Homemade Mini Funfetti Cupcakes

Desserts | March 27, 2014 | By

Mini Funfetti Cupcakes

I have two very important things to share with you today! 1) UCLA is playing against Florida tonight in the Sweet Sixteen round of March Madness!! 2) To celebrate for this fine occasion, I finally made my own all-natural SPRINKLES (Blue and Gold of course), and would like to share the recipe! Making my own sprinkles means I can finally tackle some of the recipes on one of my favorite guilty pleasures food blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. Now Sally has some of the best, most colorful sweet treat photos you will ever see, however let’s just say they don’t fit into the spirit of A La Main…in other words, they are some of the unhealthiest (but probably delicious) concoctions you can imagine, and she loves artificial things like sprinkles (which I am equally obsessed with) and uses the occasional cake mix or oreo, things we try to avoid on this blog. (Confession: I read Sally’s blog like some would read People or watch Housewives of Beverly Hills…it’s that addicting!)

Sprinkles Dye

I have always loved a good funfetti…cake, cupcake or any sort. The key to my brilliant idea of creating my own funfetti cupcakes, truly from scratch, was finding an all-natural food dye. I finally came across a brand called India Tree (pictured above) that is plant-based, and tried it out. While it may not have been as effective as normal artificial dyes (I had to use the entire bottle in making these cupcakes!), the colors came out great and I felt better about consuming it. I hope you enjoy these homemade sprinkles and funfetti cupcakes. And one more thing…

U-C-L-A FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

Bon Appétit!

Sprinkles 4

Homemade Sprinkles (Adapted from The Kitchn)

1 Egg White

3 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp Warm Water, as needed

Food Coloring

Piping Bags

Parchment Paper

Directions:

Sift powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add egg white and vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth (you do not want any lumps). Add water if needed, to increase the smoothness of the mixture. Add food coloring, very slowly, and incorporate. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and cut a very small hole at the bottom. Pipe thin rows onto parchment paper. Let rows dry for at least 24 hours. Harvest the sprinkles by chopping them with a very sharp knife, or just use your hands to crush them (the latter is my preferred method). Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes (Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

1 2/3 Cup Flour

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/4 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter, unsalted

1 Cup Sugar

1 Egg

1/4 Cup Non-fat Greek Yogurt

3/4 Cup Milk (I used 1%)

2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Sprinkles

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Melt butter and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in sugar until completely combined but still gritty in texture. Chill in the refrigerator for a minute or two. In the meantime, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Remove the butter-sugar mixture from the fridge and mix in egg, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract. Stir in the dry ingredient mixture half a cup at a time until fully combined into a smooth batter. Slowly stir in sprinkles.

Spoon the batter into a cupcake tin filled with cupcake liners (I used mini cupcakes). Bake for around 10 minutes, or until no batter remains when pricked with a toothpick. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Ice the cupcakes with your frosting of choice, but I used my lemon-cream cheese frosting which you can view here and it was delicious!

Sprinkles Making

Sprinkles Jar

Cupcake Batter

Cupcakes

Cupcakes out of oven

Cupcakes

Cupcake 2

Cupcakes 6

Cupcakes

 

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Desserts | March 25, 2014 | By

Chocolate Avocado Pudding - Alamain.net

If you’ve been keeping up with our recent posts, it might look like Hailey and I are on a dessert binge. Well, you may be right. In the past week, I’ve had churros for dinner, Taiwanese sweet breads for breakfast (thanks Tiffany!), cookies for lunch and chocolate covered acai berries for anytime the sweet tooth hits … This post will be a good test to see if my mom actually keeps up with Hailey and my blog, as she is likely to strongly disapprove of my eating choices.

Well, don’t fret (Mom). In preparation for Hailey’s half marathon, our upcoming trip to Spain, bikini season and summertime in general, Hailey and I have challenged ourselves to get in the best shape possible. In addition to a couple evening runs a week, I recently started a squat challenge with my coworkers, working our way up to 200 squats by day 30. To make this a bit more interesting, we added a caveat: at the end of the challenge, whoever can do the most squats in a row will win a dinner of their choice. Competition with a food prize? I’m in.

Now, I can’t let this sweet tooth ruin my chances of winning. That’s where this recipe comes into play. With no processed sugar, healthy cholesterol and loads of potassium, it’s hard to feel guilty if I eat one or two (or three) servings. I might not able to walk after 30 days, but at least I can find solace sitting on my new sexy butt and thighs with this dessert!

Cheers!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding - Alamain.net

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

2 Ripe Avocados

¼ Cup of Cocoa Powder

⅛ Cup of Pure Cacao Powder

2-4 Medium Frozen Bananas

1-2 Tsp. Agave Syrup (Optional)

Whipped Topping (Optional)

Fresh Fruit (Optional)

Directions:

Cut avocados in half, remove the seeds and using a spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh. Using a high-powered blender, blend together the avocados with cocoa and cacao powders. Add one frozen banana at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.* (Note: I found that using frozen bananas not only helps cool the pudding quickly and naturally, but helps ensure everything is fully blended). If your sweet tooth is not quenched, add a few teaspoons of agave syrup and blend again. Top with whipped topping and fresh fruit.

