Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snickers Cupcakes













The blog posts are starting to be quite behind my baking, which can only mean one thing: I'm on inpatient again. Yes, inpatient pediatrics. And it's that time of year for RSV and influenza and all sorts of other goodies so it has been quite busy.

I made these a couple of weeks ago, inspired a prior attending's craving for a snickers bar one afternoon. It was aright after Halloween, so I was able to buy those cute little "fun sized" snickers on sale. I brainstormed for quite a while about what to do about the nougat part of the snickers bar, which is actually my favorite part. The nougat recipes I found online didn't really appeal to me. That meant that I had to be creative.




I made mini-cupcakes, so I decided not to add on any peanuts since I thought that would be sensory overload. However, don't let my choice stop you from topping the cuppies off with some peanuts. Heck, put them inside of your cupcakes!

I think that I may have mentioned this in a prior cuppy post, but it's worth typing it again: you do not want to pinch pennies when purchasing your cocoa powder! It's worth it to buy some nice chocolate - you'll be able to taste a difference.

Snickers Cupcakes







Chocolate & Snickers Cake - makes approximately 4 dozen mini-cupcakes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • approximately 24 fun-sized snickers, frozen and then cut in half
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini-cupcake pans with paper liners
  2. Whisk together the milk and vinegar in a large bowl.
  3. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to the above mixture and beat with an electric mixer until nice and foamy.
  4. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (minus the snickers) together.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth and well mixed.
  6. Fill the paper liners approximately 3/4 full of batter. Place a frozen half piece of snickers into the cupcake, cut end down.
  7. Bake for about 13-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Ok, so why put the Snickers cut end down? Because otherwise you might get a little cave in your cupcake when the caramel starts to bubble in the oven:


Actually, it's not that big of a deal since you can just cover it with some frosting!

Chocolate Malt Frosting - enough to cover 48 mini cupcakes
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/3 cup of chocolate malt powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Cut the stick of butter into smaller pieces and place into a medium sized bowl
  2. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the chocolate malt powder and cocoa powder to the milk in a small bowl. Whisk until the powders have dissolved.
  4. Add the vanilla to the milk mixture and stir with a spoon.
  5. Alternate adding the milk mixture and the confectioner's sugar to the butter, mixing well after each addition. You may use more or less confectioner's sugar, based on the consistency you desire.
  6. If the frosting becomes too stiff, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.



This may have been the best job that I have done with a frosting completely from my imagination. Mmmm I love malted milk, and I think it did a good job taking the place of the nougat.

And last but not least... top off those cuppy babies with a little caramel syrup. No one will know if you use store bought syrup, which is what I did.




Oh yes. Much better. I made these the night before and put them in the refrigerator overnight and they still tasted great the next day.

One last note. I normally used a Wilton 1M tip to decorate my cupcakes. I used a 2D tip, which I think I like better.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

a rose by any other name




I just wanted to share some icing roses that I made. It took me a while to make them actually look like roses and not like a pathetic blob. I'm not good enough to make a tutorial, but you can see some nice directions by Wilton here. I'm left handed, and I actually needed someone to show me how to do it as a lefty, since watching videos of right handed people making them wasn't all that helpful to me. The secret is to use very stiff icing. You can use the vanilla buttercream recipe that I shared with you (it's the second recipe on that post), but once you're done keep on adding confectioners sugar until you can stick a spatula in it and the spatula will stay standing up. If you're icing is creamy and smooth, you'll get a wilting rose!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream





This is my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. I tried making some sort of fancy chocolate mousse cupcake, but the cupcakes came out very deflated and with not all that much flavor. What's fun about this recipe is that you can change up the taste based on what kind of chocolate you choose to add. I am all for bargain brand flour and sugar, but chocolate is a good place to splurge. It definitely makes a difference if you are using fine chocolate. Play around with different kinds of chocolate and percentage of cocoa.




