Monday, March 31, 2014

Blackberry Cupcakes with oatmeal crust and blackberry-mandarin curd filling


I love pretty cupcake photos. I could almost say that once I've got that part over with, that my job is half done, but this. of course, would be a lie. I have to make the cupcake first, of course, and then I have to remember how I did it! That is no easy task. I've already made another cupcake since these and I am plotting another that I was hoping to make today...so you can see how the recipes start to jumble in a mind that is not-quite-organized in the first place. I'll do my best, though, Where was I? Oh yes - pretty picture.

And I know, blackberries are not (yet!) in season, but they were on sale. And i was wanting to do a purple-ish cupcake for Lent.  What? You don't celebrate Lent with cupcakes? Hey, I went to Catholic school and I can't recall anyone ever giving up cupcakes for Lent. So there.

I jazzed these puppies up with an oatmeal cookie crust (oatmeal + blackberries = health food!) and a blackberry mandarin curd. Why mandarin? Well, for one, because I live in mandarin country. And two...I was out of lemons. Any citrus would probably have been good (and blood oranges would certainly have followed along with the theme) but just in case Gary Gilligan ever reads this...Mandarins were clearly the superior choice.

And these were a superior cupcake. Pretty, too. Shall we begin, then?

~ Oatmeal Cookie Crust ~
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Combine melted butter, flour, oats,and brown sugar in a small bowl. Put about a tablespoon of the oatmeal mixture into each lined muffin tin. Press down with your fingers to make an even crust on the bottom of each one. Bake for about 10 minutes until starting to brown. Let cool before filling with cupcake batter.


~ Blackberry Cupcakes ~
  • 2 large (12-ounce? I'm sorry; I didn't check) blackberries, plus one small container (about 24) for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Puree blackberries in a food processor or blender. Scrape into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. With a rubber spatula, work the blackberries through the sieve, leaving seeds behind. Remove 1/4 cup of puree for the frosting. You ought to have a good 3/4 cup of puree left for the cupcakes and 1/2 cup of the puree for the curd. 
  • In small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, lemon juice, and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add the butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
  • Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until well combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in whatever is remaining. Resist the urge to beat this stuff silly! Fill cupcake liners on top of baked oatmeal crusts ~3/4 full.
  • Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake in each pan comes out clean

  • ~ Blackberry-mandarin curd filling ~
    1/2 cup reserved blackberry curd
    3 large egg yolks
    zest of one mandarin orange
    1/2 cup mandarin orange juice
    6 Tbsp. sugar
    4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
Combine egg yolks, zest, lemon juice and sugar in a sauce pan. Set over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add in butter, one piece at a time. Stir until completely combined. Once completely combined, add in blackberry puree and mix well. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on to the surface of the curd then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

~ Filling the cupcakes~
Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the blackberry-mandarin curd filling, then replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

There was just no way to take a pretty picture of this, but you get the idea

Whew - almost done! Just the frosting left!

2 sticks butter, softened
1/4 cup blackberry puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 - 5 cups powdered sugar
2 -3 tablespoons milk (if needed)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend together the butter, puree, vanilla, and salt until mixed well. Add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, and mix into the butter, starting out at a low speed and gradually increasing the speed until it is all nice and incorporated. If the mixture seems too stiff, add milk; if it seems too loose, add more sugar. I like a consistency that will pipe well though a pastry tube, but you can just spread it on with a butter knife or spatula too. No worries.

Pipe the frosting onto all of your cupcakes and then garnish as desired - I used clear edible glitter and a fresh blackberry on the top of each one (you do want to have your garnish give a clue as to what is inside the cupcakes. Although, in this case, I guess the oatmeal cookie bottom is a complete surprise. Oh well. This was two weeks ago, people! I've moved on. 

I do hope you have enjoyed reading along, though!

