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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Orange Cashew Brown Rice

Did anyone else struggle as much as I did to get up this morning?  I can't believe we're back to work again...Memorial Day weekend went by way too fast!  Although it flew by, I did manage to get a lot of things done this weekend.  We recently gained access to a storage area right outside of our apartment (which I am just thrilled about!), so I spent a lot of time doing some major spring cleaning.  It's so nice to not have our bikes sitting by the entryway of our apartment anymore, and to have cleaner, more organized closets inside our home!  Not to mention our home is now spotless...not a speck of dust in sight.  Perfect.

Aside from cleaning, we also did a few other fun things.  We spent Sunday afternoon on the beach with some friends, and later spent time with my cousin, who's in the Air Force and has been stationed in Germany for the past few years.  We were lucky that he was able to have time to come visit us during his trip back home, so we took him out to dinner Sunday night.  We tried a new gastropub on 2nd St in Long Beach, called Tavern on 2.  If you're ever in the Long Beach area I always recommend 2nd St, a neigboorhood full of great restaurants and bars, but after this weekend I think I may just start spefically recommending Tavern on 2!  The food there is great, and if you like beer, this place has a lot of unique options to choose from. 

We first shared the Beef Oxtail Poutine: tender beef oxtail braised in burgundy red wine reduction, cheddar cheese curds, duck fat fries.  Then I ordered the Short Rib Burger, which was amazing: Niman Ranch short rib braised in amber ale, melted gruyere cheese, grilled mushrooms on a brioche bun.  My cousin and Tony both ordered the Ahi Tuna Burger: Szechwan peppercorn crusted ahi tuna, Asian slaw, Japanese cucumber wasabi sauce on a brioche bun.  Doesn't that make your mouth water?  And it tastes just as good as it sounds, if not better. 

My AMAZING short rib burger
Now, lets get to the main attraction:  this Orange Cashew Brown Rice.  This Orange Cashew Brown Rice consists of cashews, peppers, onions, and mandarin orange segments, combined with brown rice cooked in an orange juice broth.  This rice recipe was originally from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I read Mel's blog on a weekly basis so when I saw the number of positive comments and reviews, I was convinced to put it on my dinner menu.  Although this recipe originally calls for basmati rice, I'm always trying to eat healthy and use brown rice whenever possible, so I altered the recipe slightly so I could use my brown basmati rice from Trader Joe's.

For this particular meal, I prepared a simple citrus baked fish (seasoned with just salt, pepper, and lime zest) to serve with the rice.  However, you can switch it out to whatever type of protein you prefer.  Any type of lean protein such as fish or chicken would pair well with this dish, and only needs to be mildly seasoned.  After all, the rice dish is really the main attraction here.  The mandarin oranges and cashews add a unique quality to what would otherwise be a typical rice dish.  I enjoyed it with the substitution of brown rice, but I am curious to try the original version.  I'll post the healthier brown rice version here, but if you'd like to try the regular basmati rice recipe you can get it at Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Orange Cashew Brown Rice 
Print this recipe
Yield:  Serves 4
Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, original source adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
1 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup roasted cashew pieces
1/4 cup chopped yellow peppers
1/4 cup chopped red peppers
3 green onions, minced
1 (8-ounce) can mandarin orange segments, drained well

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil and salt to a boil.  Stir in the rice.  Return to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer and cover.  Simmer the rice for 40 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed.  Let stand, covered, off the heat for 5-10 minutes.  Scrape the rice into a large bowl.  Add the cashew pieces, peppers, and green onions.  Season with salt and pepper and add the drained orange segments to the rice, folding them in gently to prevent the oranges from breaking.  Serve immediately.


  • If you don't have brown basmati rice on hand, you can try substituting with another variety of brown rice.  Just adjust the rice-to-liquid ratio and cook time according to the package directions.\

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lemon Crinkles

WOW.  What a long week it's been, don't you think?  Perhaps the anticipation of this upcoming three day weekend is partly to blame, but I've also been incredibly busy!  This past weekend, Tony, Molly, and I traveled up north to Manteca, CA for a short visit, where I was able to spend time with family and friends.  We mainly came up to attend a friend's wedding and my grandma's 90th birthday luncheon (I'll share both of these events with you soon).  Both events took place on Saturday, but Tony and I decided to head up to Manteca early, on Thursday, so that we could have the entire day on Friday to do something fun together. 

