Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Desserts in the Desert

On the first Friday of every month, Downtown Phoenix has an event called First Fridays. This is where all sorts of local artists and vendors come together in the heart of Phoenix to show off their craft. Glenn and I participated a while back with me selling jewelry and scarves and him selling his fantastic photos. It was our very first time, but we each sold something and made 50 bucks. Sweet! Since then, Phoenix has cracked down on it's vendor laws and what not, so First Fridays has become less of a free for all for everyone, and more of a centralized gathering. It's still really great, but I do miss the absolute mayhem of the older ones.

Anyway, that being said, there is also an event going on at that same time called 7th on 7th. There is going to be a dessert contest, to which Glenn "suggested" I participate. I am never one to back down on a competition, especially when I am working on getting my name out there so once I get my bakery up and running, people already know me. OH! By the way, here is my site for my soon to be bakery, location TBD, name: Seventh Inning Sweets. Cute huh? Glenn actually created the site, I am so proud of him. He's a stud.

Aside from that, my creation for this dessert contest is a chocolate cupcake with a pumpkin mousse filling and a dulce de leche frosting. I really hope this all tastes good together. I have no idea, it just sounded like a good seasonal idea. I went to the farmers market today in hopes that they would have pumpkin so I could boast that I used a local ingredient, but alas, they did not. Boo. The dulce de leche is cooking away and I just made the "mousse" and it is so yummy! I will share the recipe with you, that way you can say that you knew me way back when I was getting my start winning dessert contests. The winner gets their recipe published in one of our local magazines along with a gift card to a local business.

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 C salted butter (the added salt is a nice complement)
1/2 C + 1 T Hershey's Special Dark cocoa sifted (this kind tends to clump, A LOT)
3/4 C water
2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C buttermilk
1 1/2 T vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-cup muffin pans with liners and set aside. Over low heat, melt butter in a medium sized saucepan. While butter is melting, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. When butter is completely melted, add in cocoa and whisk until very smooth. Add in water and whisk again. Turn off heat and whisk in the sugar until the batter has a smooth appearance. Add in the buttermilk and vanilla extract, whisking again. Add in one egg at a time, whisking until thoroughly combined after each addition. Very slowly add in the dry ingredient mixture, whisking very well after each addition (this batter tends to clump up, and it is essential to get it as smooth as possible). Fill each muffin cup 1/2 full (flat tops) to 2/3 full (domes) and bake for 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake will come out with a few crumbs clinging to it or completely clean when they are done. Allow to cool on a wire rack completely before filling and frosting.

Pumpkin Mousse Filling
1 C pumpkin puree
1/4 C milk
1/4 C vanilla pudding (about 1/2 a packet in a 3.4 oz pacakge)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
8 oz container cool whip, thawed

In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin puree, milk, pudding, and spices. Mix well with an electric mixer on medium for 1 minute. Spoon the cool whip on top of the pumpkin mix. Very gently fold cool whip into the pumpkin.

Dulce De Leche (store bought works as well as caramel ice cream topping)
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

Empty can of sweetened condensed milk into a pie plate or shallow baking dish. Place dish in the middle of a larger baking dish (a roasting pan works best.) Fill outer pan with water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the center dish. Tightly cover the center dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 425 degrees F for 60-75 minutes. When finished it will be a caramel brown color. (the longer it "caramelizes" the deeper and richer the flavor)

Dulce De Leche Frosting
1 stick butter (I prefer salted for this job)
1/3 C dulce de leche
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 T milk
2-2 1/2 C powdered sugar (you may use more or less depending on how you like your frosting)

In a medium bowl, combine butter, dulce de leche, vanilla, and milk. Mix until well blended with an electric mixer. In half cup increments, add the powdered sugar until completely mixed in. Do this until the frosting is at the desired consistency. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

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