Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vanilla M&M cupcakes with chocolate buttercream

Never fear, I'll be featuring some more cupcakes inspired by ice cream soon.  First, however, I wanted to share a simple and tasty cupcake I whipped up the same night that I made those lemon-blackberry cupcakes.  I was obviously in a Bake It in a Cake mood that night (as you can tell, I'm more than a little obsessed with that  blog).  I wanted to do a kid-friendly batch of cupcakes, and I had some extra M&Ms on hand (meaning I purchased a bulk bag of them at Costco for some reason and seriously needed to start using them).  Feel free to modify based on whatever candy is handy. (Unintentional rhyme!)  Thus, the following creation was born...

The cupcakes are vanilla - I used this recipe for the famous cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery (courtesy of YumSugar).  I cannot rave enough about this recipe... the cupcakes were absolutely delicious and perfectly moist.  You simply must give these a try.  

I'm looking forward to adapting this recipe for years to come - the vanilla cupcakes would be the perfect base for a variety of frosting flavors, and I'm hoping to try some different flavor combinations in the cupcake batter as well.  Yum.  

(As usual, I was out of something.  This time, it was cake flour.  No problem... time to play culinary MacGyver again.  If you find yourself without cake flour, don't panic - you can make a quick substitution using all-purpose flour and cornstarch.)

Anyway, after enjoying far too much of the batter, I eventually prepared the cupcakes for baking.  I filled the cupcake liners a little over halfway full and decided to throw a few M&Ms in the mix for a fun surprise.

After that, I covered the M&Ms with some more batter and popped these babies in the oven.  While they were cooking, I made some chocolate buttercream (recipe courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker).  This frosting was light and creamy... the perfect companion to the vanilla cupcakes.

I piped the frosting on and topped the cupcakes with a few M&Ms.  These were a big hit with the kids (and some grown-up kids) at the barbecue I attended the next day.  If you're looking for a simple treat, you can't go wrong with these. 

Until next time...

Friday, July 8, 2011

These Bomb Pop cupcakes are... the bomb

For those of you that grew up chasing down the ice cream man, this post may bring back some delicious and refreshing memories.  I grew up in a fairly rural area - although the ice cream man was not likely to brave the gravel road to my house just to sell me a Push-Up, I did occasionally encounter him while in town or hanging out at a friend's house.

However, in elementary school there was a magical time of day in the afternoon when we could buy ice cream.  The selection would vary, but it was always a treat to get a Good Humor bar (Strawberry Shortcake, of course).  On really special days, you could score a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar (you know, the one with the chocolate ears) or a Snickers ice cream bar.  Another special treat is the one that inspired today's post... the Bomb Pop (sometimes known as the Rocket Pop)!  With multiple flavors and a patriotic flair, how could you go wrong?

When looking for cupcake inspiration for the 4th of July, I stumbled across this gem over at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  Lemon-lime cupcakes with three kinds of frosting in Bomb Pop flavors?  Sign me up and seal the deal with some patriotic cupcake liners from Michael's.

I did make a few modifications to the recipe, especially with regard to the cupcake side of things.  I decided to use the lemon cupcake recipe I made the other day (for these delicious lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream).  In order to capture the lime flavor, I simply substituted lime juice for the lemon juice in that recipe.  It worked out quite well.

Once the cupcakes cooled, I poked some holes in the top.  Then I carefully poured a mixture of raspberry jello and hot water over the top.  I was a little worried about making a giant mess, so I did put some foil under the cooling racks to catch any overflow.  I didn't end up using all of the jello mixture because I was a bit nervous about what it would do to the consistency of the cupcakes.  As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried - the jello mixture was a fun surprise and added some great moistness to the cake.  Next time I'd use it all.

 With regard to the frosting, I stuck pretty close to the recipe - I saw no reason to mess with the yummy combo of raspberry, lime, and cherry.

First up, the raspberry buttercream... with blue food coloring, of course.  (Related thought: why is blue raspberry such a common flavor when raspberries are not at all blue?  Apparently I wasn't the only one who was curious...)

