Friday, June 24, 2011

Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes

This cupcake takes me back to my Starbucks days. I worked the opening shift in college, which meant getting there at 4:30 AM, bleary eyed and half dazed, filling the pastry case and waiting for the mob of high strung customers. I do actually kind of miss it...

This cupcake is a coffee flavored cake filled with coffee mousse and homemade caramel sauce, and topped with swiss meringue buttercream drizzled with caramel. It was a pretty big hit at work, so I suggest making it to all of you Starbucks fans.

For the Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes):
Recipe heavily adapted from Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn

3/4 cup whole or low-fat milk
1/4 cup sour cream
3 heaping teaspoons instant coffee
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons very finely ground coffee
2 teaspoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated

Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove until hot - stop short of a simmer. Stir in the instant coffee until well blended. Add the vanilla and set aside.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, soda, salt, ground coffee and cocoa.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until creamed. It should be slightly fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.

Add 2/3 of the flour mixture and the sour cream. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk. Beat until smooth.

Scrape all the batter out into a separate bowl and wash the mixer bowl thoroughly.

Switch to the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. They will hold a stiff peak but they will still slip around a little in the bowl.
Fold the egg whites into the cake batter gently, folding the batter around until well combined.

Fill cupcake liners with batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (they baked up surprisingly fast).

For the Coffee Mousse (Recipe from Epicurious)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

NOTE: I cut the above recipe in half by eyeballing it (a lot of the measurements don't make for an easy division). I also used Starbucks Via Instant Coffee instead of instant espresso and cut out the nutmeg.

Whisk sugar, yolks, water and espresso powder in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water); whisk until candy thermometer registers 160°F, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add nutmeg. Using electric mixer, beat egg mixture until cool and thick, about 5 minutes.
Beat cream, liqueur and vanilla in another large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold cream mixture into egg mixture.

Homemade Caramel Sauce (caramel recipe courtesy of Giver's Log)
3-4 quart saucepan
candy thermometer

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cut butter into evenly sized cubes and melt over low heat in large 3-4 quart saucepan.
Once butter is fully melted, add brown sugar, being careful to avoid the sides of the pan. If any stray sugar crystals fall onto side of pan, carefully brush off with a wet pastry brush.
Once butter and sugar are fully combined, add corn syrup and condensed milk. Clip on candy thermometer to side of pan.
Cook mixture on low heat (still continually stirring) for about a minute or two. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook/ stir until mixture reaches 225 degrees. Once the mixture is removed from heat, stir in vanilla extract.

NOTE: If caramel is too thick, simply reheat and add in some heavy cream until combined.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Heat sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Return bowl to mixer, and whisk, gradually increasing speed from low to medium-high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to a paddle attachment and beat until air bubbles are gone, 2 to 3 minutes more.

To assemble the cupcakes:

Once cupcakes are cool, core out the center of each one. Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of caramel sauce, then pipe coffee mousse until the center is almost full, and then top with another piping of caramel. Once all cupcakes are filled, pipe swiss meringue buttercream onto each one using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lastly, use a sturdy plastic freezer bag or disposable plastic pastry bag with a small hole cut out of it and drizzle caramel on top of each cupcake.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dole Whip Cupcakes

This past weekend Ali and I threw an engagement party for one of our favorite couples, Frank and Jess. In honor of how much we have taking impromptu week night trips to Disneyland with them, the theme was a "Vintage Disneyland" theme. One of the items I made for the party was an homage to the beloved Dole Whip, sold at the Tiki Room Dole Bar.

The cupcake is a yellow cake, brushed with pineapple syrup, filled with pineapple curd and topped with pineapple french buttercream. My FAVORITE part of the cupcake was the pineapple curd in the center- it tasted just like the Dole Whip soft serve.

For the Cupcakes (recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Online:
1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk

For Pineapple Glaze:
One can pineapple

Sift all of the dry ingredients together. Set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add 2/3 flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix just until almost combined. Add in the milk. Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back to the touch.

For the Pineapple Puree:

Place 3-4 cups of fresh pineapple in blender with two tablespoons of water. Set blender to puree setting and puree until fully smooth. Pour through a sieve before using.

For the Pineapple Curd:
-1 cup fresh pineapple puree
-2 egg yolks
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 tsp corn starch
-2 tbsp unsalted butter

Combine puree, yolks, sugar, and corn starch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continually until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add butter. Whisk until combined. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve and place in fridge to cool.

For the French Buttercream
-1 cup sugar
-1/3 cup water
-2 eggs
-3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup pineapple puree

Place eggs in mixer and mix with whisk attachment until foamy. Meanwhile, place water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring. Continue boiling until mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour hot syrup into eggs as mixer is running. Make sure to pour slowly and aim for the center of the bowl. Continue whipping until mixture is fully cooled. Add butter a piece at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once butter is all added, switch to a paddle attachment and beat for another 2 minutes or so.

To Assemble:
Once cupcakes are cooled, core out the center of each one.
Next, brush a light coating of pineapple juice from canned pineapple onto the top of each cupcake. Or, if you have more time, you can create a simple syrup from fresh juice and sugar. Using a pastry bag, fill the center of each cupcake with pineapple curd. Once all cupcakes are filled, frost each one with pineapple buttercream using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Garnish with a maraschino cherry umbrella spear.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Woodland Themed Baby Shower

A couple weekends ago I baked for a Woodland themed baby shower that my sister-in-law threw for her good friend Joy. Brandy, Joy's sister (who made the terrariums) and everyone else involved in the planning and decor did an amazing job. Jennifer Jasso took all of the photos and they turned out so awesome, it blew my mind.

The dessert items I made included chocolate faux bois ("false wood") cupcakes, vegan vanilla cupcakes with passion fruit frosting, vanilla and passion fruit french macarons, vegan peanut butter ball pops, and onesie sugar cookies.

Photography by Jennifer Jasso

Unprofessional close-ups of the goods (below):