Friday, July 31, 2009

Beach Cupcakes!

I have wanted an occasion to make beach-themed cupcakes for ages, and with a trip up north to a lake this weekend with a group of Jordan's co-workers seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Ilinca made this one - I like how one of the bears is upsidown in the water. Uh oh!

The first important question.... what type of cupcake? I wanted to use something that would work well with good ole' vanilla icing. I chose a pina colada cupcake because it's both tropical and beachy and would work well with a vanilla icing recipe that I like. I will save that recipe for another post :)

Two days in advance, I made some cupcake accessories with marzipan, which is a sweet almond paste. If you go to Toledo, Espana, you will have the opportunity to eat lots of marzipan because the nuns make it there. You can also find it in the baking aisle in the grocery store. It is frequently in the same section as the pie-filling.

Making beach accessories with marzipan
  • marzipan
  • food coloring (NOT liquid based. I used Wilton's lavender dye)
  • corn starch
  • gloves (I did not have any and used two plastic sandwich bags)
  • Sprinkles (optional)
  • rolling pin
  1. Dust your clean working surface and rolling pin with corn starch. This is so that the marzipan won't stick
  2. Cut off the amount of marzipan that you would like to use on your cupcakes.
  3. Flatten out the marzipan with your hand and use a toothpick to add food coloring a little at a time. Use your gloved (plastic bag covered) hands to knead the marzipan so that the color is evenly distributed. Keep adding small amounts of food coloring until you get a shade that you like.
  4. Mold! Marzipan is a lot like clay and is very easy to work with.
Flip Flops (pictured above)
  1. Roll a small ball of marzipan in your hand the size of a thumbnail.
  2. Break it into two even halves.
  3. Flatten and shape each half into a flip flop shape.
  4. Roll a small amount of marzipan into a thin rope and break it off in a "V" to make straps. I used non-colored marzipan to give it some contrast.
  5. Optional: Add a festive sprinkle to make your flip-flops more decorative.
Pail and Shovel

  1. Roll marzipan in a ball about the size of a thumbnail.
  2. Stick a small finger into the center and use your other fingers to bring up the sides into a pail shape.
  3. Use a small amount of regular colored marzipan for a handle.
  4. For the shovel.... I just sort of took a triangle wedge and messed with it until it sort of resembled a shovel.
The nice thing about marzipan is you can make anything you want. Store what you make ahead of time in an airtight container at room temperature. Of course, the cupcakes that didn't involve the marzipan items were just as cute. I just wanted to try marzipan once again after I failed when I made the Ladybug in a Grassy Field cupcakes :)

Now.... for the fun part of assembling the beach scene!!

What I used for my BEACH CUPPIES!
  • gram crackers
  • teddy grams
  • Life-saver gummies (I didn't realize until after I made the cupcakes that these have gelatin)
  • Airhead Xtremes Sweetly Sour Belts (the beach towel)
  • Blue airheads (shark fin)
  • Green airhead and orange starburst (palm tree)
  • Purple and black gel icing
  • Blue food coloring
  1. Dye your frosting of choice blue.
  2. Completely cover the cupcakes with blue frosting (you can do this even if you want some cupcakes to just be sand)
  3. For the sand, take gram crackers and put them in the food processor (or mash them by hand while they are inside a plastic bag) until they resemble sand.
  4. Pour the gram cracker crumbs into a bowl. Dip your frosted cupcake tops into the gram cracker. If you want only a little bit of beach, just dip a corner and then re-frost the water side with a little extra frosting. To make "waves," just be a little messy with your frosting :) If you want all beach, completely cover the cupcakes in gram cracker crumbs.
  5. Decorate bears with faces and bathing suits if you like with the gel icing.
  6. For shark fins, cut a triangle with a knife from the blue airhead
  7. For the palm tree, melt green airhead and orange starburst in the microwave for approximately 6 seconds, or until it is warm and malleable. It's best to use a microwave-safe disposable plate. And be careful... it can get VERY hot! For the leaves, take small bits of the green candy and roll it into your hands to make about 4 snake like pieces. For the base, mold the bottom into the base of a palm tree and caaarefully attach the 4 leaf pieces. It's a little tricky to get it all to balance. Sara put that one together :)

This was Sara's creation, featuring a palm tree.