As you can tell from this photo, my decorating skills leave something to be desired.  I'm not a whiz at piping on buttercream.  I used disposable bags from Wilton and a basic leaf tip for these.  Nothing too fancy.  One of these days I'll figure out how to perform feats of buttercream brilliance.  This was not that day.

Anyway, the blue is followed by a ring of lime frosting and some cherry frosting in the center.  I was unable to find cherry extract at my grocery store, so I had to pull a MacGyver for that portion of the recipe.  In order to make the red frosting cherry-licious, I bought a can of cherries and made a cherry puree to use instead of the extract.  I think it probably made the buttercream a tad runnier than I would have preferred, so next time I would play with the proportions a little to account for that.

In any event, here's the finished product:

I have to say, these were pretty scrumptious. (You can find the full instructions at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.) They were so good that I'm considering devoting the summer to a series of cupcakes inspired by ice cream.  Could be a fun experiment, no?

So, let me know your favorite ice cream treats in the comments... perhaps they'll inspire a future post!

By the time we're through, the ice cream man will be searching for your cupcakes instead of you chasing him down for a popsicle...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrate your right to eat cupcakes!

Hope you're having a wonderful 4th of July so far... I don't have time to do a full post today, but here's a sneak peek of the next treat in the cupcake parade:

Have a fantastic holiday!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream

Today, I'd like to share with you a fantastic creation I made for a barbecue last week... I had some extra blackberries, so I wanted to use them.  I decided that blackberry and lemon would be a stupendous combo and headed over to Google to get some ideas.

While talking cupcakes with a friend (that's what friends do, right?) she pointed me to a recipe for Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes that just sounded divine.  I decided to use this as my base recipe.  I ended up following the recipe pretty closely... just subbing in seedless blackberry jam instead of raspberry.

Making these cupcakes was pretty easy - especially with the help of my Kitchen-Aid.  Seriously, bless the person who invented the stand mixer.  (Per Wikipedia, that would be Herbert Johnson.  So... thanks, Herbert.)  Anyway, the best part of these cupcakes?

When filling the liners with batter, you get to add a teaspoon of jam.  Then you cover it with more batter.  It's a cupcake with a surprise inside!  I couldn't be happier... I am a frequent reader and ardent fan of Bake It in a Cake, so this was right up my alley.  I will warn you - the jam ended up sinking into the bottom of the cupcake, even though I put a lot of batter in the bottom of the liner.  In retrospect, I realize I should have spread the jam more evenly so that it wouldn't sink as much.  Next time...

Anyway, while these were baking I whipped up the blackberry buttercream - it was easy and absolutely delicious.  I decided to just spread it on with a spatula (my hands were tired from piping some buttercream onto the other batch of cupcakes I'd made that night).  I then topped it off with a blackberry and a little bit of the lemon peel as a garnish.  Here's the finished product (complete with cute cupcake liners I found in the dollar bin at Michael's):

If you want to give these a try (and I would imagine you could swap in any flavor of jam for the frosting, leading to a variety of delicious results), visit Bakergirl for the recipe.

I did make one substitution, as I had no buttermilk in the fridge.  No problem... being a culinary MacGyver is all about the substitutions.

If you don't have buttermilk available, it's an easy fix... you can mix lemon juice or distilled white vinegar with regular milk to make your own buttermilk.   I decided to use lemon juice to make mine, as I figured a little extra lemon flavor couldn't hurt!  To make one cup of buttermilk, add one tablespoon of lemon juice to your measuring cup, and then add milk until the total liquid equals one cup.  You can adjust quantities as needed.  Let it sit for 5 minutes, and voila!  Buttermilk.

I know I promised you some M&Ms cupcakes next, but I may share the goodies I'm making for the Fourth of July first.  I'll be baking them tomorrow, so stay tuned...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why a cupcake blog?

Welcome, friends!

I know that some of you may have visited my other blog, I Still Want More Puppies.  I've posted recipes on there from time to time, but it didn't seem on point to keep posting photos of cupcakes I made over there.  So, I thought I'd set up a separate space to do that... a cupcake outlet, if you will.  I'll be telling you about my baking adventures (with photos, of course) and sharing other interesting sugary (and buttery) goodness I think you might like.

Stay tuned for my first installment... lemon cupcakes with a blackberry buttercream.  After that, vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and M&Ms...
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