Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


Hi friends! It is Memorial Day; a day off, a day to sleep in and ignore the alarm clock. In New York it has been a beautiful, sunny, balmy day. Many of us are celebrating out on a boat, picnicking or just BBQ-ing at our homes with family and friends. Sharing good food, friendship and the fact that we have an extra day away from work.

The reality is, while an extra day off from work is always an awesome thing, Memorial Day has a little bit deeper meaning to those who know or are affiliated with the military. It is a day set aside to remember those men and women of our military who have given their lives in the service of their country and for the freedom it embodies. For over 200 years Americans have given the supreme sacrifice for our country and today we remember!

I have learned the best way to make a difference, is just to say thank you. Thank a veteran or a service member. If you are not the "type" to approach someone because you just do not know what to say or how to show your gratitude; check out a really cool way to say THANK YOU to our service members.

I made several dozen of these very moist and yummy Red Velvet cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting for Memorial Day. Thank you to all of the service members and families who sacrifice and go without, so that we may have the freedoms we do! I would say that comes from the bottom of my heart, but for service members my heart has no bottom!

Best!


Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

6. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla.

7. Add to the batter and beat well.

8. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk.

9. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

10. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well.

11. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

12. Divide the batter among the cupcake cups. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

13. VERY IMPORTANT: Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 3 cups

12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 brick (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar

*Optional Shake Up for this frosting*
Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Fold in up to 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy for a crunchy and creamy frosting


1. Melt the white chocolate in a medium bowl over a double boiler on the stove top. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine.

3. Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds.

4. If you decide to add the peppermint extract do so at this point, otherwise, skip to step 5.

5. Add the confectioners' sugar and blend on low until the sugar is incorporated for a few more seconds then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy. Approximately 2 more minutes.

6. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioner's sugar if needed to make the frosting able to be piped.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Week 20: "Southern Charm with Northern Exposure" Carrot Cupcake Deliciousness with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting Topped with Toasted Coconut


Hi friends! Boy oh boy, do I love to eat! Before we were all worried about "Y2K" and the new millennium, I was living in the charming city of Savannah, Georgia. A city which not only has the BEST key lime pie ever (in my opinion) but has remained a city untouched by the outside world yet is still as welcoming as the "Waving Girl" who is Savannah's symbol of hospitality.

One of the many things I love about Savannah, Georgia, is the very proud way the city clings to its heritage in every aspect. There were many afternoons I spent at the Gryphon Tea Room with girlfriends or wandering through the azaleas in Forsyth Park with my little guy. There are simply too many landmarks to name, but a popular landmark is the gorgeous fa├žade of the Mercer House (from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) surrounded by lilacs and wrought iron gates. Another staple in Savannah are the SCAD (Savannah College of Arts and Design) students walking through the park and drawing in chalk on the sidewalk under canopies of enormous Live Oak trees. If there is ever a place that not only enjoys their food, they enjoy and promote the heritage of their food! Lord knows, I have eaten my way up and down River Street appreciating that heritage!!!

City Market is also a fabulous place to go along with all the shops in Factors Walk. Factors Walk was once used by cotton merchants to store cotton but now has some of the most unique shops you have ever seen. There are troves of galleries, antique shops and charming boutiques. I loved, loved, loved walking through there! Does anyone know of any cupcake shops there now?

How did you like my trip down memory lane? With that... I thought I would share my take on a truly Southern recipe I enjoyed from a bakery I used to go to waaaaay back in 1998 called Magnolia's. This "Yankee" was first introduced to Red Velvet Cake and all sorts of Southern delights in this delightful, unassuming little bakery. I used to work at a newspaper across the street from the bakery. Everyday for lunch I used to go to Magnolia's and find a "sweet treat" behind the glass casings.

As "Northern" as this recipe might be, something happens when you cross the Mason Dixon Line! I have tweaked this recipe just a bit by adding the raisins. I use both dark raisins and golden delicious. You are getting a mini version of what I would eat once a week! A tangy, robust Southern carrot cupcake with a luscious pineapple cream cheese frosting and topped off with toasted coconut.

Oh. My. Gosh. It is delicious!

Best!

Carrot Cupcake Deliciousness
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 to 4 medium carrots)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8 ounces) well drained crushed pineapple
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 cup raisins (or golden raisins)

1. Preheat oven at 350° degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients; stir to blend.

3. Add eggs, oil, shredded carrots, and vanilla; beat until well blended.

4. Stir in pineapple, coconut, and 1/2 cup of the pecans and raisins.

5. Spoon into cupcake liners with small ice cream scooper. Bake 18 - 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

6. VERY IMPOPRTANT to cool completely before frosting.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 brick (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice

1. Combine cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer.

2. Alternate powdered sugar and pineapple juice and beat mixture for 5 minutes until fluffy.

3. Add Wilton gel food coloring "Peach" until pastel color is achieved. Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

Week 19: Vanilla Cupcakes topped with a Vanilla Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting a slow Caramel Drizzle and Macadamia Nuts


Hi friends! This recipe is mouthwatering for many reasons you know I will share! It is a vanilla cupcake with a vanilla coffee cream cheese frosting a slow caramel drizzle and then sprinkled with macadamia nuts! Not only does this little beauty look divine, but also the flavor is bursting from the cupcake liner!

