Sunday, November 9, 2014

Boston Cream Muffins ...ok, ok ... cupcakes


Big Y supermarket has a great muffin section -- big ol' bran muffins, chocolate chocolate-chip muffins, and ... wait for it ... Boston Cream Muffins. Big, giant, Boston Cream Muffins. They're hard to resist. But my wallet and my wastline need me to resist them. So we're implementing the very useful "Make it Yourself" rule -- if you make the food yourself, you will naturally eat more "real" food and portion-control the "not food", because "not food" is super annoying to make yourself. E.g. Apples are real food, and are really easy to "make" -- just pick them up and eat them. Home-made oreos, on the other hand, are kind of a pain to make -- the cookie dough, you gotta cut or roll the cookies really small, bake them and don't burn them, mix the filling, spread the filling, etc. Not hard, it just takes a long time. And while home-made oreos are technically "real food", since they're made with real ingredients, they're not all that good for you. But they're such a pain to make, I'm not going to make them very often. Hence, built-in portion control.

Cue Boston Cream Muffins. Now a quick internet search informed me that there is no such thing as a boston cream muffin, that they are actually cupcakes. And I'll admit, my rule is usually No Frosting = muffin, Frosting = cupcake. So the chocolate topping makes these cupcakes -- fine.

After that, the internet was super disappointing. All the recipes (except Martha) called for Cake Mix from a box, and Instant Vanilla Pudding. If I wanted this to be easy ... I would just buy the muffin from Big Y. So we did some mixing-and-matching.

Cupcakes, from Sally's Baking Addiction

Vanilla Cream Filling, from Martha Stewart

Chocolate Ganache, from Food Network

Side-Note -- since Daylight Savings Time ended last week, any sort of afternoon cooking is now done in the dark. Please excuse the bad lighting.

Vanilla Cream
You may end up needing more than these original measurements (see Finishing below), probably doubled for a 24-cupcake batch.

2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Boston Creme Cupcakes (1)

Separate eggs, and set aside whites (yummy breakfast for tomorrow!). Whisk yolks until smooth.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (2)

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add milk in a slow, steady stream. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (3)

Pour 1/3 of milk mixture into yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (4)

I love cooking that turns into chemistry totally amazes me. And if high school chemistry had been this yummy, I probably would have done better.

Pass vanilla cream through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (6)

Press plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (7)

These were yummy, but they did not come out of the silicone muffin cups easily. Also I reduced the recipe to make only 12 cupcakes, and the batter ended up making 19. So ... not sure what to tell you. These are original measurements, which the original author says makes 16. Maybe they're 16 really BIG cupcakes. I'd say this would make 24 normal-sized cupcakes, which means you'd probably need more cream-filling than the recipe above.

2  1/3 cups (292g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons (180g) unsalted butter, softened too room temperature
1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (240ml) whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (8)

Beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until creamed together fairly well.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (9)

Separate eggs. Add yolks and the vanilla to butter mixture. Beat on medium-high speed until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and milk (alternate adding flour and adding milk 3 times).

Boston Creme Cupcakes (10)

Whisk or beat the egg whites until thick and foamy, about 3 minutes. Fold into cupcake batter.

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Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling 1/2 - 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (12)

Chocolate Ganache
These are the original amounts, which made WAY too much ganache for 19 cupcakes. I'd cut this in half for a normal 24-cupcake batch.

1 cup heavy cream
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels

Heat cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edges.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (18)

Remove from heat, add chocolate morsels to pan, and whisk until smooth.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (19)

Spoon or drizzle glaze over cupcakes, or dunk the tops into the glaze (do this AFTER you put the cream into the cupcakes, below).

Boston Creme Cupcakes (21)

Here's what I did, and here's how it didn't quite work.

Spoon vanilla cream into a frosting bag with a long tip.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (13)

Insert tip into cupcake and squeeze filling into cupcake.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (15)

Boston Creme Cupcakes (17)

**Here's what I did wrong. I didn't put ENOUGH filling into each cupcake. I ended up putting 5 or 6 small squeezes into each cupcake, and it either wasn't enough to taste it, or the cream was absorbed into the cake. It really didn't feel like a good mouthful of cream ... that's what she said.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (24)

Next time I think I will actually cut a hunk of cake out of the center of the cupcake and fill it will cream -- that way I can see how much is getting in there.

