Archive for the ‘Cupcakes’ Category

Were you wondering about those very tasty cupcakes I mentioned in my earlier decorating post? Wonder no more, because this is the post where I tell you all about them! I found the recipe, as I have found so many of my recipes lately, on “Annie’s Eats”. I was looking for a chocolate cupcake that would really stand out against a lot of pretty bells and whistles and not be overlooked as the cake part of such cupcakes tend to be. Also, I was looking to use up the rest of the buttermilk I had bought from making those biscuits way back when, so I was so glad when I found this recipe. They seemed to be just the thing I was looking for.

The buttermilk is sitting out in its measuring cups because it was coming to room temperature. I find it’s much more practical to set it out that way, but if you don’t have multiple sets of measuring cups, just measure out what you need and pour it into another glass or bowl. Much better than leaving all your buttermilk out to get warm.

Ah, this reminds me of a great Wonder Baker Tip! Always have something on in the background while you’re baking, whether it’s your great new playlist or your favorite kid’s cartoon show. Dancing, smiling, and laughing all contribute to the greatness of your treats (though they might also contribute to messes).

It’s time to start sifting! Start with 2 and 1/3 cups of All-Purpose Flour

Then grab a cup of cocoa powder and toss it in your sifter

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

Plus half a teaspoon of baking soda

Finish up with half a teaspoon of salt

And start sifting into a pretty powdery mountain

In another bowl, preferably one under an electric mixer, beat 12 tablespoons of butter until it’s nice and smooth

Now it’s time to start packing brown sugar

Firmly packed brown sugar. Two cups of it!

Brown sugar everywhere! Since my other cup was holding the buttermilk, I used a 1/4 and a 3/4 cup. Also, about halfway through my 3/4 cup, I ran out of light brown sugar. So I started to substitute for dark. I don’t have anything to compare to, but I don’t think the substitution had a lot of bearing on the end result. Maybe it made for a richer flavor? I may never know.

Gradually add the brown sugar to the butter and beat it until it becomes fluffy. You might need to spoon it out of the measuring cups because it should be packed in there really tight.

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract go into your fluffy butter mixture

Along with 4 eggs!

Your batter will be tan and smooth and smell delightfully of brown sugar

Now it’s time to make that batter super rich and chocolatey

First you’re going to add a third of your dry mixture and blend it all in

And then add half of your buttermilk.

Continue in this way, adding another third of your dry stuff, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing everything in between each addition

Your batter will turn a lovely shade of chocolate brown. Make sure you detach the whisk to mix in all that stuff collecting inside it and don’t forget to scrape down the sides.

Now you’ve got a super thick cake batter that’s ready for your cupcake liners

This particular batter was so thick and heavy, my usual cupcake filling method didn’t work great

Oh no, cupcake down, cupcake down!

Woo, cupcake salvaged. I think when it comes to filling these liners, it’s best to leave them in the pan

So just spoon a decent sized glob right into the liners

Until they’re all filled up nicely! Make sure to shake your pan a little to let the batter settle or you’ll get some lopsided cupcakes. They taste the same, but they’re a little trickier to decorate.

The baking time on these beauties is 18-20 minutes. Start at 18, of course, but I think they’ll definitely need more time as the super moist and dense cake needs the extra time to cook

And they did turn out super moist and super delicious. Nick really loved them, but he noted that when they were frosted, it took away from the flavor of the cake a little. I think a light whipped cream topping, such as the oreo one Annie uses, would compliment them much better than the store bought sugary buttercream I bought. But in my opinion, having these little cakes naked makes for some happy eating too.

Check out the full recipe over here at Annie’s Eats!

But what about a sweet and delicious cupcake decorated to look like an apple?

Those are all cupcakes! Aren’t they darling? What’s even more amazing is that I decorated them myself! I think I’m on my way to building up some serious decorating skill, I’m going to keep challenging myself even more!

Oh, did you want to know how to make these adorable goodies too? That’s good, because I really wanted to show you how.

The first thing you can do is run out to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of “What’s New, Cupcake?” which, along with its predecessor “Hello, Cupcake!“, is probably the most adorable cupcake decorating book on the planet. That’s where you’ll find the original instructions for these, but I’ll provide you with some more visuals.

