Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Playing with food...

My friend Dao recently made up a new sandwich. He called it "THE McGANGBANG"!

A McGangBang is what you get when you jam a McDonald's Junior Chicken Sandwich in between a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger! He was quite proud of his creation and I thought it was genius, so I decided to make a cupcake version of the McGangBang.

The McGangBang!

Dao suggested I jam a cupcake into an eclair, but I suggested a Jos. Louis! A Jos. Louis is very sandwich-like!

So I happened to have an extra black bottom cupcake and I picked up a Jos. Louis at the corner store (I almost went for the SUPER Jos. Louis...but refrained).

Delicious Black Bottom Cupcake with a Cream Cheese Centre

Mr. Jos. Louis

Of course this creation needed a name, and it needed a dirty name! So since there is a cream cheese center in the cupcake and a cream filling in the Jos. Louis, I came up with.....



BJ Cream Explosion Post-Explosion

And I ate it and it was delicious!!!!

Update on Black Bottom Cupcakes

I made the black bottom cupcakes for Mother's Day using the Martha Stewart Chocolate cupcake recipe and they were AHHH-MAYYY-ZING! Probably a million times better then the first ones I made. Me my mom and my sister each ate 2! They were probably one of the best cupcakes I've ever made! Seriously!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"N" is for Neapolitan Black Bottom Cupcake

I've been wanting to make something "neapolitan" for a while because I love the combination of brown, white and pink. The colours compliment each other so well and are just plain pretty! So I decided to try a black bottom cupcake, which is a chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese centre. How delicious does THAT sound! And in preparation for a cupcake I'm making next week, I wanted to try this 7-minute frosting with added raspberry puree for colour and flavour. While the actual chocolate part of the cupcake was a bit sub-par for my liking, the combination of chocolate and cream cheese was magical to say the least and the frosting was just amazing. I had some leftovers and put a huge dollop of it on a big bowl of fresh berries (that I got on sale to boot!). What a perfect treat!

This recipe has 3 parts:
1. The cream cheese filling
2. The chocolate cupcake
3. The 7-minute raspberry frosting

Part 1: The Cream Cheese Filling
My mom has requested these beauties for Mother's day, so I'm going to experiment with swirling the cream cheese mixture right into the chocolate cupcake batter instead of adding it as a big drop into the batter once it's in the cupcake liner.

Cream Cheese filling
For 12 cupcakes

8 oz cream cheese, regular or low-fat
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz semisweet mini chocolate chips

1. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.
2. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

Part 2: The Chocolate Cupcake
This recipe, including the cream cheese filling comes from the HTEAC website which came from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz. I'm going to use a different chocolate base the next time that I try these. I'm no baking expert, but I have been baking a lot of cupcakes lately and I'm just thrown off by the fact that this recipe doesn't have any eggs or milk in it. The flavour was definitely lacking in this recipe. It kind of reminds me of the vegan chocolate cupcakes I made...kinda gummy and dry and flavourless. I think I'll use my stand-by chocolate cupcake recipe, Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcake Recipe as used in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake recipe.

Chocolate Cupcake
Makes 12 cupcakes

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp white or cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl mix together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
5. Divide the batter amond the cupcakes liners. Spoon a few tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the centre of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed.

Part 3: The 7-Minute Raspberry Frosting
Simply put...this frosting is AH-MAY-ZING!

Seven Minute Frosting
Enough to generously top 12 cupcakes with a little extra left over

1.25 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
~4 tbsps raspberry puree (raspberries pushed through a sieve to discard the seeds)

1. Put the sugar, water, egg whites and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler with at least a 2 quart capacity and beat with a handheld mixer on high speed until opaque, white, and foamy, about 1 minute.
2. Put the bowl over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmer water (or the bottom of the double boiler). The top container should sit firmly over the pan of hot water; be sure to keep the cord of the electric mixer away from the burner.
3. Beat on high speed until the frosting forms a soft peak that stands straight up if you stop the beaters and lift them up, about 7 minutes. The frosting should register 160F on a thermometer.
4. Remove the container of frosting from the water, add the raspberry puree and continue beating for 2 minutes, to further thicken the frosting.

