Category: mixers

Blackberry jam cupcakes with lime.

A couple of months ago, I made some blackberry lime jam. And then (true to form), in all the summer hubbub, I genuinely forgot all about it. I say “true to form” because I do that a lot. I make something that I’m dying to use, and then I forget about it. Months later, I end up finding it in the cupboard and thinking, “OH CRAP!” But it’s okay, because isn’t that why we make shelf-stable jams & jellies? So we can use them months & months & months after we make them?

So the idea I had for the jam was originally a form of thumbprint cookies. But that fell by the wayside when I imagined vanilla cupcakes with a blackberry lime jam filling, topped with some vanilla-lime buttercream. I’ve been in a cupcake-y mood again lately, it seems. And this jam is really beautiful. Pardon my photography skills (and the possible overload of photos in this post), these shots were taken on my birthday gift, a.k.a. my new camera, so I’m still playing around with settings.

While I’m on the subject of cupcakes, I’d like to introduce you all to my new “blog adoptee” for lack of a better term. Meet Cathy, everyone! Her blog is new, it’s called Legalized Frostitution, and she’s asked me to help her navigate the sometimes stormy seas of the blog world. She joins the ranks of the lovely Amanda, my first blog adoptee whom I will love for always & forever stalk on Instagram. Cathy is awesome- she said some really sweet things about me (flattery will get you everywhere, take note *wink*) and you should all bookmark her blog or whatever it is you crazy kids do nowadays. Like Amanda, she’s about to realize I really have no idea what the hell I’m talking about; I just like to read my own writing & take pretty pictures. Heh. Welcome to the fold, Cathy. I wish you much blogging success!

Anyway, I adapted a cupcake recipe to make about a half-dozen (it made 8, actually) so I didn’t have a surplus of cupcakes. Plus, I didn’t want to use up ALL the jam. I was originally going to swirl the jam into the batter, but then I ended up just “filling” the batter with a teaspoon/teaspoon and a half of jam. You can’t see it from the outside, but it’s there. You could swirl it if you wanted to create a nice visual effect (or if you’re not using frosting), but I figured the frosting would just cover it so it was a waste.

Anyway, because the recipe is quartered, you can double/triple/quadruple it with excellent results.

BLACKBERRY JAM CUPCAKES WITH LIME

Makes about 6-8 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Rodelle, my new favorite)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Blackberry lime jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and oil in a separate medium bowl. Add eggs; blend.
  3. Whisk in buttermilk, milk, & vanilla extract. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend.
  4. Divide batter among liners, adding about 2-3 teaspoons of batter, then 1-2 teaspoons of jam, then 2-3 more teaspoons of batter on top.
  5. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.

VANILLA-LIME BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (preferably Crisco)
  • 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • the zest of one lime; half finely grated, half left on the larger side (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Beat butter & shortening until light and fluffy.
  2. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar. Add milk & vanilla and mix until very smooth. Adjust depending on preference- add more sugar to thicken, more milk to soften.
  3. Add the finely grated lime zest, beat until incorporated. Frost cupcakes & top with the rest of the lime zest.

So I just frosted the cooled cupcakes with a large closed star tip, leaving an opening in the middle. I filled the opening with a dollop (isn’t that a great word- DOLLOP) of jam, and then grated some more lime zest on top. My jam happened to have some larger almost-whole blackberry chunks, which was perfect.

Look at this sweet little sunset-bathed blackberry lime cupcake.

Okay so here’s the deal. If you don’t want to make the jam, you can 100% use fresh blackberries; just plop a berry in the middle of each cupcake where the jam would go. Then plop another one on top, after it’s frosted, also where the jam would go. And then just grate the lime zest over it. You can actually use any kind of jam or berry you want, in theory. Lemon zest goes well with blueberry & strawberry, orange goes nicely with raspberry. Even marmalade would be nice, like a creamsicle cupcake. I’ve made lemon marmalade cupcakes before, but not orange. Hm.

Say hello to He Who Must Not Be Named (Harry Potter reference!). He’s fairly new- he just got here in February & he hasn’t gotten a lot of face-time, unlike Lola, who is basically the dominatrix/queen of everything around here. But he’s mega spiffy with his skull & crossbones sticker. And he wanted to say hi. So hi. Also, he’s a KitchenAid 9-Speed digital Architect model. Just in case you were wondering.