They're coming to get you, Barbara...with all of their antioxidants!
This was the runner-up for the cover photo, but I still really liked it. Lopsidedness and all.
You should see me pick out a Christmas tree!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes





If you like to bake and your circle of acquaintances knows this, the inevitable is going to happen.
"Hey, I have a birthday/bridal shower/World of Warcraft...um...whatever/bake sale/Mary Kay party/Art Show (I need to stop but I am having fun with this)...Can you make some cupcakes?"
Hapless Baker - "Sure, what kind would you like?"
Person - "Oh, whatever you think."

SO not helpful. Not at all. You might not like what I like. I might not like what you like. I just want to make it well and make you happy and how am I to know that you can't actually eat any fruit or that you only like whipped cream frosting but it has to be non-dairy and that you're allergic to nuts and oh one person is vegan so just leave the eggs out of that one, all right? 

I guess I'm begging for communication. Goodness knows I am learning enough about everyone and their second cousins on FB so one would think an allergy would be an easy addition to normal conversation.

Actually, nothing of the sort happened with these cupcakes. These were for a friend, and it was her birthday, and I offered to make cupcakes. While she did start off with, "oh...whatever" - I do know her a little better than that so with some poking I got enough to go off and I think she liked them. I dunno. Haven't seen her since.

Making this all about me for a moment, I have let the idea of a cheesecake cupcake flit across my mind a few times, but the truth is, I just don't love cheesecake all that much so it's not high on my list. I do like cherries but I like them really really tart. However, it seems like most people are fans of the stuff, it would be easy to make and eat and is happy and festive for a birthday. With teenagers. 

And they are good. I loved the graham cracker crust and the mildness of the graham cake with the cream cheese and cherries combined in the filling, and then on top as well. Sweet, nutty, tart, creamy - I do think they were lovely and I think I need to reevaluate my cheesecake position.

So, I do hope they went over well. Happy birthday, Niki! We love you and miss you very much.

On to the cupcakes!


~ Graham Cupcakes ~
For graham bottom:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter, salted
1/4 cup sugar
For cupcakes:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 standard-sized muffin cups with baking liners. Set aside 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs for garnishing at the very end. I just figured I'd mention it now since you have them out and everything already. All right. Moving on...

In a small bowl, combine the 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 cup sugar, mixing until crumbly. Press a small amount into the bottom of each muffin cup, dividing the total evenly, and press down with your fingers to form a smooth(ish) bottom layer. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and let cool before filling with cupcake batter.

Crispy graham cracker bottoms - please don't skip this step
Cupcakes now:
Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugars and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla and mix again.
Combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, and salt into a small bowl. Add in about half of the dry mixture into the butter mixture and stir until combined. Add in the milk and mix well. Finish with the rest of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. 
 Scoop the batter into the muffin cups (the ones you already have the graham cracker crust baked into, remember?) and bake at 350 for about 15 - 18 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tins for 2 minutes or so, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

~ Cherry Filling & Topping ~ 
12 ounces sweet or sour cherries, pitted (frozen is fine)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar (you can add more or less depending on how sweet your cherries are. So taste for sweetness, but please do that well before the whole "bring to a boil" step, okay?)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook it for an additional one to two minutes then remove from heat. Cool completely.

~ Cream Cheese Filling & Frosting ~
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy and fully combined. Beat in the powdered sugar, lime juice and lime zest, and salt, and beat until mixed together and the consistency you want (it's not going to be as stiff as a regular buttercream, and neither should it be). Set aside about a cup's worth to fill the cupcakes; the rest will be for the frosting.

Ready for assembly? You're almost done, really.

