I’d really like to know what “genius” decided that college students should be granted a week off from classes half way through a semester. All I know is that Mr. Genius must have been a nocturnal, beach loving, party animal…a mold that I could not be further from! Furthermore, the Spring break set must not have had the hectic schedule that I have. I barely had time to blink and my break was over! Nevertheless, I made the most of my time away from the classroom.
In typical “Chef Bec” fashion, my time was spent cooking, baking, and eating great food! I also had a great networking opportunity, as the FVTC culinary club spent 2 days in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Restaurant Association trade show and expo. Visitors to the show were able to experience the great tastes of Wisconsin purveyors. I think I sampled more cheese in 2 days than I ate in my entire first year of life! We also cheered on the FVTC culinary competition team, as they competed against other college culinary teams from within the state of Wisconsin. I was so proud of our team! They worked together in perfect fluid motion, and ended up taking home 2nd place in the overall competition. As individual competitors, FVTC students brought home 1 gold and 4 silver medals. It was awesome to watch them work! Here are a few shots that showcase the incredible talent and skills that the students possess.
After I got home, I was inspired to whip up a few recipes that I had been aching to try, but had not been able to find the time to jump in to.
Here’s a sampling of what I made:
SPINACH AND SAUSAGE SOUP w/ CARAMELIZED ONIONS
NUTELLA FILLED CINNAMON-VANILLA MINI CUPCAKES w/ BANANA BUTTERCREAM
Thanks to my wonderful sister, Kim, who sent me a huge shipment of Meyer lemons from California, I was able to make these:
LEMON-GINGER PANNA COTTA
LEMON SPRITZ COOKIES (picture from Taste of Home)
It took me two tries to get the consistency of the caramel butter cream frosting right, but once I did, I had a winner on my hands! The recipe is a little bit detailed, but if you read the instructions all the way through before beginning, I have no doubt that you’ll do an excellent job of baking them!
FOR THE CUPCAKES
1/2 Cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 Cup hot water
2 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
16 Tablespoons unsalted butter — 2 sticks; 8 oz
1 .5 Cups granulated sugar
2 large whole egg — room temperature
1 large whole egg yolk — room temperature
1.75 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 Cup sour cream — room temperature
16 Tablespoons unsalted butter — 2 sticks; 8 oz
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Cups dark brown sugar — packed
1/2 Cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Snickers candy bars — 20 fun sized bars, chopped
3 1/2 Cups confectioner’s sugar
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with 20
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot
water until smooth, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder,
and salt, then set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and sugar,
stirring occassionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is
combined. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer
fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until the
mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes.
Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated,
scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla extract and
cocoa mixture until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add in the
dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating
just until combined.
Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes,
roating the pans after 10 minutes. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick
comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5-10 minutes before
transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
TO MAKE THE FILLING: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over
medium heat. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and heat the mxture to
boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the
sugar is totally dissolved. Stir in the milk and return to a boil,
stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla
extract. Cool to lukewarm, about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a paring knife or apple corer to cut
out a small circle in the center of each cupcake. In a medium bowl,
combine the chopped Snickers bars and 1/4 cup of the cooled caramel sauce.
Toss to coat the candy bars, then drop a spoonful of the mixture into
each cupcake. Reserve 3 tablespoons of caramel sauce for drizzling over
TO MAKE THE FROSTING: Transfer remaining caramel sauce to the bowl of a
stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar and
beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Adjust consistency with a little more milk (if it’s too thick) or
confectioner’s sugar (if it’s too thin), if needed.
Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decoratvie tip. Pipe
a spiral of icing, beginning at the outer edge and working inward.
Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with caramel sauce and garnish with chopped