Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gift Bags, Tea Towels & Books, oh my!!


I was in Target this afternoon and came across some fun stuff. I love the darling cupcake collection items they have. I really like the tea towels - the alligator is for my little guy. I picked up some napkins and paper plates. The cupcake collection extends into the gift department with gift bags, candles that smell really delicious! Chocolate, strawberry and mini-cupcakes in assorted scents. I found another new book Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

I included my other book Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans. They are filled with so many wonderful ideas!

Happy baking!
Best!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cupcakes, Fairy Cakes & Tub Cakes!


So, so cute!! What a fun, darling way to plan a cupcake party with your closest friends. Invite them over with these sweet invitations from Williams-Sonoma.


So sweet! It will be difficult to decide which will be cuter - the cupcake frame or your sweetie.


Check this out! Who wouldn't want to step inside your door with this door mat beckoning you to come inside? This charming cupcake doormat is made of hard wearing coir - it will make you popular!


In Britain cupcakes are called "fairy cakes" - which is an impossibly sweet name! This absolutely gorgeous fairy cake umbrella for only $19.50 is available here. It has a light blue background with rows of yummy frosted cupcakes on top as far as the eye can see. In addition, the umbrella is enormous with a very sturdy wooden handle, so there isn't a gale-force wind in the world that could turn this beauty inside out.


A new meaning to "getting your mouth washed out with soap!" Bubbles and Cocoa Butter in a cupcake shaped bath treat! Each tubcake contains lots of cocoa butter and make fun bubbles for the bath. Just toss one under running water for a yummy bath time. Wrapped in a clear box with satin ribbon perfect for gift giving ($19 from the Soap Cafe).

Happy shopping!

Best!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Week 5: Childhood is Calling: Yellow Cupcakes with Thick Fudge Frosting


Hi friends! Childhood is calling. It is time for "comfort food" cupcake style! I am certain when this batch comes in to work with me everyone will be transported to their childhood - or at least to sticky fingers and chocolate mustaches - from childhood.

I have tried several yellow batter recipes but I like this recipe for yellow cupcake batter the best for two reasons 1) A larger quantity of canola oil replaces the need for butter in this recipe (heart healthy!) 2) The sour cream makes the cupcakes extremely moist. Because honestly, to me, there is nothing worse than a lovely decorated cupcake which tastes dry and flat. It is such a let down. I prefer to eat a cupcake that tastes as good as it looks. And that includes a moist, flavorful cupcake. The icing recipe came from Cupcakes! and after trying it out first - I must admit, it is very delicious.

Enjoy your memories ~ or ~ maybe you are making new ones. Either way, rest assured it's okay to lick the bowl!

Best!

Yellow Cupcake Batter

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees.

2. Line cupcake pans or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment or beaters, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thickened and lightened to a cream color. Beat for about 2 minutes on MEDIUM-HIGH speed. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl while your mixing.

5. Blend in the oil and vanilla. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain.

6. Mix in the flour mixture alternating with the milk until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
(As pictured below)



7. Spoon batter into cupcake cups. Bake 20 - 23 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

8. VERY IMPORTANT to let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

This is a very basic recipe for fudge frosting from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans. I have come to learn sometimes, less is more! Although, I must admit this frosting makes you want more, more, more. In the event you are truly transported to your childhood, it would be best to make mini-cupcakes ~ then you can pretend it's a "fun-sized" cupcake. Enjoy!

Sticky Fudge Frosting
From Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Put the chocolate, butter, milk and salt in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler.
(Mixture will look as the picture below when first combined.)



2. Continue stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter are melted.

3. Stir for about 5 minutes total over the double boiler until frosting is thick and smooth. After you remove the mixture from the double boiler, add the vanilla.

4. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until the frosting thickens further, about 2 minutes.
(Frosting should look thick and smooth as pictured below)


5. Once the frosting has cooled to lukewarm, frost completely cooled cupcakes immediately. The frosting will firm up in about an hour at room temperature.


These taste so yummy with a tall glass of milk!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chocolate Cupcake Apron

UPDATE: THIS ITEM SOLD OUT ON 02/08/2008


UPDATE: THIS ITEM SOLD OUT ON 02/08/2008

Because, really cupcake lovers, have you seen anything cuter than this darling flirty apron recently? I should be baking, or frosting, or eating something in a tiny paper wrapper... but alas, I decided I would like to have a new apron to do my baking in instead. So friends, I am sharing my new find with you on Etsy. Take a peek. Just be sure to leave one for me!

