February 28, 2012

Banana Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana Cone Cupcakes Another birthday, another "cake" to make.  I was given free reign this time around.  I wanted fruit to be involved, but I had limited time and couldn't whip up the mousse cake I would have preferred.  So instead, I went for creativity over complexity.  Or at least that's what I thought.

So I found the how-to on cupcake cones at the blog House of Hepworths.  She describes this fantastic holder cut from a foil pan, which appeals to my crafty senses.  Well, I might have gone a bit overboard.  I bought a deep roasting pan, since the cake takes like 90 minutes to cook through (it's a sloooooow cake recipe) and therefore I didn't have three hours to spare by the time I rolled home at 10pm (That's right, I got suckered into post-work drinks and forgot about my ambitious cake-making plans).

Well, let me warn you:  Do not use a roasting pan to get 18 holes in for your cones.  The cones don't rest on the cookie sheet below and the pan is left to support their weight.  It will sink in the middle as it heats up.  The batter will spill out into the great big lake of batter in the middle of your aluminum holders.  The cheap ice cream cones will then get soaked with batter, soften up and holes will form in the sides further allowing more batter to pour out.  It's not pretty.  At all.

It was so distressing that I forgot to photograph the massive oven disaster.  I was too busy in how-can-I-fix-this mode.

So how did I fix it?  I removed all of the cones and placed them upright in a high-sided baking pan.  I topped off the batter with my extra (thank goodness for the double batter recipe!), and then placed them back into over at 350F.  The majority were still a little lop-sided, prone to leaking or a little crusty, but overall they TASTED fine. Right?  And I could cover up the tops with the delicious frosting.
Banana Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Lesson?  Well, this is amazing cake.  This is amazing cream cheese frosting.  This should not be wasted in a styrofoamy ice cream cone.  Just bake the cake by itself.  And if you want to do the cone thing, use a half dozen loaf pans that will hold 3 cones each.  It's tedious, but if you have a giant oven, lots of time, or just stick with the traditional box mix cake, you should be fine.

Banana Cake in Ice Cream Cones with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe circulating the web a million times over with one source at allrecipes.com

Batter (this makes twice as much batter as you need for 24 cones, so plan on make a little loaf too):
3 bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
cinnamon & sugar, for dusting


1. Preheat oven to 250°.
2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture.

Butter and sugar whiskedEggs and vanilla addedFlour and buttermilk added
6. In a 9 x 13" baking pan, place as many upright ice cream cones in the pan as possible.  Pour batter into  each of the ice cream cone cups to apprximately 1/2 inch from the top of the cone.  There will be approximately 1/2 of the batter left after 18 cones.  Save it or pour it into a loaf pan for a cake on the side.
7. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven.
8. For the frosting, in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
9. Scoop the frosting into a pastry bag without a tip, just the plastic tip-attachment piece (or a wide open round tip), and create soft serve-like swirls on top of your cake-cones.  Dust with cinnamon sugar (or I used the cinnamon dolce topping from Starbucks).

Banana Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

February 21, 2012

Eating Out: San Francisco, Part I

I ran off to San Francisco at the beginning of February for business, hence the screeching halt of my blog posts.   So while there has been a bit of a dry spell on the posting front, I have had a dozen amazing food experiences during my absence.  Honestly, the best part of visiting a new city is the food.  Eating at new places.  And boy does San Francisco really come through in the restaurant department.

I was typically rushing off for work-related purposes, so the scope of establishments was limited to something of a two block radius of my hotel. But even within such a small corner of the city, there were far too many delicious places to try over the course of the eleven official meal times available.  Sadly, I couldn't even score eleven fantastic meals due to time crunches and an overwhelming sense of fullness that carried me through the trip (omg, I ate so much!).  A number of my meals were on the go (a la Starbucks or a Mojo bar in the purse), a couple were forgettable bites at the hotel bar, and the Superbowl was a blandly catered event at the Marriott Marquis - although memorable due to the bizarre and excessive usage of olives in every single dish and appetizer (I'm not kidding).


My very first meal for the trip landed me at an adorable Mexican restaurant called  Tropisueño.  Now it's unique in that before 4pm, you order food from a carry out counter off from a tall floor to ceiling canvas menu.  The great part about the menu is the big, open-armed welcome it gives to vegetarians and vegans.  All of your classic food truck-style tacos, tamales, flautas, tortas, etc. are available with flavorful sauteed veggies.  It's the magic and spice of the meat without the meat. Once you pay for and receive your food at the checkout counter, you can take it to go or settle down at a table or the bar.  At the end of the bar is a salsa bar, where you can load up on a dozen different options for the tortilla chips provided with your meal. I highly recommend the fresh tomatillo salsa (you know, the green one).

Now 4pm is when happy hour breaks out and runs until 7pm.  Three hour happy hour?  Crazy, right?  Discount margaritas and food. As a Boston native, it delights me to see discounted alcoholic beverages, since such a thing is prohibited in our Puritanical city. Now at 4pm, the food counter closes up and your only source of munchies comes from the happy hour menu. That is, until 5:30pm, when the dinner service starts. With dinner service, the tacqueria and bar turns into a classic restaurant.  A hostess seats you, a server comes to your table for orders.  The meals, whether at the table or the bar, are started with tortilla chips and a selection of three of salsas from the earlier mentioned salsa bar.