That being said, they were still pretty good. I mean, it's cake and frosting, and when you pretend it's a muffin, you can have it at 10am with a cup of coffee. That's heaven in my book.

Boston Creme Cupcakes (27)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs, Done!

Only a few days left until D and Y's Wedding!!! Woo Hoo!!! The handkerchiefs are with the Mother of the Bride, so my job is done!


All that's left is to blog about it. Here are the final instructions, since I do realize my brainstorming and rambling troubleshooting posts may be hard for some to follow.

1. Gather Supplies
Freezer paper
Scissors or rotary cutter
Inkjet printer
Sewing Machine

2. Buy Fabric
Most fabric is 60" or so wide, which gives you 20 programs per yard. Do do some math and give yourself an extra yard or two to work with (cause you'll mess up a few).


3. Design
Using your favorite software, design a fold-able 8.5x11 program (use "greeting card" feature, if it has one).



Leave enough margin for folding and stitching.

4. Fabric Prep
Depending on the fabric you are using, hand- or machine-wash and dry.

Wedding Handkerchief - Washing 1

5. Measure and Cut Freezer Paper
I recommend getting the 18" freezer paper (it also comes in 15") -- 18" makes it easier to measure and fits the 8.5x11 pieces evenly.
Measure and draw the 8.5x11" rectangles onto the freezer paper - it's easier to draw on the paper before ironing it to the fabric. Positioning the rectangles landscape, draw 5 across and 2 up, with a small margin on end. This comes to about 57" of freezer paper.

6. Iron Freezer Paper
Iron the first section of fabric so it's flat. Place the strip of freezer paper plastic-side down on the fabric and iron until the plastic melts onto fabric.

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

7. Cut sections
Cut pre-measured sections with scissors or a rotary cutter. Give each section another iron to make sure the fabric is flat and the edges are firmly sealed.

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

8. Print
Send each 8.5x11" section through your inkjet printer, making sure to print on the fabric side. It's probably best to feed each fabric section one at at time, instead of piling them in the paper tray.

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

9. Remove freezer paper from fabric.
Just peel it off.

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

Wedding Program Handkerchiefs

10. Pressing
Using a steam iron on the hottest setting (or whichever works best for the fabric you're using), press the edges of each fabric piece. Depending on how you plan to hem, this may be a single or double fold. Practice with a few test pieces to see how best to press the corners -- some fabrics may need some bulk cut out of the corner folds, other may press fine. Hint: for delicate fabrics, use a metal fork or metal tapestry needle to secure the corner before placing the iron -- this way you can place the iron down on it without getting your fingers too close.

Wedding Handkerchiefs_final batch (25)

Wedding Handkerchiefs_final batch (16)

Wedding Handkerchiefs_final batch (12)

11. Cut stabilizer backing paper
If your fabric needs stabilizer backing paper, it helps to cut a pile of paper strips before you start sewing. Tissue paper or tracing paper works well, cut into 2"-wide strips (8--12" long).

12. Sew
Place backing paper under fabric. Starting with the corner of the back "page" of the program (so the knot or back-stitching isn't right in front), sew around the program, keeping an even margin. Back-stitch or lock-stitch at the beginning and end.

Wedding Handkerchiefs_final batch (9)

Wedding Handkerchiefs_final batch (7)

13. Finishing Check and Press
Peel off backing paper and trim threads. Hint: Peel backing paper from ONE side of the stitches at a time (not the whole thing at once); it will tear more cleanly, reducing the number of ripped pieces left behind.Trim any stray threads from the fabric. Give them a final pressing and fold. Done.

Wedding Handkerchiefs_final batch (6)

Wedding Handkerchief - Embroidery (7)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Commissioned Work - Brainstorm

It's been a long time since I brainstormed via blog!

It's also been a while since I posted anything about, you know, life. It's been a little crazy. Ro is in preschool now, which was rough for the first week or two. He's a pro though -- loves rules and order, schedules, and clear expectations, so school is a good fit. I'm still working hard trying to set up my Childbirth Classes ... well, they're set up, I just need people to SIGN UP!

But in the meantime, my Etsy is blowin' up. People just love Pigeon Hats. And Notre Dame Sweaters. And I love when the Etsy app Cha-Chings at me when I make a sale. It's a lovely combination of joy and fear -- as in "Yea! I'm contributing financially to my family!" and "Am I going to have time to finish all this stuff in time?"

