Monday, April 29, 2013

Kahlua Cupcakes

I have three weeks (actually, it's more like 19 days, but who's counting?) until I graduate college and move back home. Where I know, for a fact, that my mom already has a ton of flour, sugar, and other necessary baking ingredients. Which means I need to use my ingredients up. Darn, that means I have to bake (sarcasm). Plus, I have a terrible case of senioritis which is preventing me from studying for the final I have tomorrow. The best cure for senioritis? Cupcakes, of course.

Since one of the ingredients I have to use up in the next 19 days is the majority of a bottle of Kahlua, I figured I'd make Kahlua cupcakes. I tried chocolate Kahlua cupcakes before, but I think the chocolate overpowered the Kahlua. So, I found a recipe for White Russian cupcakes from Baked Perfection and modified it to meet my needs/ingredients. Plus, I made half a batch. I also used my own recipe for the frosting...which was really just me mixing stuff together until it tasted good. Ha, story of my life.

Anyway, these are delicious. Perfect amount of coffee/Kahlua-ness. The frosting is a little sweet, but I was trying to use the end of my bag of powdered sugar and was not measuring anything. My fault there.

Kahlua Cupcakes
Makes about 6 cupcakes

  • 5/8 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/8 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    *the original recipe calls for salt, but since I used salted butter, I eliminated that. If using unsalted butter, throw a pinch of salt in.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line cupcake pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix together flour and baking powder; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, cream the butter & sugar until combined and the butter is totally creamy.
  4. Add the egg; mix well. Add the vanilla, mix well.
  5. In one liquid measuring cup, measure out the 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 1/4 cup Kahlua (should equal 1/2 cup of liquid). 
  6. Alternate between adding the flour and liquids to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Mixing just enough to incorporate the ingredients between each addition.
  7. Scoop batter into cupcake pan. I have found that two full soup spoonfuls of batter is the perfect amount per cupcake.
  8. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Check at 15 minutes with a toothpick inserted into the middle; if it does not come out clean, bake for another few minutes. Mine baked for 17 and were perfectly done.
  9. Let cupcakes cool in the pan until touchable; take out of pan and let them finish cooling on a rack or the counter or the kitchen table.
  10. Once completely cool, frost.
I'm not going to include the recipe for the frosting, since I don't have one. What I'm going to suggest, is that you use the Mocha Buttercream from my previous post, just without the melted chocolate or cinnamon. Also, for 6 cupcakes, you'll want to half that recipe. Use either Kahlua or strong coffee in the frosting; it's up to you. I used four-hour old coffee and it's delicious. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Caramel Cake

Let's start by stating that I am not from the South. I have only been to the south twice: both to Florida and never once tasted a Caramel Cake. Therefore, I am not an expert on how Caramel Cake should taste. Or look. Or smell. I did, however, read "The Help" and have wanted to try Caramel Cake since then. Because it sounds delicious, even though I barely even like caramel.

I've been waiting for the proper time to try making (or to make an abomination supposed to be) caramel cake. I decided today was the day. Mostly because I've been craving donuts but figured this would satisfy my sweet tooth (I was too lazy to walk across the street to the gas station, but not too lazy to make cupcakes, go figure) and because I have a serious case of Senioritis. It's debilitating in terms of completing homework.

Anyway, I found the recipe via FudgeRipple via Pinterest (whose directions were meant to make two seven inch cakes; I halved that to make a reasonable amount of cupcakes). Also, instead of using only white sugar in the cake, I used 1/2 Cup of brown sugar and 1/4 Cup white sugar. I've mentioned before that I like brown sugar better, and I personally thought it went better with the overall thought of Caramel Cake. Also also, FudgeRipple uses cake flour; as a not-well-off college student, have AP do I used that.

These seemed like a lot of work. And it was actually really easy. Not counting cooling time/washing dishes time/finding all the ingredients time, it probably only took me about an hour from start to finish. 

 Cake Recipe:
Ingredients for about 12 cupcakes (I got 11 instead of 12).
  • 2 oz egg whites (I took this to be 2 egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  •  1.5 cup All Purpose flour (minus 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the egg whites, most of the milk (like 2/3 of the milk. I know it's a weird measurement, just eyeball it), and vanilla until the egg whites aren't goopy anymore. 
  3. In another bowl (medium-sized), combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Stir. 
  4. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix until you no longer have large pieces of butter. I found that using a hand-held pastry blender worked better than a whisk. If you don't own that, a fork would work as well. Also, I felt like I was making pie crust.
  5. Add the leftover milk to the dry ingredients and combine as best you can. 
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, in three additions. Make the additions as even as possible. Mix well after each addition, but not too much. After the second addition, it will look like super mushy oatmeal and you'll think you've ruined it. Don't worry, keep adding/mixing.
  7. The batter is slightly lumpy. 
  8. Scoop batter into the cupcake pan. I use one soup-spoonful in each and then go back with the remaining batter until they're all about even.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes. I know this seems like a wide range. I set my timer for twenty minutes and checked at 15; they were done perfectly, but your oven may be slightly different. 
  10. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Take the cupcakes out of the pan and place on  wire cooling rack to finish cooling.   
  11. I decided (after I took this picture) to poke some holes in the tops so the caramel icing could go into the cupcakes. If you do this, make sure you make the holes big and deep enough. I ended up using the end of a vegetable peeler (the old metal kind that isn't comfortable to hold). 
 Caramel Icing:
(makes more than enough for 12 cupcakes)

