Friday, October 23, 2009

Martha Cupcake Challenge #18- Pumpkin-Brown butter cupcakes

Spooky!!! These are pumpkin-brown butter cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Since it's so close to Halloween, I wanted to start making festive cupcakes with my holiday liners and sprinkles. These make my place smell amazing!
The batter starts with browned butter, which is just melted on the stove until golden and delicious. It has a nutty smell, very warm and fall-like. No mixer required either! The ingredients come together easily, since the butter is melted.

Here they are right out of the oven. The tops seemed a bit spongy still, but I knew after cooling for a few minutes they'd firm up, and they did. One thing I found odd, this recipe did not call for vanilla, which I love, so I added it. I think it gives a great flavor to any recipe, and always add a little bit no matter what.
I frosted these with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting, even though the recipe book calls for a brown butter glaze. I tried to use stencils to make designs with the sugar, but I think the frosting is too sticky, because they didn't really come out well. The stencils will work better on an unfrosted cupcake with powdered sugar, or on a harder frosting, like a ganache.
So I just ended up using pretty colored sugars all over.
This recipe made exactly 15, as it said it would. just enough to share with a few friends :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Martha Cupcake Challenge #17- Applesauce spice cupcakes

So, I only have photos of this one unfrosted, they got eaten up too quickly! These are applesauce spice cupcakes, with pecans inside.
They were eventually topped with cream cheese frosting. These are made with unsweetened applesauce, and lots of fun spices, like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg (which I omitted since I hate nutmeg). They made the whole apartment smell so good! I have used applesauce in recipes before, when trying out some vegan alternatives to eggs. It certainly makes any baked good super moist and delicious! A great recipe all around.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Martha Cupcake Challenge #16- Mocha cupcakes

In honor of National Chocolate Cupcake Day, I endeavored to make Martha's mocha cupcakes, since mocha = chocolate + coffee. I upped the amount of coffee in the cupcakes, using not only 3/4 cup of brewed espresso, but also a packet of Starbucks VIA Columbia roast instant coffee, and also A tablespoon of instant espresso powder. These don't have that much chocolate in them, only 2 tbsp, but it's enough to get that great mocha flavor.

Here they are fresh out of the oven, smelling soooo delicious! The recipe says it makes 24, but I only got 20. The batter was quite liquidy, and these cupcakes are moist and delicate. Chocolate has a tendency to be dryer than others, but these will not have that problem.

Now, on to the frosting. It's a 7 minute frosting, flavored with coffee. It calls for coffee extract, but I couldn't find that, so I just used the instant espresso powder to make a very strong 1/4 cup of coffee. I have made this frosting once before, for the coconut cupcakes (Cupcake Challenge #4). I ran into the same problems as last time. Although I did have a working candy thermometer, it seemed like the sugar mixture took a very long time to come up to temp. Also, I had to beat the frosting on high for 25-30 minutes, not on medium for 7 minutes, to get the glossy peaks I needed. I did some searching on the internet and found lots of other recipes that use a double boiler. I may try that next time, this is too time consuming.

This is how much frosting I had left over. Could have used another dozen cupcakes! And unfortunately, you can't save this for later, it must be used immediately, so it was either eat all that frosting myself or throw it out. (I threw it out)
So, cupcakes A+, frosting C. I am also going to submit this recipe on, since they are having a contest to use the new VIA coffee. Since I don't drink coffee, this is how I use it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Martha Challenge #15- Zucchini Spice cupcakes

Here is my latest attempt at continuing the Martha/Tania cupcake challenge. These are zucchini-spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I figured I'd better get to these before zucchini was harder to find, as it's getting a bit colder now.

Here they are fresh out of the oven. These are kind of like carrot cakes, but with grated zucchini instead. They are also super filled with yummy warm spices, like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, perfect for a chilly rainy day. They made the house smell super good. No problems with baking this time, I merely skimped a little on the leavening and they turned out great.

