Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Classic Butter Cupcakes with whipped vanilla frosting

I love cupcakes. I love making them, eating them, even just looking at them. They're delightful and delicious. So when my brother asked me to make his bosses some baked goods in return for giving me free perfume, I knew that I had to make cupcakes. I scouted for hours for the perfect recipe. At first I thought I'd make devil's food cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream. However, as I started searching through recipes, that idea slowly disintegrated. Chocolate cupcakes just didn't seem as appealing for some reason. I think that was mostly because of my decorations. I envisioned the cupcakes topped with my fondant decorations and decided that the dark brown wouldn't compliment my pastel flowers or royal blue "University of Michigan" buttons.

My first instinct was to go onto Tastespotting; my newest obsession. But as I scrolled through the endless submissions, I couldn't seem to find a cupcake that caught my eye. Then I thought of Rosie from Sweetapolita. She's a baking wizard. I absolutely adore all her recipes and pictures. Plus, her two daughters are absolutely adorable. Rosie's obsession, I think, is vanilla cake. She has over 10 different recipes for vanilla cake, each with their own unique taste and techniques. In the end I decided to combine her classic butter cake with her whipped vanilla bean frosting. I also added my own caramel swiss meringue buttercream filling, but I won't be posting a recipe for that since I just combined some left over caramel with some left over SMB. 

Shall we move onto the recipe?

I think we shall. 

Classic Butter Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Frosting 
adapted from Sweetapolita
makes 28 cupcakes 

Classic Butter Cake
4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (I used half cake flour and half AP flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside

While eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.

Fill each prepared muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the tops are just firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour. 

Whipped vanilla frosting
makes enough to frost 28 cupcakes

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed, until very pale and creamy Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

*I used an Ateco #808 tip to pipe the frosting

You can top each cupcakes with some sprinkles, or jimmies, if you want for an added flare. I think they added a nice touch to an otherwise bland looking cupcake. These cupcake are perfectly moist and delicious. The frosting is extremely light and fluffing due to the long periods of creaming and whipping. 

I hope you like these cupcakes if you do try to make them and as always....

Happy Baking!

Friday, July 20, 2012

My obsession and Oreo Cupcakes

I have an obsession. It's pretty bad really. I'm obsessed with baking. If my parents let me, I'd probably bake every single day. There's just something satisfying about baking and knowing that what I bake is tasty. Sometimes I feel empty inside if I have the urge to bake and I don't end up baking. This must sound silly but it's true. A few days ago that urge came back and I didn't ignore it this time...well that and the fact that there was a pack of left over oreos just sitting on my counter for a month. It was bothering me. I knew I had to use it because I didn't ever feel like just eating oreos. I never really like just eating oreos...I think it's the cream inside. What is it made out of anyway? It's so sweet and, well, gross. I've always been the kind of person to take the cream out and just eat the cookie portion of the oreo. Is that strange?

Anyway, instead of eating the oreos, I decided to make oreo cupcakes. I planned on making these cupcakes for a while now, but I tried my hardest to resist the urge to bake. Why? That's because every time I bake in the summer my dad gets mad at me for "making the house too hot." The funny thing is that he never complains when he finally gets a taste of what I baked.

These oreo cupcakes are really easy to make. They don't even require a stand mixer. You can just use an old-school whisk. The chocolate cake recipe I used came from The Butch Bakery Cookbook by David Arrick. It's a lovely book. The recipes are extremely easy to follow and the end results are to die for. All the cupcake recipes I've tried were moist and just sweet enough. I highly recommend you buy this book and try some of the recipes. The buttercream recipe also came from this book but I changed it up a little to suit this cupcake. I hope you give this recipe a try. 

Oreo Cupcakes
adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook
makes approx 16 cupcakes

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon espresso powder (this isn't necessary, but it brings out the chocolate)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract  
16 oreos halves, with cream filling still attached 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Twist Oreos in half and set aside the extra cookies for later. Place the side with cream filling in the bottom of each cupcake liner, cream-side facing up.

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in the cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and espresso powder, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the eggs, oil, Kahlua (optional), vanilla, and the chocolate/espresso mixture to the bowl, whisking just until all of the ingredients are completely incorporated. 

Fill each prepared muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the tops are just firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.  

