes 1 hour to rise. Yeah, read that bold print. Making the dough takes the longest, so I’d suggest doing it the night before if you’re a responsible human being. Then you just roll it out and stuff with cinnamon sugary goodness before you bake.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Use a 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pan

Dough:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope fast acting dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp vegetable oil

 Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (I didn’t have this so I just omitted. Trust me, it turned out just fine.)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted until browned

  1. Whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
  2. In a separate small bowl whisk together eggs.
  3. Melt butter and then add milk, water and vanilla. Let mixture stand a few minutes, and then pour into dry ingredients.
  4. Add the eggs. They’ll be tricky to combine, but keep mixing.
  5. Add the additional 3/4 cup of flour. Mix until you have a sticky ball of dough.
  6. Grease a large bowl with the vegetable oil and put the dough inside. Cover with Saran wrap and a towel. Store in a warm, dry place – I always store mine in the microwave – for about an hour, or until the ball doubles in size.
    This takes a long time. So you might need to make a snack in between. Here is ours.

    It’s never too early for nachos…right?
  7. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. On your stove top, melt the other 1/2 stick of butter until slightly browned. ‘Mmm smells good.
  8. Here comes the fun part. Knead the dough with a bit of flour, and then let it rest for a few minutes, covered with a clean towel. Check out my skillful assistant.
  9. Roll out the dough so it is roughly the size of the pan. It should be rectangular shaped.
  10. Brush the dough with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture. It looks like a lot. Well, it is. Do what I say and USE IT ALL. Or you will be sorry later.
  11. Slice the dough lengthwise into about 6 equal sized strips. Then, cut these strips in half and stack them on top of each other, cutting again in thirds or in half, depending on how thick your slices are and how big you want them. This part gets kinda messy, so be prepared.
  12. Stack the strips, standing up into a greased loaf pan. Joy said to “cut them like a flip-book.” Yeah…whatever that means. Ours wasn’t quite as pretty, but it’s really about the taste, right? They will expand and stick together, so don’t worry about any extra space you might have.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

The original recipe says to turn the loaf pan upside down to remove the bread, but it’s way more fun to just eat it straight out of the pan. Isn’t it always? It’s also more fun to not wait 20-30 minutes for the bread to “rest” before consuming it. Our loaf had plenty of rest while it was rising all morning, so we decided to wait about 20-30 seconds before tearing it apart.

The result…

It was warm, gooey, sweet and hands down incredible. Warning: You may attempt to eat the entire loaf in one sitting and begin to feel slightly sick. Trust me, the side effects are worth it. Just be sure to find a large, grassy knoll before attempting any outdoor movement post-breakfast. If you need to find one, just text Erica. She has these locations scoped out.

A special thanks to our guest, Erica, and my roommate, Missy, for providing the snack and general excitement in the morning when I was too hungry to function. Promise I’ll post more frequently now (or at least I’ll try to remember to take photos of my finished products before eating them).