~ Filling the cupcakes ~
Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling, top with about a tablespoon of the cherry filling, then replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

~ Frosting the cupcakes ~
Using a pastry bag fitted with the large round tip, or just a recloseable plastic baggie with the tip cut off, pipe a few rounds of frosting around the top of each cupcake. Basically, you're making a nest for the cherry filling. It doesn't have to be beautiful; mine certainly wasn't. Cover the edges of the cupcake and build up the frosting sides high enough to hold the cherries in. Spoon a bit of the cherry filling into each nest. If desired, sprinkle the reserved graham cracker crumbs (remember those?) around the outside of the cupcakes.  There. Done. Because of the dairy content of these, store them in the refrigerator but try to let them come to about room temperature before serving.
Man, this thing looks ugly. Tastes good, though. This is just so you can see the truth of what you're getting.
Which is why we keep some things that are inside us, well, inside us. 



Sunday, March 2, 2014

King Cake Cupcakes



Filling shot. These cupcakes were at the warm side of room temperature, and so were exceptionally gooey.
Happy Mardi Gras, all y'all! I wonder, sometimes, if the fact that I'm in California means that I have to eventually turn in my Southerner card. I still think wistfully of Mobile, Alabama as my real home, regardless of how long it's been since I've lived or even visited there. And despite the fact that there are (count them) four different kinds of chicken sausage in my freezer and both chevre and marinated beets in my fridge and at least 6 bottles of mineral water in my pantry. I'm still no Californian - I just live here.

And you do realize that Mobile has the oldest recorded celebration of Mardi Gras in this country, don't you (c'est vrai - look it up)? Chew on that, New Orleans!

Or, chew on this (segue! segue!) - I've made (and eaten) my share of King Cakes and I thought it would be fun to make a cupcake that is (loosely) based on that idea. What we have here is a cinnamon cupcake with an almond crust, filled with a cream cheese filling and topped with an almond buttercream. It's actually pretty simple, especially for me. And it's darn tasty. But no, it's not exactly like a king cake (almond?!?!). For one thing, no one actually likes to eat king cake (snerk). It's usually really dry and not that sweet. The reason you eat a king cake is that you want to get the weird looking plastic baby that is hidden inside (tucked in after the fact, not baked in. That would be strange even for us). Getting the baby means either that you are king for the day or that you need to provide the king cake next year. These cupcakes have no baby hidden in them, simply because the folks out here would be wildly startled to find a creepy plastic baby in their baked goods. Or they'd choke on it. And since I'm taking many of these to work, that would not be career-enhancing.

Anyhow, people eat the king cake to get to the baby, and then enjoy the really good food. Jambalaya! Gumbo! Muffalettas! Po' boys! Yum! I plan to make some jambalaya myself...with my portobello-swiss chicken sausage...kidding! To the cupcakes...and laissez les bon temps rouler!

King Cake Cupcakes

makes about 30 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup and one 6-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.

~ Almond Crust ~
2 cups ground almonds (coarsely ground in food processor; see photo below)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Press a bit more than a tablespoon's worth of the mixture into each cupcake liner, pressing down with your clean fingers to make a smooth, even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 - 7 minutes or until the crusts are just starting to brown. Use your senses here - if you can smell the nuts, these are probably ready. If you smell burning, you're done. Start over. Set the crusts aside to cool while you make the batter.
Ground about like this. You're not making almond meal or anything.
Check out my helper!
He did a fine job, too.
This is about the color you're looking for.

Wow, I said there wouldn't be an process photos last blog and there weren't - I guess I am making up for it now. Anyways...

~ Cinnamon Cupcakes ~

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat just until butter melts; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick enough for the batter to fall in a heavy ribbon when the beater is lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and beat just until blended. Beat in the milk-butter mixture just until blended. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the cream cheese filling.

~ Cream Cheese Filling ~
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until well-combined. Add in the vanilla and salt and mix in. A cup at a time, beat in the powdered sugar. You are aiming for a not to sweet mixture that is nowhere near stiff enough to pipe on a cupcake ('cause it's a filling, not a frosting, see?). Three cups will probably do it. You can go for four if you're nervous.