Then the rest is really up to your imagination! It wouldn't be any fun if I told you what to do, right? Here's what my roommates and I did:

The bear on the right is sitting a beach chair... which didn't really work the way I would have liked

Using a knife you can get nice waves in your ocean

I actually have a beach towel that is nearly identical to the candy!

Mmmmm.... I love summer!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blueberry Buttercream Frosting

When I was first experimenting with making the Cookie Monster Cupcakes, I originally envisioned making a blueberry buttercream frosting and icing out fur with my grass/hair tip (#133). Blueberries have such a deep blue on the outside that I really like, but the inside is that sort of icky color. Ok, no big deal - I have blue food coloring.

Well, I ended up making somewhat of a mess. I made the swiss meringue buttercream frosting recipe from Martha, thinking that I could just add blueberries like I just added rasperries for my dreamy creamy raspberry buttercream. Um, wrong! Surprisingly, the little blueberries would just NOT be pulverised by my electric mixture. It reminded me of that exercise in physics class where try as you might you can't crack an egg in the palm of your hand (try it! put an egg in one hand and try to crush it with that hand). Anyway, that meant that I had to smoosh every last blueberry by hand and then mix it up.

The end result was pretty good and still pretty. I added a little bit of confectioner's sugar to taste so that it wouldn't be too tart. And due to the pulp and seeds I obviously couldn't use a fine decorating tip. I simply used an offset spatula to spread them on cupcakes.

So, in summary:
  • Blueberry buttercream is yummy!
  • Smoosh blueberries by hand before mixing it in (I added a handful at a time until I got a flavor that I was happy with)
  • You may need to add a little extra sugar (to taste) so it's not too bitter
  • There is no need for blue food coloring (although I used a teeeeensy bit, as you can see from my pictures)

I didn't end up using the blueberry buttercream for Cookie Monster, but it's a nice option for a summery cupcake. The blueberry pulp also adds a nice texture to the buttercream.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sleeping Children Cuppies

It's a little hard to see, but she has a teddy gram tucked away with her on the left :)

When Michael was visiting, I told him to pick something out of the Hello, Cupcake! We did our own adaptation on some of the Guava Cupcakes that we made the day before.

Sleeping Children Cuppies

for each child...
  • fluffy white frosting
  • 1 mini vanilla wafer cookie (we used regular size)
  • 2 mini airhead candies or one regular airhead
  • Various colors of writing gel icing to decorate face (you can also just color your fluffy white frosting different colors)
  1. First you need to make the pillow and body that will be under the blanket. Try as I might, I just couldn't find any vegetarian marshmallows anywhere! If you are a pescatarian, Whole Foods sells them made from fish gelatin. Anyway, I thought some fluffy white frosting would work just as well. I used some from a can since so much work goes into the decorating and I was too tired to make it from scratch.
  2. Use a spatula to put icing in the corner of a large zip-lock bag. Cut approximately 3/4 of an inch long cut from the corner. Squeeze from the top of the bag down (like as with a tube of toothpase to makea pillow and a body. Neither need to be perfect since the body will be covered with a blanket and there will be a wafer cookie on the pillow for the head.

3. Place a vanilla wafer on the pillow for a head. If you are using large vanilla wafers like we did, you want to make sure that the cookie is over the cupcake, probably more so than as pictured below. Otherwise... you little sleeping child will loose its head!

4. Take the airheads and put them on a microwaveable plate. Tip: It makes a mess, and you will get candy stuck to your plate. It's best to use a disposable plate. Microve them for approximately 7 seconds (you will most likely have to play with the timing. You want the candy to be nice and pliable but not melted). Be careful! Hot airheads can be very hot.
5. Roll the airheads into a ball in your (clean!) hands. Place it on a clean surface and either smoosh it with your hands until it is about 1/8 thick or use a rolling pin. Take a knife to cut out a rectangular blanket to go over the body and cover most of the cupcake.
6. Decorate the blanket! I liked making a quilt-like pattern using a serrated knife by pressing the knife gently into the airhead blanket but not deep enough to cut it. You can also use unused bits of airheads to make the blankets multi-colored. Or use gel icing! Get creative!

Optional: If you had some teddy grams lying around, you can tuck those under the blanket with the child. AWWWWWWWW.

