Category: mother’s day

I like cupcakes & I don’t care if you don’t.

There are certain unalienable rights that i believe we have as humans- from the time we’re born until the moment our heart beats for the last time. You may know some of these from the Declaration of Independence; i.e. life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. But as far as I’m concerned, and perhaps this fits in with ‘life’ or ‘liberty’ or more likely ‘the pursuit of happiness’… but to me, one of those rights is the right to love certain things (or people!) without being judged/mocked/hated/etc. This isn’t just a marriage equality thing I’m talking about, although obviously it goes for that too, without saying. But really it goes beyond that, sneaking into all of our lives, even into the smallest & most seemingly unimportant things.

If you love something, it’s guaranteed someone else is gonna hate it, and chances are they’re going to try & make you feel stupid or wrong for liking it in the first place.

Ooh.. what's going on here? Candied pansies!

I can hear it now: “Oh no… not only is this bitch gonna rant now, but based on that picture, obviously she’s gonna post a cupcake recipe too…”

For example, here are some things I love, things which include but are not limited to:

Pink hair. All shades, but most especially that soft cupcakey, Marie Antoinette-pink that almost looks faded. Oh, how I miss my pink hair days (although mine was more magenta)…

Pizza. Again, all kinds; but margherita pizza has the ability to cure the grumpiest of my moods.

Sleeping animals. If there’s a sleeping pet around, I will get down to wherever they are & harass them, squealing over their cuteness. I don’t do this with wild animals, but there have been occasions where Jay has had to convince me not to chase rabbits or feral cats/ kittens & shove them in my pockets to bring them home.

I love my nose ring. I mean, I love my nose piercing in general, but I really love wearing a ring in it instead of a smaller screw. I don’t know why. I think maybe I feel too conservative or ‘sorority girl’ with a small one. *shrugs*

Uggs. They’re warm. They’re comfy. So listen, I don’t give two shits- when it’s 24° F, snowing, I need to run to the store & I’m already wearing sweatpants, I don’t care if Carrie Bradshaw would gasp at my outfit. Screw her & her Jimmy Choos. Step in a snow bank in those & then lemme know if you wanna borrow my fleece-lined, suede & wool hamburger bun boots. (I’ll say no)

Le Creuset pots, skillets, mugs, baking dishes & French ovens, in all colors, in one photo together. It makes me smile.

Cooking shows. No, I don’t care that you hate Paula Deen and no, I’ll never get tired of seeing anyone bake anything on TV. Go watch intelligent things like the Kardashian’s and leave me alone, thanks.

Neck tattoos. That’s all. Just…. neck tattoos.

Okay, this one is more sarcastic, but I love when they say that PopTarts are “crazy good” in the new commercial. Now… I’m not above eating a s’mores PopTart once in a blue moon but crazy good? No, truffle macaroni & cheese is crazy good. PopTarts are a lazy breakfast option for kids or snack option for adults who smoke funny cigarettes.

Early ’90′s Hole.

And cupcakes. SO… MUCH… BETTER than full-size cakes. Eff cakes. Cakes are like, the utmost in drama & needless steps- like extra frosting (crumb coats?! WTF is that about?!). And fondant tastes like feet. Not that I know what feet taste like, but I can imagine.

And at this point, everyone’s all like “Oh I am SOOOOO over cupcakes!” And I’m pretty much like, “Uh… Who asked you?” Not me.

Rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes, topped with a green-colored vanilla buttercream & sugared pansies!

See, first off: I care not what your opinion is of something I enjoy. When I make fun of your ugly chair or hideous choice in clothes, and you didn’t ask what I thought, and then you feel put out or insulted… remember that. Cause see, we’re all entitled to opinions. But if you say “I LOVE LOLLIPOPS!” and I say “Ugh, lollipops are for losers, they’re total shit! They’re made with high fructose corn syrup, and only a total idiot would eat them knowing that!” that’s me making you feel bad for liking them, and I’m a dick. If I say, “Eh, they’re not my thing”, or “I don’t see the appeal”, that’s different. Giving your opinion in a way that doesn’t make someone else feel stupid is one thing. Telling them that they’re an idiot for liking whatever it is they like… that’s shitty. Stop doing that, guys.