I topped them with a cream cheese frosting. One thing I must say, this recipe made 24 cupcakes, and when I made the frosting recipe to go along with it, I had enough left over for maybe another dozen. I wish cookbooks would match the frosting to the cupcakes a bit better. Now I have to make even more cupcakes to use up the frosting!
These went over very well, I had my husband take them to work, all 24, and by the end of the day there were only 2 left. He said the first dozen disappeared in minutes! :) So I guess everyone liked these!
Next is mocha cupcakes I think, which I hope to get to soon. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Martha Challenge #14- Chai cupcakes/The Beatles

So this is a 2-part post. First up- I made Martha's Chai cupcakes. Her recipe calls for minis, but I made regular sized.
Here they are fresh out of the oven. The smell is fantastic! It's perfect for fall, which it technically is now. This recipe called for a bunch of spices, of which I only had a few, and to steep the tea in warm milk, to be used in the batter. I have made chai cupcake before, simply adding the contents of a chai tea bag or two into the dry ingredients. This was a different approach. Since I didn't have all the spices needed, I also added a chai tea bag into the dry mix, in addition to the chai milk added later. These turned out great, light and fluffy with nice domed tops. No altitude issues here!
The second part of this post, is the reason why I made chai cupcakes. I wanted to make and decorate cupcakes in honor of the release of the Beatles Rock Band, and I couldn't figure out a flavor. So then I decided on chai, because the British drink a lot of tea :).

I made a plain vanilla buttercream, and lightly covered the tops of each cupcake for a blank canvas. I then tinted 3 batches red, blue and black, to make the designs I needed. As you can see, it took a bit of practice to get the lettering and designs down. But I love the results! I didn't even attempt to portray each Beatle's likeness correctly, but you get the idea with the mop tops. These were super fun, I haven't done piping like that in a while.
Now I'm off to play more Rock Band, and I'll stop to have a cupcake if I need a break :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Martha's Cupcake Challenge #13- Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cupcakes

So, I finally got back to my Martha Challenge! This one actually turned out by accident. I was planning to make chocolate chip cookies for my husband, since they are his fave. But instead, I figured I'd make Martha's chocolate chunk cookie cupcakes. These are a cross between a cookie and a cupcake, with tons of chocolate chunks. I used both chocolate chips and chopped chocolate, both semisweet of course.
Again, I ran into some altitude problems. The chocolate bits sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes. I believe this is a density problem, and I know how to solve it next time. You must first dredge the chunks of whatever in a little bit of flour, which will (hopefully) suspend them in the batter while it bakes. Also, they got very dark very fast. The recipe called for a high temp, and the recommendations I read for high altitude baking say to increase the temp, so that's probably why they browned too much. It didn't affect the taste, though! I chowed down on quite a few of these myself.
Here is the inside, with the chips at the bottom. Live and learn, I guess! These were a huge crowd pleaser, and I kinda wish I had one right now :) Also, my sister made these a few weeks ago for some friends and had great results too. I can't wait to try the Peanut Butter Cookie Cupcakes!
But next week, stay tuned for some Beatles themed cupcakes, in honor of the new Rock Band and box sets (which I have both pre-ordered)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Peaches and Cream cupcakes

Last Sunday we were kindly invited to dinner, so I offered to make dessert (shocking!). Since this is peach season in CO, I made peaches and cream cupcakes.
These were vanilla cupcakes with chunks of peaches inside, topped with a mascarpone frosting. Although the cupcakes turned out great, all the bits of peaches sunk to the bottom. Also, the bottoms of the cupcakes got a lot browner than the rest of the cupcakes, which I think is due to my (crappy) oven. Oh how I miss my convection oven!!
Anyways, The frosting was made of mascarpone and whipped cream, with a little bit of sugar. It was very creamy and light, not too sweet. I topped these with orange sugar to indicate the flavor. I had a ton left over, so I also sliced some peaches to top them off.
These were not very sweet, which I think was partly due to the peaches not being ripe enough. Next time I may try pureeing the peaches and adding that to the batter, to impart a more peachy flavor throughout. All in all, this was a great summery treat.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sky Cake Part 2

So, once again, I made what I call Sky Cake. I previously posted about this, but now I got Patton Oswalt's album, and was reminded of how hilarious he is. Also, it was our friend Jordan's birthday, and he went to the Patton show with us months ago, so I decided it was only appropriate to make sky cake for him. I love making this kind of cake, it's so fun and festive! Perfect for a birthday or celebration.

First I mixed up the batter, and I could only find 4 different colors, so that's what I did. I wasn't sure how much batter would fill up the pan, so I just heaped one spoonful after another until it was all done.I made sure not to make it a holiday cake, so I kept the red and green apart from each other. Although that's something to try in a few months!

