Hot Pink Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

raspberry filled cupcakesThis weekend’s baking extravaganza included several batches of cookies and a few batches of cupcakes for a friend of a friend’s daughter’s birthday. Inside, these white almond cupcakes have a surprise: a raspberry buttercream filling, with an extra pop of pink.

My first plan for these cupcakes involved raspberry jam filling, but it just didn’t seem right for a whimsical, rock star-themed girl’s party. Because I wanted a pink filling, I tossed together a version of raspberry buttercream that is much more filling-like than frosting-like. You could use a raspberry filling like the one in this lemon raspberry roulade, or even a pastry cream tinted pink, if you prefer.

Ingredients

White Almond Cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk our sour milk*

*To make sour milk, place 1 1/3 tablespoons vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 1/3 total cups. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Raspberry Buttercream Filling

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • About 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Hot Pink Buttercream

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Magenta gel food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; this recipe makes about 32 cupcakes, so if you only have two tins like me, you’ll need to let one cool and re-line it for your last batch.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar together until creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively, starting and ending with the flour, beating until just combined after each addition.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared tins, filling no more than half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until tops are light golden and a cake tester inserted in the middle of a few cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before filling and frosting.

For the filling: in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add raspberry jam; mixture will look clumpy, but that’s fine.

Scrape down the sides of your bowl, then add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter/jam mixture; this will take a few minutes.

Scrape down the bowl well and add almond extract, then beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. The texture of the filling should be yogurt-like. If your consistency is too runny, add a bit more sifted powdered sugar.

Using the small end of a melon baller, scoop out a small amount of each cupcake.

Fit a piping bag with a large plain tip and pipe filling into each cupcake.

For the frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. I cover my mixer with a kitchen towel during this process to avoid a powdered sugar mess on my counter.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine for about 2 minutes. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting reaches a fluffy consistency. Add magenta food coloring to create a bright pink shade.

Fit a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe frosting onto cupcakes in swirls.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Cat Cake

cat cakeMy goddaughter Maureen turned five this weekend, and Mike and I made our annual trip to southern Maryland for a visit with her family. Her party was dog and cat themed, complete with this adorable cat cake. Before you worry about having some spectacular Pinterest fail, read the recipe below; this cake and its frosting/decorating are very simple. And while I deferred to my cousin Barb for the piping of the face – she’s Mo’s mom and an amazing artist – I suspect that amateur decorators could handle this one.

The cake was a big hit, with not a slice left at the end of the party. My cousin-in-law Robb, Mo’s dad, remarked that he’d never been to a birthday party where only cake crumbs remained. I take this as a major compliment and am glad everyone enjoyed not only the cake, but celebrating with the birthday girl.

White Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray; line each with a parchment circle and spray the parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans; bake for 25 minutes, until tops are golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool cake completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream & Decorations

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Black gel food coloring
  • Pink gel food coloring
  • Index cards, cut into triangles for ears
  • Lollipop sticks, for ears

Preparation

Place butter in a mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes using the paddle attachment.

Add 5 cups powdered sugar.  With your mixer on low, incorporate the powdered sugar into the butter.  (Hint: I find that placing a kitchen towel over the mixer during this stage prevents a powdered sugar blizzard.)

Increase speed and add 2 tablespoons vanilla and salt.

Beat for 3 minutes, then taste.  If you’d like a stronger vanilla flavor, add the second tablespoon of vanilla, along with the additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.  Beat until combined; you want a fluffy texture that is easy to spread.

To assemble the cake:

Reserve two small portions of frosting; tint one black and the other pink. Set aside.

Flip one cake onto a cake stand and frost the top with a generous layer of buttercream. Top with the second layer and frost the top and sides completely, swirling the frosting to look like fur.

To make the ears, tape your index card triangles to the lollipop sticks and press into the top of the cake.

Fit a piping bag with a large plain tip and fill with pink frosting; pipe the nose.

Fit a piping bag with another large plain tip with plain frosting; pipe the cheeks.

Fit a piping bag with a small plain tip; pipe the eyes, mouth, and whiskers.

Line the edges and bottom of the ears with plain buttercream, then fill in the ears with the pink buttercream.

IMG_5936Here, Mike and I celebrate with Mo. Barb offered face painting for the kids, and this feisty girl sported a cupcake on one cheek and a snake on the other. 

 

 

Owl Cupcakes

IMG_3766My goddaughter Maureen just turned four a few days ago. When asked what kind of cupcakes she wanted for her birthday party, she said “both,” meaning both cupcakes and frosting. So her mom, my cousin Barb, asked again – what did Mo want the cupcakes to taste like? She answered “pink.” Hmm.

Mo’s birthday party was held at a nature center near her house, where we learned about owls, turtles, and other Southern Maryland wildlife, so her cupcakes were nature-themed. While I don’t know if there are any pink owls in nature, there certainly were at her party.

Mo helped me bake the cupcakes and make the frosting, and she’s a great helper. As she licked a frosting-coated beater, I asked her if it tasted pink, and she said “yep!” Mission accomplished.

Note: the recipe below is designed to feed a crowd and yields 45 cupcakes. You can adjust as necessary to make fewer if you don’t need this many. Also, we did a dozen owls and then used M&Ms to make caterpillars, flowers, and mushrooms on other cupcakes, so if you want all owls, you’ll just need to adjust the quantity of sandwich cookies for the eyes.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 3 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • red liquid food coloring

For the frosting & decoration

  • 1 recipe vegan vanilla frosting
  • red liquid food coloring
  • cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
  • M&M candies

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 30 seconds.

