07 July


Great Canadian Ketchup Cupcakes

July 1: Canada Day

Canadians seem to have an affinity for ketchup. Ketchup-flavored potato chips are a wildly popular snack—and ketchup cupcakes are a relatively new novelty from our northern neighbors. We made the latter to share with Highlander’s co-workers and proudly observe the national holiday of his birth country.

At first, he did not reveal what the “secret/special” ingredient (ketchup) was in the cupcakes, which look a lot like red velvet flavor. So it was a surprise when his co-workers tasted a tangy yet sweetly spiced cupcake. Canadian flag colors of white and red complete this confection; it is topped with white maple syrup-infused cream cheese frosting and red candy maple leaves.

The Great Canadian Ketchup Cake was introduced by the Heinz company to mark its centennial year in Canada in 2009. Curious cooks like us wanted to try the recipe (in cupcake form) and post the experience appropriately on Canada Day. It is a decent dessert from a creative advertising campaign!

Recipe

(Adapted from Heinz via Kraft Canada)

For the ketchup cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup tomato ketchup (we used Heinz organic)
  • 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, stir together the water, ketchup and red food coloring. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy.

Beat in the eggs. Gradually add some of the flour mixture, alternating with the ketchup mixture and blend until smooth.

Scoop into red paper cupcake liners. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks.

For the maple syrup-infused cream cheese frosting and maple leaf candy toppers

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (see Notes)
  • red candy melts (we used Wilton brand)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with the cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and blend well. Use a spatula to frost the tops of the cupcakes.

Melt the red candy melts according to the package directions. Spoon into mini maple leaf molds. Let set, unmold and place the candy maple leaves in the center of the cupcakes. Chill in the refrigerator and let the cupcakes come to room temperature for serving. Yield: Approximately 20 cupcakes.

Notes

  • Instead of maple syrup, substitute with a teaspoon of maple extract for a more pronounced maple flavor.
  • We bought our fall leaves candy mold when it was in season at our local craft store. The particular mold we used can be ordered online at Amazon.com. 
  • Search our blog for more Canadian recipes (see our Theme Menus). 

 

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

July 14: National Grand Marnier Day

We once made orange macarons with a chocolate ganache filling flavored with Triple-Sec, considered a “poor man’s orange liqueur”. But we splurged this time and used Grand Marnier in a chocolate cake to make it taste even richer! Then we topped off this decadent dessert with a floral design using colored confectioners candy melts. This project was worth the time and effort when we were rewarded with “oohs” and “ahs” from friends who indulged with us in eating a chocolate Grand Marnier cake in observance of National Grand Marnier Day.

Recipe

For the Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (we used Devil’s Food)
  • 1 small box (3.9 ounces) chocolate instant pudding mix

Directions

In a large bowl, beat in the eggs with the sour cream, water, Grand Marnier and oil.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Stir in the orange zest and extract. Mix well.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Add the chocolate cake and pudding mixes. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into a 10-inch round cake pan that has been lightly misted with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Place the cake on a board, plate or pedestal for frosting.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

For the chocolate-orange frosting

  • 8 ounces (8 squares) semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate. In a microwave-safe cup, heat the whipping cream for 30 seconds until warm. Pour over the melted chocolate and mix well. Flavor with Grand Marnier. Stir in the corn syrup until well blended. Let cool at room temperature to desired spreadable consistency (or for a quicker cool down, place in the refrigerator, checking constantly that it does not harden).

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Smear some frosting on the cake board/plate/pedestal to act as a “glue” to the cake. Place the cake in the center. Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top and sides. Fill a piping bag with the remaining frosting and pipe shell borders (we used Wilton star tip #21). Let the frosting cool and set.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

For the flower decorations

  • dark chocolate, melted
  • orange candy melts, melted
  • green candy melts, melted 

Directions

Print out a clipart of flowers as a pattern. Place on a flat surface, such as a cake or cutting board. Tape waxed paper over the pattern. Fill a piping bag with melted dark chocolate. Trace over the flower pattern. Transfer the board to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden and set. Fill in the flower areas with orange candy melts. Transfer the board to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden and set.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Finish the candy decoration by filling in the leaf areas with green candy melts. Transfer the board to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden and set. Remove from the refrigerator and invert onto the board. Carefully peel off the waxed paper. Position the decoration on the cake. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Notes

  • Like to bake with booze? Search our blog for other “spirited” baking recipes.
  • Chocoholic? Search our blog for chocolate-based recipes.

