Saturday, March 30, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade

Easter dessert...I was pretty indecisive until the last moment about the decorations for the cupcakes. The cupcake itself, I decided on early. Strawberry lemonade cupcakes - lemon cupcake with lemon curd filling and strawberry buttercream. Even with a lazy design (just the piped frosting), they turned out awesome! I'm not a dessert person (I know that's probably weird considering I love baking), but even I was considering a second one.

Strawberry buttercream
6 1/2 cups Confectioners sugar
2 sticks butter
10 (or so) fresh strawberries puréed
Splash of vanilla

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tropical cupcakes - Coconut Cupcakes with Thai Guava Frosting

Inspired by the delicious ice cream we ate in Port Douglas (post coming soon), I started thinking up some new tropical cupcake recipes and came up with a coconut cupcake with passion fruit buttercream. My local grocery was, however, sold out of passion fruits so I changed the recipe to have Thai guava instead. The following makes 11-12 cupcakes.

"This Should Work" Thai Gauva Frosting
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp freshly puréed Gauva, skinned
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, salted

Mix the above until smooth. Seeds can be removed as desired.

Subtly Coconut Cupcakes
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar (granulated)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Mix butter and sugar together in second bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Reduce mixer to lowest speed and add 1/3 flour mixture, mix, pour in 1/2 coconut milk, mix, and repeat. Finish with the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and divide batter into lined cupcake pan. Bake for 23 to 27 minutes.

Test subjects have been acquired and I will update the recipe as needed.

Australia - Melbourne

Day 4
We flew into Melbourne, Australia (not FL) on the morning of our fourth day. A quick bite at McDonalds (they have an Aussie lamb burger that is actually pretty good over there), we caught the plane. Upon our arrival we caught a couple buses to our hotel, got our trolley passes, and were off. We grabbed a couple beers and some amazing calamari from pub across the street from the state parliament building while we waited for the Carlton Curry House (an amazing Indian restaurant) to open for dinner. On our way there, we walked chinatown and found a large urban cache in an alleyway. After a delicious dinner, it was for the Fun. concert. Since they weren't coming anywhere near Florida when we looked for their tour dates, we looked in Australia and they happened to be playing our first night in Melbourne. The venue was small so we got an awesome view of the concert, which was amazing!

Day 5
We started the next day at the botanical gardens, looking at all sorts of awesome, exotic plants, flowers, and even a cacti garden. We then grabbed a quick lunch at a Japanese restaurant in one of the many malls , where I tried shark nigiri for the first time (yummy!). We then decided to tour the Old Melbourne Goal, where we learned all about Melbourne's criminal history, including the story of Ned Kelley. I got a little freaked out in the cell where people were held before their execution. After the creepy tour, we stopped at this hipster bar in an alley made entirely out of shipping containers for a much needed drink before continuing on to dinner. James found this amazing Mexican restaurant where I got delicious bug tails (a type of lobster) and James got some yummy smokey tequila. The place was decorated with amazing Day of the Dead artwork, including the wine glasses, which had sugar skulls etched in them.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Australia - Sydney

I know this is a cupcake blog and I promise to get back to that but for now, I'm posting about our awesome adventures in Australia.

Day 1
Landed in Sydney and went immediately to the hotel, where they managed to find us a room at 7:00AM. Breakfast at the hotel and we were off. We decided to find a Vodofone store for a SIM card and Pandora for my Australia charm. We strolled to Darling Harbor (with Wagamama for lunch along the way) and a stop at Redoak for yummy beer to wait out the rain. Since it was raining and cold we ended up at the aquarium where were saw platypuses for the first time along with dugong (which looks very similar to manatees) and tons of other animals. A drink was in order after spending that much time around screaming kids (which is universal in all countries and all aquariums apparently). We sat up on the second story deck of the bar called The Helm right next to the aquarium overlooking the harbor. From there, we took the ferry back to circular quay, by our hotel and found a little market near our hotel. People were selling anything from corn on a stick to organic soap and tons of neat crafts. We picked up a sun necklace and finally made it back to the hotel in time to see the cruise ship off from the roof of the hotel on the pool deck. As the ship left port we finally got a view of the famous and beautiful Opera House from our room. By then, we were famished and walked to a microbrewery called Lord Nelson where we got delicious beer and food before retiring for the night.

Day 2
Woke up fairly early and caught the ferry to Manly Beach. Breakfast consisted of a Brekkie Wrap for me and Angry Onions for James. Apparently Burger King is called Hungry Jacks here and has different (tastier) options. The ferry ride was pretty intense in some spots from higher than normal swells but fun and beautiful nonetheless. We wandered around Manly for a bit, exploring the small craft market and ships before getting ice cream (me) and a chicken kabob (James). Our goal was to hit up the two microbreweries and wander along the beach for the day. I'm proud to say mission accomplished. 4 Pines was our first stop where I had amazing stout and James had a cask ale and pale ale. Next was some tai food nearly next door. I thankfully got mild and was quite happy. James on the other hand tried a chile in his hot dish and said it was the hottest thing he had ever eaten although the rest of the dish was apparently good. We then wondered back towards he beach for our final microbrewery of the day - Murray's. There we sat looking out over the water, drinking double IPA and single IPA (James) and porter (me). From there, we got the ferry back to the Rocks where we watched the next cruise ship leave before heading out to a German restaurant nearby fir good food, good beer, and a surprisingly good polka band.

Day 3
We finally made it to the zoo! There were koaloas, wallabies, kangaroos, poisonous reptiles, and a myriad of other animals to be seen! I dragged James to the seal show at 11AM where we saw a New Zealand seal among other species, all of whom were adorable. There was even a mountain goat exhibit with a fake mountain. The meerkats were posing for us, with one lying drunkingly on his back sunning himself. The zoo also had some amazing views of Sydney to boot. Mid afternoon, after we were both zooed out, we caught the ferry back and walked across the Harbor Bridge, which is much taller than I though, especially when you see giant sailboat under you feet. After a quick stop at the Apple store and hotel, we went on for dinner at Sailer Tai. James got braised beef and I got soft shell crab plus the kitchen sent us a small appetizer for free, all of which was delicious. We the walked along the cruise ship terminal, attempting to find a micro cache, though both of us had a slight uneasiness with sticking our hands in dark places without seeing what could be lurking in them so we didn't look too hard. A quick drink at the Irish pub rounded out our last night in Sydney.