And that’s that. Now… on to the 600 other jars of jam I have in here.

Sources & credits: Ikea black bowl, Ikea cupcake tea towel, vintage silverware, Ball® 8-oz. crystal quilted jars can be purchased at freshpreserving.com.

Hey there, (peanut butter chocolate with a pretzel on top) cupcake.

It’s been a long time since I made anything with peanut butter. Yeah, I’ve made peanut butter chocolate fudge about a year ago, and some peanut butter ice cream, but I haven’t actually baked with it since April of 2010! And I had some really yummy Trader Joe’s peanut butter hangin’ around. So of course, I started thinking about what I could bake with it. Ahhh… cupcakes! I hadn’t made ‘em in a while. Not with frosting, anyway. And the last time I made peanut butter cupcakes, they were Fluffernutter cupcakes. Kid stuff. So how about a fancier, more grown-up peanut butter cupcake, made with organic sea salt peanut butter? Mmm hmm. Maybe some pretty peanut butter frosting? Maybe chocolate chips, or a chocolate sauce?

And… what about throwin’ a pretzel on top? Just because. Just because I can, really.

I haven’t broken Lola out for a baking task in quite some time. So, I thought we’d bond a little over some frosting. That’s Lola *points to the photo to the right* Pretty, pretty Lola. Lola is one of the loves of my life that doesn’t have a heartbeat, but a motor. Seriously, getting her changed my baking life 100%. I didn’t know how deficient I was until she entered my world. Or rather, until my man gifted me with her. If you don’t have a stand mixer, and you bake a lot, you need one. Yes, hand mixers are great, and I love mine tons. But stand mixers are a different animal. Once you get one you’ll never want to use anything else and you’ll even try to stuff your pillow and blanket in the bowl to sleep in it. Or maybe not. I don’t really know anybody that crazy. Hah. Anyway. If you do not have one, and you’d like a chance at winning one (in a beautiful bright blue called ‘Crystal Blue’) then head on over to She’s Becoming DoughMessTic and enter to win it. You can’t really live without one, if you love to bake. And if you’re sitting there thinking, “It’s just a mixer” then you really have no freakin’ idea, buddy.

Okay, what was I saying? Oh. Cupcakes. Yah. Anyway… I wanted to get some baking done before the weather got crazy hot. Things have been so bizarre weather-wise; snow in October, practically no winter, then 80˚ degree temps in March, then almost two weeks of pouring rain straight. I can’t predict how the summer will be but just in case it’s hot as balls, I wanted to bake up some pretty cupcakes.

PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

Makes from 12-18 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pans & how much you fill them

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ degrees F.
  2. Combine milk and vanilla in small bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in another small bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Slowly mix in peanut butter, then oil, until combined. Add half the flour mixture and blend slowly.
  4. When fully incorporated, add milk mixture. Continue to blend slowly. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Scoop into 12 lined baking cups and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I could’ve left it at this… but no…

….

PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk.
  2. Mix well, adding more milk as needed to make a fluffy spreadable frosting.

For the cupcakes, just be sure to fill the liners more than halfway so you get a nice rise. I could’ve filled mine more, clearly. You can use whatever kind of peanut butter you want. I obviously used an organic, natural one with a bit of grit. You can use super thick, smooth, crunchy, whatever. The frosting is a bit different. If you use crunchy peanut butter, you can’t really pipe it nicely, so you’ll want to use something smoother unless you want to slap it in a food processor. This frosting is so extremely creamy and soft, and perfectly peanut-ty. Some of the best ever. It pipes into big ol’ swirls of soft-serve-ice-cream looking frosting. Oh, how delicious it is. But no, I didn’t leave it at that, although I could have. And you can too. No. I went further.

