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.

"A" is for Caramel APPLE Crumble Cupcake

I have made the Caramel Apple Crumble Cupcake twice already and the second time it tasted way better then the first. It is easily one of my favorites that I've made to date. And judging by the reactions of a few people who ate them, they may be their favorites too! I originally saw the recipe for the Caramel Apple cupcake on the HowToEatACupcake blog and I really wanted to try it. Wanting to make it a little different I thought of how much I love Apple Crumble, so I decided to combine the 2 ideas together.

A few notes on this Cupcake:
1. The batter is REALLY thick and looked like muffin batter, so I added about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of apple juice to thin it out to get a good cupcake batter consistency.
2. I struggled with the 'caramel' for this cupcake until I came across a recipe in my Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. The most amazing caramel recipe EVER! This goes for the Caramel Frosting as well!
3. The first time I made the cupcake, I rolled the edge of the frosting in apple "crumble". The second time I made them, the frosting was so thick that there was no way that I could do this. It's too bad, because that's how I envisioned them from the beginning. A bit of experimenting and I'll get it right!

There are 4 parts to this recipe:
1. The Caramel Apple Cupcake
2. The Caramel
3. The Caramel Frosting
4. The Crumble

Part 1: The Caramel Apple Cupcake
I found this recipe on And like I mentioned already, you will probably need to add at least 1/2 cup of apple juice to the batter. You can add more or less depending on the consistency you get/want. These smell SOOO good when they come out of the oven!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Makes 16-18

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium sized tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped small (about 2 cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
2. In a large bowl beat together the brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Beat until blended. Stir in apples. (I added the apple juice here because this is when I realized the batter was really thick.)
5. Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.

Part 2: The Caramel
This recipe is from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. This is a book from Australia, so it uses some terms and ingredients that are not familiar to me here in Canada. I tried to find them online, but apparently the bakery has closed down due to some VERY bad reviews. I will not go into detail, but it made me loose A LOT of interest in this book. Which is unfortunate because I love the book and there seems to be a lot of good recipes in it. Regardless, the Caramel recipe is amazing! This recipe called for "golden syrup" which is NOT corn syrup or molasses or any combo of other sweeteners. I ended up finding golden syrup at Bouchey's on Elgin Street. It's made by Lyle's. It cost $2.99 (no tax!) and is well worth it!

Real Caramel Sauce
Makes 1 cup sauce Keeps 1 month

100g butter (there are about 115g in 1 stick)
2/3 cups soft brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup cream (I used whipping cream)

1. Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
2. Stir occasionally with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Turn heat up to high and boil for at least 5 minutes.
4. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.

**Note: Don't turn the heat up TOO high and remember to keep stirring the sauce the whole time so that it doesn't burn or scald. My mom makes something very similar to this and she recommended that I lift the pot off of the burner every once in a while as well so that it wasn't getting direct heat. To check the consistency of the caramel you can take a little spoonful and drop it on a plate and wait a few seconds. It will cool and you will know how thick it will end up. Boiling it for ~4-5 minutes will make a really thick gooey caramel that is fairly solid.

***Note 2: The caramel can also be used for other things. For instance, I made chocolate with it by filling a mold with a thin layer of chocolate, then adding the caramel and then another thin layer of chocolate on top. Delicious!

Part 3: The Caramel Frosting
The frosting uses the same recipe as the Caramel, but with added icing sugar to make it...well...frosting! The author of this recipe wrote in the book that she boiled the recipe LONGER then the caramel and THEN added the icing sugar. I have NO IDEA how she did this because you would end up with a rock solid mass of something! I boiled the caramel for a lot LESS time and still couldn't add that much sugar and still ended up with very thick frosting. This one will take some experimenting to get right, but the flavour is worth the effort! I literally blew holes in the piping bag and nearly sprained all my muscles trying to pipe this frosting!

Real Caramel Sauce Frosting
Makes 4 cups frosting

100g butter (there are about 115g in 1 stick)
2/3 cup soft brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup cream (I used whipping cream)
8 cups icing sugar (I could barely get 2 cups into the caramel before it was super thick)

1. Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
2. Stir occasionally with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Turn heat up to high and boil for at least 5 minutes.
4. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.
5. Add half of the sifted icing sugar to the cooled caramel mixture and use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat for 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy and of a spreadable consistency. Add extra cream if the mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if the mixture is too wet.

**Note: I would boil the caramel for only about 1 minute and add only as much icing sugar as you can to get a spreadable consistency. Maybe next time I'll try using a lighter cream to see if it doesn't turn out as thick.

Part 4: The Crumble
The first time I made the crumble, it was AMAZING. The second time, not so much. I was having stressful day the second time and I think Murphy's Law was starting to kick in! I adapted this recipe from standard Apple Crumble recipes that actually use apples and this as a topping.

Apple Crumble
Makes enought for 24 cupcakes

4 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1-2 tsps cinnamon (I love cinnamon...don't be afraid to add a lot!)

1. Blend the butter into the brown sugar.
2. Add the flour, oats and cinnamon
3. Spread on a baking sheet in a thick layer and bake in the oven at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is a crumbly texture. Make sure you constantly mix the crumble to ensure all of the dry ingredients get coated in butter.
4. Crush with a fork to make smaller bits of crumble suitable for rolling. Or quickly pass it through a food processor.

Final Assembly
Before the Caramel has a chance to cool completely, spoon about 1 tbsp of it onto each cupcake and spread into over the top into a thick layer. For the frosting, but a dollop onto the cupcake and smooth it out over the entire cupcake until you have a flat, smooth surface with a visible edge. Roll the edge in the crumble. Top with a Green Apple flavoured jelly bean.