Category Archives: Cupcakes

Orange Pound Cupcakes


As you all know, I have discussed pound cake in a past post. I just recently had a hankering to make a pound cake, well, recently as in this morning. Only this time, I wanted to make it orange flavor, utilizing both the zest and the juice to create the most flavorful essence.

Okay, I sound like I’m making some sort of perfume here! It’s been a busy past few weeks, time to wind down and make cupcakes. Pound cupcakes. Little pound cakes. Baby pound cakes. Pound Puppies.

Well, I already baked them at this point, so I’ll give you the option for the icing. The icing is simple, utilizing fresh orange juice, zest, and powdered sugar. It’s not too sweet, not too sour, it almost tasted like orange juice, which was what I was going for.

You have the option of either dunking your cupcakes in the icing.

Or spooning it on. Either way, try to get it to drip down the sides of the cupcakes or cake or drip into your stomach. I don’t judge.

The thing that I was really proud of with these cupcakes here was the face that they really gave me some purty pictures! I’ve been trying to get some more ‘food stylist-y’ in my photography without having to spend, I don’t know, the extra thousands and thousands of dollars that i have in the depths of my poor college student bank account. I fear I’ll never be as good as Matt Armendariz or Tartlette, but then again, they are professional photographers. I love looking at their work and getting inspired by it. All I can say is this, I love my camera, I love natural light, and I love Photoshop, that’s all I need.

So give them a go! You’ll be glad you did!

Orange Pound Cake with Sweet Orange Icing
Adapted from the Buttermilk Pound Cake recipe by Alton Brown
Ingredients
1 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature
8 ounces All-Purpose flour
8 ounces Granulated Sugar
The zest of 1/2 Orange
2 large Eggs
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Buttermilk
1/4 cup Freshly-Squeezed Orange Juice

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, prepare 1 loaf pan by spraying with nonstick baking spray or rubbing with butter and dusting with flour, or line cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
1. Combine buttermilk and orange juice, set aside.
2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar together on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes (no less than this). Add in the seeds of the vanilla bean, salt, and orange zest and mix until evenly distributed.
3. While making sure to scrape down the bowl as you go, add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium speed until evenly mixed and distributed; around 2 minutes per egg. The mixture will be very creamy.
4. Starting and ending with the flour, alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk mixture until both are incorporated. Around three additions of flour and two of the buttermilk mixture.
5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, or distribute into cupcake tins, filling each liner around 2/3 full. Bake 40 minutes in the loaf pan, or 25 minutes in the cupcake tins. A toothpick will be clean when inserted into the center of each. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack quickly. Allow the loaf to sit in the pan for ten minutes exactly, then loosen the edges with a knife and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool immediately.

Citrus Glaze
Recipe by Alton Brown

Ingredients
6 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice
Pinch kosher salt

Method
Add the powdered sugar, zest, juice, and salt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.

Drizzle immediately over the completely cooled cake or store glaze in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Stir well before using.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Hi, I’m Home


It’s Spring Break! You know, that time of year where students typically go to Cabo San Lucas, Playa, Tampa, Miami. You know, all those fancy-dancy ‘spring break’ type places. Where do I go? Home. I am perfectly content with it, too. To be reunited with my mixer, my oven, my plethora of ingredients. Heaven on Earth, this place. What did I make first thing back here? I made Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cooked Frosting. But of course! I made a few minor changes, just to adjust the fluffiness and consistency of the cupcakes. They stayed about the same, but they were a little more fluffy thanks to the mixture of cake and all purpose flour in the batter.

Another substitute I made in the recipe was oil in the place of the solid shortening. To kind of play on with the moisture of the cupcake. It turned out fine, if not a little more moist. You can’t do much when it comes to red velvet, the buttermilk makes them already pretty moist. Anything more than that, you’ll get mush. But the final batter was looser and more fluid. It was ideal for cupcakes!

My favorite part of making the batter is just putting together the paste for the food coloring and the cocoa powder. You can certainly put them together separately, adding each directly to the batter; however, I think that this is a little less risky. If you added the red food coloring directly to the batter, you run the risk of it splashing out and ruining your Gap blazer. That never happened, but seeing as I wore it while baking, it could have been.

It just makes me think of Dexter or True Blood whenever I make this cake.

I used about 1 1/2 cups of All-Purpose Flour and 1 cup of Cake Flour in the batter, it certainly did yield a softer cake. I’ll experiment again and see how they hold up to all cake flour. Red velvet is a pretty heavy cake.

