Rose Petal Cupcakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Rose Petal Cupcakes! Before I set out on this journey of the palate, I had no idea how to make crystallized rose petals. So when the miniature rose bush in my own yard presented me with perfectly proportioned soft pink petals, I knew I was going to try. It could not have been simpler to create such beautiful edibles.* Next I chose angel food cupcakes, tasting like sweet fluffy clouds, swirled with a crown of grenadine buttercream frosting. You can almost taste the subtle hint of rose water. Is it any wonder the rose is a symbol of passion and heavenly perfection?

ROSE PETAL CUPCAKES

Ingredients for Rose Petals:

24 rose petals, clean and dry

1-2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 cup sugar

Instructions:

Using a pastry brush, gently paint each petal on both sides with the egg whites. Toss them in sugar, coating both sides. Place on a wire rack allowing them to dry overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

16 ounce box of angel food cake mix

1 1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon rose water

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place cupcake papers in each muffin cup. Place rose water and coconut extract in 1/4 measuring cup. Add the difference in water to fill liquid to top. In a large metal bowl, empty contents of cake mix. Add the 1 cup of water plus the 1/4 cup of liquid. Blend on low mixer speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat one minute longer. Pour cupcake batter into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake according to package directions 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients for Grenadine Buttercream Frosting:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/3 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons grenadine

Instructions:

Using a hand mixer on low setting, cream together Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Blend in almond extract. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating halfway to add one tablespoon grenadine. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. If needed, use one more tablespoon of grenadine to make it spreadable. Beat on medium for one minute. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with crystallized rose petals. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

* Always use rose petals that are free of pesticides or other chemicals.

Blueberry-Almond Coffeecake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Blueberry-Almond Coffeecake! The battle begins. Will you choose to eat this incredible coffee cake first thing in the morning for breakfast or the last thing at night for dessert? The brown sugary crumbled topping seems like candy, but the fluffy moist cake filled with blueberries seems more like a last course to the meal. Whatever is one to do??? My choice? I’ll never tell. Enjoy!

BLUEBERRY-ALMOND COFFEECAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons corn starch

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

CRUNCHY TOPPING

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 10″ round baking dish. In a bowl, gently toss blueberries and cornstarch to coat. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. While mixing gradually add milk, yogurt, almond extract, and egg. Blend well. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into baking dish. To make topping, combine brown sugar and flour. Cut butter into topping until it resembles pea-size crumbs. Spread over cake batter. Sprinkle almonds over all. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones! Question: What do you get when you cross a cake and a quick bread? Answer: An English Scone, of course! Now here’s an excuse to eat something lightly sweetened in the middle of the day. Scones are popular with brunch or afternoon tea in some countries. They are made in a single-serving size and come in several variations. By adding fresh fruit and a sprinkling of sanding sugar, the results are astounding. Drizzle a lemony glaze on top to transform this beauty into a dessert as well.

ZINGY LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup milk

White sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Lemon Glaze Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large with sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and lemon citrus peel in a large bowl. Add butter and blend until crumbly. Fold in the blueberries and almonds. Stir in the milk. On a lightly floured surface, transfer dough. Form into two 6-inch disks. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Gently transfer wedges to the prepared sheet; brush with milk; sprinkle lightly with the sanding sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool on the pan. Drizzle with lemon glaze. Serve warm.

Lemon Glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over warm scones.

Jelly Roll Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Jelly Roll Cake! Sweetness never tasted so good. The best part about this classic cake recipe is the filling can be whatever flavor you wish it to be. I used all-natural Red-Cherry Swiss Preserves for a fruit flavor resulting in a gourmet experience. It created an international glimpse of Switzerland without setting foot on an airplane.

JELLY ROLL CAKE

Ingredients:

3 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup almonds, sliced

2/3 cup jelly or jam, any flavor

Powdered sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan. Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, water, and almond extract. Mix thoroughly. Add flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended and no lumps remain. Pour into pan and sprinkle with almonds. Bake 12-15 minutes. Loosen cake from pan and invert onto a tea towel generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. While cake is hot, roll up. Refrigerate one hour. Unroll cake and top with jelly or jam, spreading to edges. Roll up cake again, sprinkle with powdered sugar, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate two more hours before serving.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers! Don’t hate me. These bakery-style popovers come with a warning label: Highly Addictive! Perhaps I might include a disclaimer. If you never suffer with sweet tooth cravings or for some unknown reason dislike cinnamon, no worries. For the rest of us, all I can say is “Try to resist licking your fingers!”.

