pulled pork

September 15th, 2013

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Pork shoulder is an inexpensive cut, and the luxuriously tender meat it yields can be used in a myriad of dishes from tacos to soups to next day sandwiches. Cooking pulled pork is easy and isn’t an attention hog so you can spend your time cooking up other tasty things, or in my case caulking some window trim. It’s the perfect food to entertain a crowd. You don’t need a slow cooker–just a heavy bottomed pot and a working oven. In fact, if you were to use a slow cooker, you would miss out on the coveted crunchy bits of crust that form from this method of braising.

So let’s start with some spices…

spices

 Measure them out or eyeball it–I won’t tell ;)

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Add in the oil to make a paste.

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Now for the pork. I use Longhorn Meat. They are the best.

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Dat pork.

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Now cut it up–the smaller the pieces the faster it will cook. If you wanted to cook the shoulder whole, it would take you at least a day. Cutting it into 5 to 6 inch cubes will cut in half that cooking time. Make sure to be conscious of the bone. It’s the first cut I make and it dictates the exact size of the rest of the pieces. It’s more important to have the pieces the same uniform size than it is what actual size the pieces are. Does that make sense? Rub that spice mixture all over it. Get it up in there. And let it sit for a few minutes while you heat up your dutch oven.

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Brown the meat on all sides in batches and then squish all the pieces back into the dutch oven, fatty sides facing the heavens.

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Open one of these guys and dump it in.

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Repeat with whatever you’re drinking at the time. I wasn’t drinking this, but it is gluten-free and we had some lovely gluten intolerant guests over. Always make sure to check for food allergies. Also, this cider stuff had the perfect amount of sweetness to go with the pork. I’d do it again, and again, and again…
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Now add enough water to come up at least halfway to the top of the pork. Insert into a cold oven and set it to 300F. Do not cover the pot. Do not open the oven. Just go do something else. I mean it. For 5 whole hours.

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Ready? Is it falling apart? Yum. Pull the meat apart into another dish. Reduce braising liquid by half and pour over the pulled pork. Garnish with some cilantro if you’re cool like that.

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This is only half of the pork. So much pork.

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But sooooo tasty!

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pulled pork
Author: 
Recipe type: entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 20+
 

Great for tacos, sandwiches, eating straight from the fridge…*cough* Emory *cough*
Ingredients
  • one 5 to 7 lb pork shoulder, bone in
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard (if you use spreadable mustard, up this quantity to a couple tablespoons)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ cup canola or corn oil (plus one tablespoon)
  • small can of mild green chiles, or spicy
  • bottle of beer or cider or wine or whatever you are drinking at the time

Instructions
  1. Combine all the spices with the oil to form a spice paste. Set aside.
  2. Cut the pork into Texas grapefruit sized pieces (5 to 6 inch extra large cubes), ensuring to work along side the bone. It is more important to make sure the pieces are about the same size than it is what size they are. Try and keep them close to a pound and a half each. This will ensure even, fast cooking and some awesome crispy bits to gnaw on.
  3. Rub the spice paste all over the pork and let sit for about 5 minutes or however long it takes to heat up a large dutch oven.
  4. Place a tablespoon of oil in a large dutch oven and wipe it around and out with a paper towel. Ideally, you want a very thin coat of oil on the bottom of the dutch oven.
  5. Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water will sizzle, brown the pork in small batches, ensuring to turn on all sides, allowing each one to achieve a nice crust.
  6. After all the pork pieces are browned, stuff them all back into the dutch oven, ensuring any fatty bits are facing up. Pour over the can of green chiles and the booze.
  7. Pour cool water over the pork so that the braising liquid comes at least half way up the height of the pork.
  8. Place in a cold oven and set the temp to 300F.
  9. Walk away and leave it alone, uncovered, alone.
  10. Check it at 5 hours. If it pulls apart, remove from the oven and continue. If not, keep checking it every 30 or so minutes.
  11. Pull the pork from the pot and shred it as you like.
  12. Reduce the braising liquid by half and pour over the pork.
  13. Garnish with lime, cilantro, green onions, or how you do.
  14. Eat.

 

beef wellington

January 26th, 2012

I’m going to avoid the long story about why I haven’t posted in months and get right down to the food.

