Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sweet Sundays, Bald Cupcakes Edition

Yes. I am an amateur cupcake baker, which entitles me to the once-in-a-while screw up... And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share my screw ups along with my success stories?!? A few days ago, I made bald cupcakes. Not because I intended them to be bald, but because the frosting sucked so bad, I just couldn't bear to ruin the cupcakes with it! To be honest, I was having a pretty bad day & almost had a little breakdown over the fact that I made the worst frosting in the world. I'm just sayin': I'll admit it, sometimes I'm just a hormonal woman. (This was also the same night I sat on my couch & bawled, alone, over the movie "Bright Star". What a beautiful romance...) ANYWAYS. The cupcakes themselves were a huge success... homemade strawberry cupcakes, light and fluffy, and I made them with both fresh strawberries (for a slightly tangy taste) and homemade strawberry jam (to increase the sweetness of the cake). Sounds delicious, right? They were perfect, and that recipe will follow, but I completely screwed up the frosting. I thought it might be a good idea to make my standard buttercream and add freshly pureed strawberries. Theoretically, the sweet buttercream should only be enhanced by the addition of a semi-sweet strawberry puree, right?? WRONG. The puree made the buttercream almost slimy, caused the butter and milk look curdled, and it took beating the frosting for about 10 minutes to gain a consistency that could stand, and wouldn't slide off the spoon like soup. There go my good intentions and creative endeavors! So, I pouted a little bit, was too exhausted to make another batch of frosting, put the cupcakes (looking quite naked) on my cake display, and called it a night.

As you can see from the picture, the next morning I made my standard cream cheese frosting (which became a great pairing for the sweetness of the cupcake), and actually frosted some of the cupcakes with the bad frosting (which I had refrigerated overnight, and had actually kind of turned out alright). In the end, the batch turned out quite well, and everyone who tasted them loved them (although the strawberry frosting almost knocked me off my feet, it was so sweet!)

If you like strawberries, (I had bought a HUGE tray of fresh strawberries from Trader Joe's, so this recipe originated from my realization that I had an over abundance of strawberries and nothing to do with them...) try this recipe out. Hopefully you'll have more success with the whole process than I did.

Strawberry Cupcakes
  1. 2 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup cake flour (not self rising)
  3. 1 tbs baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  6. 2 1/4 cups sugar
  7. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  8. 3 large whole eggs, plus 1 egg white
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. 1/2 cup strawberry jam, room temperature (I used my Mom's homemade, but store bought will work!)
  11. 2 cups finely chopped fresh strawberries (about 20) plus about 10 more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350*. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add whole eggs and the white, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add strawberry jam and blend well. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined. Fold in chopped strawberries with a wooden spoon.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golded and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean (about 19 minutes for mini cupcakes, about 26 minutes for regular sized cupcakes). Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes, turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 and 1/2 sticks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
  3. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  4. 3/4 box of 10x Confectioner's Sugar (powdered sugar)
With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioner's sugar, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, mixing on medium speed until the frosting is light and creamy. Pipe with a pastry bag onto cupcakes, and before serving, thinly slice remaining strawberries, and tuck a few pieces into the frosting.

So there you have it, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Happy cupcake-ing!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sweet Sunday: The Classic White Cupcake.

The "Classic White Cupcake" has been a staple since my childhood. My mom taught me how to bake, was patient when I burned things, and showed me how to make one of the most important part of my cupcakes- the homemade frosting. One of the things my cupcakes are known for is the homemade buttercream frosting. It is a Hines family hand-me-down, with a few added twists and secrets of my own, and I use it as a base for almost ALL of my other frostings. Really, there is no specific science to this frosting... I just start with the main ingredients, then add a little of this and a little of that until it tastes right. Sometimes I'll want a lighter frosting to complement a rich cupcake- I'll add more whipping cream. Sometimes I'll want a stronger, more present frosting to complement a mild cupcake- I'll add more vanilla extract or powdered sugar. It's all a "to-taste" thing, just play around with it and you'll get it right!

One of the best things about my Classic White Cupcakes is that they're some of the easiest to make- I've found that the best tasting ones come straight from the box. :) If you choose to make a homemade white cupcake, I'll post a vanilla cupcake recipe later that you can use, but I find that Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix makes the lightest and fluffiest white cupcakes. Whip up a batch from the box, add a smear of homemade frosting, and it tastes like you've slaved in the kitchen for hours.

Classic White Cupcakes:
  1. Box of Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix
  2. 3 eggs
  3. Water
  4. Vegetable Oil
Preheat oven to 350* F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners (24 cupcakes). (Use mini cupcake pans and paper liners if desired, I did for this batch...)

Follow instructions on the back of the box, bake at 350* until cupcakes are slightly golden on top.