I'm still adjusting to the altitude, so the cake got too brown, but it took forever to bake all the way through. Every time I bake something it's like learning how all over again. Once I unmolded the cake from the pan, you could really see all the layers.

I halved the cake so I could put frosting in between the layers, and the result was too cool. Although I know a few guys who'd have some "interesting" comments about this.

So I frosted it, with fluffy white buttercream, and topped it off with stars and moons, along with some iridescent glitter. What could evoke the sky more than that?

When we sliced into the cake, everyone was in for a sweet surprise. The cake was light and fluffy, although it did dry out a bit by the next day. But there really wasn't that much left by then :)
All in all, it was a great cake, a great day, a great birthday. I love this recipe, and will definitely make it a signature cupcake when I (someday) open my own bakery. And yes, I will call it Sky Cake :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mini-Vanilli cupcakes

My first actual cupcake baking adventure in 5000+ elevation! I started with minis, since I figured they were harder to mess up. I did quite a bit of research, and found that I needed more moisture and less leavening to have recipes turn out great. So I estimated, and skimped on the baking powder, added about 1 tbsp more milk, and used jumbo eggs instead of regular. These turned out great! No problems whatsoever. I love making minis because they bake fast, are fast and easy to decorate, and you can eat more than one!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Featured on Cupcakes Take the Cake!

So daily, I check the blog Cupcakes Take the Cake for news from the world of cupcakes. Much to my surprise, this morning my very own blog was mentioned! It's about many bloggers baking their way through Martha's Cupcakes book. Let me tell you, this has made my day, possibly even my week :) It has certainly encouraged me to continue baking and posting for the world to see. Thanks to the girls at CTTC for including me in what I consider to be the bees knees of cupcake blogs :) Now to get back to baking!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Martha Challenge #12- cookies and cream cup-cheesecakes

Cupcake Challenge #12: Oreo Cup-Cheesecakes!

It's been a while sine I've been able to bake, since we moved to Colorado! I finally got (most) of my kitchen stuff unpacked, so I was able to bake today! Today was National Cheesecake Day, and I've never made a cheesecake before, so I decided to tackle the challenge. I decided to make individual cheesecakes, in keeping with the cupcake theme, and Martha of course had the recipe for me.

These are cookies and cream mini cheesecakes, with an entire Oreo as the crust on the bottom.
These did not require a bain marie, which made it easier for me. I had no issues with altitude, since these had no leavening agent in them. They sunk a bit in the middle, which I'm guessing is due to overfilling. I wasn't sure how to tell if they were done. The recipe said to bake for 22 minutes, or until set. I checked them frequently, and they seemed ok at 22 minutes, but I probably could have let them bake a few more minutes. Then they had to cool in the fridge for 4 hours or more. My tast-tester said they were delicious, but maybe not firm enough in consistency. That's also perhaps why they sank. All in all, a good first attempt at cheesecake, and one more recipe down!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

NKOTB cupcakes

So, in honor of the New Kids concert tomorrow night, I made cupcakes! I'm actually going to bring them to the concert and see if I can give them to the guys. I follow them on twitter, so maybe I can make contact! I'm also trying to use up the contents of my fridge and pantry before I move next week. So I made Choc-Guinness cupcakes with vanilla-Guinness frosting. I had leftover 2 bottles of Guinness, and tons of butter, so that's what I made. This is my recipe, not Martha's, although she does have a stout recipe in her cupcake book that I haven't tried yet.
The frosting turned out a bit too runny for my liking, hence the blobby shape of it on the cupcakes. I'm keeping these in the fridge in hopes the frosting will set better.
I tinted fondant and busted out the good ol' cookie cutters to make the shapes. It's fun to work with, but a bit messy. My fingers are now red from the food coloring. A professional would have used gloves, but this is me, after all!
So, that's all the baking from me for a while. The movers are coming next week, and then I'll have to try my recipes at a higher elevation! I'll continue with the Tania/Martha project once I have everything unpacked at the new place. Now, off to clean the kitchen!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cupcake Challenge #11- Blueberries and cream cupcakes

Blueberry-Vanilla cupcakes topped with Whipped Cream and Blueberries. I made 24 minis and 24 regular sized.
These were simply vanilla cupcakes, with blueberries mixed in, topped with fluffy whipped cream and fresh blueberries. The recipe called for 2 cups of blueberries for the batter and more to put on top. I used a whole 2 pints in total, because I wanted to make sure each cupcake had enough blueberries. The regular ones had 3 or 4 a piece, but the minis had only 1 each.

