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Monday, May 31, 2010

S'more Cupcakes

Making Things Taste Good: Week 7

Here in rainy Seattle it is hard to plan any type of fun or typical outdoor Memorial Day activity. We wished we were having a day at the beach, a BBQ, or even camping...but this was not the case. Instead, we brought the nostalgia of the outdoors in with this week's addition to 'making things that taste good'...a S'mores Cupcake.

Making the perfect S'more is never as easy as it sounds or as you remember it, but we recall the times that we have made S'mores with our family and friends with such fondness that we are tempted to make them again and again.

My experience usually happens something like this...I've lit the fire and let it burn down, found and whittled the perfect roasting stick, and spent an intense few minutes focusing solely on making the most perfectly toasted marshmallow. Then one of two things usually bursts into flames or it falls of the stick into the dirt. So, you repeat the process a few more times and when you have finally roasted a marshmallow that you think will just have to do, you put it between the graham crackers and chocolate and take a bite. Now, I remember a S'more as a pile of something ooey and gooey, melted and warm, toasted and crunchy... but usually the chocolate never melts, the marshmallow is still a ball of rubber on the inside, and the graham crackers are so dry I'm glad I still have half a can of soda sitting on the table from dinner. So, what now?

While researching my recipe for this week I came across A LOT of S'more Cupcake recipes. The challenge this week was picking the right one. I ended up using bits and pieces from a bunch of different recipes to come up with the perfect S'more experience.

First, I made a graham cracker crust in the bottom of each cupcake liner. I put these in the oven for just 5 minutes so the crust was a little crunchy and would hold together nicely. When I took them out of the oven, I put my chocolate batter right on top of the crust in the liner. In keeping with the tradition of the S'more I used this cupcake recipe from the Hershey's website.

While the cupcakes were cooling, I made a very fluffy meringue. I had thought about doing a marshmallow buttercream, but I thought it might turn out a bit too stiff and rubbery. My hope was to have something super soft and gooey. After piping on the meringue, I put the cupcakes on a cookie sheet and set them in the oven with the broiler on. NOTE: You really need to be sitting on the floor watching these the whole time. They will start to burn in an instant (kinda like roasting a marshmallow). I'll post two pics of my cupcakes this week. One was left under the broiler longer than the other. It's a good thing some people like a their marshmallows just a little burnt.

I topped this off with a piece of Hershey's chocolate stuck right into the meringue. They turned out looking great.

And they tasted even better. I really liked this cupcake. Granted it was a little sticky and very messy to eat, it was exactly the way I want to remember having a S.more on Memorial Day Weekend.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST Pinapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Week 6.5

My quest to "make things that taste good", I think, can be indirectly tied to this season's LOST which airs on Tuesday nights. Our friend, Slugger started coming over every Tuesday night to watch LOST with us, therefore giving my husband the excuse to make a fancy dinner and myself the excuse to make new cupcake. However, this past Sunday was the finale of LOST. Because we were so excited for the finale and because we will miss the show dearly we decided to honor it with a theme dinner and dessert.

First, while doing our theme-dinner shopping at the store we got a little side tracked and bought a coconut. I don't like coconut but neither Morgan or the kids had ever tried it fresh and we thought it would be fun. It was definitely fun...we bought what they call a 'Quick-Crack' coconut with pre-scored lines on which to crack it open...but we still couldn't get it open. To be clear, the picture below is of Morgan working on the coconut with a wrench.

The dinner was fabulous. Braised Boar with Dharma Initiative Baked Beans...alright it was pork shoulder and the baked beans did not come out of a can, nor do I think anyone on the island ever got to have a piece of homemade cornbread, but it was the best we could do. None of us really wanted to eat an imaginary jar of peanut butter.

The cupcakes for the night's event, Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes, were also kind of a stretch because I'm pretty sure no one on the island ever ate a pineapple either (although I must say I'm surprised they never found any pineapple after so many years on a tropical island). But I think I made up for the inconsistency with props. Cute huh?

The cupcake turned out great. i used canned pineapple and wished it had a stronger pineapple taste, a little more tart and sour would have been nice, but the were great all the same. I really liked the caramelized brown sugar that coated the top and made the pineapple stick to the cake. I also made a vanilla whipped cream on the side to add a little something extra special to the cupcake. I made these cupcakes in an extra-large cupcake pans, so they looked a little overwhelming but they were just so pretty you had to look past it. I would make these again, but probably in the smaller pans.

Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5
Because I love LOST.

Mocha Cupcakes

Week 6

This week I had a request. My husband, who is not a coffee drinker, has just found that he really likes the coffee flavored energy drink made by Rockstar. He likes it so much that he asked if I could make it into a cupcake. So, this week it was Mocha Cupcakes.

