Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carrot Ginger Muffins

As I write this I am realizing how very often I make/post about muffins and other breakfast pastries. But, it's nice for me to have a food to look forward to eating as my stomach grumbles at work and everything in sight is filled with butter, flour, and ridiculous amounts of processed sugar. It's comforting to know that I have something healthy to eat for the most important meal of the day.

These ginger carrot muffins are not only gluten-free, but also devoid of any butter, and are sweetened naturally by carrots and agave nectar. As a bonus, they are also packed with a lot of flavors and textures, and are super moist!

Carrot Ginger Muffins (gluten-free)
Makes 6 large or 12 regular-sized muffins

2/3 cup canola oil
6 oz shredded carrots
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 6 large muffin tins, or set up paper liners (like I used) on a baking sheet.*

In a medium bowl, stir together canola oil, carrots, eggs, agave, and vanilla. Set aside

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir into the medium bowl. Stir in walnuts (reserving a few if you wish to sprinkle them on top).

Divide batter evenly between the 6 baking cups. Sprinkle remaining walnuts on top of the muffins, if desired. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn off oven, prop open door, and leave muffins in there for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

*Note: if you do not have a large muffin tin, you can bake 12 smaller muffins at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Still allow them to sit in the oven for 5 minutes after you've turned it off.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Perfect Buttercream Frosting

In the last month I've done quite a few cakes for people in my community: a fun pink baby gender reveal cake for a good friend, a whiskey cake for guys' pipe night, and a a few kids' birthday cakes; including these ones for a dinosaur-themed birthday party for the sweet little daughter of my friend, Julia.

The cake was lemon with blueberry filling, which I'm sure was fine, but the frosting (oh, the frosting!), was phenomenal.

I learned to make swiss meringue buttercream in my short stint in culinary school. The subtraction of a bit of butter (I know, it seems wrong to take away butter, but seriously, you were supposed to use a WHOLE POUND), and addition of powdered sugar and vanilla bean powder were welcome changes (it really is perfect now). And by welcome, I mean that making this frosting at 6:30 AM involved me eating leftover frosting with a spoon. I'm not proud.

If you make this frosting, it goes well on citrus-y cakes (especially orange), sandwiched between 2 cookies, and basically anything else onto which you'd want to put frosting. I hope you find it as bowl-licking-ly delicious as I do!

Perfect Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough to frost one two-layer 9" in round cake

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup liquid egg whites
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or vanilla extract)

Set a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water (about an inch worth-make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water).

Pour the sugar and egg whites, into the bowl and whisk constantly. Check the temperature every few minutes, while whisking, until it reaches 160 degrees F.

Pour hot sugar-mixture into a bowl of a mixture fitted with the whisk attachment (don't worry, guys, if you only have a hand mixer, it will work, too. It's more difficult but I did it this way for a year before I got my purple Kitchenaid mixer.) Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cool.

With the mixer still running, add the butter, one piece at a time, until it is all fully incorporated. Add the vanilla bean powder (or vanilla extract, if you don't have the obsession with the powder like I do!).

Turn off the mixer. Add the powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low and mix until fully incorporated.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vantine's Day Blueberry Tartlets

All photos by Amy Beckler

Last week, I was blessed enough to be asked by the very talented wedding photographer, Amy Lashelle Beckler, if I would make some cute treats for a Valentine's day-themed photo shoot for her blog. I immediately jumped at the chance to have such beautiful photographs of desserts I'd made be part of her blog.

So I put together a few cute ideas, perfect for valentine's day, and I spent an hour outside in the freezing rain, moving things around to see what looked best, holding up scenery, and standing in awe of how she captured the beauty in something so simple as blueberry tartlets.

The deep purple color of these tartlets are perfect for Valentine's day. I hope you try them and have as much fun making them for someone as much as I enjoyed making and watching them be photographed. To see the rest of Amy's gorgeous pictures in this shoot, you can visit her website here.

Model: Janelle Ingram

Blueberry Tartlets (gluten-free)

1 1/3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons butter, cold
2 tablespoons shortening, cold (or you can use more butter, in a pinch)
1 egg, beaten

Throw all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until it all comes together. If you dont have a stand mixer, you can mix this with your hands too, Add the beaten egg after all of the other ingredients have been well-mixed.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set 12 miniature tart pans on a baking sheet.

Divide the chilled dough into 12 equal-sized balls and press into the bottom and up the sides of the mini tart pans. Prick the dough of each tart with a fork a few times.

Bake 10 minutes, until lightly golden.

Make the blueberry filling

2 cups frozen blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

Heat blueberries, sugar, 1/2 cup water and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until it boils. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix together the corn starch and 1 tablespoon cold water in a separate small bowl. Whisk into blueberry mixture. Return to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat and let sit for 2 minutes. 

Divide filling evenly between the 12 baked and cooled tartlet shells. Cool completely in the refrigerator. Garnish with whipped cream and a blueberry, if desired. 

About Me

My photo
Salt Lake City, Utah
As a pastry chef by trade and by hobby, being diagnosed with Celiac Disease has not been easy. But through some experimental baking and a whole lot of faith, I'm living a full(er) life.