Puppies! (In Cupcake Form)

A little art inspiration for ya.  The sky’s the limit!

PuppyCake!

PuppyCake!

Day 3 of Halloween Week – Coconut Ghosts!

OoooOOooo! That’s me making a spooky ghost noise…

body_pumking 22oz bottle_low

My favorite pumpkin ale is “pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale” by Southern Tier Brewing. It’s a pretty rich beer, much like eating a slice of pie. But check out this awesome description from the label:

“Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed! Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let its deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape. This beer is brewed with pagan spirit yet should be enjoyed responsibly.”

Are you going to argue with a description like that? Heck no! But if you’re needing something a little more kid friendly, how about ghost cupcakes?

ghosts

Break out your favorite Devil’s Food Cake recipe, or try Martha’s and cut it in half to make 12. Remember that how many cupcakes you make will be cut in half, because you’ll be stacking two cupcakes to make a ghost. Yes, you can use a box recipe, too.. just don’t tell Edwin!

crumb coatsneaky ghosts

Bake your cupcakes, cool completely, remove from wrappers and set in the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up. In the meantime, whip up a nice white frosting like Martha’s Fluffy Vanilla.

When the cupcakes have firmed up a bit, frost the top and sides of each cupcake with a thin layer (using more on top) and then carefully stack two. Set back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, making sure that they don’t topple over (you may use one toothpick in the center for added support, but if these cakes are meant for kids then you’ll want to be careful!). Don’t worry if your frosting is all crumby at this point – you’re just making a crumb coat.

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When frosting has set, remove from freezer and apply your final layer of frosting so that the cakes are completely covered. Cover the cakes with a layer of shredded coconut (which also helps hide any frosting imperfections that you were unable to get out). Add two bittersweet chocolate chips for eyes – if you’re having trouble getting them to stick just add a little frosting to the back. Use caution when transporting. Keep refrigerated until serving.

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Note: My husband thought that these little cakes also somewhat resembled owls – I don’t see you couldn’t add a nice candy corn beak if you’d prefer to showcase owls instead of ghosts. But to make them more ghost like, make sure you put the eyes closer together.

Day #6 of Rainbow Week – Pastel and Tie Dye Cupcakes

You’re looking at day six of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Well, we’re nearing the end of Rainbow Week! We hope you’ve learned some new things and that you have plans this weekend to make lots of colorful rainbow treats like today’s post – Pastel Tie Dye Cupcakes.

adding pastel

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Back in the day I loved tie dye – and let’s be honest, I still do.

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Last weekend I was at a wedding for great couple; my husband and I met the groom back in high school. One of the groomsmen made a nice slide show of memories for the couple which was shown at the wedding. He joked with me that he had a bad old photo of me he considered including. Once he described the photo I remembered it exactly – I was wearing an old pair of jeans that I turned into bell bottoms using some tie dye fabric. Hey, who cares what he thought, right? I thought they were cool…

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Making rainbow cupcakes like these can even be more fun than rainbow cake because each individual cupcake can have a unique pattern – colored layers, marbled/swirled batter, just color in the middle, etc. I used pastel purple, teal and pink, along with a few other colors, in yellow butter cake batter.

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I was also able to do a little test, baking regular cupcakes alongside rainbow cupcakes to see how the color affects the batter. The answer is, as I believe Edwin mentioned and as I found out, that the color does affect the batter, particularly this time.

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Pastel colors, because they’re lighter, require more gel. Whereas Edwin and I use only a small amount of primary color gel for the rainbow cake and rainbow cake cones, I had to use the whole tube of pastel color gel to color the batter – oy! All the stirring needed for pastels unfortunately makes the cupcakes more dense. So I might recommend sticking with primary color gels for the best tasting cake, although the teal color did turn out pretty cool!

inside cupcakes

Yellow Cake & Frosting

I used the same Williams-Sonoma yellow cake recipe here as I did for the cake cones. If you don’t have the Williams-Sonoma “Desserts” book, I would recommend this recipe available online by Martha Stewart for a basic yellow butter cake, adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.” It is very similar to the one I used. A box yellow cake mix will also work.