 

Beef wellington is the British version of a classic French dish, filet de bœuf en croûte. It is famously named after Arthur Wellesley, the very first Duke of Wellington during the early 19th century, however it is unclear whether the dish was created for him or simply named in his honor for his valor in both the military and political realms. Appellated for the victor against Napoleon and twice Prime Minister, this is the dinner of champions.

As far as the science goes, watch your cooking time. Due to the encrusted nature of the dish, carry over heat gets trapped inside the beef and continues to cook more than you might expect after removing from a heat source. My calculations were obviously off, and as a result, the beef was a little more done than I care for (generally, I like my steak mooing and this one was just barely over medium rare). I pulled mine out at an internal temperature of 122F, so if the above photo is the color of your preference, you know what temperature to set your alarm.

The drier the mushroom duxelles, the less soggy your puff pastry will become. Next time I would also let the meat marinade in the mustard or use a horseradish mustard so the flavor would be a bit brighter. I also strayed from the original recipe by adding arugula. I love the pop of color and the hint of bitter greens.

Here is a walk through of the recipe.

these are the cleaned mushrooms

heading into the robocube/cuisinart/chopper-do-hickey

chop! chop! chop! and voila! duxelles

drying out the duxelles

drying out the butter so we just have the butter fat

 (mmm… butter)

add the onions and garlic and cook the moisture out of them

mix onion mixture with duxelles

thyme is on my side… and in my garden

mix those tender thyme leaves into the duxelles

also, a little truffle salt here sounds like a grand idea

chateaubriand and why I am poor

salt your meat before you sear it

get your cast iron pan nice and hot–just before smoking point

sear your meat on all sides

brush that baby with mustard

set a piece of cling wrap out and cover with overlapping pieces of prosciutto

cover evenly with the duxelles mixture

top with arugula

place the seared and mustard glazed Chateaubriand in the center of your layers

wrap very tightly, ensuring that the cling wrap is out of the way

wrap tightly and refrigerate for 4 hours

unwrap, place on a blanket of puff pastry, and cover the area around the wrapped meat with egg wash

wrap your meat tightly in the puff pastry and trim the edges

here i like to refrigerate the loaf again

decorate with an adorable heart and brush with egg wash

bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf hits 118F for medium rare (remember the carry over heat!)

eat.

5.0 from 2 reviews

beef wellington
Author: 
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2-4
 

beef tenderloin wrapped in tasty things and puff pastry
Ingredients
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, brushed clean
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of truffle salt (optional but oh-so-good!)
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 5-6 sprigs worth of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lb center-cut beef tenderloin fillet (commonly called Chateaubriand)
  • 2 tsp-(ish) kosher salt
  • canola spray
  • 2 tbsp mustard (horseradish mustard if you’re game, Dijon if you’re tame)
  • 4 thin slices ham (Parma ham if you can get it) or prosciutto
  • 1 small handful arugula or other green (spinach, kale, whatever you’d like)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten with 1 tbsp H2O

Instructions
  1. Quarter the mushrooms, then pulse them in the food processor until chopped very finely or paste-like.
  2. Cook in a dry, non-stick pan until the paste darkens and becomes crumbly, indicating the mushrooms have released their moisture.
  3. Remove mushrooms from skillet and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Heat the butter in that same non-stick pan until it melts. Add onion an sweat until the onions are slightly translucent (5-10 minutes).
  5. Add garlic and cook until all of the foaming of the mixture has subsided and the garlic is cooked through (2-3 minutes).
  6. Combine onion mixture with mushroom matter. Mix in truffle salt (or regular salt), pepper, and thyme leaves. Set mixture (duxelles) aside.
  7. Sprinkle the kosher salt all over your beef tenderloin and heat your cast iron pan almost to smoking point (about 400F).
  8. Spray or oil evenly your cast iron and sear the beef on all sides. Once you set the beef down on one side, don’t mess with it. The proteins need to be in explicit contact with the pan in order to achieve a good Maillard reaction.
  9. Once seared on all sides, remove meat from heat and slather with mustard.
  10. Overlap two pieces of cling wrap to form a 12″x12″ square. Cover with proscuitto or Parma ham.
  11. Spread the mushroom duxelles evenly over the ham. Top with arugula and place the beef in the center.
  12. Wrap up tightly (ensuring that the plastic wrap is not wrapped inside any of the food–it ought to be on the outside…duh). Cover the log in more plastic wrap and refrigerate or 4 or so hours.
  13. Meanwhile, defrost your puff pastry and refrigerate it flat.
  14. Oven to 400°F.
  15. After 4 hours, remove plastic wrap from beef and place the beef log in the middle of the puff pastry.
  16. Outline the beef with egg wash and wrap up the meat log VERY tightly in the puff pastry.
  17. Decorate puff pastry wrapping at will. Brush with egg wash and chill the entire thing for 10 minutes.
  18. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until internal temperature hits 118F for a nice medium rare.
  19. Let rest for 10 whole minutes
  20. Slice and serve!

