Red Velvet Cupcakes With Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting

I've always been impressed with the variety of cupcakes in US. There are so many flavors, colors, decorations and passion to these lovely treats that I was excited to prepare them. There’s one in special that got my attention: the Red Velvet. Their beautiful and unique color fascinated me!

But I have to confess something… I’ve never eaten a Red Velvet before, so I decided to choose a recipe from someone that already made a lot of stunning cupcakes. I’m talking about my dear friend Carol from The Sweet Fairy Cake. The cake was very moist and the frosting was delicious. I even bought a new pastry bag and tips to decorate them. I was so happy with the result!

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting
(adapted from here)
Yields: 12 cupcakes

1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar 
1/4 cup cocoa powder sifted
2 tablespoon red food coloring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup cake flour sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

 Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
 Mix the vinegar and baking soda and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until the cream is light and fluffy, that's about 5 minutes.
Add egg and beat until well incorporated.
Make a paste with cocoa powder and food coloring and add to cream butter and sugar.
Add the flour and buttermilk to cream butter and sugar in 3 additions always start and finish with the solid. Add salt.
 Add the vinegar mixture and the vanilla.
 Fill cupcake tins until 2/3 of its capacity.
 Bake for 20-25 minutes and let cool to be able to unmold and cool completely wait to decorate.

Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting
Yields: 3 cups

1 cup (8oz) mascarpone at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
4 cups powdered sugar (1 lbs)

1. Beat the mascarpone cheese, vanilla and butter in a large bowl of electric mixer
2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
3. Decorate your cupcakes!


Brazilian Cheese Bread - Pão de Queijo

Today's post will be about another relish from my country: Cheese Bread, one of the most traditional food in Minas Gerais State, where I was born and raised. They are little balls with crackly, crusty exterior and soft centermade mainly with cheese and tapioca flour. They are perfect in breakfast or lunch, or yet with juice, coffee or even a soft drink.

I could find tapioca flour (also named starch) looking at the organic foods session in the grocery store close to my home. But if you have problem to find it on the market closer to yours, you can easily order it on a Brazilian food online store. Probably, you will find two different types of flour there, sweet or sour starch. Well, we prefer the sour starch in Brazil, but the sweet starch works pretty well too. 

The challenge for this recipe wasn’t the tapioca flour, but the cheese. The original recipe uses a matured Minas cheese, which is almost impossible to find in US. So, to reproduce the cheese bread taste, I’ve tried a mixture using parmesan, mozzarella and cream cheese. The most flavorful and with the best texture was the one made with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. This Cheese bread was delicious!

Cheese Bread

600g tapioca flour
25 g of salt
30 g of butter
100 ml oil
500 ml of milk
5 small eggs
300 g of Mozzarella Cheese
400 g of Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat (silicone liners) or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl, place tapioca flour and salt.

In a saucepan over medium heat, place the butter, oil and milk
and simmer. Once boiling, remove from heat and throw
slowly over the mixture aside (flour and salt).

Mix until completely cool the dough (if possible, use
mixer). Add the eggs until incorporated completely. By
finally add the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Make small balls of 30g each, using oil on your hands so that the dough won't stick, and place on sheet pans approx 1-1/2" apart. Bake for 25 minutes until puffed and golden. Test; if still very moist inside, turn oven down to 325°F and bake 10 more minutes. The cheese bread will taste best before cooling.


Dulce de Leche - Doce de Leite Mineiro

I think everybody have already had the pleasure to taste dulce de leche, probably on ice creams, cakes or candies. Well, this caramelized sweet treat was part of my childhood, and why don’t say part of my life too. I grew up watching my mother, grandmother and aunts making large amounts of dulce de leche using big copper pans on the farm. Dulce de leche still remains the main dessert of my family reunions.

Dolce de leche is a common dessert in Brazil, mainly in my state. Dairy companies all over the country produce tons of these specialties daily. Nobody knows exactly its origin, but it is believed that to preserve the milk, the producers of sugar cane on the 16th century cooked it with sugar cane molasses.

There is only on way to prepare dulce de leche by slowly simmering the milk with sugar and stirring constantly. However, according to the proportion of milk and sugar, and how much water will evaporate from the milk, you can obtain different types: creamy or hard and white or darkcaramel. All of then you can eat pure, but the white creamy is excellent with fruits and the darkcaramel is perfect for ice creams and cake fillings.

