Dirty 30: Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

SAM 3291 Edited Dirty 30: Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

At any one time, I typically have a handful of a recipe ideas for the blog, but I often have no idea what I am going to write about in relation to those recipes until I sit down at my computer.  Yesterday was a bit different.  As I was driving home from work, I was thinking of what to post on the last day of September.

I decided Dirty 30 might be a catchy title, but what food item could I make to match?  Dirt Cake came to mind, but I just wasn’t that into it.  My mind wandered to seeing something about National Mud Pack day on the calendar.  What could I bake that has to do with mud…ah ha, a Mississipi Mud dessert.

I had been driving with the radio off, simply enjoying the hum of the tires on the road and the air whipping across the open windows.  Close to home and after I had decided on a Dirty 30 Misissppi Mud theme, I flipped on the radio.

“Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me”

I kid you not, the Doobie Brothers’ Old Black Water was playing when I turned on the radio.  I smiled.  Have I mentioned how much I love coincidences?  So off to work I went at a Mississippi mud cake.  I followed a Paula Deen recipe to a tee, and I ended up Mississippi mud hole cupcakes.

SAM 3278 Edited Dirty 30: Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

What went wrong?  The recipe called for the cake to be baked in a 9 x 13 pan.  I know you can’t bake a recipe that calls for a tube pan as cupcakes, but does the pan really matter for rectangular cakes and cupcakes?

I didn’t overmix the batter to kill the baking soda action, and I didn’t dilly-dally when moving the batter from the mixing bowl to the cupcake liners to the oven.  Sounds counter-intuitive, but could I have used too much of a leavening agent?  I read Shriley Corriher’s Bake Wise back in June, but clearly, it didn’t sink in (pun intended).

I smack talked September a bit, grabbed a DogFish Punkin (thank you, Lushers, for the reccommendation) and got back to work.  I consulted my Great Grandmother’s red chocolate (red velvet) cupcake recipe, and with a little tweaking, I ended up with pretty mud puffs.

SAM 3287 Edited Dirty 30: Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

While the second round of cupcakes were baking, I sampled Paula’s cupcakes.  They may have looked ugly, but they tasted delicious.  I chopped one up to use as sprinkles on the pretty cupcakes, and I plan to use the rest in cake balls.

My cakes were delicious as well.  I would call them awesome, but they were just a teeny-tiny bit on the dry side.  I do believe this was more an issue with overbaking than with the recipe itself.  And with marshmallow fluff as a topping, I couldn’t taste a hint of dryness in the cake.

At the end of last month, I wrote about how I wanted to get better at food styling so I could take better pictures.  This month I have been thinking a lot about about how to step it up in the icing and frosting department.  I wouldn’t call a dollop of marshmallow fluff stepping it up, but at least it was different than the confectioners’ sugar buttercream I have been using on a regular basis.

I am so happy I chose the marshmallow fluff because they made the cupcakes taste like those Hostess cupcakes with the curly white ribbon of icing across the tops.  The fluff spreads over the cupcake within a few minutes, so a dollop in the center is more than plenty.  If you place fluff over the entire surface of the cupcake, it will run over the sides.

SAM 3293 Edited Dirty 30: Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

With that, I’m putting September to bed and looking forward to my favorite month of the year: October.

Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s calling my name 
Catfish are jumpin’
That paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me
-The Doobie Brothers


I wonder what I’ll be up to in my favorite month?  Happy weekend everyone!

Mississippi Mud Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in ½ cup hot water
  • 1 – 7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme
  1. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Slowly pour in the baking soda solution.
  5. Add the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out with just a crumb or two.
  7. When the cupcakes have cooled, top with the marshmallow creme.


A Perfect Pair: Baked Pears with Feta Cheese

SAM 3261 Edited A Perfect Pair: Baked Pears with Feta Cheese

“Did you use those biscuits as a blog post?”  
“Yeah. ”  
“You did?”  
“Yes.  Why, what’s wrong with that?”  
“Well…it’s just…they’re biscuits.”
“So?  People eat biscuits.  What’s wrong with using biscuits as a blog post?”
“But, you made tortilla chips.  You can’t post biscuits after you’ve made tortilla chips.”

