Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Butterfly Cupcakes

2 years ago I started a tradition making cupcakes for my little brother's 7th birthday party. His birthday was hosted at the Tracy Aviary and the theme was "Flying Things". Subzero came and did a delicious demonstration with flying liquid nitrogen bottles! I wanted to try something fun and different so I made chocolate Monarch butterflies for the cupcakes. I was surprised how good they turned out! It was a ton of fun and I am sure I will make butterflies again!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

French Toast Maple Bacon Cupcakes! Yeah Baby!

Why the heck not?! You know everyone wants to try one. Here is the infamous French Toast Maple Bacon Cupcake. It is a french toast cake with maple frosting and bacon crumbles on top (I like to call them my "bacon sprinkles") It was pretty good. I mean it had bacon....on a maple cupcake!
During this adventure and a few others since, I have found the secret to deliciously crispy bacon.....gaaaahhhh (insert drool and homer voice.) Drum roll please..............................the oven! That's right, cooking your bacon in the oven is the best way to get your bacon perfectly crispy and tender every time. About 350 degrees for 20 minutes on a rack on a baking sheet (depending on your oven). That's it!
Go try it. You'll be amazed! 

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Last October I made these cute pumpkin cookies that got some rave reviews. They are sugar cookies dipped in an orange flavored chocolate with green sprinkles for the stems. I thought they turned out really cute. I am sure I will make these again in the future.  

Chocolate Coconut and Bananas Foster Cupcakes

I was asked to make cupcakes for a monkey themed 1 year old birthday party over the holidays so I decided to make some coconut and banana cupcakes. Not just any coconut and banana cupcakes would do, oh no, I had to amp them up a bit for some pizzaz! So I made chocolate coconut cake with a coconut frosting topped with coconut flakes and bananas foster cake with a rich caramel frosting topped with a chocolate dipped banana chip. It was a little time consuming but well worth it as the final results looked so cool. Who knew monkeying around with coconut and bananas would be so fun!
Tip: Too much coconut flavoring will burn your lips. Add cautiously.

Vanilla Cupcakes

I made these cute little pink cupcakes for my neice's birthday back in November. (See failed attempt below) One of her favorite colors is pink so, alas, pink frosting. This is a vanilla cupcake with silky vanilla frosting. mouth is watering. Enjoy.

Pink Velvet Buttermilk Cupcakes

Here are some Pink Velvet Buttermilk Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting. They were supposed to come out as a bright flourescent pink but they pretty much turned out red. I originally made these for my niece for her birthday in November because her favorite colors are hot pink and purple, but since they didn't turn out I fed them to my colleagues at work and made some different cupcakes for her. Enjoy.

4th of July Cupcakes

Like I said, I am playing catch-up with a bunch of cupcakes I made last year so this is back from July! I made Flag Cupcakes for the annual 3rd of July celebration with family! Unfortunately I never made it to the party because my back went out but they still got eaten! They were made out of yellow butter cake, vanilla buttercream frosting, strawberries and blueberries.  :)  Enjoy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Valentine's Cookies

Sorry it has taken me so long to post my valentine cookies I made for....wait for guessed it!Valentine's Day! It was a new experience for me and a ton of fun! I loved it. I will definitely be making some more designer cookies soon!
Ok, well these aren't cookies but I did try to make some petit four hearts and it was a complete disaster! These were the only few that looked even remotely decent. I'll try them again. I don't give up that easy.
Now onto the cookies!

Sorry the pictures look so bad. I tend to do my baking at night and so I have artificial I know close to nothing about cameras. Boo.

Designer Sugar Cookies
⅔ cups Shortening
¾ cups Sugar
4 tsp Milk
1 tspVanilla
1 wholeEgg
9 oz (2 cups) Flour
1½ tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt (I use fine crystal sea salt)

Mix the shortening and sugar with a mixer until well blended. Add the milk, vanilla, eggs and blend. Gradually add the rest of the dry ingredients until the mix forms a soft dough. More flour may be needed for rolling out the dough.

Roll out to about ¼ to 1/3 inch thickness. This makes 12 large cookie shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes (for small cutters) to 9 minutes (for large cutters). You can freeze these in airtight containers for several months before icing and serving.

Royal Icing by sweet Dani B:
Yields: 2.5 cups

¼ cup meringue powder
1/2 cup cold water
1 lb powdered sugar
Squeeze bottles
Food coloring gel

Using a handmixer, beat together the meringue powder and the water until you see good trails where the whisk has been. Slowly beat in sugar until well blended and you see trails again. Mix food coloring in to desired shade.
For writing, add more powdered sugar until correct consistency is achieved (so it doesn’t run) and use a small writing tip.
The natural color is off-white. If you want this icing to be white you have to color it white with a food color dye.

Sugar Cookies

I had my hand at some sugar cookies the other day at Ben's request. I tried a new recipe and didn't care for it. I will stick with the tried and true. Enjoy.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

Red Velvet Cake Balls are the perfect dessert for a company party! Especially if your company color is red! Enjoy.

Cake Ball Gift Bag

I made some chocolate fudge cake balls and decided to drizzle them with different flavors. I did vanilla (blue), mint and orange drizzles. 3 Cake balls in 1 batch! They were tasty too! Enjoy.