Since Tony and I have never been to San Francisco together as a couple, we decided to spend our Friday exploring the city.  I was particularly excited about this since I used to go there all the time with friends, before I moved away.  It's only a little over an hour away from Manteca, so it was an ideal location for those times when I just wanted to get away for the day.  We arrived in San Francisco just an hour or so before noon, and made our first stop at one of the most popular tourist attractions:  Pier 39. 

Tony and I at Pier 39
Even though Pier 39 is pretty touristy and I've been there dozens of times, I still enjoy going and walking by the different shops and restaurants along the pier.  Many of the shops are full of souvenirs and useless trinkets, so I rarely purchase anything.  Instead, I save my money for what REALLY matters...the food!  Pier 39 is full of amazing culinary treats.  There are fancy sit-down seafood restaurants, casual cafes promoting their famous clam chowder, chocolate shops, ice cream bars, etc.  I almost always make it a priority to eat clam chowder during my trips to San Francisco, but since we had lunch plans for that day, we skipped the chowder and did some pre-lunch beer tasting instead!

From right to left:  Ace Joker Cider, Trumer Pils Pilsner, Pale 31 California Pale Ale, and Blonde Bock
This find, called Beer 39, was located around the middle of the pier, hidden upstairs next to a few small shops and restaurants.  At Beer 39, you have the option of choosing from four tasting line ups, which each include four different types of beers, or ordering your glasses individually.  Also, all of the beers featured in the line ups are from various breweries throughout California.  Since I was feeling adventurous that day, the tasting line ups were a must!  My tasting line up, pictured above, was simply called "The Line Up."  Tony's was called "All About the Ales."  Although I liked them all, my favorites were the Ace Joker Cider and California Pale Ale.

After Beer 39, we headed off to the Mission District for lunch. My brother, Marco, lives in San Francisco, and my dad was also in the city for a follow-up appointment for his most recent surgery, so meeting up for lunch was the perfect way to spend our afternoon.  We met with Marco and my dad at a small, authentic Mexican restaurant, called Puerto Alegre.  Unfortunately, at this stop my mind was focused on only food and not picture taking, so I have no photos to show, but I can guarantee the food was very satisfying!  After lunch, my brother suggested that we all head down the street a few blocks to a special bakery he visits frequently, called Anthony's Cookies.  Of course, I required no convincing, so off we went to fill our stomachs even more. 

Anthony's Cookies is a nice local bakery that prides itself on baking fresh, homemade cookies.  Although it's small, it's easily identified by its big, inviting red front door.  Once we opened this door, I was immediately overwhelmed by the sweet aroma of freshly baked cookies.  It smelled just like my mom's kitchen, and I couldn't wait to try them!  If the cookies tasted as good as they smelled, we were in for a real treat. 

At Anthony's Cookies, there is a cute chalkboard menu, displaying the cookie flavors of the day.  Honestly, I wanted to try them all, but in the end I went with my brother's recommendation (cookies & cream) and my own personal preference (cinnamon spice).  Tony tried cookies & cream and walnut double chocolate chip.

These cookies & cream cookies were AMAZING!  It tasted similar to chocolate chip cookie dough, except the chocolate chips were replaced with crushed up Oreos.  This is definitely a cookie that I will have to recreate in my own kitchen soon.

The cinnamon spice cookie was also very good.  It was a little thicker, with a chewier texture than the cookies & cream, and had a nice blend of spices.  I could taste nutmeg and cloves, and I also tasted molasses, which probably contributed to its chewy texture.  The cookies & cream flavor was the stand out for me, but I would love to eat both of them all over again.

After Anthony's Cookies, we parted ways with my dad and brother, and then...we did not head home.  Not yet.  Instead, we continued our food journey in San Francisco, and traveled a few more blocks, to Tartine Bakery. 

I've heard a lot about Tartine Bakery, most often because of other bloggers mentioning their popular cookbook:  Tartine Bread.  When my brother mentioned that the bakery was only a few blocks away, I knew that we had to make this one last stop, no matter how stuffed we were!  I had read before that Tartine always has a line, no matter what time of day, and this information was correct.  We arrived there a little before 4:00 PM and there was a line reaching the door!  Luckily, Tartine is pretty used to this type of crowd so the line moved very fast and we were able to get our sweets in just a few short minutes.  Tony chose modestly, with a small walnut-chocolate tart.  I, of course, have no limitations when it comes to food so I went for it and ordered a slice of their tres leches cake. 

