Posts Tagged 'Super Bowl Snacks'

Chocolate Cupcakes (aka A Cupcake Recipe That Actually Works in Denver)

I have had a major love-hate relationship with cake since we moved back to the Denver area.  I love it, of course, because I love to eat it.  I hate it because most sea-level cake recipes produce cupcakes that either (a) have sunken-in tops or (b) practically explode all over the muffin tin.  I’ve had some moderate success with the “standard” high-altitude recipe adjustments (oh, if only there truly were standard adjustments), but most of my attempts have resulted in failure.

Recently, I inherited a high-altitude baking cookbook – High Altitude Baking (original title, eh?) by Patricia Kendall – from my friend Hilary.  I knew from my experience with Pie in the Sky by Susan Purdy that recipes don’t necessarily work well at altitude just because they’re published under that claim…  While I had great success with her Independence Pass Brownies, the 1-2-3-4 Cake was dry, dense, and practically inedible.  I wanted to make cupcakes for the Super Bowl, though, so it was time to take a chance on a new recipe.  I chose Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes as the first recipe I would attempt from High Altitude Baking, mostly because I had all the ingredients except an easy-to-purchase cup of sour cream. My first rumbling of trouble came when I realized that I had purchased light sour cream (habit!) instead of full-fat for the recipe.  I forged ahead with the recipe anyway and ended up with predictably less-than-fantastic cupcakes: while they did have decent crowns, they were exceptionally airy and almost chewy from the lack of fat.

Dr. O had put in a request for a few more Super Bowl snacks and we needed to head back to the store, so I decided I’d pick up some full-fat sour cream and try the recipe again.  This time, I ended up with delicious but ugly results; the cake was far more moist, but the batter had overflowed (even with the cups only half full!) and the tops of the cupcakes were crusty and misshapen.  (Sigh.)  Even with lots of icing, there was no covering that up.

Thankfully, I had also replenished my supply of baking cocoa while we were at the grocery store, which meant I had everything I needed to try one more recipe from the book: Chocolate Cupcakes.  After my two sour cream cake failures, I had higher hopes for this recipe because it had a traditional ingredient: oil.  (The only fat in the sour cream recipe came from two squares of chocolate and the sour cream itself.)  I followed the hand mixer instructions (see below), baked them for 23 minutes (instead of 25) and guess what?  I had beautiful, moist little cupcakes – with crowns!

Unfrosted Chocolate Cupcakes

I frosted them with my favorite icing (see below), topped them with sprinkles, and added them to the Super Bowl spread.  Mmmmm.

Chocolate Cupcakes

I think I might have preferred chocolate icing with these cupcakes, so I’ll try that next time.  I was just so freakin’ excited about finding a high-altitude cupcake recipe that worked, though, that I would have happily eaten them without icing.  I’m looking forward to making these again and again…  Cupcakes, minus the frustration!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans, one 9 x 13-inch baking pan or muffin cups.  Mix and sift flour, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder together into a bowl.  Add oil, vanilla, eggs, and milk; beat for 30 seconds with a mixer at low speed, scraping the bowl frequently.  Beat for 7 1/2 minutes more with a stand mixer at medium speed or 6 minutes with a hand mixer at high speed, scraping the bowl 4 – 5 times.  Pour batter into pans.  Bake for time recommended below, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.* Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans for about 12 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Two 9-inch cakes: About 28 minutes.
One 9 x 13-inch cake: Lower oven temperature to 350F.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
24 cupcakes (1/2-full): About 25 minutes.
(Update 12/31/10: Based on several visitor comments, I would recommend checking your cupcakes at the 18- or 20-minute mark if you bake them at 375F.  If they need more time, just put ’em back in.)

Altitude adjustments:
6,500 – 8,500 feet: Decrease baking powder to 1 3/4 teaspoons.
8,500+ feet: Decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.  Increase milk by 1 tablespoon.

Source: High Altitude Baking by Patricia Kendall  (Amazingly, this link displays the entire cake section of the cookbook for free!)