Chocolate Cupcakes - makes approximately 2 dozen
  • 4 oz (2/3 cup) chocolate, broken into small pieces (not baking chocolate!)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put paper liners into cupcake pan.
  2. Using a double boiler (or microwave), melt chocolate and butter together. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Stir the sugar into the melted chocolate-butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined.
  4. Add the eggs to the large bowl one at a time. Mix well with an electric mixer after each egg.
  5. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  6. In a separate medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a wire whisk.
  7. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, taking care to blend the contents with the electric mixer. Alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk. Continue to mix until well combined.
  8. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.


This is my fun, artsy picture of the finished cuppies


The great thing about a good chocolate cupcake (other than the fact that it's chocolate) is that the topping selection is wide open. I chose to top the cupcakes this time with the vanilla buttercream that we have been using in my cake decorating class. It's medium stiffness, which works well for piping. It's incredibly sweet, which people seem to like. It's also a snow-white color which works with countless different types of sprinkles! I found the clear butter flavor from Michaels. If the idea of that grosses you out, you can probably just leave it out.




Vanilla Buttercream
  • 1 1/4 cups shortening (do NOT use butter flavored!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp clear butter flavor
  • 2 lbs confectioner's sugar
  1. Beat the shortening with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Add the salt, milk, vanilla, and butter flavor. Beat until mixed. The mixture will be sort of watery at this point, so it's ok if it's not completely homogeneous.
  3. Add the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time. Mix well after each addition.
  4. Once all of the sugar has been added, keep on mixing for about 5-7 minutes until your icing is nice and fluffy!
  5. Icing will keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.


Ooo, pretty icing!

I like the contrast of the white frosting and the red cupcake liners :)



But something is missing.... sprinkles!





I just used some purple sugar that I had leftover from Halloween. I like how it collected in between the ridges in the swirl.

And there you have it. Chocolate cupcakes and a sweeeeet vanilla buttercream!



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Honey Lavender Cupcakes with Grapefruit Frosting



Whoa whoa whoa. GRAPEFRUIT? Does that even belong in a baked good? Um, if it's edible, yes. Yes it does.

Let me start from the beginning.

I was in the grocery store last week, minding my own business. I checked out the apples, wasn't in the mood for grapes.

And there it was: free samples of grapefruit.

It was yummy. Their sales tactic work. I ended up with an entire bag of grapefruits.



Although I may love grapefruit and it's pink, tangy ways, I couldn't really see myself eating six grapefruits before they all went bad. Therefore, they had to go into a cupcake.

For some reason, it didn't occur to me to make a grapefruit curd, probably because I have never made curd before and I don't think of curd all that often. After a Google search, I came up with a recipe that used one of my favorite ingredients: lavender. Lavender + honey + grapefruit. It was crazy enough that it just might work...

The recipe was an AP recipe courtesy of the National Honey Board, which meant that honey was most likely going to be the prominent flavor. I changed up the cupcake recipe only slightly. Below is my version. You will need about 2 large pink grapefruits and just about an entire honey bear.



Honey Lavender with Grapefruit Cupcakes - Makes about 5 dozen mini-cupcakes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lavender flowers
  • 1/2 cup (pink) grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups honey
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. Put the white vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the milk so that it fills the measuring cup. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. If you can, crush the lavender flowers with the back of a spoon. Add to the flour mixture and stir again with the whisk. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the milk mixture and the grapefruit juice. Set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer on medium, cream the butter in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
  7. Add the honey to the butter and mix well.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix after each addition.
  9. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture. Mix well.
  10. Add the grapefruit-milk mixture. If you are really tricky, you can keep the beater on low speed as you add the grapefruit-milk mixture, but it's not essential. Mix well.
  11. Add the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

This is what my batter looked like. And yes. I finally got a standing mixer! :)

12. Fill the paper liners approximately 2/3 full of batter. For mini-cupcakes, bake for about 13-16 minutes. Cupcakes will be done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The top part of the cake may brown a little. For larger cupcakes, you will need to increase your baking time.



One of my classmates described the cupcake like so: "It's like I'm running in a field of flowers and then I ran right into a honeycomb!" Thanks, Camille! It's sort of amazing that you can't really taste the grapefruit, which was the flavor that I most wanted to highlight. It might just add a little bit of bite to the cupcakes that wouldn't be there otherwise.

