Friday, April 30, 2010

Butterfly Cupcakes

I wanted to make my supervisors something unique and special as a way to thank them for their hard work and perseverance. Even though I own "Hello, Cupcake" book, I completely forgot about them until Chef Mommy blogged about them recently. With spring upon us, I thought these would be an appropriate treat.


The end result was beautiful. I loved the colors, and they did look so pretty on top of the cupcakes. As one of my supervisors stated, "they're too pretty to eat". SCORE! However, making the butterflies were time consuming. This was also the first time I used candy melts/wafers. Having done this, I've listed a few tips to help you (and a note to myself) when you make these. In all honesty though, the cupcakes were so pretty, and I was very happy with the results! Happy spring, and thank you Kristie, Robert, and Tina for all your dedication and hard work you've done for me and Fraud.

Tips & Notes
- Prep work: You can make the butterflies and antennas up to 2 days in advance. I am so glad I did. Make sure to set aside an afternoon to make these so you don't feel rushed
- Make extras: Make extra wings and antennas. They are delicate and can break easily if use too much pressure when assembling them on top of the cupcakes
- Be careful: Be fragile when assembling the butterfly wings on top of the cupcakes as they are delicate
- Bottles: I used bottles to outline the wings and fill them in. I would highly suggest using the bottle to outline the wings, but NOT to fill them in (use Ziploc baggies for those.) I had a mug filled with very hot water to keep the bottle warm (and to prevent the candy wafers from hardening)

Butterfly Cupcakes
Ingredients:
Wax paper
Plastic baggies
Scotch tape
Squeeze bottle
Dark cocoa candy melts
Colored candy melts (whatever color you would like the wings to be) (You can purchase these at Michael's or Hobby Lobby for $2.99 per bag)
Mug of hot water (to set the squeeze bottle in)
Toothpicks
White nonpareils
1 batch of vanilla cupcakes
1 batch of vanilla buttercream (My favorite recipe is below)
Food coloring (for the frosting)
Chocolate chips (or M&Ms work well too)
Canned chocolate frosting

Directions:
1. Draw your butterfly wing template on a piece of paper. Place on a metal baking sheet. Cut out squares of wax paper large enough to fit pairs of wings, and some smaller ones for antennae.




2. Place 1 cup of the dark cocoa wafers in a glass bowl, and 1/2 cup of colored candy melts in a plastic bag (do not close the baggie) set into a glass mug. Reinforce a corner of the plastic baggie with some scotch tape. Microwave in 10 second intervals, unsealed, massaging the candy melts in between, until the candy is completely melted and no lumps remain.
3. Pour the dark cocoa wafers into a squeeze bottle. For the colored candy wafers, press out the excess air in the bag and seal. Push the mixture down to one corner of the bag, and snip off a very small corner (where you reinforced with scotch tape).
4. Trace the outline of the wing template with the dark cocoa melted candy. Do one wing at a time- outline and then the colored filling, otherwise it will be too set to swirl by the time you have outlined two wings. I also had a mug filled half way with very hot water nearby. I put the squeeze bottle in the mug to keep the cocoa melted in between each wing set. Use a toothpick to gently spread the colored cocoa to fill the wing. Be generous with the colored candy melts, so that it will spread all the way to the sides.





*Note – tracing the outline was definitely the thing I found most challenging initially, but eventually I got the hang of it. Keeping the tip of the squeeze bottle very close to the wax paper and going slowly helps keep things neat.





5. Use a toothpick to swirl the edges and the filling together slightly. While the
candy is still soft, use a toothpick to pull the outside dark cocoa into the colored middle part, to create a pattern.(Here is a close-up of the "swirls")




6. Rap the baking sheet against your work surface a few times until the filling and outline spread together.
7. Sprinkle the top and bottom of each wing with a few white nonpareils. The melted candy will begin to cool and harden as you work. If it becomes to stiff to work with, microwave for 10 more seconds until melted again. (This step is very important – if you think you might need to reheat the candy, definitely do it. You will save yourself a lot of messed up wings by keeping the candy melted.) Add a few sprinkles before the wings set. Then set aside to dry.




7. Repeat this process with more candy melts until you have enough sets of wings for all your cupcakes. Let set completely, or place in the fridge to quicken the hardening process.
8. You also need to make pairs of antennae for your butterflies. Basically, just draw a template with a very narrow “V” shape, long stem and curved ends. Trace chocolate onto wax paper in the shape of the antennae as you did with the wings. Allow to set completely.
9. Once the wings are completely dry, gently peel them from the wax paper.
10. Tint frosting with food gel, and frost your cupcakes as desired. (I think the frosting colored to match the butterfly wings looks great!)
11. Place two chocolate chips on top of each frosted cupcake, about half and inch apart. These will help support the butterfly wings.