You can see the "quilted" pattern I made on this red blanket using a serrated knife

7. Carefully place the blanket onto the cupcake. Press the edges down so it won't fall off. The blankets we made as seen in the pictures were too long! They started to fall off the cupcakes! Make it so that your blankets are not over the edge of the cupcake.
8. Now decorate the faces! We used gel icing and various sprinkles to make faces. Some of them came out, well...... scary. We even had a vampire. I think that we got a little tired at the end so some looked messier than others.

Yay! Sleeping kiddies! Personally, I thought they looked a little creepy and no one wanted to eat them since they had so much candy on them. Oh well! They were still fun to make!

Here is most of the group! Michael made the one that has "Lil' Thug" on the blanket. It's hard to see at this angle but he has a purple mohawk.

This was our sleeping vampire. I didn't do a good job with the fang, but Michael did a good job with the hair!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

So there I was. Sitting at a computer logging the patients I had seen that morning (lots of back pain, some well children). I had just finished with a patient and decided to check my email. Jordan sent me a picture of a cupcake that looked like cookie monster from sesame street. "you should make these!" he wrote. I received a similar email from Allie a month. I thought about how much more fun baking would be instead of a slow clinic. And not five minutes later my attending sent me home! It was a sign - I was meant to make those cookie monsters.

Besides, C is for cookie is good enough for .... Carly!

I made these in a haste since my shelf is next week so they don't look as polished as I would like. They are very easy to make :)

Cookie Monster Cuppies
  • Any cupcake recipe. I used chocolate chip.
  • Blue sprinkles (I used Wilton pearlized sprinkles because they are sparkly)
  • Chocolate-covered malt balls
  • Black writing gel icing
  • Small cookies (I used vanilla wafers)
  • Frosting of your choice
  • Blue food coloring (optional)

  1. Use an offset spatula or knife to cover cupcake with a layer of frosting. If I make these again, I would consider coloring the frosting blue so that cookie monster looks more uniformly blue.
  2. Pour your sprinkles into a bowl. Dip and roll your cupcake into the sprinkles so that the frosting is completely covered by sprinkles.
  3. Take a knife and cut a slit into the cupcake where you would like the mouth would be. Make it wide enough so that the cookie will fit inside.
  4. Break the cookie in half. I used the black gel writer to make my vanilla wafers look like a chocolate chip cookie.
  5. Place the cookie in the slit you created. It might take another attempt with the knife to get the cookie to stay!
  6. Take a knife and carefully cut the malt ball into halves. Use the black gel to make pupils.
  7. Place the malt ball halves on the top or eyes. Make them in different directions do that he looks a little crazy or silly.
  8. Repeat as many times as you like so that you have an entire army of Cookie Monsters

And there you have it. I then took my monsters and took them on a little photo shoot in my backyard.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dreamy Creamy Raspberry Buttermilk Frosting

Making frosting for my cuppies has always been a challenge for me. I tend to dismiss all frosting as being too tooth-decayingly sweet. Those that eat my cuppies (minus the roomies) tend to disagree. I know I have been doing a lot of Martha praising recently, but her recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream is amazing. I used it for the grass in my ladybug post. That kind of buttercream (versus one that is made with confectioner's sugar) takes a fair amount of work, but I believe that the end product is well worth it.

This buttercream recipe is perfect for decorating and is a great palate for adding flavor. Plain, it doesn't really taste much like anything except for, well, slightly sweetened butter.

For the above cupcakes, I added fresh raspberries. The result? Well, let's just say that I ate several of the end products (whereas I normally just have one). It tastes very raspberry and still works well with a pastry bag. I used the 1M tip above. The parts of the raspberries that are slightly bigger than the space allowed by the tip will burst a little, so just be aware if you are decorating while wearing white!

Basically, I just followed Martha's recipe. She uses one of those fancy Kitchen-Aid mixers. I just use my $20 hand mixer and the frosting comes out just fine. The main difference with a regular mixer is that when you just put a heatproof bowl over a pan or pot of simmering water, making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. I use a regular attachment for the entire recipe and it came out yummy.

To make what I call Dreamy Creamy Raspberry Buttermilk Frosting, simply add 1-2 cartons of raspberries to the frosting and beat until well mixed. It will turn into a pretty pink color.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Banana with Cinnamon Honey Frosting

Today was another day of two girls, one cupcake recipe. After a 2 week hiatus, Jodi and I got together to whip up some delicious cuppies. It felt a little weird going straight from my standardized patient interview where I practiced counseling patients on nutrition and exercise to adding four sticks of butter to four cups of powdered sugar. I am sure that using a mixer must burn some calories, right?

