Monthly Archives: February 2008

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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Okay, last week I was looking for my recipe for Lemon frosting for my Ginger-Lemon Cupcakes.  I have almost all of the Anne Byrn Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks – I love them.  While I was looking, I came upon this recipe for Fresh Pear and Gingerbread Cupcakes.  Obsessive as I am (and with my eye on the ripened pear in our fruit basket),  I kept it in mind until last night – when I made them.  I also just “happened” to get a can of crystallized ginger chips at William-Sonoma yesterday, too.

My husband had decreed our kitchen a “NO Cupcake Zone” a while ago, but he doesn’t seem to mind at the moment because the cupcakes are great!

If you are a purist about working from scratch, I guess you could add a diced pear to this recipe I found online.  But I was lucky enough to find a copy of Anne Byrn’s cupcake recipe in this Knoxville News article:

Fresh Pear and Gingerbread Cupcakes

1 (14.5-ounce) package gingerbread mix
1 cup water
1 large egg
1 medium-size ripe pear, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 heaping teaspoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped, optional
Confectioners sugar, garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 16 paper liners. Place gingerbread mix, water, egg, pear and ginger in large mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and thickened, 2 minutes more, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Batter will make 14-16 cupcakes. Bake cupcakes 18-20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and place on wire rack and cool. After 5 minutes, remove cupcakes from pan and place on rack to cool additional 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with confectioners sugar or frosting of choice.

They didn’t include the frosting recipe, so here’s a short one from another site:

In a bowl cream together 3 oz. cream cheese and 3 tablespoons butter, add 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth. Beat in the zest and the lemon juice, then add more confectioner’s sugar as needed to attain the right consistency.  Chill the frosting for 30 minutes, then spread on cupcakes.

I cooked the cupcakes for 15 minutes, then found they needed more, so I added 3 minutes.  I removed them from the oven and let them cool a bit.  When I lifted the cupcakes out of the pan, the bottoms of the cupcake liners were curiously damp,  But, when I unwrapped a cupcake to test if they were undercooked, they were fine.  I guess it’s all the water and the pears.  The cupcakes come out all of a piece when you unwrap them.

The suggestion about chilling the icing first is a good one – wish I had had it last night.  This icing recipe has the consistency of goop until you add enough confectioner’s sugar.  I iced the cupcakes one time, then let everything cool and iced them again.  I like a lot of icing on my cupcakes – that may not be everyone’s preference.

Update on Distroller information

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Yesterday, I received a comment on my “Distroller strikes again!” post from Distroller’s lawyer:

Gabriela Pavon Rios Says:
February 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm   edit

Hello my name is Gabriela Pavon. I am Distroller´s attorney in México City. We are planning to open our stores in the US and South America very soon. Please don´t buy piracy. You can buy our stuff through our web page http://www.distroller.com.mx. If you are interested in opening one of our stores in your country or in selling our product please contact us at info@distroller.com.

Lately, I have been receiving a lot of comments on that post with links to people’s E-bay stores (that say they sell Distroller items).  I have deleted them – because any smart person can do a search for Distroller on E-bay.  Also, I still have some things to sell.

I just went to the updated Distroller website and it looks really good.  Go visit.  I did not, however, see any means of buying items online.  Perhaps she was referring to the listings of Distroller shops in Mexico – and the one in Ontario, California.  I am going to try and order something from them – I really want the new calendar.

I am also skeptical of her suggestion that you send an e-mail to the above link.  I and a friend from Mexico who wants to open a tienda have both tried that route with no results. I understand, however, that they must be swamped with requests.  I also heard a rumor that they were developing something for WalMart.

More Cupcakes

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We are on the road to Covington.  Last night, I made cupcakes.  Dad’s birthday was a good excuse.  I made German chocolate cupcakes and Lemon-Ginger cupcakes.  This time I used can frosting.  I got two cans each of the coconut-pecan frosting for the German chocolate, and two cans of lemon for the lemon-ginger. 

I pretty much followed the directions on the German chocolate cake mix box, but I substituted buttermilk for the water and a stick of butter for the oil.  I added two tablespoons of cocoa powder, one teaspoon of vanilla, and a little more buttermilk.  I used the jumbo aluminum cupcake liners and that made about 18 cupcakes instead of 24.  

I had no problem with the coconut-pecan frosting – except for the fact that there is no way that one can of icing would frost a whole cake.  I augmented each can with more chopped roasted pecans and a few squirts of Hershey’s dulce de leche syrup.  I wonder how pralines or praline pecans would do.  Probably be too sweet.  One can with those additions frosted 9 jumbo cupcakes.  I topped each with a caramel chocolate Hershey’s kiss.  They were very good. 

Now, the ginger-lemon cupcakes didn’t come out as well as they have in the past.  I got a little too smart and added some of the canned icing to the cookies in the bottom of the cupcake liners.  Then I added buttermilk, butter, and the peel and juice of one lemon to the cake mix, adding in the crushed cookies afterwards.  That batch made 22 cupcakes – I didn’t fill them as full. 

I overcooked them just a tad – maybe the icing in the bottom was not a good idea – but they don’t taste too bad.  Since the frosting was canned, I got the big idea of using the pastry bags and tips that I bought a long time ago.  I augmented the icing with the last little bit of lemon curd and some leftover lemon icing I had in the freezer. 

 It was a mess!  I have no idea how you are supposed to fill that icing bag – the icing kept sticking to the sides.  Then, the icing that got to the bottom of the bag was dripping out of the tip.  Icing was squeezing out of the top, the bottom, everywhere!  Next time, I think I need to refrigerate the icing before I put it in the bag. 