Oh, also a DASH of cinnamon :).

But oh, is it a pretty batter.

The chemical reaction from combining the vinegar and baking soda helps leaven the cake in a more gentle manner, not only that, but it has been said (in ancient times) that it makes the cake redder.

But you didn’t hear anything from me.

Pretty cakes too! Such even crumb structure! The cake flour contributed to that.

So yeah! Give the recipe a try with the slight modifications! Tell me what YOU think!

Dump some cooked frosting on top (my favorite frosting to make! Its a fun process!)

Give it a go! make the slight modifications!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Strawberry Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting


I think that chocolate and strawberries are a good thing together. Chocolate dipped strawberries in particular, I mean, what else could directly mean ‘yum’? Well, I’m sure a lot of other things, like ice cream…and yummy fattening food. Oh how I love it.

However, that isn’t something that I was starting this rant about, I didn’t go into the ‘New Post’ category to write about fattening and delicious food. Wait, yes I did. Wait, no I didn’t. Wait…yes? No?

Wait…

Its official. Standing up (and running around) nonstop starting from the time you wake up at 6:00 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. then taking the time to think and write semi-essays causes a fire in your brain that results in the damage of thought process. Are you asking for English?

My brain hurts.

My dad told me that, when he was in high school (a high school football star in the 60’s, btw. I’m quite prideful of my footballing, motocrossing, downhill skiing, golfing, swimming, and sitting father.), his coach wouldn’t let them drink fluids during a trying two-a-day practice in the sweltering Oklahoma summer heat, and that wet towels were provided for them to suck on during certain times of the practice. And that they put duct tape on their legs. And that, if they had a boo boo, their coach told them to, “Rub a little dirt in it”.

My dad thinks that high school football players need to give that a try for a day, then we’ll see how tough they are.

*insert maniacal laughter*


Strawberries and chocolate walk hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, peas in their pod, children and cake, Thelma and Louise. You know, things that just work spectacularly together. I had made strawberry cupcakes before, but found them to be heavy, soggy from the strawberry chunks, and really quite dense. That wasn’t what I was wanting to come out of a light and ethereal cupcake, or the lie that was the cupcake that i had made before. In tribute to internet memes, the cake was a lie.

So I set out to try out something different, how could I improve a recipe that wasn’t enjoyable? I needed to use strawberries, it needed to be pinkish tinge, not the Pepto Bismol that I see so often in the grocery store bakeries. It needed to be natural and delicious, with a subtle sweetness and an aftertaste that makes you think “Oh! Strawberries!”

I had used fresh strawberries before, which is totally fine (their taste was absolutely amazingsauce.) but I felt that they made the texture of the cupcake a bit…off-putting. Then again, I don’t like chunky strawberry yogurt. I don’t like to be interrupted by a random chunk of fruit. I wanted to make it smooth and delicious, so thats when I opted to use frozen strawberries that are mashed with sugar. When frozen strawberries thaw, their inner cell structure is so heavily damaged from ice crystals that it basically makes them little water (or juice!) balloons. They won’t be firm like fresh strawberries, but soft and mash-able. That’s what I went for, and it worked.

The thick puree made the batter a pretty pink color without being overwhelming, and so when it all went together, it became a lighter tone.

The batter, when combined with the egg whites, turns out to be a nice rosy pink color. Its subtle and pretty, my favorite color of pink! The best!

The color is a bit different in this photo, their color keeps that VERY subtle pink color, and they are very light and pretty. I put the ganache on very thinly, because ganache can overwhelm everything very easily. So make sure to keep it thin, or just use vanilla frosting. Its very light and not sweet to the extreme, as well as having a nice strawberry flavor. Needless to say, I think I win.

I’m going to go rub some dirt on my brain.

