Friday, March 2, 2012

Cupcake Wars

My girls and I love to watch the show Cupcake Wars. I have learned quite a lot from it and have enjoyed experimenting with new flavors and my new found inspiration. I am embarrassed to say that I had never actually made cupcakes from scratch. I have made a few cakes, but typically I do more of a Sandra Lee style and doctor up a box mix. I have always made my own icing, and lets be real, that's why most people eat the cake anyway.

But with the time I had off and the St. Thomas Fish Fry being a perfect excuse, I spent the last two days tearing my kitchen apart and creating my own Cupcake Wars treats. I utilized my favorite cookbook as a starting point and here's what I made.


White Chocolate Cupcake with a vanilla pastry cream filling, a whipped chocolate truffle frosting and topped with a dark chocolate drizzle.

White Chocolate Cupcake
(From the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

4 egg whites
1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz white chocolate chips
3/4 c half & half, light cream or milk
1/3 c butter or margarine
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks

Set eggs out to bring them up to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Mean while, you can preheat your oven to 350, line your muffin pans with baking cups or spray with baking spray, and combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In a small sauce pan, melt the white chocolate chips with 1/4 c of the half & half over  low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate starts to melt. Remove from heat. Continue stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the remaining half & half. Set aside to cool.

Next, in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer, on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the egg yolks one at a time beating until well combined in between each. Add the dry mixture and the white chocolate mixture alternately to the beaten mixture, beating on low to medium after each addition just until combined.

Thoroughly wash your beaters. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold in the whipped egg whites into the batter. Fill cupcake pans half full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Makes about 24-30 cupcakes

Vanilla Pastry Cream
(My mom gave me this recipe. She found it on-line. I do not have the source to credit.)

4 large egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c corn starch
Pinch of salt
2 c milk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt over medium heat. Gradually add the milk in a steady stream and stir until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble (it says 5 minutes, but it was more like 15 or more for me). Whisking constantly add about a third of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks to temper them. Once combined, return the the egg mixture to the sauce pan with the remaining milk mixture. Continue to cook, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a complete boil and is thick enough to hold its shapes with a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a heavy bowl. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and firm (at least 2 hours and up to 2 days).

Whipped Truffle Frosting

1 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c light-colored corn syrup
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (I tend to be very generous with this)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c butter softened
1 c powdered sugar

In a saucepan, bring the whipping cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Continue stirring until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Cover and chill about 1 1/2 hrs until the mixture reaches a spreadable consistency, stirring occasionally. Then add butter and powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cupcakes, once they are cooled, put the pastry cream in a piping bag and inject cream into the center of the cupcake until it starts to come out the top. Then pipe on a mound of the truffle frosting. Melt about 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips and add 1/2 tsp vegetable oil. Once combined, drizzle over the top of the cupcakes for a finishing touch. These need to be stored in the fridge until ready to serve.

(This time I made the cake from scratch. I usually just use a box mix. This recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens book too.)

Chocolate Cake

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c butter
1 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c water

I prefer to bake these without a cupcake liner, so I use Pam Baking spray on the pans. Preheat the oven to 350. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on med-high for about 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. Add the dry mixture and water alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each just until combined. Fill cupcake pans 1/2 way full and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Once cooled, I pipe in a white cream filling. I like to use Duncan Hines White Whipped frosting, but you could make something from scratch. This time for the ganache, I used the truffle frosting recipe from above, but stopped once it had cooled to a dip-able yet not runny temperature (not whipping or adding the butter & powdered sugar).

Pink Lemonade  Cupcake with lemon pastry cream filling and a butter cream frosting

Pink Lemonade Cupcake

1 box lemon cake mix
3 eggs
oil according to the package
3/4 can of sprite
1 small package lemon jello

Preheat oven to 350 or 325 if using dark pans. Line pans with cupcake liners. Prepare the cake mix according to the package, substituting Sprite or pink lemonade for the water. Stir in 1 small package lemon jello mix. I add pink food coloring since Anna likes pink cupcakes. Fill cupcakes 1/2 full and bake according to the packaging directions. Make 24 cupcakes

Lemon Pastry Cream

Follow the recipe for the pastry cream above but add the zest and juice of 1 lemon right at the end before you cover it in plastic and chill.



Butter Cream Icing

1 c butter softened
1 c shortening
32 oz package powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4-8 tbsp of milk as needed

Place butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl and beat with a mixer on med-high until creamy and well combined. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar a few cups at a time. Add milk as needed to thin for creamy consistency.

To assemble these cupcakes, once cake is cool, pipe in the pastry filling and top with butter cream icing.

Cinnamon Spice Cupcake with Dulce de Leche filling topped with an Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

Cinnamon Spice Cupcake
(Also from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook)

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1  tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I didn't have any so I left this out)
1/4 c butter softened
1/4 c shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4c buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your cupcake pans with the cupcake liners. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and shortening with an electric mixer on med-high for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. Add the dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each just until combined. Fill cupcake pans 1/2 way full and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Almond Cream Cheese Icing

1 c butter softened
1 package cream cheese softened (I use light)
32 oz package powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-1 tsp almond extract to taste
4-8 tbsp of milk as needed

Place butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat with a mixer on med-high until creamy and well combined. Add vanilla and almond extract. Add powdered sugar a few cups at a time. Add milk as needed to thin for creamy consistency.

For the Dulce de Leche filling, I used a store bought one, warmed it just to a more spreadable consistency and piped it into the center of the cooled cupcakes. The I piped on the icing and topped with yellow sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a finishing touch.

And like all Cupcake Wars contestants, I had a baking assistant. Although we would never make anything to the plate in the time they allow so we would certainly be disqualified.

First time licking the beater. I think I have created a monster.

*Please pardon any typos and creative spelling on my part. This post took a long time to put together, so I have not proofed it.

2 comments:

Christina said...

Those look fantastic and you did an awesome job on those! You better be proud!!

Sarah said...

Thanks Christina. I am proud and it was fun. Now I need another excuse to make more so I can tweak the recipes a bit. The white cake was a little drier than I would have liked. The spice cake was definitely one of my favorites.