Because bottom line: no one should make you feel bad about liking/loving whomever or whatever you choose.

And second: I’m personally “totally over” the following: pork belly, quinoa, mustaches on everything, high-waisted pants, kohlrabi, kombucha, kale & ANY MENTION OF THE PALEO DIET. Seriously. Every time I see one of those on a blog post, I want to scream & murder anyone within 40 feet of me. But yet I never say it. I don’t go around yelling at people to stop eating quinoa because it’s “played out” or “over done.” Who cares? It’s not up to me to tell you what to eat or do just because I’m tired of it. You love quinoa, eat it. You don’t, don’t.

And I happen to love cupcakes. Which is why I love this article by Allison Robicelli. She says everything I want to say right here, but better, with better examples, and more profanity than I’m currently using. I think I love her- but that’s another story. Like I said on Facebook, this blog isn’t a cupcake worship blog. It isn’t just ALL cupcakes, all the time. It’s about so much more than just one little cake. But it doesn’t even matter, because I reserve the right to love what I love either way. And also, like I said on Facebook, you judging other bloggers doesn’t make you look any cooler. As a matter of fact, you being an asshole about what I choose to do/like doesn’t make me look bad, it makes you look insipid.

So yes. I love cupcakes. I won’t apologize for it, I don’t feel bad when a snobby food blogger scoffs at them in favor of a green tea cookie with local honey glaze or lemon curry marmalade, and I don’t care if the people I reading this are tired of them. I am not. Besides, what is there NOT TO LIKE? It’s a small, individual cake. Just for you. That you don’t have to share (!). It’s an only child’s dream, which is probably why they struck a nerve with me. I am an only child, see. Anyway… I don’t care about snobby food bloggers who are “too good” for cupcakes. I can be snobby too. Better yet? I can make snobby cupcakes. Like these, rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes with sugared (or candied) pansies.

Rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes, topped with a green-colored vanilla buttercream & sugared pansies!

I think that’s just as good as a rhubarb shrub cocktail or kohlrabi summer salad, don’t you? Probably better, actually. Because I think kohlrabi is boring, and anyone can make a cocktail. Well, maybe not anyone; it’s generally frowned upon for children.

Okay, so, yeah. Cupcakes. Rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes, and sugared pansies. How pretty, springlike, and mature.

They really are mature, too. These aren’t for kids. Or picky eaters. Even though there’s only 1/4 teaspoon of rosewater in them, that 1/4 teaspoon packs a punch. There’s also both vanilla bean & vanilla extract in them, to kind of even out the rose, but it doesn’t eliminate it at all. So if you’re not a fan of roses, rosewater, or anything in the edible flower family I’m warning you now: stay away from these. These are not for you.

Rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes, topped with a green-colored vanilla buttercream & sugared pansies!

They’re gorgeous. I know. And yes, these were indeed my fall-back Mother’s Day dessert after that abysmal rhubarb failure. I really didn’t want to make anything similar to something I had already made, but I think these candied flowers bring it to a whole new level. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s totally different than the last time.

So here’s the recipe & the how-to on making sugared pansies (or flowers).

ROSEWATER-VANILLA BEAN CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosewater (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners. Pur the milk into a glass measuring cup & scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the milk, set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into large bowl. Beat butter and oil in a separate medium bowl. Add egg; blend.
  3. Whisk in milk, rosewater, & vanilla extract. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend.
  4. Divide batter among liners, filling them about 2/3-3/4 full.
  5. Put cupcakes in oven & reduce heat to 325°F. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.

Rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes, topped with a green-colored vanilla buttercream & sugared pansies!

SUGARED FLOWERS (PANSIES)

Ingredients:

  • Edible flowers, such as pansies or rose petals
  • Granulated sugar, or superfine sugar
  • Pasteurized egg whites
  • Clear but opalescent edible glitter, luster dust or disco dust (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash your flowers or petals carefully, and pat them dry. Spread newspaper on a table, then a few layers of paper towels. Place the flowers on the paper towels.
  2. Thoroughly coat the flowers with the egg wash (it’s best to use a small food safe paint brush). Sprinkle the sugar & edible glitter over them, and then gently shake off the excess.
  3. Let them dry for an hour before using. Flowers will last a few days if fresh, if dried then they’ll last up to 3 months in an air-tight container placed somewhere cool & dark.