dr pepper ribs

June 28th, 2011

These ribs are lip-smacking, finger-licking good. I wish I had a photo of my sister’s face to share with y’all after she devoured these ribs. I really ought to include on the ingredient list a package…or two…of wet wipes. Relatively easy to make, these ribs just take time. The fastest I’ve ever cooked them was four hours flat, but even that was pushing it.

I recommend using either pork baby back ribs or pork spare ribs. The baby backs tend to be a bit easier to cook as they involve one less step. For the spare ribs, I highly recommend parboiling the ribs for at least 20 minutes—this will help break down the tough collagen that runs throughout the ribs into gelatin, which yields that unctuous, melt in your mouth experience.

5.0 from 2 reviews

dr pepper ribs
Author: 
Recipe type: main course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8
 

Some darn good Texas ribs…from your oven!
Ingredients
  • 2 racks pork ribs (the ones in the photos are baby backs, but I prefer the spare ribs)
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Cavender’s seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 4 cans sugar cane Dr Pepper (I used the generic version because it still tastes darn good!)
  • ¼ c ketchup

Instructions
  1. for baby back ribs: Remove ribs from packaging, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Mix all of the spices (i.e. everything listed above save the Dr Pepper, ribs, and ketchup) together. Rub all over ribs, massaging the ribs as you go. I feel like giving the meat a deep tissue massage make a difference but have yet to encounter any real concurring scientific evidence.
  2. Place the ribs in an extra large baking dish and pour the Dr Pepper all over them. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day 4 hours before you plan to dine, drain the ribs, reserving the liquid. Preheat the oven to 300F. Place each rib in the center of a large piece of heavy duty foil. Fold the foil to make a packet with one end open (see photos). Repeat for the other rack. Pour the reserved liquid into the foil packets evenly and tightly seal them. Place the packets back in the pan and bake for 3.5 hours.
  4. for pork spare ribs: Unwrap the ribs and cut them into 8 equal portions. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a slow boil and maintain for at least 20 minutes. Remove pork ribs and gently pat dry. Arrange the ribs in the extra large baking dish. Mix the rub and sprinkle over the meat. Pour the Dr Pepper over the ribs and seal with heavy duty foil. Bake for 3.5 hours.
  5. for both kinds of ribs: Remove from oven and pour the cooking liquid into a pot. Preheat oven to the broil setting or 500F.
  6. Put the pot with the reserved liquid on high and reduce the mixture by two-thirds. Let cool slightly and mix in the ¼ ketchup.
  7. Lacquer the meat with the sauce you just created. Broil 5 minutes and lacquer again. Continue this process, turning to ensure even coverage on both sides, until the meat has a good, shiny crust.
  8. Serve with your favorite pic-nic fare and enjoy!

Notes
N.B. If you have access to a grill, the last broiling steps really ought to be done on the grill by some manly men, in their slogan aprons, with over-sized utensils, speaking manly grunt-speak to one another…

some more photos…

making sure the ribs fit in the baking dish

the post massage baby-backs

the next day

in the packet, ready for the liquid

Reddit Bread (bacon + green onions + jalapeno jack + extra sharp cheddar cheese) (swirl loaf)

April 15th, 2011

cheesy bacon green onion swirl bread

(bacon + green onions + jalapeno jack + extra sharp cheddar cheese) (swirl loaf) Yes, reddit, I made this bread just for you… well, and me too. It’s like a grilled cheese, bacon, and green onion sandwich without the sandwich part. Just pop a few slices in the toaster and be on your way to delicious heaven. This is the link if you want to upboat me.

it's toasted!

I have always loved pinwheel or swirl foods. From my very first bite into a toasted slice of fresh baked cinnamon raisin swirl bread, lightly glistening with butter, I was hooked. I’ve tried everything from failed meat roulades (no posts of these as of yet since every attempt has been miserable and far from worth reliving) to my and nearly foolproof favorite brioche cinnamon rolls, and even with sub par results, the swirl just lifts my mood somehow.

