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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Letter C

Letter C: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

*A quick shout out to my mom! Yesterday, she surprised me with a Martha Stewart book all about cupcakes… I think it said it had something crazy like 175 recipes! I can’t wait to get started on some of the ideas… If I had had time, I would have started baking dozens more cupcakes today and probably would have gotten to the letter O! (Well, maybe not that far because that’s a dozen letters away, but I was seriously in the baking mood! Too bad I had homework… Still, I’m glad that I at least got to write this post!) Anyways, as to be expected, the pictures are inspiring, and I only wish I had thought of some of the recipes earlier to use for even just the first 3 letters of the alphabet! I was so excited i thought I’d mention it in the blog, so thanks Mom. I love you!! <;3

And now, for the actually blog post…

Carrots? Ehhh. Cupcakes? Yum 🙂 Carrot Cupcakes…. Amazing!!! While I was pondering what recipe to do for the letter C, there were so many possibilities that it was almost impossible to choose one! Chocolate, caramel, coffee, cinnamon, carrot. However, my thinking was that I will be able to do many of these recipes later under different letters, but how would I be able to rename carrot cake? Plus, carrot cake done right is pretty hard to beat! So, I spent maybe 15 minutes searching for a simple recipe and found this treat on another blog called Pinch of Yum (http://pinchofyum.com/carrot-cake-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting). I hope you enjoy it; I promise you, I LOVED them!

Really quick, before I post the actual recipe, I’d like to point out a few things.

1) I’m pretty sure we’ve (we being either my mom or I) have tried to make a carrot cake before (I’m thinking maybe my 3rd birthday?) and, if I remember correctly, it didn’t turn out too well… but this recipe, as you will soon see and maybe try, is nice and easy!

2) Just like most other recipes that include fruits or veggies, if you bake them properly, or actually even if you overdo them by a few minutes, these cupcakes will still turn out super moist! The texture is unbeatable. 🙂

3) Plus, for all of you health people out there, it does have 1/8 of a cup of carrots in EACH cupcake! I mean the first word of the recipe is a vegetable, so it has to be healthy, right? But for your sake, use the attachment grater on your food processor or mixer, and don’t try to shred three cups of carrots by hand… I feel like that might take a while. Anyways, good luck and have fun baking this amazing recipe!!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

makes: 24

2 cups sifted flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups grated raw carrots

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients and oil with carrots. Add one egg at a time and beat well after each egg.

Pour batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Fill about 3/4 of the way to the top and bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until tops have popped and spring back when you touch them.

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)

8 oz. cream cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy. Add powdered sugar. Spread frosting over cooled cake.

Refrigerate and eat cold for best taste!

I actually hadn’t had carrot cake (or cupcakes) in a VERY long time, but these have easily become an all time favorite! I’ve eaten so many of these this week, and thinking about them while writing this has just made me want to have another one! Thinking back about the recipe, there are only a few things that I remember to point out. When you make the batter, it’s not that thick, so when you’re scooping it out into the liners, make sure to mix it up occasionally to keep the carrots from sinking to the bottom. Also, as you can see, I piled the icing pretty high. With this recipe, I had enough to frost 20 out of the 24 cupcakes, but for many people who don’t have quite as large of a sweet tooth as me, I think this should be plenty.

So that’s about it. The cupcakes are awesome; such a great texture, a delicious taste, and they’re also quick and easy to make! I even snuck a bite of one before I made the frosting, and they’re just like sweet muffins! I honestly could have eaten them just like that. But why would I when I could make cream cheese frosting??? YUM. If there’s such thing as a perfect cupcake (and after making this recipe, I’m pretty sure there is), it would be a carrot cupcake! Now I know that sounds like a big claim, but just try these! If after biting into this moist, sweet, clean dessert you still doubt their greatness, then, well, I’m at a loss… I guess let’s just agree to disagree. 🙂 Even so, if carrot cupcakes aren’t your cup of tea, or even if they are, please check back soon for my next post! It’s time for letter D, and I actually haven’t thought of anything to make yet. Please please please post recommendations in the comments! Until then, happy baking!