And you’re done. Make sure the flowers you use are not only organic, but meant for eating. DO NOT USE FLOWERS TREATED FOR BUGS. You’ll be ingesting chemicals. Make sure you specifically purchase or pick flowers meant for this purpose. If you grow roses, and you know for certain they’re not coated in any kind of bug spray or insecticide, then that’s okay. Just don’t pick roses in someone else’s yard unless you’re sure of the same. You can also buy edible flowers at certain markets.

Rosewater-vanilla bean cupcakes, topped with a green-colored vanilla buttercream & sugared pansies!
Magenta (or purple) liners from this multipack at the Layer Cake Shop!

As far as frosting, I used a plain ol’ vanilla buttercream tinted green, nothing fancy. It’s better with these cupcakes to use a plain vanilla frosting, or else it can be too much. You don’t want to overwhelm anyone. Keep it simple. You’re already giving them rosewater in the cakes, and a candied flower on top.

And by the way… any and all cupcake hatred can be directed to my e-mail, and all will be answered with the same thing: “You’re an idiot.”

The best laid plans of rhubarb & jam.

This whole thing started when I encountered this recipe on Pinterest (you might laugh and say “I COULDA TOLD YOU IT WOULDN’T WORK” but I’ve had nothing but great experiences with both recipes and crafts I found there. Seriously. I have no complaints). It seemed awesome, and I decided that it was a pretty perfect dessert for Mother’s Day. My mother enjoys unique or different things (I made her rosewater-vanilla cupcakes one year) and I like coming up with new things, which (usually) makes it a match made in heaven. I figured maybe I’d do something different, like use that rhubarb curd to fill pavlovas. Pavlovas, in case you aren’t aware, are basically meringue cookies made into a large bowl-ish shape, and usually filled with fresh fruit, fruit curd or sauce.

Sounds great, right?

I thought so.

Food Network magazine, May 2013: all about rhubarb!

Rhubarb can be quite elusive. Despite having an entire feature in this month’s Food Network magazine it’s still not exactly one of those fruits or vegetables that’s easily found, like strawberries or broccoli. Like I said last year, it’s on the rare side, and even if you find a place that has it, it seemingly doesn’t last long. Probably because most stores don’t order large quantities of it. If you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market around, you might fare better… but not always. It seems those pesky food bloggers or “foodies” always get there first & get the good stuff. With rhubarb, that’s usually the issue. Either the store doesn’t order it so they don’t carry it, or they did but they ordered limited quantities & all the other food bloggers (or food blog readers) jumped on them first. Of course, life is great if you grow it yourself… but I do not.

So I bought my rhubarb (after hunting it down), got my eggs, I had my vanilla beans. And all was right with the world.

Rhubarb stalks

But then disaster struck.

I have no idea what happened, but my curd just didn’t work. It wasn’t only a terrible color (and it really was) but it wasn’t so much curd as a loose, weird custard thing. Not even a custard- it was a mess. It was bad. Or at least, it looked bad. So bad I didn’t want to even attempt tasting it. I tossed it in the garbage, thankful that I hadn’t used up ALL the rhubarb I bought on it, so it wasn’t a total waste. But still. Talk about a shitty experience… and it has nothing to do with the original recipe, I’m sure. It’s probably user error. Maybe I screwed something up somewhere along the way and I’m just not seeing it. It happens. Who knows.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t infuriating, but it happens. (SIDE NOTE: I told you blogging was hard!)