Strawberry Cupcakes
Ingredients
1/4 C. Cake Flour
1 1/2 C. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
About 10-15 frozen strawberries, sliced and thawed
1 1/8 C. Granulated Sugar plus 3 Separate T.
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs, separated
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 C. Milk

GANACHE
1 C. Bittersweet Chocolate, melted
1/2 C. 2% Milk

Method
-Mix together both flours, salt, and baking powder, preheat oven to 350. Prepare ganache, melt chocolate, then heat milk up until hot, pour over chocolate and allow to sit for at least 2 minutes, whisk together until smooth and combined. Chill until thickened, at least two hours.
1. Combine thawed sliced strawberries with 1 T. granulated sugar and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 30 minutes then, using the tines of a fork, mash strawberries until well-mashed and a thick puree forms.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes on medium. Add egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined. Pour in strawberry puree and vanilla extract and mix until smooth, about two minutes.
3. Starting and ending with the flour mixture, slowly pour in flour and milk alternatively until both have run out. Make sure the mixture is smooth.
4. Whip egg whites with remaining 2 T. granulated sugar until they reach stiff and glossy peaks, being careful not to take them too far and overbeating them. Pour 1/3 of egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. Add another third and fold in the mixture gently, making sure that you get the bottom of the bowl as well. Fold in the remaining third.
5. Pour batter into prepared lined muffin tins, filling each cup about halfway full. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
6. Beat cooled ganache until lightened and slightly fluffy (it will not be as fluffy as a cream-based ganache will be, but it will be thick and more easy to work with). Spread on a thin layer to the completely cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

Happy Baking!
Clara

A Stroke of Genius?


I was totally inspired by the Creme Brulee that I made the other day, I was also inspired by the probably too-dangerous-to-be-held-and-functioned-by-Clara kitchen torch.

So, I made cupcakes.

I made the white cupcakes, filled them with vanilla bean pastry cream, topped them with some sugar, then TORCHED EM.

It took a lot of figuring out, the cupcakes were fussy, and I filled about a dozen of them too much, and they…weren’t pretty enough to even mess with. So, I took the ones that I filled just right (the batter worked for about 1/2 full in the liners). I cut a hole in them, filled, topped, topped again, and buuuurrrnnned until crispy.

Don’t you love it when things worked?

The concept is a lot of fun, but it is a bit time consuming, as the pastry cream is homemade and has to absolutely cooled, but that’s alright, if your bored.

So what are you waiting for?

Give it a go!!

Creme Brulee Cupcakes
Ingredients
1 Recipe Pastry Cream (NOTE: I used scraped vanilla bean seeds in mine!)
About 2 1/2 Dozen White Cake Cupcakes
Sugar

Method
NOTE: Make the pastry cream a few hours beforehand, so that it can cool completely.
1. Take a paring knife to the center of the cupcakes, and gently cut a circle around the top, then lift out the center of the cupcake as gently as you can. Its alright if you are messy, though. Reserve the tops.
2. Gently spoon in the cooled pastry cream into the cavity of the cupcake, filling almost to the top, then gently press the top of the cupcake back on.
3. Sprinkle each cupcake with about 1 tsp. of sugar, making sure to get sugar everywhere on the top of the cupcake.
4. Start up your kitchen torch according to the manufacturer’s instructions and hold it directly above each cupcake, while constantly moving. Melt the sugar until a caramelly-color forms, if some turns a bit black, that is alright. Allow the caramel to cool a couple minutes so that it has a chance to harden.
5. Enjoy! These are best if served immediately, because the caramel won’t stay hard if kept in the refrigerator. That doesn’t mean they won’t be great the next day though! Will save 2 days, covered in the refrigerator.

Happy Baking!
Clara

I Wasn’t A Girl Scout…


A confession, needless to say. I know quite a few girl scouts, and it sounded like it was a lot of fun. But, I will say that those cookies that they sold made up for it.

Right?

Anyway, yum to Samoas and yum to Thin Mints. Thin Mints were my absolute favorite girl scout cookies, still are. But you know, girl scout season only occurs for a short time every year, and that means for the rest of the year, we are without the magic that is in those little boxes that are soooooo pricey. Here we go. You know what this means?

Its time to make them ourselves… You heard me. This way, we are all girl scouts, without the mosquito bites from our camping trips.

The dough is relatively straight-forward. However, there is no leavening involved at all, unlike some roll-out doughs that I have seen. Makes sense, the cookies need to stay crisp and relatively dense for these cookies. They bake up quickly and easily and take no time to cool. Just use powdered sugar for the rolling pin and surface to roll the cookies out on, so that the flour ratio doesn’t rise….

Im sorry, I just got distracted by Mr. Conehead.
Isn’t this the saddest thing ever? Anyway.

So, make the ganache. I sinned and didn’t have any heavy cream on me, just fat free half-and-half. Well, I figured it was worth a go. While the ganache wasn’t as rich, it set up just fine and just like a standard ganache. So, its not TOTALLY taboo, right?