It also seemed like it was time to use my Wall-E cupcake skirts (which is what I like to call cupcake liners). I was holding onto them because I was saving them for the perfect occasion, but then it dawned on me that I could just buy more. Duh!

I had some frozen bananas in my fridge that I wanted to use and I had been eyeing the banana with honey frosting recipe in the Martha Stewart Cupcake book. The recipe in the book is different than the version online, oddly enough, and has a different title! The main difference is that the book recipe requires roasting the bananas and uses cake flour. We decided to double the recipe and to follow the version in the book.

Martha Stewart's Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting - makes 16

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners. Place 3 whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast 15 minutes (the peels turn black, as seen in the picture below). Meanwhile, mix together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Remove bananas from the oven and let them cool before peeling. The insides will be nice and mushy.
  3. Change the oven temperature to 350.
  4. Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy on medium speed. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until incorporated into the batter. Add the roasted bananas and continue to mix until combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream and beat until just combined after each. Beat in the vanilla
  6. In another mixing bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, filling it about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Transfer to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.

For the frosting:
  1. Beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy.
  2. Slowly add the confectioners sugar and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the honey and vanilla.

To decorate, I used a 1M tip and Jodi cut the end of a large zip-lock bag. We didn't have any extra bananas to cut cute little slices for garnish, but they still came out great!

Decorating tips:
  • To make the swirl like in the picture at the very start of the post and in the above picture, use the 1M and start at the outside of the cupcake. Go around in the circle and slowly swirl inward and build on lower layers. Gently release pressure and lift up. It takes a little practice before you are making "perfect" swirls.
  • To make the starburts like on the bottom right of the above picture, start in the middle and work outwards. Use the 1M and point it perpendicular to the cupcake. Lift up and release pressure.
  • The small swirly pattern seen on the upper right and left are done by making 4 small swirls around the outside of the cupcake with one in the center.
Aerial view of the swirl and the "starburst" pattern

I had some inspiration to make little mini bananas out of some Starburst candy, but I was sleepy and the dog ate my flip flop, which meant that it was my cue to go home, blog, and fall asleep :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guava Cupcakes and Guava Cream Cheese Frosting

I love fresh guava fruit, which is impossible to find outside of Hawaii. When I was at the grocery store last, I found some guava syrup and decided with Michael visiting this weekend it would be the perfect opportunity to try to make some!

After looking for guava cupcake recipes, I altered one from the Star Bulletin and added my own guava cream cheese frosting. Great success!

I found Margie's Guava Syrup in the syrup section of Kroger's. For this recipe you will need a 10 oz bottle of it.

Here's the recipe so you can have some aloha of your own:

Guava Cupcakes - makes 3 dozen

  • 2 and 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup guava syrup (unsweetened)
  • 5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 7 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners
  2. In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt
  3. Add oil, water, guava syrup, egg yolks, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed with with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. For the meringue, in a separate small bowl beat egg whites with cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in 1/2 cup of sugar until stiff.
  5. Fold batter into meringue until lightly mixed. This cupcake batter is very fluid.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with batter.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then move to a cooling rack until cooled completely.

Guava Cream Cheese Frosting - Baa Baa original :)
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoon guava syrup
  • red food coloring (optional)
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy
  2. Slowly add the 3 cups of confectioner's sugar, mixing in between additions
  3. Add the vanilla and the guava syrup, mixing until smooth
  4. Optional: if you desire your frosting to be pinker, add red food coloring one drop at a time until a desired color is reached.

I hope that you enjoy these yummy cupcakes! Michael wanted the frosting to be nice and pink, so he added two drops of the red food coloring.

What I like about the recipe is that the cakes come out nice and light with a mild guava flavor and the frosting is a fair bit sweeter with guava.

Michael was a big help to me in the kitchen. I couldn't have done it without him (except that he made a huge mess while attempting to make the frosting). He may or may not have asked me to add those statements.

For those who might be interested in finding the pink polka-dot cupcake liners, they are made by Wilton, and I bought them from the Baker's Nook.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ladybugs in a grassy field

These are cupcakes that I made inspired by Martha Stewart's Ladybug Cupcakes. Unfortunately all of these pictures were taken with my camera phone, so the quality is pretty crummy (and unfortunately for my facebook friends I don't have any additional photos to add!).