Serves 2.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding - Alamain.net

Chocolate Avocado Pudding - Alamain.net


A Taste Of LA: Churros Calientes

A Taste Of | March 21, 2014 | By

Churros Con Leche - A Taste of LA | alamain.net

Churros Largos With Sweetened Condensed Milk

Yesterday Cathy posted her incredible churros con chocolate cupcake recipe. Well folks, the first step is admittance. We admit our addiction, and it’s time to introduce our churros joint to the world.  Meet Churros Calientes. (By the way, Cathy may be the Duchess, but I’m close behind! It’s an ongoing competition). Our friend Marta found this gem of a hole-in-the-wall while driving on Santa Monica Blvd, which serves up hot, organic Spanish-style churros and thick, creamy Spanish hot chocolate, just like in Spain! It’s a tiny cafe that blasts flamenco music, has bar seating with a few small tables and a European feel that is so rare to find in Los Angeles. The staff is so friendly and chatty (the only non-European aspect of this place), and Marta has celebrity-status here, and gets free hot chocolate from the owner.

These churros are seriously OUT of this WORLD, by far the best I’ve had in the states, and well-worth the calories in my opinion! This cafe is also dedicated to sourcing organic, natural ingredients, which is always a plus in my book :). The actual meals are also really good, but we don’t end up ordering it too often because we usually come just for the churros! Long story short, if you live in LA or are visiting, this place cannot be missed.

Bon Appetit!

Churros

Churros Calientes

11521 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025

What to Order:

Churros: Churros Largos con Chocolate (better than the stuffed Churro Grande because there is more crunch), and if you want toppings, go for the Dulce de Leche, Cream Cheese-Guava; or if you’re feeling over-indulgent “The Cathy” : Nutella and Dulce de Leche!

Savory: Chicken Soup, Filet Mignon Panini, Salmon Panini

Drink: Chocolate Caliente, Cafe Mocha, Beet-Carrot-Orange Juice

Churros Largos Con Chocolate - A Taste of LA | alamain.net

Churros Largos Con Chocolate

Cafe Mocha - A Taste of LA | alamain.net

Cafe Mocha With a Pretty Design!

Churro Con Chocolate Cupcakes

Desserts | March 20, 2014 | By

churrocupcakes5

Last week, Hailey briefly mentioned our new obsession with authentic Spanish churros. Well, I have a confession for the blogosphere: I’m a churro addict. In fact, I’ve eaten churros at least six times in the last week and a half. (Sorry I’m not sorry?) I go to the churro place so often that I am currently Yelp’s Duchess (very proud of this title) and they jokingly named one of the churro dishes after me. I may need help … (churros anonymous anyone? Bueller? Bueller?)

So how did this churro obsession start? You might think that our upcoming vacay to Spain inspired this madness. Wrong. If you guessed my huge sweet tooth. Close sir, but no cigar. I owe my mad churro love all to my friend, future roommate and fellow churro-aficionado, Marta. She first introduced the restaurant to us a few months ago, and hundreds of bites later, I’m still hooked. I know I can always count on this girl to indulge my churro whims… which happens two or three times a week.

Last weekend, we celebrated Marta’s birthday. As I procrastinated packing up my apartment for the much anticipated move I thought, what better way to celebrate a churro-lover’s birthday than with churro-inspired cupcakes! So as Saturday rolled around, my friend Stephanie and I pulled out my stand mixer and baking supplies and got to work. These cupcakes are the essence of churro flavors in cupcake, minus the fried crunch associated with authentic churros. We hollowed out the center of each cupcake and added some chocolate buttercream frosting. Reminds me of churros con chocolate from Churros Calientes. Yum. Be right back. Going to get churros.

Cheers!

churroscupcakes2

Churro Cupcakes (recipe slightly adapted from Fortune Goodies)

3 Cups of Flour

1 Tbsp of Baking Powder

½ Tsp of Salt

3 Tbsp of Cinnamon

1 of Cup Butter, at room temperature

1 ½ Cups of Sugar

4 Eggs

1 ¼ Cups of Whole Milk

2 Tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, lightly whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a stand mixer bowl attachment, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Lower the speed and add one egg at a time. Alternating between milk and dry ingredients, add ½ to 1 cup at a time, making sure you start and end with the dry ingredients. Once all ingredients are added, raise the speed to mix completely. Line and fill a cupcake tin and cook for ~20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.* Set on a wire rack to cool.

