Friday, January 29, 2010

Martha Cupcake Challenge #22- Tres Leches

The next installment in the cupcake challenge is Tres Leches cupcakes. This translates to three milks, which is exactly how these are made.
The cupcake itself is a variation of a sponge cake, very light and fluffy. Once they are baked and cooked, they are soaked with the tres leches mixture. It's condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. Super rich! I tried pouring the milks over the cupcakes, but it was too messy, so I ended up using a turkey baster. It was perfect!

There's so much milk mixture at first it seems like it won't all get absorbed, but I just waited until the first bit was fully absorbed, then added more. I ended up with 21 cupcakes, which took 3.5 cups of milk mixture.
I covered them and let them rest overnight in the fridge to make sure everything was fully incorporated. Then I made sweetened whipped cream, and topped each cupcake with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
According to my official taste tester, these were amazing! Definitely going on the menu.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cupcake Deviation: Whoopie Pies!

For a change, I decided to make whoopie pies with my new whoopie pie pan. Although you don't really need a special baking pan for it, I love new kitchen gadgets.

According to Wikipedia, a whoopie pie is: "a baked good made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake, sometimes pumpkin cake, with a sweet, creamy frosting sandwiched between them. While considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition, they are increasingly sold throughout the United States. According to food historians, Amish women would bake these (known as hucklebucks at the time) and put them in farmers' lunchboxes. When farmers would find these treats in their lunch, they would shout "Whoopie!"

First I made classic, chocolate whoopie pies with vanilla filling. These were amazing! It's like 2 little pieces of cake with frosting in between. I used the recipe that came with the pan.

Then, I started getting creative. I've made pumpkin whoopie pies before, so I wanted to try chocolate chip whoopie pies. I kind of made up the recipe, using the original chocolate one as a base. These turned out amazing, very rich. The filling was a bit too runny, so I put them in the fridge to set overnight. All you need is a tall glass of milk to go with these.

These are a fun alternative to cupcakes, and I like that the frosting is in between the cake, so there's an even cake-to-frosting ratio in each bite. I'll be experimenting more with these soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Martha Cupcake Challenge #21- Triple Citrus Cupcakes

Next on the list is Martha's triple citrus cupcakes. She made these on her show when the book came out originally, and I'm finally getting to them. I had oranges already, so I just needed to pick up a few lemons and limes.
First, I zested 3 lemons, 3 limes, and 2 oranges. Also juiced them. Limes have a lot of zest! My kitchen smelled fantastic, as well as my hands.
This recipe made 36 cupcakes, and used 4 sticks of butter! It could be halved easily, since that's a lot of cupcakes. I added about 1/8 tsp of baking powder, since there was no leavening agent included in the recipe.
They came out great! Some were a bit lopsided, but that's probably because the batter wasn't even in the cups to start with. I love how you can see the flecks of zests in each cupcake.
The recipe then adds a citrus glaze on top, which you can use any of the three citruses for. I chose to use a combination of orange and lime. The glaze was thick, so I spooned it on top of each cupcake, and it kinda ran over the top to mostly cover it. It's pretty strong and sweet, so a little bit is enough.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Martha Cupcakes Challenge #20- Peanut butter filled chocolate cupcakes

Next up in the challenge: peanut butter filled chocolate cupcakes. I am going out of order from the book to better utilize the ingredients I have on hand.
The batter was more like brownies than cake, very thick and prepared the same way. The peanut butter filling was a little too thick, it needed more liquid. The recipe says to dollop 2 tbsp chocolate, then 1 tbsp peanut butter, then 1 tbsp chocolate and then 1 tsp pb. I just eyeballed it, and ended up not putting the pb on top. It worked out ok, cuz on some you can see the pb peeking thru anyways.
The recipe says to bake for 40 minutes, but that seemed like a really long time, so I checked after 20 and they were almost done. Even baking for 5 more minutes seemed like enough. I can't imagine what they'd be like if I baked them the whole time!

