Angel Food Cupcakes

Angel food cake is one of those appropriately named desserts. Cake of the heavens, as it's described, angel food cake is fluffy and airy like the clouds. I'd never tried making it, mainly because I figured a cake like that might be a real challenge to face.

In celebration, of Boss's day, I was asked to either pick up a cake or bake one. My obsession with the kitchen is obvious, so I went with the latter option (you probably figured that out without me saying so, huh?). But what new idea could I have? Sure. I'd brought in vanilla cupcakes the week prior. But that's so standard.

My boss is pretty big on those frozen fruit bars. As much as I want to love them, the inner sugar fiend in me will choose the chocolate-doused Magnum bar every time when the two are side by side. Yes, I try and make healthier choices, but the enjoyment level of gnawing on frozen fruit is lower just knowing what could have been.

Still, though, this wasn't about me, as piteous as that sounds. Fruit was in order.

I let this concept simmer for a day, and while literally walking from one office to the other at work, the idea bubble rose to the top as the pot finally hit boiling: Angel food cupcakes topped with whipped cream and berries. Done.

Of course, I can't go and patent this concept or anything, as in my search for whipped cream icing, I actually found I wasn't the first person with this idea. That's ok. I still thought of it, even if I was a day (or decade) late.

To get the lighter texture, the ingredients needed to be fine. Granulated sugar is fairly coarse, like sea salt, so I used the food processor to grind it down to a smoother, more powdery consistency.


I prepared the egg whites next, beating them with some warm water and cream of tartar until they were light and fluffy. I then mixed in half of the sugar I had just put in the food processor and continued beating them until peaks formed.


In a separate bowl, I combined the cake flour, salt, and remaining sugar. When mixing the flour into the egg whites, I sprinkled it on in small portions, then folded it in to avoid slaughtering my nice, fluffy whites.


The batter was very light and fluffy. I actually wound up with double the amount the original recipe mentioned, which may mean that I beat the egg whites longer and therefore increased the volume.


I decided to do a little bit of experimenting and on half the batch and added some raspberries and blueberries to bake in the center. I was planning on topping them with fruit, and this was just to see how the cake held up. Would they sink down or stay put?


Since buttercream is my regular choice (though Browned Butter Cream Cheese Icing is a gem), I found a really great recipe for a whipped cream frosting to try. Most were just plain ol' whipped cream on top of a cake, but that could fall flat overnight (if you think I wake up at 4am to bake, you are out of your mind - always the evening before!). This one was a mix of cream cheese icing and whipped cream, which brought the cream cheese firmness and flavor into the mix. Jackpot.

I would like to point out that I don't play around when it comes to dairy and food poisoning. I saw some comments on a few blogs about leaving cream cheese icing at room temperature. Based on everything I've found, I strongly advise against that. Bacteria grows fast and spending 12-20 hours hunched over the toilet is not a gift I'm interested in giving anyone. Just refrigerate them, or wait to ice the cakes until you serve.

Anyway, I was thrilled to try this recipe out and got the bright idea of adding some orange oil in to really set off the flavor with those berries. Newsflash: citrus makes milk curdle. This is handy when you're wanting to make buttermilk. Not so much when you are frosting cute little cakeys. At first, the frosting was fine, but slightly runny. So I kept on mixing until all of a sudden I had a puddle of useless dessert soup. Pity, too, because it tasted great.

And so, I went with buttercream. Still a tasty topping, but a slight adjustment. All's fair in love and baking.

After topping them off with some of those blueberries, raspberries, and some strawberries, they were complete.


Pretty little dudes, aren't they? I love some nice bright colors. The cake turned out as expected, with that light, fluffy texture. I was a little nervous that I had dome something incorrectly, given the extra batter, but there was no negative effect of having more batter. Hell, I'll call winding up with double the batter a big positive.

The fruit in the middle experiment went just fine, with the fruit staying planted in the center of the cupcake just fine. It just added some extra fruitiness to the cake.

The cakes were a hit, and my boss was happy to see something different in the office to celebrate with. I tend to bring in all kinds of different stuff, but most of the time it's loaded with chocolate or something zany like bananas foster. I would love to try the whipped cream icing version again because, yum.

A little lesson to learn from me is to wait until just before serving to add the berries on top. I found that that lovely juicy fruit leaked juice while sitting overnight, making a tasty but messier cupcake. I'm an evening baker and like to have everything ready to go, but sometimes it's just better to wait to finalize the details until serving time!

Angel Food Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients:

For the angel food cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
3 tablespoons warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, or more to taste
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

For the angel food cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use a food processor to grind up the white sugar until you have a powdery consistency. Whisk together about half the sugar with the salt and cake flour. Beat together egg whites, water, vanilla and cream of tartar until peaks begin to form. Gradually add the remaining white sugar, beating until medium peaks form. Sprinkle on the flour mixture and fold in incrementally. Scoop the batter into the cupcake pan and bake 15-18 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned.

