Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Cupcakes 2.0

I love cupcakes.  ALOT.  Probably more than what's healthy.

Playing with cake and icing flavor combinations. Planning how to decorate them...daydream material. Putting them on a pretty stand...so girly and fun. 

Who's to know those sweet royal icing flowers were piped while watching Descent 2 on Fearnet while cursing a blue streak at my inability to get the daisies just right. Good times.

These little beauties made quite a hit at last year's Easter get together. So much so that I was requested to make a similar setup as centerpieces for a bridal shower. Niiiice.

Made the royal icing flowers at least a day ahead to give them time to dry. I used the recipe from Pretty Party Cakes by Peggy Porschen. I'm not posting the recipe because I don't believe in sharing recipes unless the author posted them online themselves. Buy the book - it's worth the price just for the pictures. (But honey, I swear I read it for the recipes!)

The cupcake recipe is from the Neelys on Food Network's website. Only I didn't make PB&J cupcakes like in the original but used the base cupcake recipe with my own flavor twist. It's a moist yellow cake with a little something special due to the Creme Bouquet. 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I decreased vanilla to 1/2 t and added 1.5 t of Creme Bouquet)
Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the sour cream to the butter and sugar mixture and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed into the batter. Add in the vanilla and continue to mix. Slowly add the dry ingredients, in increments, and mix until combined.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners to fill 3/4 of the way. Put in the oven and bake until the cupcakes are a pale gold color and a cake tester comes out clean, about for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.

And since every great cupcake needs frosting, I used my very favorite Swiss Meringue recipe from Cake Central's website.If you decide to make it, make your life easy and use pasteurized 100% liquid egg whites. They meringue up beautifully and if you don't have to worry about food borne illness if your thermometer isn't calibrated correctly. People who don't like frosting will like this frosting. It is not "too sweet" and is HIGHLY addictive. But do not, DO NOT!!!!!!!! add the butter in step 4 of the recipe until the meringue is room temperature. I cannot emphasize that enough. If the butter melts, you will have tasty, unsalvageable soup. (Yeah, I messed one up once the night before a delivery and had to run to the store for more ingredients and start ALL over at 9:00PM so I would have the cake ready on time the next day. Hoo!)


12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp5 egg whites
8 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 TBSP real vanilla extract

Place the egg whites and the sugar in a bowl or top of a double boiler and place it over a pot of simmering water, whisking until it registers 160 degrees. (Whisking keeps the white from turning into scrambled eggs)
Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip it with the whisk on medium high until it is reaches the stiff peak stage.While the meringue is beating, cut up the butter into tbsp sized pieces.When meringue is ready, switch to the paddle attachment, turn on low, and slowly add the butter. (One tablespoon at a time, waiting until each piece of butter is incorporated before adding the next piece)

Add vanilla.

Turn on medium high and let it rip until you have a lovely silky buttercream. You will hear a slapping sound when it's ready. (It may look curdled before it smooths out. DON"T PANIC! Just let it mix and it'll all work out.)

Frost the cupcakes with a large, plain round tip, place the flowers and sprinkle strategically with pastel dragees for some shine. Serve them at room temp, this type of frosting is not nearly as amazing when it's cold.


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