ganache

Monday Muffins: Donuts

SAM 3026 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

My love for donuts (or doughnuts?) runs deep, though like many things, I’m not quite sure why.

I’ve read Glazed America, titled as a social history of the doughnut in America, but unfortunately all I can really remember are a lot of references to Homer Simpson and his love for donuts.  More recently, I’ve consumed my share of Krispy Kreme’s Cheerwine-cream-filled donuts.

When my sister was in elementary school and I was in middle school, my dad would drive us from our home in the country to the town where our grandparents lived and where we went to school.  Since the elementary school day began an hour or so later than the middle school day, my sister would catch the bus from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and Dad would drop me off at school.

SAM 3055 Edited1 Monday Muffins: Donuts

The drives in on Thursdays were the best because Thursdays were Donut Day.  We would stop at Rod’s Donut Shop, and each of us would order the same things every week.  A black coffee and danish for Dad, a jelly-filled donut for my sister, and a filled stick (long john) for me.

After I prepared my entry for Willow Bird Baking Cupcake Challenge last week, I spent some time reading the blog and came across a recipe for donut muffins.  And on the “to bake” list they went.

The toppings are what make these donuts.  By themselves, the little donut muffins are a bit plain, but topped and filled they are rather delicious.   I made three varieties of donut muffins: apple-cinnamon with cinnamon-sugar topping, vanilla-cream filled with chocolate-ganache, and maple with brown sugar icing.

SAM 2906 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

 

Apple-Cinnamon Donut Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

SAM 3086 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

For apple-cinnamon muffins, add 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 3/4 cup finely chopped apple to the batter. When cool, dip the top of a muffin in melted butter and then roll in a mixture of one part cinnamon to three parts sugar.  These donut muffins taste even better after they sit for a day!

 

Vanilla-Cream Filled and Chocolate-Ganache Topped

SAM 3066 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

For vanilla-cream-filled, chocolate-ganache-topped muffins, use a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to whip 1 cup whipping cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons of sugar until a medium-consistency cream forms. Place the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with tip 230 and gently puncture the bottom of the muffin to fill. Be sure to squeeze with a gentle pressure to avoid overfilling and bursting the muffin!

SAM 3057 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

To make the chocolate ganache, melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream over low heat. Stir constantly until smooth, then dip the top of a muffin in the ganache. Top with sprinkles if desired.

 

Maple Donut Muffins with Brown Sugar Icing

SAM 3077 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

For maple muffins, add 1 teaspoon maple syrup extract to the batter. When cool, dip the top of a muffin in a brown sugar icing made by melting butter with heavy cream and brown sugar, then adding in confectioner’s sugar.  Enjoy!

 

SAM 3043 Edited Monday Muffins: Donuts

Donut Muffins
 
Author:
Serves: 27
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking power
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat the sugar and the egg together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Slowly alternate adding the vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla with the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Add the desired flavorings or mix-ins as seen in the notes below.
  5. Fill the wells of a mini-muffin pan approximately ¾ full.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  7. When cool, top or ice according to the notes below.
Notes
For apple-cinnamon muffins, add ¾ teaspoon cinnamon and ¾ cup finely chopped apple to the batter. When cool, dip the top of a muffin in 3 tablespoons of melted butter and then roll in a mixture of one part cinnamon to three parts sugar. For maple muffins, add 1 teaspoon maple syrup extract to the batter. When cool, dip the top of a muffin in brown sugar icing. To make the icing, melt ¼ cup of butter with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream over low heat. Slowly whisk in ½ cup of brown sugar and remove from heat once fully melted. Vigorously whisk in 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Use immediately! For vanilla filled-chocolate ganache muffins, use a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to whip 1 cup whipping cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons of sugar until a medium-consistency cream forms. Place the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with tip 230 and gently puncture the bottom of the muffin to fill. To make the ganache, melt ½ cup of chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream over low heat. Stir constantly until smooth, then dip the top of a muffin in the ganache. Top with sprinkles if desired.

 

Have a Cake Ball

SAM 1675 Edited Have a Cake Ball

I took a class about how to build tiered cakes last Sunday, and as a result, I had a lot of scrap cake pieces leftover from leveling the cakes. I can usually put away the leveled tops myself, but four decent sized cakes resulted in an equally decent amount of leftovers. “What to do, what to do…”, I wondered. I’ll make cake balls!

I ate what I consider to be my first “cake ball” at a Christmas party a few years ago. This cake ball was actually an Oreo cookie ball, made of a crushed Oreo and cream cheese mixture. I thought they were delightful. So much so that I made them for my family’s Christmas spread a few weeks later.

SAM 1647 Edited Have a Cake Ball

A cake ball follows the same concept but uses cake, obviously, instead of chocolate sandwich cookies. All you need is cake, icing, and a chocolate coating, all of which can be store bought or made from scratch.

I had yellow, white, and chocolate cake tops. I initially crumbled the yellow and white together, intending to make a separate chocolate cake ball. “Maybe with peanut butter icing,” I thought. Then I looked at the lonely chocolate top, laughed in the face of my ambition, and crumbled it in with the yellow and white cake. The result was what looked like cookies and cream, which I thought was fitting since this all started with thoughts of that first Oreo cake ball.

