Sunday, March 29, 2009

You know those cupcakes down in my previous post? They look good, huh? Wanna go vote for them in this month's Iron Cupcake challenge? Oui?

Okay, go to No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner, check out all the amazing entries, and vote from now until Friday, April 3! It's fun!

And if you vote for me, I'll give you a cupcake!*

*offer good only you come visit me in the Netherlands.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Iron Cupcake Earth: Nuts and Seeds

I was trying to think of a witty story to tell about my cupcake baking adventures and mishaps this weekend, but I kept coming up with nothing. Just cupcakes, yummy cupcakes. I joined Iron Cupcake last month, but didn't make a coffee themed cupcake because... well... baby, tired, sniffly, bored, baby, excuses, excuses... And so last week I was sitting, looking at frosted food porn on my computer, and all of the sudden realized, "Shoot! I'm going to miss the deadline again! I need to make cupcakes!"

So I did. I made cupcakes. This month is Nuts and Seeds, so I brainstormed a list of ideas and sent them to work with Ben so he could poll his colleagues. I figured I would let them choose because A) Once I start coming up with cupcake ideas I can't turn off my brain and there's no way for me to pick just one, and B) They are the lucky consumers of all of my baked goods, so I thought it might be nice to leave the choice up to them.

And they chose...

Chocolate cherry cupcakes with an amaretto cream filling and almond buttercream.

a.k.a. the only nutty cupcakes that will ever grace Ben's tastebuds.
Ben absolutely abhors nuts, all nuts, anything vaguely nutty, and yes, that includes peanut butter, pistachios, Nutella, and anything else that might fill in the blank in your question, "But what about ____? Not even ____?" Nope. No nuts. The only teeny tiny exception is almond flavoring. The actual nut is out, but he finds almond extract downright pleasant. Go figure.

So even though this month's Iron Cupcake theme is nutty, Ben was able to taste (and taste, and lick the bowls, and pat his stomach contentedly) and declare that my cupcakes were good.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 3/4 cup warm water
* 3/4 cup sour cream
* 3 tablespoons canola oil
* 1 teaspoon almond extract
* 1 cup cherry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
Add eggs, warm water, sour cream, cherry preserves, oil, and almond extract, and mix until smooth.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Amaretto Whipped Cream

* 1/2 tsp gelatin
* 1 tbsp water
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 tbsp powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup amaretto

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon of cold water. Set the container into about 1 inch of hot water in a saucepan and let stand until gelatin dissolves. Remove from the hot water. Set aside for a minute to cool slightly. Whip the cream until almost stiff, then add the gelatin, amaretto, and confectioners' sugar. Continue whipping until stiff.

For the frosting, I used my regular buttercream recipe, found here, but I used a tablespoon of almond extract instead of the vanilla.

Cupcake assembly

Using a small knife, cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Set aside. Spoon a bit of whipped cream into the hole and replace the top of the cupcake. Frost. I topped the cupcakes with maraschino cherries because I love them and they're pretty. I think they would also be good with chocolate shavings, slivered almonds, or all of the above.

Competing in Iron Cupcake is not only fun, but also comes with prizes for the winner!

The March ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers:
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,,
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm a little cupcake, short and stout

I've been wanting to try making chocolate stout cake for quite some time and I've had my eye on this recipe from Epicurious. And I figured that St Patrick's Day would be a perfect occasion to break out the Guinness. And I could add some Bailey's Irish Cream in there somewhere! Totally appropriate, right? And potentially delicious! I was going to bake up a big batch and send them to work with Ben on Tuesday.

I was totally planning on baking Monday. I had the Guinness in the fridge and some mini bottles of Bailey's. And chocolate, I always have a few pounds of chocolate in my kitchen. (I'm serious. If you ever are having a chocolate crisis, you know where to find me.) Ben thwarted my cupcake plans, though. The guy offers me a last minute weekend trip to Paris. How is a girl supposed to turn that down? So instead of spending Monday in the kitchen I woke up, got some croissants, strolled through Montmartre, enjoyed some pastries made by people much more talented than me. Rough life, I know.

The cupcakes were not forgotten, though. I just made them a couple days later than intended. And who are we kidding? Ben's colleagues couldn't care less when delicious treats arrive, just as long as we keep them coming.

I made the chocolate stout cupcakes, but halved the original recipe because the reviews all said that the recipe made an insane amount. With the halved recipe I got 24 cupcakes, so unless you really want to make a huge cake, I wouldn't make the full recipe.

I then filled it with a Bailey's and white chocolate whipped cream. Yum. And then frosted the cupcakes with a simple dark chocolate ganache. Because, you know, I wouldn't want to overdo it. Ha.

These were really delicious. Really. Really. Really. I want to eat this cake every day. Ben and I agreed that it was a practically perfect chocolate cake. Deeply chocolatey, but not too rich. Dense, but not heavy. Moist, light, but holds together well. I'm in love. And no, we couldn't taste the Guiness in the finished cupcakes. Just chocolatey wonder. And the cream filling was really good too. In the picture, you can tell it's soaked into the cupcake a bit. This is because I'm impatient and can't wait for cupcakes to cool completely. If you prefer your filling to hold its own better, sit on your hands, go for a walk, resist the urge to play with the cupcakes until they are completely cool.

Another note on the filling. White chocolate can be fussy to work with sometimes. Be sure you use really high quality chocolate, and if you wanted to just make a Bailey's whipped cream, that would be perfectly wonderful in these cupcakes too.

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tin with paper liners. Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Fill cupcake tins about half to two thirds full. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto rack and cool completely before filling and frosting.

Bailey's White Chocolate Cream

  • 4 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), chopped
  • 4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
Combine chopped white chocolate and Bailey's in small metal bowl. Set over small saucepan of simmering water and stir until white chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool white chocolate mixture about 10 minutes. Beat chilled whipping cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Whisk in white chocolate mixture.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
Place chocolate in a bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir chocolate and cream until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let chocolate cool until it reaches desired thickness.

Cupcake assembly

Using a small knife, cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Set aside. Spoon a bit of whipped cream into the hole and replace the top of the cupcake. Spoon a bit of ganache over the cupcake. Eat 5 cupcakes and pass out on the kitchen floor. Repeat.