Final Assembly
Pipe at least 1/2 cup of frosting onto each cupcake. Don't be afraid to pile it high. You can also use a thin metal spatula to spread a thick layer of frosting over the top of each cupcake, dipping the spatula gently into the frosting to make swirls. If you have any left over frosting, put a huge dollop on top of a huge bowl of fresh berries! It's just like whipped cream, but better for you :)

"R" is for Raspberry Ripple Cupcake

I recently got a new cookbook simply called "cupcakes". It's a beautiful book and in it I found this beautiful recipe for delicious raspberry cupcakes. Fresh berries remind me of summer and I made these on a beautiful warm sunny day. Dao saw a picture of them and requested them for his birthday and I must admit that the second time around they were waaaay better. The first time I made them I topped them with a lemon meringue, but the second time I used a lemon cream cheese frosting, both were very good, but the cream cheese was amazing! I made a few extra and brought them along with me to meet Kellie and Steve on a patio for afternoon, sunshine beers. They were gone within seconds, and luckily so because soon after they were devoured a freak hurricane/tornado/storm blew in and whisked the container away! These are light and fresh and perfect!

This cupcake has 2 parts:
1. The raspberry ripple cupcake
2. The lemon meringue (or lemon cream cheese frosting)

Part 1: The Raspberry Ripple Cupcake
The instructions for the recipe state: "Using 2 tsps, put a teaspoonful of the cake mixture into each paper case. Add a dollop of reaspberry puree, then top with more cake mixture. Swirl a knife through the mixtures to blend them slightly together." The recipe also calls for "a splash of milk". Neither of these things work! For one, the batter is VERY thick, thus making it essential to add more then a 'splash' of milk. I added a good splash after each addition of flour. This ended up being about 1/3 of a cup. Even with this extra milk it was impossible to "swirl" the mixtures together. For a more uniform batter with a decent consistency, I added the raspberries right into the batter and stirred just to incorporate. Also, as a side note, I've finally purchased a seive and started sifting my flour. I now believe that sifting flour is what makes a perfect cupcake! Silly me...what was I thinking!?!

Raspberry Ripple Cupcake
Makes 12-14 cupcakes

7 oz (200g) fresh or frozen raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
2/3 cup very soft unsalted butter
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self raising flour (see *note*)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
splash of milk

*Note: Self raising flour is 1 cup of flour with 1.5 tsp of baking powder and a pinch of salt.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Push the raspberries (if using frozen then defrost them first) through a sieve to remove the seeds, then mix with the icing sugar and lemon juice. (I added a few of the discarded seeds back into the raspberry puree just cause I like seeds and there's a lot of good flavour left in the pulp.)
3. Put the butter in a bowl and beat to make sure it is really soft. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
4. Sift together the flours then sift again into the creamed mixture and fold in with a metal sppon. Add a splash of milk to give a soft dropping consistency.
5. Using 2 tsps, put a teaspoonful of the cake mixture into each paper case. Add a dollop of raspberry puree, then top with more cuake mixture. Swirl a knife through the mixtures to blend them slightly. (Use this method or the method I described above.)
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until nicely risen and golden brown. Remove the cakes from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Part 2: The Lemon Meringue frosting
A lightly flavoured lemon meringue goes so well on top of this fresh cupcake. Alternatively, a lively lemon cream cheese frosting is a tasty, richer and sweeter option. Both are great, so you decide. Below is the recipe for the meringue and you can find the recipe for the cream cheese frosting in the Earth Day cupcake post. I added at least 2 tbsp of lemon juice and the zest of half a lemon to get a more intense lemon flavour. Adjust the amount to your liking, but don't add TOO much as it will thin out the meringue.

Lemon Meringue
Enough to top 12 cupcakes

4 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

1. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a mixer's bowl above the water.
2. Whisk the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and zest, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl by hand.
3. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. You can tell when the sugar has dissolved by taking a little bit onto your finger and feeling the mixture. You won't be able to feel the grainyness of the sugar anymore!
4. Remove the bowl from the water and beat at medium-high speed until the meringue is cool and holds a soft peak, about 5 minutes.

Final Assembly
Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and top with a fresh raspberry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"E" is for EARTH DAY Cupcake!

