Posts Tagged ‘cupcakes’

Go Bananas!

September 7, 2009

This is the story of two banana cupakes…with two very different endings.

So there I was one day with a couple of bananas who were ready for their last rites. I also happened to have some very yummy cream cheese frosting left over from my Italian Cream Cake adventure. These were of course the perfect makings for dessert, but what to bake? I happened to log onto Bakerella’s site and lo and behold there at the top of her blog was a posting for banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting! It was fate!

I baked some up that very morning and was met with complete and utter dissapointment. I’m not sure what went wrong. I don’t know if I missed an ingredient, if the recipe was just lousy, or if my 3 year old helper somehow distracted me. Either way, these were one of the most horrible things I’ve baked in awhile. The cupcakes never browned, even after leaving them in five minutes longer than the recipe called for. They were dense…like off-white little bricks. Seriously, I could have done some damage if I’d have thrown these at someone. I tried to liven them up by filling them with a little buttercream. I somehow managed to make an ugly cupcake even uglier. How unappetizing are these?

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What? Not disgusting enough? Want a closer look???

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After that fiasco, I was determined to make some good banana cupcakes. I was leery to try the same recipe again so soon, but I will attempt it again just to figure out what went wrong. In the meantime, I found what seemed like a good recipe here at allrecipes.com. This one was a winner! The main difference I could find between the two recipes was that the allrecipes one includes baking soda. I know baking soda can certaintly make a difference and I’m wondering if that is the key here.

But in any case, this second attempt at banana cupcakes was awesome! These cupcakes tasted like banana bread and were super moist, but they had the texture of a light and fluffy cupcake. I was in no mood to whip up any more cream cheese frosting, so I used a can of milk chocolate frosting I had in the pantry. I love home made frosting, but there’s something about a can of chocolate ready-made frosting that is just so tasty. The combination of banana and chocolate was definitely a winner.

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I couldn’t resist…had to take a bite!

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Today’s lesson…if at first you don’t succeed…try, try again or at least try another recipe!

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The perfect classic cupcake

August 22, 2009

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I found it! The perfect vanilla cupcake recipe!

Over the past few months, I’ve tried a few yellow or vanilla cake recipes with varying success. When I made cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday earlier this summer(see Cupcakes), I was not completely happy with the yellow ones. I really wanted to find the recipe for THE ONE and I did… all thanks to Magnolia Bakery in NYC.

While I’ve never actually been to the bakery, I’ve read many great things about their incredible cupcakes. Perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to make the trip from Florida and try one of their delicious cupcakes, but for now I’m happy just to have found the recipe. It turns out that they also have several cookbooks, so that is something to add to my wish list!

This vanilla cupcake recipe (courtesy of the Food Network) is super simple and super delicious. I ended up making one change out of necessity. The recipe calls for all butter, but I didn’t have enough so I had to substitute 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter. I’m not sure how much better it would have been with all butter, but I will have to try that another day. As it was, these cupcakes baked up perfectly…golden, light and fluffy. They were yummy the day I baked them, the day after I baked them and even the day after that! I did end up eating quite a few of them, but I also sent some home with a friend in order to pass on the cupcake love.

Magnolia’s says that their most popular cupcake is the vanilla with vanilla buttercream. While I’m sure their vanilla buttercream is wonderful, I wanted chocolate. Vanilla with chocolate is such a classic cake combination that conjures up sweet memories of the cakes my mother used to bake me. I found the recipe for their chocolate buttercream on the Recipe Zaar’s website. This is another easy recipe that turns out a silky, creamy and wonderfully chocolaty frosting. I used it earlier this year on a baptism cake for my daughters and was so happy with it that I couldn’t wait to make it again. I will caution you that this frosting is best served at room temperature as it gets too firm when cold. If you chill your cakes with the frosting, remove them at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to serving so it will soften up.

I’m curious to see how this vanilla cupcake recipe would bake up as a regular cake. I’m hoping it will maintain the same light and fluffy texture on a sweet layer cake overflowing with chocolate buttercream. But I will have to save that adventure for another day!

Cupcakes make a splash!

August 3, 2009

My beautiful daughter turned three this July. She is a summer baby, so we celebrated with a backyard splash party. Since the party was going to be outside and the children ranged in age from 15 months to 4 years old,  I opted to keep dessert simple and serve cupcakes.  Kids love cupcakes and who can blame them? Cute little individual cakes wrapped in pretty paper are fun and festive!

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Since I know kids can be picky and I like to please as many palates as possible, I decided to make both chocolate and yellow cupcakes. For the chocolate cake, I went with Martha Stewart’s super easy recipe One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. This was my first time trying this recipe and I was not dissapointed. These cupcakes baked up perfectly and were moist and yummy with a rich chocolaty flavor. I will definitely make this recipe  again in the future.

For the yellow cupcakes, I used a yellow cake recipe I found on Bakerella’s blog. Her blog is always full of creative and inspiring ideas and I love her beautiful photographs as well. I had used this recipe previously for a birthday cake and my daughters’ baptism cake. Both times, the recipe turned out such a flavorful and moist cake that I knew they would be perfect for cupcakes.

I did not have as much success using the recipe for cupcakes. I made half the recipe and it produced about 18 cupcakes, but I ended up making the recipe twice because I wasn’t happy with the first batch. The problem was that the batter’s volume practically doubles in the oven. In the first attempt, I filled the paper liners too much and ended up with only a dozen cupcakes. The batter expanded so much that the cupcakes were huge, but the tops were completely flat…little cakes with Frisbees on top. On the second attempt, I filled the liners just to the halfway point and the results were a little better and produced 18 cupcakes. But the tops were still kind of flat, not round and pretty like the chocolate ones. They did taste great, but in the future I will find a yellow cake recipe that holds up better for cupcakes.

For the frosting, I used my trusty Wilton’s Buttercream Icing recipe. I doubled the recipe and then divided it into 3 parts, tinting one hot pink, one yellow, and one aqua. My intention was to fill the cupcakes with cream filing. I have done this in the past and they are so tasty with a little sweet surprise in the middle. But I used a new recipe (something you should never do for the first time when baking for a special occasion) and I absolutely hated the results. Normally, the cream filling is very similar to the buttercream frosting and is easy to insert into the cupcakes using a pastry bag and decorating tip. But this recipe called for corn syrup and the cream was so gooey that it was next to impossible to fill the cupcakes with. It just squished out of the top of the pastry bag and made a giant mess so I didn’t bother with it.

But the cupcakes’ finishing touch, the “pièce de résistance”, was definitely the fondant decorations I made for the them. I wanted these to be extra special since they were for my little girl’s birthday, so I had to do something fun to decorate them. I purchased Wilton’s Ready to use Rolled Fondant. I personally don’t care for the taste of fondant, but using it for small decorations is great because you can just pick them off before you eat it. Because the party invitations featured them, I made adorable little flip flops and bathing suits out of  the fondant. I got the idea after seeing various photos of the flip flops on flickr.com which led me to this You Tube video demonstrating how to make them. Whoever first thought of turning a butterfly into a pair of flip flops was just super creative! For the bathing suits, I simply cut out rectangles from the fondant and trimmed them to resemble a child’s bathing suit.

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My daughter took one look at these cupcakes and loved them! At three years old, this was the first birthday that she was truly excited about. She looked forward to her party for weeks and had so much fun helping me plan it. I don’t know who was more excited to celebrate her birthday…her or me!