Monday, May 7, 2012

Cupcake Baking

Cupcakes have become a very popular treat where I live.  I think they've become popular all over, actually.  This weekend I gained a new appreciation for my friends who love to bake cupcakes.

I love to bake.  Cookies, brownies, pies...  I love making treats.  I also enjoy trying new things.  So, I have been wanting to try my hand at making cupcakes (especially because they are $2.50 at the local bakeries!)  Last year, I had picked up a book called The Cupcake Doctor from a bookstore on clearance.  I have two other cookbooks by the same author (The Cake Doctor and Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor).  I use these two books regularly for the frosting recipes.  Last year, my husband banned cake mixes for good in our house so now I only use the cookbooks for their frosting recipes (which are wonderful).  I found that the frosting recipes in the Cupcake Doctor to be repeats of the other two, so I found the cookbook a new home with a friend.

But, I still longed to try my hand at making cupcakes from scratch.  When Eli's birthday came around, I planned on making cupcakes, but couldn't find a "cupcake" recipe in my cookbooks or one for white cupcakes that didn't require that time consuming task of beating egg whites.  So, I settled on making chocolate chip muffins and frosting them.  My desire to make true, fancy cupcakes was not satisfied.

So, I was excited when a new cookbook arrived in the mail.  150 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson  
I flipped through the cookbook and found 10 different cupcakes I wanted to try and several interesting frosting recipes.  There was a great selection of regular cupcakes with dairy in them, but there were also a lot of vegan recipes.  There were also some great photos that made my children's mouths water!  But, I settled on making 2 different chocolate cupcakes and one of the frosting recipes.

First, I tried the Best Chocolate Cupcakes.  The recipe is supposed to make 12.  I made 15 out of the recipe.  I used an ice cream scoop.  They baked up beautifully and had nice rounded tops.  I think if I had made a strict 12 with the recipe, they might have spilled over a little.  I always lean on the lean side when it comes to filling cupcake papers because I don't want extra mess.

The second batch I baked up were the Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes.  I did have to make one substitution becuase I don't have chocolate cream liqueur.  I substituted the same amount of Torani Chocolate syrup.  These cupcakes didn't rise quite as much, but I followed the directions and they looked just fine.  I got 14 out of this recipe for 12.  This recipe requires you to scoop out a little cake at the end and put something in them (the surprise!).  The cake tasted delicious and my mom and I both agreed that we're usually stuck with those cake odds and ends.  They usually just end up in the trash.  But, these odds and ends were quickly gobbled up.

Then, it was time to make the frosting.  I tried the Chocolate Fudge Frosting.  I have discovered that frosting is something to be experimented with.  I followed the recipe as it was written and it didn't turn out as I had hoped.    I needed to add 3 more tablespoons of liquid until the frosting was the texture I wanted it to be.  That's a lot in the world of frosting making, I think.  But, once I'd added the liquid, the frosting tasted very good.

I bought a Wilton Cake Decorator a few weeks ago at  a garage sale.  I pulled it out and put the frosting into it.  I had never done this before so this was definitely a trial by error adventure.  I first tried to frost by doing an outward spiral (starting at the center).  That didn't work well, so I started on the outside the second time and worked my way inward.  It worked!  I didn't frost the edge so that I could pick the cupcakes up and set them down without touching the frosting.  I sprinkled just a few decorations on top and--Voila!  My first batch of cupcakes were ready for tasting.

For the second batch (the surprise ones), I used a frosting recipe from The Cake Doctor which worked quite well.

I took my cupcakes over for lunch to a friend's house.  I asked for their honest opinions of the cupcakes and asked them and their children (ages 3-14) to tell me how they thought they compared to other cupcakes they'd eaten.  I heard nothing but rave reviews. (You can see the finger mark on one of them!)  I would definitely say that they measure up to anything I've had in a bakery.  The chocolate chips didn't all sink to the bottom and the frosting was rich and fudgey.  This cookbook is likely going to have a place on my bookshelf for a long time!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook for review from Robert Rose Publishing.

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