I ended up using the rhubarb stalks I had left to make a quick rhubarb jam. Yes, I could have tried the curd again. But then if it had failed I’d have been left with no rhubarb, no eggs, and TWO massive failures to ruin my week. Plus, of course, by this point I was in a state of total “I don’t really care”-ness. I was so pissed off that my plans of beautiful, fluffy meringue filled with smooth, pink delicious rhubarb-vanilla bean curd for Mother’s Day were ruined that I think I pulled a muscle in my arm stirring the jam so violently. Of course I realize this isn’t the end of the world. It’s just disappointing. I’m sharing it with you (instead of posting another recipe & pretending it didn’t happen) because I want you to understand that, too. I’ve written before (most recently around Easter, in depth) that I sometimes think I’m part of a culture that promotes perfection when it comes to food- or at least aesthetic perfection. And I hate that for one reason: when things like this happen, people might give up. Or think, “Well shit, if she did it & I can’t then forget it.” I hate the idea that that could be a possibility. I hate to think anyone would give up on anything because of one failure.. or even 100 failures.

Because honestly, sometimes shit just doesn’t work, and we’ve gotta accept that. And if that means having a box of cake mix stored away for emergencies, than so be it. But it doesn’t mean any of us are any less awesome! Not everything is perfect, and not everything has to be. So you make a mistake, big deal.

Oh… and yes, my mother will have a special dessert come Sunday. Just not a rhubarb-y one. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Pineapple pie for my mom.

Each year for Mother’s Day, I ask my mother what she’d like me to bake for her. I do this same thing for not just Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, but people’s birthdays. I think it’s kind of nice to have an entire dozen cupcakes or cake all to yourself, don’t you? Anyway, usually, for both her birthday and Mother’s Day, she mentions a specific type of cupcake, or she gives me an idea that she’d like translated into a cupcake (like last year’s Boston Cream cupcakes), or she requests something that’s very exact: flourless chocolate cake, molten lava cakes, panna cotta, etc. But this year she said to surprise her. I had a few ideas, but the one that stuck out was this pineapple pie from Patty Pinner’s book Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories. My mom loves pineapple- but I never, ever bake anything with it because I don’t much like it. So I thought, why not make her something all for herself with pineapple?

I’ve had a fairly long & happy relationship with this book. My friend Xenia first told me about it almost two years ago, and I bought it mainly for the Dr. Pepper cake she mentioned. But there were so many other recipes that jumped out at me that I never even made that cake. Also, the book is filled with some of the most charming family stories/anecdotes I’ve ever read. I’ve made a few things out of the book (two types of cookies, maple syrup pie, lemon ice cream) and all were wildly successful, but my one attempt at a pecan pie was a major fail. However, as usual, I remain undaunted. And why not? Pineapple pie is not pecan pie and one failure does not mean I can never make a good pie ever again. Plus, like I said, I have made quite a few successful desserts from recipes out of this book. I can’t judge all the pies in it on just one failure that was probably my fault somehow anyway. So on that note, I decided I’d make my mom the pineapple pie for Mother’s Day and hope for the best. I crossed my fingers and toes with this one- first off, I was still a bit scared since my last pie attempt, and two, I never ever bake with pineapple or even eat it, so I was a bit unsure of the results. As you can see below, I didn’t need to be.

It’s a real shame I don’t like pineapple, because this pie looked and smelled amazing. I’m including a Martha pie crust recipe, but you can use any one you like. For this pie, you only need one crust though, so be sure to halve it unless you want to use the extra crust for cutting out shapes, etc. Which would be super cute, actually.

PIE CRUST (from Martha Stewart)

Makes 2 9-inch pie crusts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons margarine or chilled vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup ice water

Directions:

