Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cupcakes for Mere

My little sister's 10th birthday was this week and in order to celebrate a very special birthday (double digits now!), I decided to make some very special cupcakes.

Meet Meredith! She is a bundle full of energy and precious.  Last week, she showed me some cupcakes that she liked and wanted for her birthday, so of course, I wanted to make them.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to celebrate with her on her actual birthday, so I took these cupcakes over a few days later---just kept the celebration going!


I used a recipe that I found on Monica's blog at Lick the Bowl Good.  Her recipes never fail me.

Then I added colors that reminded me of Meredith. Bright blue, neon green, hot pink, and purple, the color of Meredith's bedroom.

Added a vanilla cream cheese frosting (which I wish could have been a little whiter, but it tasted good) and voila'!

Cupcakes for Mere :)

But they needed one more thing....

Sprinkles, obviously.

These cupcakes are so vibrant and fun. I was anxious to see how the actual cake part tasted since usually box mixes are a go to sort of thing, but I was pleasantly surprised with this cake.  I didn't have the vanilla bean that the recipe uses as an option, so I added a little extra vanilla, but I think that vanilla bean would have made the vanilla "pop" a little more.

So cute.

Double Vanilla Cupcakes (from Amy Sedaris)

1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp of baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk

In a medium bowl, mix together salt, baking powder, and flour. Stir to combine then set aside. 

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl, then add in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and the seeds of half of a vanilla bean. Beat until well combined.  Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter/sugar mixture. Start with flour, end with flour.

Divide batter into separate bowls (however many colors you like) and add dye to desired color. Layer in cupcake liners. (I put mine in plastic bags and snipped the ends)

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

2 sticks butter, room temperature (1 cup)
1 package cream cheese (8 ounces)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
4-5 cups powdered sugar 

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.  Then add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat a low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like. Frost cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cupcake Kick

So I've officially decided I'm on a cupcake kick....or there just happened to be two birthdays within a week's span of eachother and rather than make a whole cake, I chose cupcakes. Regardless, July 4th was my good friend Kendra's 25th birthday. Kendra and I have known eachother since 1st grade (crazy, I know) and grew up great friends. When we were younger, she would spend every birthday with my family out at the lakehouse, it sort of became a tradition, but as we got older, birthday at the lake became a thing of the past and we both went off to different schools and only recently became reunited!

Moving on.  Same as last week, I did my research (aka text said friend) and asked what her favorite kind of cake was.  Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Okay then. Easy enough, right? Wrong.

Little did I know, yellow cake is actually a baker's dilemna.  The more and more I searched for the perfect recipe, the more and more I read about homemade yellow cakes coming out dry and "not as good as the box." Well, I was determined not to use a box mix and googled and googled homemade cake recipes with good reviews.

I finally found one from the Smitten Kitchen that she called the "Best Birthday Cake Ever." Her post about the cake seemed confident and I was sure it had to be better than a box.

When it came time to bake my cake, I had already gone to the grocery store for needed ingredients, set them all out on the counter, got out my measuring cups and went to work.  First ingredient, cake flour. Drat! I didn't have cake flour, I had "all-purpose" flour.  Would they work the same? I wasn't sure. And didn't really want to google it and find that it did indeed make a difference. So I went with it.

The batter was delicious but.......very thick. Is that a flour difference? Probably. Oh well, I scooped my batter into cupcake liners and baked.  Smelled good, looked good. Have you noticed that homemade yellow cake is not nearly as yellow as box cake? I choose to believe that box cakes probably add yellow #50 and my batter didn't have dye in it. 

Initial cake test: tasty but a little dry. Boo. Maybe icing would fix it?

I also searched for a good chocolate buttercream icing that was relatively simple.  Nothing that sparked my interested so I used my great-grandmother's no fail chocolate frosting recipe.

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter (room temperature)
4 cups powdered sugar
3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp milk

Mix butter, sugar, and cocoa. Add vanilla and milk. Blend till smooth.


Icing on top of cupcake=semi-yum.  Still wasn't pleased with the cake texture. Not that it stopped me from eating them.

All topped off with some colorful sprinkles!

Now you may wonder why I didn't do some sort of red, white, and blue theme, since her birthday is Fourth of July afterall. That's so overdone. I kept my cucpcakes simple but cute.

Still on the lookout for a good yellow cake recipe...or maybe I'll just follow the instructions next time and use cake flour.