Oreo buttercream
makes enough to top 16 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
l6 oreo halves, left over from the batter, finely crushed

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla, and finely crushed oreos. Beat until smooth, creamy, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. 

8 oreo cookies, split in half

Fill a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used an Ateco 808) and top each cupcake with buttercream. Then top each cupcake with an oreo half.

Congratulations! You have now successfully made delicious oreo cupcakes. There's just one question left to ask yourself-to share or not to share? The decision is yours. 

Happy Baking!  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

I've been chasing this forever. I've been trying to get one of my posts published onto TasteSpotting for the longest time. So many failures and I'm really hoping that this post can make it onto it's newest *Feature*. What is the *Feature* you may ask? TasteSpotting is partnering up with Edy's Ice Cream for a celebration...after all, July is national ice cream month! As soon as I found out about this, I tried my best to come up with an interesting ice cream dish that I could post onto my blog and the website.

Here's my newest concoction.

S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches. This recipe consists of chewy graham cookies, melted chocolate, and toasted marshmallow ice cream.

It took me two tries to make the ice cream. The first try was a complete disaster that left me very frustrated. I don't know what happened but the eggs curdled and everything just separated from each other. I threw the mixture into the sink and just stood their in anger and disappointment. After I gathered myself together, I decided to not give up and give the ice cream another try. The second try was a complete success!

The cookie resembles a snickerdoodle. In fact, I think it's basically a snickerdoodle. Who cares what it's called though. It's absolutely delicious nonetheless. As for the ice cream, you can definitely taste the toasted marshmallow. It has a nice spongy and fluffy texture due to the marshmallows. I substituted the vanilla bean for vanilla bean paste. There was a lot of vanilla flavor in the ice cream which I love. You can even see all the specks from the vanilla bean.

I highly recommend making the ice cream a day or two earlier. I made everything in one day and it took a long time for the ice cream to harden completely. I was in a big rush. Thankfully everything turned out just fine. These ice cream sandwiches even look like they could be sold in a shop.

Now...time for the main event. The recipe!

S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches
makes approx 14 sandwiches

Chewy Graham Cookies
adapted from mykitchenaddiction
makes 28 1-ounce cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. 

Combine the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl and set aside.  

For the cookie dough, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, honey, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, baking soda, and salt.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated into the creamed mixture. Stir in the flour.

Form the dough into 1-ounce portions, roll them into balls, and dip them in the topping mixture.  Place each one on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the cookie is just set and golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool. Once they are cooled, spread about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the bottom of each cookie and let the chocolate solidify. Set aside until ready to use.

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream
makes approx 1 quart

10 oz bag marshmallows
1 vanilla bean (I used 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste)
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
5 large egg yolks
scant 1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla  

Spread the marshmallows in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast the marshmallows with a kitchen torch, flipping them to toast all sides (be careful when flipping, they'll be hot). If you don't have a torch, you could probably also toast the marshmallows using the flame on a gas stove or under the broiler in your oven. If you use the broiler, keep a close eye on the marshmallows. Set the marshmallows aside.

Use a small paring knife to split the vanilla bean down the middle. Scrape the bean with the back of the knife to remove the seeds. Add the seeds and the vanilla bean to a medium saucepan along with the milk. Set over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl. Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 170-175 F on an instant read thermometer). Strain the custard into a heatproof bowl.

Let the mixture cool for a few minutes (you can stir it vigorously to cool it faster). Add the toasted marshmallows to your blender, and once it's cooled slightly, add the custard to the blender too (my blender was almost filled to the top, but it worked out fine - you could do it in batches if you'd rather). Blend until the marshmallows are completely broken down and the mixture is smooth. Add the heavy cream and vanilla to the blender and blend to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is best). Before churning, whisk the mixture vigorously until the custard is smooth and has a pourable consistency (it might be slightly spongy when you first pull it from the fridge). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Take two of the chocolate-dipped graham cookies and sandwich a heaping 1/4 cup of the toasted marshmallow ice cream. Enjoy!

It takes a lot of time to make this recipe but that's mainly because of the freezing time for the ice cream.  It's very much worth the time and effort because this tasted a lot like a delicious s'mores sandwich you'd make over the campfire. I highly recommend you make this and share it with your friends and family....or don't :)

Until next time....Happy Baking!