Here they are right out of the oven, smelling fantastic!

I dug around my cupcake cabinet and found these blue striped liners. I love how you can see the blueberries through them, it lets you know what to expect when you take a bite! These would have been good also with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Here's a finished cupcake all by itself.

This was a good recipe for the summertime, as blueberries are in all the markets. The whipped cream on top is light enough to not take away from the fresh taste of the fruit. The minis can be devoured in one bite!

Here's the inside, with the yummy blueberries.

I was concerned that they'd all fall to the bottom of the batter, but that didn't happen. I'm guessing it's because the blueberries are light enough, as opposed to a heavier fruit such as raspberries. In that case, most recipes recommend dusting the fruit (or whatever else) with flour before folding it in, so they will remain suspended in the batter and not fall to the bottom.

So, next recipe coming up is zucchini-spice, but I may hold off. When baking today, it got sooo hot in the kitchen, it was really unbearable, being 110 degrees outside. We'll have to wait for a day when it's only 105 before baking again :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cupcake Challenge #10- Banana pecan cupcakes with caramel buttercream

Banana-pecan cupcakes with caramel buttercream. A brand new experience for me! Never made banana cupcakes or caramel buttercream before. These smelled so warm and homey while baking. I used fresh bananas of course, and toasted pecans both in the batter and on top as a garnish. This recipe made 33, instead of the indicated 28, and cooked in under 15 minutes!

Here they are right out of the oven, smelling so fantastic. I don't actually like to eat bananas, but the smell is great.

These were so moist and delicious, almost like a muffin. They would be great eaten as-is, with no frosting, but Martha recommends frosting, so that's what I did!

This frosting recipe was complicated, a variation on Swiss Merengue Buttercream, which always gives me problems. Since there were multiple steps, I really could have used an extra mixer bowl so I didn't have to clean it out before each step. First I had to cream the butter, and then make the caramel, which I had never done before. I may have let it cook a bit too long, but it still tasted great. Caramel is made by boiling a sugar syrup until golden brown, then adding heavy cream. once cooled, it's a gooey sticky mess, but oh so good.

Here's the finished caramel in the pan.

It actually wasn't as hard as I thought, and easy enough to clean up. Although I did use a trick I'd seen somewhere before. The recipe says to wash down the sides of the bowl with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. I had seen a trick, where you simply put the lid of the pot on top whil it's boiling, and the condensation will trickle down to prevent the sugar crystals from forming. It worked like a charm!

While the caramel was cooling, I made the Swiss Merengue. I have made this a few times before and screwed it up a few times too, so I knew what to look for. Although I was a bit disappointed that Martha did not include any descriptions or pictures of what it's supposed to look like during the process. Once you beat the egg whites and sugar, then you add the butter, and the mixture usually looks curdled and all wrong. I've learned from experience to chill the mix before beating the ever loving shit out of it. Then it turns out great!

Here is the finished frosting, with caramel added:

Swiss Merenge Buttercream is a lot lighter and less sweet than an American buttercream. Although it uses sometimes twice as much butter, there's also a lot less sugar. It relies on beaten egg whites for volume and stiffness, while the other relies on a pound of powdered sugar. My mom prefers the Swiss Merengue Buttercream for its taste, but I prefer the American buttercream for its ease to make and its durability.

Here's a finished frosted cupcake, sans pecan topper.

All in all, this was a very challenging recipe, and I feel more confident about making Swiss Merengue Buttercream now. This would be a great trest for the fall, and these cupcakes could even be eaten without frosting for breakfast.
Next up: Blueberry cupcakes with whipped cream. So summery!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cupcake Challenge #9- Tiramisu cupcakes

Tiramisu cupcakes: vanilla sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, topped with mascarpone frosting, sprinkled with cocoa powder. Deee-lish! I have made tiramisu cupcakes before, but I just used my regular vanilla cupcakes and topped them with mascarpone frosting. These are a little more involved. First of all, the cake itself is a sponge cake, very very light and airy. And this recipe called for infusing a vanilla bean in warm milk before adding it to the batter, which leaves little specks of vanilla in the baked cupcakes.

