Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Candy Cane Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream

I apologize for not posting this yummy cupcake recipe before Christmas. Somehow time just got away from me.  I am finally feeling on top of things.  If you are anything like me, you can eat anything peppermint anytime of year.  Any flavor of mint is my favorite flavor.  So, when I found this recipe for Candy Cane Cupcakes I had to bake them.  And they did not dissapoint.  This is a yummy cupcake!

Candy Cane Cupcakes
from"125 Best Cupcake Recipes" by Julie Hassan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Makes 24 Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup finely chopped candy canes (about eight medium canes)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 egg whites
1 cup buttermilk

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chopped candy canes

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined.  Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until smooth.

Scoop batter into muffin pan prepared with paper liners.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. 

Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  Topped cooled cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Peppermint Buttercream

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup Crisco shortening (do not use butter flavored)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (flavor to taste)
2 tbls whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 lbs powdered sugar

Place butter and shortening in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high for 5 minutes. Do not under beat, use a timer. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add powdered sugar. Add peppermint extract and salt. Add milk a little at a time until desired piping consistency is reached. If frosting becomes to liquid, add more powdered sugar until frosting will hold a peak.

Place decorating tip in a pastry bag and fill with frosting. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

These cupcakes are just full of peppermint yumminess.  They are my Mom's new favorite cupcake. Surprise your family and friends and make them anytime of year.  If you can't find candy canes, you can crush starlight mint candies and use them instead.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy National Cupcake Day! - Andes Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Happy National Cupcake Day!!!
December 15th

December 15th is National Cupcake Day.  It's no secret that chocolate and mint are two of my favorite flavors.  I love Andes Mint sandwiches.  A thin sliver of minty green goodness sandwiched between two layers of chocolate.  So, in honor of National Cupcake Day, I present Andes Chocolate Mint Cupcakes.  A chocolate cupcake filled with Andes Mint chips frosted with mint chocolate buttercream, sprinkled with real chocolate sprinkles and topped with an Andes Mint Sandwich.  Yum!

Andes Chocolate Mint Cupcakes
Adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted (I use Valrhona)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Andes Mint chips

In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until batter is smooth.  Stir in Andes Mint chips.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan lined with paper cups.  Bake in preheated oven for 22-27 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  Top cooled cupcakes with your choice of frosting or buttercream.

Fresh out of the oven...

Mint Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Billy Reece

4 sticks butter
12 ounces Guittard mint chocolate chips
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Real Chocolate sprinkles
12 Andes Mint Sandwiches

Cream (with hand or stand mixer):
4 sticks butter (16 ounces) until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes

Melt (in microwave or double boiler):
12 ounces Guittard mint chocolate chips
Set aside and allow to cool for approximately 20 minutes. After chocolate has cooled, add it to the creamed butter and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl then …

2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

On low speed of a hand or stand mixer, mix until fully incorporated; no confectioners' sugar should be visible. Mixture should be smooth and medium brown in color.

Do not refrigerate; use immediately or store in airtight container for up to 2 days.

Pipe onto cupcakes, sprinkle with real chocolate chips and crown with an Andes Mint Sandwich.

These cupcakes are perfect for the mint lover in your life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm finally getting around to baking some of my Holiday favorites in cupcake form.  Christmas always reminds me of Gingerbread and vice versa.  For years I made and decorated Gingerbread Houses.  Growing up my Mother made a delicious Molasses Cookie with Chocolate Frosting that was chock full of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Last year I made Gingerbread Cupcakes for the first time and they are my new favorites.  This recipe is easy and your house  will smell divine while they are baking.

Hot out of the oven
Gingerbread Cupcakes
from Betty Crocker
Makes 18 cupcakes

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup water

Heat over to 375 degrees F.  Place paper liners in each of 18 regular size muffin cups.

In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter, the molasses and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon.  Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and water.  Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butteer or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons milk

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, lemon peel, cinnamon and the vanilla with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth.  Beat in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until of piping consistency.

Pipe a generous amount of frosting on top of each cupcake.  Decorate with Gingerbread Men sprinkles.

 These are delicious.  Mix up a batch this Christmas season and enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cupcake Pops - Adorable!!!!

Cupcake Pops
Who hasn't fallen in love with Bakerella's adorable Cupcake Pops?  Not to mention all of her adorable Cake Pops.  Her imagination, creativity and artistry is amazing!  Of course, I had to buy her Cake Pops book.  As soon as it came in the mail I drooled over the pictures and all of her creativity.  