For the frosting:
Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in powdered sugar, then add vanilla and milk. Mix until combined. Frost cupcakes.

Makes 24.

adapted from angel food cupcakes

Carrot Cookies

Carrot cake historically has been one of my "beware" foods. I fear the nutrition facts more than the most in depth horror film, because it is notoriously high-cal. I've played around with the recipe a few times, making the BEST Carrot Cupcakes ever (I am not even kidding), then reversing directions and making a raw vegan version. It took some time, but I've built up some trust with carrot cake. After all, I'm a dessert fanatic. I can't go excluding perfectly delectable options for caloric reasons, given that the idea of healthy sweets a pretty obvious oxymoron (even my raw cake had plenty of sugar, though I'll call it a step up, health-wise).

I was looking for, as always, a fresh idea, and since these were for my carrot-cake obsessed father, my mind rolled the dice a few times before landing on the concept of cookies.

Stuffed Chilis

Stuffed peppers re works of the gods. As I kid, I didn't know how good I had it, and found stuffed peppers and cabbage at the bottom of my dinner wish list. Now I see them for what they really are: self contained, delicious dinners of homemade convenience. Grab and go. I've even made a chicken philly version and swapped rice for quinoa another time.

I won't pretend I knew what I was getting into here. You see, I've had green chilis before, but in dishes or dips. You know, like with those canned green chilis that are a key component of a good Super Bowl party cheese dip. Those ain't shit. I mean it! While I thought I was buying a banana shaped bell pepper, I later found out I was carrying out little spice grenades.

Blueberry Scones

Scones may not be the first thing you think of when baked goods come to mind. They are a great breakfast snack, though honestly they are often sweet enough to pass for a cookie.

I didn't exactly have scones on the brain for years, but I did have a friend plant the seed when discussing food cravings. Challenge accepted.

We chatted about recipes and when we realized this wasn't the bagel-level feat I expected, it was time to give scones a chance.

Chicken Parm & Ravioli Casserole

I love making complex dishes. Give me a the homemade bread pudding recipe. I'll make that pie crust from scratch. But every now and again, I want the easy, "toss that crap in a pan and let it bake" kinda meal.

I'm a sucker for those during busy times, like those lovely weeks where I both leave and return home in the dark. No, I'm not a part-time vampire, but sometimes it's just the way things go. It's those times when cheap burritos lightly whisper to me from the freezer. I get home, my stomach is growling, and I succumb to imperfect meal decisions to try and fill that bottomless pit I call my stomach. Hunger is a powerful force, my friends.

New York Style Cheesecake

Summer is a time of fun and if you're lucky, family time. That's one of my favorite parts of any holiday, getting to spend time with my fam. Time passes far too quickly for my liking, and so I soak up all the moments I can.

For the Fourth of July this year, my family had plans to knock out an airboat ride in the morning (gator observing is a must-do as a Floridian), then spend the afternoon grilling out. We had beautiful weather predicted for the beginning part of the day, so the plan was perfect. I just had to figure out what I was bringing (do I need to tell you that it had to be a dessert?).

Baked Cannoli

You guys know me by now. "How can I screw with this recipe?" (yes, I used self control in that sentence). It's a fine hobby to turn baking into a science project when possible, and believe me I take advantage of the opportunity.

I got cannoli in my head again after scrolling through some old food photos, recollecting the days of taking photos on my incredibly old Motorola phone - Android OS versions didn't even have delicious names yet! My first cannoli experience was slightly later in the game, though not quite Android v3.0 old. I now shoot on a moderately old Canon DSLR, but as fate would have it, I had left that camera at a friend's house and used my much newer Android phone for this recipe.

How can you improve an already flawless cannoli? Well, I'm not suggesting an attempt to somehow add better flavor. That's just impossible! Can you tell I like cannoli? Seriously, though, can I healthy it up a tad?

Spicy Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I grew up on a handful or two of steady staple meals. We ate a lot of spaghetti and meatballs (because, c'mon, it's spaghetti), Chef Boyardee pizza, shepherd's pie, stroganoff, and of course, stuffed peppers and cabbage. There's something fulfilling about an all in one dish. Easy to serve, stuffed peppers have become a truly American dish, though not originally. Apparently, history has carried the stuffed pepper through several countries, including everywhere from Spain to Korea.

But the idea of a meal that has everything safely stashed in a portable container is the quintessence of U.S. food habits. Look at Hot Pockets and how fast food companies now make entire meals you can fit into your cupholder. We like portability and simplicity.

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