~ Filling the cupcakes ~
Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese filling, then replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
Don't worry if your cupcake runneth over. You're going to be covering all this with frosting.
~ Almond Frosting ~
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/8 - 1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 - 9 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter in an electric stand mixture until smooth and creamy. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and the salt, and beat in until well-combined. Add in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, adding in the milk as needed for consistency. You are going for a frosting that is stiff enough to pipe on but is still nice and smooth and creamy.

Pipe or spread on the frosting onto the filled cupcakes. If desired, garnish in Mardi Gras style (purple, gold, and green sprinkles - or edible glitter as I used). Now eat up, and share with your friends!
The filling has firmed up a little in this shot.
This picture makes me ready for Lent. Eat up! The Lord is just waiting for Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fudge Graham Cupcakes




What a nice, short, title. What I ought to have called it was, "Fudge graham cupcakes with crisp graham crust and whipped ganache filling'. However, because the idea that you might think I actually made a simple cupcake and are even now being drawn in...

Well, it's not that complicated. Especially if you have leftover ganache lying around. I generally do. What, you don't? What are you doing with all of yours?
Bet you're wondering where we're hanging out...
So what we have here is a cupcake inspired by a cookie I've hardly ever eaten - the Keebler fudge-covered graham cracker. My mom just never bought those kind of cookies, and at this point in my life my attitude is really, "Why would anyone do that to a graham cracker?" But I'd gladly make a cupcake out of it!
Just mannin' the farm,

So I started with the graham crust and graham cake from my Key lime cupcakes (I mean, why reinvent the wheel?). I whipped up some ganache I had on hand to make it fluffy and then spooned that into the baked cupcakes as the filling, make a very chocolate-y buttercream to frost them with, and then garnished with a few additional graham crackers. Pretty simple, especially for me. So let's do it, shall we?

This makes about 18 cupcakes.

~ Graham Cupcakes ~
For graham bottom:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter, salted
1/4 cup sugar
For cupcakes:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 standard-sized muffin cups with baking liners (or grease well).

In a small bowl, combine the 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 cup sugar, mixing until crumbly. Press a small amount into the bottom of each muffin cup, dividing the total evenly, and press down with your fingers to form a smooth(ish) bottom layer. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and let cool before filling with cupcake batter.


Crispy graham cracker bottoms - please don't skip this step!

Cupcakes now:
Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugars and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla and mix again.
Combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, and salt into a small bowl. Add in about half of the dry mixture into the butter mixture and stir until combined. Add in the milk and mix well. Finish with the rest of the flour mixture and mix just until combined.  
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups (the ones you already have the graham cracker crust baked into, remember?) and bake at 350 for about 15 - 18 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tins for 2 minutes or so, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. 


~Ganache~

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped 
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch instant espresso powder

In the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water, combine all ingredients until smooth. Let cool until room temperature and then, with a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the stuffing out of it until it is nice and fluffy, then set aside until you are ready to fill the cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the whipped ganache, then replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

~ For Chocolate Frosting ~
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
4-6 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixture until smooth. Frost cupcakes as desired (I piped mine on using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip). Garnish with additional graham cracker crumbs, if desired.

I'm artsy on the rocks!
I think I AM a rock!
We're coming to get you, Barbara...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Honeycake cupcakes with mixed-berry buttercream filling, vanilla wafer crust, and honey cream cheese frosting







 Ha! Look at the cool golden tint on this image. This is a cupcake that takes itself very seriously...or is it...?

Hi! I'm friendly! Still golden, though.
And then, once you get to really know the cupcake...