Since there wasn't a lot of grapefruit taste to the cupcake, I wanted to accent it in the frosting. I didn't like how the frosting that accompanied the original recipe tasted, so I changed it up!




Pink Grapefruit Frosting - Enough for 5 dozen mini-cupcakes
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3-5 cups of confectioners' sugar
  • pink food coloring (optional)
  1. In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the honey. Mix until completely combined.
  3. Add the grapefruit juice. Mix until combined. It may be a little watery at this point. If you want less grapefruit juice, add 1/3 cup and reserve the rest for later if you think it needs a stronger taste.
  4. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you get the consistency that you like. I also added a bit more grapefruit juice until I had it just the right flavor.
  5. Add the pink food coloring if you would like. I used a dab of food coloring in mine to make it pink.



Honestly, I wasn't quite sure what I thought of the cupcakes, but they were a big hit! Dipa put them in the top five. They are definitely different, but the consensus was that different can also mean delicious! The honey-lavender cupcake went quite well with the citrus frosting. And they were very fun to photograph!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Pistachio Cream Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting





I started a cake decorating class last week. Have no fear, I am not leaving the world of cuppies behind. I really just want to learn how to make those frosting roses. I'm left handed and it's just so difficult to follow those videos online! Plus I am sure that there are other nifty things that I'll learn. Like how to make a cake.... since I have never done that before.

Anyway, in my search of a cake recipe, I found a yummy (challenging) Martha Stewart recipe for White-Chocolate Pistachio Cake. It's meant to be a wedding cake, so I changed it around a little bit to make it less complicated. I made a lovely 8" round cake to decorate at my class as well as 18 lovely cupcakes!



Again, since I made a cake and cupcakes, I don't exactly know how many cupcakes you will get if you make just cupcakes, although I imagine it would be around 3 dozen. OK, actually I have no idea. I am too tired to do the math.



Pistachio Sponge Cupcakes - From Martha Stewart - Makes 11 cups of batter
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 10 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped unsalted pistachios
1. Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. Get those pistachios in order! I happened to accidentally buy salted pistachios. Have no fear! There is a very easy way to remove the salt from your pistachios and peel away the skin. Simply place the pistachios (shelled) in a bowl of water. This will both remove the salt and (even if you purchased unsalted nuts) loosen up the flaky casing around the pistachio. Leave it in about 30 minutes. Remove from the water. Squeeze the pistachios between your fingers and the casing should rub right off! If this doesn't work, leave them out for a little bit and try again. Ooooh! Pretty green nuts. Chop them up in a food processor.

Mmmm... pistachios. Yes, this is a repeat photo from Bollywood Cupcakes.

3. Put the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Mix together with a whisk.
4. Put the egg yolks and your sugar in a large bowl. Beat on low speed with a whisk attachment for about 15 minutes until the mixtures is pale and thick. Ugh, I wish that I had a standing mixer!
5. In a different small bowl, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. This also will feel like an eternity. It took me about 10 minutes.
5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the stiff egg whites into the yolk mixture. Your entire mixture should expand with all of the egg whites, so you will be glad that you used a large bowl.
6. Fold in the flour. Be sure that it's completely mixed.
7. Lastly, stir in those chopped up pistachios.
8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for about 14-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
9. Let your cupcakes cool on a rack.




Oooo! They look so pretty and happy sitting in their little tartan-esque cupcake skirts. Honestly, it wasn't the best cupcake that I have tasted. Definitely not something that you would want to eat plain....

But wait.... something is missing....



Oooooo yes. Frosting! And filling! That will make these babies delicioso!

The original recipe is for a layer cake and requires all sorts of fancy things in the layers, including white chocolate mousse and pistachio cream. That is all too complicated for a cupcake. I decided that since the cake isn't all that pistachio-y to keep the pistachio cream. And since I wasn't going to do white chocolate mousse, I decided to skip buttercream frosting and go for a white chocolate frosting.