I am so proud of how sweet and pretty these cupcakes turned out because I baked them in the loveliest baking cups from Fancy Flours called Muffincino. The cups are sturdy and firm Panettone paper, brown colored with gold print. They looked so, so cute! I made a "test batch" of these cuppies earlier in the week and took them to work to see what kind of response I would get. It was overwhelmingly positive! The savory combination of vanilla coffee cream cheese frosting, caramel and macadamia nuts on a light vanilla cupcake was taste bud ecstasy! (Wow, that sounds dramatic!) Trust me though; it was a definite eye rolling experience!

When I was living in the Middle East, one of my favorite things to do was to venture into the spice souqs and learn about all the different varieties of spices available! I can remember walking through the alley and walkways heavy with incense and seeing mounds of overflowing, colored herbs and spices in jute and burlap sacks. There were all sorts of exotic spices and everyday spices, but I always found something delicious to bring home and experiment with. I really miss that!

With this cupcake recipe I wanted to have a richer and cleaner flavor with the vanilla. I have used vanilla bean pods and different kinds of vanilla extracts. This time I went to one of my favorite stores and found Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Powder. Grinding whole dried vanilla beans until powdery produces vanilla powder. The advantage to vanilla powder is it can be added to warm liquids and the vanilla flavor will not evaporate as it does with extracts. It is absolutely delicious! The enhanced vanilla flavor which came through in the cupcakes was very rich and the uber decadent frosting could not have been better!

The slow caramel drizzle and macadamia sprinkling as the final accoutrement was really exceptional! I hope you will try this recipe and enjoy it as much as I did! Let me know your thoughts!

Best!

Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
3 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Powder

1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and add the sugar gradually. Beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

5. Spoon the batter with a small ice cream scooper into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.

6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

7. Cool the cupcakes for 15 minutes. Remove from the muffin pan and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

1 brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 Confectioner's Sugar
2 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Powder
3-4 Tbsp. fresh brewed coffee, room temperature

1. Combine cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, mix ingredients until smooth.

2. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, vanilla powder and alternate coffee until mixture becomes thick and fluffy.

3. Beat frosting for approximately 5 minutes.

4. Very important to frost cupcakes once they are completely cooled!

5. Once cupcakes are frosted, drizzle with caramel ice cream topping. I made a "W" up and down, and then another "W" from left to right.

6. Sprinkle lightly with chopped macadamia nits.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Housekeeping: What happened to The Cupcakery?

Hi friends! I know it has been quite a few days since my last posting. Let me tell you what happened; somehow my computer got infected with 5 Trojan Horses and my whole system crashed on me. *groan* The weirdest part is the virus came from my digital camera! What a mess! *groan* Fortunately I took my computer to "the professionals" and now it is cleaned up and feeling better.

I must tell you, eventhough I have been offline I have been baking twice as much! I have some catching up to do here. Thanks for your patience and I promise you will really love what I have been up to!

Best!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Housekeeping: Meaningful Giving to Mother's Around the World


Hi friends! Mother's Day is this Sunday, May 11th. Mother's Day celebrates Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Sisters, and all of those women who are "Like a Mom", adoptive Mother's, and anyone who loves and nurtures. I have always believed in "Six Degrees of Separation" and with the terrible horror of Cyclone Nargis to hit Myanmar (Burma) recently I got to thinking of all the Mothers affected by this event. Every day there are so many tragedies on different scales, which affect at least one person, or someone we know. It can make us feel helpless; but helpless does not mean hopeless. We just have to know where to look. I have a standing section on the blog which I call "Meaningful Giving" these are just a few of the many worthy causes out there which benefit from empathy.

I am a mom and I can tell you my little guy is what makes my heart feel like it is just a little bigger in my chest. I would do anything for him. I know this is a "Cupcake Website" and I really try to stick to "Cupcakes." With Mother's Day coming up, I thought you would like to know of wonderful ways to give back and help "Mothers" around the world or right here in the United States. I have listed several organizations including Fisher House for Military Families which is very dear to me, a wonderful organization giving back not only to service members but taking care of military families. Global Giving to help around the world or designate programs right here in the US! I encourage you to look at the "Mother's Day Menu" - it is really amazing how many ways you can help. You can choose ~ but whatever you choose, give from your heart. Should you decide to bake a batch of your favorite cupcakes and take them to a women's shelter, I promise you will not only bring warm smiles you will feel really good about yourself! And that's a good thing! We are all connected by six-degrees of separation!

Best!


Fisher House Supporting America's military in their time of need, we provide "a home away from home" that enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury. To learn more, click here.