Add vanilla and canola oil and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Add a few drops of red food coloring at a time until you reach your desired color; remember, batter will lighten as cupcakes bake. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared pans. Bake for 12-13 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting and decorating.

To frost and decorate:

Prepare vanilla frosting, reserving a small amount to use as “glue” for the owl eyes. Add a few drops of red liquid food coloring to the frosting with your mixer running on low to medium speed to achieve a light pink color.

For the owls:

Twist apart chocolate sandwich cookies carefully, leaving the cream all on one side. Reserve plain sides for another use, like making a pudding pie crust.

Place two cookie halves on each cupcake; dot with white frosting, then place an M&M for the pupil on each eye. Add another M&M for the beak.

For the other nature-themed cupcakes:

Place M&Ms as you like; we made caterpillars with green bodies and red heads, flowers, and a few cupcakes that were totally covered in M&Ms to look like mushrooms.

Serve very shortly after cupcakes are decorated, as the cookies will begin to soften from the moisture in the frosting.

IMG_3780Here, Mo and I are relaxing in the hollowed-out trunk of an enormous tree. Birthday parties for four-year-olds can take a lot out of you…especially if you’re the guest of honor. 

 

Planet Cupcakes

planet cupcakesNot everyone can eat chocolate, and my mom is one of those folks. And because our nephew Roman requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for his birthday party this past weekend, I needed an alternative for Grandma Genny, who was also in attendance. The result: planet-themed vanilla cupcakes.

The most time-consuming aspect of these cupcakes was, quite obviously, the decoration.You need a decent quantity of vanilla buttercream, lots of food coloring, and plenty of time. It was a lot of fun to interpret the planets in frosting, though; I used a few colors mixed together for Venus, Earth, and Jupiter and got out the pastry bag for the rings on Saturn and Uranus, and of course the Sun, which was my favorite (and, incidentally, was the cupcake that I ate).

For the Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time; scrape down bowl, and beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly among liners, about three-quarters full each.

Bake until golden and tops spring back to touch, 20-22 minutes.

Transfer pans to wire rack; cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Both liquid and gel food coloring; I used yellow and blue liquid coloring and golden yellow, orange, red, royal blue, and violet gel coloring

Preparation

Place butter in a mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes using the paddle attachment.

Add 3 cups powdered sugar.  With your mixer on low, incorporate the powdered sugar into the butter.  (Hint: I find that placing a kitchen towel over the mixer during this stage prevents a powdered sugar blizzard.)

Increase speed and add 1 tablespoon vanilla, salt, and milk.

Beat for 3 minutes, then taste.  If you’d like a stronger vanilla flavor, add the second tablespoon of vanilla, along with the additional ¼ cup of powdered sugar.  Beat until combined and very smooth; you want an easily-spreadable consistency.

To Decorate

You’ll need just a few tablespoons of frosting for each cupcake, but I started out by tinting larger quantities in the colors I knew I’d need more of, like yellow and blue, then darkened them as I went along. Reserve as much un-tinted buttercream as you can so that you can lighten colors if you need to; I also used un-tinted frosting to pipe “Happy Birthday Roman” and some stars on Roman’s chocolate cake.

The Sun

Tint about four tablespoons of frosting using golden yellow gel food coloring. Fit an 8-inch pastry bag with a star tip and pipe lines radiating out from the center of the cupcake to cover the top, then pipe additional “rays” so that they stand up vertically from the surface of the cupcake.

Mercury

Tint about a half-cup of frosting using yellow liquid food coloring; you’ll just need a few drops to create the very pale yellow of Mercury. Frost the cupcake and create a smooth surface.

Venus

Tint a few tablespoons of frosting using orange gel food coloring; apply a thin layer of frosting, then add both yellow and un-tinted buttercream to create swirls.

Earth

Tint about a half-cup of frosting using blue liquid food coloring; you’ll just need a few drops to create a pale blue that you can use for Neptune. Remove a small portion of the light blue and tint it darker, using royal blue gel food coloring. Frost the cupcake using swirls of both blues and some white; add piped white “clouds” if you like.

Mars

Tint a few tablespoons of frosting using red gel food coloring. Frost the cupcake and create a smooth surface.

Jupiter

Using un-tinted, yellow, and orange frosting, frost the cupcake and create band-like effects with your spatula (or knife, whatever you’re using). Using a toothpick, dab some red frosting on to create the dust storm and drag the toothpick through the other color bands to create hints of red.

Saturn

Darken the orange frosting you used for Venus and frost the cupcake to create a smooth surface. Tint a very small amount of frosting violet using violet gel food coloring; fit an 8-inch pastry bag with a leaf tip and pipe very loose rings.

Uranus

Reserve some of the pale blue frosting for Neptune; darken the blue that you used for Earth and frost the cupcake to create a smooth surface. Pipe un-tinted rings using a star tip or plain tip.

Neptune

Using the pale blue frosting you created before you frosted Earth and Uranus, frost the cupcake and create a smooth surface.

What about Pluto?

Yes, I also frosted Pluto using the violet frosting I had for Saturn’s rings, but there was no room for Pluto on my cake plate. And since Pluto was downgraded from planet status a few years ago anyway, I thought that was okay 🙂