Best!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Valentine's Day Cupcake Goodies


Cafepress website has such a HUGE selection of cupcake products, there are just too many to list!! Type "CUPCAKE" in the search window and you will see over 2,000 products or "VALENTINE CUPCAKE" to see some really sweet cuppies. These are a few of my favorites. If you are looking for some fun Valentine's Day gifts for the cupcake lover in your life... well take your pick! Aprons, throw pillows, coasters, posters & mini posters, greeting cards, magnets and mouse pads, t-shirts, hoodies, tank tops, spaghetti strap tank tops... seriously the list is endless. You have to see it for yourself.

You can get framed cupcake tiles , sweet little party invitations and notecards, adorable Valentine's Day themed cherub products, postcards, scrumptious greeting cards, darling little birthday junior t-shirts and onesies, cupcake totebags. Take a peek - you will enjoy the selections!

Pucker up! I saw this fun lip balm set ($18) on All Things Cupcake and just had to share!!

Best!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cupcake or Muffin?


(Picture by Cakespy)

I love chocolate chip muffins. When I make them or buy them, inevitably someone will ask "Hey, is that a cupcake or a muffin?" It is humorous to see people's expressions when you ask this very simple question. But, seriously!? - is it a cupcake or is it a muffin?

Is a muffin merely a vessel on which all yummy icing travels and then is called a "cupcake" ~ or ~ can muffins harmoniously coexist with lusciously coated cupcakes and remain individual entities?

The quick-and-dirty answer on this is that cupcakes have frosting, whereas muffins do not. However, in researching, I found an excellent formulaic definition of the difference courtesy of Diana's Desserts "A basic formula for muffins is 2 cups flour, 2-4 tablespoons sugar, 2½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 egg, ¼ cup oil, shortening or butter and 1 cup milk. When the fat, sugar and egg ratio in a recipe reaches double or more than this, you have reached the cake level.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Week 4: Coconut Lime Cupcakes



I must tell you how much I love this recipe!! I was in the mood for key lime pie and wondered how I could make one of my favorite desserts into a cupcake. I searched a bit, then looked on "Way More Than 52 Cupcakes" the Cupcake Queen's website and was not disappointed by what I found!

When I lived in Savannah, Georgia, I used to eat Key Lime Pie all the time! I would run from one end of River Street to the other in search of just the perfect slice of Key Lime Pie. Which, any one who knows the charming city of Savannah, Georgia, knows that can be quite a challenge with all the darling restaurants along the way!

This recipe, however, is a bit different than a key lime pie. Naturally, you say. It's a cupcake! The dense, moist coconut cupcake has lime curd on top of it and is then sprinkled with more light flaky coconut on top. Then a sweet, tart blackberry right on top. The lime curd adds a fresh bite to the subtle flavor of the coconut cupcake. I have never made cupcakes in this way before. You will see what I mean, by the cooking instructions; you must soak the coconut in coconut milk, then add it to the butter and sugar before mixing in the other ingredients.

Overall, the recipe is a delight. The finished product looks lovely and tastes very refreshing! I hope you will enjoy making this and share your comments with me.

Best!



Coconut Cupcakes

3/4 cup shredded coconut
1-1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 egg
3 egg whites
2-3/4 cups cake flour (Pillsbury Softasilk Cake Flour works well)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cups sugar

NOTE: The coconut milk used in this recipe is "unsweetened" coconut milk. You can find it in the Thai/Oriental or Specialty Food section of your grocery store. The coconut milk you find along with the drink mixes has been sweetened and will not work with this recipe.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare the cupcake pans with nonstick spray. If you want the cupcakes to have smooth sides, don't use baking cups.

3. Soak the coconut in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk. Set aside.

4. Combine the remaining cup of coconut milk with the egg and egg whites.
(Mixture will look creamy as pictured below)



5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

6. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the soaked coconut.

7. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the flour mixture in two parts. Between additions, mix thoroughly and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
(Final batter will look pale and lumpy as pictured below)



8. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, filling approximately halfway.