So clearly, I made both of these recipes, then when the cupcakes were cooled, I frosted them with a large star tip. Then… then… then, I added the ganache. Yes, ganache. And then topped ‘em with a little pretzel stick. And that was when they were done. My “ganache” is basically 2 tablespoons shortening with ½ cup -1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted until smooth (either in a microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between… or in a double boiler, or just very carefully in a saucepan, and I stress carefully because it will scorch). Ta-da! After being used, the ganache or sauce will harden into a firm, but not too hard layer of chocolate-y goodness. You could also frost on top of it once it’s firmed up, if you prefer. You can use this sauce hardened or in liquid form, it’s very versatile. If you let it harden, it will become the consistency of a soft truffle, almost. You can roll it into balls and dust it with cocoa powder and use it that way. However, it does melt easily in high humidity or heat. It’s the perfect chocolate sauce for topping a creamy peanut butter cupcake.

And you could top them with roasted peanuts if you want, but honestly, pretzels just go so well with peanut butter and chocolate.

While I’m on my way out: congratulations to Tim & Jana who got married yesterday, and a belated happy birthday to my “sister-in-law” Jen (also yesterday!). Cupcakes all around!

Eye of newt & toe of frog.

This year for Halloween, when it came to edibles, I was 100% inspired by Martha’s Halloween issue. Literally, 100%. I found the perfect cupcakes for Halloween, not to mention other treats & ideas that I just had to make (see picture on the right). Some of them you’ve already seen (like the pumpkin cupcakes, or the candy apples with witches’ attached!), but these are the pièce de résistance, if you will. Gorgeous green pistachio eye-of-newt & toe-of-frog cupcakes, complete with chocolate frogs! As soon as I saw them I just knew they’d be absolutely amazing, not to mention they’d look perfect on my table for Halloween. I told you I was completely inspired *ahem* by Queen Martha’s Halloween issue this year, didn’t I? I know I must have. Like I said, I haven’t had an original cupcaking thought in my pretty head all season, sadly. I’ve also been nursing a wicked painful back lately, which is actually most inopportune for a lot of reasons- but such is life when you get old like me you’ve got a chronic back problem, and on top of that I’ve been fighting (and losing) a battle with a hardcore cold. Bottom line is I needed some ideas. These cupcakes jumped out at me; regardless of what plans I had for Halloween these babies were going to be on the menu. Ghastly, ghostly, sickly green cupcakes accompanied by my lovely skull (with his friend The Rat & Mr. Tarantula), not to mention some extra (kinda cute) edible ‘croaking’ friends. I usually make cupcakes frosted high with tufts of perfectly piped buttercream… but not this time.

This time I wasn’t going to be frosting the little green-ish cakes, but glazing them in two different shades of green goo. Sounds yummy, right? Haha. At Halloween, anything is acceptable! And honestly, how could I possibly name them anything other than ‘Eye of Newt & Toe of Frog‘ cupcakes? I could not. I would be doing a disservice to my literary education as well as underestimating (or rather under-using) my quick wit.

So like any good witch would do, I took a break from drinking Egyptian Licorice tea, blowing my nose & rubbing Tylenol Precise on my back (sexy, I know), took out my magical mixer, Lola, and started to create some evil, er, delicious cupcakes. Lola may be pink, but she’s pretty diabolical. Together we whipped up some rather eerie yet delicious green-tinted pistachio cakes with green glaze & little frogs. The chocolate frogs are made from frog-shaped candy molds. I used chocolate Candy Melts (and Spooky Green colored melts to make the dots on them) and then brushed them with green pearl dust when they were cooled.

The irony is, my dad’s birthday is the 29th of October, so every year I try to make a big batch of cupcakes & use half for his birthday, half for Halloween. Some years it doesn’t quite work out, and I end up making two batches anyway. But it just so happens that this year he requested pistachio cupcakes weeks before Halloween, and I never mentioned the fact I had planned on making these. So killing two birds with one stone made everyone a happy camper this year. And who wouldn’t love chocolate frogs!? Even Harry Potter likes chocolate frogs! They’re clearly magical.

What an amazing looking set of cupcakes these turned out to be! And moist. And tasty. Who doesn’t love pistachio? I admittedly amped up the ‘nut’ flavor with some almond extract myself (which I included in the recipe below), but if you’re a purist you can just use a full 2 teaspoons vanilla.

