Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother's Day Treats!

Hello everyone!  I want to thank everyone that came out to the Clayton Art and Wine Festival to say “hi” to us!  We had such a great time!!  The Royal Rooster is such a fantastic store…..perfect for Mother’s Day gifts….so get your little tushes over there and shop for mom!  Speaking of Mother’s Day…..
Today’s post is 2 recipes that would be great for Mother’s Day.  One is breakfast (breakfast in bed?), and the other is dessert.  If you are a mom or grandma, and you want your family to cook for you this Sunday……stop reading this now.  Pass this off to your kids, husband, grandkids, kindly stranger off the streets (kidding on that one), etc.  Seriously, stop reading now.  Send the link to whoever will be cooking for you.
Ok, those reading this now should be the ones that want to surprise mom or grandma with breakfast in bed….and then some dessert.  The recipes I am going to share with you are SUPER easy.  You will be able to do this, even with virtually no cooking experience.  But we will be using the stove and oven, and some booze, so kids…..grab an adult.  NOT MOM!  Grab dad, or another adult who is handy.  I am going to show you how to make Amaretto Pancakes with a Cherry Sauce and Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes.  Sounds good, right?
Let’s start with the pancakes….
Check what you already have in your cupboards and fridge.  You may need to go to the grocery store to get what you don’t have.  You will need baking mix (Bisquick), Amaretto (an almond flavored liquor that will require an adult to buy for you), baking powder, butter, milk, eggs, powdered sugar, almond extract and cherry pie filling.  We will be using cherry pie filling because cherries really aren’t in season yet.  Plus, I don’t want to make you pit a pound of cherries.  That would make a mess all over mom’s kitchen…..and we want to stay away from that.
For the pancake batter, you will use 2 cups of the baking mix, 2 eggs, ½ cup amaretto, ½ cup milk, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.  You whisk this all together until the lumps are gone.  This batter needs to sit for 10 minutes, so while it sits….preheat your griddle or pan.  Yes, this is a grown-up job.
After you butter up the griddle, drop the batter onto the griddle using a measuring cup for easy pouring.  The pan or griddle should be on medium heat. 
Do you see how the edges are starting to bubble?  This means the pancake is ready to flip!  It will take about 3 minutes per side.  Keep the pancakes warm in low oven, set to about 170 degrees.  Now, let’s work on the sauce.  Easy so far, right?  Mom will love it!
Empty the can of pie filling into a small pot.  Add about 1 tablespoon of almond extract.  I use extract here instead of amaretto because I don’t want to thin out the sauce too much.  Extract has a stronger flavor.  This needs to be heated through….just until it is warm.
Yum!  These pancakes just need the fruit spooned over the top….no butter needed.  You could also top the cherries with whipped cream if you had some.  FYI-that yellow spot is a weird glare in the picture….not some strange addition to the sauce.
Mom or grandma will love this!  I know I would like to get breakfast in bed!!  And the Amaretto adds such a special touch…..the almond flavor works so well with cherries. 
Onto the cupcakes…
Moms love chocolate, right?  I know I do, as does my mom….and every other mom I know.  We also love cheesecake, so I have combined the two.  The cake will be from a mix, the cheesecake from the store and you will make the frosting yourself.  Easy peasy.
Normally I don’t like to use cake mixes….not because I am snotty, but because I think from scratch is just as easy.  But, today we will use a mix…just to make it easier for you.  You might not have all the ingredients for scratch cake, and it is easier to use a mix.  You will need a chocolate cake mix, oil, eggs, cheesecake (any flavor), dark unsweetened cocoa, powdered sugar, cream cheese (room temperature) and butter (room temp as well).  You will also need a liquid of some sort, but we will get to that in a minute.
First things first, cut your cheesecake into chunks.  I used 2 slices that I bought in the bakery at the grocery store.  You can also use cheesecake bites that you get in the freezer section, or a frozen whole cheesecake.  Freeze your cheesecake chunks for at least one hour.  You want them to be frozen when you put them in the cupcakes….this way they won’t melt and disappear into the cupcakes.
In the bowl above, I have the cake mix, 3 eggs, ½ cup vegetable oil, and 1 and 1/3 cups liquid.  The box says use water, but I never do.  This is your chance to pep up your cupcakes.  I use leftover coffee for chocolate cake.  You could use milk, soda, or water like the box says. 
With a hand mixer, you will beat the batter for about 2 minutes, scraping occasionally.
Scoop the batter into paper liners.  Fill the cups about 2/3 full.  This will make about 24 cupcakes.

Now, you will poke your cheesecake chunks into the batter.  Not too far, you don’t want them to touch the bottom.  The batter will rise up around the chunks as the cupcakes bake, so don’t worry about the chunks being covered in batter.
The cupcakes will bake at 350 for about 15 minutes….unless you are above 4500 feet.  I am at 6000 feet so I bake mine at 375.  Altitude really does make a difference!  Ask a grown-up to explain why that is….and then call me and tell me because I really have no idea.
See how the cupcakes bake up and around the cheesecake?  Let the cupcakes cool for at least one hour before you frost them.
The frosting is easy and quick to make.  Place the brick of softened cream cheese, the butter and 2/3 cup of cocoa in a large bowl.  Beat this together with a hand mixer until the mixture is smooth.
Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat that too.  You will probably use about 3 cups.  If your frosting gets too thick, you can add a smidge of milk.  Continue beating until you have thick, delicious frosting.
See how the cheesecake makes a special little treat inside?  It will be a welcome surprise, I swear!
These cupcakes are so yummy, and your mom or grandma will be so impressed that you made them!  Promise me that you won’t eat all of them before your mom can have any…..And promise me that you will clean any mess that you make!  Your mom will love all of the effort that you are putting in to this.  Moms deserve it….I know I do;)
If you make this for your mom…. Post some pictures on Facebook.  I would love to see them!

Amaretto Pancakes with Cherry Sauce
2 cups baking mix
2 eggs
½ cup Amaretto
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 can cherry pie filling (21 ounces)
Whisk together above ingredients.  Let batter sit for 15 minutes.
Pre-heat griddle or large pan to medium.  Grease pan or griddle with butter.  Pour batter onto pan with a measuring cup, dropping about 1/4 of a cup at a time.
Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown on each side.
For sauce, heat pie filling and almond extract until warm.  Serve over pancakes.

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes
1 box chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups water or other liquid
2 slices cheesecake, any flavor
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut cheesecake into bite sized pieces.  Place in freezer for at least one hour.
In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, oil and water.  Beat, with hand mixer for 2 minutes.  Scoop batter into paper liners, filling 2/3 full.  Place one cheesecake chunk into each cupcake.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter and cocoa.  Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.  Frost cooled cupcakes.

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