Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Martha Challenge #38- Boston Cream Cupcakes

So in honor of the upcoming Independence Day holiday, I wanted to do a themed cupcake, and figured Boston cream pie cupcakes were pretty good! Plus, I'm kinda into filled cupcakes right now.
These were quite time consuming to make. First you have to make the pastry cream which goes inside. I had never made pastry cream before, but it was easy, and smelled amazing. I kind of want to make more stuff with it. It's just eggs, milk, sugar and some cornstarch, all cooked together and then strained. It came out perfect, nice and thick. This would also make a good filling for a layer cake, or of course, eclairs.

While that was chilling, I made the cupcakes. These are light and fluffy, almost like a sponge cake, but not quite. A very simple vanilla cupcake, but so divine. I baked them in red and blue star liners to emphasize the theme :)

After they had cooled completely, I made a hole in each with an apple corer. Martha's version recommends cutting them in half and putting the filling in between, but I figured that would be too messy for transporting them. So I did it my way! The cakes were so spongy that after making the hole and taking out the insides, the holes kinda closed up again, so I had to scoop more cake out to have room for the cream.

So I filled them all with pastry cream, making sure to get enough in each cupcake, and replaced the tops I had removed. There were some scraps I ate too :)

Third step, I made the chocolate ganache topping. I love making ganache, it's super easy, very rich and delicious, and everyone loves chocolate! I use the darkest chocolate I can find usually, which this time was 72%. I generously spooned the ganache over the top of the cupcakes and spread it out. It was quite thick, probably because I used more chocolate than recommended.
To finish, a few red white and blue nonpareils sprinkled on top. Perfect!

I had to crack one of these open to test it out, and to see how the filling looked. I was rather pleased with the result, the filling was plentiful, and although it was similar in color to the cake, you can see the difference in texture.

One issue I had was that these need to be refrigerated before serving, and when I took one out of the fridge to cut it open, the cake itself wasn't as soft and spongy as before. I know that chilling cake dries it out, and that's exactly what happened here. I'd recommend letting these come to room temp for a few minutes before serving them, even if you chill them overnight.
All in all, a good recipe, and one I'll definitely keep on hand.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Martha Cupcake Challenge #36 & #37: filled chocolate cupcakes

So, I actually have two recipes that I tried. But the first one, I have no pictures of because the camera was dead :( I made Mint filled brownie cupcakes. They have a peppermint patty inside. Turned out great, love the chocolate-mint combo, altho the tops of the cupcakes were quite crackly, like brownies are.

Second recipe, which I do have pictures of, is Cream-filled Chocolate Cupcakes. These are like the Hostess cakes we all had as kids. But with no preservatives or chemicals, just pure natural ingredients.
The cakes were easy, a chocolate-sour cream recipe. I find that a lot of chocolate cake recipes call for sour cream, not only for the moisture but also the tang. Martha's recipe yields 12 jumbo cupcakes, but I don't have jumbo cupcake pans, so I ended up with 28 regular cupcakes.

After cooling completely, I made the cream. It's just butter blended with marshmallow fluff. This was actually the first time ever that I used marshmallow fluff for anything. Mixing it with the butter gives it a creamier texture. When I put away the jar in the cupboard, it ended up next to the jar of Nutella. hmmmm... that sounds good!

Anyways, Martha says to dig a hole out of the bottom to fill with the cream. But I baked mine in paper liners and didn't want to fuss with that, so I filled them from the top. First I tried simply squeezing the filling into the cupcake, but I didn't get enough filling in there. So instead I used an apple corer to core out the cupcakes, saving the bits I removed. Then I filled them up, and replaced the tops.
To disguise the imperfect tops, I piped the signature white squiggle over the part that had been removed and replaced. No one will ever know! Unless they read this, that is.

I had to bust one open to see how it looked, and it looks yummy!

I was proud that mine looked as cute as Martha's, even though my technique was a bit different. These were easy to make, and are sure to delight kids young and old.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Martha Challenge #35- Tiny cherry-almond tea cakes

So, it's been a while, because I lost the charger for my camera and therefore couldn't upload my photos! But I found it yesterday, so here we are again.
I was inspired last week and bought a huge bag of fresh cherries. They were delicious, but I couldn't possibly eat a whole pound of cherries myself, so I made cupcakes with them instead! These are Martha's almond tea cakes with cherries inside. She calls for leaving the pits and stems on, but I didn't want to do that, so I pitted all the cherries. I didn't have a fancy cherry pitter, so I consulted the internet on how to do this, with the cherries remaining somewhat intact. The best suggestion was to use the flat end of a chopstick and push on the pit until it pops out the other side. This worked, but was messy. Cherry juice everywhere! My kitchen and hands looked like a crime scene :).
So, The almond mini cupcakes were easy enough to make, using ground up almonds. Then I put a cherry in each one, and covered the top a little with more batter. The recipe made more than the 24 Martha predicted.
They came out nice and domed (no more problems with altitude), with the cherries peeking out. I like cupcakes that have a surprise inside, so when you bite into it there's a different texture. The cherries are sweet and the cupcakes are warm and almond-y. A good recipe, but maybe not one I'd include in my regular rotation, as it's seasonal.