Sunday, February 27, 2011

Baked with Love

This month's theme for What's Baking is Baked with Love. I saw an awesome idea for cupcakes with flaming strawberries on Sprinkle Bakes and I knew immediately I had to make these for my love: my wonderful husband. We had just tried whipped cream vodka, so I wanted to base a cupcake on its flavor. I used a strawberry cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart and topped it with a buttercream spiked with whipped cream vodka. I hulled out some strawberries and placed them atop the cupcakes and carefully filled them with whipped cream vodka. Next, we lit—well at least tried to light the booze—and nothing. We were disappointed, but as we all know things don't always go as planned—espcially with matters of the heart. We laughed and discovered the vodka wasn't the correct proof. It must be 80 proof or higher. Oh well. We put the idea on the back burner to try again. We tasted the cupcakes and were again disappointed. While the icing was delicious, the cupcake was a little bland. It didn't have enough strawberry flavor. Next time, I'll puree the strawberries and use more. So I guess you can say these cupcakes were a double fail. In the grand scheme of things, failed cupcakes is better than failed love.

Strawberry Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
*makes about 32 cupcakes

2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (room temperature)
2 and 1/4 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
3 whole eggs
1 egg white
1 cup milk
2 cups finely chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line three cupcake tins with 32 cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Add vanilla to milk and set aside.

In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add eggs one at a time and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in two additions, ending with flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix well. Fold in strawberries by hand.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Whipped Cream Buttercream
2 sticks butter (room temperature)
4 - 6 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whipped cream vodka
2 - 3 tablespoons milk (I used Italian whipped cream flavored creamer.)

Beat butter until smooth with a mixer on medium speed. With mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time and whipped cream vodka and milk (or flavored creamer) one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Peanut Butter Icing

Move over Hershey, I think I found my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. I was flipping through my Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book looking for a recipe for chocolate cupcakes when I came across a recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes. It intrigued me because it looked so easy and called for simple ingredients that I already had in my pantry. No eggs, no milk, no butter—so this was an inexpensive recipe as well. I was a little weary about how this recipe would taste, but I'm glad I gave it a try. It produced beautiful chocolate cupcakes with a flat top that is perfect for decorating. The flavor was delicious and the cupcakes were moist and had a great texture that I can only explain as bouncy. I topped these with peanut butter icing and they were divine.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In another bowl, beat together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water with a hand mixer on medium-high speed.
Add flour mixture and beat until smooth on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. (Batter will be very thin.)
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 20 - 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

Peanut Butter Icing
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 - 3 tablespoons milk (or water)

Beat together peanut butter, butter, and vanilla until smooth with a mixer on medium speed. With mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time and milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Handy Manny Cake and Cupcakes

I had never heard of Handy Manny until I was asked to do a Handy Manny cake and cupcake order for a special little boy's second birthday. (Happy Birthday Anthony! We'll be praying for you next month little buddy.) As I researched, I found that Handy Manny is a Disney cartoon with Wilmer Valderrama (aka Fes from That ’70s Show) voicing the carpenter boy. I fell in love Handy Manny's adorable little tools: Pat the clumsy hammer; Turner the grouchy flathead screwdriver; Felipe the ambitious Phillips screwdriver; Dusty the motherly saw; Stretch the perfectionist tape measure; Rusty the fearful wrench; and Squeeze the curious pair of pliers. As I piped their little faces (all freehand by the way!), I loved each one more than the other, but I think my favorite was Rusty the wrench (the orange one). These were so much fun to decorate and I loved the way they came out and so did the client, which is what matters most! The cake was vanilla and the cupcakes were a mix of vanilla and chocolate, all topped with vanilla buttercream. Here's a closer look at some of the cupcakes and cake:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Superbowl Cupcakes

Sometimes you have to improvise. I wanted to make a special Superbowl cake for our friend's party, but then was told someone else was making a cake. I was dismayed, but came up with plan B. I was going to make chocolate cupcakes topped with the Steelers' logo. I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items and spotted a bag of football shaped Oreo cookies. I picked up the cookies and went with plan C. I made my go-to chocolate cupcakes from Hershey as planned and swirled some chopped up Oreo cookies into the batter. After they cooled, I piped buttercream tinted green onto the cupcakes to look like grass and topped them with a football cookie. They came out really cute and I was happy with the way they turned out, even if the design wasn't what I had originally planned.