"I love everybody! Whoo hoo!"
It makes sense that there would be a golden hue to this cupcake, due to all the honey running through it. And for all its sweetness, this was a cupcake that I very nearly punted out the front door (though with my kicking ability it probably would just have plopped onto my doormat. Jerk.). The finished product is quite good, it is true, but the process was a real test of my (not worth mentioning) patience. 'Twas only stubbornness that carried me through. ANYHOW - there are no process pictures (you'll just have to imagine the purple-faced, harried cook), but there are recipes and if you make these they will be good. Just know they are nothing (NOTHING) like I'd imagined in the first place. I'll try those elusive cupcakes again one day, I promise. And I bet that will go swimmingly (I'll check that the heavy cream is fresh, to start, and that I have enough powdered sugar, for seconds...oh, wait - I am giving too much away...and if a batter LOOKS like a scone batter, it's probably going to bake up like a scone batter no matter how you try to rationalize it in your rock-hard noggin - ok, I really am stopping). Here we go - Honeycake cupcakes with a mixed-berry buttercream filling, vanilla wafer crust, and honey cream cheese frosting:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.

~ Vanilla Wafer Crust ~
  • 2 2/3 cups vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten (optional)
In a food processor, chop vanilla wafer cookies until reduced to crumbs. Add in sugar, vanilla extract and melted butter and pulse to combine. Mixture should resemble wet sand.
Divide evenly among 12 lined muffin cups. Press crumbs in firmly to create a tight crust. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the beaten egg white over the surface of the crust (you don't need to use the whole egg white).
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust just begins to turn golden brown around the edges.
Cool completely before using.


~ Honeycake Cupcakes ~
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in honey, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix into the batter until just blended. Scoop the batter into the cups evenly.

Cupcakes are ready when the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 15 - 20 minutes.

~ Mixed Berry Buttercream Filling~

~ For berry sauce ~
  • 2 - 3 cups mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • dash salt
Combine the berries (honestly, I used what I had in the fridge: blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries), sugar, ginger, and salt into a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the fruit has broken down and has started to thicken. Pour through a strainer to remove the seeds, but do press down with a spoon to get the pulp through as much as you can. Set aside to let cool.

~ For buttercream filling ~ 
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup mixed berry sauce
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
In a large stand mixer, beat together the butter and berry sauce until it is well-combined. Add in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until all is incorporated. You don't need this to be really firm at all; it's the filling, not a frosting. 

~ To fill the cupcakes ~

Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a teaspoon of the mixed berry buttercream. Then spoon on a little of the remaining berry puree you have (what else are you going to do with it?) Top that with a little more filling, then replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, and then put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and set the filling.

~ Honey-Cream Cheese Frosting ~
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 6 - 8 cups powdered sugar
In a large stand mixer, blend together cream cheese, honey, and butter until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until it is stiff enough to pipe on (or just spread on if you'd rather). Don't be alarmed if this takes the entire amount of powdered sugar; the cream cheese makes for a very soft frosting. If desired, garnish with a final swirl of honey (or the remaining berry puree if you've any left - I hadn't!). 

Makes twelve (blasted) cupcakes. 

Ooh, look at this guy getting artsy!
Fancier still! I'd better end this blog in a hurry. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes


As much moaning and belly-aching as I've been doing about 1.) chocolate and 2.) raspberries, I decided the best course to take would be to make a dark chocolate raspberry cupcake. I've never claimed to be logical, and I don't believe anyone's ever accused me of such, either. At any rate, I figured it was like one of those songs that you can't get out of your head until you play it (although in my case it went on for years and I had no idea it was the instrumental part of the Pogue's "Fairy Tale of New York" until just fairly recently).

I'm dragging my feet about these. I don't really know why. They certainly were no more complicated than the really chocolate-y cupcakes I made earlier this week. In fact, now that I used a different tool for the raspberries, the whole process is a great deal more simple.

Oh, yes! So the cupcake, from the bottom up, is a chocolate cookie, slightly salty from the salted butter, then a very rich and dense dark chocolate cake, filled with fresh raspberry puree, then topped with a sour cream buttercream flavored with more raspberry puree and drizzled with dark chocolate ganache. Then topped off with a fresh raspberry. Nice, no? These would be nice for Valentine's Day...for other people. I seem to mess up Valentine's Day every year, but if you want these for yourself let me know and I'll be glad to whip up a batch. Promise to not let me Valentine's Day storm cloud rain on your cupcakes. ;)

Shall we get started, then?

