Friday, October 25, 2013

FREEGRACE FRIDAY! Figgy Cupcakes, the dame who runs the joint and a contest!



 It's official. We've entered Stick Season.  Not a single leaf is left on our maple trees.  We've already turned on the heat not once but THREE TIMES!  The second we wake, the first thing we do is put on a fire in the kitchen (ok, we flip a switch that turns on the electric fire but we pretend that it's crackling).  And of course the dogs are getting more "cuddly" than ever, using each other and their human playthings as ersatz down comforters.

Ruthie:  #1 Love Thug

Ruthie is the queen of snuggles.  More aptly, she's our #1 Love Thug.  She doesn't cozy up to anyone.  Instead, she drapes.  She leans.  She sprawls.  If she finds comfort in her manner of enrobing another being, good luck trying to move her.  But it does lead to some snaptastic photo opportunities.

This weekend is also the Marine Marathon.  As we discussed earlier, I've been benched due to a bout with walking pneumonia.  But my team is still on the run (see what I did there?) and ready to rumble this Sunday in honor of our beautiful High School Classmate Kea.  We're raising money for Cancer Research not only in her name but for everyone who we've lost to the disease.  I'm bummed that we've not raised more money, considering we've actually got a team supporting this effort.  So I've sweetened the pot in a last push to pass $2000.  If you donate to Team Kea, I'll choose one of the contributors at random to win a copy of the new Runner's World Cookbook.  I'll sign it too, as I'm a contributing chef.  Or if you're more likely to donate without my signature, consider it officially unmolested.



The book is chock full of healthy recipes, 150 in fact.  From appetizers to snacks to dinner to desserts.

And just to nudge a bit more, here's a sneak peak.  This is my recipe for Sticky Toffee Figgy Cupcakes!


STICKY TOFFEE FIGGY CUPCAKES

Makes 16 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

For the cake
1 1/2 cups finely chopped dried figs
1 cup hot coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons almond or canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk

PROCEDURE

For the cake
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Place paper in liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

•Place the figs in a large bowl.  Pour the hot coffee over the figs to cover completely.  Stir in the baking soda (the baking soda doesn't act as leavening in this process but as a tenderizer for the figs).  Allow to sit, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.

•In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, brown sugar, and honey.  Whisk for 3 minutes or until the mixture thickens.  Add the pumpkin puree.  Mix until just combined.

•In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

•With the electric mixer running on low speed, add the fig mixture to the egg mixture.  Slowly add the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.

•Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about 3/4s full.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake springs back when gently poked.  Pop the cupcakes ou and line again with 4 more liners.  Fill with the remaining batter and bake.

To make the topping
•In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, oil, honey, brown sugar, and salt.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar has completely melted.  While continuously stirring, slowly add the evaporated milk and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

•While the cupcakes are still warm, use a toothpick or wooden skewer to poke a few holes in each.  Spoon 1 teaspoon of the caramel topping over each of the cupcakes.  Serve immediately, or store them in the refrigerator for a day or two.