EYE OF NEWT & TOE OF FROG CUPCAKES (adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart’s Halloween magazine ‘pistachio cupcakes’, 2011)

Makes 36

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces unsalted shelled pistachios (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line 36 cups of standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coarsely chop ¾ cup pistachios, and reserve. In a food processor, grind remaining pistachios to a paste.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and pistachio paste until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until each is incorporated, and scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla & almond extracts. Reduce speed to low. Add flour & salt, beating until just combined. Fold in chopped pistachios by hand.
  3. Divide batter among lined cups, filling each almost ¾ full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.)
  4. Place on wire racks that are over rimmed cookie sheets. Drizzle lighter glaze (see below) over each, let set until no longer tacky, 30 to 60 minutes. Drizzle with darker glaze, allowing the lighter to show around the edges, let set before decorating with chocolate frogs. Serve & enjoy.

GHASTLY GREEN GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • Gel-paste food coloring in Moss Green, Brown, Juniper Green and Royal Blue (all Wilton)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth & combined. Transfer half to another bowl.
  2. For lighter green glaze (base color), add 4 drops Moss Green & 2 drops Brown food coloring to one bowl; stir to combine, adding more of each color until desired shade is reached.
  3. For the darker glaze (top color), add 4 drops Juniper Green, 2 drops Royal Blue and 1 drop Brown to the second bowl; stir to combine. Adjust by adding more until desired shade is reached. Use immediately (above).

I bought my pistachios at Trader Joe’s because they’re the only place that sells unshelled pistachios (other than perhaps Whole Foods, but Trader Joe’s is closer to me). The frogs Martha uses are from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. I, however, made my own. Like I said above, I bought a frog candy mold (slightly bigger than the Black Dinah “froglets”) and used Candy Melts to create the frogs. Do as you wish in that department. I also used slightly different colors of Wilton gel-paste food coloring (just the greens) for the glazes. I couldn’t find Juniper Green & didn’t want to order it online, so I used two other Wilton greens I already had. It worked just fine.

And also I carved my jack-o-lantern! I screwed up a bit, it’s supposed to be Jack Skellington but I broke two carving saws doing it & so he’s not the best. I had further plans for it, but like I said, I broke the tools & it was around midnight, so here it is. Not perfect. I’m a perfectionist, though, so it’s disappointing. Boo (pun intended). But it came out pretty decent, either way, better than a lot I’ve seen. And I roasted the seeds with Kosher salt & olive oil. Mmm. That makes up for any mistakes, right?

In case you aren’t aware, the phrase “eye of newt & toe of frog” is Shakespearean. It comes from the same text as “double, double, toil & trouble” and “something wicked this way comes”, also very popular terminology in modern vernacular… all of which just so happens to be from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I’m 100% certain most people who use these terms haven’t a clue what their origins are. However I do, and it’s one of my absolute favorite literary classics. Anyway, the line about newts & frogs is from the part where the Three Witches (or “Weird Sisters”) are concocting a spell in the final scene. For those of you who slept through high school English class, here’s the full excerpt:


1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.


Those of you familiar with Shakespeare will align the image of the skull with another of his works, Hamlet. I guess these cupcakes are just totally Shakespearean! And now you know the origin of “double, double, toil and trouble.” Go impress your friends.

that ends our Halloween fare for the year (almost- bwahahahaha). I can’t believe in just 4 short days it’ll be Halloween- where the hell did the time go!? Insane. There might just be one more trick… or treat… before this month ends..

Baker’s Delight.

It’s like rappers delight, without all the hippin’ and hoppin’, but with a whole lot of mixin’ & bakin.’

So, wow, it’s December already! ‘Tis the season to go shopping! If you’re looking for a gift for the baker (or cook) in your life, then here are some ideas to help you out. It’s just a short list this year, because I’ve been busy, and sadly haven’t been able to add all that I wanted to, but enjoy it anyway! Really, it’s just a little wishlist of my own (save for the mixer which I already have) and I just thought there might be others out there like myself who’d want the same things. So here’s my Top 10 Holiday Gifts (for the baker in your life) of 2010!

I’ll have a new recipe for you all next week, but in the meantime… take notes! Psst: these ideas apply ONLY to women (or certain types of men, I suppose) who love and live to cook or bake. I take no responsibility for you buying your wife or girlfriend a stand mixer only to have your clothes thrown out in the street because she wanted a lame Dooney & Bourke or whatever.


