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Letter U

Letter U: Ukrainian Apple Cupcake

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Ok. So, how many desserts start with the letter U? Really, not many. And then, how many desserts which can also be made into cupcakes start with the letter U? I’m going to go ahead and say even less. So it took a bit of thinking to come find this recipe, and while the cupcakes may not have the classic frosting swirl, these little cakes are still awesome desserts that will please anyone with a sweet tooth. Feel free to try them out!

Recipe from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/ukrainian-apple-cake-yabluchnyk/

Ukrainian Apple Cupcakes 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Makes: 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup cream

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Apple topping

4 large apple

2 tablespoons cold butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degree. Line a twelve-count cupcake tin with liners.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in 1/2 cup of butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir together the egg with the cream and gently mix into the flour until a soft dough has formed.

Evenly divide and press dough into the twelve different liners/spaces. Set aside for the moment.

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Peel and thinly slice the apples  (I suggest using a mandolin or vegetable peeler to get relatively thin strips).

Mix together the ingredients for the apple topping (cold butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon) in a large bowl. Add in the apple strips/slices and toss mixture until the apples are evenly coated.

Pile the apple topping over the dough (try to just get the apples and not a lot of the juice that may have been squeezed out as a result of slicing or handling the apples a lot). Fold or place the apple slices in a way where there aren’t too many air pockets.

Bake cupcakes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until the apples are just starting to brown.

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I will admit that when I started making this recipe, I didn’t really know how I was going to make this into cupcake form. I was planning on actually trying to do the traditional, elegant layering of the apple slices, but then I realized that normal apple slices wouldn’t layer and fit very well in a cupcake sized topping. Also, as thin as I could slice them, I was worried that the apples would still be too bulky for this dessert. Enter the mandolin as my solution. Also, enter the second problem. Once I sliced the apples and piled them on, they formed nice, lumpy little domes which weren’t exactly making good bases for the cinnamon/brown sugar topping. The original recipe had called for a strudel sort of topping, but here at The Amazing Bake, we roll with the punches and take flavor over aesthetics. Or, better, we take flavor and then refer to whatever appearance thusly follows as “rustic” or “homemade”. So in this case, we adapted and actually tossed the apples in the “strudel”, coating them rather than topping them,  and we were left with some charming and tasty apple cakes. They may have been lacking the traditional strudel topping, but the cupcakes actually took on a delicious apple-pie-in-a-cupcake texture. When these came out of the oven, the whole kitchen smelled like someone had just lit a brown-sugar candle. The cupcakes were definitely best warm, (both fresh out of the oven and then also reheated in the microwave in the days following). It was easier to eat them with a fork than in the classic straight-with-your-hands way familiar to cupcakes, but it was worth it. Definitely a great autumn dessert (which is actually when I made them… I’m just running a little behind on blog posts!). Still, don’t wait until then to give them a try! Test out the recipe and let me know what you think.

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Hope you guys are enjoying the new year! Maybe one of your resolutions could be to try baking a little more? There are plenty of recipes to try out (included but not limited to these recent Ukrainian Apple Cupcakes). My resolution will be to stay on top of these posts better…! So here’s to a new year. Good luck with your goals, and happy 2014 you guys!

Vienna

Letter T

Letter T

OH MY GOD LETTER T. FINALLY. THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING POST EVER. Do you want to know wwwwhhhhhyyy?????

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Tiramisu Cupcakes. BAM.

These cupcakes are fantastic. Really. REALLY. I mean, for someone like myself who is not even that crazy about tiramisu usually, those are some pretty strong words of praise. This dessert is incredibly flavorful, so-o-o rich, not too sweet but not at all under-sweetened (that’s not really a word is it?), and really pretty pretty if I do say so myself! Definitely a dessert you would make to impress. Because really, they would impress everyone. Now, they’re not as easy as from-the-box cupcakes or any of the standard flavors that I have already done, but they are without a doubt worth any and all of the work. Please make them. I’m 99% sure you won’t regret it. And if you do, you’re probably making them wrong. 😉 Just kidding! Anyways, I now give you letter T: Tiramisu Cupcakes. Have fun!

Recipe from http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2010/08/tiramisu-cupcakes.html

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Makes: 24 ladyfinger bases with enough filling for 18 Tiramisu cupcakes

Ladyfinger Cookie Bases

4 eggs, separated

2 tbsp + 2/3 C white sugar

1 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Line cupcake tins with 24 liners.

Place egg whites in a bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form.

Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy.

In another bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar.

Whip until thick and very pale in color.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.

Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

Fold in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites. 

Evenly divide the batter between the cupcake liners. The cupcake liners will not be filled to the top. (In fact, they shouldn’t even be filled more than a quarter to one-thirds full because they will rise quite a bit, and you’re going to need room for the marscapone filling part!)

