Sunday, April 15, 2012

Creamsicle Cupcakes: Sweet Delicious Nostalgia

I've been thinking a lot lately about what flavors the spring and summer will bring. When I was little, I used to love those little creamsicle cups (you know, the ones with the crappy wooden spoon). It got me thinking that it would be awesome as a cupcake for the warmer seasons - especially if it had a cream filling.

I loved how the creamsicle cups were half white and half orange, so I wanted to replicate that with my cupcakes. I did this with the frosting in the same way as I frosted my cabernet red velvet cupcakes. I filled one side of the bag with orange frosting, and the other side with vanilla. I even tinted the orange flavored one more orange. In case your wondering, filling the bag with two different colored frostings is not a particularly easy feat...

For the cupcakes, I added some orange extract, orange zest, and orange juice to a vanilla cupcake recipe. You might think this would make it taste way too orangey, but surprisingly it was just right. Here are the modifications I made:

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Follow the golden vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with the following adjustments.

Instead of 1 cup of soy milk, use 2/3 cup soy milk (or other nut milk, like almond).
Instead of 1 teaspoon of vinegar, use 1/3 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is best).
Instead of 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, use 1 teaspoon orange extract.
Add about 2 tablespoons orange zest.

I added a vanilla cream filling in the center which was amazing (there's a couple great recipes in the cupcake bible). For the frosting, I made a regular batch of vanilla buttercream and set half aside. Then I added orange extract and natural red and yellow food coloring so that it looked and tasted like delicious orange creamsicle goodness. Topped them off with some orange zest and I must say, these were perfect for summer and spring! With a very refreshing flavor, these are easily one of my new favorite cupcakes!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Cream Cupcakes: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I bet you thought I was going to make chocolate Guinness cupcakes, didn't you? Yeah, no. I've made them too many times. This was a time for something different. Something new. Something that I hadn't done before...

I didn't want to use alcohol again. I figured it was too cliche - you think Irish, you think alcoholics. I can get away with saying that because I'm some percentage take that. In any case, I thought back to my barista days when I worked at Starbucks. We never had Irish Cream flavor, but people always wanted it, so we would mix vanilla and hazelnut, and apparently that makes an Irish cream flavor. This was the approach I decided to take in St. Patrick's Day cupcakes. Afterall, I had to make up for the fact that I pissed off a leprechaun.

I made a test batch using just extracts for getting that Irish cream flavor. I used hazelnut, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee extracts. The chocolate I threw in for fun because I think it makes everything taste great. However, this didn't quite punch you in the face with that Irish cream flavor like I was hoping.

Back to the drawing board. I decided I could try using hazelnut butter to get more of that hazelnut flavor. BAM! That worked like a charm! The only problem, as is typical because it wouldn't be my kitchen if something didn't go wrong while I was baking, was that the hazelnut butter was completely separated. As in, all the oil was sitting on top and all the mushy hazelnut goodness was stuck to the bottom, so I had to stir it. In doing so, I managed to somehow splash the oil all over the place. I was being gentle dammit, I don't know what happened. I think a ninja somehow managed to take the spoon from my hand and splash me with hazelnut oil without me noticing (hence the ninja part).

Here's the kicker: you know nutella? That stuff is nasty. It's way too freaking sweet. It has as much sugar as frosting! Awful. Want to know what's great? Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. It's like nutella, only you don't feel like you're eating frosting. You feel like you're eating something that might actually be good for you. Oh, so what does this have to do with my Irish Cream Cupcakes? Oh, I filled them with it. Yeah, I went there.

So here's the recipe, for those of you wanting to give this a shot:

Makes 12 Cupcakes

2/3 C Almond Milk
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 C Hazelnut Butter
1/3 C Canola Oil
1 tsp Hazelnut Extract
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tsp Coffee Extract
1 tsp Chocolate Extract
1/3 C Granulated Sugar
1/3 C Stevia in the Raw
1 C All Purpose Flour
1/4 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tin with cupcake liners (I chose shamrock decorated ones, hehe). Whisk almond milk and apple cider vinegar so it curdles, set aside for a minute or so. Add the remaining wet ingredients and sugar and stevia. Sift in your dry ingredients and mix. Fill liners about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way. Use two teaspoons for the chocolate hazelnut butter - one to scoop it out, the other to push it into the cupcake. You can bury it a little if you want, but it's not necessary. I kind of liked it with it sitting on top a bit once they were all done.

