Thursday, December 29, 2011

Champagne Cupcakes

Christmas was a wonderful whirl of activities and we were blessed to have all our children at home for the holiday. I really hadn't planned on taking a month long vacation from Mimi's Kitchen, but somehow it happened. Believe me, I was in the kitchen, but I didn't seem to be able to find my way to the computer.  We were having a lot of fun baking, eating and laughing with our friends and family.

 To make up for our absence, we have these beautiful champagne cupcakes to ring in the New Year. Mimi Jr. made these  (she found the recipe on The Curvy Carrot) and they really delivered on the champagne taste. They are a nice moist white cupcake, and the mellow wine taste lingers without being overpowering. These would be a great make ahead New Year's Eve dessert to have with that midnight champagne toast, or if you find you have a little left over champagne the next morning, these are the perfect way to use it up.

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream
Makes 22-24
Line muffin tin with liners.

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup champagne *you can use any kind you like, even flat champagne works*
6 egg whites

Mix dry ingredient together, set aside
In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Blend the in dry ingredients alternately with champagne.
In a clean bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold 1/3 of egg white into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.
Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool before frosting.

Champagne Buttercream:

3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons champagne.(If frosting is to stiff add additional champagne one tablespoon at a time)

With an electric mixer beat together sugar, butter and salt. Add champagne and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy. (I beat my buttercream for 5-8 minutes)
Wishing you the peace of God in the coming year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gift Card Cookies

One of our most cherished Christmas traditions at Mimi's Kitchen is our Christmas Eve festivities. We are invited to Boy Mimi's God Parents house for an evening of feasting and fun. The evening always starts with an incredible meal, featuring Mrs. A's famous meatballs. It's a secret recipe, which even I don't have, but I do know that the meatballs are browned and then simmered in cream, making them the most delicious meatballs I have ever had. Boy Mimi loves these meatballs and has been known to consume massive quantities, so he has become the official meatball assistant. He heads over the day before the party to help Mrs A. with the meatball production. I always quiz him on what is in the recipe when he gets home, but all he ever says is, "Meat, of course!" So it still remains a secret, but even if we do discover the recipe, they will never be as good as they are at Mrs. A's on Christmas Eve. 

Besides our meal, we sing carols, play Christmas trivia games, and have a gift exchange. The evening ends with everyone heading off to church for the midnight Christmas Eve service. As our families have grown and kids have married, our group has expanded to include in-laws, boyfriends and girlfriends, and assorted relatives. We wanted everyone to be able to participate in gift giving, and since it is pretty hard to buy thoughtful gifts for people you don't know all that well, we have modified our gift exchange into a gift card exchange. What makes this a little more special than just handing out cards is the way we "wrap" our gift cards. So not only do you get a gift card, but a fun little gift as well. The packaging is a clue to the store; sometimes the clues are easy to guess, while others leave us stumped, but intrigued as to what is under the exterior.  Mrs. A's family is crafty as they come (check out her daughter's own blog in words and pictures if you want proof!)  in the past we have had all of these things under the tree: a picture frame with Prince William PhotoShopped into some vineyards, (Williams-Sonoma), a Michael Buble CD (Michael's craft store), an eye patch with a tuning fork (iTunes), a jigsaw puzzle of a barn (Barnes and Noble), and a barrel of monkeys inside a crate (Crate and Barrel).
 As soon as we walk in the door, we begin checking out the wrapped cards, trying to figure it out while we eat and sing, waiting for the exchange so we can see if we guessed the gift cards correctly. 

Since we express our creativity in the form of baking here at Mimi's Kitchen, we decided to make gift card cookie clues. We have done red glittery stars for Macy's, red and white bull's eyes for Target, Hibiscus flowers for Trader Joe's and biscotti for Starbucks. These make good hints as to what is in the package, and the recipient gets a tasty snack. We haven't decided what gift cards we will be bringing this year, but we do know that our clues will be edible!

sugar cookies

Links: Foodie Friday