The best banana bread

We’ve all been there, you had high hopes of eating those bananas the minute they are perfectly ripe. But, you blinked and they went from perfection to perfect for baking.
This bread has a lot of bananas in it, so you almost have to plan for it. It also has an ingredient you will almost never find in our recipes, vegetable shortening. Butter just doesn’t give the right texture so shortening it is.

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The Best Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
7 ripe, peeled, mashed bananas
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream the sugar and shortening together. Add eggs one at a time until mixed then add the bananas all at once and the vanilla.
Add the baking soda, powder and salt. Then add the flour.
Remove from mixer and fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan (i generally use glass. This bread is really more cake like. You could do it in bread molds but I am lazy).

Pour mixture into pan and spread it out so it is even. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

Let cool completely and enjoy!

Funfetti Cupcakes

My friend has been gone, in Italy to be exact, for over a month now and her return occurs tomorrow. I don’t need more cause for a celebration than that, do you? Her favorite cake is funfetti and she loves fresh strawberries so funfetti cupcakes with fresh strawberry Italian meringue seems fitting.

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Funfetti Cupcakes
1/4 cup milk
6 eggs whites, room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Whisk all of the above in a bowl

2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Put in the bowl of a mixer and blend together

Add 12 tablespoons room temperature butter cut into tablespoon pieces to the flour mixture

Add 3/4 cup milk to flour and butter mixture. Mix for about a minute and a half

Add egg white mixture in four part, allowing the mixture to blend for about 30 seconds between each addition

Fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles (any kind, this is a great opportunity to use up sprinkles)

Fill lined cupcake pans. Bake at 350 degrees to 16 to 18 minutes.

Allow to fully cool before frosting

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Fresh Strawberry Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

De-stem and hull about 15 strawberries and puree. Then run through a sieve to catch any big bits. Set aside. You might not need all the puree.

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whisk in a bowl over a double boiler until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.

Pour hot mixture into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until at room temperature – it took me about 12 minutes.

3 sticks of room temp butter cut into tablespoon pieces. Add to mixer while whisking one piece at a time. Allow it to fully blend before adding another piece.

After all butter has been added allow it to whisk a few minutes more then add the strawberry puree (start with about 1/2 a cup) add more until flavor is right. Keep whisking. Eventually the frosting will look like it has broken but don’t panic, keep whisking it will come together.

I used a closed star tip to make it look a little like a rose.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes

I have still not found or figured out a chocolate cake recipe that will be my final goto recipe but this one was delish, came together quickly and baked up nicely.

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Scharffen Berger)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot water or coffee

Whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the sugar.
In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
Slowly add dry to wet then add the hot liquid slowly just until combined.
This is a very liquid batter.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes filled 2/3 full (I generally use a large cookie scoop to fill muffin tins).

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes but follow your nose, when they start to smell like delicious chocolate cake test with a toothpick.

Cool completely and frost.

Cherry Buttercream
2 sticks softened butter
1 box powdered sugar (it’s about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
15 drained and patted dry maraschino cherries finely chopped (I use a small food processor for this and the liquid that happens in this process is fine and will be directly added to the frosting).

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla for longer than you think. Maybe five minutes. Then stir in cherries.

Use your favorite frosting method.

Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces dark chocolate chips
8 ounches heavy cream

Heat cream pour over chocolate. It should be fairly thick. I usually just eyeball this so my measurements are best guesses. Let cool until room temp.

I used a squeeze bottle to pour ganache on the cupcakes but you could also use a spoon.

Top with whole maraschino cherry.

And eat! They were so tasty.

S’mores? Yes please!

It all started with an invitation to a July 6th BBQ. Never one to show up empty handed, I immediately set out to find something fun to bring. One of the hosts threw down a challenge when asked “cookies or cupcakes?” His response, “Cookie Cupcakes of course.” Say what? Lots of cupcakes with cookie dough filling or sandwich cookie decorations were easily found but I go to thinking about BBQ and summer and childhood favorites when I stumbled on a series of smores inspired recipes.

20130705-170631.jpgMini S’mores “Cookies”

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk together in a small bowl, set aside.

1/2 cup room temperature butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
Cream together. I prefer to do this by hand.
Add
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine well and then slowly add the flour mixture.

Use a greased mini muffin/brownie pan. Fill each space with about an inch ball of dough, flatten with your fingers.

Set your oven up so you have one rack close to the broiler and the other toward the middle of the oven.

Bake on middle rack at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Take out and immediately top each cookie with 1/2 large marshmallow. Turn oven to broil and place cookies on top rack. Watch closely as they will broil quickly. If you have a gas oven woth a boiler drawer it might be a little harder to keep an eye on. If you have a gas oven with a gas broiler in the oven be careful not to place the cookies too close.

Once the marshmallows have a delish carmel color to them remove from the oven and top each cookie with one piece of chocolate (I used regular hershey bars).

Let them cool completely in the muffin tin and remove with the help of an offset spatula.

A Seinfeld dilema – to poppyseed or not? Acme Baking Company Almond Poppyseed Muffins

Baking on a hot day in a kitchen without air conditioning calls for something quick where the oven will only be on for maybe an hour tops! Enter Acme Baking Company Almond Poppyseed Muffins. These aren’t those giant muffins you find at big box stores but the flavor is pretty close.

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Almond Poppyseed Muffins

3 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 tablespoons poppyseeds
1 1/2 cups milk

Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, extracts, poppyseeds and milk. Add the dry to the wet and mix just until combined. Overmixing will cause tough muffins and no one likes a tough muffin.

Using a large cookie scoop fill lined muffin tins. Batter makes exactly 2 dozen muffins.

Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. The tops should be lightly golden.

Let cool and enjoy! If you prefer a more moist muffin you can make a simple glaze with powdered sugar, milk and a little almond extract.

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Another week another Acme Muffin Recipe – Blueberry Yum!

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The basics are almost always the easiest thing to bake and blueberry muffins are really no exception. There is no reasonh you should ever buy a box of blueberry muffin mix!

Acme Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
Heaping 1/4 cup sugar
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp melted butter (cool)
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Sift together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl whisk together the egg and milk. Add butter to the egg mixture.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet into the dry. Mix until combined but not over mixed, it will still look a little lumpy.

In yet another bowl, toss the blueberries in 1 tsp flour, this helps them from bleeding in your batter. Fold the blueberries into the batter.

This batter made 11 standard size muffins.
Bake at 40″ degrees for 16-18 minutes.

Acme Baking Company Chocolate Chip Muffin

20130609-194312.jpgIt seems to have become a thing around here, each week on Sunday afternoon I bake a batch of muffins to enjoy for breaky the next week. This week there were some mini chocolate chips screaming out to be used up so it became obvious that it was time to tackle the Chocolate Chip Muffin.

Micro Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
Heaping handful of mini chocolate chips

Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl. Then lightly beat the egg, milk, oil and vanilla in another. Add wet to dry and mix just until incorporated. Fold in your chocolate chips.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 12 cupcakes (either with a liner or grease and flour). I made exactly 12 using a large cookie scoop about 3/4 full. So probably a heaping 1/3 cup in each cupcake.

Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These are a fairly dense muffins and you could add a little rock sugar to the top before baking to kick up the sweetness a little.