Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tank Cake


Remember when I made those toy soldier cupcakes?  Well I also agreed to make a tank cake for my friend Karen's wedding rehearal dinner.  I have made thousands of cupcakes, but the number of cakes that I have baked I could count on my fingers.  It didn't seem like it could possibly be THAT hard to make a tank cake.  To make things a little bit more stressful (besides the fact that it was for a rehearsal dinner), I was out of town for residency interviews until the night before the cake needed to be completed.  That gave me about 14 hours to make 3 dozen cupcakes and the tank cake.

I found this great tutorial online on how to make a tank cake.  I think it was meant for people with more cake experience, because it estimated the amount of time to make a tank cake as a mere 45 minutes and then you finish up with airbrushing.  At any rate, it was a good start.  I made two 13"x9" yellow cakes.

First, I frosted one:


Then I put the second one on top and cut it a little to give a more "tank-like" shape.  I decided what was "tank-like" not based on any experience with tanks, but thanks to Google Images.


And frosted that:


If I did it again, I would spend a little more time to go over the frosting and smooth things out.  I did a little bit, but not enough.

And then the fondant.  This was only the second time that I had worked with fondant.  I used Wilton moss green gel food coloring for the color.  It was my first time working with the Duff (of Charm City Cakes) Fondant that they sell at Michaels.  I didn't like that you had to heat it in the microwave to get it to a workable consistence.


OK, so not the smoothest cake.... but I was still happy with it :)

I made the cannon by covering a pourette cookie in fondant.  I just sort of made little decdorations to give the tank some character, which were loosly based on pictures of tanks online and my imagination.  And voila! Tank cake:


It wasn't perfect, but overall a success.

 Carlene, posing with the cake and cupcakes

Congratulations to Karen and Owen!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Toy Soldier Cupcakes


When my friend, Karen, asked me if I would make cupcakes for her wedding rehearal dinner, I excitedly said yes.  Her fiancee, Owen, attended West Point.  She wanted to surprise him with cupcakes with toy soldiers on them and a cutting cake that looked like a tank. 


The cupcake part was easy.  Owen's favorite cake is yellow (it has always seemed weird to me that a flavor is a color) so I picked out Martha Stewart's Yellow Butter Cupcake recipe.  It had some yummy ingredients (namely butter) and also makes the perfect number of cupcakes that Karen requested (36).


The cupcakes were topped with vanilla buttercream frosting.  I used crushed pirouette cookies to make it look like the soldiers were on dirt.  It also made the cupcakes a little crunchy.  The toy soldiers were from a local dollar store and washed in warm soapy water before placed on each cupcake.


The cupcakes were a cinch to make (especially compared to the tank cake - great pictures of that to come) and well received by a surprised groom.  I feel so lucky to have been part of such an important event :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Mini Cornbread


I know, it's been a while since I've posted.  The worst part is I haven't baked in a month!  I have been on the road steadily since Halloween interviewing for residency programs all over the place.  Maybe program directors would like cupcakes?

At any rate, I am home for an entire week!  I don't cook at all, so my contribution for Thanksgiving today includes mini-cornbread and baby chocolate pumpkin cheesecakes (to be posted later).


Mini-Cornbread - Adapted from Dave Lieberamn's Young & Hungry - Makes 6 dozen minis

  • 1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 ounces no salt added whole kernel corn, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line mini cupcake pans with paper liners
  2. Add the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Mix the ingredients with a whisk.
  3. Add the melted butter, milk and eggs and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined and the batter is smooth.
  4. Add the canned corn and stir with a spoon until combined.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full of batter and bake for 13-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Yummy! I like how this recipe uses whole corn in it.  Makes for a little crunchy surprise inside.


I hope that everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

There's a Fracture, I Need to Fix It Cupcakes

chocolate bone cupcake!

I'm on outpatient orthopedic surgery this month, and I knew that I had to make appropriate cupcakes to bring into conference and clinic.  It's not too difficult to find bone-related items given that Halloween is just around the corner.  I found a perfect skeleton bones chocolate mold.

I took some of these to musculoskeletal clinic where most patients have knee or hip complaints.  Unfortunately, the mold didn't include either of those joints!  I suppose we can't fault a cake and candy company for not being anatomically correct.

The title of these cupcakes is from this little video:

I must say, I like that my friends going into ortho and some of the orthopods joke about the video.  Besides, it makes me laugh every time I watch it (it might not be all that amusing to individuals not involved in health care).


Medical cupcakes are so fun to create.  My next clinical rotation at the hospital here is anesthesia.  Maybe I'll make fondant ET tubes or something. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pie Surprise Cupcakes

halloween cupcake

The cupcake pictured above may look like an ordinary cupcake to you.  It has a cupcake wrapper, frosting, and sprinkles to boot.  However, if you were to pick it up, you would immediately notice that something was, well, different.  For one thing, it's heavy.  

Go ahead, take a bite.

Yes, ladies and gentleman.  That is a tiny pumpkin pie INSIDE of the cupcake!

