Strawberry Ice Cream

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Well, it’s been a while since we’ve made any ice cream around these parts. Entirely too long, in my opinion. I have had my eyes on this ice cream recipe since before Paul and I even got our ice cream maker. I have always had a love/hate relationship with strawberry ice cream, because for me, I love the flavour of strawberries, real strawberries. Some ice creams have too much of a fake strawberry flavour.

Now, I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. Annie knows what she’s doing. I got the recipe for this ice cream from her, and it really is everything she says it is: dreamy, creamy, and very strawberry!

This ice cream, however, is packed with strawberry flavour, because it is full of real strawberries. Now, the recipe calls for fresh strawberries, but I used frozen. I think next time I make this (because there will definitely be a next time) I am going to try it with fresh strawberries and see which one I like better. But for now, I am so pumped about this ice cream.
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It is creamy, and there are two ingredients you would never guess to be in a strawberry ice cream: sour cream, and vodka. Now, before you get all skeptical, don’t worry. The sour cream adds to the creaminess of the ice cream, and the vodka helps the ice cream not get as hard in the freezer. You can’t even taste the vodka, either. It’s only a tablespoon in the entire recipe. I also didn’t have regular vodka, so I substituted marshmallow vodka instead, and like I said, you really can’t even taste the vodka.

If you are a fan of strawberry ice cream, go make this now! It is absolutely fantastic.

Ingredients

Yield: About 1 quart, or 1 litre

1 lb. (16 oz.) fresh or frozen sliced strawberries
¾ c. sugar
1 tbsp. vodka (optional)
1 c. sour cream
1 c. heavy cream (I used half and half)
½ tsp. lemon juice

Combine the strawberries, sugar and vodka in a medium bowl. Stir until the sugar is starting to dissolve. Cover and leave for 1 hour at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the strawberry mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Blend until you reach your preferred texture – slightly chunky, or smooth. I prefer smooth strawberry ice cream. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Transfer to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and leave in the freezer before serving.

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

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I woke up yesterday with a craving for french toast. I also really wanted cupcakes. Since I worked the night shift last night, I was excited for a morning to bake. However, different plans were in the works. Paul wanted to run a few wedding-related errands, and I was okay with that! Long story short, I had found this recipe for french toast cupcakes, and didn’t get to make them. I’m on night shifts for the whole week, and decided to make them this morning.

These cupcakes are a little more complex than normal, because they have a streusel topping. It’s not overly complicated, just an extra step to take these cupcakes from great to amazing.

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I also had a fantastic idea to put these cupcakes over the top.I am a lover of the unconventional ideas in baking, and the idea of having elements of your whole breakfast in a cupcake is extremely appealing to me. For a few cupcakes, I added some bacon “sprinkles”. I just used pre-cooked bacon bits, and just sprinkled a few over the tops of the cupcakes.

If you are in for a breakfast-y treat that covers the sweet (and the savoury if desired!), these cupcakes are right up your alley!
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Ingredients

Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the streusel:

½ c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. sugar
½ c. flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
5 tbsp. butter, cold and cut into chunks
Cinnamon sugar, for garnish

For the cupcakes:

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 c. sour cream
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla

For the buttercream:

1 c. butter, at room temperature
4 c. icing sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
1/3 c. maple syrup
2 tbsp heavy cream or milk
¼ c. bacon bits (more or less as desired, optional)

To make the streusel, in a medium bowl combine the sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt and whisk until combined evenly. With your fingers, mix the butter into the dry ingredients until evenly incorporated. Refrigerate while preparing the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until combined. In the bowl of a mixer, blend the butter, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until smooth, about 30-40 seconds. Hand blend any remaining dry mixture into the wet with a spatula.

Drop about 3 tbsp (¼ c.) of batter into the cupcake liners. Top with streusel. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the streusel. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing.

For the icing, in the bowl of a mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar, and stir in the vanilla, salt and syrup with a spatula. Add the cream or milk, 1 tbsp. at a time, and beat until you get a light, fluffy consistency. Spread over cupcakes, or if you want to be a little fancier, pipe onto cupcakes with a piping bag and tip. Sprinkle with bacon bits if desired.

Cherry Almond Cake

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This post is a little late, but better late than never, I suppose! Sandi (whose crafty/teaching/travel blog is here!) and I got together last week and baked a cake! It was a great way to spend the day, just chatting, catching up, and baking a fabulous dessert.
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Now, the original recipe, I found here, and the only thing I really changed was the type of cherries that we used. I hate the taste of maraschino cherries. They are so sweet, and the flavour can be completely overpowering. I had some fresh cherries in the fridge, and decided to swap out the maraschino cherries for the fresh cherries. While the cherry isn’t as flavour-forward in the cake, they are in the icing, which is what I was going for.

I also used regular all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. I never use cake flour, because I never see the need to buy cake flour when all-purpose works just as well. If I ever open up a bakery, I may consider it, but right now, all-purpose is the flour for me.

The only thing I would change if I made the cake again would be to add some almond extract into the cake. The recipe only calls for almond extract in the icing, and when I tasted the cake it was good, but I found myself searching for the almond flavour more. I am an almond lover, and it definitely needed the addition of some almond extract in the cake batter. I have included this change in the recipe below.
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch cake

For the cake:

2½ c. flour
1½ c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, softened
½ c. milk
¼ c. cherry puree
1 tsp. almond extract
16 cherries, finely chopped
4 egg whites

For the buttercream:

1½ c. butter, softened
6 c. icing sugar
3 tbsp. cherry puree
3 tbsp. heavy cream or milk
1 tsp. almond extract
Few drops of red food colouring

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans, or brush with miracle cake release. Fasten bake-even strips (strips of towel dampened with water) with safety pins around cake pans.

Chop cherries for cake, and set aside. Take about 10-12 cherries, pit them, and with 1 tbsp. water, puree in a blender until smooth.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Add in the butter, milk, and cherry puree. Beat on medium for 2 minutes, and fold in the chopped cherries into the batter.

Add egg whites and beat until batter is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Divide the batter between the cake pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the buttercream, in the bowl of a mixer, whip the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, cherry puree, cream or milk, and almond extract, and 3-4 drops of food colouring. Beat on low for 2-3 minutes, or until the icing comes together in a smooth mixture.

To prepare the cake, place one of the cooled layers on a cake stand or serving platter. With an icing spatula, spread about 1/3 of the icing on top of the first layer. Place the second layer on top of the icing, and press down lightly. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the rest of the icing, using decorative icing tips if desired. Slice, and serve!