Bake for 8 minutes. (Make sure they’re done all the way through. If you overbake them a touch/they seem a little dry, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal since you’re going to soak them with rum/coffee eventually anyways.)

Soft peaks, before sugar has been added

Soft peaks, before sugar has been added

stiff and glossy peaks (after sugar has been added). Stop beating at this point.

Stiff and glossy peaks (after sugar has been added). Stop beating at this point.

Whipped egg yokes (pale yellow color)

Whipped egg yokes (pale yellow color)

Don't overmix the batter (you want to keep as much of that air as possible so you can end up with light, not dense, cookies to soak up as much coffee and rum as possible)

Don’t overmix the batter (you want to keep as much of that air as possible so you can end up with light, not dense, cookies to soak up as much coffee and rum as possible)

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Don't fill them too high! They'll rise some, plus you need to leave room for the marscapone topping!

Don’t fill them too high! They’ll rise some, plus you need to leave room for the marscapone topping!

Even these rose a little more than I thought they would... Still, I just piled on the marscapone filling even higher/above the cupcake liner (that's why it's important that later you get a texture with the topping that's thick enough to keep its form)

Even these rose a little more than I thought they would… Still, I just piled on the marscapone filling even higher/above the cupcake liner (that’s why it’s important that later you get a texture with the topping that’s thick enough to keep its form, so it won’t spill over)

Tiramisu (Marscapone Mix) Topping

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup white sugar

2/3 cup milk

1 pound mascarpone cheese

1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature

2 tablespoons rum

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (actually, I use Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa, but it’s really whatever you prefer)

1 bar of dark, bittersweet, or semisweet chocolate (again, choose based on your preference. I like the bittersweet, but that’s just me. You won’t need too much chocolate since this is just for the chunks/curls as garnish, but, in my opinion, it is easier to form the curls when peeling them off of a thicker/larger bar)

Optional ingredients

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Eggs, a key ingredient

Eggs, a key ingredient

Brew strong coffee. Set aside and let cool. 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. 

Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.

Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly.

Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (I even let mine sit overnight sometimes).

Optional: In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Set aside. (Only if you want whipped cream in addition to the marscapone topping)

Remove egg yoke, sugar, and milk mixture from refrigerator and whisk in mascarpone until smooth. (If it seems too runny to pipe without losing its form, continue beating it with a handheld mixer until it firms up. This can take a while, but just keep moving the mixer around and sort of whipping it, and it will eventually reach a smooth, thick, pipe-able consistency. I promise.) Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.

Drizzle approximately 1 tbsp + 2 tsp of the coffee/rum mixture over each pre-baked ladyfinger. Add it a little at a time and wait for it to absorb into the ladyfingers before adding more. When it stops absorbing, stop adding more. (Make sure to drizzle slowly and evenly all over the ladyfinger cupcake. You really don’t get the same effect when you bite into the finished cupcake and one patch is super soggy and the center bit hasn’t gotten any of the coffee/rum mix!)

Pipe the mascarpone mixture over the soaked ladyfingers.

Optional: Pipe or spoon the whipped cream on top of the marscapone.

Dust cupcakes with cocoa powder. 

Top with chocolate curls. Make the chocolate curls using a vegetable peeler on a piece of chocolate. It works best if the chocolate is slightly warm, but not melty.

Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.

Separate the eggs (we want the yokes, the bright orange part, for the topping)

Separate the eggs (we want the yokes, the bright orange part, for the topping)

When you first combine the eggs, sugar, and milk, it will look pretty liquid-y. Don't worry, it will start foaming and boiling eventually, and it will end up much firmer.

When you first combine the eggs, sugar, and milk, it will look pretty liquid-y. Don’t worry, it will start foaming and boiling eventually, and it will end up much firmer.

After cooking, before chilling

After cooking, before chilling

This is what happened when I chilled it without covering it (I forgot...) I know it looks really bad, but once I started beating in the marscapone cheese and stirring it with the handhelp mixer, any lumps and bumps were smoothed out, and it ended up just the way it was supposed to

This is what happened when I chilled it without covering it (I forgot…). I know it looks really bad, but once I started beating in the marscapone cheese and stirring it with the handhelp mixer, any lumps and bumps were smoothed out, and it ended up just the way it was supposed to.

This is the consistency I wanted to end up with. It was smooth, but it still kept its form.

This is the consistency I wanted to end up with. It was smooth, but it still kept its form.

Just after pouring the rum and coffee mixture over it. I probably should have gone a little more slowly and tried to pour it more evenly (to really make sure everything was soaked all over and just the right amount)

Just after pouring the rum and coffee mixture over it. I probably should have gone a little more slowly and tried to pour it more evenly (to really make sure everything was soaked all over and just the right amount)

The ladyfingers are like sponges, and they can absorb a lot!