First you will need some cupcakes.

When it comes to the cupcakes, the choice is completely yours. As for me, since I was sending these off with my boyfriend to hand out where he works, I really wanted the cake to be wonderful, so I ended up making a from scratch chocolate cupcake that was truly a tasty sensation (and the topic of a post to come, so stay tuned!). If you have some red cupcake liners, which would be ideal for your apple cupcakes, then a light colored cake would also be best. Again though, it’s totally up to you and the people you’re baking for. If you really want the red effect of the liners, but want to make chocolate cupcakes, double up on the liners before you bake.

Next, some frosting! Any white frosting will do, homemade or store-bought. I chose a canned buttercream. It wasn’t phenomenal, but contrary to their appearance, these cupcakes are actually very light on icing! So choose something you like knowing that it won’t be too overpowering in the end.

If you’re wondering why there’s some in a bag here, it’s for that cupcake that looks like it has a bite out of it. If that’s one you’ll want to do, make sure you set some of your white frosting aside for it.

Then we tried to color the frosting red. The book says to use a paste frosting, but I assumed that a regular red liquid food coloring would work just as well.

So we mixed

And added more.

And mixed…

And added more!

Honestly, I think we went through nearly a whole bottle and we still only ended up with this shade of dark pinky-red. It wasn’t until after this first batch that I realized that it’s really not even necessary to have a red frosting as the decorating sugar will hide it anyway! So, unless you really want a red frosting, save yourself time and spare your arm muscles by leaving your frosting uncolored.

Now you frost your cupcakes! Start by holding a cupcake and putting on a decent sized dollop of frosting on. This is going to be a relatively thin layer, so don’t go overboard.

Then, with the knife (or offset spatula) blade against the frosting, slowly rotate the cupcake under it, trying to get as near the edges as you can

Turning the cupcake is much easier than flinging the knife around and look how pretty it comes out!

Ta-dah! A nice thin coating of frosting.

Next, you’ll need a box of miniature chocolate-frosted donuts

Using as many donuts as you have cupcakes, take a small slice off the bottoms, about 1/2 of an inch. You’re just trying to remove the rounded bottom so you end up with a flat-bottomed dome donut

Take your cut donuts and place them on top of each frosted cupcake

Press each donut down firmly so it sticks into the frosting layer

And then you stick these bad boys into the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly frozen

Meanwhile, you’ll need some special tools for making your stems and leaves! Any sort of green chewy candy would work for the leaves, I just grabbed these watermelon airheads. They’re a little bit light as far as the color goes, but I think they worked fine.

To make your stems, just cut your tootsie rolls in half diagonally

Tons of super simple, super tasty apple stems!

The stems are a little trickier. You can start by attempting to roll out your chewy green candy. Make it as flat as you can, but don’t lose any hair over it.

Then it’s just a matter of cutting, twisting, and shaping until you get something of a leaf shape. It’s a little tricky, but it can be done!

You might be super lucky (or talented) and have some come out like that gorgeous specimen above. Nick made all my leaves and he did an astounding job. To make the crease in the middle, just push down gently with the paring knife or a butter knife, making sure you don’t exert too much pressure and cut the leaf in half

After your ten minutes are up, take your chilly cupcakes out of the freezer because it’s time to make them fruity!

Put a glob of frosting on the side of the donut and spread using the rotating method you used before.

It’s a little trickier with the donut in play, but with some patience you can get a nice coat on there. Make sure you get frosting into the donut hole as well, as that will help your stems and leaves stick when assembling the final products.

You might need to add additional frosting on the sides to keep it from being lopsided. And don’t forget to keep the tops flattish, like apples, rather than cone shaped. Oh, and if your frosting doesn’t look perfect, just remember we’re about to roll it in some sparkly sugar.

This little box of Cake Mate red decorating sugar turned out to work perfectly! We just happened to have some lying around, but you can probably find it at Micheal’s or other such craft stores. Otherwise, you can just buy a little container of red sprinkles and pour them into a shallow bowl.

