Patriotic Cupcakes

Happy Independence Day, Americans! I haven’t done a lot of red, white, and blue baking, so this year I thought I’d whip up some patriotic cupcakes and practice my frosting tinting and piping skills while I was at it. I also experimented with a new buttercream, based on a Wilton recipe that uses both butter and shortening. I’m pleased to say it turned out very well!

Tint-wise, I wanted to make “colonial” colors – darker blue and red than what you’d get with your standard gel food coloring. To make a color darker, you need a hint of black, and let me stress the word “hint” here – it’s really a teeny, tiny amount. While my colonial blue turned out very well, my colonial red turned out more like raspberry. I’ll use it on something else, but I was glad to have plenty of white frosting for a second batch of red – this red is just your standard red gel food coloring, though in a very generous amount. Design-wise, the flag cupcakes are my favorites; alas, my fireworks cupcakes (the ones on the center ends in the photo above) look far too much like something that contains genetic material for my liking. Oh well…we pipe, and we learn.

Ingredients

For the vanilla cupcakes

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

For the Wilton-inspired buttercream

  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 –  1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • Royal blue gel food coloring
  • Red gel food coloring
  • Black gel food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with paper liners.

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

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined; scrape down the sides of your bowl a few times during this step.

Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into cupcake wells, dividing evenly and filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from the tin; cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, place butter and shortening in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 1-2 minutes, until very well-combined. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing very well between each addition. Add vanilla and heavy cream, beating for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed; if your frosting is too thick, add another 1/2 tablespoon of heavy cream.

Divide frosting into three portions. Reserve 1 portion for white; using an offset spatula, frost the tops of each cupcake with a base of white.

Tint one portion colonial blue using royal blue and a very, very small amount of black. Tint the other portion red.

Fit two pastry bags with small star tips and pipe designs as you like. I chose the following:

  • Stars (top left and bottom ends in the photo above) – pipe a ring of blue around the edge of the cupcake, then fill in with red stars
  • Fireworks (center ends) – pipe red and blue stars with tails
  • Waves (top right) – pipe alternating red and blue waves
  • Flags (center) – pipe a patch of blue on the upper left-hand side, then add red stripes
  • Full coverage stars (bottom center) – pipe blue stars to totally cover the top of your cupcake, then add red star accents

Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 12.

 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

vanilla cupcakes with raspberry buttercream

Some women go overboard in the shoe store, but I’m the kind of woman who goes overboard at her local nursery, falling in love with plants at first sight. This explains why our yard has an eclectic collection of flowers and shrubs; I see a plant, I love it, I buy it…then I figure out where I’ll put it later. Our most recent addition is a beautiful blue hydrangea, which lives next to a pink/peach rhododendron, a white azalea, and a yellow-flowering coreopsis plant.

Although we don’t have roses in our yard, I hope to add a few someday. These cupcakes were inspired by roses, easily frosted with the Wilton M1 tip.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Crazy Vanilla Cupcakes
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely before frosting.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and raspberry jam on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes; mixture will look crumbly and curdled, but don’t worry – it will be fine when you add the powdered sugar.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the sugar is incorporated in the butter/jam mixture; this will take a few minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then add your vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until frosting becomes somewhat fluffy. Note: this buttercream will not be as fluffy as regular buttercream, because the jam gives it a different texture.

Fit a 14-inch pastry bag with a Wilton M1 tip; beginning in the center of your cupcake, pipe a swirl and continue piping around the edge to make a rose design.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Classic Sprinkle Cupcakes

classic sprinkle cupcakesThere are plenty of super-fancy cupcakes out there…filled, artfully frosted creations that look incredible and, sometimes, taste incredible too. But I’ve been fooled by many a super-fancy cupcake in the past; they look amazing, but when you take a bite…it’s only okay. Not the delicious creation you’d expected.

This, my friends, is not a super-fancy cupcake, but it’s certainly the delicious creation you’ve expected. Using a basic vanilla cupcake recipe, vanilla almond buttercream, and some fun sprinkles, these treats are the type of cupcake everyone should know how to make. The recipes are fairly simple, though I admit that most folks probably don’t stock cake flour in their pantries the way I do; still, you can find it easily at your local market and can use it in many cake and cupcake recipes, so it’s worth the buy.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sour milk*
  • 1 recipe vanilla almond buttercream
  • Sprinkles for topping**

*To make sour milk, place 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to equal one half cup total. Stir; let stand for 5 minutes before using. 

