Knitting & coffee… cupcakes.

In my ongoing quest to keep my audience entertained, I try and find interesting and unique cupcake (or cake, or dessert, really) ideas and images, aside from my own. I stumbled upon this a few months back and lost track of it, so luckily I’m good with a Google search…

Seriously? Seriously.

Knitting cupcakes! I love this: cupcakes and knitting are two of my favorite pastimes.  These delicious little cakes are topped with yarn made of … … *drumroll* …marzipan. And I said it like that because I know that you, just like I did when I first saw it, were probably trying to figure out how in the hell she did it. VeganYumYum‘s author, Lolo, gets genius credits from me for this. They’re perfectly executed and done so neatly. Lazy bakers like myself are in awe, Lolo.

As you can see from the above picture, I made some cupcakes myself tonight. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy, so instead of making a total from scratch recipe this evening, I opted for one of my mother’s favorites: Cappuccino cupcakes. Taken from the Anne Byrn book, which is basically a book based on doctoring up cake mixes… but this time redone a little bit by me. I had the vanilla cake mix in the house, and plenty of coffee, and since the last time I made them I wasn’t quite 100% pleased with them… I figured I’d try it again.

See- last time I had some trouble with the chips sinking to the bottom. While people enjoyed that, and  most thought it was done on purpose (like a layered-cupcake kinda deal), I wasn’t too thrilled. So this time I omitted them completely.

Be gone with thee, chocolate chips! Put thyselves in a scone! Also, the batter last time was very watery. I’m thinking those two issues are related, and it was all probably because I omitted the pudding and used cake mix WITH pudding, which really isn’t the same thing. If you’re gonna make these, use the pudding or else you’ll end up with watery batter. Especially if you want to put the chips in.

I also did not make mocha buttercream frosting this time. I made chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe below), and drizzled chocolate on top. And for the ‘pièce de résistance’… coffee beans. Well, actually, espresso beans. Starbucks espresso beans. Why is that a pièce de résistance? No idea. I think I just really wanted to have an excuse to say pièce de résistance. At any rate these were different from my previous cappuccino cupcakes and very yummy. Although those were also yummy, these came out much better.

CAPPUCCINO CHIP CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix (* or use cake mix with pudding and eliminate this step)
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
  2. Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.
  4. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. 18 to 20 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Get this stuff together:

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

And then:

  1. Place the butter and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is soft and well combined, 30 seconds.
  2. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.
  3. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk if the frosting is too stiff.

Visually, I think these are up there among the most attractive cupcakes I’ve made yet.

I know there are tons of people who are all anti-cake mix, and I agree to an extent. But I can’t make the promise that I’ll never again touch a box of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. So I won’t. I love baking from scratch; it tastes better, and makes you feel better than if you just opened a box of dehydrated powders and mixed it with oil. However that doesn’t mean I’ll never make Frankenstein cupcakes (meaning, half-scratch, half-mix) like this again.

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