Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the season to be baking!

And I started this baking frenzy with my all time favorite treat, cupcakes! Although these weren't Christmas cupcakes, it still got me excited for the unlimited array of treats soon to be made. We had a gathering for Mallory's birthday last Tuesday, with mostly dancers because almost everyone else had escaped Athens by then, but it was a great time! I slyly asked her what kind of cupcakes she might want if someone were to hypothetically bake some for her (haha) and she said how she LOVED the coconut cupcakes I made earlier this year for the Heaven&Hell party. Now the cupcakes I made for that party, I hate to admit, were a box mix dun-dun-duuuuun! that I just added coconut extract to and whipped up some coconut butter cream for the top. So this time, with more time on my hands, I found a great coconut cupcake recipe and decided to try it out. The recipe called for regular cream cheese frosting though, and I decided to go with coconut overload and added some extract to that too!

After the cupcakes, all I wanted to do was stay home and bake in my jammies, but rehearsal called my name. After 3 10 hour days, I was so ready for winter break! I spent Saturday morning packing to go home and baking cookies to take to my cousin Sydney. She sweetly offered to take me to the airport Sunday morning and I wanted to thank her (and also feed my baking addiction) with some of my favorite Christmas cookies, molasses crinkles. These babies have just the right mix of holiday spices to not be too overpowering or too bland. They come out just perfectly baked, crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle with sweet sugar crystals on top.

Now that I've made it safely back to Oklahoma for the holidays, I'm ready to bake some more, in fact, I'm about to make another batch of these crinkles to deliver around town today! I'll be sure to keep you posted on the latest and greatest treats, and I'm sure there will be some holiday crafts as well. I love breaks where you can just relax, and bake in you jammies all day!

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
Into a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Using a hand held mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Add vanilla and coconut extract. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Mix in the shredded coconut.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks before frosting.

Mix up your favorite cream cheese frosting (mine is 1 block cream cheese, 1 stick butter, and about 4 cups confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract) but replace the vanilla extract with coconut extract. Pipe on cupcakes then top with sweetened coconut.

Molasses Crinkles

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
About 1/3 cup sanding or granulated sugar* for tops of cookies

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together all the spices and flour and salt and set aside. Whip together butter, shortening and brown sugar till light and fluffy, then add in egg and molasses till combined. Finally add in dry ingredients and mix till combined. Consistancy is pretty wet, but it will hold its shape. Work with wet hands and roll 1in balls and dip one end in granulated sugar then place 2in apart sugar side up on an ungreased baking sheet. Original recipe calls to bake for 10-12 min, but mine are usually done in 8-9. Transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling, then pack in a cute tin and deliver some joy!

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