**I use the Betty Crocker Parlor Perfect Confetti variety. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners; this recipe makes about 21 cupcakes.

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 sour milk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared regular-sized cupcake liners, filling about half full.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

Prepare your frosting and fit a 14-inch pastry bag with the Wilton M1 piping tip. Pipe generous swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

Top each cupcake with sprinkles; I find it helpful to place each cupcake in a bowl for sprinkling so you don’t get sprinkles everywhere.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

pumpkinpatchcupcakesMy friend Erika’s daughter is turning 7 this weekend, and I had the privilege of baking for her party. Erika requested a friendly, happy version of Halloween treats – nothing scary – and these pumpkin patch cupcakes fit the bill.

As a gal with a very low tolerance for scary things, I understand the desire to have a friendly, happy Halloween. I can handle creepy things, but once we get into scary territory, all bets are off. I hope that these friendly pumpkins are a big hit at the party, along with the brownies, M&M blondies, and chocolate sugar cookies I made – stay tuned for those recipes shortly!

Happy Birthday, AJ! You’ve got an awesome mom!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 recipe vanilla buttercream
  • orange gel food coloring
  • leaf green gel food coloring
  • 4 miniature Tootsie Rolls

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe yields 15 cupcakes.

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. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared cupcake liners, filling half full.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To decorate:

Cut Tootsie Rolls in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise again. Knead each piece to soften it a bit, then mold it into a stem shape; set aside.

Prepare vanilla buttercream. Remove about 1/4 cup and tint green; tint remaining frosting orange.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of orange frosting onto cupcakes, then frost with a small offset spatula.

Fit a piping bag with a leaf tip; place 1 stem into the top of each cupcake, then pipe leaves around the stem.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature; Tootsie Roll stems will soften because of the moisture in the cupcakes, so it’s best to prepare these within a few hours of serving.

Crazy Vanilla Cupcakes with Cocoa Frosting

crazyvanillacupcakes

Can you bake a cupcake without breaking eggs? Of course you can. People in the Great Depression did it all the time.

An egg shortage in the U.S. has commercial bakers scrambling (I couldn’t resist) for solutions in the wake of a massive outbreak of avian flu. I read about this earlier today, and it made me think of crazy cake, a Depression-era recipe that required absolutely no dairy because of rationing.

I’ve made crazy chocolate cupcakes before, and found a recipe for a vanilla version at Sweet Little Bluebird. Because I didn’t know how the cupcakes would turn out flavor-wise, I chose to pair them with a rich cocoa frosting in case they needed a bit of a flavor boost. I’m glad I did so; the cupcake flavor leaves a bit to be desired for me, but I didn’t want to stray too far from the original recipe since this was my first crack (yes, another egg pun!) at it. Next time, I’ll add more vanilla and hope that it doesn’t affect the stability of the batter.

Crazy Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; make three wells for wet ingredients.

Add vinegar to the first well, vanilla to the second well, and vegetable oil to the third well. Add water and mix until smooth.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared cupcake wells.

Bake for 18-2o minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from pan immediately, cooling completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cocoa Frosting (adapted from my previous recipe to yield a fluffier texture)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

In a small bowl, combine melted butter and cocoa powder, whisking until smooth. Place mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk and beat until very well-combined, scraping the sides of the bowl well a few times. Add remaining powdered sugar and 1 more tablespoon milk and beat for about 1 minute; add vanilla and beat 1 minute more, then add final tablespoon of milk and beat for 2 minutes, until lighter in color and fluffy.

Fit a piping bag with a large star tip; pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

st. pattys cupcakesHappy (actual) St. Patrick’s Day! Yes, the baking extravaganza continued throughout this past weekend in my kitchen, and these were my final project. I like to think that St. Patrick would be proud of them…if he liked cupcakes, that is. 

The two things I love most about baking are that it is both creative and apt to make someone really, really happy. These cupcakes enabled me to be both creative, and the bringer of sugar joy to the family of one of my lovely colleagues from work, whose kids love this holiday.