Ohhhhhh my, that tres leches cake.  I'm still thinking about it and want another piece.  It was perfectly light and sweet, and had just the right amount of moisture without being soggy, like some tres leches cakes may be.  The frosting reminded me of the texture of the mascarpone filling in tiramisu.  It was light and creamy, with just enough sweetness to satisfy and not too overpowering.  I also really liked the fact that they used real vanilla bean, which was made apparent by the visible vanilla bean specks throughout the cake. 

After this last bakery visit, we were beyond stuffed and had to leave the city before we ate more and regretted it!  It was a great, yet exhausting day, but we couldn't have been happier.  The weather was perfect, the food throughout the day was perfect, and so was the company.  I hope the next time I go I can visit some more foodie finds, since the city is full of them!

Now, with all this talk about sweets, I must accompany this post with a sweet recipe for you to try!  I've been hanging on this recipe for a while now, so I'm glad I finally have an opportunity to share it with you.  These Lemon Crinkles are straight from one of my favorite food blogs, Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I absolutely love anything flavored with lemon, so I knew these would be a favorite of mine.  I also loved the crackled appearance from the powdered sugar on the tops of the cookies.  These cookies would be a perfect sweet summer treat for a Memorial Day barbecue you might have planned for this weekend, or for just because.  These Lemon Crinkles are really quick and simple to make, so they're a great last-minute option!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Print this recipe
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies
Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, originally from Lauren's Latest

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly coat with cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed.  Add the dry ingredients (except the powdered sugar) and mix until just combined.  Place the powdered sugar on a large plate or shallow pie dish.  Roll tablespoon-size balls of dough in the powdered sugar to coat.  Place on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes.  The cookies will not be browned on the edges but they will have lost a bit of their shininess on top.  Don't overbake!  Cool the cookies on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container or eat immediately. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

When I first started blogging I had no idea how tough it would be to maintain a regular posting schedule.  I will never be one of those bloggers with a structured plan for categorized posts, although I am amazed by those who do it, such as Brown Eyed Baker and How Sweet It Is.  Although there is still spontaneity in the recipes they post, I always look to their blog on certain days of the week, when I know they will be posting their weekly feature.  To be more specific, I look forward to Brown Eyed Baker's Weekend Dish and Jessica's (from How Sweet It Is) Tuesday Things.  These are just a couple of the many bloggers who maintain a somewhat-structured schedule.

I, on the other hand, am not that kind of blogger, but I do hope to be one day when I have a little more free time to focus specifically on this blog.  At the very least, I try to post a new recipe for you once a week.  Perhaps I can do some type of short weekly feature, such as a round up of recipes I've bookmarked, or a brief summary of significant events in my life that week.  I really like Brown Eyed Baker's Weekend Dish style, and think that may be a do-able type of post here on The Beachside Baker.  I love Jessica's Tuesday Things style too, but I could never come up with the same hilarious, sarcastic comments and beautiful Instagram photos the way she can.  I'm just always afraid of cluttering the blog with additional features, since I don't want to pull attention away from the main attraction, the recipes.  But, I do think it would be nice to share some additional food-related info with you...so what do you think?  Would a weekly feature be a nice addition to this blog?

For now, let's talk cupcakes.  These Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are another glorious cupcake recipe straight from my favorite cupcake source:  Annie's Eats.  Who doesn't love the combination of orange and vanilla?  And not just any type of vanilla, but vanilla bean!  I was immediately drawn to this recipe not only because of the flavor combination, but because of the beautiful candied orange slices placed on the top of each cupcake.  The candied orange slices add a beautiful pop of color and make it very obvious what flavor the cupcake is.

I followed the recipe pretty closely to Annie's recipe, with the only adjustment being the use of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste.  I've mentioned this product before when I used it to make  Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, and highly recommend it for any recipes calling for vanilla bean; it makes a fine substitute.  I would, however, like to try this recipe again, using the Swiss meringue vanilla bean frosting recipe from the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, as opposed to the frosting used in this recipe.  Don't get me wrong, this traditional buttercream frosting recipe is very good, but I'm a sucker for Swiss meringue.  But, if you're short on time or just don't feel like going through the hassle of making Swiss meringue, then this is a really good compromise.  Overall, these cupcakes were a success.  The tart orange flavor mixed perfectly with the smooth flavor of the vanilla.  I will definitely be making these again in the future!

Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Print this recipe
Yield:  about 30 cupcakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Annie's Eats, original sources from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and Sweetapolita

For the cupcakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

For the candied orange slices:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
About 30 small, thin orange slices (clementine oranges recommended)

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (3 sticks plus 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and orange zest, and mix until incorporated.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the cream, orange juice, and vanilla extract.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In three additions, add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl, alternating with the cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated; do not overbeat.  Divide the mixture between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.

To make the candied orange slices:
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Add the orange slices to the mixture so that they are in a single layer (none overlapping), reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer about 20 minutes, turning the slices at least once so both sides are candied.  Remove from heat.  Store in a container with the syrup until ready to use.  (You can repeat the process using the same syrup if pan does not accommodate all the slices in a single batch)

To make the frosting:
Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the confectioners' sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated.  Add the vanilla bean and the salt.  Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract and cream on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with your preferred decorative tip.  Pipe a swirl of frosting on the top of each cupcake and garnish with a candied orange slice.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Pomegranate Frosting

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there who are visiting my blog today!  I hope you are all treated special today and are shown the appreciation you all deserve!  I wish I were nearer to my mom so I could really treat her today, but unfortunately, we are separated by many, many miles.  However, at least I am lucky enough to see her in just a few more days!

On Thursday, Tony, Molly, and I will be on the road, heading up north to go back to my hometown for a visit.  Over the weekend, we are (hopefully) spending a day in San Francisco, celebrating my Dad's birthday, celebrating my grandma's birthday at her belated 90th birthday luncheon, and then attending my friend's wedding later that evening.  That's a lot of stuff crammed into one weekend, but I'm sure it will be a blast.  Of course, I'm also trying to squeeze in spending time with friends that I don't have the pleasure of seeing very often, so we'll see how it all goes...I'm sure we'll be exhausted by the time we get back to Long Beach on Sunday.  Once I return, I hope I'll be able to share more details of my eventful weekend trip here on the blog.

For now, we'll focus on today's special holiday:  Mother's Day.  My mom has had a HUGE effect on my life, in a multitude of ways.  One, that I think I've mentioned very often, is her love of cooking and baking in the kitchen.  Without her sharing her knowledge and creativity with me as a child, I don't think I would be as interested in food as I am today.  I probably would've never had enough confidence in my cooking skills to start this blog, so I owe a lot to her just for that alone!

But, aside from that, she is also amazing in so many other ways.  I'll share a few of her special qualities so you may get to know her better.

Growing up, my mom was always known by all my friends as the "nice mom."  She is an extremely kind and caring person, which shines through her personality and actions.  Back then, I never really thought much of it, but now I realize just why my friends saw her in that way.  She would always greet my friends cheerfully, show interest in what they had to say, and tried her best to accommodate any guests and keep them happy and comfortable.  My mom made our home a pleasant place for my friends to come visit.

She's also a very selfless person.  She is extremely generous, giving her time and patience in ways that many others never would.  My mom, unfortunately, is burdened with a lot within our family, and it's never been easy.  Not only did she have to deal with raising my sister and I, but also, she has to take on the job of helping my aging, wheelchair-bound grandma (who I love also, Happy Mother's Day, Grandma!), her brother (AKA my Uncle Larry, who has down-syndrome and now Alzheimer's), and my loud, fun, crazy dad, who always has some sort of injury or medical issue that he's recovering from (the most recent being back surgery).

I don't quite know how she's able to handle it all and manage everyone's personal needs, doctor's appointments, meals, finances, etc.  You name it, she does it all, and she does it all on her own.  She spends so much time taking care of and worrying about others, she rarely has time to spend treating herself.  When I first moved away, I felt conflicted because in a way, being independent would potentially relieve some stress and burden.  One less person to worry about, I thought.  However, now at times, I do feel a sense of guilt when I hear of the events going on with my uncle or grandma, and my inability to help out due to my lack of presence.

I wish I could win the lottery or have the ability to do something amazing to relieve all of these burdens of hers, and make her Mother's Day amazing, but for now, I suppose showing my love and appreciation is all I can do.  Even if I did win the lottery and gave her millions of dollars, I don't think that could amount to the things that she has done for everyone else, including myself.  My mom really is superwoman, or I guess I should say super-mom.  Hopefully, someday (far, FAR away from now) when I'm a mother, I hope I can show that same compassion and selflessness to my own children, so that they may also be influenced in the way my mom has influenced me.