French Macarons and Cupcake Ruffles

My first attempt at French Macarons was a blast. They actually turned out quite good! I thought it was going to be really hard. I did go a little crazy with the food coloring though. :) I had never tried them before and they are actually quite tasty!  
 I also tried out a buttercream ruffle on my mini spice cupcakes. They turned out cute too. Enjoy.

Cocoa Cream Cheese Cake Balls with Mint Drizzle

I made these a while back for a cookie exchange for MJ. They were definitely tasty. This was my first attempt at cake balls and they turned out great! I think they are perfect for cookie or treat exchanges.
Try them next time! Enjoy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Another birthday cupcake! I made a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting this time. Red Velvet is the most requested flavor for both cupcakes and cake balls that I get. It is quite enjoyable. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes

A while back I made cupcakes for my niece's birthday party. She is really into flamingos and pink stuff so, naturally, I had to make strawberry cupcakes!  I supplied the cupcakes and mom supplied the Hot Pink Flamingo Sprinkles! They were both darling and delicious! Perfect Combo! Enjoy.

Yields: 2 dozen regular cupcakes

7 oz (1½ cups) fresh or frozen strawberries (thawed)
375 g (1½ cups) all-purpose flour , sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
440 g (1 cup) sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
4 large egg whites at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners and set aside.

Place strawberries in a small food processor and process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree if you measured the strawberries by volume. Save any extra for the frosting.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla and strawberry puree.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add the egg and egg whites until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended. You don’t want to overmix the batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins filling the cups ¾ full. Place in the oven and bake until tops spring back when lightly touched and/or a toothpick comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the muffin tins to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool completely in the tin before frosting.
Store in the refrigerator if not eaten immediately.

Strawberry Frosting
Yields: Enough for 2 dozen cupcakes

5 oz (1 cup) fresh frozen strawberries (thawed)
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
½ cup Butter flavored shortening
Pinch of salt
875 g (7 cups) confectioners' sugar (Can use less if desired for decreased sweetness)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Puree strawberries in a food processor. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree. Mix until well blended.

This recipe is very sweet as well as slightly tart from the strawberries. It is extremely flavorful and tasty! Color for both the batter and frosting are naturally pink from the strawberries!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cupcakes Anyone?! Blue Velvet Cream Cheese, Pumpkin Spice Honey Cream Cheese, Chocolate Buttercream

So, I am going to play catch-up with my posting. I have a lot of treats that I made last year but haven't posted about. I'll post them as soon as I can. Stay Tuned...

Back in November....
My little brother's 8th birthday party was outrageous. Hosted at the Jordan Commons IMAX theater, we had some chaotic fun and good treats and then everyone headed into the theater to see Megamind 3-D. Let me just say that I loved it! Entertaining for adults and kids! 4 stars!

Besides having some great entertainment, we had some good eats! I made the cupcakes for his birthday (as is tradition) and had a ton of fun doing it. The party theme was obviously Megamind, who is a blue space villian, so the color blue and stars was the major theme!
I was a baking fool (I baked over 100 cupcakes!). I'm not sure how many actually ended up at the party because Ben had to keep taste testing them for me. He's so sweet like that.....actually I really did make him taste test these because I ended up having to change quite a few of the original recipes. I made Chocolate Cake with Blue Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Blue Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. They were fabulous!  Enjoy.

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Blue Velvet Cake with Sweet Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Blue Velvet Cake with Sweet Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: 24 regular cupcakes +  24 mini cupcakes

2 cups sugar
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, firm and slightly cold
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Wilton royal blue gel food coloring
1 small dab of Wilton violet gel food coloring
2½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (slightly cold)
4 cups powdered sugar (or less depending on how sweet you like it)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pans with cute paper liners.

Cream together the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs in a slow stream and mix until combined. Mix the cocoa powder and food colorings together to form a thick paste (wear gloves and an apron!), add to the sugar mixture and mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Combine the milk and vanilla in a cup. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix only until just combined. Add ½ of the buttermilk and mix only until just combined. Again, add 1/3 flour and mix until just combined, then rest of buttermilk mixing until just combined, then finally the last 1/3 of the flour. Mixing until just combined. Try not to overmix or you will get dense cupcakes that may not rise. In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar (let fizz) and add to mixture and stir until just incorporated.

Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop even amounts of batter into each of the cups. The batter should be thick. Bake for 25-30 minutes for regular cupcakes or 9-10 minutes for mini cupcakes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed beat until incorporated so it doesn’t fly all over like Mt St Helens. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy (a few minutes).

To Decorate:
Place the cream cheese frosting in a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip. The size of the tip will determine the size of your swirls. I used a Wilton 1A. Using 1 hand to squeeze from the top and the other hand to guide, start in the middle of the cupcake and slowly squeeze as you swirl to cover the top of the cupcake with frosting (this should only take about 2 rows of frosting). Once you have covered the whole top continue on to do a second layer slightly smaller than the first but starting on the outside and ending in the middle this time. Pull up to make a cute point at the top.
To make the stars, take your few ugliest plain cupcakes (not that there would be any…;) out of their papers and mash them together so they feel like a dry paste. Flatten it onto some parchment paper as thick as you want your star or other shape to be. Use a cookie cutter or a knife to cut out the desired shape. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and place on the cupcake.
For mini cupcakes: You can use a different technique by squeezing frosting straight down onto the middle of the cupcake top and letting the frosting spread as far to the edge as you want. Pull up still squeezing slightly and then let go pulling straight up.