Saturday, December 31, 2011

Snowy Cupcakes

Other than one freak snowstorm before Halloween, it hasn't snowed all that much where I am living now (hey, this California girl isn't complaining!) but I decided to get in touch with the winter season by making some winter cupcakes by using edible wafer snowflakes and snowflake mini-cupcake liners.

The cupcake liners are from Wilton.  I bought them several years ago and I can't seem to find them for purchase anywhere online.  There are some different ones on Etsy for sale here that are very cute as a substitute.

I elected to make mini-cupcakes, because then each sprinkle really stood out.  The snowflake sprinkles themselves weren't really that tasty, however.  They sort of had a texture like styrofoam.

Stay warm, everyone!  If you're looking for something a little more New Year's Eve related, check out my champagne cupcakes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gingerbread House Decorating Party

As much as I love baking cupcakes, sometimes it's nice to try a little something different.  My former roommate from medical school came for a visit, so we decided to throw a gingerbread house decorating party.  I thought it would be a good idea to use a mold since I had about 16 people RSVP that they were coming.  I went with a Paula Deen mold.  The mold ensured that the pieces all came out the same side and had cute details that you wouldn't get by just cutting pieces.  However, each time you use the mold you only bake half of the house because you have to turn the mold over to make the second half of the house.  Also, you have to let the gingerbread cool in the mold for 20 minutes after you bake it!  Two molds would have made things faster.

As far as recipes, I used Wilton's everything gingerbread for the house and their royal icing recipe for the "glue" to decorate.  The royal icing uses meringue powder, which really makes it very easy to make the icing.  Because I didn't have time to make 16 gingerbread houses, we also whipped up some ninja cookies for people to decorate!

All in all, it was a great time.  Guests were asked to bring a bag of candy to decorate with an their creativity.  The party was two weeks ago and I am still nibbling on the leftover sweets!

Here are a couple of the houses people made:  


As wonderful as my house smelled all week.... I certainly won't feel the desire to make gingerbread anytime soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Surviving intern year and still baking!

I know.  It's been ages since I last updated. Things have been pretty busy with my residency training but I have been able to do a little baking.  One of the more recent things I made were ghost brownies.  Last year I found some Reynolds Ghost Baking Cups in the grocery store.  They remained stored away, hiding and ready to spook someone at any moment.  It's sometimes hard for my to use my cuter cupcake liners, but what better time to make ghost brownies than Halloween!  Besides, days on the hospital wards are so long and I thought everyone could use a treat.  The brownies themselves are actually vegan and there recipe is from and can be found here.  I elected to make them without nuts.  

I then topped the brownies with some regular vanilla frosting with chocolate chips for eyes and mouths (it's hard to be a scary ghost without a face you know).

Ghost being enjoyed by my attending

The brownies went over well, although I actually never tried them since the recipe only made 11 ghosts.  It was my first time making vegan brownies. 

What's your favorite Halloween treat?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mango, Orange and Cayenne Pepper Cake


Things sure have been busy recently, but I have been able to make time for a little fun.  Several of us went out on a friend's boat last weekend.  It was so nice to spend several hours in the sun relaxing!  As a thank you, I brought along a mango, orange, and cayenne pepper cake from the book CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch.I have baked a couple of things from the book before.  They are always really delicious but require several trips to the grocery store for unusual items like potato starch and vanilla powder.

I decided to try to try the "Sassy" pound cake from the book because I love mango. Mmmmm.... mango.  The first step to the recipe is to make a mango puree from scratch.  You could save a little time by buying the mango puree from the grocery store, but it's surprisingly easy to make and quite satisfying to know that everything in your cake is truly from scratch!

Mango Puree - printer friendly
  • 1 mango
  • 1/4 sugar
  1. Slice the mango into small pieces.
  2. Add mango and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain the fruit and save the syrup for another use (such as in frosting).
  5. Place the fruit in a food processor and puree until smooth.  
  6. You can keep the puree in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Now you are ready for the cake!  The true version of Sassy includes several different liqueurs and alcohol in it.  I decided to omit them (the cake book explains how) but I did keep some extra vanilla extract in the mix.  

Mango, Orange, and Cayenne Bunt Cake - Adapted from Cake Love - 
  • 2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup mango puree
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablepsoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and orange zest on low speed for 3-4 minutes.  If you have a standing mixeruse the paddle attachment to do this.
  3. Slowly add the eggs one at a time and mix well at low speed after each addition.  Add the egg yolks in this manner as well and mix until well combined.  Be sure to periodically scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Combine the flour, potato starch, salt, baking soda and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl and mix the contents with a whisk (the "dry ingredients").
  5. In a separate bowl, add the mango, sour cream, vanilla, and orange extract and mix together with a whisk (the "wet" ingredients).
  6. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the large bowl with the butter-sugar mixture.  Do this in a total of 5 steps (starting and ending with the dry ingredients) and mix after each addition, although the ingredients do not need to be completely mixed after each addition. This entire process should take about 60 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix well on medium speed after the final addition for about 20 seconds.
  7. Spray a 12-cup bunt pan with baking spray or coat with Wilton Cake Release
  8. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting and allowing the cake to rest on a plate or cooling rack until completely cool.