  • 1 cup brown sugar (the orginial recipe called for light, but I only have dark, so whichever you use is fine)
  • 1/2 stick butter 
  • 1/6 cup whole milk (I know you don't own a sixth measuring cup; I don't. I just eyeballed what was half of the 1/3 mark)
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (I don't own real maple syrup, so I used pancake syrup. I know it's totally not the same. use whichever you have or eliminate it).
  •  Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar*
  1.  In a small bowl, measure out the powdered sugar.
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt butter, sugar, milk, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla on medium-low heat. Let it simmer, while stirring, until the sugar fully dissolves and is no longer gritty. No boiling.
  3. Remove from heat, let it cool for a minute so it is not unbelievably hot. 
  4. Add powdered sugar, in increments to avoid having it go everywhere. Whisk well after each addition. 
  5. If it looks like the powdered sugar isn't melting or dissolving, put the pot back on the heat for less than a minute. Keep stirring. 
  6. Spoon over the cupcakes, a little bit at a time. If you poked holes in the cupcakes, tap them a few times after adding the icing, to ensure it goes into each hole. Spread the caramel with the back of a spoon if you want a neater/smoother top.
  7. Once the caramel dried a little bit on the cupcakes, I still had plenty left over so I added another layer. 

 *This ends up being really sweet. Yes, I know it's caramel and caramel is really sweet by nature. If you want it to be less sweet, I'd recommend cutting the powdered sugar back by at least 1/2 cup. You need the powdered sugar to make the caramel thicken enough to spread/stay on the cupcakes, but using a little less would still work. Next time I make this, that's what I plan to do.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Peanut-Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to make Peanut-butter filled chocolate cupcakes for Easter. Even though Boyfriend didn't want them (and since I promised Brother that I would make him and his housemates some cupcakes) I made them anyway. And I really wanted them. By "them" I mean the delicious combination of peanut-butter and chocolate. It's the best thing in the world. Especially while PMSing around a holiday filled with candy. A holiday on which I did not receive any peanut-butter and chocolate combo candy, which I was really upset by. /sigh. First-world problems. I will say that I followed this bout of sadness by being thankful for candy and food in general.

Anywayyyy. These cupcakes. Awesome. Fantastic. The fanciest I've ever made. Chocolate cupcakes, filled with a sweetened peanut-butter filling, topped with chocolate ganache (pronounced gan-ah-sh; not gan-ah-chee like Brother said) and a small bit of vanilla buttercream dyed green to look like grass.  I wish I had taken more than one picture but my mom was giving me weird enough looks for taking the one picture. She doesn't get "blogging."

The only problem is that I don't have the recipe for this chocolate cake. It's a copycat of the Tastykake chocolate cupcakes and sort of a family/close friends secret. If you don't know what a Tastykake is, it's like Hostess cupcakes or something. Mass-produced baked goods that aren't super delicious but satisfy the need for junk food. I assume that any chocolate cake recipe would work; probably the denser the better since you'll be filling them. (Anyone ever notice that when you fill cupcakes, it's really like eating half of a cupcake?) I can, however, give you the recipe for the peanut-butter filling and chocolate ganache.

Aren't they cute!? When you bite/cut into them, the peanut-butter filling makes it look like a carrot in the ground. So cute. I'm so proud.

So, recipes:

Peanut-Butter Filling
Makes enough for 12 cupcakes (and some to taste-test)

  • 1 Cup Peanut-butter, smooth
  • 1 Cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • Orange food coloring (optional)
  1. Beat the unsalted butter until smooth and creamy.  
  2. Add the peanut-butter; beat until totally combined.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar until you reach your desired sweetness and consistency. I didn't want the filling super sweet so I didn't add the whole cup. Beat well in between each addition.
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring; beat.  Add more if you want it more orange.
Chocolate Ganache
Makes way more than enough for 12 cupcakes
  • 3oz bar of high quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate (about 3oz, anyway. I think mine was actually a little more)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup of whole milk or heavy cream or half & half
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. butter (everywhere I've read said this is what gives it the shiny look, which I wanted. If you don't want it to be shiny, don't use the butter)
  1. Heat the milk/cream/half&half in a saucepan over medium heat to a boil. If you want a thicker ganache, use less milk; thinner ganache = more milk. Stir occasionally to avoid a skin forming on the top.
  2.  As the milk is heating, chop the chocolate and place in a heat-safe medium-sized bowl.
  3. Once the milk is at a boil, pour the milk over the chocolate. Stir until dissolved. 
  4. Let the ganache chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until cool enough to work with. Check every 30 minutes or so, to make sure it does not solidify.
  5. If the ganache is too thin, reheat and add more chocolate; be careful that you do not burn the chocolate. If too thick, heat some more milk and combine.  
Green Vanilla Buttercream
Makes enough to make a small patch of grass on top of 12 cupcakes

