I’m not really a fan of strawberry, I like fake strawberry taste, and I like the smell, and when I was a kid I loved Strawberry Shortcake and even went as her for Halloween once when I was a wee tadpole.. but I don’t particularly like the berry itself. As a matter-of-fact I hate berries, period. But I wanted something fun to make for the first birthday of my site… so… I thought whats more fun than a cupcake flavored like ice cream!? And whats more appropriate for a birthday than ice cream cupcakes!
Neapolitan ice cream started around the end of the 19th century. There are recipes for Neapolitan (or Pinachee) ice cream and cakes dating back to 1885, and evidence of it being known as early as 1870. The name is thought to come from the fact that many ice cream parlors and confectioner’s shoppes were run by Italian people, and the products were referred to as ‘Italian ice creams’ or ‘Neapolitans.’ It wasn’t always vanilla, chocolate and strawberry; it often had lemon or pistachio as well. Its believed that it ended up being the triad we know today simply because those are (and were) the three most popular flavors.
I decided that I’d make a Neapolitan cupcake because of the Kool-Aid frosting I made a while back. It gave me such an easy way of making strawberry frosting, without using real berries because, like I said, I don’t like strawberries! I’m not really making these for myself anyway though, these are a celebration of my blog and the past year, and they aren’t just a selfish endeavor. Okay, back to the cakes: they consist of three components: a vanilla cupcake, strawberry-flavored frosting, and a chocolate glaze/sauce/ganache spooned on top. The cupcake recipe is NOT my good old vanilla standby- the Magnolia Bakery recipe… I decided to live a little and use a new recipe (more about that later), the frosting is a Kool-Aid buttercream, and the chocolate sauce is a simple yet really elegant and tasty one I had left over from another baking project.
(Let me just take this time to say, although I’m not using the recipe today, I’ve seen some people on the internet talking smack about Magnolia’s vanilla cupcake recipe and I want them to know they’re batshit crazy. Seriously. If you’re making that recipe and its’ coming out like crap, then it’s your baking skills that need refining. That recipe is the best– even Jay said so and he’s like, the biggest anti-cake person there is, for the most part. Unless it’s a mind-blowing cupcake, he’s not going to eat it let alone compliment it. I think it’s the best vanilla cupcake recipe I’ve ever eaten and I stand by that, until I taste one that rivals it… the end)
So my new vanilla cupcake recipe is one thats been “famous” on the ‘net for a while now but I’ve never tried it. You may have noticed by now when it comes to vanilla cupcakes, I cleave desperately to my Magnolia recipe. So, to avoid becoming boring and repetitive I tried Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla cupcakes (from Billy Reece, owner of Billy’s Bakery in NYC) this time.
But since this is Neapolitan-themed, it doesn’t matter really what order you put the flavors in. A strawberry cupcake with vanilla frosting and chocolate glaze… or maybe a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a strawberry sauce. Whatever. You could even do what others have done and used the black-n-white cupcake as the base with a strawberry frosting. Or, use that half and half recipe and make the vanilla part into strawberry, then frost with vanilla buttercream. You choose!
But.. if you choose to do it my way.. then here are the recipes.
BILLY’S VANILLA VANILLA CUPCAKES
- 1 ¾ cups cake flour, not self-rising
- 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
- In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
- Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake, or use a pastry bag fitted with a fancy tip. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
STRAWBERRY KOOL-AID FROSTING
- 1 cup (2 stick)s butter or margarine, softened
- 4 ½ – 5 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- .13 oz. packet KOOL-AID Strawberry Flavor Sugar-Sweetened Soft Drink Mix
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Cream butter in the bowl of a mixer.
- Add sugar and milk gradually, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla extract, and mix until its fully incorporated.
- Add Kool-Aid by the ¼ teaspoon and mix thoroughly, until flavoring is to your satisfaction (or just dump the entire packet in if you like super-sweet high intensity flavor).
- Mix on low speed and make sure its well blended.
- Use on cooled cupcakes.
- 4½ oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsps unsalted butter
- ½ cup crème fraîche, or heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly.
- Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
- It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken. When it thickens, remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature before drizzling or spooning it over frosted cupcakes. Or alternately, pop it in the fridge and then defrost it when you need it. Also, if you chill it for a day or two it becomes very thick and pudding like, FYI.
Yeah, pretty much only I would use a chocolate sauce that calls for ‘crème fraîche’ with Kool-Aid frosting. I’ know, I’m so gangsta and oh-so-classy. I did half with a subtle strawberry frosting, and half with a more obvious flavored frosting… thats why some are light pink and some are darker. 😉
So how were the vanilla cupcakes? Pretty good. Actually… very good. Okay I’m being stingy with the compliments because I’m partial to Magnolia, but… this is a dang good cupcake, and way better than Amy Sedaris’ recipe. Then again, I only made that once, maybe twice, and I’ve been meaning to try it again and give it another chance. I just never do. Oh well. I love Amy, but her cupcakes were, in Jay’s words: “Cornbread-y.” (And my mom, who loves cupcakes and never has anything bad to say about anything I make even said the Amy Sedaris recipe was a bit dry for her taste. But I will try it again, I will!) Oh and as far as this recipe goes, normally I’m a big advocate of saying “Eff the cake flour, I’m doing this MY WAY” and just using all-purpose flour, like I’ve done for other recipes, but on Billy’s recipe- DON’T. I’ve heard horrible things. Seriously. Spring for the cake flour. I promise you’ll use it again, and you can even substitute it for regular all-purpose flour if need be by using 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose needed. Billy’s vanilla cupcake recipe is nice and light, fluffy and not too sweet, I found that the Magnolia Bakery recipe is sweeter. The cake flour in this recipe is what makes it fluffier and lighter. So I give it two thumbs up, all in all.
So… I wanna thank Jay for buying me this domain and letting me be crazy and creative and for giving feedback on my cupcakes, and encouraging me and buying me a mixer that makes me want to bake 24 hours a day… and the same goes for the rest of my family- I love you guys. I also really want to thank all my readers for, well… reading my blogs for the past year and coming back for more! You guys are the coolest. Especially those of you who’ve bought Cupcake Rehab merch… you really rock (and for those of you who haven’t yet- what are you waiting for?!)! I would like to thank all the other bloggers who inspired me to start my own blog- because I’ve had so much fun and learned so much and really, it’s just been fantastic. I’d like to thank Cheryl Porro aka Chockylit, even though her blog is ‘retired’, because the majority of my hits come from her website, and the second most hits come from All Things Cupcake. Thanks to Kitty @ Boring History Girl for being a fan since I was on wordpress.com and also for saying I’ve got the best eyebrows in cyberspace (and for those of you thinking “How does she know?”… click here)! Also a big thanks to Google, since most people searching for cupcake recipes get here from there. And also GoDaddy.com which is my host and hasn’t ever let me down. I encourage you all to check out the talented people I have linked, in any and ALL categories, because they are some super awesome people with super awesome blogs/shops… most especially Yoyo over at TOPSTITCH, because shes a huge supporter of Cupcake Rehab and an amazing friend. Shes even got her own category over here! I know that was really overdramatic and very Oscar-speech-like (“I’d like to thank the Academy..”), but it’s all true and on the year anniversary of my first cupcake blog ever I thought it was important to say.