  1. Hand Method: In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. Cut the chilled butter and margarine into 1-tablespoon bits and add to the flour. With a pastry cutter, work flour and shortening together until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water little by little pressing the pastry together into a ball. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. It is very important to work the pastry as little as possible. Don’t overhandle. A secret to light, flaky pastry is to keep the mixture cool, add as little water as possible, and mix only as much as necessary.
  3. Food Processor Method: Put flour and salt in bowl of machine. Cut butter and margarine into flour. Process a few seconds until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add the water, processing very briefly. The whole process would take 20 to 30 seconds. Wrap and chill the pastry for at least 1 hour.
  4. If pastry has been chilled for a long time, let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before rolling.
  5. Lightly flour a pastry board, marble counter, or kitchen counter. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each piece of pastry into a flat round. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, turning pastry continually to prevent it from sticking to the surface.
  6. Using pie plate as a guide, measure rolled-out pastry — it should be slightly larger than the pie plate and 1-8-inch thick. Fold rolled pastry circle in half so you can lift it more easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing pastry to hang evenly over the edge. Do not trim the pastry yet.
  7. Fill the pie with filling. Then roll out the second crust in the same manner as for the bottom. Fold circle in half and with a sharp, pointed knife cut little vents in a decorative pattern. Place folded pastry on one half the pie. Unfold, pressing top and bottom pastry together. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Fold bottom pastry overhang over top and press firmly to seal. Crimp rim, using fingers or the tines of a fork, or use this website to do a fancy decorative crust.

I know, I absolutely suck at pie crusts. Unlike SOME PEOPLE

Making this pie, specifically the crust, I was reminded of one of the coolest things about moms. Moms don’t care what your present is, what it looks like, if you made it or bought it or stole it. They just care about the thought behind it; that you thought enough and remembered them enough to give them something. And that goes for when you’re 5 all the way up until you’re 50. Your mom still doesn’t care what you give her, as long as it’s from the heart. And that’s what makes moms so awesome.

And it’s a good thing too… ’cause seriously, look at my friggin’ pie crust. It blows! I crushed part of it taking the pie out of the oven and the rest I just have no excuse. I’m a cake girl, guys, not a pie girl. I can’t help it. So thankfully my mother saw all the good things about the pie (which there are many, admittedly) and didn’t even notice the uneven crust. ‘Cause moms rule.

She gave it, and I quote: “Ten thumbs up.” It was creamy, custard-y, and perfect. I have to say, I’ve redeemed my pie-making skills with this one.

PINEAPPLE PIE (from Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories by Patty Pinner)

Ingredients:

  • 1 9″ pie crust, ready to go
  • 1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Prepare the pastry for a 9″-inch single-crust pie. Set it aside.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and nutmeg. Add to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  3. Stir in the drained pineapple, milk, sour cream and vanilla extract. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pie is lightly browned.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

Ignore the messed up edges, there. Please. For the love of all things pastry. Just focus on the filling, or the all-around effect of the pie. Hah.

Pineapple is actually an anti-inflammatory food, too. Of course I don’t know if the sugar & everything else in the pie helps with that, so you might wanna just eat pineapple alone if that’s something of interest to you. The rest of you can just eat the pie. Oh- and see? I got my clear Pyrex pie dish. Now I’ve got the classic pie plate to go with my fancy shmancy ones. Don’t think this is the end, though. There are more in my future. I have tons of pie plates and cake stands on various wishlists all over the interwebs.

On that note, this Mother’s Day was a little hard for me; it’s the first without my Nana. I still miss her everyday, and I know my mom does too. I also know, or rather I don’t know but I can imagine, that the first Mother’s Day without your mom must be a straight up shit day, even if you are a mom to the coolest person alive (me- hello?). So I hope she got a lot of enjoyment out of having that entire pie to herself. No sharing. Just her, a pineapple pie, a fork & some whipped cream. Yes, a pie is just a pie. A pie can’t change the world, or bring back a dead loved one. But a pie can bring happiness, even if only briefly, and so I hope that that’s what my pineapple pie did. I always hope that’s what my baked goods do. If I can make someone smile with a cookie, or a cupcake, or a jar of homemade jam… then I’ll take it. It’s better than making someone cry. Although I can do that really well, too, it’s not something I’m always proud of. I’d much rather make someone happy. But it does depend on the person/situation *wink*

And before I go, let me just wish a happy mama’s day to all those amazing mamas I know; you’re all phenomenal & I hope you have a beautiful day. And most important, I want to say a big thank you to my mom, and all the strong/independent/crazy women who came before me, who were the mom’s of the family long before my mom came along, all of whom contributed to my DNA and therefore made me who I am today. Which is a pretty awesome person, if I do say so myself. Happy Mother’s Day.

