Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cherry Almond Vanilla Cupcakes: An Easter Treat

Easter came and went fast, didn't it? Ron and I had a whirlwind weekend, from going to the ROM to see the Mayan Exhibition, to visiting his family, then off to see mine. By the time we got back we were both exhausted. 
On Thursday, before all the traveling started, I remembered at about 9:30pm that I had been planning on making cupcakes to take with us. Knowing that Ron's family was going to be there bright and early, I did the only thing I could think of; I ran to the grocery store before it closed and stayed up late making cupcakes, Cherry Almond Vanilla cupcakes to be exact.

I had picked up a cupcake magazine awhile back and thought that I would make something fun. 

1/2 cup butter
4 egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
12 maraschino cherries, halved
24 maraschino cherries with stems (optional)

 Allow butter and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twenty-four 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups (or coat with cooking spray). In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

 In a 2-cup glass measuring cup combine buttermilk and cherry juice; set aside.

Cut cherries in half

(try and tie a cherry stem into a knot with your tongue. Congratulate yourself; cuz you still got it!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract; beat until combined.

Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

 Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. 

 Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups. Press a cherry half into batter in each cup.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.

They even look amazing without icing!

Cherry Almond Vanilla Icing

1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp maraschino cherry juice or milk
1/2 tsp almond extract

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in maraschino cherry juice and almond extract. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional juice or milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes 2 cups frosting.

I actually ran our of icing sugar and since it was a holiday, the grocery store was closed. My icing was a bit liquidy, but I added some more butter to it to make it thicker and it worked quite well

The cupcakes were fantastic and didn't last very long at all. I will make these again for sure

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

St. Lawrence Market Named World's Best Food Market

It's a proud day to be a Foodie in Toronto. Our very own St. Lawrence Market (where I do a lot of my specialty grocery shopping) was just named World's Best Food Market by National Geographic!!

The 200-year-old landmark ranked above New York's Union Square Greenmarket and St. Lucia's Castries Market in a list of the 10-best food markets from around the globe.
A short blurb on National Geographic's website credited the farmer's market emporium for playing an integral role in the city's old town neighbourhood.
St. Lawrence Market was founded in 1803 and, for a time beginning in the 1830s, operated as Toronto's town hall.
St. Lawrence Market hosts more than 120 vendors and merchants selling everything from Italian pasta and seafood to fresh produce, cheeses, curries and marmalades.
Rebecca Grima, marketing and community consultant of St. Lawrence Market, said she was thrilled the market was included on the list.
"St. Lawrence Market is engrained within our city's culture. It has helped build the neighbourhood," Grima told CTVToronto.ca on Wednesday. "When you look at all the merchants and the vendors in the market – it is so multicultural. You have almost every single nationality in there, and I think it is a great representation of Canada." - CTV News

I fell in love with the Market my first year living in Toronto. George Brown, the collage that came to Toronto to attend, was just down the street from it. My friends and I often went there on our lunch break. The food vendors were always amazing and we always tried something new for lunch.
As the years past, I still go there when I'm planning to do a lot of baking or cooking to get supplies. It's easy to get beautiful cuts of meat, fresh veggies, high quality cheeses and baking supplies all at a really good price. I always spend a bundle when I go there, but I know it's worth every penny. I'm so excited that National Geographic has recognized what a wonderful place it is.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Chocolate Worth Going To The Dark Side For

With Easter coming up this weekend, all I can think about it chocolate. Ok..ok... and jellybeans, cupcakes, truffles, my Mom's cooking... you see where I'm going with this... But mostly chocolate.

While surfing Star Wars Facebook'd, my #1 go to sight for all things silly and Star Wars, I came across this picture

Yes, that is a chocolate Millennium Falcon filled with even more chocolate.

you're drooling... 

Don't worry, I am too. Very little is actually know about these amazing chocolate treats, other than people seem to think that they're made from a toy mold. You can see that both sides are attached and then filled after through a small whole in the top.

You can see it right above the front right pointy thing? Oh man, I need to learn more about Star Wars vehicles.... Ok, they're called forward mandibles... I guess right where the sensor dish is....

let's just pretend I didn't have to look this up...
The only fact that we seem to have is that they were made by André Murrai. You can find him here on facebook. You can also find these other amazing treats that he has made

I like to think that the head of Darth Vader is filled with pistachio cream.

And that Han Solo isn't really in carbonite, it's really filled with coffee cream.

Surprisingly, out of all of them, I really want to eat the Batman one the most. I'm not sure why, but when I look at the picture of it, I can almost feel it melting in my mouth... drool...

How would you like to wake up Easter morning to find this Easter Basket waiting for you?

This is my kind of Easter :)

Thanks to Star Wars Facebook'd (and Danielle, of course), Geekologie, Wookieepedia and of course, André himself for making these amazing chocolates.