CATEGORY 1:

USEFUL THINGS that are pretty…

Now as far as Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/New Year’s/Birthday/Anniversary/etc gifts go, one of my personal all-time favorites is the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. *cue angel’s singing*

The Kitchen Aid Artisan stand mixer is an investment, built to last. If you know someone who’s been wanting one, let me tell you: it’s worth the money. You’ll get your money’s worth AND MORE. I’ve heard of people who have their parents Kitchen Aid’s, and they still work! At $299.99 (and free ground shipping), it’s an amazing holiday gift no one will forget. I showed it in Empire Red because of the holiday, but there are so many other beautiful colors (I’m partial to my pink one, she’s become such a huge part of my life she’s even all over my website!) including silver, cornflower blue, boysenberry, caviar, yellow pepper and a shitload more to match any kitchen or color scheme.

Another thing I’m in love with are these amazing Tin Woodsman/Crosby & Taylor pewter measuring cups & spoons (shown: fish handles with palm tree stand). At $179.00 (for the measuring cups, the spoons are $79.99) they’re a thing of beauty, but admittedly slightly pricier than the ones you see at Williams-Sonoma or Crate & Barrel. They’re like works of art, though, and if you know a kitchen artist, it’s a wonderful gift idea. I first saw them on Paula Deen’s show and fell in love instantly. They’re absolutely amazing and they’re sure to get a few gasps (among the right crowd).

CATEGORY 2:

PRETTY THINGS that are useful…

If it’s one thing I’m obsessed with, it’s aprons. Every brand, shape, size, color and style. So here’s a little rundown of my top Christmas aprons this year, just in case you wanna buy a little something for an equally obsessed Kitchen Witch.

The first up is this adorable apron called the “Party in Pink” apron from Carolyn’s Kitchen. 10% of the purchase price of the apron ($42.00) goes to Breast Cancer Research. Same goes for the half-apron ($36.00) and the gloves/garter ($12.00 and $22.00, respectively). Yes, matching gloves AND garter. This one is a HUGE favorite of mine, I love that it’s Christmas-y but pink… and I’m really hoping to find it under the tree this year, especially since a portion goes towards a worthy charity.

Next is yet another from Carolyn’s Kitchen. It’s the “Holiday Sparkle” apron. The prices are same as above: full apron: $42.00, half-apron: $36.00 and gloves: $12.00. No garter for this one, sorry folks. This is the cutest Christmas pattern; kitschy and super retro. The style of the trees reminds me of a tablecloth my mother made as a little girl with felt and sequins.

Now this apron is from a longtime favorite company of mine, Jessie Steele. The “Mrs. Claus” apron is red with black buttons and white trim to mimic the Claus’ outfits. At $32.95 it’s the most affordable one of the first three, and it’s totally cute. Imagine making your Christmas cookies or making Christmas dinner in that! Adorbs!

And then we have this beauty. From Etsy, a retro-inspired Christmas apron with both a peppermint stripe fabric and a vintagey Santa Claus pattern. I love (no pun intended) loverdoversclothing‘s aprons and this is no exception. They’re handmade and absolutely adorable. For $29.99 it’s a beautiful gift for the vintage-loving baker that looks like it really could be vintage.

CATEGORY 3:

PRETTY THINGS that aren’t useful at all, they’re just pretty…

So I’m a sucker for a cute necklace. And since I love to bake, I’m an even  bigger sucker for a cute necklace that’s also baking-related.

Another item I hope I find under the tree this year: a sterling silver whisk necklace by exodesign on Etsy. At $38.00, it’s a handmade piece of jewelry that can be customized (with or without twisted ring) to suit you. I think it’s just so cute and I love it to pieces. And I just love Etsy, don’t you?

Another example of extreme cuteness from Etsy. This tiny little cupcake pendant on a chain is made of silver, and the pendant is just 3/8″ in diameter. How cute! It costs $28.00 and it’s by lulubugjewelry. I think this is absolutely perfect for someone who loves cupcakes (or makes ‘em), but is over the age of 16 and doesn’t want a hot pink cupcake hanging around their neck all the time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that- but there’s a time and a place. This necklace can go anyhere and be worn with anything. Perfect.