Note: The recipe says to fill the cupcake liners ⅔ full of batter. I chose to fill them to the top for a couple reasons. 1) The “muffin top” is my favorite part of a cupcake; 2) I find that overstuffing cupcakes makes it easier to hollow them for fillings later on. If you choose to fill your cupcake liners to the top, you may need to add 5-7 minutes to the baking time.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 ½ Cups of Butter, room temperature

16 Oz of Cream Cheese, softened

6 Cups of Powdered Sugar

2 Tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tsp of Heavy Cream

4 Tsp of Cinnamon

Directions:

While your cupcakes are baking, start on your cinnamon cream cheese frosting! In a stand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until fully mixed. Lower the mixing speed and add one cup of powdered sugar at a time, pausing between cups to make sure sugar is fully mixed. Raise speed and add vanilla, heavy cream and cinnamon.*

Note: I doubled the recipe because I found that if you use piping bags, you’ll run out of frosting halfway through your batch. If you prefer less frosting, halve this recipe.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe from Savory Sweet Life)

1 Cup of Butter, room temperature

3 ½ Cups of Powdered Sugar

½ Cup of Cocoa Powder

½ Tsp of Salt

2 Tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract

4 Tbsp of Heavy Cream

Directions:

In a small bowl, sift powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, cream butter. Lower speed and add dry mixture 1 cup at a time. Your frosting should barely stick together at this point. Add vanilla and half of the heavy cream and raise the mixing speed. Your frosting should start coming together. Add the rest of the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. If your frosting is still too thick, add more heavy cream until correct consistency is obtained.

Assembly:

Once cupcakes are cool, hollow out the center of each cupcake. I used a teaspoon, but an apple corer should work fine. Fill the cupcake centers with chocolate buttercream frosting. Pipe (or frost) over the chocolate frosting with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Makes 24 cupcakes. Can I have that with a side of Nutella? Mmkay thanks! Check back tomorrow for Hailey’s restaurant review!

chocolatefrosting

chocolatefrosting1

churroscupcakes

churroscupcakes1
churrocupcakes7
churrocupcakes4

churrocupcakes3

Lemon Shortbread (UCLA March Madness) Cookies

Desserts | March 16, 2014 | By

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

The MADNESS has arrived!! One of my favorite times of year is upon us, the NCAA tournament. Going to a school with such a huge basketball legacy (UCLA still holds more championships historically than any other team), March Madness is a big deal…especially this year. In our 4 years at UCLA, despite a lot of promise, our team did not go far; I don’t believe we even broke the Sweet 16. Although this season we’ve had our ups and downs, we just beat the #1 team in the country this past Sunday to clinch the PAC-12 Title. Yes, hope is in the air!

So get out your brackets, mark the Bruins going far this year (I’m hoping for a Final Four) and make some cookies!! To celebrate our recent victory and optimism for Madness, I adapted a family recipe into…the ultimate Bruin cookie! I wanted to make something that embodied basketball, UCLA colors and madness (I was imagining Mad Hatter tea party?). Yeah, sometimes I have a lot of crazy ideas and it’s hard to bring them all together! However, it all came together in the end. I started with my grandmother’s shortbread cookie recipe (normally used for a Scottish sandwich cookie called Empire Biscuits). I added a homemade lemon-cream cheese frosting for the sandwich filling, and a lemon glaze on-top, followed by chocolate basketball lines. The cookies usually have raspberry jam in the middle, but I thought lemon might be a good combination…and I sporadically added cream cheese because well, cream cheese frosting is just better. Since we hate artificial things here at A La Main, I used a plant-based food coloring I came across called India Tree. It actually worked pretty well!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Assembly inspired by The Preppy Planner)

Shortbread Cookies:

6 oz Unsalted Butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 Cups Flour

5 Tbsp Sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. In a medium sized bowl, cream butter, salt and sugar together with an electric or stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour, and remove electic mixer once it becomes too thick. Continue to add the rest of the flour, pressing into the mixture with a wooden spoon or your hands until a dough forms. (Note: dough should be slightly crumbly, but solid enough to stick together). Take the dough out of the bowl and kneed on a lightly floured surface for about 1-2 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and can be formed into a ball.

Roll the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 1/8 – 1/4 inch. Use a cookie cutter (or glass!) to cut the dough into circles. Use a spatula to transport the circles to an ungreased cookie sheet. Prick each cookie once with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove cookies from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Lemon-Cream Cheese Filling:

3 Oz Unsalted Butter, at room temperature

3 Oz Cream Cheese

2 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions:

Cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric or stand mixer until creamy. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and blend. Sift the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, into the mixture and blend until an icing consistency forms. Add blue or yellow food coloring (or the colors of any other team!).

Lemon Glaze:

1 Cup Powdered Sugar, sifted

1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions:

Sift powdered sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Stir and add powdered sugar or lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. (Note: this should be much more liquidy than normal frosting). Add red and yellow food coloring until desired basketball color is reached.

Assembly:

Glaze half of the cookies with the orange lemon glaze with the back of a spoon, and let dry. Fill piping bags (or large ziplock bags) with the lemon cream cheese frosting and cut a medium hole. Pipe the frosting into the middle of each non-glazed cookies, and press together with a glazed cookie to form a sandwich. Draw the lines of a basketball in brown or black (I used melted dark chocolate chips poured into a piping bag).

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

If you don’t have a round cookie cutter, no problem! Just use a wine glass or champagne flute!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I actually turned the cookies upside-down into the bowl of glaze and then spread it around with a spoon for optimal covering!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Do you like the blue and yellow sprinkles? Guess what, they are HOMEMADE! This is just a sneak preview, but I will be posting my DIY sprinkle recipe in the near future ;).

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies