Goodbye Cupcakes!

No, not “goodbye, cupcakes.” That implies that I’m never going to make or eat a cupcake again, and that would be a lie.

Recently at work, we’ve had quite a few departures. It’s always sad to see your cube buddies go, but it’s also inspiring, and nice to know they’re headed for greener pastures.

Once such departure is my buddy, Sam, whose last day was Thursday. He’s headed for sunny San Diego and a shiny new nerd job. Go Sam!

So for Sam’s last day, I made lemon cupcakes with strawberry jam frosting. Unfortunately, he was so nervous about his move samand his new job, that he messed up his jaw, and couldn’t actually eat them, but reports from other coworkers were positive, despite some mishaps.

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Rawr!

Sometimes you get really tired, and you don’t mean to overmix your batter, but you overmix your batter, even when the recipe is like “yo don’t overmix your batter.”

So I overmixed the batter.

I got the recipe from Live Well, Bake Often, whom I don’t think I’ve ever used before, but I can’t really blame the recipe. I felt like it was pretty solid for the most part. I just…

Got over eager with my mixing. There’s been a lot on my mind lately, so I’m not totally surprised things didn’t end up the way I wanted.

They sunk!

sunk

Now, I’ll admit they didn’t sink half as hard as the brown sugar cupcakes I made to pair with my super exciting bourbon frosting, but they weren’t the lovely, fluffy soft cupcakes I envisioned.

I didn’t have time to redo the recipe, and I was out of lemons anyway, so I took a deep breath, sucked it up, and rolled with the punches, making the frosting to go with it.

I have gotten very good at this frosting.

1 stick unsalted butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
1/4 cup of strawberry jam

Again, I use the Smuckers Natural jam because it has less sugar in it. It’s a little pricier, but worth it. I recommend (as my friend Leeson recommended to me the first time I made this frosting) making this frosting before adding the jam. It works well!

They look pretty, and according to coworkers, taste good. So I’ll call it a semi-win. šŸ™‚

Come to the Dark Side: We Have Chocolate Ganache

So I have a nifty li’l Pintrest board for Cake for Your Face!Ā  It’s mostly delicious things that I would like to make at some point.

And on yon Pintrest board is This recipe for cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting.

Now, I would love to tell you that I dove right in and made that recipe complete with the caramel filling, but the hard truth is that I chickened out big time.

Caramel is scary, you guys. I don’t know how to make caramel. It’s a mountain I don’t feel like I’m ready to climb yet.

So I went with William Sonoma’s Vanilla Cupcakes. I know, I know, so boring, but still delicious, and a nice, light vehicle for the ganache!

But first, let me tell you about my super cool roommates, and how they found Star Wars Cupcake Liners for me, and bought them as a surprise, because they are WONDERFUL!

Okay!

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The cupcakes happened. It wasn’t my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe ever, but it did pretty well.

So then you take 2 bars of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate:

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And you cover it with the heavy cream, corn syrup, and sugar you’ve just boiled, and it eventually melts into this:

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And then you take it out to the living room with you, and give it its own chair so you can sit around and watch Rick and Morty while you occasionally stir it for 20-30 minutes.

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Now, I got worried, and the recipe says that if it sets too much, you can put the ganache in the microwave for ten seconds and it’ll soften back up.

So I did, not know what “sets too much” looks like. And when I took it out, and shoveled it into the piping back it kind of made a big stupid mess.

But! Once the ganache firmed up, it looked like this:

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And was delicious.

Like screw the cupcakes, let’s just spoon this up.

One day I’ll tackle that whole recipe. One day, I will conquer the scary task of making caramel.

But for now, there’s ganache.

 

Snowed In!

So this past weekend, Baltimore was hit with a whopping 29.5 inches of snow.

I am not a tall person. That’s half my height in snow. That is half a Leigh of snow.

My friends and I were snowed in together for 3 1/2 to 4 days, and thankfully nobody was murdered, but things did manage to get a little silly.

Mary, over at Uncustomaryart held a Bubble Wrap party on Sunday, and thankfully, I decided to get snowed in at the house it was being held at, so I could join in the festivities and also bake some cupcakes for the event.

So for the cupcakes, I grabbed a White Cake recipe from I am Baker and I wound up adding some food coloring to it, which just so happened to match the cupcakes to some of the Bubble Wrap.

