Sunday, September 27, 2009

Honey Cupcakes



Cupcakes that can be made with ingredients found around the house are perfect for those spontaneous cupcaking sessions.

After a long run of Epicurious recipes, I decided to go back to my trusty Martha Stewart book. I decided to have a go at some of her honey cupcakes. I didn't have any lemon around, so I made a slightly modified version.




Honey Cupcakes - Adapted from Martha Stewart - Makes 18
  • 2 cups all-purpouse flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, room tempereature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners
  2. Combine floour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a small bowl. Mix using a whisk.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugars on high speed with an electric mixer until pale and thick.
  4. Add the honey and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the milk and oil. Mix until well combined.
  6. Add the flour to the wet mixture in two batches. Mix until everything is just combined. Avoid overmixing.
  7. Fill the paper liners 3/4 full with batter. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. They will be golden brown when finished.

If you have any specialty honey around that you have been saving for something special, this would be the time to use it. However, I made them with clover honey from Trader Joe's and they still came out yummy!



I liked how the honey was a prominent flavor in the cake and that it was moist due to the vegetable oil. I complimented them with Wilton's buttercream frosting. I had never made the frosting before. It's very sweet, but great for piping. The honey cupcake isn't too sweet, so the pairing works well.



The whole time I was baking I was thinking about Winnie the Pooh. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We Missed the Boat: Lychee Cupcakes with Coconut Glaze



I have loved all of the cupcakes that I have made from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World book. Vegan cupcakes are delicately moist in a way that is difficult to replicate in cupcakes with your typical egg and butter.

I finally found some canned lychee in the grocery store and decided to try some vegan lychee and coconut glaze cupcakes.



Perhaps my problem was that I messed with the recipe. I don't typically bake vegan, so I really have no place changing things around. The recipe calls for ground flaxseed. I couldn't find it, so I bought flaxseed thinking that I could just put it in the food processor. Um, wrong! It just made the little seeds fly around without changing them into a flour-like substance at all. I therefore substituted whole wheat flour for ground flaxseed.

At any rate, the cupcakes tasted just OK. They were doughy tasting and there was something off about the texture. They didn't pass the test to leave my kitchen. Sad.



Anyway, I took some nice pictures of the finished product. I guess I have learned my lesson not to change things around when I am unfamiliar with the ingredient! At least eating the leftover lychee was enjoyable :)Check Spelling

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes with Pink Raspberry Frosting




Today I was walking home and I noticed that the trees on my street are already starting to change colors! Fall will soon be among us, but that doesn't mean you can squeeze a little more summer in and enjoy these deliciously fruity cupcakes.

The goal was to create a pink cupcake for a local cupcake recipe contest. I went back and forth on adding a lemon curd in the middle or using white chocolate to make them more decadent. In the end, the cupcakes were wonderfully packed with raspberry and lemon flavor, topped with a sweet/tart raspberry frosting. You will need two small cartons of raspberries for the recipe, although you will have leftovers for munching on while you bake!


Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes with Pink Raspberry Frosting - Makes approximately 24 cupcakes


Cupcakes:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups non-bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz of raspberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk ingredients together.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer.
  4. Add the sugar and mix until well combined and light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add the vanilla and mix until well combined.
  7. Slowly add the flour mixture to the large bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until it is all added and well combined. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula occasionally to ensure that everything is added.
  8. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well on medium-high speed.
  9. Pour the raspberries into the batter. Mix with the electric mixer on medium speed and slowly advance to high speed. The batter will turn a vibrant pink-purple color. If you prefer to not have the seeds in your cupcake, puree the raspberries in a blender and use a strainer to remove the seeds before adding it to the batter.
  10. Spoon the batter into the cupcake pan, filling each liner approximately 2/3 full.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Frosting:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter,room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 oz raspberries
  1. Cream the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy with an electric mixer
  2. Slowly add the confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time to the butter, mixing until well combined after each addition.
  3. Add the milk. Mix well.
  4. Add the raspberries to the mixture. Again, if you prefer to not have seeds, puree in a blender and remove the seeds with a strainer before adding. Beat with the electric mixer until completely combined. The frosting will turn a bright pink color. You can add more milk or sugar to get a desired spreading consistency, if necessary.
  5. Spread onto cupcakes and decorate with extra raspberries.