The ladyfingers are like sponges, and they can absorb a lot!

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Next step is the marscapone topping. Next time, I would pipe even more! You really do want an extremely generous amount... it's (in my opinion) the best part!

Next step is the marscapone topping. Now I know there’s more topping there hidden by the cupcake liners, but next time, I would pipe even more! You really do want an extremely generous amount… it’s (in my opinion) the best part!

Unfortunately, I took the majority of these pictures from the first batch I made, when I put whipped cream on all of the cupcakes. Remember that its' completely optional (I've chosen to leave it off the past 2 or 3 times I made these cupcakes).

Unfortunately, I took the majority of these pictures from the first batch I made, when I put whipped cream on all of the cupcakes. Remember that it’s completely optional (I’ve chosen to leave it off the past 2 or 3 times I’ve made these cupcakes).

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Sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder, it's up to you! (Same goes for the chocolate shavings - dark chocolate, bittersweet, etc.)

Sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder, it’s up to you! (Same goes for the chocolate shavings – dark chocolate, bittersweet, etc.)

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These may be the best cupcakes that I’ve made yet. They’re neck and neck with the carrot, fudge, and/or lemon cupcakes, although I guess it really just depends on what you’re in the mood for. That being said, I haven’t met anyone who has not been in the mood for Tiramisu cupcakes. They’re just so delicious, and they’re also so unique. They’re not your standard cupcake. No, these are showy, high quality creations, and they truly have a deep, rich flavor that makes them really classy cupcakes. Honestly. Still, before I go on and on about how they’re the best thing to ever come out of my oven or anything, I feel like I should add all of the notes I came up with, descriptions, and disclaimers just so you’re adequately prepared for what it takes to make these treats. They’re no walk in the park, but I feel like if you really read the following tips and try you’re hardest (ha, doesn’t that sound cheesy), you can definitely make them, no problem.

Firstly, I would suggest setting aside two days to make these cupcakes. The first day is reserved for brewing the coffee, making the ladyfinger cookies, and cooking the eggs, sugar, and milk for the base of the marscapone topping. On the second day, I would mix in the marscapone to get the topping, combine the coffee and rum, and assemble the cupcakes (completely), then let them chill for a few hours. I tried to add little notes next to the ingredients/along with the instructions to smooth over any potential issues that might pop up, but the most helpful thing I would say would be to get that, the planning/order of things, down (I mean understanding when to make what, what needs to be done ahead of time, etc.) Basically: Bake the Ladyfingers, let the ladyfingers cool, brew the coffee, make the egg custard base stuff, chill the egg custard base stuff, make the whipped cream (optional), mix the marscapone into the egg custard base stuff, mix together the coffee and rum, soak the ladyfingers with the coffee and rum, top the ladyfingers with the marscapone mix, top the marscapone mix with the whipped cream (optional), dust with cocoa powder, make the chocolate curls over top of the cupcakes by slicing the chocolate with a vegetable peeler, and chill. And do it in that order.

