Category: frosting tips

Fill your heart with frosting.

I wish I could say I love surprises, but I really don’t.

Deep down inside somewhere, I kinda do; I kinda do get excited about being surprised. But more often than not, it’s just an overwhelming sense of “What am I missing out on?!” and it drives me bananas. I hate not having control over things. I like knowing what’s happening, what time it’s happening, and where it’s going down… I like being dressed appropriately & I like being mentally prepared. Jay can tell you numerous times when I almost ruined birthday gifts, Christmas gifts or trips with this twisted way of thinking. I think the problem is when I know I’m going to be surprised. If you just spring a surprise on me, then I don’t have time to over-analyze or try & figure out what it is. Yeah I know- I’m a f#%!ing wack job who ruins everything. It’s not that I’m a control freak, though, not at all. I’m extremely laid back when it comes to most things. You can plan anything, take me anywhere, give me any gifts, etc, and I’ll be totally cool with it. I just really prefer to know ahead of time.

All that said, however, a cupcake surprise is a different story.

See, these cupcakes aren’t frosted traditionally. Instead, they’re filled with a surprise. And by that I mean they’re filled with a light, fluffy pink-colored vanilla buttercream through a convenient little cut-out heart shape. I used a little heart-shaped cookie cutter from Sur la Table that cost me a whopping $.76. I know, it almost bankrupted me.

Just bake your cupcakes, whatever kind you want, and when they’re all cooled cut out the shape using a small cookie cutter. I went down pretty deep so the entire cupcake would be filled, but you can just do a bit from the top. Then fill the cut-out shape with frosting using a piping bag & small round tip (for the size of my cookie cutter, Wilton’s 2A tip was perfect). Donesky. If you want to do the confectioner’s sugar thing, just dust them AFTER cutting out the shape but BEFORE filling with frosting. That would look awesome with a red velvet cupcake, too. Any & every combination works: chocolate with vanilla filling, red velvet with chocolate filling, red velvet with cream cheese filling, vanilla with strawberry filling, chocolate with strawberry filling, vanilla with chocolate filling, strawberry with chocolate filling… etc, etc. The sugar dusting just won’t be very visible on a vanilla cupcake, though. But that’s okay… it’s pretty without it, too. On that note, I’ve seen it done as a vanilla cupcake with lemon curd filling as well, which would be nice for spring.

*heart cake stand also from Sur La Table

You can use any flavor cupcake, any flavor or kind of frosting, and any shape cookie cutter. Stars, snowflakes, shamrocks, etc. Even just a circle! Here are some recipes, if you need them:

I used Wilton’s heart-shaped silicone baking cups to bake the cupcakes in. Any kind of shape will do, you don’t have to use hearts, nor do you have to use the same shape as your cookie cutter. A round cupcake with a heart cut-out is just as cute! Another excellent idea: letters. Cut out letters on top to spell out a message, or someone’s name, or just use one letter; maybe your kid’s initial for a birthday party. I’m partial to hearts, and the color pink, so obviously I was going to make ones like this for Valentine’s Day. But of course, this idea can extend far past Valentine’s Day.

I like the spelling out of a message idea, myself. Like maybe…

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Just a thought.

printable-valentine-cards-cupid-inside-red-heart

She sells seashell cupcakes by the seashore.

;

One of the things that just screams summer, especially when you live near an ocean and are apt to see them A LOT, are seashells. Once the seashells come out, I know it’s definitely summer. You start to see them hanging on wreaths, on restaurant tables, used as planters or candle holders, hanging on walls, on sandals, as earrings, etc. Most people don’t think of the ocean when they think of New York, they just think of “the city.” But New York boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in- dare I say- the world. Coney Island, The Hamptons, Jones Beach, Point Lookout, Brighton Beach, Rye Beach, Manhattan Beach, etc. All of those are not only beautiful but historic beaches. As a kid, going to to beach a few times a week was one of the glories of summer; I could be the little mermaid I was born to be all day long, collecting seashells & starfish, finding little crabs & tide pools, making sand castles and of course swimming myself silly. It’s still one of my favorite things to do. And I still love seashells. I can’t help it, I’m a true summer baby- born July 30th, the height of summer.


I bought these Mary Englebreit cupcake liners last spring, with all intentions of using them last summer. But that didn’t happen. I thought they were so cute, I couldn’t resist! I saw a whole summer cupcake theme going on in my head. Sadly, my summer last year was not how I expected. So this summer I decided I would definitely use those little seahorse liners. And I had an idea! I wanted to do a little seahorse on top of each cupcake. But I couldn’t find appropriate molds, nor could I find any edible toppers that were up to my standards. So I decided I’d buy a set of chocolate seashells, and put one on top of each cupcake. But then I saw the assortment of chocolate shells on the internet, and I wasn’t really pleased. I could’ve made my own, by buying some seashell chocolate molds, but then the weather got really hot.  And that’s when I said, “Self.. maybe chocolate isn’t the best material to use right now.” I was stuck, yet determined. I’d already put off using those liners for a year! I was GOING to use them.

And right about then is when I saw these cute little molded sugar shells at the Cupcake Social and they were perfect.


I brushed them with some gold Wilton pearl dust to give them a little something extra special. It also reminds me a little of sand.


I used an extra large open star tip to frost the vanilla cupcakes with a sweet but ever-so-slightly salty blue frosting (supposed to be reminiscent of saltwater taffy!). Then I topped each one with two seashells. And there you have it- the perfect beachy summery cupcakes.

VANILLA CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a small bowl. Then, with the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour.
  4. Fill each cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the center of the cupcakes spring back when touched. Cool completely before frosting.

SLIGHTLY SALTY “SALT WATER TAFFY” BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 stick SALTED butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 pound – 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk (perhaps more)
  • food coloring, if desired

Directions:

  1. Place the butter and shortening in a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add the first pound and a half of powdered sugar, a cup at a time until all is incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl very well. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  2. Slowly add half of the milk while the mixer is on, and beat for one minute. Add food coloring. Blend.
  3. Add more milk or sugar as needed to achieve a frosting consistency that’s suitable to piping.

