Friday, May 21, 2010

Martha Challenge #33 & 34- White cupcakes & by the sea (Lost theme)

After unpacking most of our boxes, and all of the kitchen, I had to christen the new pretty kitchen with some cupcakes! I wanted to make Lost cupcakes, in honor of the series finale on Sunday. So flipping thru Martha's book, I found her sea-themed cupcakes and figured those would be perfect. I used her white cupcakes recipe for the base, and a traditional vanilla buttercream for the frosting. Two challenges with one batch!

The white cupcakes turned out great. It was the first time using my new oven, which is gas and convection, so they got a litter browner than I would have liked. But other than that, super tasty.

Then I made a batch of frosting. I used the untinted frosting to cover half the cupcakes, and then dipped them in a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and demerara sugar to look like sand. I like how the sugar gives a bit of sparkle.

The rest of the frosting I tinted blue, and swirled it on top of the rest of the cupcakes to look like waves in the ocean.
I had a bit of frosting left over, so I tinted it dark gray and wrote "LOST" on the sand cupcakes and added some swirls to the ocean cupcakes for contrast.

All in all, I think these turned out well. I could have gone crazy and made some very specific themed cupcakes, but these get the message across just fine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Martha Cupcake Challenge #32- Roasted Banana Cupcakes

So it's snowing. In May. So I wanted to make a warm and cozy cupcake, and roasted banana fit the bill!

I went to the grocery store to get bananas. The recipe calls for ripe bananas. There was not one ripe banana in the whole store. Every last bunch was bright green. But I bought them anyways, since green bananas are better than none at all.

So when I got home, I asked the internet how to ripen a banana. Turns out you can put them whole, unpeeled, in the oven at 350 until the skins turn black, and they get all mushy inside. Well, that's what the recipe calls for anyways, to roast them, so I just let them roast a bit longer to ensure ample mushiness. It worked great!

These were great cupcakes, with chunky bits of banana inside. They rose up nice and puffy on top, and smelled amazing while baking.

Martha recommends using a honey-cinnamon frosting with these, but since I used that recipe already on the snickerdoodle cupcakes, I used a brown butter cream cheese frosting instead. Yummy!
Martha tops hers with banana slices, but I wanted to do something a little different. I thought about banana chips, and while at the store I found a container of them for $4. But I knew I'd only need a few, so I made my own! Again, the internet to the rescue. I sliced up two bananas and dehydrated them in the oven, at 150 for 3 hours. They turned gray and shrivelly, but were indeed crunchy. So I used those to top the cupcakes.

All in all, a great recipe. But no more for a while, we are moving and today I am packing all the kitchen stuff. Once I get unpacked next week I'll dive in again.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Martha Challenge #31- A Variation: (Mexican) Chocolate Cupcakes

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to make a themed cupcake. I've made margarita cupcakes many times, and Mexican Chocolate only once. So I decided to adapt one of Martha's recipes for Mexican Chocolate. These are regular chocolate cupcakes, but with the addition of cinnamon and chili.
Surprisingly, Martha does not have a lot of chocolate cupcake recipes in her book. I used her one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe, which was amazing! Super easy, and the cupcakes turned out great. Big domed tops, nice and fluffy, and very chocolatey.

I added espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor, and cinnamon and a dash of chili powder to give it some spice. They smelled amazing baking!
Next, the frosting. Again, Martha does not have many chocolate frostings, and the only ones she did have made entirely too much frosting for the amount of cupcakes I had. So I relied on one of my own tried and true recipes, again adding cinnamon and chili powder.

I topped the cupcakes with red and green sanding sugar, to indicate the Mexican flag. I'll definitely be using this recipe again, it seems foolproof.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cake Pops, Take Two

So once again, I tried making cake pops. The first ones were difficult, but I'm getting better. Practice, practice!
I had 6 leftover cupcakes from the jack and coke batch I made a few days ago. They were still super moist, and worked great as pops. There was the perfect amount of frosting with just what each cupcake was topped with.
I used actual chocolate bark this time, since I had stocked up when I last found it in the store. It was still a little thicker than I would have liked, but it worked ok.

So it turns out, 6 cupcakes make 24-25 pops. They got prettier and more even as I went along. Next time I'll make them perfect for sure! I put these in individual wrappers, but I didn't have anything to close them with. At least they're protected and won't stick to each other.

This is a great way to use leftover cake or cupcakes. If these cupcakes hadn't been so moist, I would have needed more frosting.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

So, for our friend Mike's birthday, he requested alcohol- related cupcakes. Since he likes whiskey, I made Jack and Coke cupcakes. I got the cola cupcakes recipe from the Coke website. It was different from most cupcakes, because you boil the butter and coke, and there are marshmallows in the batter. I assume the marshmallows are supposed to melt when you pour the hot liquid on top, but not all of mine did. I also added about 1 tbsp of whiskey to the batter.

The frosting was easy, just a typical vanilla buttercream, but with 2-3 tbsp of whiskey added. The smell was sooo strong!
And because it was a birthday, I had to write on the cupcakes. I used the easy way out, with writing tubes of icing.
These were a big hit at the party, although no one wanted to be first to dig in. Once the birthday boy had one, tho, it was fair game.
Might need to tweak the cake recipe in the future, but the frosting was a winner.