Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not Chocolate: Beachy Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

It's now a tradition that I make something sweet for our annual beach trip with my husband's family. Last year's cookies were a little too labor-intensive (especially since they were eaten in about two seconds) but this year, I have the perfect recipe.

While perusing the new Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, I found both a snickerdoodle cupcake recipe and a creative way to frost cupcakes so that they look like the beach. Since cinnamon sugar looks like sand to me, I decided to combine the two recipes into the perfect beach cupcake. All you need to embellish them are graham crackers and cocktail umbrellas (or palm trees), which I found on clearance at Party City. Since I decided to assemble these at the beach rather than have them in the hot car, I made my own version of seven-minute frosting, rather than Martha's, since hers involves 230-degree syrup and a candy thermometer. (Which, for those just tuning in, I have not used since December 2007. OUCH.)

Beachy Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. milk
2 graham cracker rectangles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, stir together both flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Marshmallow (or Seven-Minute) Frosting
2 large egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla extract

Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. When cupcakes are cool, frost.

Meanwhile, using a small food processor or a ziploc bag and a rolling pin, crush graham crackers until fine and the consistency of sand. Rather than dipping each frosted cupcake upside-down into the crushed graham crackers, which I found to flatten the frosting, sprinkle the crushed grahams onto the top of the frosting (with a bowl underneath to catch the excess) until thoroughly covered. Top with a drink umbrella.

(No time to crush graham crackers? Just give each frosted cupcake a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar instead.)

Best enjoyed on the deck of your beach house. :)

Happy last weekend of summer!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

inkpad eats Maine

If you aren't planning a trip to New Hampshire/Maine, the following might be boring. Similarly, if you don't like other people's silly travel pictures, move right along. Otherwise, here's what we indulged in while on a recent vacation! (eleventy billion lobster rolls are excluded; we're talking SWEETS!)

First stop was my aunt and uncle's house in New Hampshire. The main goal was relaxing (which we totally needed, by the way) but on one occasion, we wandered into nearby Plymouth for an afternoon out. Surely a small college town (the other PSU) had ice cream...

Introducing Sweet Kathy's, Plymouth, NH, a few shops down from Anderson's Swedish Bakery (of note: hubz and I both have Swede in us)

M had the monster "Iditarod" sundae, thankyouverymuch. I had the much more modest scoop of Coffee Kahlua Brownie. I was very tempted by the blueberry ice cream, considering where we were, but I decided that could wait until Maine.

Another outing was to nearby Lake Winnipesaukee. Certain areas have definite tourist traps, and Kellerhaus, near campy Weirs Beach, is certainly no exception, but it is a MUST STOP. An ice cream Smörgåsbord?!

We had dough boy, peanut butter chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, butterscotch, hot fudge, chocolate jimmies (I call them sprinkles, but when in Rome, er, New England...), M&Ms, spanish peanuts, walnuts, whipped cream, an American flag (random)...

Then we bought some cashew and peanut turtles to go...

Next stop: Maine! I solely determined our coastal route based on this place: The Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit, ME. I couldn't decide what to get on my first visit and bought an impulse Dark Caramallow.

And the Bread & Roses Bakery next door was fabulous. (We liked these Magic Bars enough to get them on the way back to the airport too!) Coconut, buttery crust, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, oats, nuts. Sounds like magic to me.

We looooved the sweets at locally owned 3 Dogs Cafe (the website will send you into a sugar coma) in Rockport, but devoured them too quickly to take a picture. Let's just say a HUGE rum ball coated in Oreo crumbs, a peanut butter cup that was really like a flattened buckeye ball, and an elephant ear for M. Yummmm. And we sort of like Labs. I think they do too. A lot. Seriously.

Since you can't do Maine without blueberries, let me recommend the wild blueberry pie at Cappy's in Camden, ME. Small and very sweet berries. Delicious with ice cream. My horrible picture does it no justice!

And, I guess the last sweet of note was wedding cake. ;) (congrats, you know who!)

We highly, highly recommend NH and ME! For sort of more than food.

(I promise to never again put so many links in a post. Oh wait. My London review is coming soon...)


Ever wonder what a chocoholic would eat on a day all about her? (July 18, so I'm a little behind...)

This (Michel's Chocolate Bar, basically a large Kit-Kat bar with hazelnutty goodness).

This (they forgot my birthday candle and brought out another scoop of homemade ice cream, with a candle this time, with our check).

And this (both the Chocolate Truffle Cake from my coworkers and mom's Inside-Out Chocolate Bundt Cake, yes, with ice cream).

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