You’re a mother lover. I’m a mother lover.

We all (or at least most of us) love our moms, and want them to be happy. Because when mom is happy, the whole world is happy, right?

This year for Mother’s Day, my mom requested Boston Creme cupcakes, which I obliged. But I also surprised her with a totally different “surprise” cupcake that she wasn’t expecting at all- rose water cupcakes! So in this post, I’ll go into the how-to’s of both; just in case your mom is traditional… and just in case she’s open to cupcakes that might taste “like grandma’s powder room” (as I’ve heard/read rose water described as). Anyway, I surprised her with them on Wednesday night & she was so excited. She was only expecting the Boston Creme… muahahaha.

I’ve made Boston Cream cupcakes before, but the shortcut kind using vanilla pudding. These are far better, trust me. Although the shortcut ones are perfectly good, and they are great in a pinch. However, you gotta admit nothing beats from-scratch, 100% real pastry cream. I used a combination of whole milk and 2% milk in it and it worked out just fine. I also didn’t use vanilla bean, just a ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

BOSTON CREME CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cups of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 ¼ cups of milk
Pastry Cream Filling:
  • 2 cups whole, 2% fat, or 1% fat milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Ganache:
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate*
  • 1 cup heavy cream, boiling

Directions:

  1. Cupcakes: Beat butter and sugar well, then add the rest of the ingredients. Fill cups, and bake at 375° degrees for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.
  2. Pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
  3. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)
  4. Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
  5. To assemble, inject the cream filling into the cupcakes by either using a filled pastry bag fitted with a round tip or by coring out the centers using a round tip and filling the holes with cream using a teaspoon. Once done, dip the tops of each cupcake into the chocolate ganache, or as I did, drizzle it on the top using a spoon.

*I used 4 ounces milk chocolate and 4 ounces semi-sweet.

Brown cupcake liners from Cupcake Social

You will end up with more pastry cream and more ganache than you need, most likely. That said,  store them in the fridge and a few days later you can make more cupcakes, or you can make eclairs. Or, just double this cupcake recipe above if you want more than 2 dozen. Anyway, it takes a while to make ‘em, and there are a lot of steps, but they’re worth it! Sorry you can’t see the pastry cream filling very well there, when you cut ‘em the chocolate just gets all over. Which ain’t really a bad thing…

So yeah, those look great, and taste great. But they didn’t have any visual pizzazz; they just didn’t really look like Mother’s Day cakes to me (like these). I had some other ideas in mind… so far as they go, they’re rose water cupcakes, and they’re really easy. All I did was take a vanilla cupcake recipe, and add rose water instead of vanilla extract. Actually to be more specific, I replaced ¾ of the vanilla extract in the recipe with rose water, and left only the ¼ of vanilla. Ta-da! The frosting is a basic confectioner’s sugar buttercream that was also made with rose water (no vanilla). Of course, the icing color I used was Wilton icing colors in “rose pink.” The liners are little striped ones with teapots and cupcakes, so I thought “Tea Rose” cupcakes was an appropriate name. Especially what with my mother’s pink rose teapot in the background!

I use Nielsen-Massey pure rose water that Lyns from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies sent me a while back. I made the rose toppers from just Googling some Victorian rose clip-art. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that Google? The liners are from Michael’s. Ironically, my mother saw them & bought them for me.

So Hap-hap-happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mamas out there. We appreciate & love you!

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?

Thanks, mom.

Thanks for teaching me that kitchen disasters (and life disasters) aren’t always as bad as they seem.

For letting me be myself, even if that meant outrageous clothing choices and varied hair colors.

For sticking up for me and having my back even if you (or others) didn’t understand the methods to my madness.

For giving me all the cooking and baking knowledge and skills to have a website like this in the first place.

For teaching me to be a good, compassionate, intelligent & most importantly independent person.

But also teaching me not to be a doormat, to stand up for what I think is right and to think for myself.

For putting up with my craziness and even at times encouraging it.

And for letting me know that no matter who I am or what I do, I’ll always have someone believing in me.

I love you. To you and all the other awesome mom’s out there…