These cupcakes were very simple to make (especially after the last few cupcake recipes). The chocolate cupcake bottom was a dark chocolate cake into which I added a generous helping of room-temperature dark roast brewed coffee. With the buttercream I did the same. I added the same dark roast coffee as before to the vanilla buttercream instead of the normal amount of milk I would use. After piping the frosting, I dusted the tops with cocoa powder just because I thought it looked pretty

These cupcakes smelled delicious. I am a coffee lover and they smelled even better than I could have imagined. They tasted great too. The chocolate cupcake was very light and moist with a distinct coffee flavor. The vanilla buttercream was fabulous as always with a light hint of coffee flavor. I was little surprised that the buttercream didn't have a stronger coffee flavor but it was perfect just the way it was. I would definitely make these again. maybe even try it with a vanilla cupcake instead of chocolate so as to have a 'latte' instead of a 'mocha'.

Overall Rating: 4.7. out of 5
Needed a chocolate covered coffee bean to garnish the top. Would have been perfection.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Glitter Ruffles Cupcake Topper

I made this cupcake topper after seeing a cake in the new Cake Central magazine covered in these delicate ruffled flowers. The actual flower is covered in Super Pearl Luster Dust and it is super glittery. These would be awesome at a birthday party or bridal shower.

Strawberry Cupcakes

Week 5.75

We had friends over for a BBQ and decided that there is no better reason to make cupcakes than for when you are having guests over. So, I started on the third cupcake for the week...Strawberry Cupcakes. These cupcake s turned out especially pretty. Who can resist a a pretty pink fluffy cupcake?
these cupcakes were especially good considering that the vanilla cupcake bottom had fresh chopped strawberries and strawberry jam mixed in right before baking. And the Strawberry Buttercream was actually a vanilla buttercream frosting with fresh strawberry puree mixed right in.

this cupcake was fresh and sweet. The best part was how easy it was. I would definitely make them again.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Grapefruit Cupcakes

Week 5.5

This week I actually made two cupcakes, on the same day...and yes, I was crazy because each of the recipes had multiple set and/or parts. So, in addition to the salted Caramel Cupcakes, I also made Grapefruit Cupcakes.

Now, I am not a fan of all. But we have just started getting a box of fresh produce delivered to the house every other week, and this week's box had 3 grapefruits in it. All of us tried the first fresh grapefruit, and none of us, especially the kids, particularly liked it. Anna has more than a handful of words, but I think this was the moment I heard her say "yuck" for the first time. So, while looking for a recipe this week, I came across a Grapefruit Cupcake...and having two grapefruits already in the fridge I figured now was as good a time as any to try out the recipe. I just couldn't see myself picking out and making this recipe otherwise.

Again, I love trying new things and I not only made a delicious buttermilk cupcake bottom and tried a new vanilla buttercream recipe, but also learned to make grapefruit curd and candied grapefruit.

The grapefruit curd was quite easy. Just beat a few ingredients in a bowl for awhile and then put in the fridge to set. And the candied grapefruit, while time intensive, was not difficult.

The whole cupcake put together called for using a melon baller to remove the center of the buttermilk cupcake bottom, fill the hole with the grapefruit curd, pipe a bit of the vanilla buttercream right into the middle of the curd and finish it off with a piece of candied grapefruit for garnish.

This turned out very sweet and tangy. It definitely tasted of grapefruit, but was not overwhelming. I truly believe that you either like grapefruit or you don't. It is the same for these cupcakes. Although they were very bright and pretty, I personally was not a fan. Especially for all the work I had to do. I wouldn't make them again, but I'm glad I did this week because I got to learn to make curd and candied fruit.

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5
You either like them or you don't.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

This week I super excited to make 'something that tastes good' because I got a new cupcake book for Mother's Day. There are a lot of recipes that looked really good.

For Week 5 I've picked Salted Caramel Cupcakes. Oh My!

These cupcakes were so super fun to make. Well, probably only fun to me because I got to try some new things, as this was not just your typical cupcake.

First, I made the cake part of the cupcake. It was a pretty straight forward cake recipe which called for a dark brown sugar instead of the plain white sugar, giving this cupcake just a twist and making it fit batter with all of it's wonderful toppings.

While the cupcakes were in the oven, I melted some chocolate to dip my store-bought caramels in. these I probably would have eaten all by themselves but I knew they had a grander purpose.