Now, as for these cupcakes, I think they are a PERFECT Mother's Day treat.  These are buttermilk cupcakes with a cream cheese-pomegranate frosting, and these were made for our Mother's Day cupcake sale at my work.  I think the soft pink color and pretty candy pearls just OOZE femininity and would delight any mother out there.  These would also be great cupcake for any other elegant event, such as a bridal shower or baby shower (for a girl, of course).

These cupcakes begin with a light and fluffy buttermilk cupcake that is subtly sweet.  It's paired with a delicious cream cheese frosting, that has been infused with a pomegranate juice reduction.  All you do is purchase a small bottle of pomegranate juice (I used the POM brand), and simmer it in a saucepan over the stove for about 10 minutes, until the juice is reduced to a thicker, syrupy consistency.  Once the reduction cools, you can add it to your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe.  The pomegranate juice not only lends its sweet, tart flavor, but also gives the frosting a beautiful, natural pink hue.

This juice-reduction method could also be used to create other cream cheese frosting flavors!  I'm sure it would taste great with other types of juices, such as pineapple (think:  pineapple-coconut cupcake with cream cheese-pineapple frosting! YUM) or even apple juice (apple spice cupcake with cream cheese-apple frosting...and caramel drizzle?  Aaaahhh!!  Too many ideas!)  But you get the idea, right?  Yes, baking is precise, but there's always ingredients and flavors you can switch up, to make it your own.

I really loved the appearance of these cupcakes as well.  Even straight from the oven, the cupcakes looked absolutely delicious.  They had perfect domed tops, thanks to the use of cake flour.  I almost always love recipes that use cake flour, since it helps make cupcakes fluffier and helps them rise taller.  You may notice that I also used a slightly different piping method to frost these cupcakes.  I used my usual go-to swirl tip (Wilton 1M), but instead of piping the swirl starting from the outside and working toward the center, I did the opposite.  By starting at the center and swirling toward the outer edge, I ended up with a pretty rosette-style swirl.  Since these cupcakes were for Mother's Day, I think this type of swirl seemed much more elegant and appropriate.

I hope you enjoy this cupcake recipe, and have a GREAT Mother's Day!  And to the non-Mothers...just have a great day. :)

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Pomegranate Frosting
Print this recipe
Yield:  about 30 cupcakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Apple a Day

For the cupcakes:
4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

For the frosting:
12 oz. (1 1/2 blocks) cream cheese, cold
12 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
3-3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix just until incorporated (do not overbeat!).

Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full.  Be careful not to overfill, as batter will rise quite a bit.  Bake for 22 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove cupcakes from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

Meanwhile, place pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and boil over medium-high heat until reduced to about 4 tablespoons, approximately 10 minutes.  Once reduced, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add in pomegranate reduction and beat just until combined.  Add confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency.  Frost cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.


  • Frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days
  • Candy pearls can be purchased at most cake supply stores or in craft stores, in the cake decorating section.  Some grocery stores may also carry candy pearls in the baking aisle.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Hello!  I hope you're all enjoying your weekend thus far, and had a chance to enjoy Cinco de Mayo yesterday. I'm excited to share with you the second cupcake recipe from our Cinco de Mayo cupcake sale:  Tres Leches Cupcakes.

When the decision was made to hold a cupcake sale for Cinco de Mayo, I immediately knew that the Margarita Cupcakes were a must.  However, I did not have the same sureness about the second recipe.  In fact, I had NO idea what the second cupcake recipe would be.  The only thing I knew was that either its flavor or appearance needed to be Mexican-inspired.  I scoured the internet in search of a perfect cupcake to pair with the margarita flavored ones.  I found tons of recipes for various chocolate-chili cupcakes, but that wasn't quite the direction I wanted to take.  Finally, I stumbled across the gorgeous photos of Tres Leches Cupcakes from Bakers Royale.  I immediately knew that this cupcake would be perfect, so I saved the recipe and never looked back.