To coat, just press one side of the cupcake right into the sprinkles

Then turn to another side and press

And repeat until all the sides are covered

Plunge your cupcake upside down to get the top

And voila! As you can see, there’s a few tiny patches with no sprinkles, but to fix those, just take a pinch of decorating sugar and drizzle on to touch up. You also might find that the top got too flat when dipping the top, so just pat the the frosting into the desired shape with your fingers. If any of the sprinkles come off, just retouch with a little sprinkling where needed.

To add the stems and leaves, just plunge the pointed end of the tootsie rolls into the donut holes. Put the leaves on the opposite sides and press them into the frosting very gently.

If you want to get adventurous and make one of your apple cupcakes look like it’s missing a bite, take your knife and cut a small chunk out of the donut on one side of the fully decorated cake. Then, with the frosting bag you set aside earlier, snip the tip off and squeeze some frosting into the hole you made, spreading it gently out to the edges so it meets the red. To make the “seeds”, I took a large chocolate chip and cut it into little pieces, choosing the best chunks to lightly press into the white frosting.

I was so thrilled with how these came out. As you can see, they’re all far from perfect, but they still look so gorgeous! They were a little messy when they were being eaten, but I found that the sprinkles and the frosting weren’t too overwhelming, especially with the donut in there. As far as fancy decorated cupcakes go, I feel like these were relatively simple to make, so they’re great for anyone not super confident with their ability (like me!). Best of all, they were a huge hit with the high school kids Nick works with, everyone was taking pictures of them and getting really excited and it made for one happy baker and some very happy eating 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, I lack the skills necessary to create really beautiful cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, I can make one hell of a delicious little pastry, but I’m just not artistic and don’t have a steady hand. But for some reason last week, the creativity bug that seems to be allergic to me suddenly started biting. I have been dying to try out the piping tips Nick’s sister handed down to me and I finally had a cute idea that I wanted to put into motion. I wanted to make some cupcakes in the theme of my latest obsession, “Phineas and Ferb”.

If you have never seen or heard of this phenomenal cartoon, I assume you don’t know me that well because I seriously do nothing but talk about it all the time. Yes, it’s a children’s cartoon on the Disney Channel, but it’s one the most cleverly written, witty, silly, and downright awesome shows on the air today. Especially when it comes to kids’ shows that mostly boil down to gross or outlandishly absurd humor. Not that I’m knocking that, I say watch whatever floats your boat, but while you’re at it you should definitely check out “Phineas and Ferb”. It’s just amazing.

I won’t lie, part of the reason I chose to practice my piping on cupcakes from this show was because the characters are so simply drawn. I mean, look at Phineas, his head is a giant triangle. And Ferb’s “F” shaped head is just a rectangle with a nose. I was so stoked that perhaps I could actually draw something in frosting and have it turn out looking right!

So I set out on my decorating journey with a vanilla cake mix and a lovely box of decorating tools.

Vanilla cake? Well that’s no fun. But you see, vanilla cake is white and if you look closer in my decorating box…

You’ll see among my piping tips and disposable piping bags that I have a whole lot of food coloring. And what would be the fun of making themed cupcakes without really going all the way with them? It was decided that we would make three different colored cakes: Ferbtastic Green, Phinabulous Red, and Super Cool Perry Blue.

I was so excited about coloring the cupcakes, something I’ve never done before, that I was glad I just went with a box mix. All I needed to do was add eggs, water, and vegetable oil and mix it up good. If you want a Wonder Baker Tip, always “over-mix”. The box will tell you something ridiculous, like mix for 30 seconds, but I’ll always give it a good three or four minutes of whisking. This gets LOTS of air in there, which is imperative for a fluffy cupcake. Especially since if you’re going to be mixing in food coloring, a lot of the air might dissipate. A fluffy cupcake makes for lots of smiles!

After the batter was made, I tried to get it into as equal of thirds as I could. I just scooped it out by the cupful and in the end I had enough for 8 cupcakes each, perfect!

Mixing in all the colors was real fun! It was a big experiment playing with the colors and trying to create the perfect shades for the characters.

