Tuesday, May 17, 2011
In spite of my efforts to be shredded by summer, I offered to make cupcakes for a baby shower this past weekend. What does one thing have to do with the other? Nothing unless one eats all of the 48 cupcakes one makes. OK I did have one, but only to make sure that they were edible. They were. The cupcakes were happily consumed at the party (by others!) and I even managed to give away all of the leftovers. Success!
I went with chocolate (obvs!) and yellow cake varieties to please the masses. To simplify, I made one frosting recipe for all of the cupcakes: Cream Cheese. So delish. I considered adding some cocoa to half of the frosting so that the chocolate cupcakes looked slightly different, but that just sounded like another bowl to wash and I already had dishpan hands.
This was also my first time piping frosting onto anything. The biggest problem was not piping the frosting directly into my mouth...but I also found that working with the frosting at the right temperature was a bit of a challenge since I had made it the day before, so was working with it straight from the fridge. If it's too cool, the pastry bag is too hard to squeeze and if it's too warm, the frosting gets all mushy, technically speaking.
There are tons of great sources for decorating supplies. For the glitter and sprinkles I ordered from The Party Works and for some additional baby-esque decorations I used Lucks Dec-Ons, which The Party Works also sells. All in all I think that they would have stood up to what I could have purchased from a bakery. In my mind.
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line twenty-four muffin cups (standard size) with paper or foil liners, and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add the lemon zest. Mix in the flour mixture and milk in three alternating batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. After each addition, beat until just combined, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
3. Fill the prepared muffin cups with about 1/4 cup batter. Bake, rotating the pans once, until the cupcakes are just golden brown and spring back to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the tins, about 5 minutes, then remove them to wire racks. Repeat with any remaining batter. Let cool completely before frosting. (See recipe below.) Makes about 24 cupcakes.
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
(Adapted from Gourmet)
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line thirty-six muffin cups (standard size) with paper or foil liners, and set aside.
2. Finely chop the chocolate and combine with the hot coffee in a medium bowl. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
3. In a large bowl sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl use an electric (or stand) mixer to beat the eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating until well combined. Add the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
4. Fill the prepared muffin cups with about 1/4 cup batter. (If you are only making 2 dozen cupcakes, fill a 9-inch round cake pan with the leftover batter.) Bake, rotating the pans once, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Let the cupcakes cool completely in the tins, then remove them to wire racks to frost. (See recipe below.) The cupcakes can be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. Makes about 36 cupcakes (or 24 cupcakes plus one 9-inch cake).
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds (about 6 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Beat the butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low. Add the sugar, about 1 cup at a time, and then add the vanilla. Mix until smooth. Makes about 6 cups.
NOTE: This should be enough for both batches of cupcakes, but it depends on your frosting to cupcake ratio! If you need a little more, I sometimes make cream cheese frosting by this simple ratio: 1 stick butter, 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, 1 box (16 oz) powdered sugar. Dash vanilla. Mix. It's a little sweeter but doesn't require any measuring.