NUTMEG CINNAMON POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups flour

Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, sea salt, sugar, and flour. Blend until no lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Meanwhile place melted butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Take a popover and brush it with melted butter to coat. Place the popover in the sugar mixture and roll to coat. Repeat with entire batch of popovers.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Y

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Yumolicious GF Harvest Muffins! Have you discovered the silky taste of almond butter lately? I recently came across a gourmet item that enhanced the almond butter with cinnamon and chia seeds. Because it works with this muffin recipe, I went ahead and used it. Obviously, if chia seeds are not your thing, no worries. The butternut squash is the star attraction, in my opinion. It has a natural sweet flavor that surpasses the pumpkin patch variety that is more common. Since I recently made a batch of glazed pears, they were added to the “harvest”, but you can certainly substitute with a delicious apple instead. If I haven’t piqued your interest by now, let me further add the fact that these yumolicious muffins are gluten-free. See? It works. You learn something new everyday. 
YUMOLICIOUS GF HARVEST MUFFINS 
Ingredients:

3/4 cup butternut squash purée 

1 cup almond butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pear, finely chopped 

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened 

1 tablespoon almond flour

2-3 tablespoons old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Use muffin cup liners for 12 muffins. Line the muffin tin; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine butternut squash purée, almond butter, maple syrup, beaten egg, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix well. Fold in the chopped pears. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. For the topping, mix brown sugar, softened butter, almond flour, and old fashioned oats. Mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping. Top with sunflower seeds. Bake 30-35 minutes or until muffins pull away from paper liner. Watch carefully. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Zero Candy Bar Cookies! White chocolate fudge has been popular since it was introduced in a candy bar a hundred years ago. At that time it was called the Double Zero Bar due to its “chilling” snowy white color, reminding the public of an ice cube. To this day it is sold in a trademark cool silver wrapper. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. Today’s cookies are nothing short of heavenly. 
ZERO CANDY BAR COOKIES
Ingredients: 

1 cup butter, softened 

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 sea salt

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups peanuts, chopped

3.4 ounce Zero Candy Bar, chopped
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Stir until blended. Fold in white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, peanuts, and Zero Candy Bar pieces. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Drop cookie dough, using a melon ball scoop, onto the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 6 dozen. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Neiman-Marcus Cake! Repeat after me, “Butter is my friend. Butter is my new best friend.” One bite of these sweet cream butter bars and you’ll swear they came from a French bakery. Look no further than the Neufchâtel cheese filling for confirmation. I always serve this cake with fresh fruit for the ultimate pâtisserie experience. 
NEIMAN MARCUS CAKE
Ingredients:

1 lb. box of yellow cake mix

3 eggs

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 lb. powdered sugar

8 oz. bar of Neufchâtel cheese

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup sliced almonds
Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Stir cake mix, melted butter, and one egg. Press into the bottom of a greased and floured 9 x 13 glass dish. Mix powdered sugar, 2 eggs, almond extract, and softened Neufchâtel cheese until smooth. Pour over top of cake mix. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares and serve with fresh strawberries. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter R

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Rich Ricotta Cannoli! For those of you like me, who can’t run down to the Italian bakery, try this recipe on for size. It’s perfect for the holidays and won’t leave you wringing your hands for something gourmet. By splurging on store bought cannoli shells, you can focus on the delectable filling instead. The results are astounding! Applause, applause! 
RICH RICOTTA CANNOLI 
Ingredients:

15 ounces ricotta cheese, whole milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract 

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

12 miniature cannoli shells, ready-to-fill

Powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions:

In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on low speed, whisk the ricotta cheese and almond extract until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and nutmeg. Mix well. Refrigerate for one hour. To fill the cannoli shells, pipe the ricotta mixture into both ends of the shell, allowing the cream to fill the center. Garnish with mini chocolate chips. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Prepared cannoli may be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container up to three days.