CATEGORY 4:

PRETTY THINGS that are both useful & incredibly convenient…

The thing I like BEST about making cupcakes is the fantastic liners, toppers, sprinkles & decorations that are available. Some of my favorite sites are Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies, Bake It Pretty, sweet estelle’s baking supply, Sutton Gourmet Paper, and Fancy Flours. Below, I’ll give you some examples of little “sets” to buy the baker you know who’s so crazy she has plastic storage cases filled with liners & accessories *ahem* Not that I speak from experience or anything… *ah-hem*

First up is Bake It Pretty‘s “Cupcakes 101” kit. I love this idea. Whether you’re buying it for an experienced baker, or to try and encourage a newbie, it’s perfect. It includes: approx. 125 standard baking cups in assorted polka dot, striped, and solid colors, over 25 traditional toppers in assorted styles (clowns, flowers, ballerinas, etc.), 4 ounces of Rainbow Jimmy Sprinkles in resealable bag… plus, everything is packaged in a paperboard suitcase in the color of your choice (well, as long as it’s available). You also can specify whether it’s for a male or female, what colors you absolutely hate, and whether “clowns scare you.” For only $22.95, it’s a great cupcake-y gift. I have never been disappointed with Bake It Pretty, I highly recommend them.

Another adorable “kit” idea is this one from sweet estelle’s baking supply on Etsy. It’s called the “Woodland Cupcake Kit” and it has everything you need for Christmas-y cupcakes. A great hostess gift for someone who loves to bake, or a great idea for kids; get it for them to make cupcakes (or a cake) with you! At $12.00, it’s really affordable and you get a lot: 24 standard green with little dot cupcake liners, 12 small deer picks, 12 pine tree picks, 6 edible sugar snowflake decorations, 6 edible pine cone decorations & 2 ounces of green non-pareils and comes packaged in a pink bakery box with brown baker’s twine.

Well I hope you enjoyed those, and found something interesting to buy for the baker or cupcaker you love. Although I’d actually like to add just one more little thing

My dear friend Yoyo makes the cutest tissue holders, and this one is a Christmas one. So while it isn’t necessarily for a baker, it has peppermints on it and it would be mighty cute to buy and stuff in the pocket of one of those above aprons you just bought. It’s sparkly, it’s Christmas-y, it’s thoughtful, it’s only $3.00, and as if that’s not cheap enough, if you enter the code CUPCAKEREHAB you get 20% off. So click on over to Topstitch and buy one!

So go forth and buy!

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!

More birthday!

Last night I got another early birthday gift. This time, it was my MAIN gift.. and it was from Jay. Each December (Christmas) and July (both our anniversary AND my birthday- poor guy) I harangue the man so much about what he got me it’s practically unbearable. I ask for hints, dimensions, weight, etc. until he breaks down. Which isn’t often, usually he’s a rock and won’t give an inch. He gives false hints to throw me off and holds out until the actual DAY to give it to me. But this time I got him! He gave it to me two weeks early, which is a record!! I doubt it’ll ever happen again though, so I should be grateful.

Jay got me something not only useful, but something that looks incredibly attractive in the kitchen and it’s also pink (my favorite color).

What is it, you ask? Well… its a KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer!

Yes, gaze into the beauty.. has it hypnotized you yet?

,,,,

Booyakasha! This thing is fucking crazy. Did I just say the F-word? Yes I did. I’m sure any KitchenAid mixer users will agree that its not only beautiful but powerful. Kinda like me. Wow- I’m corny.

Its the Cook for the Cure model, $50 of each purchase goes to Susan G. Komen, so it’s also a good purchase for others (in many ways- they get a donation, and my family gets more cupcakes). The pink is nicer in person than in the photos, obviously. Now I’ve got no excuse to not make bread… so I’m sure Jay will be wanting banana bread. And also  homemade mashed potatoes. I know he wants those. I think that may be the one reason he bought it for me…! Yes, Jay is wonderful, I know. Don’t say it because you’ll inflate his ego and I’ll have to deal with the consequences. I’ve decided to name her Lola.

So lets slap a Cupcake Rehab sticker on this thing and get to work!

OH! And I also wanna say congrats to April of Abby Sweets for winning the May Cupcake Hero Challenge! Your recipe looks (and I’m sure tastes) awesome. Good job! Johnny Cash would even approve, I’m sure. ;)