Slow Cooker Sunday: Sour Cream Cheesecake

So, last week I brought you a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake made in my slow cooker and this week I am bringing you a Sour Cream Cheesecake. The recipes are quite similar, but, I actually preferred this cheesecake a little more. As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t too keen on the chocolate chips in the cheesecake.

I began by making a graham cracker crust. I pressed the crumbs onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan. Next I made the filling by beating together the ingredients for the cheesecake. Quick not, the recipe called for almond extract, but, if you are not a fan of almond extract feel free to substitute vanilla extract in its place. After making the batter I poured it into my prepared pan and then placed the pan in my slow cooker on top of a rack and filled it with a 1/2 inch of water. After cooking it on high for 2 hours I turned my slow cooker off and let the cheesecake stay in the slow cooker covered for an hour.

Afterwards, I let the cheesecake cool completely on wire rack before placing in the refrigerator to chill before slicing and enjoying.

Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheesecake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Salt

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon flour

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract*

1 cup sour cream

*Can substitute vanilla extract if you prefer

Directions:

In a medium bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter, cinnamon, a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Press the crumbs over the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan.

Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer beat the cream cheese with the flour, remaining sugar, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and almond extract and beat at medium speed until blended. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.

Place a rack inside the insert of your slow cooker and fill with a 1/2 inch of water. Place the pan on top of the rack and cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and keeping the lid on let the cheesecake cool inside of the slow cooker.

After an hour, remove the cheesecake and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled refrigerate at least four hours before serving.

Recipe from Food & Wine

Twice Baked Potato… In the Microwave

I made Twice Baked Potato a month or so ago for the first time the traditional way – in an oven. Just in case you don’t know, Twice Baked Potato is exactly what it says… A potato that’s baked 2 times. First you bake the potato, slice it in half, scoop it out, mix it with some toppings, spoon it back into the potato skins, top it with cheese and bake it again. And it’s delicious! But, I was left wondering if I can bake a potato in the microwave then why can’t make Twice Baked Potato in there also, so, I decided to try it out and I am so happy I did. It came out perfect and just as delicious.

I began by scrubbing two russet potatoes and pricking them with a fork a few times. Next, I baked them in the microwave. Luckily my microwave has a potato button, but, if yours doesn’t the average time is about 8-10 minutes.

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I let them cool for a few minutes and then sliced them in half and scooped out the inside.

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I mashed the potato with butter, sour cream and bacon bits. I then added in shredded cheddar cheese, milk, salt and pepper to taste.

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I then spooned the mixture into the potato skins and topped it with some more cheddar cheese.

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And finally I placed the potato back in the microwave and heated it for about 2 minutes, until the cheese melted.

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And that’s how simple it is to make Twice Baked Potato in the microwave!

 

Twice Baked Potato... In the Microwave

Ingredients:

2 medium russet potatoes

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, sliced

1/4 cup bacon bits

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping

2 tablespoon milk*

salt and pepper

*I’ve used whole milk and 2% milk

Directions:

Scrub the potatoes and prick with a fork. Place the potatoes on a microwave safe plate and bake in the oven, using your microwave’s potato button, or for 8 – 10 minutes.

Let potatoes cool for a few minutes and then slice them in half. Scoop out the insides (be careful not to tear the potato skins) and place in a bowl with the butter, bacon bits and sour cream. Mash these four ingredients together and then add in the cheese, milk, salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins and top with cheese and return to the microwave for another minute or two until the cheese has melted.

Recipe modified from The Pioneer Woman on The Food Network

A Sweet Way to Ring in the New Year… Chocolate and Strawberries!

Happy New Year! So, how did you ring in the year? Asleep? Out and about? Or like me, surrounded by family and friends? In my case, the friends actually fall under the family category, so I should say I rang it in with family. Either way, I hope it was an enjoyable time and a great kick off to the new year ahead. And how about those resolutions? Did you make any? I may have mentioned it before, but, I don’t make resolutions. I think it’s great for those people who do so, but, I don’t think you need a new year to make a new start. Every day you wake up is an opportunity to do something different and better for yourself and those around you. I sound like self-help guru or something… LOL! But, it’s true. Every day we have a choice as to how we are going to lead our day and we can make the decisions that are best for us or the ones that are not so great. But, it’s up to each of us to make those decisions. So, maybe that’s my resolution, to live the best day possible each and every day. And trust me I know from experience that it’s not always easy, but, you always have to try and find the silver lining because if you don’t you may always wonder, “Why me?” And now on to the Chocolate and Strawberries!