Sigh…The past few blog posts have not been my best.  After making it over the 90-day hump, I feel like I crashed and burned out.  I had so much going on in my work life and personal life this month that I didn’t really get to plan my blog posts as well as I would have liked.  Case-in-point: I had no idea what to post today until I saw the weekly grocery store ads this morning and realized pears were on sale.

My mom used to bake apples with melted marshmallows floating in pools of  brown sugar.  They were good.  Really good.  So when I saw pears were cheap, I immediately thought of deceptively fancy, yet super simple baked pears with feta cheese.  I am oh, so happy pears were on sale because these are delicious.

SAM 3256 Edited e1317248670306 A Perfect Pair: Baked Pears with Feta Cheese

Though I don’t care for the pungent taste of feta, I was willing to give it a try.  I don’t know what causes the cheese to mellow, be it the sweet or the heat, but once baked the feta cheese is no longer the prominent flavor.  The salty cheese balances the sweetness of the pear, sugar and honey quite nicely to make this dish a good choice for an appetizer, side or dessert.

I don’t recall where I first saw a recipe for baked pears and feta cheese, but there are plenty of online recipes and variations.  The recipe that most closely resembles what I chose to make is the baked pear with mint, feta and honey at BBC Food Recipes.

A couple of my favorite’s were Smitten Kitchen’s  Vanilla Roasted Pears and Eating Well’s Riesling Baked Pears, and some other ideas I liked included using blue cheese and walnuts in place of feta or topping a round brie cheese with a baked pear.  Delicious!

SAM 3265 Edited A Perfect Pair: Baked Pears with Feta Cheese

Baked Pears with Feta Cheese
Serves: 4
  • 2 pears, cored and halved
  • 1 tablespoon butter, quartered
  • 8 teaspoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Fresh mint and cinnamon, to garnish
  1. Place the pears, cut side up, in a baking dish.
  2. Place a square of the quartered butter in the wells left by the removed cores.
  3. Sprinkle equal amounts of feta cheese and brown sugar over each pear.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes or until tender.
  5. Remove the pears from the oven and drizzle with the honey.
  6. Garnish with the mint sprig and cinnamon if desired.
Bartlett pears were used for this recipe. The dish is best when served warm.

Rainy Day Rosemary Biscuits

SAM 3248 Edited Rainy Day Rosemary Biscuits

It’s rained nearly every day for a week.  I don’t live in Seattle, so the weather has dampened most everyone’s spirits and placed me in a bit of a contrary mood. The childhood rhyme “Rain rain go away, Come again another day…” certainly fits my state of mind.  It was one of my favorites behind “Queen Queen Caroline, Washed her hair in turpentine…”  

Since childhood, or at least as far back as I can remember making a decision, my favorite food has been bread.  So surely a new bread recipe will lift my spirits! I went looking and found these rosemary biscuits in Catherine Atkinson’s cookbook 500 Cookies, Biscuits and Bakes.

SAM 3245 Edited e1317074009830 Rainy Day Rosemary Biscuits

The biscuits are super easy to make.  Just a bit of flour, baking powder, butter, and milk for the main ingredients, and an herb of your choice for seasoning.  My rosemary bush is growing like crazy, so I chose rosemary for these biscuits.

The cookbook suggests using dill if planning to serve the biscuits with seafood and basil if the biscuits will accompany a chicken or vegetarian dish.  Not only tasty, but also versatile!  Things are looking up, enjoy!

SAM 3242 Edited Rainy Day Rosemary Biscuits

Rosemary Biscuits
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • Optional: 1 egg, beaten
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir in the rosemary.
  3. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture by hand until the ingredients resemble bread crumbs.
  4. Stir in the milk until the mixture forms a soft dough. Do not overmix or the dough will become sticky.
  5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about ¾ inch thickness.
  6. Cut into circles with a two-inch round cookie cutter.
  7. Repeat the rolling and cutting with the leftover dough.
  8. If desired, brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg wash.
  9. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.