Toba Garrett’s Decorator’s Buttercream Icing
Make 2 1/2 quarts (2.37 L) (This is an absolute ton of icing!  Feel free to cut it in half or even quarter it.)

Ingredients:
2 cups (1 pound or 454 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (230 grams) vegetable shortening or hi-ratio shortening
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract, pure vanilla extract, or almond extract
3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) 10X confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces or 135 millilitres) water, milk, or clear liqueur
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon salt

Method:
Cream shortening and butter with an electric, handheld, or paddle-whip mixer. Add flavoring and salt. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time. Add meringue powder. (The mixture will appear dry.)

Add liquid of choice and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 5 to 8 minutes). Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.

Storage:
Store the icing in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Source: The Well-Decorated Cake by Toba Garrett

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Runzas

If you’re originally from Nebraska and you don’t live there anymore, you probably miss eating at Runza. For those of you who aren’t from Nebraska (or who haven’t had the good fortune of eating a Runza while visiting Nebraska), you’re probably wondering what in the world a Runza is. Some might call it a meat pie, though I can’t say I find that phrase very appetizing. Another friend basically suggested that I was making glorified Hot Pockets. (In a way, Josh, you’re right.) I would describe an original Runza as a small loaf of bread stuffed with seasoned ground beef, onions, and cabbage. I always get mine with cheese, but they get way more dressed up than that. (Swiss cheese mushroom Runza, anyone? How about a BLT Runza?)

Runza is a Nebraska original (started in Lincoln in 1949), and while we do have two franchises in Colorado, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to drive all the way to Ft. Collins or Loveland to have one. Therefore, I make my own. Until recently, it had been years since the last time I made Runzas. There’s been something about this Husker football season (maybe related to the fact that we have a game-worthy TV and more kitchen space now?), though, that has been stirring the craving.

I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that (with a few minor tweaks) perfectly replicates that unmistakable Runza flavor. Making them is a bit time-consuming (and messy), I’ll admit, but it’s totally worth it. Plus, any extras freeze beautifully.

Here’s the recipe with my modifications:

Runzas
Serves 10

Dough Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar (modified from 1/2 cup)
2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup milk (I use 1%, but I’m sure 2% or whole would be fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavor Crisco)
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef (I use 93/7 or 95/5 so I don’t have to drain it)
2 small onions, chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 1/4 cups of shredded mild cheddar (or any cheese of your choosing)

Method:
In a large mixing bowl, place 1 3/4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and shortening to 120F – 130F. (I heated the mixture in a saucepan on the stove and used a candy thermometer to check the temperature.) Pour over flour mixture; add the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high. Stir in the remaining flour (2 3/4 cups); knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 6 – 8 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour.)

Dough Before Rise

Dough Before Rise

Dough After Rise

Dough After Rise


Meanwhile, brown beef and onions in skillet. Add cabbage, salt, and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted and starting to become translucent. Continue seasoning filling with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Punch dough down. Divide into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a square on a lightly floured surface. Top each square with 1/3 cup meat mixture and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Fold dough over the filling, crimp edges tightly to seal, and place on greased baking sheets. (I used a pizza stone; you could also line your baking sheets with parchment [but NOT wax paper].) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Runzas

Perhaps this is blasphemy, but I think this recipe actually produces better sandwiches than Runza does itself. The filling taste is spot on, and the bread is absolutely incredible. The first time I tried this particular recipe, I didn’t roll the dough quite thin enough, so the bread was a bit overwhelming. This time, the Runzas were perfect. Perfect! Plus, I have six left in the freezer for later (to be baked for 25 minutes – rather than 20 minutes – at 350F, straight from the freezer). The bread is fractionally more heavenly fresh than it is frozen, but we’ll still have incredibly delicious Runzas without the mess. Runza lovers, you have to try this one… It won’t disappoint!

A few additional notes: Since I am absolutely crazy, I weighed the dough on my kitchen scale and portioned the pieces out by weight. I started with 34 ounces of dough, so each piece was just under 3 1/2 ounces. I did the same thing for the filling. I started with 31 ounces of filling, so each Runza got right around 3 ounces. Feel free to eyeball it, seriously; I just wanted my portions to be about equal.