 ~ For the cookie bottoms ~

1 1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (about 2/3 of a package of chocolate wafers)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate


Line 24 standard-sized muffin cups with baking liners.

Combine together the chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter until the mixture is damp and crumbly but holds together when squeezed into a ball. Place about a tablespoon of the crumb mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup, dividing as evenly as possible among the 21. Press down gently with your fingers to cover the bottoms in an even layer. Sprinkle over with the chopped chocolate. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until the chocolate melts a bit. Let cool for 10 minutes before filling with the cupcake batter.

The cake - well, the cake is not a recipe of mine, but it is one seriously good chocolate cake recipe. It's moist and dense (wow, have you ever thought about how those descriptions are only ever going to sound good if they're about a cake? Like, a potential date - those would not be positives) and you don't even need a mixer! So the full recipe is here and I'm just going to copy it (mostly) for ease of use for this recipe. It's awesome, though.

~ For the chocolate cupcakes ~

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add the heavy cream, brewed coffee and vanilla extract. Heat until just barely simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you prep the other ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs.
Slowly pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the egg/sour cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Do this very slowly! You don’t want to cook the eggs, so start pouring a very small amount of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, whisk it in, then continue this process until its all incorporated.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. In three parts, add the chocolate mixture to the flour. Whisk until just combined and smooth after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated. Finally, whisk batter about 20 strokes.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. Bake 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Okay, y'all ready for the filling? I know I am...

~ Fresh Raspberry Filling ~


12 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Place the raspberries, lemon juice, and the sugar in a food processor. Pulse several times to chop raspberries; blend until pureed, about 30 seconds.

Place cornstarch in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the water until it is a smooth consistency.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the raspberry mixture in the food processor and blend again until smooth. If you're using a mini processor, as I did, you're going to be cutting it close. It would probably behoove you to use the full sized machine.

If you have a food mill, use it now, using the finest setting? Blade? Something? I don't know - all I know is that you can get one of these at Target for about $25 and it is SO handy when you need something like this. Or, you can press the mixture through a sieve and get all the fruit pulp out. Your choice. 

Pour raspberry mixture into a saucepan and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Let the raspberry filling cool.

To fill the cupcakes: Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the raspberry filling (or however much you need). Replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, and then put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and set the filling.

Now, onto the frosting. I totally made this up on the fly.

Raspberry Sour Cream Buttercream
1/4 cup raspberry puree
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
4 - 6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the puree, butter, and sour cream until well combined. Add in the salt and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, beating in at low speed to start and then increasing it to make sure it it well blended. You want a thick, spreadable frosting that will hold its shape.

Okay, you can now pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Or just spread it on with a butter knife. Wanna go even fancier?

~ Dark Chocolate Ganache ~
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

In the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, melt together the chocolate and the cream until it is smooth and combined. Now you can either put it into a recloseable sandwich bag (or I put it into a squeeze bottle because I just like having a bottle of ganache on the counter - and who wouldn't, I ask you!). If using the bag, snip one corner off and drizzle the ganache over the cupcakes. Top each one with a fresh raspberry and store in the refrigerator. There, you're done! Store these in the fridge - this makes about 24 cupcakes.




Monday, October 28, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookie Crust, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Dark Chocolate Frosting and Whipped Cream



Good grief, that's a mouthful of a title. It's a mouthful of a cupcake, too. I'm not saying it was difficult, but I will admit that it took a lo-o-o-o-o-ong time to put together. You can absolutely do this, though. I'd recommend breaking it down into two stages; maybe baking the cupcakes the first day and then filling and decorating them the second. I made these yesterday, and because they were for a dear friend who happens to be gorgeous and brilliant (Hi, Catherine!), I knew I had to taste one (not a hardship, you say? Then spend six hours with them making them and give it a try) and then take pictures before I get all the dang things out of my apartment. When all I really want is to make some spicy tomato sauce with sausage and some leftover pulled pork I have in my fridge! But I digress...

