Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guest Writer Experiments with Buttermilk Cupcakes & Valentines

Today Jen Russon, a TOP NANA contributor gives a shout out to home cooks everywhere, praising the versatility and yumminess of buttermilk—if you’ve got it, use it! She made my (Jorj Morgan’s) red velvet cakelast week, which calls for just 1 cup of buttermilk, which left plenty of buttermilk behind—an open invitation, obviously, to make Jorj’s Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits too! Two whole sticks of creamy butter go into said biscuits. The batter yield is enough to feed a banquet hall of 20—but since Jen didn’t want that many for her dining party of 3, she formed a dozen balls of biscuit dough, popped those in the oven, and then experimented with half of the remaining batter.

What was she going to do with that extra batter?

Jen wanted to make buttermilk cupcakes, and all that stood in my way was tweaking this leftover biscuit dough with a few more ingredients; then have fun watching the mixture go from coarse to smooth. She grabbed 3 eggs, another big cup of sugar, milk and a few generous splashes of lemon juice. It’s important to note that Jen also decided to give some languishing items in the baking section of her pantry some action too. She took out a bag of sweetened coconut and semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted first) and measured 1 cup each into the bowl. She blended the ingredients and sampled a bit before pouring the result into paper sleeves for cupcakes; of the end result, Jen said, “it tasted refreshing and sweet—and somehow more subtle than most cake mix. I knew that, once baked, these cupcakes were the perfect canvas for a dramatic frosting choice—or tropical fruit slices on top.”

Who Knew Nutella Makes A Perfect Frosting?

There was a lot going on in Jen’s kitchen that day—too much to make her icing from scratch or notice, before embarking on these cupcakes that she was out of frosting in the first place. So what did Jen end up slathering on top of those buttermilk cupcakes? Drum roll…Nutella, that trademark hazelnut and cocoa spread that was popularized in Brazil before it came here. And do you know what? According to Jen it was really good! She enlisted the help of our smallest Nana Network team member to frost the small cakes. Nutella is a good medium for little chefs. It’s quite dense and holds up surprisingly well on top of the cupcakes—even if you decide to freeze the extras…which Jen tells me she did! She’s calling her impromptu creation: Caribbean-Chocolate Buttermilk Cake. Write me if you want to try some.

Take This Idea Into Valentine’s Day

While Jen experimented in her own version of America’s Test Kitchen, I dreamed up an idea for a special Valentine’s Day cake that gave me an excuse to run a timely Nana’s Favorite Thing. The concept occurred to me while using a biscuit cutter on the Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits; why not use buttermilk biscuits as the sandwich bread on a tower of strawberries and cream?? I’ve posted a picture of it with this post. To get those heart shaped biscuits, you’ll need Heart Shaped Stainless Steel Cutters. After all, we can’t love a kitchen project unless our hearts are in it!


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