Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes are for extreme cookie lovers.  These cupcakes are dense, sweet, full of chocolate, & a little tangy thanks to the cream cheese frosting.  They start with a cookie base, the cupcake is a delicious vanilla cake filled with more chopped up cookies, topped with a dollop of rich cream cheese frosting, and finished with a dusting of cookie crumbs.  If you're an extreme cookie lover, they can even be decorated with half a cookie, or a mini cookie!

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes
slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

Yield: 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
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, quartered (I used the leftover pieces without the cream)
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 (8 oz) packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners.  Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up.  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.
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.  Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and/or garnish with Oreo halves.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hummingbird Cupcakes

A delicious cupcake from Martha herself: Hummingbird Cupcakes.  These cupcakes are from the south & the fruity flavors were a hopeful attempt at bringing the spring weather out.  I hadn't tried these cupcakes before, but the banana, pineapple & coconut flavors combine perfectly into a moist, tender cupcake.  The nuts give it a great crunch, & the cream cheese icing tied it all together.  

Hummingbird Cupcakes
from Martha Stewart

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans
  • 1 cup coconut

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.with rack in center. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    3. In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in flour mixture.
    4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes. (mine only took 22)
    5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, and decorate with a swirl of cream cheese frosting (recipe to follow)

    • Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 2 (8 oz) packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
    • 8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla
    • 3 Tbsp heavy cream

    • Cream the butter and cream cheese until mixed well, about 1 minute.  Slowly add in powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add vanilla and cream & beat until fluffy.  Pipe onto cupcakes using a large tip & decorating bag or an offset spatula.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spicy Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus

Yes, sometimes I actually cook instead of bake!  This is a recipe I found while going through some cooking blogs that looked quick, easy, & healthy.  I used asparagus instead of green beans, because it's what I had!  We both liked this dish - it was just the right mix of spicy & a little sweet.

Recipe (slightly adapted) from Stephanie Cooks

3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp. oil (sesame preferred, vegetable/olive will work)
2 tsp. chili sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch, dissolved in 4 tsp. cold water
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 lb asparagus, steamed
Sesame seeds

1- Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl, whisk well to combine (soy sauce through chili sauce).
2- Add to a small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Let the sauce simmer for 2 minutes.
3- Stir in the dissolved cornstarch mix. Return to a simmer, cook until thickened (it should coat a spoon).
4- In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, add the shrimp. Cook until both sides are cooked through. Add the cooked asparagus to the skillet, along with the sauce. Stir well to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wilton Flowers

Flowers from the first day of Flowers & Cake Design class:

Button Flowers:

The button flowers are made from gum paste, using the button flower cut & press set.


The pansies are also made from gum paste, using a fondant cutter and various tools to thin & curl the edges.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day

If you are unfortunate, as I am, and had to spend St. Patrick's Day at work, these cupcakes are a perfect way to celebrate.  Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, as they have so affectionately been names, are a chocolate cake made with stout, filled with a Jameson Irish Whiskey chocolate ganache, and finally topped with a Bailey's Buttercream.

I made the recipe last year & it was a big hit. I knew I couldn’t show up to work today without these! I wish I could take the credit for these delicious cupcakes, but the recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs,  As expected, these cupcakes were thoroughly enjoyed by my coworkers today.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 18 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. Use the “cone method” to carve a hole out of the centers of your cupcakes to make room for the filling. Discard (or eat!) the pieces.

Baileys Frosting
6 to 8 cups confections sugar
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
4 to 6 tablespoons Baileys

Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, pour in the Baileys, starting with 4 tablespoons, and increasing to reach your desired consistency.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wilton Cake

This was my final cake from the Wilton Gum Paste & Fondant class.

The cake is a 4 layer lemon cake with strawberry filling & lemon curd/whipped cream filling, frosted with a vanilla buttercream, & covered in fondant. The stripes are made of black tinted gum paste, and the daises are also made from gum paste. The border is made of a 50/50 fondant gum paste mix. The cake is on a fondant covered cake board.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Butterfly Cupcakes

These cupcakes were inspired by Hello, Cupcake!

This is a jumbo sized chocolate cupcake, with cream cheese/whipped cream filling, and covered in dark chocolate ganache. The butterfly is made by drawing the wings with melted chocolate onto parchment paper. Let them set, and use marshmallows or chocolate chips to prop into place. Pipe the butterfly body on after the wings are in place.