9. Bake 20 to 23 minutes, until the tops are starting to get light brown color on top. Oven cooking times vary so be sure to keep an eye on cupcakes and take out once a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
(I had to bake cupcakes 22 minutes until they got to this color, pictured below)



10. Let the cupcakes rest a couple of minutes in the pans, before turning them out onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before icing.

11. Make the Lime Curd and spread it on your cupcakes.

12. Top with more coconut and a blackberry!



Lime Curd

1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 3 limes
Green food coloring
Zest of 1 lime
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

1. Put the water in a small mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it to soften.

2. In a heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to blend thoroughly.

3. Whisk in the lime juice.

4. Place the saucepan on medium heat. Stirring constantly (but not vigorously) with a wooden spoon, cook the mixture until it begins to steam and thicken. When you can draw your finger across the curd on the back of the stirring spoon and the line stays without dripping, take it off the heat.

5. Strain the curd into the mixing bowl with the gelatin, and whisk to incorporate.

6. Add one or two drops of green food coloring until you reach the desired pale green.

7. Add the zest and butter, and whisk until the butter is melted and everything is an even color.

8. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until the lime curd has thickened for a spreadable consistency.



Monday, January 21, 2008

Onward with the challenge

I have been challenged for the remainder of this year to come up with a cupcake a week. I am posting to all cupcake lovers of the world - you are now on notice! The Cupcakery is jumping on the yummy bandwagon and spending the remainder of this year working on this challenge!

I will post my recipes and pictures, and share my experiments. I just love a challenge!

Best!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Week 3: Chocolate Cupcakes with Double Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Hi friends! Another day, another cupcake! This was a little experiment I tried for my little guy today ~ we are both chocolate afficianados ~ or at least have a higly appreciative nature for chocolate. I am trying to tweak my chocolate ganache frosting as it is a work in progress.

Ganache is a rich mixture of chocolate and cream which can be used as a frosting or filling. Depending on how you use it, different ratios of chocolate to cream are used. You can create anything from a light glaze to a dense standalone truffle. Oh the things we can create! Although ganache is very rich and luxurious, it is very easy to make, and worth adding to your baking repertoire.

If you have any suggestions as to how I can make mine better - I welcome your comments!

Best!



Chocolate Cupcake Batter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract; mix batter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about one-third full. The batter really rises so do not fill above two-thirds full, otherwise cups will overflow. Bake until the tops spring back when touched or a toothpick come out clean from the center when tested, about 17-20 minutes.

Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and let them cool completely.



Chocolate Ganache Frosting

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, then pour cream over the chopped chocolates. Let mixture sit for 1 minute then stir until combined. Add stick of butter to the chocolate and stir until everything is melted and combined.

Whisk together sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in another bowl until combined. Pour the sugar mixture onto the chocolate mixture and stir until combined and smooth. Let sit at room temperature until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes once completely cooled.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Week 2: Banana Center Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting


I made these lovely cupcakes for my friends birthday. I am a bit old fashioned and sometimes tend to do things the long way -- but only because I enjoy the challenge of trying to make things taste as heavenly as they look and sound!

The challenge in this project, for me, was making the combination of moist chocolate cake and flavorful, old fashioned banana cream pudding with a zing of sugary buttercream frosting - in a lovely cupcake wrapper without having too much of a good thing thus causing overkill!

I made several test batches with a few options (ie., different combinations of icing, pudding center, etc.) and I think this final batch was just the right amount! I hope you enjoy the pictures and try the recipe as much as I enjoyed making them!

Best!


Double Chocolate Cupcake Batter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup best-quality cocoa
1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
1 pkg. mini semi-sweet morsels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl and beat in the softened butter until you have a creamy mixture. Whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs. Beat into your bowl of mixture. Add mini-morsels and fold into the batter.

Divide the batter among cupcake cups and bake approximately 17-24 minutes. Depending on your oven. Check with a toothpick. When toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done!

VERY IMPORTANT to let cupcakes cool completely! Once the cupcakes are cooled, pipe in the banana pudding and frost!



Banana Pudding Center

For ease - whip up a box of Sugar-Free or Regular Jello Banana Cream Pudding Mix and fill cupcakes once they are completely cooled.


Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract


Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
6-7 cups confectioner's sugar
6-8 Tbsp. whole milk or half and half cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter until very fluffy. Add part of the sugar and salt and beat again. Continue adding sugar and milk in small batches, alternately, beating until very fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

I recommend Wilton gel colors. The gels will not reduce your frostings and the colors are very vibrant.



