German Chocolate Cupcakes

EDIT: This pre-posted a few days early, originally and without a photo, that we were going to take, but unfortunately… we ate all the cupcakes before taking a good picture so despite my husbands very strong objections, I am using the photo off my iPhone, I am very sorry for the bad photo, forgive me? I really wanted to post this recipe because it was just fantastic! And the proof? We ate the cupcakes before we could take a photo, that’s how good they were!

I have the honor of making the cupcakes/cakes for my good friends boyfriends birthday. She has mentioned before that he likes German Chocolate Cake, so I knew that I had to make it for his birthday cake. Being that this even was going to be in her apartment I wanted to limit the amount of cleaning up she may have to do. Rather then making a big cake that would require plates and forks I went with cupcakes, and then a small 6″ layered version for the birthday boy.

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Coconut Cupcakes with Vanilla Swiss Buttercream

Yes, I know, recycled pictures, Sorry!  However this is not about pictures this post is about the awesomeness that is this frosting.  It is the best and I think easiest frosting I have ever made.  Most people say it is too complicated, however I don’t think it is.   I have added my technique of doing this recipe and some flavor options to make it match what you need it to.  Words just cannot describe the wonderfulness that this frosting is. It’s light, fluffy, smooth, sweet, and just melts in your mouth. It is hands down the best frosting I have ever had. A reason it is such a huge hit is because it not only keeps well at room temperature but it has that richness of a buttercream with out tasting like you are just eating a stick of butter dipped in sugar.

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Sugar Cookies

I wanted to work on my cookie decorating skills, and I wanted to make something different.  I mean blogs right now are flooded with flowers, baby farm animals, and eggs.   Since I have been on this hardcore anime kick lately I wanted to make a decorative hand fan. Originally I wanted to make one like the woman in the anime I was watching when I came up with the thought.  However, ADD kicked in and I wanted to make one that was pretty and elegant like the ending in Bleach with the cherry blossoms.  I am sure at this point I have lost most of you after the word anime, so back on track.   I decided to go with the fans with cherry blossoms on them.  I also have been tossing this idea around on sketch paper for Oriental Lily cookies using my snowflake cookie cutter.  I went and did both.   I did two versions of the fans, one with trim and one with out.  I like both but would love to get some feedback on what you think.   The lilies aren’t exactly what I imagined.  I think the idea is right but I just need to find the right cookie cutter.  Well more excuses to sit around sip coffee and surf the web right?

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Vanilla Cupcakes

New oven has it’s trial and errors.  However not as much as the Souffle cups I bought just days before my previous oven went kaput.  They are just what I wanted, something to give the cupcakes a different look, and offer more cake to enjoy.  Also, at under $5 for 250 it was just economically smart!   You need to clip the rim with a pair of scissors just before frosting so getting to the cupcake is easier, originally this was my husbands biggest complaint then I figured out to cut the edge.  Also, I found it easier to spray lightly with baking spray before adding in the batter.  Filling just over 1/2  not quite 2/3 full gave a nice round puffy top that you would get with typical cupcake liners.

Final trial, was some sites say you can bake on a cookie sheet, this was the main appeal to me in getting these cooking more at once, FALSE!   I tried almost 3 batches before almost giving up.  They were pouring over the edge, the center would be raw.  I threw away so many I was just a pouty mess!   I woke up this morning sitting down with a cup of coffee about to watch some movies when I had what I call a ‘House’ moment.  I was putting the blanket over my legs and I got it!   The cups on the cookie sheet were being exposed to direct heat from all directions, the outsides exposed to the heat with out anything to slow down the heat from hitting the cupcakes, which was causing the outsides to cook and rise too fast vs the centers which would remain almost raw.   I felt so dumb once i realized it.   So I got up and made another batch.  Just this time putting the cups in the cupcake tin like other cupcake liners.  Which then resulted in exactly what I was looking for!   With the other issues from these souffle cups figured out, I feel like great about these and happy I made the choice to switch to these cups!