Other than that, I guess there are just little helpful hints that I’ll add here because they must not have easily fit next to the ingredients or instructions. Firstly, when you’re making the ladyfingers, make sure to beat the egg yokes in a large bowl because this will be the bowl that, eventually, everything is incorporated into. I know many of you will want to use a stand mixer for the egg whites because then you can let that do it’s thing while you work on the rest of the batter, and that’s totally fine, just plan for the end results, which call for all of the batter to end up in the YOKES’ bowl. Next, don’t overfill the cupcake liners when you’re spooning in the ladyfinger cookie batter. I know it looks tempting, I mean there’s no way they’re going to rise THAT much, right? Wrong. They rise quite a bit, and even if they don’t, it’s not like you want the cookie to end up the same height as regular cupcakes. I suggest putting in a scoopful of batter that is just enough to spread to the sides and cover the bottom because, once they’re done baking and rising, you’re going to want a good bit of empty space within the cupcake liners so you can fill it with the marscapone topping. Next, and this isn’t really a hint so much as something I wanted to mention, but make sure to brew STRONG coffee. I think it’s important that the rum and coffee is noticeable, definitely not in your face or overpowering, but strong enough to give it that rich, authentic flavor. And you’re not going to get that by using weak/regular coffee. Also, when you’re separating the eggs to get the yokes for the egg custard base stuff (I know I’ve been using that description a lot, and it’s really super untechnical, but I don’t know how else to characterize it. Just go with it.), don’t throw out the whites. They’re the super healthy part of the egg actually, and they’re great for healthy protein pancakes (I eat these like every morning. I know this is a cupcake blog, but I kind of really want to share the recipe because they’re awesome… thoughts?), soufflés, swiss buttercream frostings, and so much more. I mean, waste not, want not! Anyways, going along with making the egg/sugar/milk stuff, I know the recipe says the cover tightly when you chill it, but I just put the saucepan’s lid on top and stick it in the fridge like that. When I take it out, it’s not always super smooth (it almost looks like it has some dimpling maybe?) and there might be a bit of condensation, but once you mix in the marscapone, it all goes away, smooths, out, and fixes itself. Another note, I find it easier to just plop the marscapone straight into the saucepan with the egg custard base stuff and mix it in there, therefore it’s better if I use a medium to large saucepan. Now I know you’re probably thinking that I just told you that you have to fit the saucepan into your fridge, and you’re thinking that a large pot is never going to fit among all of the snackpacks, egg cartons, milk jugs, and other various containers taking up space in there. Hey, it’s just a suggestion. It’s totally fine to store the egg/sugar/milk stuff in a smaller container in the fridge while cooling and then to take it out and mix it with the marscapone in a separate, larger bowl. You have to do a few more dishes, but it’s all about tradeoffs, right? Anyways, I know I also mentioned it before in the instructions, but if you’re mixing in the marscapone, and it’s not looking thick enough to pipe/keep its form, don’t panic. Just keep using your handheld mixer, which is what I would use in the first place to mix in the marscapone, and beat the crap out of the stuff! Ha ha, only kidding, sort of. It can take a while (the first time I made the cupcakes it only took a few minutes of beating, but the second time took maybe ten minutes, if I remember correctly), but just keep the mixer on medium to high and move it around a lot. Eventually, everything will smooth out and thicken up, and you’ll be left with the perfect texture to pipe the filling onto the cupcakes (don’t worry, it won’t get fluffy or anything, it’ll be just right. Trust me.) Lastly, and this isn’t a hint really, but I need to add it somewhere, I really would like to point out how the whipped cream is completely optional. I point this out because by optional, I really mean unnecessary. The majority of the people with whom I’ve shared these cupcakes agree that they may even be better without the whipped cream! Therefore what I would do, if you’re especially partial to the whipped cream, is I would make it but leave it in a separate bowl. That way, those who chose to can spoon their own desired amount onto their cupcakes, but it’s not forced upon anyone. Win win! Or, if you’re like me, and you just don’t want to get another special ingredient, you don’t want to put in the effort to make any part that’s not completely necessary, and you don’t want to do the extra dishes, just leave it off. The cupcakes will still be delicious, and they won’t be lacking anything. I promise. Plus, no one will ever even know (I mean, I’m certainly not going to tell anyone)! Ok, wow, I think that’s it! That ended up being much longer that I had thought it would be…

Well, if you guys are still with me, I thank you for reading that whole thing! If not, and you’ve just skipped to the end, well, you’re missing out. Don’t come crying to me if you’re cupcakes don’t work out! Kidding… I hope that wasn’t mean or discouraging. Anyways, I hope you all try this recipe. The cupcakes are really incredible, they’re a huge hit with everyone and in any setting, they’re gorgeous, and I think they taste pretty awesome. While they may take two days, they’re really worth it. Please let me know how your baking experience goes if you get a chance to make these Tiramisu cupcakes, and don’t hesitate to ask in the comments if you have any questions! I wish you all the best of luck with the cupcakes, and have a great day!

Until next time,

Vienna

I wish I had some pictures of the final product without the whipped cream! (I promise, they look just as beautiful!)

I wish I had some pictures of the final product without the whipped cream! (I promise, they look just as beautiful!)

Letter Q

Quatre Épices Cupcakes with Browned Butter Spice Frosting

 

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Wow. I guess it has kind of been a while…

You guys, I am so SO sorry for having taken so long to upload this post! I actually made these cupcakes months ago, and I have literally not gotten a chance to really sit down and write about them in any detail until now. I really hate skimping on the writing whenever I upload a post because I like to include all of the notes, observations, reactions, etc. that I experience when I bake. That being said, I kept putting off letter Q (and letter T as well actually!) because I never thought I had enough time to get all of those details down, and now it has been so long that I have forgotten most of them! 😦 I’m still going to try my absolute best to remember all of the important parts, but this might end up having to be a shorter post just so I can move on and get caught up with the blog.

(What an annoying catch 22 I would just like to point out! If I had tried writing this immediately after baking the cupcakes, I wouldn’t have had time to write about all of the little details I would have remembered. Now that I actually have time to type up a long, thorough blog post though, I can’t remember those details, so it’s going to be kind of short. Since it’s going to be short due to the lack of detail, I would have had time to write this earlier in the first place! But then it wouldn’t have been short because I would have remembered more, so I would have actually had to wait until I had more time… and thus the vicious cycle continues.)