This cake has a nice orange flavor with some subtle mango notes in it.  I have to admit, I am not really sure if I tasted the cayenne pepper or not.  This bunt cake would be delicious without any sort of frosting, but I decided to add a mango Italian meringue buttercream frosting to give a little more mango flavor.  Italian meringue buttercream is a meringue-based frosting that has a very strong butter flavor to it (likely due to the large amounts of butter in it!) but not as sugary as more conventional buttercream.  Making this buttercream is a great way to use up some of that last mango puree and mango syrup that came from cooking the mango while making the mango puree.  If you don't have any of the syrup, you can try substituting mango juice.  The frosting isn't the easiest to make.  It requires boiling sugar syrup to a specific temperature with a candy thermometer. This is best made with a standing mixer.

Mango Italian Meringue Buttercream -  printer friendly version
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons mango puree
  • 2 tablespoons mango syrup
  1. Add the water and 1 cup of sugar to a saucepan and stir.  Place the candy thermometer in the saucepan and partially cover the bowl.  Put it on medium-high heat.and allow to boil until it reaches 245F (this may also be known as the "firm ball stage").  
  2. While you are waiting for the sugar syrup to get that hot, start making the meringue.  Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until you have stiff peaks.
  3. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the meringue while the mixer is still running on high speed.  Don't forget to check in on the sugar syrup!
  4. Once the sugar syrup is 245F, slowly pour the syrup into the meringue while the mixer is running on high speed. 
  5. After all of the sugar syrup has been added, reduce the speed to medium until the meringue is cooled.  Test the temperature of the meringue by touching the bottom of the mixing bowl.  This will take several minutes.
  6. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time to the cooled meringue mixture while on medium speed.  Once all of the butter has been added, increase the speed to high and mix for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the butter has been well mixed into the meringue.  
  7. Add the mango puree and syrup to taste.  Mix well after adding.

I looooove Italian meringue buttercream, mostly because it isn't that sugary.  I think that it really complimented the cake well.  It's a little unconventional to slice a bunt cake, but they did it in the CakeLove book so I thought I would give it a try.  The buttercream recipe made quite a bit, so I made it three layers. A very easy way to make layers is to use a wire leveler.


And there you have it: Mango, Orange, and cayenne pepper bunt cake with mango Italian meringue buttercream!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting


It seems that I am finally settled into my new house and life as an intern.  I moved an embarrassing number of boxes with baking supplies (let's just say more than 3, and that doesn't even count my KitchenAid!) I have been working hard as *Dr. Carly* (it's still so strange to introduce myself to people as doctor!) for the past couple of weeks.  Fortunately, I have had a little time to do some baking.  One of my co-interns doesn't eat eggs, so I have been baking a lot with my Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook.  It's been a nice opportunity to check out recipes I have been wanting to try for a long time.


You may recall that I have made chai cupcakes in the past.  Honestly, these are far superior.  No one will even guess that they are made without eggs.  They really taste like  chai tea.  I topped them off with some cinnamon frosting that really compliments them well.  I used Irish Breakfast tea as my black tea of choice due to its strong flavor.  Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you - these cuppies are well worth it!

Also, I have finally figured out how to make printer-friendly versions of my recipes!!! Printer friendly version here.

Chai Cupcakes - Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World - Makes 4 dozen mini
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line mini cupcake tin with paper liners
  2. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil.  Add the tea bags and cover.  Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, squeeze the remaining milk out of the tea bags.  Remeasure the milk and save one cup of it (drink the extra as a mid-baking pick-me-up!)
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla into a mixing bowl and mix until well combined.  
  4. Add the tea mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. In a medium bowl, add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper.  Mix with a whisk.
  6. Add the dry ingredients into the large mixing bowl.  Mix until well combined.
  7. Fill paper liners 2/3 full of batter.  Bake for 13-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
You'll want to eat them hot out of the oven, but try to wait and eat them with some of this delicious cinnamon frosting.

Cinnamon Frosting - Enough to cover 4 dozen mini cupcakes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you have added 2 cups.  Mix well after each addition. 
  3. Once you have added 2 cups of confectioner's sugar, add the milk and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Add the cinnamon, mix well.
  5. Add remaining confectioner's sugar to achieve desired consistency. If you accidentally add too much sugar and the frosting becomes dry, add a little more milk.  
And there you have it!  Chai tea in a cupcake.  


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brains, Microphones, and a Wedding


Do you remember Jess and Dan? You know, the engagement cupcakes that I made way back when?  They were happily married in May.  Jess is going to be a neurologist and Dan does sports broadcasting.  As a result, their cupcakes were ... wait for it.... half brains and half microphones! (see my prior post on brain cupcakes here)

getting ready to go to the venue!
All packed up and ready to go!