For this frosting color, I used regular McCormick liquid food coloring: two drops of green and three drops of blue. It was the perfect color, wasn’t it? And if you don’t have any salted butter, use a little bit of table salt. Just sprinkle it in, a teeny bit at a time until the desired saltiness is achieved. If you’re concerned about the possible grittiness, then just grind the table salt until it’s super fine. And I usually use homemade buttermilk for things like this; I just mix milk & white vinegar together in a ratio of 1 cup to 1 tablespoon (or 1/2 cup to 1 teaspoon). I mix it together and then just let it sit for 15 minutes. I just find the flavor is better, and this way I don’t have to keep throwing away buttermilk that’s been in my fridge too long or worry about the powdered kind getting all clumpy. Of course any kind of buttermilk works, but that’s just what I like to do.

That beautiful cake stand was a gift from my cousin and his wife who live in New Orleans; it’s from a store called Roux Royale, just in case you’re wondering.


Sometimes, you have to just make some pretty cupcakes for no other reason than to enjoy them, and put them on a pretty cake plate. Even on a random Monday. Or Tuesday… or Thursday. Whenever. Even if it’s pretty hot out. Even if it’s so hot you think your face is going to melt off. ‘Cause look at these! They’re so beautiful, you can’t help but smile.


They’re worth it.

And of course, they go perfectly with my grandmother’s vintage 40′s/50′s summer tablecloth that I recently found. How amazing is this? And how jealous are you? ‘Cause I bet you’re pretty friggin’ jealous right now. That’s okay, I would be too. Between my cake plate and this… pfft. You might as well give up. You ain’t got nuthin’ on me & my summer steez.

Anyway, I love you summer. ♥ Here’s to you & all your awesomeness.

S’more & more & more…

Hey… psst… as of midnight last night, er, this morning, the cookie jar giveaway is officially over! Congrats to the winner, Sarah – enjoy your cookie jar! And thanks to everyone else who entered. I hope to have many more in the future.

I bake after midnight a lot. More than most, I’d guess. And lately I’ve been in baking mode; clafouti & cookies & cupcakes, oh my. But see, here’s the rub. When the weather gets hot, I hate to turn on the oven, so I try & do my baking at night (or the early morning) when it’s cooler. I’m kind of old fashioned like that. Even with air conditioning… I still hate to have the oven on when the temperature is over 80º degrees unless it’s 100% necessary. And you’d think that with cupcakes it’d be necessary. And it is. But not necessary enough. So I do it at night when everyone’s asleep (well, almost everyone… Jay does work until 2:30 a.m. after all) & the sun is down, & it’s way cooler. This guy might or might not be awake, too.

Anyway. If I’m lucky, it’s cool enough (and the humidity is low enough) after midnight to fling all the windows open and get fresh nighttime air. I’m a full-on night owl, that’s when I do my best thinking too. It’s when I came up with this.

S’mores cupcakes have been done before. Tons of times. You’re probably thinking, “Been there, done that, seen it on Pinterest.” And you’d be right. But I don’t really like to try & reinvent the wheel, here. I like the classics. Forget about inventing taco cupcakes or some crazy shit. I like reworking the classics & trying new ways of doing them. I’m just nutty like that. I mean, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results? I think someone said that once. It probably wasn’t anyone I know, though, they’re all a bunch of damn lunatics themselves.. It..

At any rate, I decided to recreate a classic cupcake in a way I never did it before. S’mores cupcakes are some of my favorite cupcakes ever. The last time I made them was quite some time ago, and it was this recipe. That recipe is awesome- don’t get me wrong. But I wanted to try something different. Side note: do you think it’s normal I look back on my blog posts from 4 years ago and cringe? ‘Cause I do. Mainly because the pictures suck. Anyway… s’mores. What’s there not to like about them? And they’re pretty much perfect for this time of year; s’mores themselves are a summer staple, aren’t they? They’re made at cook-outs, barbecues, camping trips, etc. And this is a less messy way of having your s’mores and eating them too. Although a messy s’more right off the fire is a lovely thing.

This time I decided to make a rich dark chocolate cupcake and sprinkle it with graham cracker crumbs before baking it.

Then once they’re out of the oven and almost cooled, I put a large marshmallow on top…

And then stuck ‘em under the broiler; toasting the marshmallow and melting it, creating a “frosting.”

As it settles, it melts down onto the cupcake. And there you have it.

A new take on the s’mores cupcake.

S’MORE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Hershey’s® Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • about 4 or 5 honey graham crackers, crushed
  • 12 large marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º degrees F. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. In another bowl whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk and vegetable oil. Gradually whisk flour mixture into sugar mixture. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Add a heaping teaspoon of crushed graham crackers on top of each cupcake. Bake in preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool for several minutes in the cupcake pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool just enough so they can be handled. Once cooled, but yet still warm, transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each cupcake with a large marshmallow. Slide under the broiler and broil until browned, bubbly & melted. Remove immediately. Allow marshmallow to cool enough so that it won’t burn your mouth, then eat away!

I got my brown cupcake liners from sweet estelle’s baking supply. I like using dark brown liners when making chocolate cupcakes, I think it looks much nicer than a white one or a colored one. Most colored ones aren’t greaseproof enough to work on chocolate cupcakes. Unless they’re from the Confectionery House or Sutton Gourmet Paper. But that’s just my two cents. I prefer to use brown or black liners for dark cupcakes, I like the look. But I also like potato chip sandwiches, hot sauce in macaroni & cheese, dipping french fries in blue cheese dressing, the smell of gasoline and shaving the sides of my head. I don’t expect you to fully agree with everything I say.

The neat thing about these is that the next day, the marshmallow is still soft & gooey. So they’re good warm and they’re also good the next day.

Or for breakfast. Not that I’m encouraging that at all, kids. S’mores cupcakes and Coke are NOT a balanced breakfast, but I eat it anyway and feel the same silent, secret shame I feel when I actually like a Coldplay song.

Christmas goodies… & cupcakes.