Loslos

(Filipino Deep-Fried Pork Ribs)

loslos

July 4: Filipino-American Friendship Day

While the United States is celebrating its Independence Day, the Philippines is acknowledging Republic Day (also known as Filipino-American Friendship Day). The holiday was initially a commemoration of the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, to coincide with America’s birthday (Philippine Independence Day is on June 12). But now it is simply a day to recognize the special and historical relationship between peoples of the two nations.

Hamburgers, hot dogs and BBQ ribs are popular foods during America’s Independence Day gatherings. If cooking ribs, give them a Filipino flair by frying them à la state fairs and festival style. “Loslos” is a delicious deep-fried pork ribs recipe from Cebu, although various provinces have similar versions. The meat is marinated in “adobo” sauce (vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ground black pepper) then dredged in seasoned flour before frying. These pork ribs are popular at parties for independence/republic day dining and certainly for Filipino-American Friendship Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • 1 slab baby back pork ribs
  • ½ cup sugar cane (rice or apple cider) vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying

Directions

Wash and dry the meat. Cut the slab of pork to make individual ribs. Arrange them in a deep baking pan. In a bowl, make the adobo marinade by mixing the vinegar, soy sauce and minced garlic.

loslos

Add the black pepper and oyster sauce. Pour over the ribs, turning and coating them in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge a wet rib in the flour mixture.

loslos

Deep fry at 375 degrees F in batches until golden brown and cooked through (about 7-8 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper to taste. Or serve hot with BBQ sauce or a vinegar-soy sauce dip.

loslos

Notes

  • For bite-sized pork ribs, ask the butcher to cut across the ribs into smaller pieces. Adjust/shorten frying time.
  • Search our blog for other patriotic and Pinoy foods.
  • Also, Happy 4th of July, America! God shed His grace on thee!

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

no churn vanilla ice cream

July 23: National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

A lack of an ice cream maker and Lactaid pills won’t prevent Islander from making and eating the quintessential summertime treat. Now that she has discovered how to make no-churn ice cream, she has begun to experiment with different flavors (recipes will be added to our blog). Vanilla ice cream was the first no-churn ice cream flavor that she tried. It is basic but the experiment turned out terrific! Her homemade version is just as sweet and creamy as the store-bought ice cream. No-church vanilla ice cream may be plain and simple but it is perfect for National Vanilla Ice Cream Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk with vanilla and bourbon (if using). Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it.

no churn vanilla ice cream

Place in a loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Let stand for a few minutes and scoop into cones or dessert dishes.

no churn vanilla ice cream

Notes

  • Add 1-2 teaspoons bourbon to help prevent ice crystals from forming in the ice cream and to lessen some of the cloying sweetness.
  • We will keep adding other no-churn ice cream recipes to our blog as we experiment with other flavors.

No-Churn Peach Ice Cream

Peach Ice Cream 

July 17: National Peach Ice Cream Day

When Islander’s parents came to visit us from Hawaii a few years ago, we took a road trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, so we could tour the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg is the hometown of the “admirable admiral” of the U.S. Navy, Chester W. Nimitz (1885-1966), after whom the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was named. Islander’s Daddy served aboard this ship during the 1970s. 

Fredericksburg is also famous for its peaches. After our visit to the museums and Main Street, we stopped into Das Peach Haus for a snack before heading back to San Antonio. We enjoyed sampling the peach products at the cute country cottage store.

We were inspired to try a no-churn peach ice cream recipe using peaches from Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country. The fresh fruit puree turned out “peachy keen” over the jarred baby food ingredient.

No-churn peach ice cream is a cool treat to eat during the hot summer days in Texas as well as on National Peach Ice Cream Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from WRLA.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
  • 1 cup pureed peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon peach schnapps (optional)
  • a few drops of orange food coloring
  • peach slices to garnish (optional)

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Puree the peaches with peach schnapps (if using).

Peach Ice Cream

In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk with the pureed peaches. Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it. Add a few drops of orange food coloring and stir well until the desired color of peach is achieved.