Personally, I liked leaving the seeds in the cupcakes because it's a little reminder that you used real fruit instead of canned fruit. Also, if you are unable to find fresh raspberries, you can use frozen ones. Just wash them with water and allow them to defrost before adding them to the batter or frosting. You may need less milk in the frosting if you are using frozen raspberries. They would also be tasty without frosting and covering them with some powdered sugar. They will still look pretty as the cupcakes come out of the oven purple!



I brought the cuppies for my classmates to enjoy and they seemed to go over pretty well, which made me quite happy!.



And as for the cupcake contest? No word on that yet, but at the very least I had some fun experimenting in the kitchen.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apple-Cinnamon Cupcakes with honey for a sweet new year!



Although it's September, it's a new year in the Jewish calendar, which is marked by the holiday Rosh Hashana. Apples dipped in honey are traditionally eaten for a sweet new year. Another holiday, another reason to make cupcakes :)



I originally envisioned apple cupcakes with a whipped honey frosting. I altered a recipe from the cupcake book 500 Cupcakes. I have had both positive and negative baking experiences with that book. It irks me that there aren't really 500 cupcake recipes (there are muffins and many of the recipes are slight alterations of simple recipes), but I thought that their applesauce and cinnamon cupcakes might be a good starting point for an apple cupcake.

In the end, the cupcake came out very sweet and tasty so it didn't really need frosting. I ended up putting some sort of honey and butter concoction as a light glaze on top. It simply involved boiling butter, added some egg white, and then butter. I think that they would have been delicious plain, but I needed that honey for it to be apples and honey cupcakes.

So you can have your own sweet new year:



Apple-Cinnamon Cupcakes - Makes approximately 1 dozen cupcakes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 small apple, cut into small pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat after each addition
  4. Add the flour and cinnamon and beat with the mixer until fully incorporated. Be sure to scrap the edges down with a rubber spatula.
  5. Pour in the applesauce and make sure it is fully incorporated either with the electric mixer or with a wooden spoon.
  6. Stir in the walnuts and chopped apple.
  7. Fill the paper liners with the batter. The cupcakes will not rise very much, so fill the liners pretty close to the top.
  8. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.



The cupcakes came out a lot more dense than a regular cupcake and with the apples inside it almost seems more like a fruity coffee cake than a cupcake, but still very yummy and sweet. If you like, top with a little bit of honey once the cupcakes have cooled and serve.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Carrot Cake Part Deux: Tropics Version



So this is my third recipe that I tried from Epicurious. What's the deal? Well, the iPhone has this nifty little Epicurious app. It's right next to my Epocrates app, so after I look up the pharmacokinetics of such and such drug I just check out Epicurious. You know, just in case they have posted a new cake recipe that could be fun to try out.


At any rate, last week when I was looking for a new carrot cake recipe to try, I found a highly rated tropical carrot cake. It took me a little while to gather up all of the exotic ingredients. Macadamia nuts are surprisingly difficult to find in Michigan.



I had quite a bit of fun with the recipe. I love coconut and pineapple, so I bought much more of it than I needed so that I could eat the leftovers :) I basically made the cupcake as posted here. I reduced the amount of salt and the ginger to only 1/2 cup. I topped them with a classic cream cheese frosting and used sweetened coconut and macadamia nuts as decoration.



I also had a blast photographing the cuppies. Sara purchased a watermelon, which was a fun backdrop for the little desserts.


Unfrosted cuppy


Cuppy on a watermelon

I think that it will be quite a while before I make carrot cupcakes again. Two carrot cupcake recipes in a week is a little much.

Oh, and proof to my mom and friends that I do get studying done despite all of the baking:


Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting



I one made a peanut butter cupcake a couple of years ago. It came out like a hard, yucky cookie. I have been apprehensive about trying to make them again since that baking disaster. However, I saw a recipe on Epicurious for a brownie cupcake with peanut butter frosting. Not only did it sound delicious, but I already had all of the ingredients at home. What, you don't keep whipping cream all the time in your fridge?



They came out deliciously dense and packed with chocolate. I made them into mini-cupcakes since all of the reviews noted that the cuppies were very sweet. It also turns out that I am not a huge fan of foods that make your teeth fall out when you bit into them. I therefore made a couple of changes to the recipe to decrease the sugar content a little bit. I also thought that they would be a nice little treat for people to have during our Friday afternoon lectures. Since the cake is closer to a brownie than a cupcake, you want to fill the liners pretty close to the top since they will not rise that much.