Here's the inside, yummy pb filling inside a dense chocolatey cake. Martha does not frost hers, so I won't either, altho a dark chocolate frosting or ganache would be good.
These are essentially peanut butter swirl brownies, but in cupcake form. yummy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cupcakes Review in Denver

So, yesterday I took a little tour of a few cupcakeries in Denver that I had been meaning to check out. Here's my thoughts:

First up was Big Fat Cupcake, on Adams St in the Cherry Creek area.
Nice location, corner store, altho parking was difficult. At first I was shocked that the cupcakes cost over $4, but then I saw them. They are ginormous! True to the name of the shop, these are huge, muffin sized cupcakes. I chose black and white, a classic.
This cupcake was hard to bite into, it's so big! The frosting was good, but it tastes like it's made with shortening, not butter. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer butter. The cake itself was ok, not too flavorful, but not dry either. I could easily share this with 3 or 4 people.

Next was The Shoppe, a cupcake and cereal eatery. It's on Colfax and Steele.
There's a couple of cute shops next to it too worth checking out. There was ample seating, with people playing some games and hanging out. I ordered 2: Red velvet and Dark chocolate orange (my fave!). These were normal sized cupcakes.
The red velvet was very red, not much flavor in the cake, but the cream cheese frosting tasted like pure cream cheese, no sugar or vanilla added. I don't really like cream cheese to start with, too tangy, and this was overwhelmingly so.
The dark chocolate orange I was excited about, since I love that flavor combo. The frosting was chocolatey and rich, with lots of orange flavor. The cake was super dry and I didn't taste any orange, but maybe that's cuz the frosting was so overpowering.

Last was Happy Cakes, across the highway off 32nd St. Small little shop, very cute.
No place to sit, but there's a bench outside. They are moving soon to a bigger location nearby. There's not even a kitchen in the shop! I chose Snickerdoodle, like the cookie.
This cupcake was heaven. The frosting was the most buttery delight I've ever had. Usually, buttercream tends to be too sweet, but this was so rich and buttery tasting. The cake was very tasty, with a good cinnamon flavor, and not too sweet. My favorite of them all!

So, next time I am exploring around Denver, I'll be sure to stop by Happy Cakes. Great name, great vibe, great cupcakes!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Martha Challenge #19- Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book.
This is a favorite combination of my husband, the original salty and sweet mix from our childhood. Altho I personally never had a pb&j sandwich, that doesn't mean I can't give the cupcake version a try!
I have made a version of this before, with a different recipe, with similar results. The one thing prefer about Martha's recipe, is after they are baked, the cupcakes aren't greasy. When I tried these before, the papers pulled away from the cupcakes, and after a while you could see the grease seeping through. Not too appetizing.

Here are the cupcakes right out of the oven. I like their color and feel, firm and not too crumbly. The recipe says it yields 22, but I got 24, and could have stretched it to 25. I also baked them for 18 minutes instead of the 22 minutes recommended. They'd be way too dry after that much time.

The peanut butter frosting was a bit unusual. It's cream cheese base, with only 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Also, it says to fold in whipped cream. Well, I folded and folded and it looked like a big goopy mess, so I ended up beating it together in the mixer for a minute, and it came out smoothing and light. I added more sugar, since it was very salty, to about 1/2 cup. It's a fairly loose frosting. It didn't seem like there'd be enough, but I just made it.
I piped the frosting on in a circle, leaving room for the jelly.

Here are the finished cupcakes, with strawberry jelly on top. I made these according to Martha's recipe, but next time I'll fill the cupcakes with jelly too. One dollop on top is not enough jelly. And maybe I'll even make my own from scratch! It was hard to find a natural jelly in the store.
All in all, a good recipe. I will definitely use the cupcakes again, but maybe not the frosting.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New possibilities

So, I have been seriously slacking. I blame it on 2 jobs plus school. However, now it's down to only 1 job and school, so I have no more excuses. My plan for the New Year:
*Find a kitchen
*Prep to sell at farmer's markets in the spring
In other words, steps required to catapult me to success. When school is finished in one year, I plan to be ready to go pro. Along the way, there will be lots of baking. I will resume the Tania/Martha challenge, and fine tune my own recipes as well.
Until I get going again in a few days, here's some pics of my holiday baking: cupcake cookies!