Apparently, the cupcakes went over big…as you can see in the “aftermath” photo below. And yes, that is my laptop in this photo…a blogger needs her resources close by, after all! 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 recipe vanilla buttercream
  • green liquid food coloring
  • leaf green and kelly green gel paste food coloring
  • green sparkling sugar, if desired

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one regular-sized cupcake pan and one miniature cupcake pan 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. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared regular-sized cupcake liners, filling half full. Use a teaspoon measuring spoon to fill miniature cupcake liners.

Bake regular-sized cupcakes for 12-13 minutes and miniature cupcakes for 7-9 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To frost:

Prepare vanilla buttercream. Add a few drops of green liquid food coloring to the frosting with your mixer running on low to medium speed to achieve a light green color.

Remove about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the frosting and tint darker green; I used a combination of leaf green and kelly green to create my shamrock color. Fit a piping bag with a small to medium-sized plain tip (I used a Wilton #5 tip) and place dark green frosting inside; set aside.

Frost regular-sized cupcakes first; using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop light green frosting onto each cupcake and frost in a smooth layer. Pipe shamrock shapes onto each cupcake; make three heart-like shapes then add the stem.

Frost miniature cupcakes next; replace your dark green piping bag with a large plain tip (I used Wilton 12) and pipe in swirls.

Fit another piping bag with a large star tip (I used Wilton 21) and fill with light green frosting. Pipe in swirls.

Dip half of each shade of the miniature cupcakes into the green sparkling sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days (or store in the fridge to extend the life of your buttercream).

The aftermath at the Houser family St. Patrick’s Day celebration is as follows:

IMG_2262

 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cocoa Frosting

vanilla with cocoa frostingBaking trials continue! These cupcakes are yet another rehearsal for the gig I have next weekend, although those vanilla cupcakes will feature a salted caramel frosting, rather than the cocoa frosting I made tonight. 

The batter on these little beauties is very, very thick…thicker than pound cake batter, even. Scooping proved to be a bit of a challenge, so go easy. You can always add a bit more to each cupcake well if necessary, but it’s much harder to remove batter once it’s already been scooped. 

According to Mike, these cupcakes are a classic mix of chocolate and vanilla. I wish I could eat them and was seriously tempted, but my Lenten Sugar Fast continues. 

Note: this recipe made 12 miniature cupcakes and 11 regular-sized cupcakes; I suspect it would actually make 12 regular-sized cupcakes if a few of the miniatures and regular-sized ones had been just a bit smaller.  

Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

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

Preparation

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

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

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl frequently.

Add vanilla and beat to combine.

With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add flour mixture and milk alternatively, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined. Scrape sides of the bowl to incorporate any flour that gets tossed up.

Fill cupcake liners about half to three-quarters full; again, batter will be very thick. Bake miniature cupcakes for 8-10 minutes or regular-sized cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 1 minute, then remove from pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. 

Cocoa Frosting

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine melted butter and cocoa powder. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat on low speed, then add about half of the milk, continuing to beat on low speed, until combined. Follow with another cup powdered sugar and remainder of milk, beating on low until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, then vanilla, beating until frosting is creamy and spreadable, but not too thin. You may need to add just a bit more powdered sugar if your frosting is too thin to be piped easily through a piping bag.

Fit a piping bag with a medium star tip and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving. 

Pink Flower Cupcakes

IMG_1812Cupcakes may be trendy, but they’re also quite practical for special occasions. They require no plates or forks, so they’re easy to serve and eat. They can be easily customized in flavor pairings, in that you can bake a batch of almond cupcakes and frost half with vanilla buttercream and the other half with chocolate to meet the varied preferences of your guests. Cupcakes can also be decorated very simply to look fun, whimsical, or elegant, whatever you choose.

These cupcakes were baked for a friend of a friend who is hosting a baby shower this weekend and were very simple to make, requiring one batch of almond cupcakes and one batch of vanilla buttercream. And, as this shower is celebrating the impending arrival of a baby girl, they are also very, very girly.

When tinting your frosting, keep in mind that gel food coloring yields bolder colors than liquid food coloring, so you probably don’t need as much as you think in order to get the color you want. You can always make a color darker, but it’s next to impossible to make a color lighter once you’ve tinted it.

Ingredients

White 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
  • 1 recipe vanilla buttercream
  • Pink gel food coloring
  • Leaf green food coloring
  • White and yellow flower-shaped sprinkles

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

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 buttermilk 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 frosting.

To frost:

Prepare vanilla buttercream.

