Posts tagged ‘cream cheese’

January 22, 2012

Earl Grey Velvet Cupcakes

by horseradishsauce

I found this Earl Grey Red Velvet Cake recipe a while ago and I’ve been wanting to try it. My friend had a Mary Kay party yesterday, so I decided to make these. The majority of people at work are Army guys who eat frozen food or eggs and protein powder for the majority of their meals, and they tend to class all food into “good” or “bad”, which is not the audience you want to try out new and unusual recipes on.

‘The Island of Dr Gâteau’ is a very cool blog by a cognitive neuroscientist who experiments with food and writes about the biology and psychology of eating. She makes many variations of red velvet (Vanilla Chai White Velvet and Burnt Butter and Pecan are the next ones I’ll try, I think) and I decided to try her Earl Grey Black Tea Red Velvet Cake.

As it turns out, all the ladies at this party were middle-aged school teachers and they were all on diets. My friend who was selling Mary Kay is a triathlete, so she ate two cupcakes. I’m working on a six pack so I wasn’t planning to eat any, but I love Earl Grey so I had to try it. It was amazing. I think this is my favorite cake I’ve made. Dr. Gâteau said the taste was subtle, but I think it was quite strong in mine–a deliciously light, almost citrus flavor from the bergamot.

I didn’t follow Dr Gâteau’s recipe exactly–rather, I used her idea of steeping Earl Grey in butter the night before and used that butter in the Red Velvet recipe I usually use. The only issue I ran into was that, while I steeped the tea in enough butter for both the cake and the frosting the night before, after melting it, steeping the tea, refrigerating it, melting it, and putting it through a sieve, I was 4 tablespoons short and had to use non-Earl Grey butter in the frosting. In the recipe below, I’ve added my guessed amount of extra butter needed for the flavoring.

The original ‘Anne’s Eats’ recipe uses vegetable oil instead of butter. I don’t know how steeping tea in vegetable oil and then refrigerating it would turn out, though. As Dr. Gâteau points out in her recipe, fats hold odor and flavor molecules better than water, so I think it would still work. I don’t suppose vegetable oil would quite solidify, but I think the point is to let it absorb the flavors for 24 hours more so than have it solidify.

I also didn’t add food coloring, and they turned out a nice pale brown. I found a recipe for red velvet using grated beets to color the cake, so I might try that next time, for I do love the color of beets.

Earl Grey Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from ‘The Island of Dr. Gâteau” and “Annie’s Eats”
Yield: 1 9 x 13 sheet cake or about 24 cupcakes

For the Earl Grey Butter:

  • For a full 24 cupcakes, use 4 sticks of butter. For a half recipe, try 2.5 sticks. Expect to lose about 4 tablespoons in the melting/solidifying process.
  • 3 heaping tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey (1 heaping tablespoon is about 5 tea bags)

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups Earl Grey butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring (optional. Or use any color you choose OR 1 cup finely-grated beets)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

*OR make your own buttermilk:

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon milk

Put vinegar/lemon into 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk to complete 1 cupful. Let stand for 5 minutes. Utilize.

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (if you use cold cheese and butter, the consistency will be better. If you’re beating the frosting by hand, use room temperature cheese and butter)
  • 5 tablespoons Earl Grey butter, at room temperature (add regular unsalted butter if you didn’t make enough tea butter)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup strong Earl Grey tea (steeped for 10 minutes)
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


The night before you want to make the cake:  If you’re making a sheet cake, save the wrappers for greasing the pan on baking day. Melt the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Once it is melted, take it off the heat. Add in the loose-leaf Earl Grey tea and stir. Leave at room temperature for an hour, then transfer to covered bowl and place in the fridge overnight.