Here they are right out of the oven:

Then, I made a coffee syrup. The recipe called for adding marsala wine too, but I omitted that, mostly because I'd have to buy a whole bottle for only 1/4 cup worth. If I were making more than one batch of these, I'd do it, but not for just one use. The cupcakes were brushed with the coffee syrup multiple times. The recipe says to use 1/3 cup coffee and let it absorb into the cupcakes. I used maybe half of that, and they were soaked through.

Here are the cupcakes after brushing them with the coffee syrup:

They look a little messy and soggy, but they smelled wonderful! The mascarpone frosting was next, which was simply whipped cream folded into the cheese with a little bit of sugar. I also added a drop of vanilla, because it makes all frostings taste better :) I dolloped the frosting on top of the soaked cupcakes.

Here they are, so fluffy and mouth-watering!

The final step was to sprinkle cocoa powder on top, just like real tiramisu. These must be eaten the same day, because the coffee syrup makes the cupcakes too soggy to keep overnight. I like that the cake and frosting are both light and airy, it makes you feel not as bad when eating them! Although this recipe was a lotmore work than my own, I think it's better, and would definitely use it in the future.
Next up: Banana-Pecan cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. Tasty!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cupcake Challenge #8- Chocolate Malted cupcakes with vanilla frosting

Chocolate malted cupcakes with fluffy vanilla frosting. I've never made anything with malted flavor before, because I don't really like it. Although I know chocolate and malted are a classic flavor combination, because my husband used to make chocolate malted milk a lot, back in the day :) These cupcakes rose quite high, with a nice domed top. Sometimes chocolate cupcakes tend to over-rise and then deflate in the middle, but these didn't. The batter was very runny, which made it difficult to scoop into the tins. This was due to the use of oil instead of butter. The recipe called for 1 cup of sour cream as well, but I only had a half cup. It didn't seem to make a big difference. Sour cream is often used in chocolate recipes to add tang and moisture, since they tend to dry out more than vanilla does.

Here they are out of the oven, not too dark chocolate, just enough.

And here's the final result, frosted and sprinkled. I thought chocolate sprinkles were an appropriate topping. The frosting is just your typical vanilla buttercream. Although, I used only 2 sticks of butter instead of 3, and had the perfect amount of frosting for 27 cupcakes.

These were a new recipe for me, and I'm glad to have tried it. The malted powder mixed with milk didn't smell very good to me, but I assume that's how it's supposed to smell. Now I have a whole contained of malted milk powder and no other use for it! Didn't try these, gonna get opinions from other people.
Next up is tiramisu cupcakes! I have made these before, using my own recipe. Let's see how Martha's stacks up!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cupcake Challenge #7- Devil's food with chocolate ganache

Cupcake recipe #7- chocolate overload!!! ( You can wipe away the drool now!)

Soooo delicious! Devil's food cake with a rich chocolate ganache frosting! The answer to any chocoholic's wish. These were a cinch to make, although the instructions were a little different than I was used to. The recipe called for melting the butter and sugar together before beating it, and the cocoa powder to be dissolved in hot water before adding it to the mix. Usually butter and sugar are creamed together and the cocoa is added with the flour as a dry ingredient.

Here they are fresh out of the oven:
These turned out very moist and light, I could eat 5 or 6 of the cake alone. The frosting however is super rich, and that I can only have a bit of. A ganache is only chocolate and cream, melted and cooled to the proper consistency. The cooling takes the longest amount of time, and waiting is difficult! But it turns out glossy and thick and easily spreadable without being too runny.

Here is my dessert this evening:

A glass of red wine and a chocolate cupcake.... a perfect pairing! :)
Next up is malted chocolate cupcakes, although I need to buy malted milk powder still, the store I was at today didn't have it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cupcake Challenge #6- Rhubarb cupcakes

Ok, so this one was a real challenge. Rhubarb cupcakes? Never had rhubarb before! Its consistency is like celery, but softens when cooked.

Here it is all chopped up:
The recipe called for 2 cups diced in the actual cakes, then one additional cup chopped on top. The topping was whipped cream with a sugar syrup and rhubarb, but it said to serve immediately. The sugar syrup would no doubt make the cupcakes mushy if left out too long. Well, since I didn't know when they would be consumed, I opted to forgo the topping, serving them as is. I tried to think of some other kind of frosting to put on top, but I didn't want to take away from the rhubarb flavor itself with a super sweet buttercream. So these were naked. :)
They turned out great, a good choice for summertime, and I'd like to try them again with the recommended topping.
Next up: Devil's food cupcake with ganache topping. Chocolate overload!