Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes- 2 ways

I love making holiday cupcakes! This year was difficult, because I couldn't decide what kind of Halloween cupcakes to make! I had so many ideas: mummies, graves, eyeballs, witches, pumpkins, etc. I finally decided on candy corn and jack o lanterns. Classic Halloween icons.

I made pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, a recipe I have used before. I got 2 dozen cupcakes, so I decorated them half and half.

I found cute giant candy corn at the store, so I used that as my inspiration and topping for the candy corn cupcakes. I tinted some of the frosting yellow and some of it orange, and piped around the cupcake in the appropriate colors, ending with a dollop of white on top. I also used candy corn colored sprinkles, little balls and colored sugar, to add to the effect. Each cupcake was topped with the giant candy corn. Yum!

For the jack o lanterns, I smoothed on orange frosting, and used a black glitter icing from a tube to pipe on the scary faces. I tried t make a variety of looks, from traditional to goofy to scary. The glitter really sparkled in the light and adds that something special to the design.

I wish I had time to make more fun cupcakes, but I'll have to wait until next year.
Cake pops are still on the agenda, might make them tomorrow. Fun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Bonanza! Featuring Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

So this week, in honor of Halloween, I've decided to make all pumpkin desserts. Monday I made pumpkin chocolate chip bars and pumpkin swirl brownies. Forgot to take pictures tho :(

Yesterday I made pumpkin whoopie pies, and I did get some pictures! They were super cute and yummy, and a cinch to make. I've made them before, but it's been a long time.

I used my whoopie pie pan for these, even though you don't have to. I only have one though, so I had to bake only 12 whoopie pie halves at a time, and wash out the pan each time. Might be worth getting another pan :)

These are super cakey and moist, with a cream cheese filling. I'm never sure how much filling to put inside them, so I start with a little and see how it goes. I did have some leftover, so I probably could have used more filling in each one.

I love the cuteness of the whoopie pies, and they're a little different from cupcakes, but still in the same family. Second cousins, perhaps.

I have 3 more recipes to make this week: pumpkin chocolate chip loaf, pumpkin cupcakes with Halloween decorations, and pumpkin cake pops. Yum!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oktoberfest cupcakes- beer and pretzel

As October is winding down, I wanted to be sure and make some beer-themed cupcakes. I searched all over the internet for a recipe, and couldn't find what I was looking for! So I ended up inventing my own.

These are beer and pretzel cupcakes, make with Paulaner Munich beer (which we drank at the real Oktoberfest) and salty pretzels.

I adapted to recipe from my chocolate stout cupcakes recipe. I omitted the cocoa powder, and used a lager instead of a stout. I also crushed up some pretzels, about 1/2 cup, and added that as well. The batter was a good texture and consistency, and when I tasted it, it wasn't too sweet or too salty.
They baked up great, golden and delicious. A few spilled over a bit, but nothing too bad. The smelled like beer bread coming out of the oven.

I decided to top them with a beer glaze, made from powdered sugar and beer. yum! I also added a pretzel on top, to amplify the sweet/salty flavor combination.

These turned out pretty well, but there are a few changes I'd like to make. They were almost too much like a bread, not tender and flaky enough. So next time I'll use cake flour, and I'll pulverize the pretzels in the food processor to get a finer crumb. Maybe brown sugar will add some depth to these as well.

I'm always apprehensive when trying a new recipe, even more so when creating one! With a few minor changes, I think these will be perfect!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Martha Challenge #46- Black Forest Cupcakes

Keeping with the German theme, I made Black Forest Cupcakes. When we were in Baden-Baden, we samples some authentic Black Forest Cake, or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.
This is a decadent dessert, a chocolate cake layered with kirsch (cherry schnapps), cherries, and whipped cream. So good! I even found real Black Forest kirsch at the liquor store.

So I made Martha's version, but changed it quite a bit. She says to cut the cupcakes in half horizontally, like a layer cake, and layer it with pastry cream and cherries. I decided to make it more like the original cake, and used whipped cream.