So, I always want to make something different and delicious as a sweet treat for New Year’s Eve and I was pondering attempting to make macarons, but, I quickly decided against it. I think that’s best left for when it’s just a random day and if they don’t come out well I don’t have to scramble to make something else in their place. So I opted for cupcakes. Something that is foolproof and always a crowd favorite. And these were cupcakes that I wanted to make for a month or two now. I came across the recipe when I was flipping through an old holiday magazine for cookie recipe ideas – remember I am a bit of a recipe hoarder! They are a super simple mocha chip cupcake with a chocolate sour cream frosting. The coffee in the cupcake offsets the chocolate from the chocolate chips in it and the sour cream adds a nice tang to the frosting so overall this isn’t an overly sweet or chocolatey cupcake. And to make it festive I sprayed a few using an edible gold shimmer spray and topped the others with strawberries.

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And since I had leftover strawberries and half a bag of chocolate chips left it was the perfect set-up for some chocolate covered strawberries. I simply melted the chocolate chips in the microwave in minute intervals and then dipped the strawberries in it and then placed them on a wax-paper covered cookie sheet and placed them in the refrigerator until set. Once they were set I drizzled more melted chocolate over them. These were a HIT and barely made it to midnight!

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So, stay tuned in 2016 for more sweet treats, slow cooker meals, beaded jewelry and yarn projects!

 

Mocha Chip Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12 standard cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. While the mixer is running, slowly poor in the sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, with the mixer on medium-high speed beet until the mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, on medium speed. Beat until the batter is smooth and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate and beat until smooth and blended. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the dissolved espresso powder. Finally stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tin and bake 20 to 22 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed in the center.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes on a wire rack and then remove them allowing them to cool completely on the wire rack.

Recipe from Fine Cooking

 

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

  • Servings: 1 1/4 cups
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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, spooned and leveled

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

milk, if necessary

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk butter, sour cream, vanilla extract and salt to blend. Gradually whisk in the sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate and beat it in with the whisk until the frosting is smooth and creamy. The frosting must be thick and spreadable; if it’s too thick thin it with a drops of milk. If it’s too thin, chill it briefly, stirring occasionally until thickened.

Recipe from Fine Cooking

Cheesecake… Is it a Pie or a Cake?

Well, for today the answer to that question is going to be pie in honor of Pi Day! Yes, it’s the day that Math lovers around the world celebrate in honor of Pi, the irrational number (meaning it cannot be written as the ratio of two integers) that begins with 3.14 and goes on infinitely. This year’s Pi Day is extra special though because it only comes around once every 100 years… The first five numbers of Pi Day is the date (3/14/15) and to go even further at the time 9:26:53 you will have the first ten numbers of Pi in sequence, i.e. 3.141592653. Okay, I’ll stop being a Math geek now and go back to the pie. The idea of cheesecake falling under the pie category isn’t too much a stretch, especially for this cheesecake. Pies tend to have a crust and this one has a graham cracker crust and they also have a filling, the cheesecake part. Okay, maybe it is a tad bit of a stretch, but, I really couldn’t think of a pie I wanted to make but I have wanted to make a cheesecake.

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I began by making the crust… Using a food processor I ground up 18 graham crackers until they were fine crumbs. I then added in a stick of melted butter, sugar and salt and pulse to combine them. Following that I pressed the crumbs into the bottom and approximately 2-inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

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Next I moved on to make the actual cheesecake. Using a stand mixer I beat three 8-oz. bars of cream cheese with a cup of sugar until it was smooth. It’s important to use room temperature cream cheese to ensure you won’t have any lumps in the mixture.

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I then added in a cup of room temperature sour cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract; beating until these two ingredients were well incorporated.

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And finally I added in three eggs, one at a time.

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Before pouring it into the crust, I gave the cream cheese mixture a few stirs with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the ingredients were blended together well. I tend to find that sometimes ingredients are left on the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer untouched since the paddle attachment doesn’t fully hit the bottom of the bowl.

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After pouring the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust I baked it in a preheated 325 F oven for about an hour; until it was set but still wobbly in the center.

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A few minutes before removing the cheesecake from the oven I combined a cup of sour cream, a few tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. I was happy that the cheesecake didn’t have any cracks in it – that normally happens when I bake cheesecakes.

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I then spread this sour cream mixture over the cheesecake and then placed the cheesecake back in the oven for about five minutes.

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The cheesecake right out of the oven… I let it cool for a few hours before covering it and placing it in the refrigerator.

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I ended up leaving it in the refrigerator overnight and then added some sliced strawberries on top of it the following morning in the shape of the Greek letter used to represent “Pi.” I had to validate this being a Pi Day pie somehow!

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And how did it taste… It was perfectly creamy and not overly sweet! A winning combination for the perfect cheesecake!

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Classic Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers (2 sleeves)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar

3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups sour cream, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a food processor pulse the graham crackers until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and pulse to combine. Press the mixture on the bottom and 2-inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake until just set (the center will be slightly wobbly), 50 to 60 minutes.

3. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread over the hot cheesecake, then bake until set, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature in pan, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Run a knife around the edge of cheesecake before unmolding.

