Experiments in Cupcakes

June 27, 2010

June 2010

I have 3 cakes to do in the next 6 weeks so I thought this weekend would be a good time for some practice. I had a list of 5 different things that I wanted to test out – mostly things that I will need for my upcoming cakes – so I whipped up a batch of cupcakes to help me out.

First, Almond Cake. I used this recipe from Wilton for a basic white cake (which I had not made before) and replaced the vanilla extract with almond extract. I quartered the recipe and came out with an even dozen cupcakes, so I can only assume the full recipe would yield 4 dozen (!).

Next up was, Raspberry Filling. I have made cakes with raspberry filling before but I have always used seedless raspberry preserves out of a jar. They are delicious, but slippery and tend to bleed through the cake, so I thought I’d try my hand at a homemade filling. I picked this recipe at random and I found it to be easy and tasty. I halved the recipe and got a little more than a cup of filling. The only downside to this was that it was not seedless.

My next step was Filling the Cupcakes – another first for me. I cut into each cupcake on an angle and sliced a circle out of the top. I just used a Ziplock bag with the corner cut off to pipe the filling into the cupcake, and then I replaced the top. Cinchy!

Now for icing. First up was Dark Chocolate Ganache. The family friend who made my brother-in-law’s wedding cake (and mine also!) used this icing on their cake and it was SO good. She kindly shared the recipe with me and I whipped up my first ganache. Delicious!!

Finally, I wanted to try an Amaretto Buttercream. I ended up with sort of an adapted Swiss Meringue buttercream. I started with the same adapted recipe that I used for the Margarita Cupcakes (Annie’s Eats, adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe). I had planned to replace the tequila and lime juice with amaretto. Except that I didn’t get around to stopping by the liquor store. So I used some almond extract instead. It turned out well. Next time I will not be so lazy and I’ll pick up some amaretto!

Marbled Peanut Butter Brownies

June 20, 2010

June 2010

I was asked to bring a dessert for Father’s Day dinner with my in-laws and I thought I would deviate from cake for a change. I asked my husband what kind of dessert his dad would like and he said “peanut butter”. I thought brownies and ice cream sounded good so I did a Google image search for peanut butter brownies and picked the one that looked the most delicious to me. I used this recipe from Cookie Madness and though it took awhile because there are multiple steps, they were DELICIOUS!

The main part of it is basically peanut butter brownie/cake/cookie marbled with melted chocolate and butter. My marbling skills leave a lot to be desired. The top looked nice, but the marbling didn’t go all the way through. And then the topping is peanut butter, butter, and vanilla with chocolate drizzled on top. They weren’t really what I would think of as brownie consistency…they were more like a cross between a really dense cake or a really chewy bar cookie. And I actually think it would have been good without the topping also. Or maybe with a chocolate ganache topping. Either way, I definitely loved this 🙂

Reagan's Christening

June 13, 2010

June 2010

It’s amazing how Facebook can reconnect people. April and I were very good friends waaaaaay back in elementary and middle school and into high school. Fast forward, oh, 13 years or so and we got back in touch via Facebook. It turns out that April got married the week after I did and now she and her husband have just welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Reagan Kathryn. And that’s where the cake comes in…

Reagan’s christening is this weekend and April asked me to make a cake for the occasion. Luckily, I had just made another christening cake last month, so I was able to reuse the basic design. April asked for carrot cake with cream cheese icing – yay! I love this combination for two reasons: 1) both the cake recipe and the icing recipe are so good (in my opinion anyway!), and 2) the cream cheese icing is really easy to work with. April also asked for something very plain – she said she liked white and ivory and she said I could also throw in pale pink.

So first up was two batches of the carrot cake recipe to make two 11×15 sheet cakes. I also made a triple batch of my go-to cream cheese icing recipe. At some point during this process, I also rolled out some plain white fondant and cut out a cross. And then came the letters. I had tried to do letters for the last christening cake, but I was having so much trouble getting the fondant out of the cutters that I just gave up. This time, I tried dusting the cutters with cornstarch and rolling the fondant pretty thin. This seemed to work much better!

I originally had white letters on the cake to go with the white/ivory theme. But I was afraid they wouldn’t stand out well enough. So I tried outlining them with some pink tinted icing, but that just made it worse! So I tinted some fondant pink and cut out a new batch of letters and I think the pink looks better.

So my second christening cake is complete! I hope April and her family like it 🙂