Next, I went to work on the Caramel Buttercream Frosting. Up until this point I knew I was making a caramel frosting but didn't quite think all the way through to wonder how it was going to end up tasting like caramel. (I never really read the recipe all the way through before I start baking). Needless to say, I was surprised that the recipe actually wanted me to make caramel. What?!...but!it was super fun. All I had to do was put some sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove and started to cook it over medium heat until it started to melt until it turned all brown and gooey. I'd never actually melted sugar before so I had no idea that it would even do that. Now, it is a good thing I read the recipe for this part because I started pouring the heavy cream down the side of the pot into the melted sugar, just like the recipe said, and it started boiling and streaming like crazy. If I had poured all the cream right into the sugar all at once I'm quite sure I would have ended up setting something on fire. It was like doing a super fun science experiment. I felt like I needed safety goggles. And once the caramel cooled, I mixed it straight into one portion of my best vanilla buttercream frosting recipe, but only until it was swirled together (not mixed in completely). So pretty!

So, the cupcakes all put together were a brown sugar cake with caramel buttercream frosting topped with a chocolate dipped caramel and garnished with sea salt. this cupcake turned out looking pretty...well, pretty.

And they tasted great too! I was a little apprehensive about the sea salt but once you taste this cupcake you'll know you would never want one without it. the salt really accentuated the caramel flavors making this totally awesome. I'll definitely be making these again.

Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5
(I'm not sure why it gets a 4.8 but things could always be improved, right?)

Playing Catch-Up

I haven't posted anything in the last week or two but that doesn't mean I haven't been baking up a storm. The only reason I haven't had time to post to the blog is because once I am finished with one project I am right on to the next one. I have remembered to take pictures though. So, hopefully today (or over the course of this week) I'll be all caught up. But I guess that will keep you all checking that you have something to look forward to. *Wink*

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lego Star Wars Cupcake Toppers

This week I also made some Lego Star Wars Cupcake Toppers for Beckham's 7th Birthday. I am really not up to speed with my Star Wars characters and when I came up with the idea to make not only toppers that had Legos on them but also toppers that pictured Lego Star Wars characters I was amazed at how difficult it actually was. Did you know that there are over 70 Lego Star Wars figurines? So, I went with the ones I thought would be the most popular and hoped for the best. Starting out, I was a little worried that the look of a Lego Star Wars figure would not translate well into fondant, but I think they turned out pretty ok. You can check out up close pics of the individual topper in the Cupcake Topper slideshow on the right hand side of the page.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Very Pink Baby Shower

This week I had the pleasure of making cupcakes for a baby shower held for 3 (yes 3!) moms-to-be that teach at Talbot Hill Elementary School. I had so many cute ideas that I made a whole bunch of different baby girl themed toppers for their shower. I took way to many pictures but only because I thought they turned out so sweet.










Sunday, May 2, 2010

'Boy Oh Boy' Baby Shower

These cupcake toppers are perfect for a baby shower to welcome a sweet new baby boy. These can be made with just one design or mixed and matched to fit your needs. Any way you want them, that mommy-to-be will sure to love them.

Blue Onesie

Blue Umbrella

Blue Duckie

Blue Initial

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Week 4: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Over the past few years I have made so many cupcakes that at some point I just stopped eating them. Now, I rely almost entirely on friend and family tasters to let me know what taste good, what does not and what they feel could be changed to make it better.... until this week.

I got this recipe from

As the batter for these dark chocolate cupcakes were baking, they actually smelled more delicious than normal. I was a little skeptical about the cupcake recipe at first because it called for a lot (and I mean 'a lot') of cocoa powder. I was really afraid that these were going to be too rich and chocolaty for most. When they came out of the oven, I was surprised at how light and fluffy they were to the touch. I was instantly intrigued, but moved forward with the frosting, leaving the cupcakes to cool on the counter.

I am a huge peanut butter fan, but again was not exactly sure I would love the translation of it in a frosting. This peanut butter frosting so light and fluffy that I was amazed that it could produce such a strong peanut butter scent.

By this point in the baking process, I caved...I had to try it. So, I piped the frosting on the cupcakes and...WOW, this I will eat. They were delicious. Both cake and frosting had the perfect consistency, not dark, dense or overwhelming as I had imagined. They were just perfect.

All of my taste testers were with me on this one! (Thanks Talbot Hill Elementary School teachers!) And my at-home testers ate the extra frosting straight out of a glass in of it I had put in the fridge.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10
By my err, the frosting turned out a little too salty. The recipe called for a 'pinch' of salt. How much is that really?

Fancy Nancy Birthday Tutu

This week I got a chance to make another tutu. The mid-week cupcake break was a nice change. I made this "Fancy Nancy" tutu for a friend and of course made Anna run around the front yard in it for a few minutes, so I could get a picture of it before I packed it up. This tutu turned out super cute. Made with magenta, light pink, deep purple and lavender tulle and tied with a purple ribbon it cold in fact be the perfect addition to a "Fancy Nancy" birthday party. Add a big bow, fake pearls, and some sunglasses...ultimate cuteness!