Vanilla Cupcakes and Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Serves 24

These are the best vanilla cupcakes and the frosting is truly delicious.  Together, they make a yummy and absolutely fantastic combination.  The cupcakes are soft and crumby, yet very satisfying.  The whipped vanilla bean frosting is not just fluffy and smooth, but so flavourful because of the vanilla bean paste.  Together, they might just stop you from complaining that vanilla cupcakes are plain and boring!  Let’s get started.

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Vanilla Cupcakes and Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting – Recipe

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste

Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted (more as necessary depending on how stiff you want your icing)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk (optional)

Instructions

Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer) add all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs and mix until just incorporated and add the rest of the ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Turn speed to medium and beat for 2 – 4 minutes until light and smooth.
  4. Spoon mixture into each cupcake liner until about half full and bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave in the pan for 5 minutes and then take out and let cool.

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Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

  1. Add butter and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer) and whisk on medium low until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla bean paste and continue to whisk for another minute.
  3. Sift in icing sugar half a cup at a time and whisk on low speed until incorporated. Turn up speed to medium and whip until smooth, fluffy and light.
  4. Add milk (if using) or more sugar as necessary to achieved desired consistency and whip on medium-high speed for another minute. I like to add a little bit of milk because I find that it makes everything even creamier and this is a medium consistency frosting which is great for cupcakes so I don`t add extra sugar.

Vanilla Cupcakes and Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream FrostingVanilla Cupcakes and Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream FrostingVanilla Cupcakes and Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream FrostingVanilla Cupcakes and Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy.  If you like cupcakes you’ll also like Falooda Cupcakes and for vegetarians try the Eggless Chocolate Malt (Milo) Cupcakes.

Mango Milkshake

Serves 2

Most concoctions involving mangoes are delicious, but this mango milkshake is not only absolutely yummy, but quick and easy to make as well.  Just a few ingredients will yield a smooth, rich drink that’s perfect for the hot summer!  Fresh mangoes make this mango milkshake even tastier, but if you can’t find fresh mangoes then mango pulp will be fine as well.  You can even try making this with mango ice cream.  Let’s get started.

Mango MilkshakeMango Milkshake

Ingredients

  • 3 small non-fibrous sweet mangoes, chopped and pit discarded
  • 1 – 2 cups milk, cold (depending on how thick you want your milkshake)
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. condensed milk (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth.

Mango Milkshake

This should be served immediately.  Also try the Mango Lassi for another refreshing mango drink.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 12

There’s something decadent and indulgent about red velvet cupcakes.  Maybe it’s the deep, rich red colour.  Or maybe it’s the melt-in-your-mouth texture.  Or maybe it’s the sour-sweet taste of the cream cheese frosting.  Or maybe it’s all these delicious components combined!  Traditionally the red colour of these cupcakes occurred naturally due to a reaction of the chocolate with the vinegar.  This reaction produced a deep red colour.  However, due to the way cocoa powder is made now, this reaction doesn’t produce a red colour.  I’m going to add red food colour to achieve the same effect.  You don’t have to add it to achieve the same taste, but if you want the same red colour then go ahead and add it.  Let’s get started.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting – Recipe

Ingredients

For Red Velvet Cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2/3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, scant
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ tsp. no-taste red food color gel/paste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp. vinegar
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 cup cream cheese spread, cold
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted and more if needed

Instructions

For Red Velvet Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake or muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and mix on low speed until well combined.
  5. Add the food colouring and vanilla extract and continue to mix on low speed until well incorporated.
  6. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk in thirds while the mixer continues to run on low speed.  Scrape down the side as needed until well incorporated.
  7. In a small bowl, add vinegar and baking soda, which will fizz up.  Mix well and add this right away to the cake mixture and mix until well incorporated.
  8. Using a tablespoon or scoop, spoon the cake mixture into each cupcake liner until ½ full.
  9. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove cupcakes and let them cool completely.

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.  Add the cold cream cheese spread to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or to a large bowl with an electric egg beater and whip on low speed until smooth.
  2. Increase speed to medium and add butter and whisk until well incorporated.
  3. Turn speed to low and add in powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until well incorporated.
  4. Add vanilla extract, turn up speed to medium-high and whisk until frosting is light and fluffy.  If frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar and if frosting is too stiff add a little bit of milk until desired consistency is achieved.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

 Frosting Red Velvet Cupcakes:

Fill a piping bag or large zip-loc bag with cream cheese frosting, snip off the end and frost on a swirl of the frosting on top of each red velvet cupcake.  If you have frosting remaining you can refrigerate for 2 days or freeze for up to a week to use for the next batch of red velvet cupcakes.  Let it come to room temperature, rewhip until light and fluffy and frost as directed above.