I almost typed poppy paper. We used to call it poppy paper as kids.

So the recipe calls for Cake Flour, but we only had all-purpose, which turned out fine! The tops were slightly more done than I usually aim for, but that could have been from the added food coloring. I’d be interested to try the recipe again with the cake flour just to see the difference.

The frosting was as follows:

1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 TbsĀ plus a dribble more champagne

See? Bubble Wrap? Bubbly frosting! We can thank Maura for providing the idea and the champagne.

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It’s back to real life now. So, work, responsibility, all that.

But for one doofy weekend, we got to witness ridiculousness like this:

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Snow does weird things to people, kids. Don’t do snow, okay?

The Last Blunder of 2015

My 2015 was full of blunders, both happenstance and maybe not so happenstance.

But my very last blunder of the year came in the form of something I was really excited about.

A brown sugar cupcake with bourbon buttercream.

I wanted a simple cake recipe. Nothing elaborate. Just…brown sugar cake, and I guess that was my first mistake. I should have taken the time to go elaborate.

Go big or go home.

Or in this case, go big, or risk your cupcakes imploding in on themselves.

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I’m not listing the recipe, 1. because I’m not confident I have it anymore, and 2, I’m wondering if it was the recipe, or if I skipped a step, but the batter just came out too thick, and the resulting cupcakes weren’t…

They just weren’t.

I wound up making a second round, and they were better, but still sunken in and not the texture I wanted.

You know what saved these?

The frosting.

You know why the frosting saved these?

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Bourbon.

So you take your basic buttercream:

2 Sticks Butter
2 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 TBS Vanilla Extract
1-2 splashes of Whatever Milk is in your house

Combine all at once.

And then what you do is you add bourbon. The recipe I actually looked up for reference called for 1 tbs.

For me, 1 tbs turned into 2…turned into a splash more…and then maybe one more for good measure.

A note on using booze in your cooking/baking: I know it’s tempting to get something cheap, because you’re not drinking it straight. But I’m a big believer in staying away from shitty booze no matter what you’re doing, and I think it makes for a better taste if you’re using something good to begin with.

If you’re not familiar with the alcohol you’re looking for, ask the clerk at the liquor store. They’re almost always chilled out, friendly, and helpful, and they general know a whole lot about what they sell.

(The only time I know of that shitty booze is acceptable is when you’re making beer bread, which is something I’ll go over in a different post, because in that case, the stinkier the beer the better, usually.)

I don’t have any finished product photos of these guys, because I was so frustrated with how they turned out. I made them for a New Years party, and they were gone by the end of the night, and I’m told they turned out better than I thought they did, but I still felt salty about the cake being less awesome than I wanted.

But I’m now determined to get this recipe right. So the next time I try, there will hopefully be lots more photos, with a much nicer outcome.

And if you have a bangin’ brown sugar cake recipe you’re willing to share, let me know.

First Nights

So I moved yesterday!

(Yay! Oh god! Holy crap! Agh!)

Thanks to a band wonderful friends and family, it went really smoothly, and I’m now in the process of unpacking and settling in; figuring out where me and my things fit into this nice house with these nice new people.

The word “cupcakes” left my mouth while I was breaking from unpacking last night, andĀ then I was looking up what I wanted to make, and hitting the store for the things I didn’t have.

At first, I tried to find a new recipe (brown sugar cupcakes sound so amazing. I’m thinking about a bourbon glaze on those), but I was so tired (and the grocery store didn’t have buttermilk, curse you Safeway!) that I quickly switched gears to an old standby.

Sally’s Baking AddictionĀ has the bestest, most simple and delicious gingerbread cupcake recipe ever. It never seems to disappoint.

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I didn’t use the frosting recipe. I’m sure it’s good, but…man, that is a whole lot of frosting. Even halving the recipe on that thing looked like too much.

So I wound up winging it:

1 stick unsalted butter
8oz Cream Cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 Cups powdered sugar
splash of milk

And I still had leftover frosting. I mean, not that leftover frosting is a terrible thing.

I’m still getting used to the oven in this new place; I think it runs much hotter than the one at the last place, so where the recipe suggest baking for 19-21 min. 19 was pretty much perfect.

New place. delicious cupcakes.Ā Lots of boxes. Onward and upwards.

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I shall call him Bob.