It seems like all my decorations this year are retro & vintage ones. I’m using all my Nana‘s decorations, some of which date back to the 1940′s. They’re all so special to me & it makes it feel like she’s still here. So I guess it’s a retro Christmas around here.

Sometimes I just need to make a logo, even if it’s for nothing. Sorry. Involuntary graphic-designer twitch.

Anyway I’ve been getting a lot of love from Pinterest, so I want to say hi & thanks! Tons of you have been clicking through from there- so I hope you’re liking what you see, and keep coming back. I’ve also been getting a lot of Christmas goodies via snail mail lately. I guess that means I’ve been a good girl this year? I think I have been, but I guess every naughty person says that, right? Anyway this particular gift (& inspiration) is in the form of a Christmas table runner my amazingly-talented-with-a-needle-&-thread Californian friend Yoyo made for me. A custom made table runner. How friggin’ lucky am I?

Crazy lucky. And look! It has cupcakes on it!

A Christmas table runner with pink candy stripes & cupcakes… I can’t even deal with the cuteness. It’s just the best, and the color scheme & patterns match almost perfectly with all my grandma’s vintage Christmas stuff. The pinks & greens & lighter than usual Christmas colors just went so amazing with the white plastic trees & retro Christmas ball candle holders. And as usual, it all inspired me to make cupcakes that went with it!

And yes, they’re little cuppy cake trees. I seem to be all about the trees this year, eh? Now that I look at them, though, they’d be great for a little girl’s birthday too. The pastel colors are so sweet. They almost melt my cold heart.

Whoops, that tree to the right is leaning a bit!

I took purposely washed-out vintagey kind of photos of them, & used my grandma’s vintage jadeite plates for a more 1950′s-ish presentation. I think it worked, don’t you? Those salt & pepper shakers are from Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH. If you’ve never been, you should go!

The cupcakes are just a plain vanilla cake, with vanilla flavored pastel green-tinted buttercream. As far as the frosting on the cakes, I used a large star tip to create that look. If you make 12 cupcakes, make enough frosting for 24 cupcakes; the trees need to be frosted twice as high as normal. The color is Wilton icing color in Leaf Green (only a drop!). Candy pearls are by Wilton, pink liners, larger pink candy ‘baubles’ (candy-coated chocolate) & pink candy pearls from Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies. Green sanding sugar was bought at Target ages ago, but you can get it anywhere. And of course- runner by Topstitch! If you’re in the market for awesomesauce handmade items, check out Yoyo’s blog & her store. She’s always updating it with new material. And I’m sure for the right price she’ll do custom items for you, too, so just ask.

Christmas is getting closer & closer. Are you all ready?

God Save the Cupcakes!

I know it’s officially “Christmas time” (or at least that’s what the retailers want us to believe), but humor me with this one non-X-mas related post, & then I promise you for the rest of the month it’ll be non-stop holiday hijinks.

Last year, actually almost 2 years ago- early in 2010- my insanely talented friend Chrisie (who you may remember from my giveaway in 2009, when she donated an absolutely gorgeous Cupcake Rehab painting) contacted me with a request. I know Chrisie for a loooong time, well about 10 years. We met at F.I.T. in a Fashion Illustration class (that was so much fun) & I’m pretty sure the universe broke when they put us in a class together. Anyway, she had an idea; she wanted to make an entire series of cupcake paintings, inspired by me and Cupcake Rehab, and the next one she wanted to do was a punk cupcake. Now seriously… if anyone knows me, they know that there is probably no better person to create such a cupcake. Okay, maybe that’s not 100% true, but I’m into punk, and cupcakes, so really I am sort of an authority on a punk cupcake. I used to be a punk cupcake...

Not that you’d really know it anymore- I’ve grown up and mellowed out a lot since my days of spike bracelets & collars, pink hair (my favorite of the “not-normal” colors I’ve ever had), rebellion, anarchy, anti-authority and the ever-chic look of wearing safety pins in my ears. Now I shop at places like Anthropologie & wear ballet flats & J. Crew sweaters (but yes, underneath the sweater is a Clash t-shirt), my significant other is a cop (even if he is in a death metal band, he’s still law enforcement!) & while I do sort of have a ‘faux hawk’, or rather a side cut, I haven’t dyed my hair in months (for the first time in 13 years I see my natural color, & I dislike it just as much as I used to, except now there are strands of gray for me to dislike as well). But I still listen to the music, and believe in the ideology. Bottom line is this: I learned a long time ago it isn’t worth it arguing over what’s really punk and what’s not, or who’s really punk and who’s not, especially when it’s based on outer appearance or clothing. Just like it’s pointless to assume that someone is less “punk” than you because they don’t dye their hair/shave it into mohawk/don’t have fully tattooed biceps/etc. You shouldn’t always judge a book by it’s cover, and knocking others for listening to things besides one genre of music isn’t “punk” either; it’s pretty lame, and you’ll realize it one day. Being an individual means being yourself & NOT wearing a uniform, even if that uniform is neon Liberty spikes, a studded & patched denim jacket & piercings. I do still wear my jacket, though.

“The Jacket”

So anyway, I’m getting way off track here. Let’s just stick with the cupcakes. Chrisie pitched me her concept: a cupcake with a pink mohawk, and I had these liners from Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies that were black with white polka dots, and I figured they’d be perfect (I also used them on my white chocolate almond cupcakes and others, they’re awesome liners). With those things as my base ideas, I started coming up with stuff immediately. I decided to make a vanilla cake with a dollop of chocolate buttercream frosting dyed black, and then do the hot pink “mohawk” on top of that in royal icing. Then I started thinking about “props”; stuff that would add a bit more to the “punk” theme for her painting. I remembered that I was in possession of an old spike bracelet I used to wear in high school, so I thought I’d put it around the bottom of the cupcake like a spike collar. I also suggested maybe incorporating a sort of Sex Pistols kind of typography and safety pins somewhere. I took the photos on a black background so it’d look a bit more dramatic, and also so it’d be easier for her to paint in whatever background she wanted. She came up with an amazing composition! (I’ll post the recipes I used for the frosting after all the images for anyone who’s interested)

So here’s the big reveal! I have been SO EXCITED to share this with you, for so long now. I’ve been waiting patiently since January of 2010 to post this, that’s a big deal for me! This is coming from someone who can’t keep birthday presents a secret without losing it & can’t stand to wait ’til Christmas to open my own gift. That said, I’m not one to rush an artist into creating a piece of artwork, so I’ve been patient, and it’s been totally worth it. She told me about a month ago it was done & sent me the pictures of the finished product, but I wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving to blog it. Here are two pictures of my cupcakes that helped to inspire her, followed by the amazing painting Chrisie did from using my pictures as reference.

