Tag Archives: birthday

dark chocolate bacon cupcakes

2 Feb

Oh no you didn’t! Oh yes, I did. Bacon in the batter. Bacon in the frosting. Bacon garnish… I’m such a pig.

I blame January’s issue of Food & Wine for my renewed obsession with bacon. According to their keenly calculated trend predictions, breakfast foods are set to make a huge comeback in 2011, especially my dear friend bacon.

Last month was J’s birthday. Like myself, J doesn’t care much for sweets, so I immediately began brainstorming savory desserts. Something nutty? Cheese-y? Meaty? Mmmmmyes.

Coffee, rich Scharffen Berger cocoa, buttermilk, and a whole pound of bacon… it’s the stuff birthday dreams are made of. Moist dark chocolate cake (healthily embedded with bacon bits) meets “baconcream” frosting and a crispy strip of the good stuff. Hello, bacon cupcakes!

dark chocolate bacon cupcakes
the whole hog

cupcakes:
* 1 lb. bacon
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

frosting:
* 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1/2 cup of reserved bacon fat
* 1/3 cup evaporated milk
* 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Reserve bacon fat for frosting, drain bacon on paper towels, crumble 3/4 of the bacon strips and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in bacon bits, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack.

Prepare frosting: In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and bacon fat until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

Frost cupcakes generously and decorate with reserved bacon strips. Makes 24 cupcakes.

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rainy day luau

4 Nov

We hadn’t planned on pouring rain all weekend. Then again, who thinks to throw a luau in October?! It was, however, Mo and Fred’s birthdays, so we had ample reason to celebrate island style. Roasted pig, lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, ahi poke, haupia, malasadas, halo halo, plus macaroni salad and Spam musubi to round it all out!

Growing up, my grandpa would cook up an entire Hawaiian feast on his own complete with tako poke made with octopus he had speared himself. My aunts, uncles and cousins would come over and we’d break out the compartmentalized paper plates to load up on the onolicious spread.

My absolute favorite luau dish is and always has been lomi lomi salmon. In Hawaiian, lomi lomi means “to massage,” which refers to the hand-mixing of salty raw salmon with tomatoes, sweet onions and crushed ice (to dilute the saltiness of the dish). I like to heap lomi lomi salmon over my entire plate, where it can mingle its oceanic juices into the kalua pig and rice.

lomi lomi salmon
like ocean in your mouth

1/2 lb fresh salmon
5 tomatoes, diced into small cubes (salsa-sized)
1 medium sweet onion, diced into small cubes
8 green onion stalks, diced
1 cup crushed ice
Hawaiian salt

Salt salmon heavily (coat it) and chill in fridge overnight. Rinse salmon the next day and dice into small cubes. Combine salmon with tomatoes and onions; mix by hand until well incorporated. Chill thoroughly. Add ice just before serving.

Serves 6 as a side.

(effing delish) fig tart

27 Sep

The dumbest thing you can do on a hot day is bake, but a crate of ripe figs and a birthday celebration convinced me otherwise. No regrets — I am conceitedly in love with the masterpiece of my sweaty labor.

Figs are so beautiful, even when simply sliced into quarters. Their gooey insides are translucent shades of pink and white like miniature watermelons.

For this freeform tart, I began with an easy food processor dough. With the canvas rolled out, I then sprinkled a bed of cinnamon sugar and began placing figs in a startburst pattern starting from the center.

It’s a bit like erecting a tepee at the start — you have to balance three slices to stand up straight, but then it’s easy to lay on concentric circles of slices thereafter. The result: fig tart, fruit art (FART?).

Here it is fully-baked after a liberal dusting of cinnamon sugar and the crust having been folded over and egg-washed. As usual, I had some leaking issues because I rolled the dough greedily thin (I was trying to maximize surface area)! Not to worry, it was still effing delish — lightly sweet and caramelized as only fresh figs can taste. We enjoyed it with a rich, port-like dessert Cab from Big Dog Vineyards.

Fig Tart
who needs brains when you have this much beauty?

* 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 12-15 fresh figs (depends on size)
* 10 ounces food processor tart dough
* egg wash

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Remove stems from the figs and cut vertically into quarters. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch freeform circle. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar.

Starting in the center, cover dough with overlapping circles of fig, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on the outside. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.

Raise dough border to enclose the sides of the tart, letting it drape gently over the fruit. Press down on the dough at the baking sheet, snugly securing the sides and bottom; be careful not the mash the fruit. Gently pinch the soft pleats that form from the draping. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the figs are softly and lightly caramelized. Cool for 10+ minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.