Love and Confections: Cupcake Overload!

March 24, 2010

Cupcake Overload!

It has been a while... Sorry it has been so long since the last post - lots of things have happened/are happening. I was really sick for a few weeks and my husband and I are in the process of moving. Long story short, the neighborhood has gotten worse and we want to live someplace we actually like... so I will try to post more, but packing and moving is obviously priority.

Here are some pictures of cupcakes I made for my husband's birthday. He wanted some for a dinner with friends - I made beef wellington, roasted potatoes and green beans, yum! - and some for people at the two places he works. I miscalculated the amount made and ended up with a lot more than planned. These aren't from scratch, but I added to them. *Disclaimer - I never said I was going to bake everything on my blog from scratch - time constraints and funds are to blame. When I have the available time and funds, I will gladly make everything from scratch, well, almost from scratch. "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe," -Carl Sagan.

Some people might cringe or criticize and say, "You used a box mix? You call yourself a baker?" To answer, yes I used a box mix. Duncan Hines "Devil's Food", "French Vanilla," and "Yellow Cake, " to be exact. They're the best and only cake mixes I use. Even one of my professors in culinary school, who is an Executive Pastry Chef at a Hyatt hotel said he uses Duncan Hines at home, "because when you make things from scratch, the last thing you want to do is go home and make more cakes, and besides, it's the best."

I have actually always used Duncan Hines my entire life. So back to the actual cupcakes - I miscalculated because I normally get 25 cupcakes out of the box mixes, but the husband requested mini cupcakes, so people could try all the varieties and not have to eat whole, big ones. I was perfectly fine with that, except for the fact that instead of 2 mini cupcakes per one regular, it ended up being 3 mini cupcakes per regular, and with only 1 mini cupcake tin of 24 cups, it took a while. (I searched at a place I thought would have another tin, but they didn't, and didn't have enough time to actually find one).

So, 200 mini cupcakes later - and a few bigger cupcakes because I only had 200 mini wrappers - I had 3 different flavor cupcakes and was ready to decorate.

The Devil's Food cupcake was made into a S'more cupcake. The first picture is what I originally did for the S'more cupcakes - crushed graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, followed by the Devil's Food batter, then a mini marshmallow in the center. I had decided against hollowing the cupcake out and filling it with melted marshmallow, and experimented this way.

Needless to say, thank goodness for the experiment, because they did not turn out how I would have liked them.

The second time around I decided to ditch the graham crackers on the bottom - they got lost and you couldn't taste them - and the marshmallows in the middle - they kind of melted into the batter and you couldn't taste it either. Instead I melted the marshmallows with a little bit of milk, in a pot on the stove, and once cooled, mixed into the French Buttercream I had been planning on using. It turned out delicious, and I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on top.

The next are the Boston Cream cupcakes. I hollowed out the center of the French Vanilla cupcakes and used Jell-O pudding - yes, Jell-O pudding. Like the aforementioned disclaimer said, no time to make pastry cream, especially when I had a whole dinner to put together as well. Then I topped it with the French Buttercream and chocolate sauce. As far as the chocolate sauce goes, I didn't want to use it but had little time in between dinner and dessert to temper chocolate. I'll leave the discussion about tempering chocolate for another day.

The last were the Key Lime cupcakes. I used the yellow cake cupcakes and hollowed them out as well. I used some vanilla Jell-O pudding mixed with a little bit of Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice and lime zest for the filling. The French Buttercream also got some lime zest and was topped with lime slice jelly candy. The individual Key Lime cupcake picture didn't turn out well, but you can still see them in the picture below. The Boston Cream cupcakes turned out to be the biggest hit.

French Buttercream
(the "from scratch" element)
from About Professional Baking by Gail Sokol

200 grams Granulated Sugar
60 milliliters Light Corn Syrup (4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup)
60 milliliters Water (2 fluid ouces or 1/4 cup)
114 grams Egg Yolk
450 grams Unsalted Butter - very soft, but not melted
10 milliliters Vanilla Extract (2 teaspoons)

In saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water and bring mixture to a rolling boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves.*

While sugar syrup is cooking, beat the egg yolks on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment, until the color lightens to a pale yellow.

On high speed, slowly add the hot syrup tot he egg yolks, pouring it down the sides of the mixing bowl and not directly onto the whip. Keep beating until the bowl feels cool to the touch.

Gradually add the softened butter**, a few tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated, blending in each addition of butter thoroughly. The buttercream may appear curdled until all the butter has been incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and blend well.

* cook to 250°F – firm ball stage
** Can use colder butter if sugar is slightly warmer – balances out temperature

Until next time,

Love & Confections!

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