These are soooo easy to make! Don't be intimidated by the grassy part - it's a lot easier than it looks!

Martha's version calls for ladybugs made from marzipan. My attempts at coloring the marzipan were a complete disaster! I ended up with red fingers and gross looking lumps of almond paste. It went directly into the trash.

Instead, make the ladybugs from m&ms! I used red coated chocolate candies that I bought from the bulk candy section at Meijers. I then used some black gel icing that comes in those ready-made tubes from the baking section of the grocery store... since it was easy.

It takes some time to get the hang of it, but just carefully put the gel icing onto the red candy to make it look like ladybugs. I let the frosting harden before I put them on my cupcakes.

Nooooow for the grass! I am doubtful if it would looks as good without a grass tip (#233 - it's also called a hair tip). I found the tip at Michael's craft store with another tip for less than two dollars together. I used buttercream frosting, since it shapes pretty easily. Simply fill an icing bad (or gallon ziplock bag with the tip inside) and start from the middle and move outwards. Put the tip perpendicular to the cupcake and squeeze out icing. Move tip up away from the cupcake and release pressure. I liked how when I went fast the grass looked sort of messy. You want to vary the "blades" of grass so it doesn't look too uniform.

And that's it! See? Easy :) I definitely want to make these again, but maybe I'll flavor the buttercream lime or something like that.

PS- if you shop at Michael's, it's worthwhile to be on their e-mail list because you get a 40% coupon just about every week!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hosting Your Own Cupcake Party!

I'm back from a lovely weekend in NYC for my cousin's wedding, which was absolutely beautiful. There were thousands of roses there, which made me sad that I didn't live close enough to take a small garden of them home with me and also made me start thinking about the rosewater pistachio cuppies that I love so much. Unfortunately, no cupcake making today since I have a lot of studying to do.

However! I was also inspired by the celebration to help you have your own cupcake party!

It's very easy, aside from all of the baking. Once you decide how many people you are going to invite, think about how many cupcakes each person would eat. I always make mini-cupcakes so that people can try different flavors. I usually have about 4-5 different flavors (or at least different decorations). That means that I usually end up with over 150 mini-cupcakes, which takes forever to decorate! For that reason, mini-cupcakes en mass at my parties tend to be simply decorated (such as the Are You My Mother cuppies).

Here are some helpful steps:

  1. Pick a theme where it will be easy to make different flavors of cuppies or different theme-related decorations. Here are the themes that I have done before: cocktail cupcakes (pina colada, strawberry daiquiri, champagne and strawberry, etc), Halloween creepcakes party (this party was more about cute decorating), and Spring into Cupcakes (spring themed, and springy decorations)
  2. Plan out your different cupcake selections and how many cupcakes you think that each person will eat. Is your party after dinner? Plan for more. Is your party in the middle of a hot summer afternoon? Maybe serve cupcakes and ice cream. The possibilities are endless :)
  3. Send out invites (heh)
  4. BAKE. Most cupcakes store very well in an airtight container unfrosted for three days. I usually spread out the baking over a couple of days and then do all of the frosting and decorating the day of the party. Another way to make this easier is that if parts of the decorations can be made ahead, do it early. It's tough to spend hours baking and then host a party!
  5. Don't forget drinks! Ask your guests to help you out with this, if you like. My housemates and I have served home-made lemonade, water, iced tea, etc.
  6. Set up your cupcake display! I have one cupcake tree (which is in the picture above and below), but that's it. I like putting the cupcakes on colored plates. I don't put out all of the cupcakes at once. I just stay vigilant during the party and replace as needed.

I unfortunately don't have any good pictures from the creepcake set-up. The next picture is before all of the cupcakes were set up at the cocktail cuppy party:

The cloth is from Peru :) Pictured are Manly Cupcakes (Guinness with pretzel on top), strawberry daiquiri with pineapple and cherry on top, and then chocolate and banana (donated by friends as the "non-alcoholic" choice). Obviously, there was still a lot of setting up to do!

Another fun thing is to give your cupcakes different names and set up name tags. It makes it easier for your guests to let you know which cuppies they like best!

Aaaaand that's pretty much it! I find some good decorations for the parties in the dollar section of Target. We also usually play games as part of the party. Oh, and there is no need to worry that you will have leftover cupcakes :)

Let me know if you have a cupcake party and how it goes!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Are you my mother?