And it was so pretty! Like those spin art things we all  used to do as kids.

After careful experimentation, we finally got the colors right. Well, except for the fact that I didn’t realize I had no red for Phineas, so I had to do the best I could. My sister said it ended up coming out more like Candace’s hair color, so we can go with that!

In case you’re curious, here’s how the colors worked out:

  • Perry Blue: 11 drops of neon blue and 3 drops of regular green
  • Ferb Green: 18 drops regular green and 5 drops neon green
  • Candace Red: 10 drops of neon pink, 10 drops of yellow, and 2 drops neon purple

Now, when it comes to filling cupcake liners, all the pros recommend using an ice cream scoop. I’ve never tried that method before and I was going to, but for some reason my freaky family doesn’t own an ice cream scoop! So I used my usual method. It’s a little bit tricky, but I’ll tell you about it because I like the way it works.

I start with a paper liner in my left hand, cradling it with my fingers. Then I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out some batter, filling it just about to the top. Once the excess stops streaming off, I move really quickly and get the liner under the cup and start pouring. If you time it right, you won’t get batter all over the sides of the liner. Then, once all the batter is in the liner and not dripping off the spoon, I pop the liner into the pan as quickly as I can. If you do this right, the liner will slip into the pan nice and easy. If your liner folds in on itself a little, just readjust it. I find that this method keeps batter from getting all over the pan. Plus it’s a little bit of a challenge, which makes it fun! Then you can use a spoon to get whatever batter you have remaining to top off the cups until they’re all even.

See, don’t those look nice? And so colorful!

It looks like a rainbow exploded all over my sink though. Good thing the dishwasher was empty!

After about 20 minutes of impatient agony (plus another 30 for them to cool), the cupcakes were done and ready to be played with!

The colors are so pretty! I wish I could color all my cupcakes, even the chocolate ones!

I popped some dark chocolate frosting (also store bought, but whatever) into one of my disposable piping bags. It took a few minutes for my sister and I to figure out how do get the tips on and working. It was a lot of “Does this part go inside the bag? Do I need to cut a hole in it? Oh, duh, of course. What about this twisty bit, where does this go? Am I doing this right?” But we finally did it!

It was messy work, but look at how professional and cool it is!

I started with some writing, just to test my hand

It’s supposed to be “where’s perry”, but I have trouble judging writing space on a cupcake. For the most part though, so successful!

I took a deep breath and attempted Phineas. Meanwhile, my sister was over at the table with some cupcakes of her own and was churning out masterpieces while I struggled to get my lines straight. But you don’t need a blow-by-blow recap of the drawing, so let’s get to the pictures!

GOSH DARN THOSE ARE CUTE. I ended up only doing Phineas as far as the characters go, but I was so proud of myself! The white gel looks funky, but the red ended up being great for his hair.

Then my sister did a Candace with her signature look of disapproval

Yep, definitely had a problem judging cupcake space. Also as hard as you try, frosting is not erasable. But personally I think two cupcakes were necessary to capture Candace’s screams

Even my little brother got in on the fun! He piped out a theme song in chocolate while my sister made an amazing Agent P

I put in a special request for my sister to make me a Jeremy cupcake to give to my boyfriend. Jeremy is the most perfect boy in the entire universe and I always tell Nick he needs to live up to his example

Of course I gave her the cupcake I tested with a toothpick when they were cooking, but it still came out amazing!

Finally a group shot. Aren’t they incredible? Sure I ended up not doing much, but my sister’s amazing artistry just made me so happy. And check out that question mark. I did that, yep, sure did.

So all in all, I think we really made our fandom proud. My sister played around with some of the other tips too

She made such lovely little flowers

Then she started being silly

Eventually the frosting heated up too much to do much with, so I just frosted the rest of the cupcakes, practicing my fluid spiral motions

My dad was about to go out of town, so I frosted some special ones for him too

I think decorating was a huge success! And with my sister around to help, I’ll start working extra hard at my piping so I can achieve wonder baker status with a piping bag!

And in case you’re wondering, they were tasty too! With my sweet tooth cupcake eating inator, they weren’t around for very long