The next day: Place the re-solidified butter in a saucepan again (you may have to microwave the bowl for 20 seconds or so to get the butter to dislodge) and melt over a very low heat until liquid. Strain out the tea by pouring the liquid butter through a sieve into a bowl (when I did this, some of the leaves got through the strainer. You could hardly see them in the final cake and they weren’t noticeable in texture). Press the tea into the sieve with a spoon in order to squeeze out the butter that it has absorbed. Leave the butter at room temperature for an hour, then place it back in the fridge for an hour or so, checking it regularly, until it has firmed up and is the consistency of soft butter.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  If making cupcakes, line cupcake pans with paper liners. If making sheet cake, grease and sift a little flour into a sheet pan (this just keeps the cake from sticking. It’s unnecessary. I use the butter wrappers so you may as well…).
In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, butter, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat until somewhat blended (it won’t really blend, and as soon as it’s smooth, it’ll separate again. Don’t worry about it).  Mix in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners or pour it into the single sheet pan.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes (more like 30 for a sheet cake).  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract and the tea.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

September 2, 2011

Quick “Lettuce” Wraps with Spicy Hummus

by cillefish

I never order lettuce wraps because lots of cheapskate restaurants think iceberg counts as lettuce — and I don’t really relish the idea of something like that falling apart. Here are some “lettuce” wraps I make using Swiss Chard, which is somewhere between baby spinach and bok choy. Like other dark, leafy greens, chard gives the most nutrients if you wilt it before eating, but raw it has a great texture and just enough strength to hold a small amount of vegetables easily.

Quick “Lettuce” Wraps

PER wrap (2 wraps are a light lunch for 1 average-sized female):

  • 1 leaf of fresh raw Swiss Chard, washed, shaken out, and halved lengthwise along the spine
  • 1 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1-2 Tbsp spicy hummus (see below)
  • About 2 Tbsp (or 1/6 of 1 large) carrot, shaved in thin strips using a vegetable peeler or chopped super thin
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped fairly small (the chard is thick, so it’s ok if this looks a little wet)
  • optional items: sliced olives; 1 very-thin slice red onion or sweet yellow onion; small pinch of black pepper

Spread cheese and hummus halfway along chard leaf. Arrange veggies on top. Roll inward, from leaf edge toward leaf spine. Optional: affix wrap to itself with a toothpick and an olive.

Spicy Hummus:

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can uncooked or pre-cooked black beans (I use the Cuban style ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4+ c sunflower butter
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/8 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 – 1/4 c light vinegar such as rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or both together
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Mexican hot sauce
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse, scraping frequently, until fully combined.

    As necessary, while mixing:

    Add in up to 1/8 cup water – adjust until hummus reaches preferred texture.

    Add salt and extra garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and spices to taste. Note: the garlic and hot sauce can increase slightly in spiciness as the hummus is stored in the fridge, so do not start out overwhelmingly spicy.

    November 3, 2010

    Ginger Jack-O-Lantern Sandwich Cookies

    by cillefish

    ginger sandwich cookies
    These cookies are really, really great. No, really — they’re the kind that make people’s eyes pop out a little. Then the person revises their obligatory “thanks for the cookie” compliment and sends you several emails telling you that these REALLY are the best cookies they’ve ever had. And yeah, I omit the Jack-O-Lantern face. These taste more like ThanksChristmasGiving-style cookies anyhow.

    Source: Alison Ladman, AP, reprinted in the SLO Tribune.

    Molasses and spice make for great autumnal flavors. In this cookie sandwich we’ve taken a chewy gingerbread pumpkin cut-out cookie and added fun jack-o-lantern faces and a lightly sweetened cream cheese filling. For another fall theme, the cookies also could be made with leaf-shaped cutters.

    If your dough gets too warm, put it in the freezer for 5 minutes for easier cutting. A thin metal spatula works well for transferring the unbaked cookies to the prepared baking sheet.


    Start to finish: 3 hours (1 hour active)
    Makes 20 cookie sandwiches

    For the cookies:

    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
    • 2 cups packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup molasses
    • 1/4 cup milk

    For the filling:

    • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, salt and baking soda.

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    October 24, 2010


    by Kat Morse

    Coconut Carrotcake


    • 4 eggs
    • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3 cups grated carrots
    • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup chopped pecans


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
    2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
    3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
    4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.