Peach Ice Cream

Place the mixture into a loaf pan. Cover and freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Let stand for a few minutes and scoop into cones or dessert dishes. Garnish with peach slices (optional).

Peach Ice Cream

Notes

  • July is National Ice Cream Month! Search our blog for other ice cream recipes.

Minion Cupcakes

Minion Cupcakes

July 10, 2015: World Premiere of the “Minions” Movie

In the mood for a “despicable dessert”? Then make some Minion cupcakes! Inspired by the animated film, “Minions,” a prequel to the movies “Despicable Me” and “Despicable Me 2,” we made Minion cupcakes for the college kids (and kids-at-heart) for Islander’s brother’s campus ministry. The cute cupcakes were an instant hit!

Minions are the little, loyal creatures who work for Gru, an ex-super villain and main character of the two “Despicable Me” movies. But it was the Minions who practically stole the scenes!

Their popularity not only has garnered them a spin-off film, but the Minions are currently the mascot of Illumination Entertainment (the company that produced the movies). There are a Minion blimp, hot air balloon, video and online games, toys, clothing, theme party supplies and even a simulator ride at Universal Studios in Florida! Add crafts and cooking projects to the list, as Minions are a muse to many, including us!

So transform a Twinkie today into a Minion cupcake for the movie’s worldwide premiere!

Recipe

(Based on Internet images)

For the Black Russian cupcakes

For the Minions

  • Twinkies (Cloud Cakes, etc.)
  • Black string licorice
  • Candy eyeballs (we used Wilton brand)
  • Black tube frosting
  • Yellow tube frosting (optional for the eyelids)
  • Blue frosting (we used Betty Crocker Cupcake Icing sky blue color)

Directions

Bake the Black Russian cupcakes and set aside to cool.

Minion Cupcakes

Make the Minions by cutting the Twinkies in half. Slice the licorice string into half-inch pieces. Position randomly on top of a Twinkie for the Minion hair. Using a small round tip (such as Wilton #4), pipe a black strip of frosting across the Twinkie half to make the Minion goggles.

Minion Cupcakes

Pipe black circles and press candy eyeballs in place (vary with one or two eyeballs). If thicker goggles are desired, pipe around the rim of the candy eyeballs. Pipe mouths of different expressions.

Minion Cupcakes

Frost the tops of the cooled cupcakes with blue cupcake icing (we used the ruffle tip). Put a toothpick (or short lollipop stick) in the middle (optional to hold the Minion in place). Position a Minion on top of the toothpick/lollipop stick. Cover until ready to serve to avoid drying out the Twinkie.

Minion Cupcakes

Notes

  • We baked Black Russian-flavored cupcakes because the character Gru, the Minions’ master, is supposedly Russian. Also, the dark chocolate flavor and color contrast well with the yellow sponge cake snacks.
  • For the Minion eyelids, swipe a strip of yellow frosting thinly above the candy eyeballs before positioning on the goggles.
  • Please warn guests before eating that there is a toothpick/lollipop stick in the middle of the Minion cupcake.
  • For the final food photo background above, we bought Minion paper plates from Party City.

Butter Tart Squares

Butter Tart Squares

July 1: Canada Day

Visiting some of Highlander’s relatives in Canada is always a treat—literally—especially when they serve treats from his country of birth. They want to remind him of his roots and share cultural cuisine with us since we are foodies. One distinctive dessert from Canada is butter tarts, a pastry invented in the pioneer era. We transformed the traditional tarts into squares for a sweet stacked snack to celebrate Canada Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Robin Hood)

For the base crust

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Directions

Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment or waxed paper, leaving a little overhang as the “handles” to lift the dessert out of the pan later. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the flour until it sticks together.

Butter Tarts Squares

Press into prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Make the topping.

Butter Tart Squares

For the topping

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the corn syrup, eggs and vanilla.

Butter Tart Squares

Blend in the flour and baking powder. Sprinkle the raisins and chopped walnuts over the base crust. 

Butter Tart Squares

Pour the filling over the raisins and nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Lift the dessert out of the pan using the parchment or waxed paper “handles”. Cut into 16 squares.

Butter Tart Squares

Notes

  • The raisins and walnuts are optional but we added them to the recipe. The raisins add a nice chewy texture and the walnuts counter the sweetness of this dessert.

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