SAM 1661 Edited Have a Cake Ball

To crumble the cake, use your fingers or pull through the cake in opposite directions with two forks, much like you would if the fork was a rake and the crumbs were the yard.  Then mix the cake crumbs with the icing and roll into balls.  Shaping the balls is much easier if you refrigerate the cake and icing mixture for a few minutes before rolling.

I dipped half the cake balls into a melted mixture of chocolate chips and heavy cream, and I dipped the other half into melted chocolate bark.  Here, in my opinion, you are faced with a trade off.  The chocolate chips and heavy cream results in a better tasting coating, but it will not harden completely (freeze before serving to avoid chocolatey fingers).  The chocolate bark will harden completely, but I find it is a giant pain to work with because it hardens very quickly. Whatever you choose, it is best to dip or coat the balls in small batches to ensure the chocolate stays smooth (warm).

SAM 1671 Edited Have a Cake Ball

I used a spoon to drop a ball into the chocolate and then set it back onto a wax-paper lined tray, though you can also use a fork or a toothpick if they work better for you. If you don’t care about coating the bottoms of the cake balls, you can pour the chocolate over the tops. If you opt for the latter, you may want to place the balls on a cooling rack to allow the chocolate to drip through the tray and avoid creating a hardened chocolate skirt around the cake balls.

To decorate, I took the wire whisk I used to stir the chocolate to drip lines of chocolate across the balls.  This will be easier if you think of moving the whisk across the sheet as a whole rather than over each individual cake ball. I kept my cake balls simple, using a simple chocolate and white chocolate theme, but gel food color can be used to color white chocolate bark if desired.  Sprinkles also make pretty toppings if you want to add some glitz and glam to your cake balls.  Enjoy!

SAM 1668 Edited Have a Cake Ball

SAM 1673 Edited Have a Cake Ball

Cake Balls
 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: approximately 50
Ingredients
  • 1 box cake mix (plus eggs and vegetable oil as directed)
  • 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 package chocolate bark (chocolate or white chocolate) or chocolate chips and heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Bake the cake per the package directions.
  2. When cool, crumble into a medium bowl. Use your hands to make large crumbles, then use two forks, pulling in opposite directions, to make a fine crumb.
  3. Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla at medium speed until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat at low speed until well blended, scraping down the side of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  5. Mix the cake crumbles and cream cheese mixture together until well combined.
  6. Form the mixture into balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze dough as needed to make forming the balls easier.
  7. Melt the chocolate bark per the package directions. If using chocolate chips and heavy cream, heat a small amount of both in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. The amount of each ingredient will depend on the consistency with which you prefer to work.
  8. Use a spoon to dip and roll a cake ball in the melted chocolate.
  9. Return the dipped ball to the baking wax-paper lined sheet. Repeat until all cake balls have been dipped.
  10. When the coating hardens, use a whisk to drip lines of colored, melted chocolate across their tops as decoration.
Notes
Store bought icing may also be substituted for the cream cheese, butter, pure vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar.

 

Not Your Grandmother’s Cookie: Nanaimo Bars

June8 005 Edited Not Your Grandmothers Cookie: Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo is a city located on Vancouver Island, just southwest of the city of Vancouver located on mainland British Columbia. Nanaimo is famous for bringing three layers of deliciousness into the world in the form of Nanaimo Bars. The origin of Nanaimo bars is a bit murky, but it seems a homemaker, magazine contest, and (in my opinion) some magic were involved.

I’ve not yet been to Nanaimo, but the city seems pretty serious about these bars. So serious that the home page of the city’s website includes a quick link where you can find pertinent information related to emergency services, transportation, and Nanaimo bars.

The bars start with a chocolate, graham cracker, nut, and coconut crumb base, topped by a layer of buttercream, and finished with a layer of smooth chocolate ganache. If you don’t like nuts or coconut, leave one or both out.  If you really like nuts, add more than one kind (I used walnuts, but other recipes call for almonds or pecans). You might also try marbling dark and milk or white chocolates on the top instead of the flat chocolate layer seen here.  Or give the bars your own special touch by coloring the butter cream filling for a special occasion. If you like sweet, rich desserts, this bar’s for you.

June8 007 Edited Not Your Grandmothers Cookie: Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • First (Bottom) Layer
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 5 graham crackers)
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup coconut
  • Second (Middle) Layer
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Third (Top) Layer
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. For the bottom layer, combine the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a wire whisk, then add to the saucepan and stir to thicken mixture, approximately 60 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and coconut.
  4. Press mixture into an 8 x 8 pan to form a crust.
  5. For the middle layer, cream the butter and heavy cream.
  6. Add the vanilla pudding mix and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.
  7. Spread mixture over the crust (bottom) layer.
  8. For the topping, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Whisk until melted and smooth.
  9. Cool slightly, then pour over second layer while still liquid.
  10. Chill until firm.