So friggin’ cute with the little mohawks.

And… are you ready? Seriously?

Are you?

Okay, drumroll please. Here’s her painting! Ta-da!

……

How incredibly awesome and beautiful is that!? It’s ridiculous. I know, I cannot even fathom her talent. It’s like a friggin’ photograph. I’m telling you- she’s crazy. Chrisie is so amazingly talented, and she recently opened her own baking business, Eat Cakes. To get on the mailing list, shoot an e-mail to eatcakeorder@gmail.com. To see more of her artwork or commission her to do a painting, visit ccomis.com. There might be more collabo’s between the two of us involving cupcakes & paintings in the future. I’m excited.

So now I’m just waiting for the “punks” to come here & get on me for selling out & making such a cliched “punk cupcake” so I can stick my foot up someones’ ass… okay anyway, here’s the 411 on how to do the frosting, including food coloring & tips. The cupcake is just a plain vanilla cake so that’s easy enough for you to figure out.


“BLACK” CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Get some:

  • 1 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup dark cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened dark chocolate squares, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (approx. 1 lb) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons black food coloring (I personally recommend Americolor Super Black for this)

Then do this:

  1. Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla.
  2. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
  3. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add food coloring a little at a time, until desired shade is reached. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
  4. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Re-whip before using. Also, keep in mind the longer the icing sits the darker it will get, so don’t add too much color, it’ll just wreck the consistency of your frosting. Using a large round tip, pipe a circle of frosting on each cake. The using an offset spatula, smooth it down into a flat surface for the ‘mohawk’ to sit on.

ROYAL ICING “MOHAWK”

Ingredients:

  • 2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bright pink food coloring (I used Wilton Rose icing color)

Directions:

  1. Combine the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the extract, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes. Then add the food coloring and beat.
  3. Using a large star tip (I used Wilton 1M), after the buttercream frosting on the cupcakes has “set”, pipe three to four “stars” in a row on each cupcake. Ta-da! Mohawk!

So put on some X-Ray Spex or some Sex Pistols, do your best Joe Strummer imitation, brush your bangs into your eyes like Joey Ramone and eat some mohawk cupcakes. Or don’t. I don’t care either way. Oi, oi, oi.

Nobunny knows Easter better than Cupcake Rehab.

I mean are you kidding? Bunnies, eggs, chicks and all things cute are my specialties.

This Easter had a sad spin on it, given the events of last week. But I tried my hardest to make it as nice & happy as possible, complete with pretty little cupcakes & desserts. The cake pops I made for Valentine’s Day were such a big hit I decided I needed to make some for Easter. I went with the easiest concept- eggs. Although I was going to attempt chicks, stylized chicks in a kind of “Peeps” look I didn’t get around to it. I ended up making tons of cake pops (and a few little egg-shaped cake balls) instead. Adorable! This time, instead of using white cake mix & frosting, I used chocolate fudge.

I’m sure you all know how to make these by now, but in case you don’t, I’ll leave it to the queen to explain; Bakerella‘s tutorial on cake pops can be found here. You can also make them without the lollipop sticks (look for the ‘cake balls’ tutorial on Bakerella.com). Just a word to the wise: chocolate cake mix is moister than vanilla or white, so use a bit less frosting when making the pops, or else they won’t firm up properly and they’ll collapse on ya. Is ‘moister’ even a word?

I’m still no expert at cake pops, but the more you make them the easier they get. I’m starting to get a little technique down. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of the “chocolate egg” cake balls, but they were just the chocolate fudge egg-shaped cake balls dipped in light cocoa and blue candy melts, then I just used the opposite color to do drizzles on top. I wrapped those up in the little baggies with bunny ribbons too. I know it’s juvenile, but I have to stop writing ‘cake balls.’ It’s making me laugh too much. Cake balls. Bwahaha!

I also made cupcakes, and I topped them with a green buttercream “grass” and some pink and purple sugar flower posies (courtesy of Wilton). You could certainly make your own icing flowers, though, if you’re a bit more ambitious than I was. I had a shit week, you’ll have to forgive me. I made a cupcake recipe I made a few Easter’s ago which is one of my favorites for spring. I like to call them “Lemony Snicket’s” cupcakes because they’re a very light lemony-vanilla flavored cake (& frosting). The tulip cupcake liners are just the cutest thing ever, and I’ve been saving them for a while now. I knew I’d use ‘em for either Easter or Mother’s Day! You can get them at Cupcake Social or get them at sweet estelle’s baking supply, or even at Bake It Pretty. Look at that- choices galore. God Bless America!

I used my super jumbo star tip for these… it’s my new favorite tip, sorry Wilton!

LEMONY SNICKET’S CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 large lemon (organic)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup  milk

LEMONY SNICKET’S BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (or icing or powdered sugar), sifted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Zest of 1 large lemon (again, preferably organic since you’re using the zest)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk or light cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture, along with the milk, and beat until combined.
  3. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing.

For the Frosting:

  1. In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed.
  4. Tint the frosting with desired food color (I use the Wilton icing colors in the little tubs, this color is ‘Leaf Green’).

If you have the tip that makes the frosting look like actual grass (Wilton tip #233), then that would be super cute too. I like to pipe my frosting a little on the high side (in case you haven’t noticed), so I always make a little bit more frosting than the recipe calls for. Oh, and obviously, I baked the cakes in plain white liners, then just stuck them in the tulip ones. It seemed as though the tulip liners were a bit short, so I used them as an accent. I think they’re really pretty though, don’t you?