In St. Patty's Day fashion, I decorated each cupcake with edible green glitter and a giant green marzipan shamrock. I hope I made that leprechaun happy now...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lemon Cupcakes with Coconut Custard Filling: Shark Attack!!!

Here's another biology inspired cupcake. These came in the day after we did our shark dissection, which I'll spare you the details of. But, sharks are freaking cool! So, why the hell not make some shark cupcakes!?

It was such a dilemma for me. You think sharks, you think tropical waters and beaches and scary shark attack movies. So, of course I needed to do some kind of tropical flavor...but what? It's still winter! What kind of tropical flavor can you enjoy in winter???

I opted for lemon. Not a purely tropical flavor, but light, and enjoyable. To add the touch of tropicalness I decided a filling of some sort would be necessary. I made a coconut custard one myself, based on a recipe from the cupcake bible of course. They didn't have a coconut filling, so I had to improvise. It was fun. Makes me feel like an evil mad scientist baker.

One problem here: I hadn't done filling in this way before. I'd done filling where you fill it and then bake it, but these required baking and then injecting the cupcakes with the filling. I had no idea what I was doing, which I'm pretty sure was apparent in some cupcakes. Particularly for my friend, Ashley. Luckily for her, since she hates coconut, she had barely any filling in her cupcake. Lesson learned: load those suckers till they explode.

And here's where more marzipan came in. YAY! I wanted to make full sharks, but after the ants took me so long, I opted to do shark fins coming out of blue frosting. I shaped the fins and painted them with edible silver glittter and blue powder. See? They look so shiny. It's like an ADHD sufferer's dream cupcake.

Probably my favoritest part about these cupcakes is that my friend, Chris, who is obsessed with sharks, loved them. Not just because they were shark cupcakes, but the flavor and filling too. Yay!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes: Fire Ants!

Currently, I am taking the second class in a three part biology sequence: Biology 212. Luckily, my professor is an Entymologist. This means that I am learning more about bugs than I ever hoped to know. So, as is only appropriate, the best way to kiss ass and help get yourself an A in a class is to make cupcakes for your teacher.

We had specifically been studying the Phylum Arthropoda, which includes bugs! My professor had mentioned that he had quite a bit of information about ants - which are in Phylum: Arthropoda, Subphylum: Hexapoda, Class: Insecta, and Order: Hymenoptera. This is where I get to put my nerd glasses back on.

I had just made my Valentine's day cupcakes (see Cabernet Red Velvet Cupcakes) and was still in a cupcake mood. Seeing as how we were having an exam two days after, I decided the best way to study would be to make a test batch of Fire Ant Cupcakes.

As you may have noticed, I'm not one for making your average, ordinary chocolate or vanilla cupcake. But I had a problem here - I wanted the cupcakes to look like a mound of dirt with an ant on it. So, what would look like a mound of dirt? Chocolate. But, that's BORING!

To the cupcake bible I went and I found the Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes. How perfect! I quickly put it together. I'll make a spicy chocolate cupcake and call them Fire Ant Cupcakes! Brilliant, right? I didn't even get this one from Pinterest!

Not only was I ecstatic about my Fire Ant Cupcake idea, I was completely elated by the fact that I would have another wonderful opportunity to play with marzipan. I mixed the marzipan with some cocoa powder and beet powder and got that perfect red ant color and went right to work at making my little ants.

It was so fun! Probably more fun than making my tiramisu cupcakes...but definitely much more time consuming. This stuff is sticky as hell and it's kind of like working with clay.You'll need to use powdered sugar as you would flour when rolling out dough. I made 24 of these guys, so it took me about 2 and a half hours. Mirko would be able to put together a lot of furniture from Ikea while I make these.

I didn't care, they were worth it! I LOVE how they turned out and was super excited to bring them to my class. I had my study buddy test them out first; he said they were great.

I had to modify the recipe so much that I'll post yet another recipe! Hooray!