Do you remember that book Are You My Mother? I named these cuppies with bird nests after that book.... mostly because of the baby bird eggs. I decided to blog about these cupcakes today because apparently a stray bird somehow found its way into my room... when all of the windows were closed. Weird.

Anyway, these are very cute cuppies and SO easy to make! You can use any kind of cupcake (I used chocolate). Frost the cuppies with any kind of frosting you like, darker to look like dirt/twigs (for example... chocolate!).

Needed Ingredients:
  • One bag of thinly cut unsweetened coconut
  • Cocolate covered eggs
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. thinly spread coconut onto a cookie sheet
  3. Put the coconut in the oven.
  4. Watch the coconut carefully. It doesn't need to be in there long to get toasted.
  5. Take the coconut out and then sort of stir the coconut with a wooden spoon so that the untoasted side of the coconut is showing. This isn't an exact science, and your nests will look more authentic
  6. Remove coconut from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet. Turn off the oven
  7. Carefully cut the chocolate eggs in half. This was sort of difficult for me to do. They look better if they aren't cut exactly in the center. This is not really a great activity to let kids do.
  8. Carefully arrange the toasted coconut on the cupcake to look like nests. Make an outside circle that is higher up than the center.
  9. Place the two halves of the chocolate eggs in the center of the cupcake. Arrange them so each cupcake looks a little different.
Viola! I hope that you enjoy your Are You My Mother cupcakes :)

This picture is also from the Spring into Cupcakes party :) Each platter of cupcakes had a name-tag and a short description.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Honey, Lavender, and Crystalized Flowers

I made the above cupcakes for a "Spring into Cupcakes" cupcake party that I had back in March. What is a cupcake party? It's when I bake hundreds (literally) of baby cupcakes in four or five different flavors with a common theme, and invite my friends to come over dressed up according to the theme and sample different cupcakes. It's a TON of fun, but a lot of work. I ususally don't have the urge to bake for a while after doing that.

Anyway, the above cupcakes are one of my favorites. The recipe is honey and lavendar cupcakes and comes from the 500 Cupcakes book. What is especially great is that the cupcake is made using one bowl! I topped them with some crystalized edible flowers. I am sharing this recipe now because edible flowers are not easy to find in the winter, so this might be a good summer treat.

Honey Lavender Cupcakes - makes 18

For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour (I just go with unbleached all-purpose)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted (honestly, I never sift and it comes out fine)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Blue food coloring (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. dried lavender flowers Tip: I found these both at Whole Foods and a local food co-op
For the crystalized flowers
  • 1 package of edible flowers (available at grocery stores in the produce section or specialty produce markets - call ahead as not all stores carry it year round) OR you can use organic roses. Tip: Don't use flowers from a flower shop! They are sprayed with lots of pesticides!
  • 1 egg white
  • superfine berry sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200C). Place 18 baking cups in muffin pans
  2. Combine all of the cupcake ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, approximately 2-3 minutes
  3. Spoon the batter into the cups, filling them 2/3. Tip: I like to use an ice cream scoop to do this. It makes for an even distribution of cake batter
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or when a toothpick is inserted and removed clean. Tip: My oven bakes... well... unevenly. I like to turn my cupcakes by 180 degrees halfway through the projected baking time as a result
  5. Remove muffin pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes an cool on a rack.
  6. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, until light and creamy.
  7. Beat in the honey and few drops of food coloring, if you desire, to turn the tops a pleasant teal color.
  8. Stir in the lavender flowers
  9. Spread onto cooled cupcakes with a knife or off-set spatula.
Cupcakes can be kept without frosting in an airtight container for 3 days, but taste best frosted the same day that they will be served.

To crystalize the edible flowers, add one egg white to 1/2 tablespoon of water and whisk the two ingredients together. Using a paintbrush, carefully paint each side of the flower or petal with the egg white/water mixture. You may wish to use a kitchen tweezer for this (I just had sticky fingers). Sprinkle each side of the flower with sugar. Set on wax paper to dry overnight. Crystalized flowers can be stored in an airtight container for at least a week (some sources say a month, but I don't tend to like to keep food that long).

Tip: If it's too difficult to find edible flowers, or you are not comfortable using raw eggwhites, simply omit the crystalized flowers and top each cupcake with some lavender flowers.

(PS - If you are wondering what crystalized flowers taste like... well... they don't really taste like anything to me, but they are certainly pretty and sure to impress your guests)



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