In this one you can really see how cute the liners are…

I should also probably mention I always get 14 cupcakes out of this recipe. It’s supposed to make 12, but I never get less than 14.

Well, Happy Easter! If you’re still stumped for ideas for tomorrow, check out my Easter category & this little compilation of my favorite Easter-y cupcake ideas. On that note, I’ll leave you with pictures of my Easter eggs this year. I did a few different kinds, my favorite one being the pink one in the second picture with the gold sequins. Guess why.

Black & white.

There are a few things I want to address before I get to the baking. First: my friend Yoyo is the best. I know that I gush about her all the time, but I can’t help it. She’s fantastic. She custom made me this awesome cowl, and I am in LOVE with it. This was taken almost 2 months ago before I met the Cooking The Books ladies for coffee.

It’s a houndstooth cotton lined with warm black fleece, and it’s reversible! I’m sure she’ll make you a custom order, if you want one. She does amazing work, and her prices are crazy affordable. I plan on having her make me another for sure. Oh, and notice all that snow behind me? Ha. Sucks. It was so bright I was squinting because the sun was reflecting off all of that snow! Thankfully by now most of that is melted, or at least all gray and slushy. Today we’re having such a bad rain/wind storm! How things change.  My hair is also (slightly) longer and darker now, in case you were wondering. Anyway, the second thing I wanted to share is I joined (finally) Frosting for the Cause a month or so ago.  Frosting for the Cause is a project you can read more about at the site, but here’s a snippet:

Beginning January 1, 2011 a total of 365 sugar cookie & cupcake bakers/decorators and bloggers from across Canada and the United States will take turns doing a guest post here at Frosting for the Cause. Once a day, every day for a year you will be treated to a new and talented blogger who will showcase their home-made, hand-decorated cookies or cupcakes together with their recipes. Almost everyone, everywhere, has been touched by cancer in one form or another. The guest bakers will also share in a very personal manner with readers of Frosting for the Cause, about a woman in their life who had to face this terrible disease head-on.

Also, in accordance with their rules, I’m pledging to donate $25.00 to the American Cancer Society, and also in my post I will be telling the story of a survivor; my mom. My posting date is April 3rd, but I’ll keep reminding everyone periodically so you don’t have to remember that. I encourage all you bakers to join- it’s fun, and its for a good cause.

So now that you know what’s going on with me, let’s get back to the baking! Continuing with the black & white theme of my cowl, I thought I’d give these cupcakes another go. Last time I did them, I was relatively new to baking, and while they came out really good… I thought I’d try ‘em again, using dark cocoa powder. This time I used a dual frosting technique as well. I also halved the recipe because from what I remember I got like 30 last time, and I really have no need for 30 black & white cupcakes right now. 17 is one thing. Over 30 is quite another. I only have so many family members to share them with, not to mention only so many glass domes & cake plates to store things in!

I might be a bit of a perfectionist, but I’m really not happy with my photos of these. I think it’s time to invest in a really good camera. In real life, they looked better, I promise, haha. Although despite how they look, these cupcakes are some of my absolute favorites. So delicious.

I’d suggest you make both batters at once, one after the other, then spoon them into the liners at the same time, side by side. Otherwise, whichever color you put in first will slide across the bottom.

BLACK & WHITE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

Vanilla:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
Chocolate:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin pan, or use paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt (and chocolate powder when you’re making the chocolate cupcakes); set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla, and mix until combined. On low speed, beat in half the flour mixture, followed by milk; end with remaining flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).
  3. Fill muffin cups with 3 tablespoons of each batter, side by side. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 22 to 24 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yeah, it’s a huge recipe. 4 eggs & a half pound of butter!  But if you halve it, it’s not bad, plus it’s definitely not as bad as these. For the frosting, I wanted to use a favorite of mine from Our Best Bites and do half vanilla and half chocolate. Be sure to read the post there on it, there are lots of weird things that can happen if you don’t use real name-brand butter or make substitutions. However, I forgot because I was making it while watching Elton John on David Letterman. I swear. So I made a new buttercream that is quite delectable from I am baker. I just used Hershey’s Special Dark unsweetened cocoa (in the cupcakes as well, however it didn’t make the buttercream quite as dark as it did the cupcakes, which was a disappointment). That was probably my fault though. Although I made a similar mistake with my last dark cocoa attempt… hmph.

Chocolate frosting never comes out good in photos, at least not for me. It always looks like shit, literally. Even with some sparkly sugar on top. Oh well.

Oh and speaking of black & white, I also received a surprise present today from Yoyo: this black & white polka dot apron! Pictures to come, of course.

Now bring us some figgy pudding, & bring some out here!

So, if you’re like me, that line from We Wish You a Merry Christmas always made you giggle as a kid. I mean, I’m sure most of us, especially us Yankees here in America, have asked ourselves at one point or another: “What the hell is a figgy pudding, exactly?”

Figgy pudding is a pudding resembling something like a white Christmas pudding containing figs. The pudding may be baked, steamed in the oven, boiled or fried.[1]

The history of figgy pudding dates back to 16th century England.[2] Its possible ancestors include savory puddings such as crustades, fygeye or figge (a potage of mashed figs thickened with bread), creme boiled (a kind of stirred custard), and sippets. In any case, its methods and ingredients appear in diverse older recipes. Today, the term figgy pudding is known mainly because of the Christmas carolWe Wish You A Merry Christmas,” which repeats, “Oh bring us a figgy pudding” in the chorus, indicating that it was a Christmas traditional dish served during the season and thus might potentially be given to Christmas carolers.

Well, us Americans have a different concept of “pudding” than the Brits do; our idea of pudding is Jello instant pudding, or the pudding cups you bring to school in your lunch bag as a kid, or even a homemade pudding made with cornstarch and heavy cream, but regardless, all three have the consistency of what the English call “custard.” Over there, in jolly old England, pudding is more like a cake. Sticky toffee pudding, figgy pudding, spotted dick- they’re all more like our idea of fruitcake or rum cake. Oh! Speaking of England, the wonderful Nancy from The Inky Kitchen recently was kind enough to send me a package of some British candy not easily found here in the States: Galaxy Ripple and Cadbury Flake! We do have specialty stores that sell British candy, but it’s sort of hit or miss. You never know what they’re going to have, and since the turnover isn’t very high, sometimes it can be old & sitting there awhile. Needless to say I tore into those pretty quickly. And of course, in turn, I sent her two packages of candy not available over there; Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses and Mint Truffle Hershey’s Kisses. What a nice Christmas present to get, right? Thank you so much Nancy. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas Hershey’s Kisses! I certainly enjoyed the ones you sent (and my mother loved the Ripple!). And just so you know, her blog, The Inky Kitchen, is great- awesome content and I love the artwork- so I suggest you take a look.