When I first endeavor a new recipe, I usually start out with a base recipe very close to my final goal. While it’s not the most creative of means, I can make minor tweaks that make the recipe significantly better/more to my liking. So when I set out to make a loaf with bacon, green onion, jalapeno, and lots of cheese all swirled together, I was saddened to find that there wasn’t much on the interwebs, or in my massive supply of cookbooks, anything close to fitting my vision. The cheese swirl breads were squatty, long loaves and nothing had bacon or such fresh delicate herbs akin to a green onion. I thew caution to the wind and set out to break all of the bread baking rules. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I took my go-to sandwich bread recipe (a variation on the Cook’s Illustrated American Sandwich loaf) and piled it high with as many goodies as I could, rolled it, baked it, and hot-crossed my buns, *ahem* I mean crossed my fingers. The result: a great, versatile loaf. We ate the slices with minted pea, bacon, and spinach soup, roasted chicken, lemon truffle broccolini and haricot vert, garlic mashed potatoes, onion tart, and a strawberry almond balsamic spinach and arugula salad. Oh, and molten lava cakes with vanilla bean whipped cream for dessert! But what trumped all of these were the toasted and lightly buttered slices we had for breakfast the next morning. Seriously, you must make this bread.

This bread is relatively easy if you have something that will knead your dough for you, be it man, muscle, or machine. I chose the latter option, my old and wise KitchenAid. You can also use a food processor (chefs: read ‘robo-cube’) with a dough blade–the plastic one probably still sitting in the box with all of the other rarely used blades that do other things than liquefy solids. I’ve made the sandwich bread with hand kneading many a time, however, it takes about 15 minutes and I’m exhausted by the end of it. I ♥ my classic KitchenAid, even though I will eventually trade her in for a pro version (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

[some science-y stuff about gluten, blah, blah, blah] Some key tips here are: make sure to cook the bacon really crispy–soggy bacon is not only gross but will leave too much fat in between layers of your swirl; keep each layer of cheese light and even; and roll tightly! The tighter you roll, the less gaps you will have in your final product. K, let’s get started!

Reddit Bread

time: a little over 3 hours (including cooling time)      servings: 12 slices

ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour, plus some extra for flouring the work surface
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped up
  • 15 thin slices jalapeno jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 c extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 green onions, sliced thinly

directions:

Take a large pan, fill it with water, and place on the lower rack of your oven. Heat oven to 200F and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn oven off and start making the bread.

In a microwave safe bowl mix the milk and water. Microwave on medium-high for 2 minutes. Stir in the butter and sugar or honey until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Let cool until just warm to the touch or 110F. In a large bowl (I use my standing mixer bowl) mix the flour, yeast, salt, garlic powder,  and black pepper. While stirring, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Continue mixing until a ball is formed and the ingredients are homogeneously mixed. You can add more flower or water here to get the consistency of a slightly sticky dough. It should climb up the mixer but it should not really stick to the sides of the bowl. Switch to a dough hook and knead for 5 to 7 minutes or until dough is satiny. Place in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise 50 minutes in the prepared and turned off oven.

Roll out dough into a 11-inch by 20-inch rectangle, pressing the ends thinly. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Place the slices of jalapeno jack evenly across the rectangle. Spread the cheddar, the bacon and the green onions on top of the jack slices, making sure to go all the way to all the edges save the very end which you will use to seal the loaf.

Begin rolling the 11-inch end with all the filling. Remember to roll as tightly as possible. Seal with water and place in a greased 9×5 loaf pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350F and refill the pan of water on the lower rack if it is running low. Spray the top of the loaf with water and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Let cool 1 hour, slice, toast, and serve!

nom! nom! nom!

 

yellow cupcakes with cream filling, chocolate nutella frosting, and sprinkles

April 4th, 2011

Why yes that is quite a mouthful (also, see photo of Carter below)! In years past I have put so much effort into making birthday cakes for all of my friends and something always goes wrong. Either the cake is too light and becomes structurally unsound or the cake looks great but the texture isn’t quite what I was hoping. Often, I’m in a rush to do the million other things I have to do for birthdays and I don’t have time to let the cake cool completely and the icing ends up more on the cake platter than on the cake. Well my days of stressed-out, failed birthday cake baking are over. Cupcakes are easier to make, easier to eat, and hold up better for parties.