12. Place the wings on top of the chocolate chips. (I wiped a small amount of frosting out from in between the wings to make room for the body.)
13. Place the chocolate frosting in a plastic bag with a tip cut off. Pipe it on in a line of small blobs to look like a body between the wings. Stick the chocolate antennae into the frosting at the head of the butterfly.





Source: As seen on Chef Mommy and Annie's Eats

My favorite buttercream frosting
I love this frosting since it's quick, easy to pipe/frost, and super tasty (without being too sweet). My go-to buttercream frosting recipe.


Ingredients:

20 tablespoons (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups Confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
1/8 tablespoons table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
Yield: 3 cups
Source: Cook's Illustrated

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Trying to use up some leftover buttermilk, I was eager to make this cake for several reasons. First, most ingredients are what I have on hand. Second, it was prepped and put into the oven in less than 10 minutes. Third, strawberries have been on sale, and I wanted something fruity yet light for dessert. I made this recipe exactly as written, and this cake produced a light and airy dessert for a spring evening. This could also be a great dessert for a brunch. Everything came together beautifully. If you don't have strawberries, you can also try raspberries (originally written by Gourmet), or blackberries or blueberries... any berry would be fine in this recipe.



Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk*
1 cup fresh strawberries(about 5 ounces)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla.
4. Add egg and beat well.
5. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
6. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar.
7. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. (25 minutes was perfect for me.)
8. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

* Make your own buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk, no worries! Just add 2 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 cup of milk. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, and voila- buttermilk!

Source: Adapted from Gourmet

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

If you're a fan of cookie dough, stop and make these! It is my last day in my current department, so I wanted to bake cupcakes for my staff. I thought these were such a cute concept, and quite frankly- I don't know if I like the cookie dough or baked cookies better. With this recipe, you can have both. The cupcakes smell, look, and taste JUST like their raw cookie dough counterpart. Once baked, the cupcakes are filled with a cookie dough filling, and then topped with a cookie dough frosting and mini chocolate chip cookie. My staff gave it rave reviews, and I love the originality.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

For the filling
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
2½ tsp vanilla extract

For decoration
Tiny chocolate chip cookies
Mini chocolate chips (I used Mini Chips Ahoy cookies)

Directions:
To make the Cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (30 total). 2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated.
6. Blend in the vanilla.
7. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling
1. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up a bit, about an hour. (I skipped this step as my mixture was already pretty firm.)

To fill the cupcakes
1. Cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake. Make sure to made the hole wide enough to fill in the filling. (I used a mini cookie scoop and it worked perfectly.)
2. Fill each hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture.

To make the frosting
1. Beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy.
2. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
3. Beat in the flour and salt.
4. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.
5. Frost the filled cupcakes as desired, sprinkling with mini chocolate chips and topping with mini chocolate chip cookies for decoration. (Make sure to put enough frosting on top so you can nestle the mini cookie on top.)

Yield: 30 cupcakes

Source: As seen on Annie’s Eats

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cherry Coke Cupcakes

My friend Naomi recently made these cupcakes for her daughter's 1st birthday party, and I loved them. I love Cherry Coke, and due to this recipe, it's now in eatable form- what a neat idea! These cupcake treats have a light, chocolate buttermilk cake base with maraschino cherries baked inside. The cupcakes are then topped with a sugary glaze made with Coke (don't skip this step- it helps bring out the taste of the Coke), and then topped with a pretty spiral of whipped cream and a cherry. I "plopped" the whipped topping on top of the cherries- if you want to pipe it, I'd suggest doubling the amount of topping ingredients. Overall, so adorable. (For a festive look, red foil liners would be a nice touch.)

Cherry Coke Cupcakes
Ingredients:
For the cupcakes
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
¾ cup Coca-Cola (Don't use diet)
¼ tsp maraschino cherry juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
48-60 Maraschino cherries, stemless (28-oz jar of cherries was plenty)

For the glaze
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp Coca-Cola

For topping (If you plan to pipe the frosting, double the ingredients)
2/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 Tbsp powdered sugar
10-12 Maraschino cherries

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a muffin pan with foil or paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
4. Mix in the egg until incorporated.
5. In a bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, Coke, maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla extract; stir to combine. (This mixture may look disgusting and/or curdled – it’s okay!)
6. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture on low speed, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners. Drop 3-4 stemless maraschino cherries into each cupcake well and push them down into the batter. Bake for about 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze
1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and Coke in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. 2. Spoon or drizzle a small amount of the top of each cupcake. Allow to set.

To make the whipped cream topping
1. Add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin whipping on medium speed, slowly adding the confectioners’ sugar and gradually increasing the speed to high as the cream holds soft peaks. Whip until the cream holds stiff peaks, being careful not to overbeat.
2. Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top of the cupcakes and top each with a maraschino cherry.

Yields: 12 cupcakes

Source: Originally from Coco Bean, Adapted from Annie’s Eats
 
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