I made 300 of these babies in my home kitchen in California.  I thought it would be no big deal as I have made 300 cupcakes for a wedding before in my single oven in Michigan.  For some reason, this time was more stressful.  It probably had something to do with me not having my Kitchen-Aid mixer and fashioning 150 fondant microphones by hand.  In the end, I finished just in the nick of time before I had to pack them up and get them to the wedding!

There are dozens of more cupcakes under the table... shhhhh

All about 3 cupcakes made it safely.  It took about 40 minutes to set all of them up.  It took a lot of effort to make pretty patterns that fit on the massive cupcake stand.  The 36 hours of stress that led to the finished product was so worth it to see them all sitting happily on the cupcake stand waiting for the party.

bride and groom and cupcake
Me with the bride and groom

It was such a beautiful wedding and Dan and Jess seemed happy with the way the cupcakes turned out.  I think that the guests enjoyed them, too:

cupcake crazy

At the end of the night, there were plenty of left overs which we were going to save....

bride and tray of cupcakes

But sadly the container wasn't all that sturdy and eager hands caused the cupcakes to fall to their sad, smooshed frosting demise:


Poor cuppies.  Oh well - It was a fantastic time!


Thanks to Dan and Jess for letting me be such a big part of your special day :)  And you two can think of it as special edition cuppies - who knows when I will be able to make cupcakes for a wedding now that intern year has started.....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coconut Cupcakes


I made these chocolate coconut cupcakes several weeks ago to bring to dinner at a friend's new house.  It seemed like a lot of work to gather all of the ingredients: coconut oil, coconut extract, coconut milk, shredded coconut.  Okay, it really wasn't that much work, because I already had everything save the coconut extract.  I haven't really done much baking with coconut flavors other than adding toasted coconut as decoration.  


The recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I thought that the slight hint of coconut in the cupcake was really nicely balanced with the chocolate.  I attempted to make a chocolate coconut frosting, but I haphazardly just added some coconut extract.  Gross - coconut extract smells like artificial coconut (think Malibu rum) and too much of it has a chemical taste.  I should have just added some coconut milk! Oh well, lesson learned.


After sadly throwing away 4 cups of frosting, I made some vanilla buttercream and then topped the cupcakes with toasted coconut.  Deeeeeelish.  I wonder if it is possible to bake cake in half of a coconut shell.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cupcakes on an Island in the Sun


I was delighted when Ming (whose hands are so elegantly displayed in my Bollywood cupcake post) invited me to her small destination wedding in the US Virgin Islands.  I was inexpressibly touched and honored when she asked if I would make the cupcakes for her wedding.

st john
Ahhhhhh.... St. John

Numerous e-mail exchanges, Google Documents, and cupcake tastings later, we had all of the details worked out.  Chocolate cupcakes with Nutella filling and rosewater pistachio cupcakes.  Eight inch lemon cutting cake with raspberry filling.  Coral and teal frosting.  That all seemed easy enough.  The true challenge was getting everything to the USVI.  Luckily, Ming and Travis were generous enough to rent a villa for their friends so I would have access to a kitchen.  I didn't want to take any chances with not having the proper baking equipment there, so I checked two very heavy suitcases full of cupcake and cake tins, cooling racks, measuring cups, hand mixer (sadly, I could not take my standing mixer!), frosting tips, and plasticware to transport the baked goods.  Oh, and did I mention that food is very costly on a resort island?  I also took many pounds worth of sugar, flour, extracts, powdered sugar, spices, and more with me.  I basically was traveling with a makeshift kitchen.  I should have taken a picture of all the stuff that I dragged onto the airplane, but sadly I did not.  Just imagine me and my roommate with the largest suitcases your have ever seen on a ferry.


I used a special recipe from Wilton that is supposed to be for high humidity (found here).  What was great about the heat in the USVI was that it took a matter of minutes for butter to go from solid and cold to room temperature and soft.  I did work up quite a sweat in the kitchen trying to even out the icing on the cake.  In the end, it wasn't so bad not having my stand mixer, but not knowing where everything was and having a dozen people also trying to cook in the kitchen was a little stressful.  

cupcake by carly
Ming made this sign for me!

The wedding was beautiful (not even torrential rain downpour could have ruined the happy moment) and once the ceremony was over it was my job to set up the cupcakes.  Ming is quite crafty and made several of the cupcake stands.  Travis is also crafty - he made these adorable penguin cake toppers himself!  


I liked the simplicity of the layout that Ming used for her cupcakes.  It fit really well with the intimacy of the entire event.


And of course, I have to include a picture of the newlyweds:

ming and travis :)

So, all in all, making cupcakes for a wedding away from home wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Congratulations, Ming and Travis!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Baby Shower Cupcakes


I made these baby shower cupcakes a couple of weeks ago.  Half  were dulce de leche and half were chocolate.     


The cupcake liners and toppers were from a Baby Safari Animals cupake kit.  So cute!  The only bad thing about them was that they turned translucent after being baked.  


These pre-made cupcake kits are so popular now.  It does make the whole selection of wrappers and topper easier :)


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