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 C Almond Milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/3 C Canola Oil
1/3 C granulated Sugar
1/3 C Stevia in the Raw
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp chocolate extract
3/4 C All purpose flour
1/4 C Whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 C Almond flour
1/2 C Cocoa Powder
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your muffin tin with cupcake liners. Whisk the almond milk and vinegar and let it sit for a minute or two before adding in the oil, extracts, ground flax seed, sugar and stevia. Sift in the dry ingredients. The batter may be a little thick, so add a little extra almond milk if needed. Fill the liners and bake for 10 minutes and then decrease your oven temperature to 325 and bake for another 18 minutes.

It was fun! Oh, and everybody loved these - surprised the hell out of me since they were spicy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes: Beer + Chocolate = Fantastic!

I'll just stick with this alcohol theme. I promise I really don't drink. Mirko's co-workers on the other hand...

One of Mirko's co-workers came by his office wondering where the cupcakes were. Mirko asked him where the money was. Said co-worker ran off and came back with a cup with a $5 bill in it. This lead to "the Cupcake Fund." A little more was contributed and of course I just had to make some more cupcakes!

What with Mirko's co-workers all seeming to enjoy the cupcakes I make with alcohol (and also a request for more chocolate Guinness cupcakes) I determined that the Chocolate Stout cupcakes were much needed. This time I wasn't going to make them with Guinness though.

As mentioned in the Bourbon Cupcakes post, I had previously made Chocolate Guinness cupcakes, which are exactly the same as these, I just used Guinness for the stout. This time, in true Seattleite fashion, I used Elysian's Dragonstooth Stout. I also used more beer than last time. Turns out my idea of half almond milk half alcohol is the way to go if you want to actually taste the alcohol being used.

These cupcakes have a crumb topping, and then I still put frosting on top as well. Last time, this was problematic because the frosting would just stick to the crumbs and not stay on the cupcake. This was frustrating like you wouldn't believe.

It wouldn't be me to make cupcakes perfectly, so I put the crumbs on after I put the cupcakes in the oven. I had a brief heart attack when I realized that I put them in without the crumbs. This time, I put a little less crumbs on top and made the frosting thinner. This time I got pretty cupcakes!

Of course I added more stout to the frosting. They're beer cupcakes!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cabernet Red Velvet Cupcakes: Happy Valentine's Day

Ahh, Valentine's Day. So many love and loathe this holiday. I particularly love it because, let's face it, it has turned into Cupcake Celebration Day! All the pretty red velvet cupcakes come out along with vanilla ones with pink frosting. It's a cupcake-making-queen's dream.

I wasn't going to make just any cupcake this time around. I have spent too much energy investing in my new found ability to make my own cupcake concoctions. A cupcake-making friend of mine had mentioned making a wine inspired cupcake for a friend of hers. This gave me a wonderfully terrible idea.

There's this sparkling red dessert wine that I love. It's called Rose Regale. It's awesome. It has a red wine blend, raspberry, chocolate, and rose in it. It's so freaking good. I hadn't had it in a while, but for some reason when my friend mentioned wine in cupcakes, I just knew I had to make cupcakes with wine and rose. Sounds great right? It is how you make magic afterall.

At first I was thinking of doing chocolate and wine, but I quickly vetoed that with the idea of doing some red velvet. I just have one little problem with red velvet: red food dye. Yes, I am one of those people who can't stand the thought of chemicals and use only natural ingredients. I'd heard of using beet powder before, and I was ready to give it a try. Bring on the beet powder! careful, it likes to explode in your face.

I had to modify the recipe so much, that I will post it!!! Yay!!! It did start out from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but I had to switch a lot. I guess I'm going to reveal a couple of my secrets by doing this (like the fact that I substitute some flour with whole wheat pastry flour and don't use a lot of sugar). Oh well.

Couple things first: This batter is too thick. If you try making these, you will need to add a small amount of wine and almond milk until you get the correct batter consistency. If you're not sure what that should look like, try doing two tablespoons of wine and three tablespoons of almond milk. So here's the recipe:

Makes 12 Cupcakes

2/3 C Vanilla Almond Milk
1/3 C Cabernet
1 C All Purpose Flour
1/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C Stevia in the Raw
2 tbsp Cocoa powder
1/3 C Beet Powder
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp chocolate extract

If you're looking at this and thinking "where's the baking soda?" Good! The baking soda has to be eliminated because it reacts with the beet powder while it's baking and will give you brown cupcakes. This would make you sad. It made me sad the first time it happened to me.