Anyways, here is my post for letter Q! Before figuring out what to bake for this, I was having a lot of trouble coming up with possible flavors for Q without “cheating” and using an adjective or something (i.e. “quick” or “quality” cupcakes weren’t going to cut it for me). In the end, I have to give credit to my dad for recommending looking for a recipe in a different language. After a few more minutes of brainstorming and searching the internet, we found a recipe for a Quatre Épices cake, or Four Spices cake when translated from French, and I knew we were in business. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe for some absolutely delicious Quatre Épices Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting!

Original recipe from: http://kimberlytaylorimages.com/french-quatre-epice-cake-with-browned-butter-spice-frosting/#comments

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Quatre Épices Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting

Makes: 14-15 cupcakes

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

Zest of 1/2 orange

2 large eggs

1 1/3 cups flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons quatre épices

  • (several recipes/variations can be found at http://www.myspiceblends.com/spice_blends/quatre_epices.php . I’m fairly sure I used a mix similar to the 1st or 2nd recipes, and the cake still tasted completely normal/delicious. However, I’m sure the third recipe on this site, which may be a little bit more fitting for a dessert, would also taste great, and it may be a little less scary for any of you who aren’t feeling adventurous enough to put pepper in a cake. I completely understand.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

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Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake tins with 14 liners*. 

Beat butter, brown sugar, and zest in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well blended. In another bowl, combine flour and other dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to butter mixture one-third at a time, alternating with buttermilk half at a time, and beating on low speed after each addition until blended. Pour batter into liners.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in the tins for about 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin and place on a cooling rack; let cool completely.

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Browned Butter Frosting

2/3 cup butter

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon quatre épices

2 tablespoons half-and-half

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cups powdered sugar

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Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a mixer bowl, let cool, then chill until firm enough to beat, about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, occasionally scraping inside of bowl.

If you’re nervous about browning the butter, I suggest reading http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/10/exactly-how-i-brown-my-butter/ or http://bakingdom.com/2013/06/tutorial-tuesday-how-to-brown-butter.html . The pictures (and instructions) are really pretty helpful! 

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Ok so that’s about it! I probably had enough icing to very generously frost a standard dozen cupcakes. When I when frosted average swirls instead of giant ones, I had enough for all my 14 cupcakes.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous about how these would taste! Basically, before baking the cupcakes, I was a little dubious about to the savory spices and cocoa powder. Once I tasted the cupcakes though, any and all anxiety melted away with the first bite of rich, heavenly cake and smooth, flavorful frosting! Overall, these reminded me of pumpkin cupcakes… but without the pumpkin. I know, I know, that sounds kind of crazy or stupid, or maybe that just sounds like I’m describing nothing (you can’t really have pumpkin cupcakes without pumpkin right?) What I mean, though, is that these cupcakes have a wonderful, deep, warm, spicy sort of flavor that I normally only taste in or associate with pumpkin cupcakes/any other Autumn treats. They really would be a great Fall dessert! I can totally picture serving these at a Halloween or Thanksgiving party for dessert along with some warm apple cider! Mmmmm, I’m starting to fantasize about Autumn now; it is one of my favorite seasons! Anyways, I am TOTALLY getting off topic here, so I better wrap this up quickly before I further go off on a tangent! These cupcakes were surprisingly delicious and oh so moist. While I do think they lend themselves to a more seasonal dessert, I know I would enjoy them any time! I know they can look kind of intimidating at first, what with the somewhat unconventional ingredients (as far as cupcakes go) and the browned butter, but I highly recommend these Quatre Épices cupcakes. Seriously. Be adventurous! Try them! You won’t be sorry!

And with that glowing recommendation, I’ll leave you guys to it. Also, keep your eyes peeled for another blog post (letter T) coming very soon! Many of you guys probably already know what flavor I chose for that post (I even asked a bunch of you if I saw you in person to help me choose between two equally delicious sounding recipes), but if you don’t know, I’m not going to ruin the suspense! Just know that it was probably one of the most in demand, popular, and decadent recipes I’ve made to date. So by now, hopefully your mouths are watering in anticipation; if you can’t wait until letter T, I really do suggest you try this recent Quatre Épices recipe. It’ll be just as satisfying, and it won’t disappoint, I promise. As always, have fun with any and all baking, and let me know how it goes! Love you guys tons. It feels so good to be back after so long!