Upon learning last December that Cupcake Royale makes a figgy pudding cupcake, I decided to tackle the concept myself this year. Although mine is quite different- no chocolate chunks, no cocoa powder. Mine is more like a traditional figgy pudding in the sense that it’s a spice cake with molasses & buttermilk, with figs and walnuts in it. Traditionally, I’ve seen pictures of it topped with a sort of confectioner’s sugar glaze or icing, or a heavier creamier icing, usually poured on top and allowed to drip down the sides. I decided to use a regular frosting on them, instead of doing a glaze, but I added a little something extra to it. I made them as a sort of “gift” for my mother & father. This time of year I’m always making baked goods & giving them away. So this time it’s figgy pudding. I brought them some figgy pudding, and brought it right here!

“I am a wee figgy pudding… eat me!”

Full recipe makes around 18, if you halve it you’ll get 8 or 9 depending on your methods (whether you use a whole egg or take one egg, beat it in a bowl, and use half). If you do halve it, then DEFINITELY halve the buttercream (if you like really tall mounds of frosting) or quarter it, or else you’ll end up with tons left over. The full recipe makes 4 cups, so you do the math. I halved both recipes, and piled the frosting pretty high and still ended up with enough frosting left over for a good 5 cupcakes, so if you halve the cupcake recipe, you might actually want to quarter the frosting recipe. Unless you like having brandy buttercream in the freezer for later… hmm, I wonder if that’s where they got the idea for alcoholic whipped cream from?

FIGGY PUDDING CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon*
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg*
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups dried figs, stemmed and chopped fine
*optional

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Beat in figs and walnuts until combined thoroughly.
  2. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Frost after completely cooled.

ITALIAN MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM FLAVORED WITH BRANDY

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon brandy

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238° degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).
  2. Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.
  3. With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla, then the brandy. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth. Don’t be alarmed if the frosting gets “slippery” in the bowl; that’s from the alcohol. It’ll pipe just fine.
Seriously… check out that buttercream…


Gorgeous.

Depending on the taste you’re looking for, you can start off with less or just add more brandy until you feel it’s got the right flavor, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to use too much. Using a dark rum would also work if you’re not a brandy person. If you’re not a drinker or never have alcohol in the house, some brandy extract or rum extract would be nice, or just plain ol’ vanilla too. I also added some little holly branches and berries on top to make it more traditional-looking (and a big thanks to Yoyo for my surprise Christmas cupcake package that those toppers & liners were included in).

If you prefer to make them look more like traditional figgy pudding, you can make a brandy sauce, and then dip the tops of each cupcake (after they’re cooled) into the sauce. Obviously, I didn’t use it, but because I’m really sweet and it’s the holiday season, I’m going to give you the recipe for a brandy sauce.

BRANDY SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, very soft
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup brandy

Directions:

  1. Beat egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer until stiff.
  2. Add sugar, egg yolk, whipping cream, butter.
  3. Stir in brandy. Dip cooled cupcakes into sauce.

If you’ve never given baked goods as gifts before, it’s a great idea. First of all, for someone who’s hard to buy for or who has everything, baking them something they love or something they would love is a fantastic idea. Anyone who bakes from scratch or knows what it’s like to do so would appreciate a homemade, delicious, from the heart cake/cupcakes/bread/etc. And baking a Christmas-themed baked good is an even better idea; that way, when the person you give it to is entertaining they can serve it. Especially if they can’t bake themselves. Or they can just eat it all themselves, which I wholly endorse.

In honor of the season, I’d like to share with you my favorite Christmas commercial ever since I was a child. Seven days ’til Christmas- happy baking, eating, shopping and gifting!

And before you go, did you enjoy my interview with Pamela Ahn, contestant on The Next Great Baker? If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Go check it out, it’s the post right below this one.

My vintage hand mixer & some vintage “Snow White” cupcakes.

I’m back! With a new recipe (well, actually two) just like I promised, and on top of that… a really long post! A few weeks back I was helping clean out my grandmother’s kitchen cabinets and I made a real gem of a find. All the way in the back, tucked in a corner buried underneath a ton of other stuff, I found a brand new, mint in-box, never been used silver & white Sunbeam Mixmaster hand mixer from 1968. Yes, seriously, 1968.

I was psyched. If it’s one thing I love, it’s anything retro or vintage. Unfortunately it wasn’t in one of those spiffy 1950′s/1960′s colors like pink or aqua, but it’s still pretty damn awesome. If it had been pink, and matched Lola, I probably would’ve died right there on the spot. But I digress. Jay said it would be an awesome thing to have on the wall when I open my bakery (one day…) and I have to say, I agree. It’s 100% useable, I used it to make these cupcakes (but not the frosting, I only trust Lola to make any kind of meringue). But if I ever open a bake shop, I’d totally hang it on the wall. I think I might actually start collecting retro mixers, it would be an awesome thing to have a bunch of them hanging on the wall (or have some vintage stand mixers on a shelf or counter) in the kitchen… or my future bakery. And if any of you steal that idea, I’ll come find you and put your lights out. Don’t test me! I’ve been ripped off and copied enough. So basically, now I’m stalking websites like this, this & this. I think I need a vintage KitchenAid stand mixer in pink and a Sunbeam one as well, don’t you?

One of the coolest things about this little mixer (aside from EVERYTHING) is that it works perfectly, and even better- it came with a little booklet of instructions/recipes complete with awesome 60′s line drawings.

Don’t you just love old cookbooks and recipes?

