The nutty cupcakes are wonderful, but I'm going to talk about the icing because it really is "the icing on the cake." Its velvety butteriness amplifies the warmth of the maple flavour. I knew I had to try this frosting recipe because, well, it uses real maple syrup, rather than that artificial stuff in a bottle. It is not a speedy one-bowl powdered sugar buttercream; this is real, silky, luscious stuff. You will need to cook the maple syrup to make this version of a French buttercream so it's a little fussy, but the results are well worth it if you are a maple lover.
I made this on an unusually warm day. If you want to stabilize such a butter-rich frosting, beat in a few tablespoons of cool shortening and a tablespoon or two of sifted cornstarch. Add just enough to give it a little structure, but not so much that you lose the silky, fragrant character of the buttercream.
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups walnuts chopped medium fine
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer still on medium, add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with milk (begin and end with flour). Stir in walnuts with a spoon.
Divide batter among the cups (about 1/3 cup each). Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool and frost. Cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Makes about 2 cups
3 large egg yolks
2 cup pure maple syrup
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat yolks on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring the syrup to a boil over medium high heat, cook until it reads 240F on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.
With the mixer running, slowly pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream, until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Continue beating until the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch, 4-5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, until frosting is fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Image property of beets and bites
Crepes are extremely versatile; you can make them savoury or sweet, dressed up or down. You can crisp up a crepe in a muffin tin and you have a tart shell, or stack them up to make a crepe gateau. (One of my favorite desserts in New York City is the Lady M Mille crepe. Paper thin crepes are layered with whipped cream and finished with caramelized sugar. So decadent!)
I made these for breakfast, so they were served with whipped cream and berries. I also like them the French way: plain with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkling of sugar, known as crepes au sucre.
(If you want something absolutely lethal, fill a sweet crepe with Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, and some chopped toasted hazelnuts. Serve it up and be showered with praise.)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (for sweet crepes)
In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Batter may be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours or cooked immediately. Heat crepe pan over medium high heat. A few drops of water should bounce and sizzle when heated properly. Grease pan lightly with oil. Pour scan 1/4 cup batter into pan, immediately swirling to coat evenly. When crepe is light brown around the edges and set (about 2 minutes) flip and brown on the other side.
Yield about 20 crepes
Storage: Wrap well in foil and store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze up to 3 months. To thaw, place package in 300F oven for 10-15 minutes
Where to eat:
Lady M Confections
41 E 78th St
New York, NY 10075-0271
Credit to the Pillsbury Cookbook
Image property of beets and bites and uppereast.com
Summer also calls for outdoor grilling. I think the best grilled item to go with all that corn is barbequed ribs. When you really take the time to baste it with saue and let it caramelize and go crunchy, there is nothing else like it. Both dishes are simple to make, and extremely tasty. Give them a try while it's still warm enough to fire up that grill!
One more note: One of the unfortunate results of the closing of summer is the start of the busy fall season. And for me, that's back to work. I will continue updating (hopefully often) but a little less frequently. Keep an eye out for time and wallet friendly dishes in coming weeks.
Best Baby Back Ribs
- 2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- 1 recipe Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the racks of ribs in half crosswise. Rub the ribs, paying special attention to the meaty side, with 1/2 cup of the sauce. Lay the rib pieces meat side down in an 11 by 13-inch baking dish. The pieces will overlap slightly.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the meat begins to pull away from the ends of the bones and the ribs are just tender, about 1 hour. You can bake the ribs up to a day before and keep them refrigerated. Bring refrigerated ribs to room temperature about 1 hour before you grill them.
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Grill the ribs, brushing them with about half the remaining sauce, until they're crispy and heated through, about 10 minutes. Move the ribs around as they grill, the sugar in barbecue sauce makes it easy for them to burn. Let the ribs rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting them into 1 or 2-bone pieces. Put out the rest of the sauce for dipping or brush it over the ribs.
Classic Barbeque Sauce
1 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1 1/4 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and whisk until smooth
Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until thick.
Store in the refrigerator.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Corn on the cob-however many ears you want to make
Peel back the husks without removing them and remove the silky threads. Cover the corn again with the husks.
Soak in cold water for 30 minutes
Grill 20 minutes (give it a quarter turn every 5 minutes) or until the husks char and you smell the sweetness of the corn.
Slather on some butter and dig in.
Ribs recipe adapted from Dave Lieberman and the Food Network
Barbeque Sauce recipe from Top Secret Recipes
Corn recipe and images property of beets and bites