See you soon,

Vienna

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Letter B

Letter B: Butterscotch and Caramel Cupcakes

Mmmmmm. Butterscotch and caramel, two of my favorite flavors! That’s why when I found this recipe (alright, I’ll admit that I have actually made this recipe once before, so that’s how I know it’s sooo good!) I couldn’t wait until the letter C to make it. It was technically labeled caramel cupcakes with butterscotch frosting, but shhhh! So, here it is, my latest blog post!

So it’s been pretty stressful lately. I’ve been making costumes with a few of my friends for the all school play, Guys and Dolls, (it’s pretty chill, you should go see it) and I’ve just been freaking out! Naturally, I decided to make cupcakes. 🙂 I’ve been asking all of my friends, and earlier I had decided to make these butterscotch caramel cupcakes. I’d made them once before and had loved them, but I figured this time I could make them without messing up like I had last time (I kind of burned the caramel and overbaked the cupcakes a bit, but if they were good then, then I figured they’d be even better this time!) When I found the recipe last time, I had spent a while searching for this recipe. I didn’t want a cupcake that had a caramel filling because for some reason, I really just wanted a cupcake with the whole cake having that flavor, and it was surprising hard to find a recipe like that. Finally, I found this one at http://www.food.com/recipe/caramel-cupcakes-with-butterscotch-frosting-187751, and I hope you guys like it!

Butterscotch and Caramel Cupcakes

Makes: 12

13 cup granulated sugar, plus

¾ cup granulated sugar (divided use)

1 13 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners.

Make the caramel: Bring 1/3 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; keep it very hot. Put the 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy-based 8-inch skillet or shallow saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Shake the pan to level the sugar and leave it alone until it’s about half melted. Shake and swirl the pan to help the sugar melt completely. Cook the melted sugar, constantly swirling or stirring with a wooden spoon, until it bubbles and turns a deep reddish caramel color.

Immediately take the pan off the heat and carefully drizzle the boiling water over the caramel. The mixture will sputter. Return the pan to medium heat; stir constantly with the wooden spoon just until the caramel is completely dissolved. Pour the caramel into a heatproof liquid measuring cup. Pour about 1/3 cup water into the empty caramel pan and return to medium heat until very hot, stirring to dissolve any remaining caramel. Spoon enough of this liquid into the measuring cup with the caramel to bring the level up to 1/2 cup. Let cool until warm. (You can make the caramel hours or even a day ahead. When it is cool, cover it and leave it at room temperature.).

Make the cupcakes: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) on medium speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl and beaters. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, on medium speed until the batter is smooth, 30 to 60 seconds after each addition; scrape the bowl each time. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, add the dry ingredients in three installments, alternating with the caramel. Mix only until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. (Use two rounded soup spoons: one to pick up the batter, one to push it off.) Don’t smooth the batter. Bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the tin, set them on the rack and let cool completely.

Spoon a slightly heaping tablespoon of the frosting on top of each cupcake and use the back of the spoon to spread and swirl the frosting. If the frosting starts to stiffen, rewarm it briefly over medium-low heat until it’s spreadable
Holding a cupcake by its liner, dip it into the chopped pecans, if using, turning to coat the frosting thoroughly. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes. Let the frosting set for about 30 minutes before serving.

Butterscotch Frosting

¼ cup unsalted butter

13; cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

¼ cup heavy cream, plus more as needed

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, spooned and leveled

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a heavy 2-or 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir almost constantly with a wooden spoon. After 2 to 3 minutes, the sugar will melt and smooth out, and the mixture will begin to bubble (it’s all right if it still looks separated at this point). Once this happens, stir constantly for 2 minutes (less if the sugar smells as if it’s burning). Carefully add the 1/4 cup cream and stir constantly for another 2 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly and look smooth and glossy.

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with the wooden spoon. If the frosting seems a little dry, beat in more cream, a half tablespoon at a time, until frosting is thick, smooth, and spreadable.