See you soon,

Vienna

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*Prior to making this for the first time, I had no idea how many cupcakes it would make since the original recipe was meant for a cake. I ended up baking 14 cupcakes, but they had sort of muffin-y tops that spilled over onto the baking tin. I didn’t mind this, that part actually tasted especially yummy in my mind, but if you want standard, flat top cupcakes, then you could probably distribute the batter among 15 liners instead. I ended up baking a dozen cupcakes in a standard cupcake tin and then using a smaller, 6 cupcake tin for the remaining 2 cupcakes, which I made sure to keep a close eye on and take out a touch earlier to avoid overbaking them. If I were to make this again, I would probably split the batter so that 7 cupcakes were placed somewhat evenly in one tin and 7 cupcakes were distributed in another to help everything bake as evenly as possible. That being said, all of the cupcakes came out perfectly fine when I made them the first time, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal if you don’t sweat the technicalities like this.  Just have fun with it, and see what looks right when you’re making them!

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**If you’re wondering about the decorative flowers, they’re made out of marshmallow fondant! I just discovered this recipe for the fondant a few days before making the Quatre Épices cupcakes, and I literally could not wait to try it! I really didn’t know that you could make fondant with marshmallows, but boy am I glad that you can. It opens up a whole new world when it comes to decorations and creative toppers, especially since it’s super easy to make (and normal fondant is just the opposite)! Basically, I just followed this recipe from http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/191275/recipemarshmallow-fondant to a T, and it came out just like in the pictures/like normal fondant. If it ever got dry while I was working with it, I would just knead in a tiny bit of water or butter (I’m really not sure if you’re supposed to do that, but the dry cracks were driving me insane! Anyways, I found that worked great to improve the texture if it ever became a little less than ideal, so I just thought I’d mention that tip in case you want to try this fondant recipe). Also, I’m assuming this recipe was created to have enough fondant to be able to cover cakes; I had wayyy too much for my primary purpose of creating cupcake toppers! You can see in the pictures that I have sheets of fondant bows, flowers, hearts, etc. just sitting there since I had so much fondant to use up! I feel like that was kind of a dumb mistake, but I thought I’d mention it in case any of you are planning on making this fondant for just a little bit of experimentation (not for huge, elaborate cakes or sheets of smooth, sugary canvases or anything). Really though, this stuff is super fun to play with and also very easy to make. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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Letter S

Letter S: Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Swiss Buttercream Frosting

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Snickerdoodle, Super Bowl Sunday, Swiss Buttercream… Oh how I love alliterations! I made these cupcakes a little while ago, (actually, February 3rd to be exact), but I didn’t have the chance to post about it until today. Still, I am so happy to share this recipe with you, and I hope you enjoy!

Cake recipe from: http://www.marthastewart.com/316419/snickerdoodle-cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Swiss Buttercream Frosting

Makes: 28

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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

 

 

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Cinnamon Sugar Mix (spread over cupcake and under frosting) 

1 part cinnamon to 2 parts sugar

Spread over warm cupcakes. Let sit until cupcakes are cool. Remove cupcakes from pan and shake off excess cinnamon sugar.

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Swiss Buttercream Frosting

(Recipe from oreo cupcake post)

2 cups sugar

8 large egg whites

4 sticks softened, unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. This can take a while so be patient! (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

Add the vanilla.

Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and continue to whip, whip, whip.

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Unfortunately, I overbaked these cupcakes a tiny bit (I even checked them a few minutes early!) Still, they tasted pretty yummy, especially since I love snickerdoodles as cookies, and I’m sure they would have been perfect if they were cooked right. Even as they were, though, I really enjoyed these cupcakes. Because I chose to dust the cupcakes with a sugar mix, I frosted them with a slightly less sweet swiss buttercream frosting. I rally love the way this tasted, but I will note that when I put the cupcakes in the fridge and the frosting chilled a little bit, once or twice the icing actually fell off the cupcake since the sugar mix kept it from sticking to the cake part as much as usual. (This was only when they were tipped over and bumped around a bit.) Then, I chose to decorate them with purple or red/gold sprinkles in honor of the Super Bowl. If I were to make these again on a normal day, I might dust them them with a bit of cinnamon to really reinforce the snickerdoodle flavor. Still, the batch of cupcakes came out really well, and if you have ever tried snickerdoodle cookies, I highly encourage you to make these cupcakes as well!

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So that’s about it. I’ve finally caught up on some of these blog posts, and I can’t wait to start baking again! I’ve got an idea in mind for letter Q, and I can’t wait to try it out!

I’ll update you guys soon. Until then, take care!

Vienna

Letter R

Letter R: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I did it. I finally broke down and made (and, thusly, ate) a red velvet cupcake. I know they’re everyone’s favorite cupcake; they look incredible, they taste delicious, are there is nothing else out there that compares. Still, the idea of eating that much food coloring, seemingly unnecessarily since it doesn’t add anything to the flavor, was just not something I could swallow (hahaha, I’m so punny…). Well, until now, I guess. After all, it was just recently Valentine’s Day, and also, I could hardly go 26 recipes without doing such a classic. Plus, my school was doing a bake-sale fundraiser, and I had a feeling these would be a hit! Now, after making them, I can see why. The red color adds to their unique character and really is an integral part to the cupcake. They’re delicious and beautiful, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to taste one!