Knowing that sometimes I have two left hands, I was thrilled to come across the website My Little Cupcake Pop.  This wonderful woman had devised and was selling a mold for Cake Pops in the shape of a Cupcake.  What could be easier...her no bake recipe for the Cupcake Pops made from Oreo Cookies that's what!.

I immediately ordered the mold (you need to order one too!) and as soon as it arrived I had to make these little beauties.  Here's the shopping list and recipe:

Shopping List

1 package OREO cookies
1 8oz. package cream cheese
Cupcake POP Mold
Candy Wafers for melting
 ~ chocolate flavored for base
 ~ color of your choice for top
Sprinkles for decorating top
Lollipop Sticks

Additional Items you may want:
Lollipop plastic covers
ribbon for tying

Original Oreo Cookie Cake Pop Recipe
       1 pkg. OREO Cookies
       1 - 8oz. pkg. cream cheese

Grind Oreo Cookies in a food processor and hand mix with cream cheese.

Other varieties of Oreo Cookies that are yummilicious as well are, Mint, Strawberry, Golden, Oreo Blizzard and Peanut Butter!

Here is a great Video Tutorial on how to make these yummy pops by the children of the mold's designer:

These were easy and fun to make and everyone that tasted them loved them.

Here are additional photos of the Cupcake Pops I made...

Drying in the egg carton after dipping in Milk Chocolate
Drying on a Styrofoam block after being dipped in Pink coating, decorated with an M&M and multi-colored non pariels

Close up shot
These were so easy and fun to make.  Order one of these molds (only $5.95 each or $22.95 for four on the website) and make these as favors for kids Birthday Parties, neighbor Christmas gifts, fun after school snacks, the ideas are endless.  And try out different flavors of Oreos.  You'll love them!  Have fun and enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nutella filled Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I had my mind made up to make a Chocolate Nutella Cupcake when a friend suggested a Banana Nutella Cupcake instead.  Immediately I knew this was the cupcake I needed to make.  I made these yummy Banana Cupcakes from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson.

Banana Cupcakes
by Julie Hasson

Makes 24 Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line muffin pan with paper liners

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups mashed banana (about 4 large)
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a bowl, whisk together sugar, oil and eggs until smooth.  Add banana and vanilla, beating well. Add flour mixture, beating until smooth.

Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 24-28 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

Once cupcakes are cooled hollow out the centers using a Cupcake Corer or knife.  Fill the hollowed out cupcakes with Nutella.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #10 tip with Nutella and pipe the Nutella into the center hollow of the cupcakes.  Replace the removed piece of cupcake.  Make the Chocolate Meringue Buttercream.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yield: about 5 cups

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate

Place semi sweet chocolate in  a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave at 30 second intervals until melted.  Set aside and let cool for at least 20 minutes.

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heat proof bowl (I used the bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer) set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F and the sugar has dissolved.  (A candy thermometer is crucial anytime you are cooking sugar.)

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (using the bowl of your mixer makes this step a breeze).  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don't worry, it will come together!).  Stir in the vanilla extract, cooled chocolate and mix until incorporated. 
Pipe onto cupcakes using the piping tip of your choice.  Add sprinkles, jimmies, non pariels or sanding sugar of your choice.  I topped mine with real chocolate jimmies.
These cupcakes are delish!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Faux Hostess Cupcakes - Childhood Lunchbox Memories

I can't tell you the excitement that would run through me when I would open my Lunchbox in Elementary School and find that my Mom had included a Hostess Cupcake for my dessert.  That was the ultimate treat!  A store bought Hostess Cupcake!  I would show it to all my friends, who were immediately jealous.  It made my day and the afternoon couldn't go by fast enough for me to get home and thank my Mother for this amazing treat.

When I got a little bit older my brother and I would make our own fake Hostess Cupcakes by making a box mix of Devils Food Cupcakes, slicing off the bottom, hollowing out the middle and filling them with Vanilla Ice Cream or Cool Whip.  A yummy snack but no where near the yumminess of the Hostess Cupcake.  And ours never had frosting or that magical white squiggle.