Monday, January 14, 2008

Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries


I made this on Christmas Eve to take to my Aunt and Uncle's house. Let me tell you - it was divine! An advance warning, it is an involved recipe and somewhat time consuming, but well worth the end result! It would behoove you to let the torte stay in the freezer overnight. Otherwise, you will get a very nice crust but runny center. (I speak from experience on that one!) The cranberry topping is so luscious. Wait until you are ready to serve before putting on the cranberry topping and chocolate curls.

The Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries is truly a lovely dessert. Aside from the "Ooohs and aaahs!" I received when everyone saw it on the pedestal - the torte looks gorgeous when you take the springform pan off; you might not want to cut into it!! When you do -- you will be thankful for all your efforts, as will your guests.

Now if I could only figure out how to make this into mini-cupcakes!

Best!

UPDATE: I made this recipe Christmas (2007) to bring to Christmas Eve dinner at my familys home. I first saw the recipe on the Bon Apetit website and was mesmerized by the cranberries and white chocolate; then knew with the Grand Marnier this recipe was a winner! Epicurious has since posted the recipe and it is available here. I have listed the ingredients and directions for this absolutely delicious dessert below which come directly from Epicurious. Many thanks to Epicurious and my readers!

Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust
1 9–ounce package chocolate wafer cookies
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chilled sour cream
5 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Spiced Cranberries Topping
1/2 cup ruby Port
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, partially thawed, divided

White chocolate curls (optional)

To make the crust: Finely grind cookies, chips, and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; blend until wet crumbs form. Set aside 1/2 cup crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of 9–inch–diameter springform pan with 2 3/4–inch–high sides.

To make the filling: Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set over saucepan of simmering water and whisk vigorously until candy thermometer registers 175°F, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add spices. Using mixer, beat until thick and cool, about 5 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, sour cream, Grand Marnier, orange juice concentrate, and grated orange peel in large bowl until peaks form. Add egg yolk mixture and fold together. Pour 2/3 of filling into crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumb mixture. Gently spoon remaining filling over. Cover; freeze overnight or up to 3 days.

To make the spiced cranberry topping: Whisk Port and cornstarch in large skillet to blend. Add sugar, honey, and spices. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, stirring often. Add 3 cups cranberries; cook until mixture boils and cranberries begin to pop but still hold shape, about 5 minutes. Mix in remaining 2 cups cranberries. Chill topping at least 6 hours or overnight.

Release pan sides from torte. Transfer torte to platter. Spoon topping over filling. If desired, garnish torte with white chocolate curls.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Week 1: Grassy Football Cupcakes


My son turned 8 years old on January 5th and he happens to be one of the biggest New England Patriots fans, I know. When I asked him what kind of cupcakes he wanted me to bring into school for his little class party, it did not take long for him to answer me "Can you make footballs, Mommy?" Pictured above is the creation I found to make just for him.


I frosted the cupcake in a chocolate buttercream first and dyed a buttercream with Wilton Gel "green" to make the "grass" around the chocolate. I then piped the edges with white for the laces. If the frosting gets too runny, add some more powdered sugar to make the frosting more stiff.

Best!

Basic Chocolate Batter Recipe

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and slowly whisk in wet ingredients. Pour into cupcake cups, bake 17 minutes. When toothpick comes out clean cupcakes are ready.

It is important to allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting with buttercream.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome

I have been a devoted baker since I was tall enough to peer over a kitchen counter. I had an EZ-Bake oven when I was smaller and I suppose you could say my passion grew from there! I remember learning how to make cinnamon rolls with my mother on a cold winter day, and watching my grandmothers make tried and true family favorites which always delighted everyone. My aunt showed me how to make the "secret family recipe" for pie crusts which encircles the most delicious apple pie you will ever taste - but yet I have noticed cupcakes always bring the same familiar glee to the face of anyone who sees a tray of them.

While there is nothing new about cupcakes, they have taken on a more modern apeal. Thus, I have created, experimented and been inspired by many. I continue to try and bring happiness, one cupcake at a time! My friends have been encouraging me to share my creations. Hopefully this blog with my experiments will inspire you too.


Happy New Year!