Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chex Mix Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

I love getting requests to bake cupcakes for a friend's birthday.  It's fun to try and figure out which kind they might like best.  This friend always gives out tins of homemade Chex Mix for the holidays, so I thought it would be fun to incorporate that into a cupcake.  And who doesn't love a salty-sweet combination?

Before I started baking, I wanted to make sure I was on track with the flavor profile so I tried a handful (or five) of Chex Mix with some chocolate chips.  Um... yes.  That ought to work just fine, but maybe I ought to try a few more handfuls, just to make sure?

Kaylee was also interested in a treat... (don't worry, she got one that was more salmon inspired than salty-sweet inspired.)

They were a huge hit at work!  Seriously, nothing makes me happier than brightening people's day with a sweet treat.

Chex Mix Cupcakes
(adapted from  Cupcake Project)
Makes 16 cupcakes

1 c. sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. food-processed Chex Mix
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix sugar, flour, ground Chex Mix, baking soda, baking powder, and butter until combined.  Mix in egg.  Mix in milk, a little at a time.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool in cupcake tin for a few minutes.  Then remove to a cooling rack, and let cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (vegan)
(from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes

1/4 c. margarine, softened
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted if there are clumps)
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp soymilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together the margarine and the shortening until well combined.  Add the cocoa powder and incorporate well.  Add the powdered sugar in about 1/2 cup batches and beat well, adding a little splash of soymilk after each addition.  When all ingredients have been well incorporated, add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes with a hand mixer, 7 minutes if mixing with a fork).

To finish cupcakes:
Sea salt
Mini chocolate chips
Chex Mix

Pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.  Top with sea salt, mini chocolate chips, and a few Chex Mix.

To note, top off with Chex Mix no more than a few hours before serving.  More than that and the Chex Mix gets soggy, and nobody wants that!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Zucchini Bread Overnight Crockpot Porridge

Another end of a weekend - sad.  We should focus on starting out the week right with a warm, nutritious, and tasty breakfast!

After making Carrot Cake inspired porridge in December, I was curious to try out another vegetable that often gets tossed into dessert-y situations - zucchini.

I grated the zucchini into two 'sizes,' just for fun, but that's not necessary.  Go with a smaller size if you're trying to truly sneak it in, otherwise a standard size for those not afraid of a little green in their breakfast!

Just like the raisins really finished off the Carrot Cake Porridge, craisins suited this porridge perfectly.  And of course, some chopped walnuts.  Or.... in my case, crushed walnuts.  Walnuts + Ziploc bag + jar bottom = perfectly crushed walnuts.  Seriously, it's WAY easier and tidier than chopping them with a knife and having some skitter away on the countertop or find their way onto the floor.

Another grate usage of zucchini! (Get it... grate?? Grated zucchini??)  Sorry, I'll show myself out... :-)

Zucchini Bread Overnight Crockpot Porridge
Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup whole oat groats (found in bulk bins in Whole Foods, otherwise just more steel-cut oats)
1/2 cup short-grain brown rice (or pearled barley or farro)
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp flax seeds, ground
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 medium zucchini, grated (~3 cups)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
5 1/2 cups water

For toppings:
Chopped walnuts
Brown sugar or maple syrup to taste

Before going to bed, prepare your porridge.  Place a Slow Cooker Liner in your crockpot (Reynolds makes them, by the Ziploc bags).  It's a necessary item for crockpot usage, in my opinion, particularly for overnight porridge!

In your lined crockpot, pour in your steel-cut oats, brown rice, groats, wheat germ, flax seeds, zucchini, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, brown sugar and water.  Stir.  Cover and set your crockpot to low and cook overnight.

In the morning, stir the porridge, and add in at least 1/2 cup craisins.  Top off your bowl with milk of choice (if desired), chopped nuts and sweetener.  Enjoy!