Remove to wire racks, allow to cool completely before frosting.

Marie's White Buttercream Frosting:
  1. 1 & 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 box of 10x Confectioner's Sugar (powdered sugar)
  3. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 tbs whole milk
Beat butter well until smooth & creamy, gradually add powdered sugar, blending well after each addition. Gradually add milk (you can use less or more milk than 2 tbs, depending on the consistency you want the frosting to have. Adding more milk will make the frosting thinner, using less will make it thicker). After well blended, add vanilla extract.

*Note: I love vanilla flavor, so I have a tendency to put more vanilla extract than most people. Just add the ingredients to taste, & get creative- I have a few ingredients I always add that make the frosting interesting, this is just the basic buttercream recipe. Also, If you want colored frosting, just add a few drops of food coloring until you reach the desired shade.

Frost cupcakes, garnish with sprinkles, confetti, or anything your little heart desires. I like these cupcakes because they're made from the mini cupcake tins... They're more portion friendly, & somehow it makes eating them even more fun when they're miniature!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Sweet Sunday... On Monday.

Yesterday was "Sweet Sunday". I completely forgot. SOOOO, here's the recipe (from yesterday) today! This is a mildly sweet coffee cupcake with a sweet cream cheese frosting on top, garnished with a drizzled chocolate glaze! Delicious.

Coffee Cream Cheese Cupcakes

  1. 3/4 cup butter (1 + 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 + 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 3 large eggs, room temperature
  4. 2 cups + 1 tbs all purpose flour
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/8 tsp salt
  7. 1 cup strong brewed, dark roast coffee
  8. 1/4 cup + 2 tbs milk

Preheat oven to 350* F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners (24 cupcakes).

Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Measure out coffee and milk together. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until combined. Add about a third of the coffee/milk misture and beat until combined. Repeat above, alternating flour and coffee and ending with flour mixture.

Scoop into cupcake papers about 2/3 full. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

*Note: Be careful when adding the coffee/milk mixture to the batter. if you add it too quickly the mixture will look curdled. Add small amounts & beat well to incoporate.

Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 stick Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  3. 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  4. 2 tbs heavy whipping cream
  5. 2 tsp vanilla
  6. 1 + 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  7. 3/4 box confectioner's sugar

Cream butter & cream cheese together. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, blending well with each addition. Amidst adding sugar, add whipping cream to help thing the consistency. After sugar is added, add coffee, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Add more of the "seasoning" ingredients to taste, if desired.

Chocolate Glaze Drizzle

  1. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  2. 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 8 oz semisweet baker's chocolate, chopped
In a small saucepan combine the cream, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and let stand for about 3 min. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature and use right away.

Pour the glaze into a plastic frosting bag, & decorate frosted cupcakes with the glaze however you'd like! I'm obsessed with initials, so I made the ones of my roommate & I.... Enjoy! :)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The beginning of "Sweet Sundays"

Sweet Sunday. That's what I'm going to call this little project... Every Sunday, I'll post a new cupcake recipe, complete with pictures & my own notes! :) For those of you drooling over them on Facebook ( you can make them on your own!!!

This week, it's Cookies & Cream Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting- I made them with my roommate Brittany for her boyfriend's birthday, and they were a huge hit! For anyone who loves a good Oreo, try these on for size...

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

  1. 2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 tbs baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1 + 2/3 cups sugar
  5. 1 cup whole milk
  6. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
  7. 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  8. 3 egg whites, room temperature
  9. 2 cups crushed Oreos (1 cup for batter, 1 cup for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350* F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners (24 cupcakes).

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl; stir in sugar. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer, then add milk and vanilla, beating at a low speed until well mixed (30 seconds). Gradually add dry ingredients in 3 additions, blending well each time. When all of the dry mix is added, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg whites one at a time, beat for another 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of crushed Oreos with a wooden spoon, then spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. (I like to use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups...)

Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, cool completely on wire racks.

Frost cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, garnish with additional crushed Oreos.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 1 + 1/2 sticks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
  3. 2 tbs heavy whipping cream
  4. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  5. 3/4 box of 10x Confectioner's Sugar

With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioner's sugar, beating well after each addition. Add heavy whipping cream and vanilla, mixing on medium speed until the frosting is light and creamy.

I'll admit, these cupcakes are some of my favorites... They are light and buttery, and the cream cheese frosting offsets the sweetness of the cupcakes nicely! On a more musical note, I've been in the studio this past week & have been working hard on finishing up the record! We recorded bass and drums for the 3 new tunes on the record at Brown Owl Studios in Berry Hill. The guys did an incredible job, and the vibe of the record is taking shape. Eric and I are currently doing production on vocals, and are making strides forward! I'll keep you all updated... Until then, enjoy the cupcakes. :)