Pistachio Cream - From Martha Stewart - Makes 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened pistachio paste (I found mine at Whole Foods in the baking section)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Beat together pistachio paste and cream together with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed until well mixed and smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours in an airtight container. Overnight works perfectly!
  3. All the mixture to get to room temperature. Mix again on medium-high speed until the mixture thickens a little (the mixture should stick to your beater when you lift it out of the mixture and leave a little whimpy peak).
Sadly, I left my camera in Jordan's car and I have no pictures of my beautiful pistachio cream.... or how I filled them on the inside. Sad.

To fill your cuppies with pistachio cream:
I used a sharp knife (like a paring knife) to cut a little cone out of the top of the cupcake. There are some good visual instructions here. You could even just use a spoon to scoop out a piece of the cupcake form the top, so long as it comes out in once piece so that it can be replaced. Next, place a small spoonful of your pistachio cream in the crater you just made in the cupcake. Carefully place the piece of cupcake that was removed back. It's ok if it's messy as you will cover up the top with frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting - Adapted from Diana's Desserts - Makes enough to cover approximately 18 cupcakes
  • 4oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. You want to stir constantly to make sure that the white chocolate does not burn. Once it is melted, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream the butter until fluffy with an electric mixer
  3. Add the confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla. Mix on low-medium speed until well combined.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the cooled white chocolate. If it is too hot you will melt the butter!
  5. If the mixture is not stiff enough, put it in the refrigerator to firm it up.


Aaaaahhhhhh. You can top them with some of the extra cute pistachios, like I did above. Yummy! The very sweet filling and frosting was a nice complement to the sponge cake.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cuppies in the Morn: Poppy Seed & Orange Zest Cupcakes




There are probably few things that make me feel as sad as when I make cupcakes and they aren't eaten up. Early morning lectures every Monday for the next 2 months seemed like a good time to bring in cuppies for a hungry crowd of 30 something students. But cake and icing at 8am? I thought that I would have more success with giving away a cupcake that is more muffin-like.

The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook has a beautiful photograph and recipe for Market Morning Cupcakes. I adapted my recipe from theirs.

The result? A delicious poppy seed cake with a hint of orange. Oh and don't forget glaze! I topped them off with an orange juice glaze. So sugar AND juice. It's almost like a full breakfast.




Poppy Seed and Orange Zest Cupcake - Adapted from the Crabapple Bakery - Makes about 3 dozen cupcakes
  • 2/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Before you do anything else, pour the poppy seeds into a small bowl with the milk. Let them soak it in.
  2. OK, now you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners into muffin tins.
  3. Ad the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. Mix them together with a metal whisk. Set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
  5. Add the orange zest and mix until well combined.
  6. Slowly add the sugar, mixing well after each addition. You want to keep mixing so that all of the sugar dissolves nicely into the butter.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well after adding each egg.
  8. Add the vanilla to the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
  9. Alternate adding the flour and milk-poppy seed mixture to the large bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix well after each addition, but be careful not to over-mix. (Whatever that means, right?)
  10. Hooray! You are all done with the batter. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake for about 14-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
The cupcakes are really good enough alone that you could save some calories and just eat them plain!

But really, what fun is a cupcake without icing? Go for the glaze!



Orange Juice Glaze - adapted from the Crabapple Bakery - enough to generously cover 36 cupcakes.
  • 2/3 cup of squeezed orange juice (use the oranges that you zested above)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4-8 cups of confectioner's sugar
  1. Juice that orange that you zested! If you want to be fancy, you can strain the juice. I think it's just fine unstrained and proves that you squeezed it yourself.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy and pale.
  3. Add two cups of the confectioner's sugar to the butter. Beat until well combined.
  4. Add the orange juice and beat on low-medium speed.
  5. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach a desired consistency. If you want it more like a glaze, add less. If you want it to be stiffer and therefore more spreadable, keep on adding the sugar.

If you like, you can cut off the tops of your cupcakes to make it nice and flat before you put the glaze on. I chose not to do that because I didn't want to eat the tops of 36 cupcakes! You could even rim the cupcakes with extra poppy seeds if you hand out floss for when people get the poppy seeds stuck in between their teeth!

I think that they made a great morning treat. Just don't call them muffins.

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