Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

I've been avoiding the "gotta get my act together and start prepping my classroom for the first day back at school" stuff.  Y'all, my to-do list is LOOOOOONG.  (I don't usually say "y'all".  How was it?  I like it.  I'm keeping it.)

Well, it would be if I actually made a to-do list but I haven't.  I will, though.  It's on my list of things to do.

Instead, I made cupcakes.  Chocolate cherry cupcakes.  You're gonna LOVE them.  I promise.

Start with your basic chocolate cupcake recipe.  You can use whatever you love or use mine, which I tweaked from TidyMom.

For the cupcakes, you'll need:

1 box chocolate cake mix (I prefer Pillsbury but your fave will work great, too)
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup water
3 tbl. cocoa powder
1 small can cherry pie filling

Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl, 1 minute on low then 1 minute on med, until well combined.  Scoop batter into lined cupcake tin.  I use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop but use whatever works for you.  Fill cups about 2/3-3/4 full.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Cool in cupcake pan for 5 minutes then move cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Next, use your handy dandy cupcake corer (or a small paring knife) to cut out the middle of the cupcakes.  (Yes, I know those are not chocolate cupcakes in the picture.  I forgot to take a picture of my corer so I'm reusing an old picture I took.  It's OK.  Really.)

Fill the center of each cupcake with a scoop of cherry pie filling.  I made sure there were at least two cherries in each cupcake.

Now you're ready for buttercream.  Here's what you'll need:

5 cups powdered sugar (don't sift it, that's too much work)
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
juice from maraschino cherries

Beat the butter until smooth.  Add powered sugar, vanilla, and approximately 1/4 cup of cherry juice.  Beat with mixer on medium speed until combined and smooth.  Scoop into pastry bag (or freezer weight hefty zip bag), snip off corner and pipe onto cupcakes.  For these cupcakes, I wanted a rose look to the buttercream so I used my Wilton 1M open star tip, started in the center of the cupcake and piped frosting in a tight circle around the middle to the outer edge.

You can top these with a cherry if you'd like.  I didn't because I wasn't serving them immediately and I didn't want the cherries to leak juice all over the cupcakes.  But I thought about it.  So, I ate most of the cherries and then I used the excuse that I didn't have enough cherries to put one on each cupcake.  Don't judge me.

Go make these.  They're delicious.  And, if you're a teacher starting down the ugly end of the back-to-school madness like I am...you have my full permission to make just the cherry buttercream and not share it with anyone.  And, once you've done everything on your classroom-setup to-do list, can you come help me with mine?

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Olympic Torch Cupcakes

In May, I was asked to make torch cupcakes for my friend's son's Olympic-themed birthday party.  I was both excited and daunted by the challenge.  They turned out great, though, and everyone really enjoyed them.

To make these yourself:

Start with filling ice cream cones with cupcake batter.  I tried this two ways.  One way seemed easy but didn't turn out very well.

The cupcakes didn't rise up into the cones so all the cake was at the top.  Not fabulous.

So,  tried a second way that turned out MUCH better!  This time I filled a bag with cupcake batter and squirted it into the cones.  This was so much better.

As you can see, the cake filled the cone and left a nice, little rounded cupcake on top.  Some of them didn't fill out the top of the cone completely but you can cover that with more frosting.

I just stood these up in my regular cupcake tins to bake them (at 350 for 20 minutes) and didn't have any trouble with them tipping over.

I forgot to take pictures of this next part but if you go to wonderwomancreations you can see a picture of what I did.  I took my frosting piping bag (I use these) and drizzled orange gel paste coloring (I prefer AmeriColor) down two of the sides of the bag before filling with yellow buttercream.  Most of the bloggers I stalk follow will tell you to paint it down the sides of the bag but I'm lazy and just squirted a little in bag.

Then I used my Wilton 1M tip and with even pressure, squeeze frosting onto the cupcake and move the bag straight up to make flames.  Erica at Sweet Tooth did these awesome Hunger Games cupcakes that were my flame inspiration.

To transport these, I used robe boxes--the kind that you get at Christmas or you can just buy some at Target.  I used a box cutter and cut large Xs into the box and then bent back the sides of the Xs.  They held the cupcakes perfectly still on our way to the party.  (I also did these for my friend's mom who took them to Portland from Seattle and she said they survived the trip beautifully.)

Since this was an Olympic-themed party, when it was cake time, my friend explained to the kids that the Olympic flame is passed around the world in a show of solidarity and friendship.  She then had the kids circle the house, put candles in each torch cupcake and the kids passed the flame, ending with the birthday boy and a rousing version of "Happy Birthday".  The kids LOVED passing the flame!  And, when it was time to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the kids were very excited to watch the flame enter the arena.

I'm loving baking cupcakes in ice cream cones.  I'm definitely going to be doing more cupcakes like this.


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