The cupcakes really are good. They are ridiculously chocolatey, which was my intention, with a nice variety of textures among the crispy cookie bottom, the moist cake, the creamy mousse, and the silky frosting. Plus the dollop of whipped cream and grated bittersweet chocolate. My mother would hate these. But then she thinks the be-all, end-all of my cupcakes are the Key Lime ones so these are completely out of her comfort zone.

I'm babbling. I think I am avoiding even talking about these. Time for me to grow up and take a deep breath and get started...did I mention I am supposed to make more cupcakes tomorrow? I know I can fit in that tomato sauce somewhere...

~ Chocolate Cookie Bottoms ~

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (about one package of chocolate cookies)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Very carefully so as not to scorch the chocolate, over low heat in a medium pot, melt together the butter and chocolate. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chocolate crumbs until all are moistened. 

Divide the crumb mixture evenly among the muffin cups. Using your clean fingers, press the mixture down into an even layer in the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes (you will be able to smell them - do not let them burn). Let cool for about 10 minutes before filling with frosting.

~ Dark Chocolate Cupcakes ~

1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened

Pour the boiling water over the cocoa and espresso powder in a medium bowl and stir until well combined, then cool to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, 1/4 of the cooled cocoa mixture, and the vanilla.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined.
Add the butter and the remaining cocoa mixture, then mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Beat for an additional 2 minutes, then scrape down the sides.

Add the egg mixture a third at a time, making sure to beat until the mixture is combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

Divide the batter among the cookie-lined muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full. 

Bake in the center of the oven for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out clean, or the cake springs back when gently pressed.

When removed from the oven, let rest in the pans for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Okay, this is where I would take a break, if possible. You've done a perfectly respectable job so far, and you've been smelling chocolate for quite a while. No? Oh, you're as pig headed stubborn as I am? Carry on, then.

~ Dark Chocolate Mousse ~

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/3 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark cocoa powder
2 cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 2 minutes to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.

Combine sugar and cocoa in large bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended.

To fill the cupcakes: Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the chocolate mousse mixture (or however much you need). Replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, and then put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and set the filling.


~ Dark Chocolate Frosting ~


6 ounces dark chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
6 tablespoons milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 - 6 cups powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate chips, either in the microwave at 30-second intervals, in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (or let's be honest here - I just heat mine on the stove very very carefully - don't do that). You want the chips to be nice and smooth. Stir in cocoa powder and allow mixture to cool slightly so it is just about room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat together butter, milk and vanilla and salt until well-combined. Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until all is mixed in. Gradually blend in the powdered sugar, starting at low speed and moving up to high, until frosting is thick and smooth and of a good consistency to pipe.

Frost the cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

Almost done! At this point I was getting plain old mad and tired of chocolate and tired of pastry tips. You do not have to do this if you don't want to. I just love Catherine.

~ Stabilized Whipped Cream ~

1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar


Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl to soften. 

Scald 2 tablespoons of the cream (this means you put the cream in a pan and bring it to a simmer on the stove); pour over gelatin, stirring till dissolved.
Refrigerate until consistency of unbeaten egg white. Then, with a whisk, beat until smooth.
In a stand mixer with a whip attachment, or with a hand beater, whip remaining cream and sugar just until soft peaks form; whip in the smoothed gelatin mixture, stopping to scrape the bowl twice. Whip until stiff peaks start to form, but be careful not to over-beat.


Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe a bit of the heavy cream onto the top of each cupcake. If you like, sprinkle the frosted cupcakes with grated bittersweet chocolate.

Store these in the refrigerator but let warm up a bit before serving. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Whew! I want a cheeseburger. And an unsweetened iced tea!

See the layers?
The cake and the mousse are so dark you can scarcely tell where one ends and the other begins!
Baby Deirdre Approved!