Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tiramisu Cupcakes: Some Assembly Required

I have now mastered baking! ...well, at least I no longer suck at it. I have been able to successfully make several batches of cupcakes without forgetting any vital ingredients (I'm not sure I really illustrated how bad I used to be at baking in my first post). Those apple butter filled cupcakes? Yeah, I also made some filled with pumpkin butter. Those were good...NOT THE POINT. The point is, I decided that I was ready to take on a challenge - The Tiramisu Cupcake. These are fancy. Very fancy. I mean, look at them up there! Yeah, they were super fun to make too.

So, you may be wondering where all of my cupcakes go. Well, I give them mostly to my husband's team at Microsoft. Now, I'm not saying that my cupcakes help him keep his job, but I have been told that they have come up as a very important topic in meetings on more than one occasion. So of course fancy homemade tiramisu cupcakes are a great thing for him to bring to the office to share with his coworkers and multiple bosses.

Making these cupcakes was not unlike putting together furniture from Ikea. First was baking vanilla cupcakes. Next came mixing the liquor and coffee (that's right, more cupcakes with alcohol). Then was "coring" the cupcakes, followed by coating the inside with the liquor/coffee mixture. A vegan cream cheese frosting was then made (I added a little of the coffee liquor mixture to it, just for a little something extra) and the cupcakes were filled with the frosting.

Then the cores were placed back on the cupcakes. Next a dollop of frosting was added to each cupcake, followed by a dusting of cocoa and cinnamon (this time I did actually dust them, I remembered all too well how to properly dust from my apple butter filled cupcakes). Then I put a coffee bean on each cupcake and shaved some chocolate over them...I think next time we get furniture from Ikea, I'm making these while Mirko puts the furniture together. I'm curious to see who finishes first.

I'm probably making them sound like more of a nightmare than they are. They are actually really fun to make and well  worth the effort. They are super delicious. So delicious, and so fun, that I made them again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Apple Butter Filled Vanilla Cupcakes: Pinterest Addiction & Love of Autumn

Hi, my name is Diana, and I am a Pinaholic. It has been...4 minutes since I last pinned. If you have no idea what Pinterest is, I'm so sorry that I just told you about it. Please find me on there when you make your account (here I am). In any case, I get so many ideas from and everybody thinks I'm a genius, when really I'm just a copy cat. One of my favorite things about Pinterest is that there are a lot of cupcake ideas on there. One of my favorites during autumn was the apple butter filled vanilla cupcake.

Now I LOVE autumn. A lot of people do. And really, who can resist it? It's so damn pretty! I love the leaves changing colors, the leaves falling off the trees, the leaves blowing around in the wind, the contrast of the leaves against a clear blue sky...I like leaves o_O.

I get into the spirit of autumn September 1. I don't care that it's still summer. I don't care that it's still 80 degrees and not one leaf is red (it's Seattle, 80 is as hot as it gets). Autumn is coming, dammit. It's every where in the stores too, especially if you're a crafty person. You can't step into a Michael's or Jo-Ann's without being bombarded with leaves, pumpkins, and hay.

Everything screams harvest - especially Pinterest. So when those delightful looking apple butter filled vanilla cupcakes kept popping up every time I clicked "see more pins" (just one more page, I swear, then I'll go do something productive with my day) I just had to make them.

Many people had told me that apple butter is quite yummy, but I hadn't tried it myself yet. I trusted their judgement, so I jumped right into this idea. I picked up an organic apple butter and whipped up a batch of  golden vanilla cupcakes from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook. It was very easy to fill the cupcakes with the apple butter. The picture I'd seen of the cupcakes showed that the apple butter had sunk to the bottom of the cupcake; I assumed because the cupcake liners were filled half way, then the apple butter was added, then more cupcake batter was added. So, to avoid the apple butter sinking all the way to the bottom, I added it after I filled the liners as I normally would and just barely buried it. It worked perfectly. The apple butter ended up sinking to the middle of the cupcakes.

For the frosting, I made a vanilla buttercream and then dusted them with cinnamon. When I say I "dusted" them, I mean I accidentally poured an entire jar of cinnamon all over the first few and then dusted the rest. The pictures were taken from the lesson learned. However the over-cinnamoned ones I found to be tastier than the other ones...but, I also really really like cinnamon. In any case, these ended up being the perfect cupcakes for autumn!

Margarita Cupcakes: The Cupcakes That Started It All

I used to be really bad at baking. I mean really bad. It was not uncommon for me to call my mother frequently while baking greeting her frantically with "BAKING EMERGENCY!!!" My father would be in the background saying "she really shouldn't bake."

The best part about my atrocious baking is that before I was really horrible at it, I was really good at it. When I was a teenager, I would bake scones, muffins, cakes, cookies - all sorts of things. Nothing too fancy, mind you, but the fact is that I could bake. Something went wrong when I moved out and I had my own kitchen and I cooked all the time. A part of my brain said "Measuring? You have to measure stuff? You have time for that? Oh HELL no!" And there went my baking skills. At least, that's the story I'm going with.

This is probably the part where I should mention that I'm vegan. I wasn't when I was a teenager. I went vegan about a year after I moved out of my parents' house. For a long time I thought I had to use egg replacers in order to accomplish the fantastic fluffy cakes and perfect cookies of non-vegan bakers. Took me a while to learn that there's a lot to be done without those weird ingredients.

Anyhow, so what got me to change my non-baking, non-measuring ways? So here I was, going to a Mexican themed party, and for no good reason whatsoever I determined that I was going to make cupcakes. It just came to me. I found a recipe online (that I later found out came from what I now call my "Cupcake Bible" - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) and I decided to just give it a shot. I was extremely excited because it meant going to the liquor store to get one of those adorable little bottles of tequila. That's right, these cupcakes really had alcohol in them.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew one of my biggest downfalls was always forgetting some important baking soda....or baking powder...something that makes them rise. I was very careful, I think I read that recipe like 6 times to make sure I had everything in there before I filled the liners - I was very paranoid. Confident that I hadn't missed anything, I put them in the oven and proceeded to the frosting; this is where the phone call to mom occurred. Well,not quite yet.

The frosting also had the tequila in it as well as lime juice. After the cupcakes were done baking (and they actually turned out perfectly! I was amazed!) and cooled, I started frosting them with what I thought was decent frosting. Remember this - the cupcakes were cooled. The frosting came out of the tip like a melty mess. So, I called my mom and she guided me through thickening up my frosting.

This is where I learned the very important lesson that all frosting recipes LIE when it comes to the quantity of powdered sugar required to make an appropriate frosting. After adding the rest of the bag of powdered sugar (don't worry, I don't get the 2 pound bags...I always forget how much is in the ones I's not two pounds o_O) I finally got the frosting that was needed to achieve that pretty looking cupcake that you see at the bakery.

And that was it! I added some lime wedges to each cupcake and stood back completely amazed that I had actually successfully baked something - and that it looked GREAT! These things actually looked like I bought them! I had to take pictures. I also called my mom. She didn't believe me. I sent her the pictures. Not only did they look pretty, but they also tasted good! When my husband and I went to the party, everybody actually liked the cupcakes!

So there you have it. The cupcakes that started it all.