If you like cupcakes, also try the Falooda Cupcakes for a totally different flavour.

Banana Bread – The Best

Serves 8 or 1 loaf

The smell of banana bread baking in the oven is one of the many reason why I make it so often.  It not only smells great, it also tastes absolutely fantastic.  The taste of warm, soft bread and the sweetness and subtlety of ripe bananas go so perfectly well together.  It’s also one of the fastest recipes to put together and then the oven takes care of the rest.  You can put it in the oven, set the timer and forget about it.  Well not completely forget about it because the tempting aroma will keep you impatiently coming back to the oven to check to see if it’s done yet.  Some things don’t change even when we grow up!  This is a one-bowl banana bread so even the clean up is quick.  This particular recipe makes amazingly soft, light and delicious banana breads.  While I like to enjoy it warm, it also tastes great once it has cooled.  Let’s get started.

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Banana Bread – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with beater attachment (or a large bowl if using an electric egg beater) cream together butter and sugar on low speed until smooth, 1 minute.
  3. Turn off mixer and add mashed bananas and eggs and then continue to mix on low speed until well incorporated, 1 minute.
  4. Turn off mixer again and add in the dry ingredients and use a spatula to mix into wet ingredients (in order to not make a mess) and then mix on medium speed for 5 minutes until mixture is soft and resembles the consistency of frosting.
  5. Pour into lined loaf pan and bake for 60 – 70 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick through the middle.  If it comes out clean, banana bread is done.
  6. Turn off oven and remove banana bread and let sit for a few minutes prior to slicing.

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Slice and serve after resting the banana bread for 5 – 10 minutes.  This can be served like any other bread with a bit of butter or you can even enjoy it for dessert just as it is or with a light icing.  This banana bread will keep well in the fridge for a few days, if you can resist eating it all freshly baked that is.  If you want a healthier version, try the Quinoa Banana Walnut Bread.

Royal Falooda – Bombay Rose Syrup Float

Serves 2

The first thing you’ll notice about royal falooda is how amazing this drink smells!  It’s such a flavourful, seductive scent that you won’t be able to resist at first whiff.  The beautiful colour and the taste combined with the scent the rose syrup lends is sure to entice all the senses.  Try making this for Valentines Day.  Falooda has its origins in ancient Persia, but has quickly become popular throughout South and South East Asia and the Middle East.  As some of these ingredients traditionally called for are difficult to find (such as basil seeds) in Western supermarkets, I’m going to show you how to make this version without them.  Let’s get started.

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Royal Falooda – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 pinch cardamom powder
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla ice cream or kulfi
  • 1/2 cup falooda sev or vermicelli, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 4 – 8 Tbsp. rose syrup or roohafza, divided
  • 2 scoops kulfi ice cream (Or regular vanilla ice cream if you have that on hand)
  • Strawberry or other pink jelly, cut into small cubes (optional)
  • 2 cherries, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat milk in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sugar, cardamom powder and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Add 2 Tbsp. of vanilla ice cream or kulfi, stir in and melt.  Cool and refrigerate until ready to make falooda.
  4. To assemble falooda, take two glasses and divide rose syrup or roohafza equally between them, followed by equal amounts of falooda sev or vermicelli.
  5. Pour equal amounts of prepared milk mixture carefully into each glass until nearly full, do not mix.
  6. Add a scoop of kulfi ice cream on top so that it floats on top of the falooda, peeking a little above the glass and garnish with a cherry or strawberry jelly if using.

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Serve with large straws and spoons.  If you like falooda, also try Falooda Cupcakes. Kids and adults alike will enjoy royal falooda and is especially great as a Valentines Day treat or in smaller portions for a little girl`s birthday party because of the lovely colour.  The falooda sev or vermicelli will give this float amazing texture and the kulfi or vanilla ice cream rounds out the smooth taste of the falooda perfectly.  It’s such a fragrant and delicious float and the colour is so cheerful and romantic that you won’t be able to get enough.