So I rolled into this place around 3:30pm for a late lunch, ordered some veggie tacos and sat down at the bar.  Over the course of the next two hours awaiting my friend to arrive,  I tested out the following margaritas.  Both delicious and unique, as I'm partial to herbal concoctions.:

Santo: A St. Germaine elderflower liqueur Margarita. Rocks and salt.
Tropisueño: Canton ginger liqueur is balanced with meyer lemon and tequila. Served up with rose-infused sugar and lemon salt.

When my friend arrived, we devolved to discount house margaritas, describes as "appropriate measures of Agave nectar, fresh lime juice and Tequila. Served on the rocks. Arbol chili salt."  There really was nothing discount about them, only that we didn't pay full price.  I am a huge fan of these flavored salt rims, especially the chili salt.  Take note, I'm definitely tossing these together for margaritas lovers around the holidays.

February 18, 2012

Fluffy Coconut Cheesecake

Triple Coconut Cheesecake

You're probably beginning to get the idea that I do 85% of my baking for work.  You'd be right.  There are about 18 coworkers that I actively and daily interact with, each of whom has a birthday.  As a result, every few weeks I have a reason to whip up something sweet and get immediately feedback from a captive audience.

This week my co-worker Mitchell had a birthday.  He loves coconut.  Last year, I made him these jazzy super-duper coconut cupcakes.  They were actually coconut-ized box yellow cupcakes.  I like to think that I took the box to a new level.  If you know anything about my history with cake, it's that I'm actually pretty terrible at making it from scratch. It's a bit like rice.  I can't for the life of me make proper rice.  Something always goes wrong - too hard, too soft.  With cake, it's too dry or too dense.

So this year when I asked Mitchell what he wanted for a cake, he said again: Coconut.  I had free reign.  Having not make cheesecake in some time (and my fridge had three bars of malingering cream cheese), I thought 'Perfect!'  And I found the perfect recipe.

Now I found the cheesecake on The Novice Chef, but the recipe itself was written by a guest blogger from food + words.  Everything positive that was said about this cheesecake is absolutely true.  And I only changed a couple things based upon the ingredients in my house (per usual).  To quote agnes in Despicable Me: 'It's so fluffy!' So let's just to it!

As a brief overview of my changes:
  1. I love to make my cheesecake crusts with crushed pretzels, since it's super absorbent and makes this unique sweet + salty flavor.  So I subbed pretzels for the graham crackers.
  2. I doubled the whipped cream topping recipe because frankly, with the amount in that recipe, even using my KitchenAid, it went to only 1/2 the height of the towering masterpiece on The Novice Chef blog.  You definitely want twice as much fresh whipped cream, trust me
  3. Triple Coconut Cheesecake: UntoppedTriple Coconut Cheesecake: Too shortTriple Coconut Cheesecake: Final
  4. I also scooped the coconut cream off the top of the coconut milk to set aside for use in the whipped cream.  This thick cream is frequently used as a dairy-free substitute for whipped cream.  So really, this makes sense.
  5. I really want to emphasize temperature when it comes to cheesecake.  Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature, whether its the softened cream cheesecake, butter or the eggs.
  6. I have never once used a water bath, and I've made cheesecake in a wide variety of ovens, so I just skipped out on that step and my cake didn't crack.  So, not a big deal if you don't want to use a water bath, in my opinion.

Triple Coconut Cheesecake
Adapted from The Novice Chef with guest blogger from food + words.


For the crust:
1 cups of crushed pretzels (food processor!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
24 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
7 ounces coconut milk, separate from the thick cream on top and just use the milky part
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

For the coconut whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of the thick cream off the top of the coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup toasted coconut, for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, combine pretzel crumbs, granulated sugar, cinnamon and shredded coconut and stir until evenly mixed. Next, pour in the melted butter and mix until the dry ingredients are saturated.
  3. Dump the crust mix into a springform pan and then press it against the bottom and sides until it create an even layer throughout. It might be a little crumbly, but just make sure there are no blatant gaps.
  4. Pretzel Crust
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  6. Using an electric mixer, use a paddle attachment to whip the cream cheese until light and aerated. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract and salt. Beat until smooth and combined. While still mixing, add one egg at a time. Add the coconut milk and extract and beat until combined.
  7. Cheesecake batter
  8. Pour the filling into the cooled pretzel crust, and place it on a baking sheet (to catch spills) in the oven.  Bake for an hour or until the filling is set and golden at the edges.  Remove and allow to cool.
  9. While your cheesecake is cooling, or the next morning, prepare the coconut whipped frosting.  In your electric mixer, add heavy whipping cream, coconut cream (reserve from before!), coconut extract and confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks have formed.  Spread a thick layer on top of the cheesecake, and top with the toasted coconut flakes.  Keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  10. Whipped coconut topping
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