Dulce de Leche

1 quart whole milk
1 cup sugar

Combine the milk and sugar in a large, 4-quartsaucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. If you want  a darkcaramel color continue to cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer if you want. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.


Chocolate Mousse Hearts

This will be my first Valentine’s Day married and it sure deserves a special dessert. While browsing Donna Hay’s site (which I’m a completely fan), I was inspired by this little chocolate mousse hearts. Oh my, they are so delicate and indulgent! If you like dark chocolate, this is the perfect recipe!

The preparation of the mousse is quite similar with the one that I already made before. This mousse doesn’t use whipped cream. Another good thing about this recipe is the portion size. It only makes 4 mini cakes, which is perfect for a couple.  

Chocolate Mousse Hearts
(from here)

125g butter
¾ cup (165g) white sugar
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cups (100g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
cocoa, extra, for dusting

chocolate mousse filling

100g dark chocolate, melted+
2 eggs, separated
50g butter, softened
1½ teaspoons brandy
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

To make the chocolate filling, combine the chocolate and
egg yolks, one at a time, in a large bowl and mix well. Add
butter and brandy and mix until smooth. Beat the
eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add
the sugar and beat until glossy. Fold quickly through
chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until set.
Preheat oven to 170°C (340ºF). Beat the butter, white
sugar and brown sugar in an electric mixer until light and
fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Sift over the flour, cocoa
and baking powder and fold through. Grease 4 x ½ cupcapacity
heart-shaped cake tins++. Pour in the mixture
and bake for 25 minutes or until set. Cool in the tins.
To serve, trim edges from cake hearts and halve
horizontally. Sandwich together with the chocolate
mousse and dust with extra cocoa. Serves 4.
+ To melt the chocolate, place chopped chocolate pieces
in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering
water. Stir until melted and smooth. Use immediately.
++ Non-stick heart-shaped cake tins are available from
department and kitchenware stores.


Gluten Free Cornmeal Cake - Bolo de Fubá sem Glúten

Have you ever had a recipe notebook? Before starting my culinary adventure through the world of internet and blogs, I used to write my recipes on a notebook. When I was in college, a dear friend gave me one, handmade by his mother. I love it, especially the soft cover and the embroidered. Since that moment, I started to write all kinds of recipes there, as the traditional ones that are in my family for generations or yet a simple recipe invented by myself. Today, I would like to share with you a delightful recipe: cornmeal cake.

Actually, this recipe was part of the gift. He inaugurated the notebook writing it on the first page. I’ve never asked him why he chose cornmeal cake to be the first recipe, but this is probably one of the fluffiest cornmeal cake I’ve ever tasted. The original recipe uses all propose flour, but I opted to make it a gluten free cake using rice flour. The result was fantastic!

Cornmeal Cake

½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Cinnamon and fine sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Mix together the rice flour, cornmeal and baking powder.
Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until it is boiling. Keep it hot over very low heat.
Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until glossy. Add the yolks one at a time. Then alternate the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder with the hot milk, stirring until combined.
Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is deep golden on the edges and a lighter golden in the center for 30- 40 minutes. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the pan and dust with cinnamon and sugar.


Marsala Braised Quinoa With Crimini Mushroons In Roasted Tomato

Quinoa is an excellent protein and vitamins source. I’ve been tried to incorporate it on my diet, eating white quinoa flakes with fruits or mixed in a soup. But I have to confess that I didn’t like the taste.

This weekend, I decided to give another shot. I bought a box whole grain red quinoa. And the reason was a recipe of marsala braised quinoa with crimini mushroom that was on the box. It seemed very attractive to me, and for my surprise, it also tasted very good. It’s very easy to prepare and the combination of crimini mushroom and marsala wine was perfect!

So if you didn’t appreciate quinoa, let me suggest you this recipe! Maybe you can change your mind as I did.

Marsala Braised Quinoa with Crimini Mushroons In Roasted Tomato
( from here)

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup Marsala Wine
2 tbsp Tamari
1/s lb. crimini mushroom caps, minced
1/2 tsp. whole fennel seed, crushed
1/4 fresh cilantro or basil for garnish
4 roasted tomatoes

Cook red quinoa in 2 cups Water for about 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Warm a heavy bottomed skillet. Add olive oil and minced shallots together, in that order. Cook slowly until shallots are clear, soft, and beginning to brown. Add mushrooms, toss well, and then spread out over the pan stirring occasionally always returning them to cover the metal surface of the pan. Cook until mushrooms are deep brown. Add cooked quinoa, mix well. When grain is thoroughly heated and may be sticking slightly to the pan, add Marsala, stir, add tamari, stir. Cover for a few minutes. Toss a generous amount of minced fresh herbs into the grain. Then use to fill roasted tomatoes.