So combine me finding that lovely gift with the fact that I was inspired by the cupcakes at my girl Sami’s wedding… and you have… well, a new Cupcake Rehab post. I chose to make Sunbeam’s “yellow” vanilla cake (as seen above) into cupcakes with a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I changed the cake recipe a bit because I wanted to use butter and not shortening. I’m going to give my instructions for turning it into cupcakes while leaving the integrity of the original recipe intact. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I recommend listening to The Crew-Cuts or Bobby Darin while making these, especially if using a vintage mixer (yes I know neither of those are from 1968, sue me).

To carry the whole retro theme even further, I put them in retro striped liners and topped them with adorably awesome Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs cake toppers, both from sweet estelle’s baking supply. Thank you to Yoyo for buying me these toppers, they are super duper cute! This batch of cupcakes reminds me of cupcakes that would be served at a kid’s birthday party in the 50′s or 60′s. Love it.

BASIC TWO-EGG YELLOW CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup soft shortening (or unsalted butter)
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs, unbeaten

Directions:

  1. Set oven to 375 degrees F to preheat. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners (or grease two 8″ cake pans).
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter; pour in the milk and vanilla. Beat until blended.
  3. Stop, scrape sides and bottom of bowl, and add eggs. Beat 1 ½ minutes. Pour batter into liners between ¼ and ½ way full (they rise a lot!) or fill the two greased 8″ cake pans about 1 ½” deep with batter.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until done. Let cool completely before frosting.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Some people find Swiss meringue buttercream to be tricky, and I used to as well. But if you have patience, and follow the directions correctly, it’s so worth it. It’s the best frosting ever. I always had problems with it and then one day, miraculously, I just “got it” and it all came together. It’s one of my favorite frostings. If you have difficulty with it, just remember, KEEP BEATING IT. It needs a LOT of beating, and make sure when you first start to beat it with the whisk that you do so until it’s completely cool and the bowl itself is cool to the touch as well. And after adding the butter, if it looks odd, like it says in the recipe, that’s normal. Keep beating it, it’ll come together.

The cupcake recipe makes exactly 24 and the frosting recipe frosts exactly that many cupcakes, but can also be doubled or tripled if need be. Happy baking!

Frosting tutorial part two: the icing on the cake.

Sorry, it’s been longer than expected. I’ve had a few setbacks, if you’re a regular reader you’re aware of myEYE PROBLEM and my broken coupler… *sigh* But we’re back in business now, folks. Hope all you mommies had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Now let’s get back down to business.

I’m really glad that part one of the frosting tutorial was a success, and that people found it helpful. Here’s where we get into the real stuff, though: piping using a pastry bag and frosting using an offset spatula. I’ll be frosting these using three different tips, as well as telling you how to use the tips, fill the bags, and pipe the frosting so it looks super pretty. I made cupcakes especially for this occasion (well, and for Mother’s Day), they’re lemon cupcakes with a light lemon buttercream, and I topped them with raspberries. If you’d like to make them as well, the recipe and all credits for it and the liners, etc will be at the very end of the post. Boy, it felt good to make some cupcakes again! I hadn’t made any since my Fluffernutter cupcakes from April 15th.. that’s a month ago. A month without cupcakes, how sad. Anyway here’s what the finished products looked like:

Pretty, aren’t they?

I’ll say this again: I am not a professional. There are people out there with much better techniques than I, I’m sure, for frosting cupcakes. I don’t think I’m all that and a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, believe me. But people asked me to do this, so I am, because I want to help them out. However please don’t take this to mean I’m conceited and think I’m a pastry chef or anything. I’m just a regular chick, with a regular kitchen, who likes to bake and happens to be sorta good at it. And if by sharing my tips, tricks and cheats I can help a few other people get in touch with their inner Francois Payard, then by all means… I just don’t want anyone thinking I’m walking around looking for accolades on my frosting techniques.

First of all, the following Wilton materials will be used in this tutorial:

  • 16″ pastry bag – I recommend this size because it holds enough frosting for at least 24 cupcakes without having to refill
  • disposable pastry bags – definitely needed if you’re using colored frostings, they’ll dye your polyester reusable bags something fierce, you can also use these instead of reusable bags, despite the horrible effect they probably have on the environment, it saves time: instead of washing ‘em, you toss ‘em
  • large coupler – this is what you use to attach the tips to the bags.. duh… although when using disposable bags, this isn’t needed
  • offset spatula – important for frosting cupcakes that you don’t want to pipe, or for creating smooth tops on them, like this
  • 1A tip (large round) – this tip makes the frosting look like these examples: onetwothree (also it’s good for piping on frosting before you spread it out with an offset spatula, like this)
  • 1M tip / #2110 (large star) – this tip makes the frosting look like these examples: onetwothree
  • 4B tip (open star) – this tip is also known in some brands as a “french star”… I just got it so I don’t have any examples to show you other than the cupcakes I’ll be frosting today

To begin, we’re going to get our bags ready. We already made our frosting and covered how to make it pipable in the last post. So here I’ll show you how to fill and use a reusable bag as well as a disposable. To use a reusable bag, first you have to put the coupler base in the bag. If you haven’t already cut your bag, you’ll have to do that before you do anything else. To cut the bag, you have to first push the coupler base as far down into the bag as you can. Then, using a pen or pencil, mark the bag where the bottom screw thread is outlined against the bag material. Push the coupler base back out of your bag, cut the bag on the mark, and push the base back in. It should fit perfectly. Now put the tip on, and then screw the coupler ring over the tip. It should fit snugly, and not be wobbly or uneven. I can’t show you pictures of this because I cut mine a long time ago, but it should be fairly self-explanatory. To prepare a disposable bag, when marking the spot on the outside of the bag, do it about a ¼ of an inch below that screw thread line. You don’t have to use a coupler for disposable bags- I never do. I won’t be doing so in this tutorial either, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, you can use one.

