Archive for September, 2011

September 22, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

A couple weeks ago, I was asked by one of my co-workers to make cupcakes for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower.  Since they knew the baby was going to be a girl, of course a pink themed cupcake was a must!  I did some regular vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with pink buttercream – but the “icing on the cake” was definitely these strawberry shortcake cupcakes with homemade strawberry cream cheese frosting!  If you love strawberries, keep reading for your double dose.

The original recipe idea came from Elinor Klivans in her “cupcakes!” recipe book, however I changed it up a bit.  Before you start, please note that this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes.

The delicious ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 12 fresh strawberry slices

How to do it:

  • Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners, and spray the liners with non-stick cooking spray.  If you don’t spray the liners, you will definitely have trouble peeling the cupcake wrappers off later!
  • Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350.
  • First, heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat for just a couple minutes until it gets hot – then remove it from the heat and set it aside for later.  Don’t let it start to boil or curdle!
  • Combine the flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  This is another recipe that calls for salt, but since I don’t cook with it – I won’t be adding it in!  Any recipes I post will be no or very low sodium.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color – about 3 minutes. Then mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.  On low speed, mix in the flour mixture until well incorporated – then slowly add in the milk.  Mix for about another 30 seconds until your batter is smooth, and don’t be alarmed – it will be very thin and liquidy.
  • Fill each cupcake liner with about ½ cup of the batter.
  • This is something I added in on my own – take one strawberry slice for each cupcake, and place it on top of the batter in the cups.  You will be baking in a fresh strawberry!

  • Bake for 16 minutes and then cool for at least 10 on a wire rack before you take the liners out of the pan.  Then let the cupcakes cool some more.

At this point Elinor Klivans goes into something entirely different – and while I’m sure it tasted great, I didn’t want to lose the idea of keeping my cupcakes as cupcakes – so I just left them as is.  Klivans actually goes into removing the wrappers and actually creating mini strawberry shortcakes with fresh whipped cream to be served immediately.  If that’s what you’re looking for – you won’t find that here, you’ll have to look up her original recipe!  But if you are looking for real strawberry shortcake cupcakes in wrappers – this is what you’ll need to make the strawberry cream cheese frosting for them (courtesy of Anne Byrn – The Cake Mix Doctor):

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (1/2 cup) also at room temperature
  • 3 to 3 and ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup of mashed and drained fresh strawberries (I used my food processor and it worked great!)

Place the softened cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl, and blend together in an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds – until combined.  Stop the machine and add 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar and the drained strawberries.  Blend on low until everything is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then increase your mixer speed to medium and blend until your frosting is fluffy – 45 seconds longer or so.  If the frosting needs to be thicker so it’s more spreadable – add the other ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar.  It’s definitely better to start with less and add more if needed later on so you don’t risk ruining your frosting! 

Once your cupcakes have cooled and your frosting is done – take a pastry bag and a decorating tip of your choice and make them look pretty!  Below is my final product, which I topped with large sugar crystals for extra sweetness:

Strawberry shortcake cupcakes

Fabulous!

September 1, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Tonight I’m going to post my first cupcake recipe, and let me tell you – it’s delicious.

If you’re one of those closet cookie dough eaters like me – although maybe I’m not a “closet” cookie dough eater, I have no qualms about opening a package of store bought cookie dough and eating it totally without baking it … so, if you’re one of those too – now you can bake a cupcake with it!  By the way, let me add that I am also eating cookie dough ice cream as I’m typing this.  Now, I can’t take the credit for coming up with this magnificent concept – that goes to The Cake Mix Doctor, Anne Byrn.  But, thanks to her ingeniousness – I came across her fabulous recipe when my Mom gave me her wonderful “Cupcakes!” cookbook for my birthday last year.  If you love cookie dough and chocolate buttercream, read on!

The glorious ingredients:

  • 24 paper liners for regular sized cupcake pans
  • 1 package (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package (1 lb.) of your favorite store bought chocolate chip cookie dough – but stick it in the freezer so it’s frozen before you bake with it, otherwise it will bake a cookie into your cupcakes instead of being actual dough!  But, your preference of course.

How to do it:

  • Make sure your oven rack is in the center of your oven, and preheat it to 350.
  • Line 24 cupcake cups with your paper cupcake liners.
  • Blend together the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more.  The batter should be well blended after this – if not, try a final 30 seconds of mixing.
  • My favorite trick for neatly filling cupcake cups with batter: buy an ice cream scoop with one of those rotating levers that forces your scoop out when you push the button on the side.  Use this tool and fill your cupcakes about 2/3 of the way full with ¼ cup of batter in each one.
  • If there are any leftover liners you didn’t fill – get rid of them.
  • Cut your frozen dough pieces or break them apart, so you have 24 – one for each cupcake liner.
  • Place a frozen dough piece on the top of each cupcake, you don’t have to press it down – you want it to lay on the top like so:
  • Bake the cupcakes until they are golden and spring back when lightly pressed – 23 to 27 minutes.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the oven and set the pans on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Take the cupcakes out of the pan (you might want to run a butter knife around the edges of the liners) and place them on the wire rack to cool another 15 minutes.  If they sink a little in the center, it’s okay.

While you are waiting for your cupcakes to cool – start whipping up your chocolate buttercream frosting (my favorite is actually from Martha Stewart’s book “Cupcakes”):

  • Combine ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons boiled water. Stir together until cocoa has dissolved.
  • In your electric mixer, beat 3 sticks of softened butter and ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar together until light and fluffy.  Martha does include salt in her recipe but I never cook with salt, so you won’t find anything to aggravate your high blood pressure here!
  • Add 1 lb. of semi-sweet chocolate that you melted completely, but allowed it to cool – to your mixture and scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to.  Beat together until totally combined.
  • Lastly, add in the cocoa mixture and mix until everything is blended and you have the perfect frosting.
  • Take a pastry bag (I buy a huge pack of disposable ones from Michael’s) and a decorating tip with a large, smooth opening (or whatever tip you’d like) and pipe your frosting onto your cooled cupcakes.
The final product:
Yum!