Please stop looking at me like that.

As with any ganache I have ever made, I think that letting it sit for five minutes before messing with it is the best way to go. So, you can clean or do whatever you want (I didn’t clean…I watched Big Brother 🙂 ) to pass the time. Oh! Also! There is about 1/2 tsp. worth of Peppermint Extract in this recipe, so add it in as well. That stuff smells AMAZING!

When five minutes are up, go ahead and whisk/stir/fold the ganache until its all completely mixed in. If you waited five minutes, the mixing will take a LOT less time, I promise you! I love making ganache, it makes me feel like a chocolatier.

Flip the cooled cookies onto their flat sides and spread about 1 tsp. of the ganache on half of the cookies, and top with the unfilled cookies, making little sandwiches. Make sure to get all of the ganache on them, if you have some left, find the cookies that seem a little thin and add onto them. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, so that the ganache can firm up.

After this, melt some MORE chocolate (can you see what I like a lot? I like chocolate a lot…I have found that bittersweet serves this recipe perfectly.) Dip the cookies enough so that the sides are submerged, but not the bottom. Pull the cookies out of the chocolate and get as much of the excess chocolate off as you can.

Repeat with the rest of the cookies and set them on parchment paper. To quicken the chocolate-hardening process, go ahead and stick them in the ‘fridge. However, the heat from your hands on the cold chocolate will make them melt prematurely when you want to eat them, making them a bit of a mess…But that’s okay! My parents thought it would be fun to not to tell me about the chocolate that I had all over my face and neck…

Even Conehead thought it was shameful…and he’s wearing a CONE!

I guess my punishment will be to sell these to our neighbors :).

Chocolate Mint Cookies
Ingredients
FOR THE COOKIES
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar, for work surface

FOR THE GANACHE
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

FOR THE GLAZE
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped

Method
Make cookies: Whisk together cocoa powder and flour in a bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg until well blended. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer dough to a work surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies using a 2-inch round cookie cutter; space 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining scraps of dough. Bake cookies until firm, rotating sheets halfway through, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Meanwhile, make ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly until chocolate is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Let cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
Spoon 1 teaspoon ganache onto the bottom of 1 cookie; sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and ganache. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
Make glaze: Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly. Dip one flat side of each sandwich into melted chocolate to coat; gently shake off excess. Place sandwiches, chocolate sides up, on wire racks set over baking sheets. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Cookies can be refrigerated in a single layer in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Want S’more?

This was supposed to be posted about a week ago, but I’m very lazy, CAN’T YA TELL?? *ahem*, anywho, I was talking with my sister about the possibility of making a s’mores type cupcake. Marshmallow filling, graham cracker flavored cupcake, chocolate…you know. I was really wondering how I could ever pull something like it off. So, I consulted Martha for the recipe for her graham crackers.

I took the ingredients into account. Since this was to be a graham cracker flavored cupcake and not a crisp cookie, I needed to know how I was going to carry over the flavor into something soft. The thing with graham crackers is that they have that whole crispy factor going for them, that caramelized flavor lends to the nuttiness of the cookie itself. This was going to be hard, because the cupcakes weren’t crisp, they were cakey. So, I added three eggs to the mixture, substituted cake flour for the all purpose flour, added some milk, and lessened the amount of wheat germ called for, I also upped the amount of cinnamon. All in all? The cake tasted like I was trying to go there, but didn’t quite make it, but the wheat germ gave the cake a bit of a ‘cracker’ texture. Sure it was soft and cakey, but it kind of crumbled in your mouth like a crisp cracker, it held together nicely too.

Suprisingly, it was the addition of the s’mores aspect that really made the cupcakes taste like a s’more! You got that graham-type flavor, but only when you had each aspect in a bite.

Wow, I’m going all food critic on you guys! Anyway, to fill the cupcakes, I followed these steps.

Thanks to the addition of wheat germ, the cupcake held its shape and was easy to cut. Cut a little circle into the middle and pop out the center.

See? Then, add in a teensy amount of melted chocolate, just enough to cover the bottom.

Add in some marshmallow cream filling, then top with more chocolate.

Then, gently press the top back on. After this, I made a seven minute frosting and piped that on top of each cupcake. I don’t have a torch to caramelize it, so I turned my broiler onto high and arranged the finished cupcakes on a cookie sheet and stuck them in, 12 at a time, and watched them for about a minute, or until the frosting got all brown and lovely.