Today is Earth Day! And in celebration I thought I would make a cupcake to honour Mother Earth and all her splendor! Somebody was recently telling me about the Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes topped with Lemon Curd that they had for breakfast at Stone Face Dolly's and I thought I would use that as my inspiration. How perfect is it that blueberries are blue and water is blue and half the earth is blue! ;) Every little bit of this cupcake is inspired by our lovely planet, down to the sprinkles and liner.

the blue and green cupcake = PLANET EARTH
the yellow liner = SUNSHINE (enveloping the earth as well!!)
the white frosting = THE CLOUDS
the sprinkles = RAINBOWS

I love fruit paired with lemon and these sure hit the spot! The blueberries 'melt' when they cook and get all runny and sweet and the frosting is so light and delicious! I think Mother Earth would be proud! :)

This cupcake has 2 parts:
1. The Blueberry Ricotta Cupcake
2. The Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Part 1: The Blueberry Ricotta Cupcake
I could only find a recipe for Strawberry Ricotta cupcakes, which made it easy to subsitute for blueberries. In doing my googling I realized that these cupcakes have very similar ingredients to actual blueberry ricotta pancakes! I made the batter green by using gel food colouring (I mixed blue and yellow) and adding it to the last little bit of milk/ricotta mixture before adding it into the rest of the batter. I needed to add extra milk as well then what the recipe called for. Hopefully you can find yellow cupcake liners to use as "sunshine". You can also omit the food colouring and just make these as regular non-earth day cupcakes! :)

Blueberry Ricotta Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
8 ounces ricotta cheese mixed with 1/4 cup whole milk (I ended up using about 1/2 cup of milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcakes papers and set aside.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
4. In the bowl of a mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the egg and beat for another 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla.
6. Add the ricotta mixture alternately with the flour mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
7. Fold in the blueberries.
8. Divide among the 12 cupcake tins and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until risen and very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

Part 2: The Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
I loooooooove lemon. Normally when I'm making a lemon frosting I like to make a meringue, but today I thought I'd try something different, and I sure am glad that I did! This frosting is so light and delicious I could eat it right out of the bowl. I always like to add a bit of extra lemon then what I recipe calls for, so use your judgement and adjust the amount of lemon to get the desired flavour. I found this recipe on the Cupcake Bakeshop by Chocklit website.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1/2 stick butter
8oz of cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1. Soften the butter in a mixer on high speed
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined
3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar
4. Add about half of the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice and zest to the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat on high speed to combine
5. Add the remaining confectioner’s sugar in stages until desired consistency and sweetness is achieved

Final Assembly
Pipe the frosting onto the cupcake and top with rainbow coloured non-pareils (sprinkles).

Monday, April 6, 2009

"L" is for The Big LEBOWSKI Cupcake

Every time anyone has a birthday or a party now, I get asked to make cupcakes! I am, after all, the Cupcake Queen! These were requested for Ryan's 31st birthday party. The theme (because you know we all love theme-parties) was THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Now I admit that I don't know much about the movie, so I was tipped off that "The Dude" drinks a lot of White Russians and I should make a cupcake that resembled his favorite drink. A White Russian is made with vodka, Kahlua and cream or milk. So this would be a boozy cupcake! Fun!

Of course, I googled "The Big Lebowski cupcake" and "White Russian cupcake" and "Kahlua cupcake" and anything else I could think of to find a good recipe. And really, the only thing I could really find that was anything close included a cake mix from The Cake Mix Doctor! Not what I wanted at all. I ended up finding a recipe from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes on a website and modified them to my liking. They ended up fairly dense but with the whipped cream frosting tasted Oh So Good! They were a big (LEBOWSKI) hit!

This cupcake has 2 parts:
1. The White Russian Cupcake
2. The Kahlua whipped cream

Part 1: The White Russian Cupcake
This cupcake is a modification of a Kahlua cupcake. My modification is that I used less milk and more alcohol to include vodka. They were pretty dense, so if I make them again maybe I'll use the indicated amount of milk and just add extra alcohol. Sounds like a good idea!