This Mother's Day the Global Fund for Women is encouraging everyone to support companies who donate a portion of their sales to the GFW. Money you spend on music, clothing, cosmetics and organic flowers to supports grant money to help teach women how to bake! With a $10,000 grant from the Global Fund, 100 refugees can be trained in the skills they need to run businesses in sewing, computer science and baking.

I always knew a cupcake could change the world! One at a time!


Global Giving The devastating Myanmar Cyclone Nargis has killed over 62,000 people, and thousands are still missing. A state of emergency has been declared in five regions: the capital city of Yangon, Irrawaddy, Pegu and the states of Karen and Mon. There is massive flooding, power loss, and damage to houses and other buildings. Support short-term relief and longer-term rebuilding efforts through these projects. Check out the Mother's Day Menu to find out how to help Mother's around the world, or right in the United States.


UNICEF Inspired Gifts is an innovative program that allows you to purchase real, lifesaving products--like bednets and vaccines--to be shipped directly to one of over 150 countries where UNICEF is saving children's lives.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Winners; Mother's Day Memory Cookbook Give Away

Hi friends! Before I announce the winners, I would like to say thank you to all of you who have been reading and stopping by on a daily basis! One of my favorite things about reading other blogs is the way I feel when I arrive on their sites. The familiar layouts and delicious pictures I know are waiting. This is why I keep going back! I feel like the authors have become my friends; like I have known them a long time. I look forward to all the comments you leave for me. I am almost giddy each time I see there is a new comment waiting... so thank you to those of you who leave them for me. I am looking forward to hearing from more of you in the future! If you did not enter this contest, I will have more coming up!

The winners of The Cupcakery Mother's Day Memory Cookbook Give Away were selected from Random.org's list randomizer. The winners are:

Dolce Deluca: I love this! What a great way to honor Mom's and like-Mom's everywhere :) My favorite memory of being in the kitchen with my Mom is they day she taught me how to make Italian sauce... which is my Great-Great-Grandma's recipe from Sicily. There are four generations currently alive: me, my Mom, Grandma and Great Grandma. We all make it a little bit different but its all from the same place. I hope to have a daughter one day so I can teach it to her.

XQueen of CupcakesX: I remember being in the kitchen with my mom as a kid making Apple Pies. You know, the kids always get the not-so-fun jobs like peeling the apples but I learned how to make them the same way...just as my gram did and to this day I still use the same recipe. Memories like those are the reason I love baking today. :)

and last but certainly not least,

Brittany: When I was growing up, Mom made a lot of homemade cookies. Our kitchen wasn't huge, so she would store them in plastic containers that she would stick in the oven. Once evening while making dinner, we began to smell something funny. After investigating, we discovered that Mom had preheated her oven without checking it. The result? A bizarre sculpture-like mass of melted plastic and cookies dripping off of the oven rack. My sister and I couldn't stop laughing - and we still tease her about it.

The best part, however, is the fact that Mom did this THREE different times before she finally decided to find a different way to store cookies! :)

Congratulations friends!
Please send me an email to the.cupcakery(at)yahoo(dot)com

Best!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

LAST DAY to Enter the "Mother's Day Memory Cookbook Give Away!"

Hi friends! Don't forget to enter the "Mother's Day Memory Cookbook Give Away" by May 7th for a chance to win 3 fabulous prizes!

To enter your comments and get more details click here. I want to hear your stories!

Best!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Week 18: Orange Crush: Orange Cupcakes Filled with Orange Apricot Marmalade Topped with Citrus Buttercream Frosting and a Mandarin Orange


Hi friends! If you like citrus, in particular a combination of apricot orange marmalade in the center of a moist orange cake and topped off with a creamy citrus buttercream and a juicy mandarin orange. You will really like this cupcake. I was in the grocery store and saw a can of Mandarin Oranges which were my inspiration this week! Plump apricots were lined up in the produce department with their soft downy skin and apricot hue just begging for me to pick them up and bring them home with me.

I love spring time because all the colors come alive and I want to capture that essence in everything I am cooking. This cupcake was delicious and bright! I love that! I am so happy spring is here.

Best!

Orange Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup orange juice (Recommend Tropicana with Pulp)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. grated orange zest

1. Preheat oven 350° degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In another large bowl with a stand mixer, mix together sugar, orange juice, eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil.

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until moistened.

5. Fold in the orange zest.

6. Divide batter into cupcake liners and bake 17-21 minutes, depending on your oven. Cupcakes are ready when toothpick inserted into the center come out clean.

7. VERY IMPORTANT to let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Orange Apricot Marmalade

1. Good quality Apricot Orange marmalade. Spoon or pipe into the center of completely cooled cupcakes.

2. Be careful marmalade does not clog piping tip.

Citrus Buttercream

8 oz. (2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. whole milk
3 tsp. pure orange extract
2 Tbsp. plus plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.

2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, orange extract, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

4. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.

5. Continue beating on high speed for 3 minutes.

6. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.