I decided it was about time I tackled that magical Hostess Cupcake.  Start with your favorite Chocolate Cupcake recipe.  I used this one from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson.  They baked up beautifully.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, core the centers out to fill with Vanilla Cream filling.  I used my Cupcake Corer (made by Cuisipro), which is an amazing little tool that makes coring cupcakes a breeze.  You can see it at work in the photo.

Here's the recipe for the filling:

Mock Creme Cupcake Filling
by Taylor on Recipezaar
for 24 Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
2/3 cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Cream butter and Crisco until light and fluffy.  Add sugar, flour, then milk and vanilla.  Whip until sugar is all dissolved and mixture is thick and fluffy.  Put in pastry bag fitted with a #10 round tip.  Pipe into center of cooled chocolate cupcakes.  Replace center of cupcake that was removed.
Now for the Chocolate Ganache.  If you've never made Ganache, don't be afraid, it's very easy and tastes divine.  Here's the easy recipe I found:

Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from the Pillsbury Cookbook
Enough to cover 24 Cupcakes

12 ounces Semisweet Chocolate, chopped or 2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter

In a small saucepan, over low heat, combine chocolate and cream.  Mix and melt together, until chocolate is completely melted, and mixture is smooth and creamy.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in butter.  Let cool at least 20 minutes until it is warm to the touch.  Take the cupcakes individually and dip them in the Ganache up to the top of their liners.  Pull cupcake out of the Ganache and let any excess drip back into saucepan.  Place dipped cupcake on rack for Ganache to dry.

Once the Ganache on the Cupcakes is dry and set mix up a small batch of Vanilla Decorator's Buttercream

Vanilla Decorator's Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Crisco shortening (not butter flavored)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/8 cup of milk
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoons vanilla

Cream together butter and Crisco until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar.  Add milk, salt and vanilla.  Continue adding powdered sugar until frosting is of piping consistency.  Place in a pastry bag fitted with a #2 tip and pipe a squiggle across the center of the Ganache.

By this time you won't be able to resist, so dig in!  They are delicious!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes for National Vanilla Cupcake Day

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day!!!  

November 10th is National Vanilla Cupcake Day and to say that Vanilla is my favorite cupcake flavor is an understatement.  I love, love, love vanilla cupcakes.  In fact, every time I try out a new cupcake shop/bakery I order their vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream as the first cupcake I try.  I figure if they can get the basics right, the rest of their flavors are worth a try.

I have had this recipe by Amy Sedaris for months waiting for the perfect opportunity to try it.  What better opportunity than a cupcake holiday!

Fresh out of the oven.  They smell divine!

Amy Sedaris' Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons baking powder
2½ cups flour
1¼ cups milk

To prepare oven, muffin tin: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Line standard muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

To make cupcakes: In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Add flour in 3 batches, alternating with milk. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth and satiny.

To bake cupcakes: Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 45 minutes or until at room temperature.

For these cupcakes I used a Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream because I love the delicate texture and beautiful way it pipes onto cupcakes.  You can find the recipe and a video how-to demo on my Blog here.  But if you would like to us a more traditional Vanilla Buttercream here is Amy Sedaris' Buttercream Frosting recipe for these cupcakes.

Buttercream Frosting
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 pound box of confectioners' sugar
¼ cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

In medium bowl, whisk together butter, confectioners' sugar, half-and-half and vanilla until smooth and fluffy.
 Celebrate Today!
Enjoy a Vanilla Cupcake
for National Vanilla Cupcake Day!
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting for Patriotic Red Velvet Cupcakes on Election Day

Happy Election Day!!!  I hope everyone had the opportunity to get out and VOTE!  As part of this Election Day, I received a request to provide 250 cupcakes for an Election Night Party.  Whew!  That's a tall order and a lot of cupcakes!!

I thought this would be a good subject for my blog.  A little insight into what it takes to bake, decorate and deliver 250 cupcakes from a home kitchen.  First I planned what the finished cupcakes would look like.  My old standby Red Velvet Cupcake would be the perfect color and a flavor that is universally liked.  

Now to decide on the cupcake liners.  Reynolds has come out with a great line of baking liners called Baked for You-StayBrite Baking Cups.  They are brightly patterned on the outside and foil on the inside.  They hold up extremely well and the color of the cupcake doesn't bleed through.  My local Smith's Grocery store had them in a Patriotic pattern.  An all American blue with red and white fireworks.  Perfect!  They come 36 liners in a pack so I had to hit a couple of Smith's stores to find enough to bake 250 cupcakes.