Brownie Cupcakes - adapted from Epicurious - Makes approximately 60 mini-cupcakes
  • 1 stick + 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 2 + 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini-cupcake tins with paper liners
  2. In a double boiler, melt the butter, 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and all of the unsweetened chocolate. Use a wooden spoon to stir until everything is melted and mixed. It will look like a beautiful glassy chocolate pond when it's ready.
  3. Pour the chocolate into a large bowl over the two types of sugars and mix them together using a whisk.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix using a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix well after each addition.
  5. Add the vanilla. Mix well.
  6. Add the flour slowly, and mix well with the electric mixer.
  7. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips.
  8. Fill the cups close to the top with the batter.
  9. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.



I ate one right out of the oven because they smelled so good. I love eating baked goods when the chocolate chips inside are melty! These would be good even without frosting...... But that didn't stop me from putting the icing on the bake (BA DUM CHA).


Peanut Butter Frosting - Adapted from Epicurious
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2.5 - 3 cups of creamy peanut butter (without sugar added)
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • approximately 1/2 cup of whipping cream
  1. Cream together the peanut butter and butter together with an electric mixer. I wanted the frosting to be heavy on the peanut butter taste, so I used 3 cups. You can use less.
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix well until uniform.
  3. Add the whipping cream one tablespoon at a time until the peanut butter becomes a suitable spreading consistency. I used quite a bit because I wanted to be able to pipe it. I also just poured it in slowly while mixing and didn't actually measure. I live on the edge like that.

Overall, I think that the cupcakes were a hit and a nice treat for my classmates. At least I hope that they were :) I added some chocolate graham cracker bunnies to top off the cuppies, but you could always use chocolate sprinkles.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's Up, Doc? Carrot Cupcakes



Jordan commented over the weekend that it's either "feast or famine" when it comes to my baking. When I have a little bit of free time, I like to take advantage of it and bake away... with some studying packed in while waiting for the cuppies to come out of the oven!



Despite the fact that I have an exam on the horizon, I felt that my attending's birthday was a good reason to sneak some baking in. He happens to enjoy carrot cake, which is even better since I have been searching for a carrot cupcake recipe that Jordan would like better than one of the local cupcakeries. I am very competitive, even with baking.



I had previously made carrot cuppies from a carrot cake recipe that my mom loves. I thought that it was pretty good, but I wanted to try something new. I made a carrot cupcake recipe from Epicurious.


It calls for adding an orange glaze, but I went with the classic cream cheese frosting. The Epicurious recipe (which is actually originally from Gourmet magazine) doesn't use pineapple, but the cakes are still quite moist and the ginger isn't too overpowering.



I unfortunately didn't have time to try my hand at piping little itty bitty carrots, so I improvised and used M&Ms that I had lying around to make carrot shapes on the cupcakes. It came out pretty good I think and took much less time than making icing.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Neon Cupcakes



Today was a very long and tiring day. However, one of the highlights of my day was being featured on the popular blog Cupcakes Take the Cake had a little feature on Baa Baa Cupcake! It was such an honor to be recognized on that blog for my cupcake work. I just like having my cuppies appreciated :) Which reminds me, I would encourage you to follow me on my blog and to add me as a contact (Baa Baa Cupcake) on Flickr.



I have an exam tomorrow and my shelf next week, so baking opportunities are not so hot. For now, you'll have to feat your eyes on some fun images of cupcakes I made a little while ago. I had some fun with marshmallow frosting, Jordan almonds, and pastel food colors.








Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cupcake Bouquet




I get a lot of questions about how I have enough time to bake and be a student. Cupcaking is my creative outlet. I feel like all day I have to act professional and focus on differential diagnoses, but when I get home and hear the clink of the paper liners in the cupcake tin, I get excited about the countless possibilities of cake, frosting, decoration, and so forth. I just make sure to take the time to bake, and sometimes it gets spread over a couple of days.

Sometimes I get a little carried away with taking things to the next level, and I'll spend hours crumbling graham crackers by hand for the perfect crust to a s'more cupcake. It only makes sense when I saw on the Reynolds website an idea for making cupcake bouquets that I had to try it!

