published Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Braly: Bridgeport, Ala., company wins barbecue award

Sam Dog Barbeque, a sauce and rub company in Bridgeport, Ala., has won another award. The catering business began bottling its sauce just two years ago, but in that short time has earned some prestigious honors, including first place and the Golden Chili Award at the Fiery Food Challenge held recently in Irving, Texas. Companies from all around the world entered, so sauce master and Sam Dog owner Greg Talley said it was quite an honor to win.

That’s not all. This year, Sam Dog Barbeque also was awarded a second-place Scovie Award in an annual competition that recognizes the top spicy foods in the world. The sauce also grabbed second-place honors at the American Royal Barbecue Contest in Kansas City.

It sounds like Talley and team really know how to put a sauce together. Want to see what wowed the judges? Check out Sam Dog’s Yellow Dog sauce at www.samdogbbq.com. The company boasts that this sweet mustard blend “brings mustard-based sauces to a whole new level.” More sauces and rubs are coming soon.

When the popularity of cupcakes soared nationwide, it didn’t take long for cupcake bakeries to open across the Scenic City. A visit to Gigi’s, the Cupcake Kitchen, Chattanooga Cupcakes or any of the other specialty bakeries in town offers proof that these confections can be enjoyed at any occasion, from weddings to weeknight desserts. Until a few years ago, cupcakes were something we enjoyed at children’s birthday parties, and that was about it.

I recently read where Sprinkles, a California-based cupcake kitchen, is installing cupcake dispensaries, similar to a bank ATM, on the outer shells of their stores. The machines will be stocked with up to 600 cupcakes so that Sprinkles customers can have their cupcakes 24 hours a day.

Would that such places as GiGi’s or downtown’s Chattanooga Cupcakes follow suit. No, let me rethink that statement. With the obesity rate in the South reaching gargantuan proportions, does Chattanooga really need access to delicious cupcakes all day and through the night? I think not. But a few every now and then wouldn’t do much harm.

I’ve been experimenting with making cupcakes at home, and thanks to one of my daughters, I’ve gotten hold of this recipe, complete with the best buttercream frosting I’ve ever had. Omit the cherry juice in the frosting recipe, and you have a multipurpose frosting good for topping most any cake or other confection.

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup cola

1/4 cup marachino cherry syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

12-24 marachino cherries

Cola icing:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cola

Heat the oven to 350 F. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla in a second bowl.

In a saucepan, boil the cola and cherry syrup gently for five minutes. Melt in the butter and cocoa powder. Pour into the dry ingredients, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add the liquid ingredients, beating until everything is blended.

Pour into the cupcake pans and push a cherry into the center of each cupcake. Bake for 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

When cool, drizzle tops with the cola icing and let dry. Top with cherry buttercream and a cherry, if desired.

Best-Ever Cherry Buttercream

1 cup salted butter

4 cups powdered sugar (the fresher the better)

1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

4 tablespoons heavy cream

2-3 teaspoons vanilla

Whip butter (preferably with the paddle beater on your stand mixer, if you have one). Add powdered sugar and continue beating. Add cherry juice and cream, and beat till creamy. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is fluffy, adding more cream if needed.

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