Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cupcakes: Vanilla with Fresh Strawberry Frosting & Chocolate-Filled Chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting

I used five different from-scratch recipes for these cupcakes because I wanted to make something special for the kids at my volunteer place. Some of these kids really need something to look forward to in life. I feel like adopting all of them. Anyway, everything tasted amazing immediately after being made. I refrigerated both cupcakes because I was worried about the frosting getting melty (the strawberry one got melty fast), so I can't tell you how good they are out of the refrigerator. All I know is that you can't fail with real butter and fresh, good-quality ingredients.

OMG THIS STRAWBERRY FROSTING IS WONDERFUL (Thank you, Sprinkles. I've never been to your stores, but I've been meaning to)! You really have to love strawberries though. Like my mom said, when you taste the frosting, it's as if it hits you in the face and screams, "Hello! I'm strawberry!!" I can't decide which frosting I like better now--fresh strawberry or cream cheese! Anyway, see below for recipes.

I usually only use sprinkles to please kids:

These chocolate swirly things are fun for all ages though. You could try different recipes, but I just melted semi-sweet chocolate chips in a makeshift double boiler (a bowl on top of a pot of bowling water), put the melted chocolate in a Ziploc bag, and squeezed it out into little shapes onto wax paper through a hole I cut at an edge of the bag. Refrigerate for a few minutes...and then carefully pick off the shapes and stick 'em on top of the frosted cupcakes:


* 1 * Sprinkles' Strawberry Frosting (recipe here) for 12 cupcakes:

        >> Note: I don't have a fancy food processor, so I just used a hand-held mixer
  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Put strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed
2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter & salt on medium speed until light & fluffy
3) Reduce mixer speed & slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined
4) Add vanilla & 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended
5) Do not overmix or it will incorporate too much air. Frosting should be dense & creamy like ice cream.

* 2 * 12 Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe on Joy the Baker's site, but she got it from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1) Put flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use handheld beater like I did) & beat on slow speed until mixture is a sandy consistency & everything is combined
2) Gradually pour in half of the milk & beat until milk is just incorporated
3) Whisk egg, vanilla, & remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds and then pour it into the flour mixture & continue beating until just incorporated
4) Scrape unmixed ingredients from side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula
5) Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Just a few minutes to avoid overmixing.
6) Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups (you should barely have enough for each cup)
7) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
8) Cool cupcakes slightly in the pan & put onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting

* 3 * Cream Cheese Frosting
I used a recipe from Elinor Clivans' awesome book, Cupcakes!You could also use this one, which I've tried before. It tastes pretty much the same:

* 4 * Chocolate CupcakesAgain I used a recipe from Elinor Clivans' awesome book, Cupcakes!

* 5 * Chocolate Filling
I used the chocolate filling recipe from Cupcakes!, but I don't recommend using it as a filling if you're going to refrigerate your cupcakes 'cause the chocolate gets hard. It was mostly just heavy whipping cream, sugar, and unsweetened chocolate. I used Ghirardeli because it is sooo good.

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