The science of making cupcakes is much akin to that of making cake; the result, however, is a more evenly cooked, adorable burst of batter. As with any cake, how the batter rises and sets is of utmost importance. In cupcakes, we utilize the magical leavening power of sodium bicarbonate and an acid yielding delicate bubbles. Just like in chemistry class, when an acid and a base interact, the chemical reaction produces gas and a byproduct. This gas gets trapped between the protein strands formed from when the gluten in the flour mixes with water. The gas bubbles push higher and expand in the heat of the oven and leaven your cake. Also, just like in chemistry class, you want to have a good recipe for mixing the acid and base so you have a completed reaction without extra ingredients. This is why we use baking powder and baking soda in recipes. If the base of the recipe has a strong acidic quality, like buttermilk biscuits, you can often just add baking soda, which is sodium bicarbonate, a base. If the recipe, however, is balanced then you can add baking powder, which is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and an acidifying ingredient such as cream of tartar. If the recipe needs more acid, you can add cream of tartar, as in snickerdoodles.

Creaming the butter and sugar is also integral in making a fluffy, moist, ethereal crumb; it adds an invisible ingredient into your recipe: air! We mix in the egg next so those air bubbles can be surrounded by the protein from the egg. The yolk contains lecithin, an emulsifying agent, and binds the air and protein to the butter fat and sugar. Those are the two main ways cakes rise: chemical leaveners and mixing in and capturing air.

Next we mix in the dry ingredients. The type of flour used is important to many baking tasks. We use a high protein content flour for bread which needs long strands of gluten to rise, all purpose flour for cookies as they need to hold together but bread flour would just make them tough, and low protein flour or cake flour for cakes, scones, any baked good that needs a softer texture than most. I love using cake flour in some of my biscuit and quick bread recipes as I adore the light mouth feel and texture. For these little cupcakes, which don’t require the structural integrity of a cake, I like using all cake flour, though you can mix half and half if you insist on a sturdier crumb.

Piping cream into these cupcakes gives them a more moist texture without losing the luxurious fluffiness or adding too much icing.

According to Andrew Smith, a lauded food historian, the term “cupcake” originated in 1826 referring to a scaled down pound cake portioned out by the use of a cup measure. The concept caught on mainly in the Americas and the dainty cupcake is mostly absent from European culture. Within the last few decades, some bakeries have dedicated their entire sales to cupcakes and decorated them extravagantly and with immense detail. While some prefer the wild and lavish variety, I cherish the iconic cupcake: yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. To my recipe, I filled the cupcakes with a creamy center and added a little nutella to the frosting, just for texture and a lift of flavor.

Carter consuming cupcake.

And finally, this is the birthday girl, my best friend for over a decade, Miss Rachel Aurora Forrest. She liked the cupcakes too!

chocolate nutella frosting

time: 1.5 hours      servings: frosting enough for 24 cupcakes

ingredients:

  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 18 oz milk chocolate chips
  • 1 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 c salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup nutella
  • 2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder

directions:

Heat the cream until scalding hot (almost boiling). Place the chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse twice. Slowly pour in the scalded cream while the food processor is running. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature for about an hour, stirring every once and a while. Use to frost the cupcakes after they have been filled with the whipped cream. Sprinkle with sprinkles and serve.

yellow cupcakes

time: 1.5 hours      servings: 24 cupcakes

ingredients:

  • 4 c + 2 tbsp cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c salted butter, softened
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 jumbo eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 c buttermilk, well-shaken

directions:

Oven to 350°F. Line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time to maintain the emulsion. Mix in buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift and stir in flour until just combined. Scrape down bowl and mix with a spatula.

Dollop out the batter evenly among muffin cups. Tap the pans to release any overly large air bubbles that would create holes in your cupcakes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until just set in the center. Let cool at least one hour, fill, and frost!

cream filling

time: 10 minutes     servings: 24 cupcake fillings

ingredients:

  • 2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla or other extract
  • 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

directions:

Beat cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in  sugar and vanilla. Pipe into cooled cupcakes by pushing the piping bag tip into the cakes and filling the inside until the top begins to crack. Frost the cupcakes, sprinkle sprinkles on top, and serve.