The verdict? Yummy! If you are in the mood to do something a little time-consuming and fun, and if you are in the mood for s’mores without consulting the campfire, then give these a go!

S’More Cupcakes
Ingredients
For the Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Graham Crackers
1 1/2 C. Cake Flour
1 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 C. plus 2 T. Wheat Germ
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 T. Honey
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
3/4 C. Packed Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
1 C. Milk

For the Filling
3/4 C. Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter

3/4 C. Semi-sweet chocolate, melted

For the Frosting
Seven Minute Frosting

Method
-Preheat oven to 350, whisk together cake flour, wheat flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a bowl, set aside.
1. Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined. Pour in honey and mix well.
2. Starting with the dry and ending with the dry, pour in the flour and milk in increments, mixing well in between, until both are combined and together in the batter. Fill cupcake cups about 3/4 full with batter and bake for twenty minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before filling.
3. Make filling, beat marshmallow fluff and butter together in a mixer and fill a pastry bag with the filling. To firm up a little bit, refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. Melt chocolate chips.
4. Using a paring knife, cut a small circle in the center of each cupcake and pop out the top. Fill the bottom of the cupcake with chocolate, until the bottom is covered with chocolate. Pipe marshmallow cream on top of that, then top with a small amount more of chocolate. Return cupcake top and press down gently. Repeat until all cupcakes are filled.
5. Pipe seven minute frosting on top of each cupcake. Turn oven broiler onto high (or use a kitchen torch if you know how to use it), arrange cupcakes, 12 at a time, on a baking sheet, and place under broiler for about a minute or less, until the frosting browns a bit. Watch the cupcakes closely!
6. Allow to cool for a few moments then enjoy!

Happy Baking!
Clara

I Love Life (And Cake Decorating)


Let me tell you what, doing things right is very much important to me. I want people to be happy with what they get, because I am happy when I get something nice. You know? Yes? No? Oh, I know you said yes, let’s move on.

Alrighty then. Mickey, a very good friend of my dad’s, is turning 63, and he said that he wanted me to do his birthday cake for him. He likes my baking, and I wanted to do that for him! He wants yellow cake with chocolate frosting and so that’s what I did.

A four-layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting! Haha. I have to admit, this cake is epic, if you remember my yellow cake from before, it kind of failed, this was a different recipe from a cookbook that utilized the egg whites. They worked super well, to say the least. The cake rose over the pan! Holy cow! I’ll have to give you the recipe on another day.
The frosting was very basic too, it was the Wilton buttercream frosting with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder in it as well as about 1/4 cup of milk to soften it. It’s rich and chocolatey. When I piped the sides, I added a touch of black gel food coloring, as well as brown to round it out a bit. It wasn’t going to get much darker than it already was, and I didn’t want the cake to be too monochromatic.

Purty! I’m getting better at this piped decorating shpiel!
I felt that the cake needed some color, too, and so I decided to make some roses. I have seen an instructional video on YouTube, or something like that, a very very long time ago. I have a bit of a photographic memory, so I remembered the instructions fairly well, I’ll teach ya.

1. Choose the piping tip that is shaped like a thin triangle and hold the bag so that it is vertical, and the thicker edge is down.
2. Pipe an upside-down cone on your piping nail (or cake, I just happened to have one. I love finding 20 year old things in the cabinet). I was pretty heavy-handed at this just because it was my first one.
3. Gently pipe little ‘petals’ around the cone, gradually enlargening (word? Yes?) them as you go.
7. There you have it!

I found that if you refrigerate the roses (I made seven of them, it always helps to have more than you need), it will firm up the buttercream and make it easier to apply.

I had fun playing with the different piping tips and making new colors by mixing gel food colors. I made that green with Kelly Green and a teensy bit of Lemon Yellow.

As time goes on, I will definitely get better with the handwriting bit, since my handwriting is…well, it’s alright. Happy Birthday, Mickey!

On the news side, I just finished going to my cousin Rea’s and her husband Joseph’s local art show, and it was wonderful! It makes me more excited for school! Not only that, but after three years of being in AP Studio Art and consistently getting 4’s for the past two years, I finally got a 5 after working so hard this year. This is like a 100%, and it was so hard and so rewarding to do. I feel so accomplished and acknowledged for my work. I’m so excited for school more than ever!

Happy Baking!
Clara