Reserve about 1 cup of frosting to tint green. Tint the remaining frosting light pink and frost each cupcake, creating a relatively smooth surface.

Add more pink food coloring to the pink frosting to darken the color. Fit a 12-inch pastry bag with a star tip and pipe flower shapes on each cupcake; mine were off-center to look more whimsical.

In the center of each dark pink flower, place a white or yellow flower-shaped sprinkle.

Tint the reserved frosting green by adding a very small amount of leaf green food coloring. Fit an 8-inch pastry bag with a plain tip, then pipe on flower stems. Remove the plain tip and replace with a small leaf tip; pipe on leaves.

AVC (Almond Vanilla Caramel) Cupcakes

vanilla caramel cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight, my mom is having “the kids” over for dinner. The kids” used to mean my brother Andy and me, then morphed into either one of us and our spouses, or all four of us. Add my nephew Roman in and “the kids” range in age from five to 39.

Because there will be a small group of us at dinner and I’m not eating sweets for the next four months (let’s just say my scale and I aren’t friends at the moment and leave it at that for now), I wanted a recipe that would make just one dozen, so I adapted a basic one-dozen recipe to include both almond and vanilla flavors, then added caramel icing because my mom is a caramel fan. Midway through the caramel, I decided to whip up some chocolate drizzle icing to embellish half of the cupcakes for those who are chocolate fans. The end result is a cupcake from my wildest dreams. Too bad I won’t be eating them!

Almond 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.

Caramel Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • About 1.5 ounces milk (you need half of 1/3 of a cup of milk)
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.

Boil for one minute, remove from heat, and stir in milk.

Return to heat and bring to a boil once again.

Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Beat caramel mixture on medium speed for a few minutes to disperse heat; the mixing bowl should not be too hot for you to touch, but if it remains warm that is fine.

Add one cup powdered sugar and one teaspoon vanilla, beating until smooth.

Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a 12-inch piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Working quickly, pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation

In a small saucepan, melt butter.

Add cocoa powder and stir to combine, then remove from heat.

Add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. It may be necessary to add additional powdered sugar to ensure that your drizzle isn’t too thin.

Transfer drizzle to an 8-inch piping bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Pipe drizzle over caramel frosting. Alternatively, you could just use a spoon and literally drizzle the drizzle.

Black & White Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

Say what you want, Seinfeld fans, but my mom calls black & white cookies “Baltimore cookies.”  Growing up in Clarksville, a small town in Howard County, Maryland, Genny likely encountered such treats in Baltimore-area bakeries.

Yesterday I baked almond cupcakes and intended to frost half of them with chocolate buttercream and the other half with vanilla almond buttercream when I thought…why not make a cupcake version of the Baltimore cookie?

A note about the frostings: it may be necessary to add more powdered sugar (and cocoa powder, for the chocolate buttercream) or milk to either batch to reach the right consistency.  You want the frostings to be easily spreadable, like very soft peanut butter, in order to create the half-vanilla, half-chocolate design on the top.  Always sift the powdered sugar before adding more to avoid lumps, and if you add more to the chocolate buttercream, add a bit more cocoa powder as well.

Almond Cupcakes

Ingredients

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

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two muffin tins with paper liners.

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

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening for about 30 seconds.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat well.

Add egg whites, one at a time, until well combined.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively in small batches until just combined.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, fill cupcake liners about half-full.

Bake 20-22 minutes until the tops are very, very light golden brown.

When cupcakes are completely cool, frost one-half with vanilla almond buttercream and one-half with chocolate buttercream.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, cream butter for one minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed to incorporate into the butter; this takes a few minutes.  I cover my mixer with a kitchen towel during this step to prevent a sugar storm.

Add salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and one tablespoon milk; beat on medium speed for three minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.

Check the consistency; you may need an additional tablespoon of milk to reach an easily-spreadable consistency.

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk (you may need an additional teaspoon as well)

In a medium bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter for one minute.

Add powdered sugar/cocoa mixture and beat on low speed to incorporate as much into the butter as possible; this takes a few minutes.  I cover my mixer with a kitchen towel during this step to prevent a sugar storm.

Add salt, vanilla extract, and one tablespoon milk; beat on medium speed for three minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.

Check the consistency; you may need to add an additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.  If this addition makes the frosting too thick, thin it slightly with one additional teaspoon of milk.