Recipe from: http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/212429/recipered-velvet-cupcakes-3

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes: 30

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2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1 (1 ounce) bottle liquid red food coloring

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into 30 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (16 ounce) box confectioners’ sugar

Beat cream cheese, softened, butter, sour cream and vanilla extract in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

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(In the picture above, the cupcake on the bottom right is the most recent one I had frosted. Eventually, it spread out and became smooth, like the others in the photo.)

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Everything with the cupcakes went perfectly, although for some reason the frosting was a bit off. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great, but it had a slightly strange consistency. Fairly liquid-y, kind of stringy. When I tried to pipe it on the cupcakes, it spread out to the very edges and formed a smooth, but very soft, layer over the tops. It tasted great and provided a different look from the standard icing (once chilled again the frosting took on a more matte, slightly less wet appearance), but it was still a little bit messy. If you want a safe, normal red velvet cupcake then I suggest using a classic cream cheese frosting with a thicker consistency, like the one delicious one used in this recipe.

Other than that though, this recipe was perfect! The cupcake was moist and so so yummy! I think this is a great standard red velvet cupcake, and I encourage anyone who is looking for this flavor to try it. They look so pretty and taste just as good. Considering I used to have somewhat of an aversion to these cupcakes, I feel like they must have been pretty darn good to win me over! So please, try these cupcakes and let me know what you think! Do they compare to other red velvet recipes that you’ve tried? Do you love them just as much as I do?

Can’t wait to see you guys soon,

Vienna

Letter N

Letter N: Nutella Blondie Cupcakes with Nutella Ganache Drizzle

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Practically since starting this blog, I had known I wanted to do Nutella for N. However, the actual type of cupcake and recipe was something I deliberated over for almost equally as long. I had been looking online at nutella recipes, and the choices were endless. There were hazelnut cupcakes with chocolate frosting, nutella-ganache filled cakes, nutella-swirled desserts, and much more. The one that jumped out at me was the blondie recipe,–it just looked to die for!–but I wasn’t sure if it counted as a cupcake. However, when it came down to it, and I finally had time to make a recipe, I went with what I thought would be yummiest, the nutella blondie, and I’m glad that I did! For some reason its appearance did not turn out quite like the pictures I had seen online (it caved in almost like a soufflé), but after tasting them, it really didn’t matter. Here is the recipe, both for the blondie and the ganache I topped it with. I hope you enjoy!

Blondie recipe from: http://www.brannyboilsover.com/2012/02/17/nutella-swirl-blondies/

Ganache recipe from: http://ingoodtasteblog.net/in_good_taste/2011/01/chocolatenutella-ganache.html

Nutella Blondie Cupcakes with Nutella Ganache Drizzle 

Makes 10

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Nutella Blondie Cupcake 

1 cup all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

3 1/2 Tablespoons Nutella

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the packed light brown sugar, melted unsalted butter and

vanilla extract.

Once combined, mix in the beaten egg.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients until almost combined.

Take a spatula and fold the ingredients together.

Evenly spread the blondie batter into the baking pan.

Measure out the Nutella. Drop the Nutella on top of the blondie batter.

Drop the Nutella in three rows. (three drops in each row)

Swirl the Nutella up and down. Then back and forth.

Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes.

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Nutella Ganache

3/4 cup Nutella Hazlenut Spread 

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Place the nutella into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil and pour over the nutella. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the sea salt.

Let the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake, cupcakes or ice cream. If you’re using it to top a cake, start at the center and work outward.

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Wow, are these cupcakes good! (I figure, if they’re on my blog, and they’re wrapped in cupcake liners, then they count as cupcakes.) Anyways, the cake/blondie part on its own is delicious, and then when you add the Nutella swirl, they become even better! To top it off, though, the ganache adds an amazing chocolate-hazelnut flavor to get the perfect sweetness and even more special taste. Also, it was kind of nice having a cupcake that didn’t have mile-high piles of frosting on it (and the ganache was nice and simple, so it added a different kind of flavorful decoration).

I don’t really know why the blondies ended up caving in, though. When I mixed in the Nutella, I tried to avoid stirring in air bubbles or anything like that. I don’t have too much experience with blondies, though, so I have no idea whether it was the recipe, my oven (which has been so messed up as far as temperature goes that it could potentially be that!), or the swirls of Nutella that messed up it. Even so, the taste was delicious, and the appearance seems more homemade this way, I guess!

If any of you know why the blondies may have caved in, or if you choose to make these cupcakes and have similar (or different!) results, please let me know in the comments. I really do suggest making these because they’ve been one of the most delicious treats I’ve had in a while!