I admit, I was pretty unfamiliar with the actual tres leches dessert, but after reading the recipe and its ingredients, I was sold.  The buttermilk cake, infused with a trio of milks, was enough to make my mouth water.  Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut milk are injected into the cake, saturating it with their sweet flavors and creating a delicious, moist cupcake center.  It's then topped with a silky, decadent dulce de leche Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, and sprinkled with grated chocolate.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with dulce de leche, it's basically sweetened condensed milk that has been cooked very slowly, resulting in a sweet, thick ingredient that is similar to caramel.  Although I purchased my dulce de leche to save time, you can also make your own dulce de leche at home.  There is a great tutorial on how to do this here, at Bakers Royale.

This cupcake has a perfect balance of flavors and components, which made it a HUGE hit our cupcake sale.  The cake portion is sweet, yet light, so it pairs perfectly with the richer dulce de leche frosting.  The grated chocolate on top also adds the right amount of simplistic, elegant decoration.

After our cupcake sale, I can honestly say that this recipe is a keeper.  I loved the flavors of this cupcake, and it's so different from any other cupcake recipe I've made in the past.  I think I ended up eating 3 this weekend.  That's probably not the healthiest decision I've made, but these were so good it would be impossible for me to eat just one.

Tres Leches Cupcakes
Print this recipe
Yield:  about 30 cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Bakers Royale

For the cupcake:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup coconut milk
Chocolate for garnishing, if desired

For the frosting:
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup dulce de leche, at room temperature

For the cupcakes:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed.  Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined and all the yellow disappears.  Add the vanilla, mix to combine. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Alternately, add the dry mixture and buttermilk to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry mixture and being careful not to overmix.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Using a spatula, gently fold into cake batter.

Scoop batter into prepared liners, filling 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and set aside.

Stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk.  Using a plastic squeeze bottle (or meat injector), poke tip into center of cupcake and inject each cake with 1/2 to 3/4 ounce of the mixture, while cupcakes are still warm.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before frosting.

For the frosting:
Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a bowl placed over simmering water.  Bring the mixture to 160 degrees F, whisking constantly.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until the mixture cools and doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks when the whisk is pulled up.

Add butter, one Tbsp at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix to combine.  Add dulce de leche and mix to combine.

To assemble:
Frost cooled cupcake with dulce de leche buttercream and dust tops with grated chocolate.


  • Dulce de leche and coconut milk can both be found in a can, usually in the international foods aisle of most grocery stores.
  • If you don't have a squeeze bottle or meat injector, you can also do the poke and drizzle method.  Simply poke holes in the top of the cake and pour a tablespoon or so of the milk mixture over the cake and let it absorb.  I avoided this method because I did not want my cupcakes to end up with a soggy surface, but I'm sure they would still be delicious.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Does anyone celebrate this holiday?  I personally don't...BUT any excuse to make cupcakes and I'm on board.  Especially when the recipe involves tequila.

I've been meaning to post about these cupcakes for a while. I first made them about 2 months ago, after finding the recipe on Annie's Eats.  When I first made them, I brought them to work to share and after consuming, many stated "Wow, this is a good lime cupcake!"   Lime?  This isn't a lime cupcake.  It's margarita!  If they couldn't taste the difference, then I definitely needed to make some adjustments.  And by more adjustments, I mean MORE TEQUILA. 

So, what you're seeing here is round 2 of the margarita cupcakes--the adjusted, improved recipe.  I definitely think the adjustment was effective, and the tequila flavor is noticeable but not too overpowering.  I actually made this second batch of margarita cupcakes for another cupcake sale at my work, and it received great reviews. 

The cupcake consists of a lime cake, brushed with tequila, frosted with tequila-lime Swiss meringue buttercream, and topped with lime zest and a lime wedge.  Paired with beautiful swirl cupcake liners, these cupcakes are perfect for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta.  But let's be honest here...I don't need the holiday, I'll eat these delicious, boozy cupcakes any day of the week!

*Check back soon for the second Cinco de Mayo cupcake recipe!

Margarita Cupcakes
Print this recipe
Yield:  around 2 dozen cupcakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
4 Tbsp tequila

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together to combine.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Generously brush the tops of the cupcakes with tequila, while the cakes are still warm.

To make the frosting:
Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160 F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 Tbsp at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, don't worry; just continue to beat on medium-high seed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more.  Stir in the lime juice and tequila and mix until fully incorporated and smooth.

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month.  Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.  Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and garnish with lime zest and lime slices if desired.