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 to 1/3 Cup powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Green Food Coloring
  1. Beat butter until it's smooth, creamy, and light.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar; less if you want it not-so sweet, more if you want it really sweet. Beat until totally incorporated
  3. Add some vanilla extract; like a teaspoon. Beat well. Taste. If you want more, add another teaspoon. 
  4. Add drops of food coloring. Beat. If you want it greener, add more.
  5. Place into decorating bag or ziploc bag.
Putting It All Together:
  1. Once you have 12 chocolate cupcakes that are completely cooled, core a hole out of the center. Using a paring knife, cut a cone out of the center without going all the way to the bottom. Do not throw away or eat the tops. Cut off the pointy part so you're left with just a topper.
  2. Place the peanut-butter filling in a decorating bag or a ziploc bag; cut off the tip/corner. Fill the holes you just made in the cupcakes. Be generous.
  3. Place the toppers from the cones on top of the peanut-butter filling.
  4. Spoon chilled ganache over the tops and smooth.
  5. Using a grass/hair decorating tip (I used Wilton top 233), put some "grass" buttercream on top the cupcakes. I only did mine in the center, but you could go all over.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Angel Food Cupcakes

Since I planned to spend Easter weekend at Boyfriend's house, I wanted to bring something with me. Like cupcakes. Of course. And since I love chocolate/peanut butter anything, I was going to bring peanut-butter filled chocolate cupcakes. Unfortunately, I was told that chocolate/peanut-butter is not an Easter flavor. Am I the only one who thinks that the chocolate/peanut-butter combination is an Easter flavor? I think I might be since I only got 1 Peanutbutter egg this year. One. They're my favorite and I got one. I know I should be thankful for one, but seriously, I'd rather only have them and no other candy.

Anyway... he decided that Angel Food Cake with Marshmallow frosting was more Easter-appropriate. "Like a peep" he said. "It'll be easy" he said. Well, I wasn't going to waste all of my mom's eggs for the egg white to make them for him. We decided that he would come down to my apartment before I went home for break and we'd make them together. Let me clarify that by making together I mean that I mix everything, he sits there and plays Temple Run on his phone except for when I need a third hand, and then he eats the left over batter/frosting.

Have you made Angel Food cake from scratch before? You need to get the egg whites to form stiff peaks. Easy, right? Sure, with an electric mixer or some heavy duty arm muscles! Do I have that? No, I have a little baby-sized whisk and little arm muscles. I believe this is where our problem started. Whisking 12 egg whites starting at 9pm, by hand, with Boyfriend who realizes that my boobs jiggle as I whisk and needs to point that out every 5 minutes. Not easy. At all.

At one point, we did have the brilliant idea (honestly, brilliant) that if we used two whisks in the bowl at the same time, it'd be like an electric mixer--We used one giant whisk and my baby whisk--I couldn't stop laughing at how ridiculous it looked. By about 10:15, we said it was good enough. This escalated our problem. It was no where near stiff peaks, not even medium peaks.

I'm not going to give you that recipe; I honestly have no idea if it would work or not. It didn't work for us, but I'm pretty sure that was our fault. After about 17 minutes in the oven (which is not a ridiculous amount of time for cupcakes) the outsides were burnt and the inside was squishy. We stacked them into a tower.
I tried making marshmallow cheater frosting (made with marshmallow creme) but that was a disaster too. It was rough baking night.

Fast forward five days to Easter. I didn't bring cupcakes, we're full on ham and candy, and we're bored. Let's try Angel Food Cupcakes again. At 8pm this time. With a smaller recipe. And an electric mixer.
SOOOOOO much better. Boyfriend still pointed out every five minutes that my boobs jiggle when I mix, but the egg whites formed the proper peaks and that was all that matter.

We (really I) even made a pretty tasty lemon buttercream to go with them. Even though the icing looks weird (it fell upside down in transit) it's so much prettier than our Angel Food blocks. I know it's not a fantastic picture, but it's the best I could get.
The recipe we used for the cake was actually from only change I made was using AP flour (1 cup minus 2 Tablespoons) since we didn't have cake flour. We did cut the recipe in half and got 18 cupcakes, so I wouldn't say that a full recipe would only make 24. Though. it might if you actually filled the cupcake liners all the way. That was definitely a mistake on my part. Since I'm used to usual cake batters only filling about 2/3 of the liner, that's what I did with these. Well, they kind of shrink. So I highly recommend filling them ALL the way. 

The frosting recipe was not really a recipe. We didn't want a super fluffy thick layer on these since they're light. Boyfriend didn't want just a glaze though. Pretty much all I did was mix a stick of butter, probably a cup of powdered sugar, and some lemon extract together. I didn't actually measure any of it. We also added some yellow food coloring so it wouldn't be white on white.

Making this was a lot of work, but it's worth the work. Take the time and effort to bake the Angel Food from scratch. It's not squeaky like store-bought stuff can be. It definitely tastes better than a box mix. Plus, if it's for someone you love, they'll definitely appreciate it.