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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Letter Z (the last letter!)

Letter Z: Zucchini Cupcakes with a Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

The last letter of the alphabet! My last cupcake post! This is so crazy to me. I can’t tell whether I’m excited (to move on to desserts other than just cupcakes), or sad to be ending such a journey. But I guess I’m kind of counting my chickens before they hatch… I better get writing if I’m actually going to finish this last post!

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Zucchini Cupcakes and Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

Makes: 24 regular sized cupcakes

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

 1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup all natural (no sugar added) applesauce

1/3 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is preferable)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups shredded zucchini

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Preheat oven to 350º.

Grate or shred two small zucchinis, or however much is necessary to get 2 cups of the grated vegetable.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until completely smooth. Add in the canola oil, applesauce, orange juice, and almond extract and mix until well combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground cloves. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet and blend until everything is combined and there are no clumps. 

Add in the grated zucchini to the batter and mix until everything is just combined. 

Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake tins, and place them in the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and cleanly drawn out. 

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Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

1 stick room temperature butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

img_0526Beat together the room temperature butter and light brown sugar on medium-high speed. Mix until it is light and fluffy and there are no clumps of sugar left. Then gradually add in the whipping cream. Continue to beat the frosting until it is a light, smooth butter cream. Then top each cupcake with a small bit of icing to keep the cupcakes flavorful, but not too sweet. 

These cupcakes are a delicious, fitting way to end the alphabet. At first, I had been thinking of doing a Zebra cupcake (like a chocolate and vanilla marbled cake–that’ll have to come some other time!), but I figured I should end with a proper cupcake where the “Z” was actually a flavor/ingredient in the recipe, not just a description (as has been my self proclaimed rule throughout 🙂). I started this adventure with a moist fruit (apple) cupcake, so ending with another deliciously textured, perfectly balanced vegetable (zucchini) cupcake seemed right. These are a great, unique dessert–and I promise they taste wonderful, and not at all like your typical vegetable side!

So. I don’t really have much more to say about my Letter Z cupcakes. Now, I’m trying to figure out whether I have much more to say about this whole blog journey, in general. It has been such a fun, interactive part of my life these last few years. I’ve involved friends and family, classmates and teachers, and even one of my host families while studying abroad this past year! I never would have thought, back at the start of The Amazing Bake, that I’d be able to form new connections with people and gain amazing community/business opportunities thanks to this little blog. I guess it turns out that the surprises haven’t been limited to just the kitchen! In truth, looking back, it’s incredibly rewarding to read all of these posts and see how my writing, and life, has changed since the beginning several years ago. To me, The Amazing Bake is like a stream of consciousness journal of sorts that has captured little projects and given me excuses to experiment with a hobby I love–baking. At times, I felt guilty not doing a post for months or embarrassed when I reread something totally cheesy that I had written. Now, however, I realize that this whole project was always just meant to be a fun little escape for me, not something that was meant to be polished and prepped for everyone else. I just wanted to share my experiences, hard earned advice, ups and downs, and new creations with my friends; in that sense, this blog has perfectly succeeded in what it was meant to do. All of the other benefits and opportunities–or experiences that I could have never originally imagined–have just been, so to say, the icing on the cake. 😉

With that, I’m going to end my last cupcake blog post! That’s not to say that I won’t be doing more posts in the future; this blog is hardly something I could ever abandon. I just might now venture out to some other desserts, or maybe even just normal cooking recipes?? In the past few years, I can safely say that I’ve baked thousands of cupcakes, so I think a little break might be warranted. Plus, it’s a bit hard to find the opportunity to bake when I’m off at college now and my dorm doesn’t even have a functioning oven…! So it seems like the right time to (temporarily) close the cupcake chapter of my life and move on to exploring new desserts, new recipes, and new hobbies. We’re less than 10 minutes away from the New Year, so now seems like a good time to think about the future and all of the goodies to come in 2017. 2016 and the few years before have all been great, and I’ve loved sharing bits and pieces of them through my posts and through the blog. So everyone, please take care, and stay hungry! And thank you all so so much, for everything.

Much love,

Vienna

Letter X

Letter X: Xtabentún Cocktail Cupcakes

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Wow. It has been way too long! I’m so sorry for the radio silence… I’ve had quite a busy (and amazing!) year, but at the same time, I didn’t have much access to an oven or baking supplies. Still, I made it my goal to finish the alphabet by the end of 2016, so here come my last couple of posts (cutting it a bit close I guess!).

Letter X. I knew from the very beginning that this letter would be my biggest challenge! Throughout this endeavor, I’ve been asking friends and family for suggestions, and finally we’ve come up with an idea. Xtabentún! This is a Mexican liquor that I had honestly never heard of before Googling “foods that start with the letter X” (really, it came down to a Google search!). Even then, it was only several posts in that I stumbled across this honey/anise flavored alcohol. Still, it didn’t take long to realize that this would easily be my best option, and it has honestly turned out to be one of my favorite recipes ever!

Xtabentún Cocktail Cupcakes 

Makes: 12 regular sized cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

¼ cup Xtabentún

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Preheat oven to 325º. 

In a large bowl or standing mixer, blend together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy. Then add in the three eggs, slowly and one at a time until everything is thoroughly incorporated. I recommend cracking the eggs individually into a separate small bowl first to catch any bits of broken shell that might have fallen in, and then add the egg to the mixer from there.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking power, all spice, and salt. 

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mix, alternating with the liquid Xtabentún. 

Then scoop the batter into the lined cupcake tray so that each is 1/2 to 2/3 full. Then place the cupcake tin in the oven and bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and drawn out with little to no crumbs. Then set them aside to cool.

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Grapefruit Buttercream

2 sticks of room temperature butter

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

½ cup + 1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

Beat together the room temperature butter and powdered sugar until the frosting is extremely light and fluffy. Once that is smooth, slowly add in the freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime juices until they are completely incorporated. Then fill a piping bag and top each of the cupcakes, with an optional sliver of grapefruit or slice/shavings of lime on top of the icing. 

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These cupcakes, which I based off of various cocktail recipes using Xtabentún, are refreshing and delicious. They’re a perfect balance of sweet and tangy, light and moist. At first, I wasn’t sure in which direction I should go with this fermented honey, spiced liquor, but then I decided that if I’m going to be featuring a particular alcohol, I might as well run with it and use the same flavor pairings that work in cocktails to come up with something that would work in cupcakes! After a bit of experimenting, I can proudly say that I came up with this recipe and that it’s actually one of my favorites (seriously, not just because it’s mine)! I decided to experiment on my own partially because I couldn’t find any other cake recipes featuring Xtabentún, but also partially because it was one of my last recipes; I wanted to see how far I had come since starting this blog as a total novice. After several years, I’m really proud of all of the ups and downs I’ve experienced with these 25 cupcakes so far, and I’ve definitely learned so much from my experiments, failures, successes, and opportunities presented thanks to The Amazing Bake. But before I get too sentimental (let’s save that for my last post!), I briefly want to get back to my Xtabentún cupcakes. I just want to say that they’re definitely worth the (minimal) effort that they’ll require–it’s true that you will probably have to order the Xtabentún online (unless you’re planning an upcoming trip to Mexico!), and I highly suggest freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime in order to get that refreshing taste–but those are small tasks for this wonderful dessert, and in the end you’ll have great cupcakes and a new liquor for other delicious drinks/desserts! So with that quick note, I encourage you to try this recipe, and maybe try come up with new ones of your own!

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So now on to my last cupcake post. That’s such a crazy thing for me to type! But anyway, I better hurry if I’m going to get it done before the New Year! (T minus less than two hours…! 🎉)

xx Vienna

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