Trying these out with the new oven I went with my absolute basic cupcake, Vanilla.   I am not a huge fan of these cupcakes because I am just not that big of a vanilla person.  Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing, but if they were something more along the lines of my now famous ‘Irish Car-bomb Cupcakes” I would be inhaling them as I write this post!  The cake is light, fluffy, sweet, and has great vanilla flavor.   I paired it with a basic vanilla Swiss Meringue  Butter-cream.

Honestly, I was not, actually still kinda am not, a huge fan of cake.  I realized it was because of the frosting.  I didn’t like cake frosting.  They either taste of butter, or sugar, or have that sandy gritty taste, or all three!  I tried this after making a basic butter-cream and realizing it was exactly what I didn’t like about frosting.   I will never go back.  This is light, and sweet, and smooth, and melts in your mouth amazing.    When I was little my uncle Jaime was very adamant about his birthday cakes, they had to have whipped frosting.   I remember a few times going with my aunt Lucy to pick up the cakes and they were good.  I mean I recall once we drove to Bellingham, WA which was around a 30 min drive north just to pick up his cake.   If I was to try and recreate that frosting of happiness this would be it.  I cannot say enough how wonderful this frosting makes the cake.  Ok, enough of me rambling!  You absolutely must try these, great go to recipes for cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup  buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  Set pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest, if using.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Butter-cream

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 5large egg whites
  • 2 cups (4 sticks or 1 pounds) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Caster Sugar or Powdered Sugar (to sweeten if desired)

Place egg whites in the heat-proof bowl, add pinch of salt and whisk to break up the whites, add in sugar and whisk till combined. 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.

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.

Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the butter-cream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined. Taste, add extra sugar 1 TBSP at a time until desired sweetness is achieved.  I end up adding 1 tbsp of caster sugar.

Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using butter-cream 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.

Adapted: Cupcakes/Joy of Baking | Martha Stewart/Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Creamcheese Frosting

Now, I have been reading about these and people at work have been requesting them, but I have never had one.  Hard to make a cupcake when you’re not even sure what it is supposed to taste like.  That said, I noticed at Starbucks they had Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I decided to try one to see what the fuss is about.  Quite honestly, I didn’t think it was that special.   I have however for the past month been researching different recipes.  It’s funny how, well not funny haha.. but funny still how for one simple recipe there is hundreds of versions for one thing as simple as a cupcake.

I decided to take a leap and try the one at Epicurious.   They tell you to add a lot of food coloring, and put the ingredients together in an odd way.. so I kinda changed it based off how other similar recipes are done and I know they turned out amazing.   I know the soda, acid, and dutch cocoa turns it a red color, so I dropped how much to coloring to add, and increased the cocoa requirements, and dropping the vinegar, and it has that suble cocoa taste and a nice rich red color with out being an obnoxious Christmas red color.

The frosting didn’t turn out as planned, maybe my kitchen was just too hot… It wasn’t sweet enough, and was really quite thin.  I made some alterations, and it worked! Like I said the only one I’ve had was at Starbucks, and honestly I was not that impressed, but this is probably the best cupcake I’ve had ever!  If I was to have a wedding cake this would be it!  It’s rich, not overly sweet, so soft, velvety, light cake with a frosting that is almost good enough on it’s own.  It is in a simple word that doesn’t quite suit it… amazing.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 4 tbsp dutched processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs + 1 Egg yolk
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar

Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, clear
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone (Italian cream cheese, available at most grocery stores)
Edit: Photo update 6/4/11 (I remade these with a swiss buttercream cream cheese frosting, they were fantastic! the recipe is a basic swiss buttercream substituted 1/2 the butter for cream cheese)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your cupcake tins by adding the baking papers.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for about 4 minutes.  While that is mixing, in a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Stir the vanilla  vinegar, and sour cream into the buttermilk (this can be done in a large measuring cup). Add the flour mixture in 3 increments alternately with the buttermilk in 2 increments, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on medium speed just until the ingredients are combined.

Fill the muffin cups three-fourths full with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, just until the cupcakes feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over-bake, or the cupcakes will dry out. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the icing: In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone on very low speed until just combined. (Be careful; once you’ve added the mascarpone, excessive beating can make the frosting curdle.) Stir in the vanilla.

Adapted: Epicurious