Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes


As much as I'm not a fan of desserts/sweets, I've gotten into a baking kick lately. A co-worker had brought these cheesecake cupcakes into work and they were a big hit. I attempted to recreate them for a cupcake exchange that I hosted. Below is the recipe I mismashed. These remind me of Eli's cheesecake from Chicago which is light and tasty, not dense like NY cheesecake. As a variation, you can put berries ontop when baking rather than the glaze.

Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes
Makes 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Crust

  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 graham crackers)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar

Filling

  • 16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line muffin/cupcake pan with liners.
  3. Crust: In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar. Press crumb mixture into bottoms of prepared baking cups. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  4. Filling: Beat the cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt, lemon zest and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. beating well after each addition.
  5. Scoop filling over crust in baking cups and bake in preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until the centers of cupcakes are firm. *Note: These bake even better if the cupcake pan is in a water bath.  To create a water bath, put the cupcake pan on a baking sheet.  Add warm water to the baking sheet and bake per directions.  The cupcakes won't "fall" after baking if done in a water bath.
  6. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Before serving, place a dollop of reduced pomegranate jelly over the top or fresh berries.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Puda/Uttapum/Chile/Savory Pancakes

Here is a quick and easy recipe for my take on a traditional Indian savory pancake (called many different things depending on what part of India you are from). In Gujarat, these are made with besan (chickpea flour), in Northern India with sooji (semolina) and in South India with a rice/lentil flour. My take is to use Cream of Wheat or Malt O'Meal. Either works and makes a nutritious pancake that is filling and has many veggies. This was done in part to increase the amount of veggies my son ate. The batter below can be made thick or thin, depending on what thickness you want the pancakes to be. Thick batter, makes thicker pancakes and will make less of them. You can vary the flour used from besan, rice flour, bajra or do a combination. Either way, it comes out delicious.

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup Cream of Wheat/Malt O'Meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (or less) finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 small tomatoe finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • chili powder (to taste, optional)
  • water as needed

Directions:

  1. Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl throughly.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add a dollop of oil or spray with nonstick spray. Add a small amount of the batter and cook. When the top begins to dry out, flip and cook on the other side. Serve warm.

Key Lime Cupcakes

I fell in love with the idea of key lime cupcakes after having some great ones in Chicago at Sugar Bliss. Alas, there is no Sugar Bliss near me and cupcake aunty doesn't have a storefront...so P and I decided to bake our own! I can take very little credit for the creativity as baking is not my forte. All the credit for the yummy cupcakes goes to P. We varied a recipe that was inspired by Paula Deen (the queen of butter!) and found the recipe to be fairly moist. We added a graham cracker crust (YUM!) and changed the frosting to a whipped cream frosting (so-so..changed the recipe below to have a cream cheese frosting). The recipe makes a dozen cupcakes.



Ingredients:

Crust
  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 graham crackers)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar

Filling
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping teaspoon grated key lime zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons key lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Frosting
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin/cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Crust: In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar. Press crumb mixture into bottoms of prepared baking cups. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, key lime zest and juice and mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 5 parts total, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold the coconut into the cupcake batter.
  6. Add the batter to the cucpake linters. A spring loaded 1/4 cup ice cream scoop works great for this and ensures the cupcakes are all the same size.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops begin to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to a baking rack to cool completely.
  8. While cupcakes are baking, beat all the ingredients for the frosting and frost cupcakes once they are completely cool.

Lentil Dal

Growing up, I was not fond of dal. It was something I had to eat....now I can't get enough of it! Here is a simple recipe that I learned from my hubby. Its so yummy that even our son loves it...although he doesn't like to eat it the leftovers the next day. This recipe serves about 4 people.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablesppon or less olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
Directions:
  1. Thoroughly wash lentils.  Soak for 15 minutes (if you have time, this speeds up cooking).
  2. Put lentils plus 4 cups of water in pressure cooker.  Cook for 3 whistles (if soaked, 4-5 if not soaked).  Alternatively, you can make this one stove by adding water and lentils to a pan.  Bring to a boil and then cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Place oil in small pan over medium-high heat. When oil heats up, add cumin. Once cumin begins to sizzle and brown, add ground coriander, turmeric, paprika and chili powder (if using). Heat for 30 seconds. Add to cooked lentils.  Then add in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve with roti, naan, rice or eat it by itself.