I seriously adore these cupcakes! They’re definitely sweeter than the last apple cinnamon cupcakes (https://theamazingbake.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/the-amazing-bake-day-2/), so my mom didn’t like them quite as much, but my brother and I definitely did, as did many of my friends! A few quick notes on the recipe though:

1) if you slightly burn the caramel that goes in the cupcake batter, it’s not a big deal. In the end, all you can taste is the caramel and no burntness! I do recommend that if making a double batch like I did, maybe try making the caramel in two different batches. Otherwise, there is too much sugar that has to melt and the sugar on the bottom of the pan gets burned before the rest can melt.

2) when you bake the cupcakes, make sure you don’t overbake them (sounds obvious, right?). I did the usual insert the toothpick test and for the longest time, the cupcakes in the middle would still come out as if they were underdone. The ones on the outside had been good for a while though, so eventually I just took all of them out anyways. It turns out that the ones in the middle cooked fully while cooling in the pan, and there were no underdone cupcakes, although there were a few that would have been fine with a little less time.

3) just like in most frosting recipes that aren’t originally made to be piped, I had to thicken the icing. I added quite a bit of powdered sugar to the frosting after it had been made so that it would be thick enough. If you pipe it while it’s still warm, the frosting will be nice and soft but it definitely firms up once it cools, which I think is good for the final cupcake (it’s not hard or anything – it just keeps its shape. In fact, I thought the consistency of the frosting was really nice and smooth!).

Also, just to add a little decoration, I decided to make some sugar glass to put on top. This is totally optional, and the sugar glass ends up tasting pretty much like the sweetest candy EVER (being made out of pure sugar!). Here’s the recipe:

Candy sugar glass

1 cup granulated sugar

Butter a cookie or baking sheet. Place the sheet in the refrigerator for a few hours until the sheet cools to the refrigerator’s temperature.

Warm a frying pan over low heat.

Measure out 1 cup of sugar and add the sugar to the pan.

Use a spoon to stir the sugar while it heats. Continue to stir the sugar while it clumps and turns brown. Scrape the sides and bottom of the frying pan regularly so that all the sugar melts at the same time.

Keep heating and stirring the sugar until all clumps have dissolved into a liquid. Turn the heat off as soon as all clumps disappear.

Retrieve the cookie or baking sheet from your refrigerator. Use a spoon to pour the sugar into the sheet. Smooth the surface of the sugar with the spoon.

Let the sugar cool on the sheet. Once the sugar cools completely, peel your new glass off of the cookie sheet, set it on a flat surface and enjoy your edible glass.

*note: this sugar glass cools really quickly once you pour it out! To use it as decoration, once it was cooled, I just broke it up into a bunch of small to medium sized pieces (the one shown in the closeup of the cupcake at the top was probably one of the biggest candies). The instructions say to butter a baking sheet, but I just used a Silpat mat and stuck that in the refrigerator with the sheet; it worked out fine. Also, I made a double batch of cupcakes but only one batch of this sugar glass candy and I still had some pieces left over!

So that’s about it! I hope you like these cupcakes! They’re sweet but have such a nice flavor (I really enjoy sweet desserts and caramel is one of my favorite flavors, so those are two reasons why I, personally, like these cupcakes so much) and I really hope you try them out! (They also freeze super well, so that’s another bit of added incentive.)

See you soon,

Vienna

Letter A

Letter A: Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

So. Today, marks the starting day of my cupcake blogging journey! That means that by February 5, 2013, I will hopefully have finished and posted about 26 batches of cupcakes, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Let’s begin!

A few days ago, I decided to make cupcakes my first batch of cupcakes for our end of proofs party in math (for those of you who have ever had to do proofs for several months on end, you would celebrate, too, if your teacher told you that you were DONE!) Anyways, being that this is the first batch and therefore it must start with the first letter of the alphabet (if you really don’t know, that letter would be X. Haha just kidding it’s A!) I was really having trouble thinking of cupcakes, but finally I just decided to go with a classic apple cinnamon recipe. I know I literally in the last post just said that I wouldn’t be baking with fruit, but seriously, what else starts with A? (besides almond and, like I said, I’m trying to avoid nuts as a safety precaution.) Also, I did mention how I MIGHT bake with apples or banana, and I as it turns out, I had to bake with apples first! Funny how that works…

As I will probably be doing with many of my recipes, I found this recipe on another blog site via Google and borrowed the recipe while following some suggested changes in the comments (thanks to the blog Foodie Reflections ~ http://foodiereflections.com/?p=2831). If any of you feel like recreating this cupcake, here’s the recipe (with changes made):

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes: 30

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup apple butter (no sugar added)

1/2 cup sour cream

2 cups grated apples, preferably Granny Smith

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two cupcake trays with liners. It’s best to bake the cupcakes in batches to ensure even cooking.

In a medium bowl whisk or sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Use either a stand or hand mixer. Add the the sugar gradually and beat until combined. Beat another 2 minutes until both sugars are completely incorporated and the butter is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the lemon juice.

Pour in one-third of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add half the apple butter and mix well, then add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining apple butter. Add the remaining flour then the sour cream and beat until just combined. Fold in the chopped apples.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake trays and fill two-thirds of the way up. Bake the cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove and cool to room temperature.

Bake the remaining cupcakes until all the batter has been used. Cool all the cupcakes completely before icing.

Apple Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted from Epicurious

1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup apple butter

Combine the butter and brown sugar a large bowl and beat with a stand or electric mixer until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until fluffy, then beat in the powdered sugar. Add the apple butter and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste and spread on the cupcakes to frost.

I was actually really happy with the way these cupcakes turned out! I had never made cupcakes with apples  before, but I think it must be the fruit that keeps these cupcakes moist, while at the same time being nice and light. I followed all of the instructions and used the attachment for the KitchenAid mixer to grate up the apples (the attachment kind of mushed and shredded the apples while squeezing out a lot of juice, but I just poured out whatever juice would come out without any apple bits falling out, and the shredded apple mix seemed to be fine once put into the batter). After following all of the instructions, I scooped the cupcakes into all thirty liners (the batter fits perfectly, and I had enough for all cupcakes without needing to get another pan). Once I put it in the oven, I checked after 18 minutes and took out the smaller cupcake tin, which only held 6, and left the others in the large oven to bake a few minutes longer. I accidentally forgot to set a timer, however, so once I finished my french homework and realized that I had forgotten to take out the cupcakes some 3-5 minutes ago, I rushed back into the kitchen to get them out. The cake tester metal skewer thing came out completely clean which worried me, but they looked pretty ok. As it turns out, these cupcakes remained incredibly moist after they had cooled, although they were so light that some would crumble if you didn’t hold/eat it carefully.

The next morning, I woke up an hour earlier than usual to frost the cupcakes before school. I took the cream cheese out before I got in the shower and got ready for school, so it had maybe 30-45 minutes to warm up. Once I had made the frosting according to the recipe, I realized that it would be fine for spreading onto the cupcakes, but because I wanted to be able to pipe this, I had to make thicker. I added more powdered sugar until it was the right consistency, and the frosting still ended up being super yummy! (according to my mom, it wasn’t too sweet, and according to my teenage brother, it was pretty awesome 🙂 ) I piped all of the cupcakes very generously, and for the first time ever, I still had lots of frosting to spare (well, enough for maybe 6 at least!)  For me, though, that was much better than running out, and I was sure that I would find some way to use it up!

Batter

These cupcakes were a hit among my family and friends, and I am so glad that I everyone convinced me to try this recipe! The apples provided a nice taste and great texture to the cupcakes, and this is by far my parents’ favorite recipe (they don’t like really sweet cupcakes usually where as I do, but this apple cinnamon recipe was liked by all of us. Also, the texture was so much better than any usual cupcake, even with being possibly over-baked.) They were a hit at the math party, and even though there were a few bumps along the way with this recipe (purely due to lack of experience or lack of attention on my part, not because of the recipe), I count this as a great way to start of my blog and this cupcake adventure! Next up, the letter B! BE (Get it?? Yes, there will definitely be corny jokes in the blog posts that follow) excited and ready, and if you have any creative ideas for a recipe, please please please post it in the comments! (I was thinking butterscotch caramel?) Thanks so much for reading, and I can’t wait to post something again soon!

Until next time,

Vienna

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