Now my friend wanted the cupcakes to have a custom topper reflecting her political leanings - a Republican Elephant.  I thought about fondant but really didn't have time to cut 250 elephants out of fondant.  So I contacted one of my favorite Etsy Sellers - Anders Ruff Custom Designs to see if they would modify their Patriotic design I had purchased this past Fourth of July.  Check out their Etsy shop here.  They have amazing designs of all kinds of wonderful Party Goods from Invitations to Custom Banners.  They created an adorable DIY cupcake topper.  I just needed to print them off and put them together.  I punched them out using a 2" Fiskars scallop punch and glued them to a wooden hors d'oeuvres pick.  I did this over two nights of TV watching.
My "Fourth of July" Red Velvet Cupcakes with the Custom Toppers from Anders Ruff
I also had to decide how was I going to deliver 250 cupcakes?  Boxes were in order.  I usually gift my cupcakes in boxes that hold one dozen cupcakes but I didn't want to deliver 25 boxes of cupcakes.  I went to my favorite mail order box company - BRPBoxShop - you can access their website here.  You can order 10 boxes at a time or 100 boxes and shipping is free within the lower 48 states.  I ordered 10 of the Kraft Cupcake Boxes with Inserts that hold 2 dozen cupcakes.  They arrived in less than a week and were perfect!

Next came the math.  My Red Velvet Cupcake recipe (you can find it here) makes between 30-33 regular sized cupcakes. I figured I would need to make nine batches of batter (270-297 cupcakes) to make sure I had enough.  I then took the recipe and multiplied the ingredients by nine.  Once I had the calculations of how many total ingredients I needed I divided each ingredient into the size of that item I normally purchase (10 pounds of sugar, 1 dozen eggs, etc.) to put together my grocery list.  Saturday was shopping day and a quick trip to Costco and Walmart and I had all my supplies.

Sunday was baking day.  I kind of had it in my mind how long it was going to take to bake the nine batches of cupcakes but to be safe I started early.  I began baking at 6:45 AM and baked straight through until 12:45 PM.  The secret?  Commercial size cupcake pans that bake two dozen cupcakes at a time.  I own three of them so I could keep the cupcakes coming every 20 minutes as they baked in the oven.  I also have the large cooling racks that accommodate this size of pan.  Having the right equipment really makes things easier.  I set up measuring stations for each of the ingredients in the recipe with dedicated measuring cups/spoons.  This made quick work of measuring my mis en place for each batch of batter.

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled I placed them in the boxes for safe keeping until I frosted them.  This allowed me to stack the boxes and keep all the cupcakes under control.  I mean really, who has a kitchen large enough to accommodate 250 (or more) cupcakes out on their counter tops.  Not me, I live in a small Condo with no counter space at all.  I used my small Kitchen table and an additional card table placed in my living room.
There are two dozen cupcakes in each of the boxes under the card table
Next came Monday night, time to frost and decorate all the cupcakes.  I began making the Cream Cheese Frosting at 6:00 PM.  I loaded my pastry bag with an Ateco 885 tip and started piping.  I decided to frost the cupcakes right in the boxes.  I figured the less I handled the cupcakes the better.  I piped on the frosting, sprinkled them with red, white and blue star shaped quins and inserted the custom toppers.  I finished the frosting and decorating at 8:15 PM. The best thing I discovered while frosting is the perfect recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.  A Cream Cheese Frosting that will hold it's shape when piped.  Here it is:

Decorator Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8 oz. packages of Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip the butter and cream cheese for 3 minutes. Set a timer, do not under beat. Add the meringue powder and salt and beat for another minute.  Add the Vanilla.  Gradually add the powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Mix until combined and light and fluffy. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes using a decorative tip.  The meringue powder helps the frosting hold its shape and set up.

Once the cupcakes were frosted and decorated I closed up the boxes, stacked them for safe keeping, ready to put in my car in the morning for delivery to the location of the party on Election Day.  I was up early on Election Day to load up the car and carefully drive on the freeway 20 minutes to deliver the cupcakes safe and sound for the party before heading off to work.
It was a tall order - 250 cupcakes.  But I did it.  All by myself.  And I actually had fun!  So don't be afraid of big jobs.  With a little forethought and planning you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
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