(Roasting a tomato: Use a small sharp knife to cut into the center and scoop out some of the inside of the tomato. Put some olive oil in the palm of your hand; lightly coat the tomato with oil. Coat with a small amount of sea salt. Bake at 450° F. until the skin is slightly soft.)


French Bread

Sometimes the simplest habits could bring the real happiness. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it is true. I’m talking about waking up in the morning, prepare the table for the breakfast, put beautiful flowers at the center, sit with all your family together, and then… enjoy a fresh French bread recently baked and prepared by yourself. This is the perfect way to start a happy day!

Today, I got this happiness. I made the best French breads ever. Crunchy crust, golden brown, and the most important: they taste like French Bread! I’ve been tried a lot of recipes e finally I found the perfect one!

As the author of the recipe, Peter Reinhart, said “making a great loaf of French bread is both an art and a science”. Many factors can affect the chemical changes that occur during the fermentation process, but the secret is called slow rise. If the bread rises too fast, as Julie Child said, “the yeast has not had an opportunity to produce the slow aging and maturing that develops flavor”. That’s why it is very important to put the bread in the fridge overnight before you baked it.

For me, shape the dough proved to be the most difficult step and required a lot of practice. Despite this problem, the bread was perfect!

French Bread
(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

Makes 3 baguetes

3 1/2 unbleached all-purpose flour
31/2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon malt powder or brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 2/3 cups cool water (65 to 70 F)
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Combine the flours, salt, malt, and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the water, and stir with a large wooden or metal spoon till the flour is gathered and the dough forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Knead in extra flour or water (just a few drops at a time) if necessary to achieve this consistency. The dough is fully kneaded when it passes the windowpane test and is between 77°F and 80°F.

Place the dough in a large, clean bowl that will hold it when it has doubled in bulk. Mist the dough lightly with cooking spray. Cover the bowl (not the dough) with plastic wrap or enclose it in a plastic bag, and let it rise for about 30 minutes. It should just begin swelling. Knead the dough for 30 seconds, form it into a ball, and re-cover the bowl with plastic. Allow it to rise for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Scale, bench, and shape the dough into loaves or rolls. Place them on pans or in baskets. If using pans, line them with parchment paper and dust with cornmeal or semolina for texture; if using baskets, mist them with cooking spray and dust them with rice flour or bread flour to prevent sticking.

Lightly mist the top of the shaped dough with cooking spray to prevent sticking, and place the pans or baskets inside a large plastic bag. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Place the shaped dough in the refrigerator overnight, making sure the bag is loose but closed to prevent drying.

The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator but leave it in the bag. The dough should be 50 percent to 75 percent larger than when in. If so, let the dough sit out for 1 hour to take off the chill. if not fully risen, let it sit at room temperature for 3 or 3 hours, until it completes its rise.

Prepare the oven for hearth baking, making sure to place the empty steam pan on a lower rack. Preheat the oven to 475°F (allow about 35 minutes for it to heat fully). Make sure your spritzer bottle is filed with water. Remove the pan of dough from the plastic 15 minutes before baking, to allow the surface of the  dough to dry slightly. Just before baking, score the bread. Put the loaves or rolls in the oven, either on sheet pans or by peel directly on the stone. Then pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the empty steam pan, quickly spritz the oven walls and the bread with water, and close the door.

After 2 minutes, quickly spray the oven walls and the bread again. Repeat in 1 minute. Then, lower the oven temperature to 450°F. Wait 10 minutes and check the bread. (Check rolls after 5 minutes.) Rotate the bread, front to back, if it seems to be baking unevenly. (If baking on more than one oven rack, rotate the bread top to bottom as well.)

When the bread has developed a rich, golden brown color -  this will take about 25 minutes for loaves and 15 minutes for rolls - turn off the oven (or lower it to 350° if you plan to bake again). Leave the bread in the oven an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until it seems on the verge of over browning.
Remove the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool throughly before eating, 60 to 90 minutes for loaves, 20 minutes for rolls.


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