 

Mushroom & Sausage Quiche

Usually I add ground sausage to my Thanksgiving stuffing, this year though I was on the fence as to whether or not to add it in. As you can guess from this post I opted not to add it, but then the question was what to do with it. I could have frozen it and used it another time but then I remembered a recipe I had for a quiche that called for sausage and mushrooms, another ingredient for the quiche that I had left over from said stuffing. The recipe – Mushroom & Sausage Quiche – is one I came across in a cookbook I picked up years ago and ended up not using. While it was filled with many recipes most of them weren’t appealing to me except this one – which I ended up photocopying and then donating the book.

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I began by cooking the ground sausage.

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While the ground sausage was cooking I chopped up half a Vidalia onion and sliced half-a-pound of white mushrooms.

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After the sausage was cooked I transferred it to a bowl and wiped the skillet down and cooked the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of melted butter.

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Meanwhile in the bowl of my food processor I combined eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese (those of you not fond of cottage cheese don’t worry once the quiche is done you won’t even remember it’s there), flour and parmesan cheese and blended them until the mixture was smooth.

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I then stirred together the sausage, sautéed onions and mushrooms, the egg mixture and shredded sharp Cheddar cheese in a large bowl.

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And then spooned it into my pie dish which I fitted with a refrigerated piecrust.

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Following that I baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 50 minutes.

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After letting it cool for about 10 minutes I sliced into it and enjoyed the every bite of it!

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Mushroom and Sausage Quiche 

Ingredients:

One 9-inch refrigerated piecrust, fitted into a 9-inch glass plate

One 1-pound package ground sausage

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cottage cheese, 2% or 4% milk fat

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon hot sauce*

One 8-ounce package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

*I omitted this from my version

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Crimp the edges of the crust.

2. In a large skillet, cook and drain the sausage, and set aside. Wipe out the pan, and in the same pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender.

3. Place the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, flour, Parmesan cheese, and hot sauce in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Stir together the crumbled sausage, mushroom mixture, egg mixture, and Cheddar cheese, and spoon into the piecrust. Cover the edges of the piecrust with aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning.

5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and the center is set. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into 8 wedges.

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

While berries can pretty much be found year-round at most supermarkets, there’s nothing like getting them during the summer when they are at their peak. I have definitely made the most of them this summer incorporating them into quite a few desserts – as the pièce de résistance on a lemon & pastry cream cake, as a topping to 4th of July themed cupcakes and most recently in raspberry cupcakes. And when I saw that I had a pint of blueberries sitting in my refrigerator a little longer than I would have liked, I decided it was time to use them before losing them. I opted on making a recipe that I love using for blueberries – and one that I have blogged about before – a Blueberry Crumb Cake. Although, this time around I made two tweaks to the recipe….

I dredged the blueberries in flour before folding them into the batter so they wouldn’t all sink to the bottom…

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And I used the batter to make muffins instead of a cake,

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Which I still topped with streusel before baking.

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Hence, Blueberry Crumb Muffins.

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And if you are wondering if the flour covered blueberries worked, just take a look. You can see hints of blueberries at the top of the muffin near the crumb topping as opposed to seeing all of the blueberries at the bottom.

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Blueberry Crumb Muffins – adapted from here

Makes 8 Muffins

Streusel:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Muffins:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2/3 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup fresh blueberries, dredged in enough flour to coat them

 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 8 muffins cups with paper liners.

For the streusel:

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the muffins:

In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completed mixed.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups – I used an ice cream scoop – and crumble the streusel over the batter.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the tins and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

 

 

 

Rhubarb Cupcakes

Rhubarb… Those red celery-like stalks that you see in the supermarket during the spring time that you always wonder “what can I make with those?” The usual answer is pie. Recently I was at the supermarket and came across them while looking for raspberries and decided to pick up a pack unsure of what I was going to make with them and then I remembered a cupcake recipe I had seen in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.

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Before whipping up the batter, I did a little prep work. I whisked together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set it aside and I diced up enough rhubarb for 2 cups.

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Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer I creamed together one stick of butter and one cup of sugar until it was pale and fluffy. And then added in two eggs one at a time and finally vanilla extract.

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Now it was time to incorporate the flour mixture, rhubarb, and sour cream into the butter mixture.

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With the mixer on low speed I added in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream and then folded in the diced rhubarb.

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Following that I divided the batter among lined cupcake tins and baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through.

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The cupcakes right out of the oven… I immediately transferred them to wire racks so they could cool completely while still in the pan.

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While these cupcakes were delicious all on their own, I decided to whip up a batch of whipped cream to top them.

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And dolloped a few of them with some added sweetness…

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These cupcakes were incredibly moist and fluffy… The way a perfect cupcake should be! After making these I am in no rush to try rhubarb pie.

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Rhubarb Cupcakes

Makes 16

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

2 cups diced rhubarb (about 1/2 pound)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of owl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until combined after each, Stir in diced rhubarb.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tine to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

 

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. I usually place the whisk attachment for the mixer and bowl in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes prior to making the cream.