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 :)