Sunday, May 2, 2010

Adventures in Baking

I have never been much of a baker. I enjoy baked goods, but prefer the feel if a knife and sizzle of the skillet while cooking. Standing in a hot kitchen, watching something rise in the oven is not always fun to me. But every now and then I have an occasion to bake and yesterday was a great excuse.

My friend S and I were born 10 days apart. For the last 6 years we’ve taken turns baking each other a birthday cake. It started with a cheesecake, and every year one of us makes a cheesecake. This year was my turn and now that I’m not eating sweets, I searched for a recipe that involved cream cheese but would be small or easily frozen. And, thanks to the awesome cupcake recipe deck I got one year, I found a cheesecake cupcake recipe. Huzzah! It turned out really well. These are dense, but could be either a dessert or breakfast, depending on your mood. The recipe calls for an extra large cupcake pan, but I made them in a standard, cutting the batter measurements in half. In retrospect, I think the extra large allows more room for the cream cheese filling, but they still turned out well. I also used low fat cream cheese and sour cream. I don’t think it took away any flavor. Next time I think I’ll throw in some coconut for variety.

Vanilla Cheesecake Crunch-Top Cupcakes

Cream Cheese Filling

1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract

Crumble Topping

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cake Batter

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola or corn oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream

Powdered sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line 12 extra-large muffin tin cups with large paper cupcake liners. Spray the inside of each liner with nonstick cooking spray.

Make the Filling

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smoothly blended. Beat in the egg. Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside.

Make the Topping

In a medium bowl, using a large spoon, stir the flour, brown sugar, and salt together. Add the melted butter and continue stirring until the crumbs form. Set aside.

Make the Cake Batter

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg, egg yolk, and sugar until thickened and lightened, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture until the batter is smooth.

Spoon three generous tbsp of the batter into each cupcake liner. Spoon 1 ½ tbsp of cream cheese filling into the center of each; the soft filling will spread slightly over the batter. Sprinkle a generous tbsp of crumb topping over each. The paper liners will be filled to about ½ inch from the top. Bake just until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes [mine took a couple minutes longer]. The cupcakes will rise to the top of the paper liners. Cool the cupcakes for 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan into a wire rack and let cool completely. If any crumbs fall off, replace them.

Dust the cooled cupcakes lightly with powdered sugar before serving. [I added fresh raspberries instead of the powdered sugar, but whatever suits your taste. These are very sweet without the extra sugar.]

Diet Update

I am currently down 25 pounds! Surely but slowly getting there. My summer clothes don’t fit, so I may have to indulge in some transition items just so I have something to wear!