Sunday, October 28, 2012
These festive cupcake wrappers have been waiting a year for this. I received them for my October birthday last year, and once Halloween passed, I had no further opportunity to use them...until now!
I had been baking pumpkin-based treats all Halloweek, my favorite of which are pumpkin scones, so I was ready for a different flavor in these cupcakes. I googled "cute Halloween cupcakes" and came across this beautiful blog post. The recipe is very simple, consisting of kitchen staples, and was easy to complete within a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon. The only change I made was to use a #21 Wilton decorating tip rather than a 1M. I rarely use American buttercream frosting (as the recipe calls for) because it is so sweet, but I have to admit it was convenient to be able to leave these cupcakes at room temperature until they went to work with me the next morning.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
When I heard that my best friend would be visiting me from out-of-state during her son's birthday, I knew it was time to acquire my second character cake pan - an Elmo face! Wilton makes two Elmo pans, this one and full Elmo holding birthday accessories. Sadly, the second one is out of print and can only be found used. However, the cake above was a beautifully simple one to decorate.
The inside is funfetti - just add rainbow sprinkles to your favorite vanilla cake recipe before baking! For the frosting, I used a shortening/butter combination to make an American buttercream. American buttercream is packed with sugar and tends to be a bit too sweet for my taste, but it holds color and shape well on a cake, and it is a favorite of children. I liked how the #18 star piping made his face look furry, just like in real life.
Our greatest difficulty was deciding where to place the candle. There is really no logical location on Elmo's face, so we just stuck it on his cheek in the end. The baby loved the cake and made many attempts to hug Elmo when we sat him near the cake to take a few photos.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Each batch of cupcakes ends up looking crazier than the last, but I can't resist a cupcake challenge! This one was to make three different kinds of chocolate cupcakes for a friend's birthday. I started with an identical chocolate base for each - a moist and easy recipe containing rich Ghiradelli cocoa and a splash of buttermilk. The frostings all started out the same as well, as my bff (best frosting friend) Swiss meringue buttercream. I didn't really have much direction on how much flavoring to add to each because of the unusual ingredient ratios, so we just went by taste. Luckily two of my neighbors smelled the cupcakes and came up to help (thanks, Michelle and Mandy! ;) ) The vanilla frosting was flavored by the contents of a vanilla bean, the strawberry frosting contains freshly pureed strawberries, and the chocolate frosting was made by adding melted semisweet chocolate to the bowl until the mixture tasted right. We chose the fillings to correlate with the frostings and ended up with:
chocolate cupcake / Nutella filling / chocolate frosting / crushed cocoa almonds / mini marshmallow halves
chocolate cupcake / strawberry filling / strawberry frosting / chocolate sprinkles / strawberry pieces
chocolate cupcake / raspberry filling / vanilla bean frosting / chocolate shavings / raspberries
Of course these were mini cupcakes, because minis are cuter, and because it is easier for people to try multiple flavors when each cake is just a nibble. I varied the heights of the piped frosting by flavor so that once the toppings were applied, the finished products were roughly the same height for some sense of uniformity.
Until the next cupcake challenge...
Until the next cupcake challenge...
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Happy birthday, Mini! These were so much fun to make. I took them to work for a dear friend's birthday - her nickname is actually Mini, so of course I chose miniature cupcakes for her. Upon interrogation, she voted down chocolate, citrus, or mint flavor involvement. Berries were still in the game, and the bright, juicy raspberries at the grocery store this week made my decision. A plain vanilla cupcake base contains homemade raspberry filling (pureed raspberries and a little sugar heated slowly and then cooled to set). The tops are where we got creative - I made a batch of Swiss meringue buttercream, very lightly flavored vanilla, which was split into two bowls. One received the seeds of a vanilla bean, and the other received the remaining strained raspberry puree. I piped the frosting on with a small star tip. The outer decorations were again designed and applied by my lovely friend Michelle. So we ended up with vanilla cupcakes with raspberry filling, topped with vanilla bean or raspberry-vanilla frosting, adorned with fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings or rainbow sprinkles! The three dozen I presented were gone within an hour among a fairly health-conscious assembly of physicians, and more importantly, the birthday girl enjoyed them. I think I'll be making these again!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Geaux Tigers! These were made for the LSU/Alabama championship game a few weeks ago (the outcome of which is irrelevant on a cake blog.) They are double chocolate cupcakes with a raspberry filling, topped with almond Swiss meringue buttercream. The cupcakes are made with both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the batter - a touch of brewed coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor, and can barely be detected in the finished product. I like simple fillings this best, and this one is made by bringing pureed raspberries and a little sugar to a brief boil, then letting the mixture sit for a few minutes to thicken while it cools. It ends up about the consistency of jam, but less gelatinous. The almond frosting took a little bit of thought - I needed a flavor that would play well with chocolate and raspberry, but be light enough in color that it could be decorated purple and yellow. Brown chocolate and pink raspberry frosting were out, and the almond ended up adding a good balance to the other flavors. My much-more-artistic-than-me friend Michelle added purple cake sparkles and yellow sprinkles in whimsical designs for the finishing touch.
(A continuation of the cupcakes for 21+ series.) When one of your bosses throws a margarita party, you can't show up without...margarita cupcakes! I couldn't resist experimenting with tequila and lime juice in these minis. The little cakes contain some of each, as does the frosting, which is an American buttercream. Next time I make these, I will use more tequila in the frosting - the lime flavor carries so well that it covers the other. These were indeed tasty little morsels, though, and disappeared quickly!
These Italian-inspired confections were crafted for a late summer potluck. They take some time to put together, but the finished product always seems well-appreciated. The recipe is Martha Stewart's - she even has a video on their assembly! The base is a vanilla bean cupcake. I love working with vanilla beans (though I had never even seen one until a few years ago); they just feel like a step up from plain vanilla extract. After cooling, the cupcakes are pierced with a fork so the espresso/marsala wine mixture that is brushed on soaks in well. In addition to that excellent tiramisu flavor, the liquid adds a delicious amount of moisture to the cupcakes. The topping is a blend of whipped heavy cream and mascarpone cheese - light, fluffy, and slightly tangy - finished with a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Yum! These are fun cupcakes for the 21+ crowd.