October 21, 2007

Parsnips Anyone?

I just couldn't resist Garrett's and Cheryl's cupcake challenge. They are both master cupcake makers with delicious and original flavor combinations. This particular challenge involved turning traditional flavors on their head. I am a sucker for deconstructed/updated desserts so I wanted to come up with an idea post haste.

A's, my business partner/fake boyfriend, birthday was earlier this month and I wanted to bring a treat to school for his special day. On my home from work, I mentally reviewed what was in my larder and I hit upon the idea of a traditional carrot cake, but mine would be in cupcake form and with parsnips instead. Parsnips are one of my favorite veg and I indulge in them as often as I can during the fall. I tweaked a recipe I found online and while I had to make a lot of adjustments, because I wasn't as well-stocked as I thought, the final product turned out well. The birthday boy liked it and that's what really counts, right?

Parsnip-Apple Cupcakes, adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups finely grated peeled parsnips
1/4 cup grated apple

4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 oz neufachatel cheese, room temp
1 TB butter, room temp
1/4 cup powdered sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon, and its juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cupcake tin with non-stick spray, or use liners. Mix together first 7 ingredients into a medium bowl. Beat together sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl until well blended. Add dry ingredients to wet in 2 additions, beating until well blended after each addition. Mix in parsnips and apple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Using an electric mixer cream together cream cheese through lemon in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Decorate your cupcakes with frosting. I used a pastry bag without a tip to get the large concentric circles in the pic. Enjoy!

Makes 12 cupcakes

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October 15, 2007

Halfway There (almost)

I just started my eighth week school and realized that I haven't given a school update yet. And that's because school is utterly exhausting. I am taking 4 classes that meet once a week and then I am also in my indentured servitude class that meets everyday from 9-2.

In the "class" that meets everyday we rotate stations so the students can gain experience in all aspects of the gourmet restaurant and the cafe. Today, I started the grill at the cafe and cooked more burgers and fries than I ever have in my entire life. It was a big change from being a server at the less popular restaurant and then being on dish duty. I was have problems balancing everything but recently I've felt a little more on track, hence the update.

My favorite class by far is my wines class. The instructor is really passionate about the topic and its fun getting the dirt on the local wine scene. I'm looking and tasting things differently and drinking a bit more wine than usual. M. Pants is taking it with me and its fun sharing this with him. After class, we've gotten into the habit of picking up a bottle of whatever varietal we were tasting in class and comparing.

I'm sure that by the end of the term, I'll be more appreciative of what we're doing but right now, I'm too tired to think about it.