Archive for June, 2010

Welcome! (and so many cupcakes!)

June 22, 2010

I’ve had this blog for 2 months now.  I keep thinking that I know what I want my first blog post to be about, but it’s either not interesting enough, or yummy enough, or not significant enough to be my first blog post.  I had so many reasons not to post.

But then.  Then something happened that basically screamed “1st blog post!!”  That something was cupcakepalooza.

Let me back up.  First of all, this is not the most typical food blog.  To really get the gist of what I’m trying to do, please go to the About Me section.  Any input would be tremendous.

Second of all, cupcakepalooza?  What is that?  Well, my wonderful cousin was having a pretty smashin huge birthday party and I (crazily, stupidly?) volunteered to make the cake.  For 200 people.  In New Jersey.

To try out the cupcake flavors beforehand, and to weed out the favorite flavors, I decided that I needed to have a cupcake party (i.e. cupcakepalooza) for some taste testing.  To get some Indian flavors in the mix, I made some chai latte cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream, vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose buttercream, pistachio cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream and mango cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting in addition to the dark chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting and lemon blueberry cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

I then asked about 30 of my closest friends to come over to try and comment on all of the flavors.  As it turned out, the chai cupcakes were a favorite.  No changes were necessary for that cake, and it made the cut for the party.  As for the others, the helpful comments included “couldn’t really taste the pistachio….or the white chocolate” for the surprisingly enough, pistachio white chocolate cupcakes, “tastes very rosy – but I don’t really know what rose is supposed to taste like,” for the vanilla buttermilk rose cupcakes, and “SO GOOD!” for the lemon blueberry cupcakes.

Taking these helpful and constructive comments into consideration, I decided to change the chocolate cupcakes to include a dark chocolate frosting for the chocolate lovers, and then take it completely in an Indian direction for the rest of the cupcakes – vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose syrup buttercream, mango cupcakes with mango cream cheese frosting, and chai cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream.

It seemed that most people thought that the light marshmallow frosting on top of the denser chocolate cupcake left a bit of an imbalance.  Though, overall, the chocolate cupcake was a winner – and every cupcake party should have at least one chocolate feature.  The mango cupcake was also well liked overall, but lacked some mango flavor.  To pump up the volume, I tripled the amount of mango that I put into the actual cake, while also adding some pureed mango into the cream cheese frosting.  The rose also needed a bit more punch.  I had a hard time deciding between using rose water and rose flavored syrup in the frosting, while keeping a vanilla buttermilk base.  The rose water was the only thing I used for the cupcake tasting, mostly because I thought that there would be a sweetness overload if I had used the syrup.  But even though it could be slightly detected, there wasn’t a strong enough rose flavor.  For the birthday party, I decided to use both.  Rose water in the actual cupcake batter and rose flavored syrup in the buttercream.

The party?  It was a success.  The transporting, the last minute frosting, the dependency on the arrival of a cupcake tier – all very stressful, but definitely worth it at the end.  And, if nothing else, it inspired my first of many blog posts.

I do hope that you come back here periodically to see what I’ve been cooking.  I look forward to having you.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake)

Yield: About 30 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Method

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

3. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Dark Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate frosting)

Yield: Enough to lightly frost 30 cupcakes

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.

2. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

3. Stir in vanilla.

Mango Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)
Yield: A lot of cupcakes – 40, maybe?

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of pureed mangoes (I used fresh Alphonso mangoes – delish)
8 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup milk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and mango puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk to blend.  Blend until soft peaks form.  Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Scoop into liners – filling until about 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake the cupcakes for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Mango Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Lots o’ frosting.  We had quite a bit leftover after frosting the 40 cupcakes liberally

Ingredients

8 ounces unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (depending on how sweet the mangoes are)

¾ cup pureed mango

Method

1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.

2. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in pureed mango.

Vanilla Rose Buttermilk Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)

Yield: About 48 cupcakes

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rose water

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, rose water and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition.

4. Fill each liner about half way (they really tend to rise).  Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Rose Syrup Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to frost half of the vanilla rose buttermilk cupcakes

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1/4 cup rose flavored syrup

Method

1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.

Chai Latte Cupcakes (directly from Happiness in a Pot)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup soy milk or rice milk

4 black tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose black tea)

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soy yogurt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon ground white or black pepper

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners
2. Heat soy milk in a small saucepan over medium till almost boiling. Add tea bags,
cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready, dunk teabags a few
times in soy milk and squeeze gently to extract any soy milk before removing.
Discard tea bags. Measure the soy milk and tea mixture and add more soy milk if it is
less than 1 cup.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and tea mixture until all
yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,
cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Mix until large lumps disappear; some small
lumps are okay.
4. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted
into the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

Cinnamon Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to liberally frost 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1.5 tsp cinnamon

Method

1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.

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