TIPS:  If you really don’t want to deal with making bread dough, you could probably use frozen dough. I really feel that this dough recipe makes the sandwich, though, so I’d strongly encourage you to at least give it a shot.

Also, if you’re going to freeze your Runzas, first put them on baking sheet and then place them on a freezer shelf for about an hour. Once they’ve started to firm up, transfer them to freezer bags.

Update 1/29/10: I’ve started preheating my pizza stone before I bake the Runzas whether they’re fresh or frozen. Dr. O and I were disappointed to discover that the bottom of our Runzas hadn’t cooked through on one occasion, and this solves the problem. If you’re baking them on a baking sheet rather than a pizza stone, I’d still recommend preheating it. With the preheated cooking surface, fresh Runzas are ready in 20 minutes and frozen ones are ready in 23 minutes (at my house, at least!). Also, I’ve discovered that you can “hold” fresh Runzas in the refrigerator for an hour or two before baking. Just give them 21 or 22 minutes in the oven. I feel ready to serve these for a game day party now that I know I’ll have time to clean up the mess before everyone arrives!

Original recipe link (without modifications): Runzas

Super Bowl Snacks: Past Posts

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone! The afternoon’s parties are rapidly approaching, so I thought I’d give a few last-minute snack suggestions based on past Sweet and Saucy posts. You might consider:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Bars
Baked Potato Bar
Fresh Salsa
Sparkling Limeade
Mint Chocolate Brownies
Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches
Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews
Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans
Sweet Party Mix
Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Almond Fruit Bars

Happy snacking!

Fresh Salsa

This is a short one but a good one. I get rave reviews every time I make Fresh Salsa from Pampered Chef’s All the Best (except from my friends who don’t like raw tomatoes – I have a few!). The recipe is quick, easy, and flavorful.

I started by seeding and finely dicing 6 plum tomatoes (1 1/2 cups). I put that in a bowl and added 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup of snipped fresh cilantro, 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground red pepper. The recipe says to let the salsa stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. I usually end up covering and refrigerating mine for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours before serving.

fresh_salsa1.jpg

If you’re looking for zippy salsa, this isn’t it; I suppose you could seed and chop a jalapeño and add it to the mixture for heat. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to super spicy foods, though, so this recipe suits me just fine. 🙂

Sweet Party Mix

As my last pre-Thanksgiving post, I’d like to share one of my very favorite game day snack recipes. This is a big weekend for football, and I’d hate for you to go hungry. 😉

I received the recipe for Sweet Party Mix from a dear friend who went to dental school with Dr. O. This mix is addictive, truly. The recipe makes enough for about 12 people (maybe more), so I try not to make it unless we’re going to have some help in the eating department.

For ingredients, you’ll need:

1 stick butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12-oz. box Crispix
1 bag of pretzels (I use half of a 12 – 15 oz. bag)
2 cups peanuts
M&Ms (I use one medium bag of peanut M&Ms)

Microwave the butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a medium bowl for 2 minutes. Stir well. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir. Pour Crispix into a brown paper bag. Pour butter mixture over the top of the cereal and shake well. Microwave the mixture in the paper bag for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Add pretzels and peanuts. Shake together and cool on wax paper. Add M&Ms if desired.

sweet_party_mix.jpg

This mix is soooo good. The Crispix is really the best part. Dr. O is constantly leaving the pretzels and peanuts behind because they don’t soak up as much of the yummy goo. Shame, shame.

TIPS: You’ll need a grocery-size brown paper sack for this recipe. I always just ask for an fresh one when I go through the checkout line at the store. You’ll want to shake the heck out of this to make sure the ingredients are well-coated, and a large sack will give you the room you need.

For cooling the mix, I cover my dining room table in wax paper and spread it out. You’ll need a decent amount of space! Also, make sure you don’t add the M&Ms to the mix until it has cooled. Otherwise, the M&M colors will run.




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