I got the idea from this blog post.  Sara is a pie baker.  I am a cupcake baker.  It seemed like a concept we couldn't pass up.

mini pumpkin pies

First, Sara made mini-pumpkin pies from scratch.  Even the crust was from scratch, mostly because she is crazy.  You want to use a mini-cupcake pan that is sprayed with some non-stick spray for the pies.  Use whatever pumpkin pie recipe you want, or just use some canned pumpkin pie mix.  Bake the mini-pies for about 17 minutes on 375 F, or long enough until the pie is set and the crust is cooked.  It's not a science and the pies will bake more inside of the cupcake so don't stress about it too much.

sara holding pie
So you can see how small the pies are!

Next, whip up some cupcake batter.  I used my signature vanilla cake recipe.  Stop after step 6.

Baa Baa Vanilla Cupcakes - makes approximately 30 cupcakes
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the two flours and the baking powder. Stir to ensure that the ingredients are mixed.
  3. Cream butter in a large bowl on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar to the butter, mixing well after each cup.
  5. Add each egg separately, mixing well with the mixer after each addition.
  6. Add the vanilla to the milk. Alternate adding the dry mixture and the milk to the egg-sugar-butter mix. Mix well after each addition on medium speed so that the mixture is uniform.
  7. Fill the cupcake liners with 1/2 - 3/4 of batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Now it's time for the assembly!


Put about a tablespoon of batter in each cupcake liner.  You want enough batter so that the entire bottom of the liner is covered.  Next, put a cooled pumpkin pie on top of the batter.  Scoop enough batter over the pie so that it is completely covered.  Bake at 350F for about 23 minutes.  The tops of the cupcakes should spring back when you press on them.  Don't put a toothpick in the middle - you'll just stab the little pie!

halloween sprinkles on cupcake

Frost as desired and enjoy.  They were actually quite tasty!  Plus, it's an easy way to impress your friends :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Baby Pumpkin Spice Cheesecakes


I am still unsure if mini-cheesecakes count as cupcakes, but whatever these are, they were scrumptious.  I made them for the fall party we had a couple of weeks ago.  What's nice about these "chuppies" (cheesecake + cuppy - just go with it) is that they are covered with marshmallow fluff, which covers up the inevitable sinking that occurs in the center of the cheesecake.  If you make this, making half of the recipe.  I tossed out a bunch of the batter because I knew that I couldn't get rid of the dozens of cheesecakes that it made.  I stopped at 2 or 3 dozen.  You will need to plan ahead as the cheesecakes need to be refrigerated overnight.  Use a gingersnap cookie for the crust - tasty and simple!

Baby Pumpkin Spice Cheesecakes - Adapted from Gourmet - Makes more than 3 dozen

  • 32 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 ounces pumpkin
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • Gingersnap cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake tins with paper liner.  Add one gingersnap cookie to each liner.
  2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until well mixed and nice and fluffy.  This should take a couple of minutes
  3. Add the pumpkin and mix well.
  4. While on low speed, add the eggs at a time.
  5. In a separate bowl, add the flour, spices, and salt.  Mix together with a wire whisk.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the cheese-pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  7. Add the vanilla.
  8. Scoop the batter into the paper liners until 2/3 full.  Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until the top of the cheesecake is set and the edges just start to crack.  Allow the cheesecakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Refrigerate the cheesecakes overnight.


For the topping, scoop some marshmallow fluff into a plastic pastry bag and heat in the microwave for about 25 seconds, or until it becomes a little warm (be careful - the bag will be hot when you take it out of the microwave!).  Snip the bottom of the bag off and then squeeze a nice circle of marshmallow deliciousness on top of each cupcake.


For a little added cuteness, Erin and I rolled out some fondant and cut out shapes using the Wilton Leaves and Acorns cookie cutter set.  Just roll a couple of colors together and don't knead them together too much to get a marbled look like on some of the cutouts.

I just love making (and eating!) pumpkin-flavored treats :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My First Fondant Cake

I just wanted to share this pumpkin spice cake covered in fondant that I made for a fall party my roommates and I had.  The problem with making something like this is that no one seems to want to cut it.  The orthopedists in joint clinic seemed to have no problem eating it, however.  You don't want to know how long it took me to make those calla lilies....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Caramel Apple Cupcakes


The leaves are changing colors and the air is crisp.  Fall is here.  My roommates and I decided to celebrate by having a fall-themed party over the weekend.  I, not so surprisingly, was in charge of the cake desserts.  I somewhat feel pressured to never repeat the same recipe at parties, so I tried Stephani Pollack of the Cupcake Project's Caramel Apple recipe.  I selected it not only because her recipes always turn out delish, but also because I like that it included apple butter.  I decided to give it a go.

You can check out her recipe here.  If you plan on making mini-cupcakes, it will make over 4 dozen and the baking time will be closer to 14 minutes.  It is a great apple cake recipe.  Next time I might even add more fresh apples to the mix.