Pigeon Hat (8)  
Notre Dame Letterman Sweater

And then yesterday a woman from a FB group I'm in was looking for someone to knit a Bubble Guppies costume for her daughter for Halloween. An online friend tagged me in it, and I sent a link to my Etsy page, and I'm now going to be knitting a Oona Bubble Guppy costume for her! Woo!


There are a bunch of "mermaid" tail patterns, but mostly crocheted, so I'm going to have to come up with a knitted one. But I'm not worried. I'm pretty awesome.


Height: Average 6 mo is about 25-26" tall; waist falls at about half their height, so about 13" from foot to waist (plus about 6-8" of fin). The picture above (which she shared with me as an idea of what she wants), the "tail" comes up to the child's waist. However Oona's "dress" technically covers her chest. I'm thinking a tall, ribbed belly band part will keep it stretchy and allow mom to adjust it up or down as she likes, maybe 4". I checked the height of some 6-month PJs, and they're about 12.5" from waist to feet. I'll keep it wide at the feet so her feet are not bunched up too much, and then decrease for the fins. Total height: about 4" for belly band, about 15" for body down to fin, about 6" for the fins.

Width: A 6-month old child's hips are about 20" around, and waist is about 19" around. She wants room for PJs underneath. Here's where I'm not sure about the "ease": for a sweater, you want the piece 2-4" bigger around than the body (so you have room too move and wear a layer underneath); but for a hat, you want it 2" or so smaller than the head (so it stretches and stays on). I want the ribbing stretchy and "tight" so it will stay up, but obviously with enough room for layers and movement. I'm thinking maybe 19" around for the ribbing (so it stretches to 21"), and then 22" around for the top of the legs.

Stripes: Oona's tail is purple and pink spiraly stripes. The photo above was make with just purple and a pink accent added to it; however Oona's real tail is about equal parts purple and pink. A traveling spiral like that is hard (impossible?) to do in the round, since you'd come back around to the beginning of a pink part and the pink yarn would be all the way over on the other edge of the pink section. It can be done flat though, and sewn up the seam (which I hate doing, but I like more for things to be pretty and correct).
So I think I'll do it flat and then sew up with an invisible stitch. The challenge is to make the spirals line up when the piece is folded. Now, if I were super cool, I would make it shaped like a spherical cone ... but that involved calculus, probably, and it's my mission to prove that calculus is useless. Algebra, on the other hand, I seriously use it every day. Go apologize to your 8th grade math teacher, I'm sure he's waiting for your call. Anyway, I decided to just fold it flat. To get the spirals to line up, you always have to have the same color on left edge AND the right edge of the piece. I copied a picture of Oona into photoshop, cropped off her head and arms, turned on the grid, and adjusted the image size so it fit my gauge (90sts across X 95 sts tall). I then copied her dress and placed the layers side-by-side. Wherever the color changed from purple to pink (or vice versa) on the left edge, I drew a line across the piece and made the right edge also change from purple to pink. Then I filled in the stripes in between in an interesting way, and boom, stripes that join when you fold the piece in half. For the decrease to the fins, I decreased each half evenly, 1 dec on each edge and 1 dec on either side of the center.


Pretty straightforward beanie, with pigtails (like I did for Braelyn's Abby Cadaby hat)
Abby Cadaby Hat

Probably ribbed brim (but no turn up, because the pigtails are at the bottom).
But ... how cute would a scalloped brim be for this? So it sort of looks like hair?!

Found a very subtle sea scalloped edge in Beyond the Edge (LOVE having technique books around).

There is also a Scalloped Cast on

Though I'm not sure I like the hole it creates. The other option is to go back after the hat is done and crochet a scalloped edge on the brim. Crochet scalloped edge seems to be much more common, and it doesn't leave a large hole in the center of each ridge.

scalloped border

And finally a pink star applique.
Crochet Star Ornament pattern.

Dusty Purple

I have about 1/4 of a skein in my stash


I was debating using a "brighter" pink, like a Magenta or Rose
Product 860-142
but I think that may be too purpley.
I'll have to see when I get to the store if it looks better than online.
Plus I have 1.95 skins of Pink, which should be enough.
**Yes, Magenta and Raspberry were too purpley. And even though Pink wasn't quite bright enough, none of the others were quite right. Pink it will be.

Just waiting for the PayPal to go through, and I'll be off!