Most of the cupcakes ended up looking pretty good, though.  The cake did not reach the top of the foil filler this time, and so the icing just made them level.  I topped each with a sugared lemon drop instead of the Lemonheads I had used before.  Dad likes the lemon drops, I think. 

After Wheat and I had a couple of samples each, there were exactly 36 cupcakes – just the right number for my lovely cupcake caddy.  I had to remove the Hershey’s kisses from four German chocolate cupcakes on the middle layer because they were too tall.  The top layer had enough headroom, however.

While looking for lemon icing recipes in the Cupcakes by the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, I came across a gingerbread with pear cupcake recipe.  I also found some leftover GinGin hard candies that I might be able to crush into the mix.  That’s for another day.  I definitely will make the German chocolate cupcakes for school.

What I’m reading right now…

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For a little while, I took a break from my books on CD. The trip to Spain took a lot out of it, for obvious reasons. For Christmas, I also got a 2-CD edition of the original Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, and listened to that a couple of times. Lately, in the mornings, I don’t listen to anything on the way to school. I just drive and gather my thoughts for the day.

I tried listening to the news on the way home, and it’s all about war or elections. Every once in a while, there’s something interesting on NPR, but I really miss “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. They switched the time for that from 3PM to 7PM.

So, last week, I went into the Gwinnett County Public Library and paid the $7 in fines that I owed them. I also re-checked out El Lector by William Durbin. I have that beside my bed and read it infrequently – I’m not a big reading in bed person. It’s about a girl who wants to be a lector in the cigar factories in Tampa. It’s set in the 30’s, I think. I like to read new literature geared toward Latino youth. It’s pretty interesting, and on William Durbin’s website there’s a link to an NPR piece on the lectores in Tampa and their replacement by the radio.

That day, I also picked up a CD copy of Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch. I had read some reviews of the book when I went to Elizabeth Gilbert’s website while reading Eat, Pray, Love. They are sisters. Back then, I thought the plot was pretty interesting – it’s about a girl in the Midwest who tries out for her high school football team. So, when I saw it on CD at the library, I picked it up.

It’s a really good book – and that’s saying a lot. My father was a football player and coach, and I never liked football. I resented too much my dad’s monopoly of the sole TV in our house to watch football games. But, having said that, I am really enjoying the book. It doesn’t harp too much on football-ese – it’s mostly about communication. In families, between friends, etc. I am almost done with this book and just found out that there’s a sequel!

So now, I’m headed to another library branch to pick up The Off Season, which is the sequel.

The Red Balloon

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This past Thursday and Friday, I showed the short film, The Red Balloon, to my students. We have a copy of the video in our media center, and in the interest of arts integration, I decided that my students should be exposed to an art film. The Red Balloon is perfect, because it is only 34 minutes long, it’s in color, and it shows a lot of Paris life.

It is also the perfect length -right after the showing, the students can get in a good 35 minutes on Rosetta Stone.

In case you don’t know what the film is about, it’s the story of a lonely little boy living in Paris in the 50’s. He apparently has no friends or family – maybe just his grandmother – until he finds this red balloon. The balloon becomes his friend and follows him everywhere. Isn’t that the perfect thing to show a bunch of jaded middle-schoolers? It’s magical!

Of course, I love to make fun of the Red Balloon – and I was able to have a little fun with the film. First, I told my students that if they had a hard time relating to a balloon, to pretend it’s a puppy. Of course, some of my kids have no sense of humor or imagination, so I often got the comment, “But puppies can’t fly!” Okaaaay then.

Later on, toward the end of the film, it might be better to pretend that the balloon is an I-Pod.

Some of my students spent some time analyzing how they got the “balloon” to move – since this was filmed before digital technology. Others – like many unwanted movie-goers, decided that their comments were more interesting than the movie. Okay, MY comments add to the movie. Comments like, “they’re gay!” do not.

It’s no wonder there is such a need for Arts Integration in the classroom! Some students are really short on imagination!

Oh, while researching The Red Balloon, I came up with a reference to an episode of Malcolm in the Middle called Water Park.  Here is the episode description:

When the family goes to a water park for the day, Dewey is left at home with an elderly stern baby sitter that he ends up bonding with. After they dance around the kitchen, she has to be taken away in an ambulance, and Dewey goes chasing after a red balloon being carried by the wind. 

I considered showing this episode to my students, and even thought some of them might know of it.  Unfortunately, many of my students were 4 years old when that debuted!

Year of the Rat

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This has been a fairly casual weekend. I have not been very well this past week – trying to make sure I didn’t get the virus my husband got upon our return. Most afternoons, I went home and took a nap. Thursday, however, I got to return my car to Enterprise.

Of course, it was not free nor convenient – despite their assurances on my check out that it would be. I was told vaguely that it would probably be okay to return the car to someplace other than the airport. For $75, I was told later. So, right after school on Thursday, I drove to the airport, paid about $40 for 3 gallons of gas and other obscure random charges. I took the Enterprise shuttle to the air terminal and caught the Nortyearoftheratwordpress.jpghbound MARTA train. Then, my husband picked me up at the Doraville station and we went to pick up my car.

I’ve been working with my milagros this week, and have one new design up.  I also have a Year of the Rat line up on my Chinese Zodiac shop.  It’s a little girly in colors.  When I did the Year of the Boar designs, I first had a pink pig.  Then I made a tattoo-ed pig in more masculine colors.  It’s interesting that I don’t seem to have this dilemma with my Loteria cards.  I may be mixing my Asian cultures a little bit – Mah Jong tiles and Maneki Neko Cats.   Do they celebrate Lunar New Year in Japan?

I am up late, watching the special episode of House that is being shown after the Super Bowl.   My husband doesn’t get why I like the show so much.  But, then again, I spent the whole afternoon watching some Scott Bakula Star Trek sequel.  I don’t get that, either.