Anyways, I’ll see you guys soon with new blog posts (I have a few more recipes to write up already!), and until then, happy baking!

Lots of love,

Vienna

 

Letter O

Letter O: Oreo Cupcakes with Swiss Oreo Buttercream Frosting

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Letter O stands for “Only Option Considered is Oreo”. So good. I’ve been waiting for this flavor for such a long time (almost since I first started this blog!), but at the same time, I’ve also been a little afraid of it. How do I put cookies in the batter without them getting mushy? What will the texture be like? A million other questions like that haunted my dreams for days (well that might be a bit of an overstatement…), but nonetheless, I still thought Winter Break would be the best time to experiment with a potentially risky recipe. Also, my AMAZING cousins happened to be visiting for the holidays (hi Celia and Emma! They’re practically regulars on the blog seeing as they also helped with the delicious fudge brownie cupcakes), and we all thought Oreo cupcakes were sounding pretty yummy at the time! 🙂 So don’t worry, I will be getting to letter N eventually, but for now I hope you guys enjoy Letter O: Oreo Cupcakes!

Recipes combined/adapted from:

 http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-make-an-oreo-cookie-crust/

http://www.annies-eats.com/2010/06/02/cookies-and-cream-cupcakes/

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/07/project-wedding-cake-swiss-buttercream/

Oreo Cupcakes with Swiss Oreo Buttercream Frosting

Oreo Cookie Crust (for bottom base of cupcake)

3 cups finely crushed or ground Oreo cookie crumbs (40-45 cookies)

6 tablespoons melted butter

Place cookies in resealable ziplock bag and crush with hammer, or pulse cookies in food processor until finely crushed/crumbled.

Mix cookie crumbs and melted butter in bowl until thoroughly combined (look for even consistency)

Spoon crust into bottom of cupcake liners (just under a centimeter thick)

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Oreo Cupcake

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 2/3 cup sugar

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup milk

20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place previously made Oreo crust in bottoms and press down to level and flatten. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Swiss Oreo Buttercream Frosting

2 cups sugar

8 large egg whites

4 sticks softened, unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

Oreo cookie crumbs to taste (I think I used about 2 dozen cookies)

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. This can take a while so be patient! (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

Add the vanilla.

Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip.

(Now, if you choose to make it even more Oreo-y, fold in the cookie crumbs until evenly dispersed)

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Even though I was initially a little afraid of this recipe, I think these cupcakes turned out really well in the end! I love how they’re not your standard batter and super sugary frosting combo. In fact, these cupcakes took a bit of thought and planning, so I guess I’ll just share some quick tips, notes, and explanations with you now! To start off, before we even bought the ingredients I had been a little worried about how to incorporate an Oreo base without it getting mushy. Then I started thinking of some of my other favorite Oreo desserts and remembered my favorite part has always been the crust, which led to the less conventional cupcake with a cookie crust. The next thing I thought about (actually my awesome cousins brought this one to light!) was the amount of sugar that would be in these cupcakes and whether or not they would be too sweet. When we tried one even without frosting it tasted good, so that’s why, after a bit of searching, we decided to go with a swiss buttercream which has an awesome texture but isn’t nearly as sweet. Now I know the icing as well as the batter requires a lot of egg whites, so instead of using close to a dozen eggs and being stuck with all the yokes, I just bought a carton of pure egg whites instead. (I’m pretty sure that’s like some snooty baking no-no, but it worked out just fine in the end!) If you choose to go the liquid egg whites way, you can substitute 2 tablespoons liquid egg whites for one egg’s worth of whites. Now if you’re worried about the eggs being used raw in the frosting, they’re actually being cooked enough to kill the bacteria since it has to get hot enough to dissolve the sugar anyways (or so I’ve been told… at least none of us got sick after eating it, if that helps at all!) Lastly, I’m not sure if any of you notice how skillfully the frosting was globbed onto the cupcakes, but unfortunately it was not due to artistic license but because the cookie bits in the frosting wouldn’t fit through the icing tip. Therefore, I would either advise you to crush the cookies into extremely small almost crumb-sized bits or go for a spreadable approach before the icing bag gets clogged. So yeah, I think that’s about it! These cupcakes are SO good, and they’re more of a fun/not-so-ordinary/perfectly balanced recipe than your standard flavors.  So please try these cupcakes; I highly recommend them!

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P.S. I did end up trying a few cupcakes with a full Oreo cookie base (as opposed to crust), and while they are still delicious and would work just as well in a pinch, I think the crust is definitely worth it if you have the time! Also, those adorable cupcake liners that you can see in the picture above were a Christmas gift from previously referenced awesome cousins, and I just wanted to point them out on the blog and say thanks!

So until next time,

Vienna

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