Chocolate Almond Mini Cupcakes

December 21, 2011

I had 2 events for which I wanted to provide baked goods and they were within a week of each other. One was a party given by Caelan’s daycare provider for all of the parents and one was my office holiday party. So I decided to take a shortcut and use a boxed cake mix to make mini cupcakes. A batch of cake batter will make a zillion mini cupcakes (I got 5 dozen out of it before I ran out of liners, but there was a little bit of batter left). I used a French Vanilla mix (because I had it on hand) and I added some almond extract.

I decided I would dip the cupcakes in chocolate ganache before frosting them with almond buttercream. I used the ganache recipe found in this post from Annie’s Eats. I had some leftover almond buttercream from the anniversary cupcakes I had made the week before so I just used that. I think the almond flavor was a lot stronger after having been in the fridge for a few days (and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing). I garnished the mini cupcakes with some shaved milk chocolate.

I brought a dozen and a half or so of these to the daycare party and put the rest in the fridge (unfrosted, un-ganached). I never did get around to finishing the ones for my office party. Sorry coworkers. But I was kind of “meh” on how these turned out anyway. I don’t know what it was, but the flavor was kind of off.

So since I had several dozen of these leftover, I wrapped them up and put them in the freezer. I’ve never frozen cupcakes before, so it’s kind of an experiment. We’ll see if they’re any good if I ever defrost them.

Lisa’s Baby Shower

August 6, 2010

August 2010

Lisa is a friend that I met through The Knot while planning my wedding. A couple years have passed and her first child was due to arrive in September. I was honored to make the cake for her shower!

Originally, this post was a place holder. Lisa asked that I not reveal the cake until after her son was born. I was more than happy to hold the post until after the birth, which I am thrilled to say took place on Labor Day!

Now back to the cake! I had a tip off from one of the shower hostesses, Dani, that Lisa’s favorite cake was SugarBakers signature cake: almond cake, with amaretto buttercream and raspberry filling, and vanilla buttercream on top. I tested all of these out on cupcakes back in June so I would know what I was doing when it came time for this cake!

For the cake, I made my go-to yellow cake recipe (one 8″ round layer and one 10″ round layer) and replaced the vanilla extract with almond extract. I also made 2 batches of Wilton’s buttercream and tinted it a light tan. Then I made a 1/2 recipe of raspberry filling. And then, I made a 1/2 recipe of modified Swiss meringue buttercream and flavored it with a couple of tablespoons of amaretto. (I made the fillings a few days ahead and put them in the fridge.)

When it came time to assemble the cake, I took the amaretto filling out and tried to rewhip it. And it curdled. And it was ruined 😦 And did I mention that it was about 11pm the night before the shower? There was nothing to do but make another batch, which I did. I’m not quite sure what happened because I thought this could be refrigerated. I’m guessing I should have let it come all the way back to room temp before whipping it.

So after I had my fillings squared away, I torted both cakes and filled them with a ring of raspberry on the outside and filled the middle with the amaretto filling. I then frosted the cake with the vanilla BC icing.

And now for the fondant decorations. For the sides of the cake I cut out various sizes of circles and rings using cookie cutters and icing tips. (This design sort of mimics the bedding Lisa picked out for the nursery.) The picture below on the left was my inspiration picture for the cake topper. And on the right, is the one I made. It took several attempts to get the wheels to stay on and to support the plane. And I also had issues with the wings, but was able to get it to work eventually!

[I cannot find the original website where I found this inspiration picture. Here is the link to the full photo.]

I cut out a banner  to wave behind the plane. I cut it to size with a pizza cutter and then positioned it over some rolled up wax paper to make it “wave”. After a day or so, it was hardened into place. I cut the letters out with my fondant cutters and glued them on with some water. I had planned to attach the banner to the plane with some ribbon but I ran out of time.

The cake went over very well and everyone seemed to love it, so I was very pleased! Here is a picture of the inside of the cake.

And a picture of the lovely Lisa cutting and serving her cake 🙂

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!