Now that I've explained that, you'll want to bake them at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. If you want them to be nice and poofy, here's a trick: Start your oven at 350 and bake them for 10 minutes. Then, decrease the temperature to 325 for the remainder of the baking (you will have to add another 15-18 minutes if you do this). (That's another Pinterest tip. Seriously that site is amazing, follow me if you like).

Oh! So where do the roses come in?

Glad you asked. I made a rosewater buttercream. Take your regular buttercream frosting recipe (1 stick of Earth Balance, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp almond milk, "3 C powdered sugar," or in my case 1 lb of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp of rosewater). Add almond milk as necessary to get the right consistency. When I made mine, I added 2 tsp of rosewater, I didn't feel like 1 was rosy enough. But some people said it was little too rosy for them.

You may also be wondering about the glittery pink hearts on them. I started playing with marzipan!!! I was so excited to give this a try. I found a tiny little heart cutter and cut out some marzipan. Then, I painted them with edible pink pearlescent glitter (same stuff I used on my Earl Grey Cupcakes). This part was super fun...and also super sticky.

They ended up being great. Everyone said they tasted great and were amazed with how moist they were. One cupcake recipient said they were the best they'd ever tasted!

So there you have it! Cabernet Red Velvet Cupcakes with Rosewater Buttercream!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bourbon Cupcakes: Bad Mother F***er Cocktails

There have been several flavors of cupcake that I haven't shared with you. That's mostly because at the time I didn't realize that I would have a blog. A couple of those flavors were Cranberry Pear Champagne Cupcakes and Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes. For as much as I make cupcakes with alcohol, it's surprising how little I actually drink.

Every now and then, I get a request for a cupcake flavor. Not all of these requested flavors are in the cupcake bible, so it allows me to get creative. One of these requests came from one of Mirko's co-workers who'd had one of my Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes. He suggested I try making some with bourbon, so I figured that could be great! I also figured that if I was going to make whiskey cupcakes, they were going to be boozey-freaking-cupcakes!

So to the internets I went in search of a bourbon cocktail that would make for a delicious cupcake adaptation. Well I found this list. As you might imagine from the title of this post, the one that caught my eye was the Bad Mother F#$%er. 

So, to the liquor store I went to get some Jack Daniels and Vermouth. Then I got an orange at the grocery store. I also got a lemon for fun. I decided the raspberry syrup I had was close enough for the grenadine since I was only going to use a little tiny itty bit anyway. I felt like it was a strange shopping list. Maybe not. Whatever.

For the cake component of said cupcakes, I took a regular vanilla cupcake recipe and made them quite boozey. Normally, I use 1 cup of almond milk with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (to kind of substitute the fact that I don't use eggs I guess?) but in every other recipe that uses alcohol, they usually replace some (like 1/4 C) of that milk with alcohol. Well, I replaced half of the milk with alcohol (I said boozey). I may have done slightly more Jack than vermouth, I was going to be adding Stevia to the cupcakes later anyway...or was I? 

So I got everything together, or so I thought, and excitedly went to taste the batter before filling the liners. It tasted terrible! I was expecting this sweet delicious burning whiskey sensation and all I got was this terrible, sour flat bland burning sensation. I forgot the sugar and stevia. 

How the hell did I forget the sugar and stevia? You know, the most crucial aspect of cupcake baking? Well, ok maybe not, the most, it is. You can leave out the baking soda, have a flat cupcake and still have it be delicious if it's freaking sweet. Even if it's gooey! People will still eat it! But if it's not sweet? Forget it! This is why I always taste the batter. Because I know I do this kind of crap. Also because batter is usually delicious.

Into the batter went the appropriate amounts of sugar and stevia. I tasted it again and voila! There was that pleasant sweet burning whiskey sensation I had previously been seeking. I was in bourbon cupcake bliss. Well, bourbon cupcake batter bliss anyway. 

For the frosting, I made an orange butter cream with a hint of raspberry. This completed my Bad Mother F#$%er cupcake. Mirko assured me that he told everyone they were called  Bad Mother F#$%er cupcakes as well. Apparently they went over quite well.