So, made the cupcakes, a delicious dark chocolate cake. I also added a bit of kirsch to the batter, but it was too subtle to taste after they baked. They rose very high, and reminded me of the mountains in the Black Forest. Then I drained the maraschino cherries, and soaked them for a while in the kirsch. Half the cherries I chopped up to fill the cupcakes, and half I left whole to top the cupcakes. I made the whipped cream, and also a chocolate ganache for the tops of the cupcakes. Once everything was prepared, I set up a filling station.

I cut cones out of the cupcakes with a sharp knife, and took out some cake to make room for the filling. Then I added a few cherry bits, squirted the inside with a mixture of the cherry syrup and kirsch, added a dollop of whipped cream, and replaced the top.

To finish, I spooned chocolate ganache on top, let it set in the fridge, then piped on some more whipped cream, and added a cherry on top. So I have all the elements: chocolate, cherry, and cream.
They looked super cute, and I was so curious that I cut into one to see how it looked. The filling was great, evenly distributed.

My only concern is if the kirsch/cherry flavor is strong enough. I soaked the cakes directly in the kirsch, which has a 45% alcohol content, but I'd be interested to know if my taste testers thought it was strong enough.
Overall, I preferred my method to Martha's, since it stays truer to the original cake.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lego Cupcakes- again!

I was asked once more to make Lego cupcakes for the launch of Lego Universe, a new online game made by my husband's company, NetDevil. I made 5 dozen cupcakes for the launch party today.

I love making special themed cupcakes like these. Having made Lego cupcakes once before, I already knew how to make the bricks out of fondant. This time, I decided to make the 2x2 bricks, because apparently they are more common than the 3x2s that I made last time. I also made them in 3 different colors, red, yellow and blue.

I made the bricks one day, and the cupcakes the next. I made 2 dozen vanilla, 2 dozen red velvet, and one dozen chocolate, all with vanilla frosting. I tinted the frosting red, yellow and blue, to coordinate with the bricks.

I also tried to different decorating technique with the frosting. Using different tips for each color, I piped stars and dots all over the cupcakes. So cute! The stars kind of remind me of flowers, like hydrangeas. I then placed different colored Legos on each cupcake.

I was really pleased the way these turned out. I delivered them to the office early in the morning, in time for the launch party. They had also gotten a cake with the logo on it, and my cupcakes surrounded the cake. It was a great setup.

Although I can't imagine eating cupcakes at 8am, I'm sure everyone will enjoy them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Martha Challenge #45- German Chocolate Cupcakes

In honor of Oktoberfest and to remember our recent trip to Germany, I decided to make Martha's German chocolate cupcake recipe. According to her cookbook, German chocolate isn't German at all! It's merely the name of the kind of chocolate used in the cake. Oh well, they're still German to me!

First I made the coconut-pecan frosting. It's a cooked frosting, made of evaporated milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, and of course, coconut and pecans. It came out very chunky and thick, maybe I added too much coconut or pecans, because it wasn't exactly a spreadable frosting. But the last recipe I used to make it, was too runny and went everywhere. I prefer this one.
Then, the cupcakes. These are a traditional buttermilk cupcake with Baker's German chocolate. The recipe called for 5 ounces, but the bars come in 4 ounces, so I added one more ounce of regular semisweet chocolate. Didn't seem to make a difference. Excellent batter, very light and fluffy, and it baked up perfectly, slightly domed. I usually have problems with chocolate cupcakes, they either rise too much and overflow or not enough. These were great.

Martha's method is to cut the cupcakes in half horizontally and sandwich the filling in between as well as on top, but that's a bit messy for me. Instead, I filled the cupcakes with about a teaspoon or so of filling, and piled the rest on top.
I had just enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, even though I baked 27. Oh well, plain cupcakes for me!
I reserved 24 toasted pecans to put on top, so there was no mistaking what these beauties are. I know people love German chocolate cake, because the filling is very rich but the chocolate isn't overpowering. All in all, a good recipe, worth saving.

I'm planning on more German-inspired cupcakes, including black forest cake, maybe an apple strudel, and some kind of beer and pretzel cupcake. Stay tuned!