To make them caramel apple cupcakes, I devised a caramel frosting recipe with the help of Erin, my taste tester and fabulous baking helper.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (approximately 1 pound) confectioner's sugar
  • 1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping
  1. Cream the butter until pale and fluffy.  
  2. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time to the confectioner's sugar.  Mix on high speed for about 15 seconds after each addition to keep the frosting nice and fluffy.
  3. Add the caramel ice cream topping to the frosting and mix well.  Once completely combined, mix on high speed for 20-30 seconds to aerate the frosting and keep it fluffy. 

The frosting and cupcake combination was a success.  We added some fall sprinkles because sprinkles make everything more fun.


While making these cupcakes, I couldn't help but think back to my first year of medical school when Sara and I made apple pie.  I had never made apple pie before, and I didn't know that apple pie required cinnamon.  Sara was in shock at my lack of knowledge of the blissful union of apples and cinnamon.  Reflecting on these cupcakes, that 1 tsp of cinnamon is pretty important :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pomegranate Molasses Cupcakes


I was in the syrup and molasses section in the grocery store the other day and found a bottle of pomegranate molasses.  I happen to love pomegranates, so I picked up the bottle to inspect it closer. The product I found is from Lebanon.  A quick search on pomegranate molasses brought up a cake recipe from the New York Times.  Apparently, pomegranate molasses is a very common ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes.  It's so exciting to use exotic or unusual ingredients, so I decided to give it a go.


I tasted a bit of the dark, viscous liquid from the bottle and it's quite sour (I can only imagine what sort of attractive pucker face I made).  However, it adds a nice dimension to cake that was absent in the other pomegranate cupcakes that I made. I added some slivered almonds, but you could just as easily leave them out.

Pomegranate Molasses Cupcakes - Adapted from the NY Times - Makes 4 dozen mini-cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 T pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners.  
  2. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix together with a whisk and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and well-mixed. 
  4. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure that it's all getting mixed.
  5. Alternate adding the flour and the milk to the mixture in the large bowl.  
  6. Add in the molasses and mix well.
  7. If desired, stir in the almonds.
  8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full of batter and bake for 13-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  For regular-sized cupcakes, the baking time will be increased.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I decided to top these with a vanilla buttercream.  I thought that it would be too overwhelming to have the molasses in the frosting as well.

Vanilla Buttercream
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (approximately 1 lb) confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 T milk
  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time to the butter.  Beat until combined, and then mix on high speed for 15 seconds to keep the frosting nice and fluffy.
  3. Once all of the sugar has been mixed into the butter, add the vanilla.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve a desired consistency for spreading.

Lastly, I thought that it would be fun to put some pomegranate molasses on the almonds with some sugar as a little topping for the cupcakes.  It was easy to make, but the final product can get sort of sticky.

Pomegranate Molasses Almonds
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 4 tsp sugar
  1. In a small skillet on medium heat, add the almonds, molasses, and sugar.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the molasses and sugar coats the almonds.  Keep stirring until the sugar melts.  This should only take a couple of minutes. 
  2. Remove from heat and allow the almonds to cool on a plate or cookie sheet. 

I kept the almonds in a tupperware container until right before the cupcakes were served and then put a couple on each cupcake.  A nice tangy treat to top off the sweetness of the frosting.


I highly recommend giving these cupcakes a try if you can get your hands on some pomegranate molasses.  Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of the bottle....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Amaretto and Espresso


A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times had an article about how Chef Chole and her vegan cupcakes beat out the competition on Cupcake Wars.  I must admit, I love my Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World book - the recipes are delicious and no one eats them and says "are these vegan?"  Personally, I think that vegan cupcakes tend to be a lot more moist and flavorful.  

At any rate, I decided to give one of Chef Chloe's recipes a whirl.  She posted her winning recipe, raspberry tiramisu cupcakes, on her blog.  I was pretty excited about it, until the cake part came out dense like rocks.  I'm really not too sure what happened.  I threw them out and made the cake from Martha Stewart's tiramisu cupcakes (online here).  That cake comes out nice and spongy, perfect for drizzling the amaretto-espresso soaking syrup.  

The recipe is a lot of work, but I would definitely recommend checking it out here.  I topped them with some homemade chocolate hearts.  I don't drink coffee, so I didn't think that the cupcakes tasted great, but they were a huge hit with everyone else that ate them :)


Monday, September 27, 2010

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


I have been dying to use my kitchen torch since making the Baked Alaska cupcakes over the summer with Allie.     I decided to give it a go with Martha Stewart's lemon meringue cupcake recipe.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to make lemon curd from scratch, so I used some from the grocery store.

Before browning with the torch

I made them bite sized (bake for about 13-16 minutes in a mini-cupcake pan) for a fondue party that I attended.  Instead of coring out a portion of the cupcake and filling it with the lemon curd, I just spread it over the top with an offset spatula and put the meringue on top.  If you don't own a kitchen torch, you can place the cupcakes on the top rack with the oven on broil.  It will only take seconds for the meringue to brown so be sure to watch them carefully.


The duck cupcake liners are from Wilton and you can purchase them from their website here.


The lemon curd really stole the show, and that was the only part of the cupcake that I didn't make!  Oh well, at least they were still enjoyed :)



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