The White Russian Cupcake
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
½ cup Kahlua
½ cup Vodka
2 tbsp instant coffee granules (I used ground up chocolate covered coffee beans!)
1½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 egg whites
½ cup buttermilk (I would add 2/3 cup instead)

Heat oven to 350F
1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (set aside)
2. In a small bowl, mix together Kahlua and vodka (set aside)
3. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy
4. Add egg whites one at a time, beating after each addition
5. Alternately beat in the flour mixture, buttermilk and liqueur mixture, making three additions of flour and one each of the buttermilk and liqueur, beat until smooth
6. Stir in ground up coffee beans
7. Scoop batter into prepared cupcake pan (about ¾ of the way full)
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back slightly when touched
9. Let cool completely on wire racks

The cupcake is full of holes. I'm assuming it's from the alcohol evaporating!

Watch out when you open the oven door to check on your cupcakes. You'll get a face-full of...alcohol? You'll get a face-full of something that's for sure! I burned my eyeballs a little!

Part 2: Kahlua Whipped Cream
Whipped cream goes so well on these cupcakes, for one to include the "cream" part of the White Russian, and two because it is so light and luscious. Whipped cream is great because you can play around with the quantities of icing sugar and Kahlua to get the flavour and texture that you want.

Kahlua Whipped Cream
Makes enough for 24 cupcakes

1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp Kahlua

1. To get the fullest whipped cream, start with a chilled bowl and utensils. The cream should be cold as well.
2. Whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form.
3. Add the Kahlua and mix on low until incorporated. Adjust flavour and consistency by adding more Kahlua or icing sugar.
4. Remember: Don't overbeat or you'll end up with butter!

Final Assembly
Pipe the whipped cream onto the cupcake by using a piping bag or spoon it on in a big dollop. Sprinkle with crushed chocolate covered coffee beans. Place one whole chocolate covered coffee bean on top. Enjoy! HAPPY BIRTHDAY RYAN!!

"B" is for BACON Cupcake

Ohhhhh....the BACON cupcake! How I love thee!

Who out there loves bacon???
Who out there loves chocolate???

Everyone, right!? So why not combine them together! Now I must admit that I do get quite a lot of funny faces when I mention the words 'bacon' and 'cupcake' in the same sentence and I have gotten a mixed bag of reactions to these cupcakes, but I still think they're great and I will defend them forever and ever.

It is safe to say that you either love 'em or hate 'em. My sister and her boyfriend hated them and thought they were the most disgusting thing they'd ever tasted (harsh...). Evan, the bacon lover himself, did not really enjoy them, or maybe it was just the frosting that threw him off. However, me, Sara and Dao loved them and thought they had a really unique, delicious flavour, they were the only cupcakes at Cupcake Camp to get a cheer from the crowd and they were mentioned on CKCU radio as the BEST cupcakes at Cupcake Camp. One of the bartenders at work proposed to me after eating one, the other bartender ran to the restaurant when he wasn't even working just to eat one, and I've been given the nickname "bacon cakes" by one of the cooks. So...I think it's a matter of personal taste and what you're willing to try!

The first time I made these I used a beautiful, luscious, swirly frosting on top, but it didn't really taste good, so the next time I tried a new recipe and it didn't LOOK as good. Now I just need to find something in between. I'm still working on it!

This recipe has 2 parts:
1. The Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcake
2. The Salted Caramel Frosting

Part 1: The Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcake
When I wanted to make a Bacon cupcake, I searched all over to find just the perfect combination of flavours. There were a lot of recipes to choose from as there is, apparently, a huge bacon-in-dessert following out there! My favorite that I found was on the Noone Puts Cupcake in a Corner blog. A perfect blend of salty and sweet!

Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes
Makes 24 Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup cold brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
12-20 slices of bacon (gooooood smokey bacon)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Chop and then fry bacon until crispy, drain and cool. Or fry and then crumble, as I did. 3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, and oil. Mix until smooth, batter will be thin. Gently mix in the the bacon.

4. Fill cupcake liners to half full.
5. Reduce oven to 350F degrees. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Part 2: The Salted Caramel Frosting
The Salted Caramel Frosting is the same as the frosting that I used for the Caramel Apple Crumble Cupcake, but I used salted butter instead of regular butter to make the caramel. The recipe can be found here.

Final Assembly
Pipe the Salted Caramel Frosting onto the Bacon cupcakes and sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar and Course Sea Salt.