Filling a reusable bag with an offset spatula…

To fill the bag, you have two options. Option one is the way Wilton will tell you to do it: hold the bag in one hand, and fold the top over to form a large “cuff.” With an angled spatula or silicone spatula, fill the bag with about ½ – 1½ cups frosting. The second way to do it is to use a drinking glass to hold the bag. Then fold it over to form the cuff, and fill it, lifting the bag up and shaking it slightly every so often so that the frosting works it’s way down to the tip. When you’ve filled it enough, close the bag by unfolding the cuff and twisting it closed, forcing the frosting down into the bag further. This prevents “frosting farts”; aka when you think you’ve filled the bag and didn’t push it down enough, so when you try and pipe frosting on your cakes, a bit comes out, then stops, and when you push the frosting comes “farting” out with an obnoxious sound and splattering itself all over the top of your cupcake. This can also happen when your bag is running low on frosting, so make sure you’re aware of how much you have in there.

Once you have your bag filled and ready, position your tip over the cupcake. Depending on the look you’re going for, and the tip you’re using, you can either do a straight pipe or a circular pipe. A straight pipe is when you hold the bag directly perpendicular to the cupcake, place the tip against the cake, and slightly push on the frosting bag. Continue pushing until the frosting “blooms” out large enough, while lifting the bag upwards. When you’re finished, do a final little push into the frosting while doing one last little squeeze on the bag. Then just lift it away. Ta-da! This looks awesome with a large round tip when using meringue type frosting, but for these purposes I used the 1A tip to frost and then smoothed it with an offset spatula. This, like anything else, requires an amount of practice. The 1M star tip also makes a nice look when used like this.

Using a disposable bag there, as you can see


Another way to pipe is the circular pipe. To do this, you place your tip over the cupcake much in the same way as previously stated. Instead of pushing down in one spot in the center of the cake, however, you push down a little ways away from the center, and go in a circle, pushing the frosting out of the bag all the while… making a coil. Usually, I try not to go around more than once or twice, ending with a pretty point on the top (ending in the same fashion as above: doing a final little push into the frosting while doing one last little squeeze on the bag, then quickly releasing pressure and lifting the bag away). But depending on how thick your frosting is and how steady your hands are, it’s possible to go 3-4 times around. Also, try making circles if your coils don’t work. Make a larger circle, then a smaller one on top, then finish it with a “dollop” on top of that. It has the same look, especially when using a round tip, but easier to try and get the hang of. All three tips I used today can be used in this way, as well as tip 2A.

….

While I’m frosting I find it helpful to listen to music or have a DVD on of a movie I like. I find that listening to Lady Gaga & Beyonce sing ‘Telephone’ or something makes it not only more fun but helps me get into a “zone” of sorts. Though depending on the type of cupcakes or dessert I’m making, different music is in order. These cupcakes just made me think of Nicki Minaj & her “Harajuku Barbie”-ness, but sometimes Green Day, Black Sabbath or Social Distortion and even Method Man, Mos Def or Lil’ Kim is necessary. Movies with a lot of awesome music make for good frosting assistants too- for example, Quentin Tarantino movies, biopic movies on musical artists, etc. Find your groove and rock out while frosting. I promise you, it helps!

I thought I’d show you all how they came out, and maybe seeing the differently frosted finished products would also help you in your frosting efforts. The tips used, in order, are: 4B, 1A, 1M and 1A that I then spread out with the offset spatula.

The main thing to remember is practice really makes perfect when it comes to frosting. As long as your frosting is the right consistency, you’re on the right path. Just attempting these things over and over again will let you work out, through trial and error, the best way of doing it for you. Just practice, you can even practice your technique on paper plates until you get the hang of it.

Of  course, Lola got jealous of all the equipment and stuff being photographed, and she wanted some face-time too. She’s such a camera whore. But it’s allright, she’s beautiful. She deserves to be seen.

LEMON CUPCAKES (tweaked from original cupcake & frosting recipes courtesy of ourbestbites.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of 2 lemons (just zest the other lemons before you squeeze them)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Don’t go skimping here–you want the mixture to be almost white and super fluffy. This is absolutely essential to the outcome of the cake.
  3. While butter and sugar are mixing, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. After butter and sugar have mixed sufficiently, With the mixer running, add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Beat in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  4. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until fully incorporated.
  5. Fill the liners with the batter. DO NOT FILL THEM TOO HIGH. They will rise, and rise, and rise.  Be super conservative. These cupcakes won’t have a nice, curvy crown, but that’s okay–no one will ever know or care. However, they will rise like you have no idea. A tablespoon of batter might be just right, but do a test run or two to make sure.
  6. Bake about 20-25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. You don’t want to overbake these even a bit, or they’ll start to lose their delicious moisture. Remove from oven and cool completely.

LIGHT LEMON BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups butter (2 ½ sticks)
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Beat butter, lemon rind, and vanilla in an electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating to spreading consistency. Makes 2 ¾ cups frosting.

I used pink polka dot and pink solid liners from sweet estelle’s baking supply and topped the cupcakes with frozen raspberries that I defrosted, then laid out on a paper towel and sprinkled with sugar, then let rest a while before putting them on the cakes. By all means if you want to use fresh raspberries you can, I just used all mine up in the pie and had happened to have some frozen ones in the freezer. After a few minutes on top of the cupcakes, the raspberries leak a little bit of juice, and it looks pretty when traveling down the rivets of the frosting. I halved the recipe and I got about 18 cupcakes, so keep that in mind. Also, DON’T TRY THIS RECIPE WITH ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR. Only use cake flour for this. And trust me on what I said in the recipe about them rising. I’ve made them twice so far, and the first time I listened to the recipe author’s advice to fill the liners up to almost the top… and it was disastrous. Cupcake batter overflowing everywhere. So really, trust me on this, fill them halfway (if that, even) and do a trial run or a test cupcake to make sure.

I hope this tutorial helps you, and if you have any questions, feel free to comment and I’ll answer them best I can. Or, alternately, if you have any tips I didn’t list here, feel free to add those in the comments as well so everyone can benefit. And if there is any other topic you’d like me to cover, please tell me, if enough people want it then I’ll do a part three.

Before I forget… mucho thanks to everyone who made Cupcake Rehab reach the big 231 “likers” this past week on Facebook. Let’s get to 250, shall we?