Sunday, May 2, 2010

Remembering NYC

When I left NYC at the end of January, although I don't think it was all that visible, I arrived in Norway with a special souvenir: a few extra pounds. NYC is full of every kind of amazing, mouthwatering, scrumptious food and it's very nearly impossible to avoid putting on some weight while living there. I know I can earmark at least a portion of my little NYC-belly to Billy's Bakery, Crumbs, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Burgers and Cupcakes, Magnolia, and Cupcake Cafe... I had such a soft spot for those round little single serving-sized cakes and incredible ones could be found around every corner. Sigh, I miss them...

[Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. Recipe follows below.]

Cupcakes aren't a thing here in Oslo. Sure, there are other temptations, but there's a different food culture in Norway than there is in the States.
In general, because of steep prices, eating out is reserved for special occasions, so people make meals at home and pack their lunches every day. There are also sugar taxes, so food that contains a lot of sugar is more expensive than nutritious food. All of this is good: people eat healthier, they spend less money on food, and they are forced to be creative about cooking. Being a part of this food culture the past few months, my NYC-belly has, little by little, taken its leave.

Even though I'm healthier, I dream about scrumptious New York food on a daily basis.

Two of my good Norwegian friends were my roommates this past year in NYC  and they also had a soft spot for cupcakes while we were living there together. Some nights we'd be sitting around the apartment and we'd get a craving for cupcakes, so we'd hop on the train downtown and walk over to Magnolia or Sugar Sweet Sunshine to get our fix. Weekday nights were some of my favorite times in NYC- it was quiet after the day's rush of commuters had vacated and there was a calmness to the city that you couldn't find at any other hour. Munching on cupcakes, we'd walk around and just enjoy being in New York.

On Friday, one of my two NYC roommates and another friend, who visited us there often, celebrated their birthday here in Oslo. A few friends and I decided to try to recreate a little of New York for them and baked up a storm for the birthday party.

[Red Velvet Cupcakes. Recipe follows below.]


The following recipes were found on the Martha Stewart website, here and here. They were both absolutely incredible and transported me back to lazy NYC nights. YUM.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

A lemony cake bottom, topped with lemon curd and egg-white frosting.

Lemon Curd:
8 egg yolks
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup plus 2 Ts lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/8 ts salt
10 Ts butter

Begin with the lemon curd because it has to set in the fridge for a least an hour. When separating the eggs, save 6 of the egg whites for the frosting.

Combine together egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a pot. Stir constantly over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until mixture is thick enough to cover the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, then butter, one piece at a time. Strain into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the curd to prevent air from reaching it and creating a skin. Refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour.

3 cups flour
1 Ts baking powder
1/2 ts salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 Ts lemon zest
2 Ts lemon juice
1 ts vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit (160 degrees celsius). Prepare muffin tins with muffin paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between, then add lemon zest and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture in three sections, alternating with the buttermilk and lemon juice. Pour batter into tins, bake for about 25 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool completely.

1 1/2 cups plus 2 Ts sugar
2/3 cups water
2 Ts light corn syrup
6 egg whites, room temperature

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring now and then until sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring until mixture reaches a temperature of 230 degrees fahrenheit, measured with a candy thermometer. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 2 Ts sugar, combine. Pour syrup into mixture while beating on low speed. Raise speed to medium high and beat until mixture is cool, 7-10 minutes.

Spoon a tablespoon of lemon curd on each cupcake, then a tablespoon of the frosting. If you want to get fancy, you can use a pastry bag and make a swirly top.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour
2 Ts cocoa powder
1 ts salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 ts red food coloring
1 ts vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 ts baking soda
2 ts white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (175 degrees celsius). Line tins with muffin paper. Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix sugar and oil, then add eggs one at a time, and subsequently the vanilla and food coloring. On low speed, add flour in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix baking soda and vinegar in a separate bowl (it will foam), then beat into mixture. Fill tins with batter and bake for about 20 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 ts vanilla

Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, mix. Spread on cupcakes.

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