I bookmarked the idea for a later date, and the opportunity finally arose when Allie decided to have her Tea Partay. Surprisingly, it wasn't too difficult to make a cupcake bouquet! It took a lot of patience, however. I made the Earl Grey cupcakes and iced them to look like sunflowers and chrysanthemums the night before. You can use whatever kind of cupcake you want (and obviously decorate them however you like) but it is important to use a dense cupcake so that it will stay put on a popsicle stick. Also, you don't want the icing or topping to be too heavy, otherwise it might fall right off the cupcake!



Assembling the bouquet took about 30 minutes or so. I didn't really time it, but it depends on your patience level and how well the cupcakes stay put. I would not recommend making this far in advance, because gravity will get the best of some of the more precariously placed cupcakes. Although the bouquet holds 19 regular sized cupcakes, it's a good idea to have a couple of extra in case you need it.



Cupcake Bouquet

  • 1 6" diameter Styrofoam ball (preferably green)
  • 1 6" diameter terra cotta pot (or vase)
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Thick popsicle sticks, broken in half
  • Approximately 22-25 cupcakes
  • 1 rock to fit in the bottom of the vase
  • Leaves, optional
  • Ribbon, optional
  • Sharp tipped knife
  • toothpicks
1. Place a large rock in the bottom of the vase. This is so when you are decorating (or when people are removing cupcakes as they are enjoying) the bouquet it does not fall over.

2. Use the hot glue gun to attach the Styrofoam ball to the pot. Allow it to dry.

3. Place a cupcake so it sits just on top of the rim of the pot. This is where the row of the bottom flowers will go. Make a mark with a pen or the knife to mark the center of the cupcake. Make a slit in the Styrofoam and firmly push the half of the popsicle stick into the ball. You want to leave about an inch of it sticking out so that the cupcake can be put on it. It is best to angle the popsicle stick a little upwards so that the cupcake won't fall off.

3. Make a slit in the bottom center of the cupcake. Stick the cupcake onto the popsicle stick so that the cupcake is firmly attached to the popsicle stick. Step back and take a deep breath. Admire your work! Only eighteen or so more to go!

4. Carefully place another cupcake next to the one you have already attached to the Styrofoam ball. Again, mark the center of that cupcake so you know where to insert the popsicle stick. It will be about 1-1.5 inches away from where the current cupcake is already placed. Again, insert the popsicle stick and make a slit at the bottom of the cupcake. Push the cupcake onto the popsicle stick.

I also have to say that I love how the picture above looks like a face!

5. Keep going around the base of the vase (while listening to Ace of Base?) until you get all the way around to where you started. This should take 9 cupcakes. If things aren't evenly spaced, don't stress! You can easily cover gaps by adding leaves (as I will discuss below).


6. Start the second layer of cupcakes in between two of the cupcakes from the bottom layer. I was able to fit seven cupcakes using the technique I described above. Again, it's OK if things aren't as evenly spaced as you would like since it's very easy (and beautiful!) to cover up the gaps using leaves.

7. For the top layer, I had two cupcakes... because I ran out of cupcakes! Three would fit nicely. They don't need to be in a circle. Place them as you see fit. And ta da!! You did it!

8. I didn't like the spaces above, so I went outside and picked some leaves from our yard. I washed them and then used a toothpick to attach them to the vase in various bald spots. If I was on a cake TV show I would have made one of my assistants make them out of fondant or chocolate clay. But I liked the contrast of the real leaves and the cupcake flowers.

9. You can add more color by tying a ribbon around the pot and attaching it with the glue gun. I chose not to do that since I thought a lot was going on with the cupcake flowers.

10. Pat yourself on the back and now photograph your beautiful work!

Unfortunately, these are not the easist to transport. Charlie was sure to drive carefully on the way to the party, but I held my breath most of the way since I was so worried! The entire bouquet also comes out quite heavy. You may want to advise the lucky recipients of your cupcake bouquet to use a Jenga approach when eating them so that the bouquet doesn't fall over. That is, try to remove cupcakes from different sides, not all the same side (although hopefully the weight at the bottom will prevent it from falling).

At the party, several people thought that they were real flowers! I was so touched and flattered :) Is this my crowning cupcake achievement? I don't know, but I hope that I have the opportunity to make it again! You can save the pot and the popsicle sticks so the next time around all you have to do is make the cupcakes and place them on the already placed popsicle sticks.

I got a little carried away taking pictures, but I was so pleased with how it turned out. I hope that you enjoyed looking through them :)

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