To frost the cupcakes, I used a light and fluffy fat free Cool Whip. A Seven Minute Frosting would also work well. Anna at Cookie Madness has a good recipe for Seven Minute Frosting, and Joy the Baker has a Seven Minute Frosting that you can make pink or green (just in case you want even more color for your cupcakes!).

In case you missed Edwin’s detailed instructions on “How To Make Your Own Rainbow Cake” earlier in the week, please check it out for very useful tips and advice before you begin.

Day #2 of Rainbow Week – Cake Cones

You’re looking at day two of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Welcome back to work (for many of you); we hope you had a great holiday! Rainbow Week continues here on DinnerCakes, and today I’ll be sharing rainbow cake cones.

colors

Cake cones are ice cream cones filled with cake. My mom used to make them for me when I was little. It’s a fun twist on a traditional cake, and if you scoop ice cream on top instead of frosting, it’s perfect for dessert lovers who enjoy cake and ice cream. Cake cones also lend themselves particularly well to rainbow cake.

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Yesterday Edwin recommended using standard food drops or fondant coloring gels. I divided yellow cake batter into small bowls and used about 1/4 teaspoon of Betty Crocker classic food coloring gels, stirring as little as possible.

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I used a small spoon to pour one spoonful of each color batter into the cones. Because the cones are small, it’s easier to get an even layer of color, by moving the spoon from front to back, than it is with a large cake pan. Fill your cones about 2/3 full.

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To cook the cake cones, set the cones inside a muffin pan to keep them from falling over. For half of my cones, I made cream cheese frosting and added a few drops of food gel for color. I left the other half frosting-free so that I could scoop ice cream on top. I would recommend serving your cake cones with ice cream scoops. As you might imagine, I enjoy my cake with ice cream, but I also think it tastes better. The cake cones with frosting instead of ice cream is just a little too dry for me.

icecreamcone

The yellow cake recipe that I used is from my Williams-Sonoma Desserts book. I will admit that I enjoyed the taste of Edwin’s rainbow cake using a gold cake recipe more than my yellow cake (yum!), but either gold or yellow will work well. Enjoy!

icecreamconebitten

Finding the Perfect Yellow Cake & Frosting

If you don’t have the Williams-Sonoma “Desserts” book, I would recommend this recipe available online by Martha Stewart for a basic yellow butter cake, adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.” It is very similar to the one I used.

You may also use a box yellow cake mix if you’re so inclined. Though I will add that Edwin has said, “Every time a DinnerCakes reader makes cake from a box a piece of me dies inside.” So, do with that what you will, readers!

I recommend using an ice cream of your choice instead of frosting the cake cones, but for half of my cones I used cream cheese frosting. It doesn’t take much food gel to color the frosting; I separated the frosting into small bowls and used about 3 to 5 drops of food coloring gel. I put the frosting in a small ziploc bag and cut off the tip to create a makeshift pastry bag. For a good recipe that won’t make an obscene amount of frosting, check out this one from Anna at Cookie Madness. For a frosting that’s a little flashier, Edwin recommends this Coconut Cream Cheese recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

In case you missed Edwin’s detailed instructions on “How To Make Your Own Rainbow Cake” earlier in the week, please check it out for very useful tips and advice.

Let’s bake! What do you say? When too much time passes without any baking I get antsy!

I was bouncing some ideas off Edwin recently for what to bake, but he didn’t seem to interested in what I was coming up with. I understand his hesitation; typically baking experiments either end in sweet and wondrous success or abject failure!

bitten

I had some leftover ricotta in the fridge from a batch of ziti. Too many times these things go to unused and I find myself throwing away expired whipping cream, ricotta, sour cream and buttermilk. Not this time!

I’d also been thinking about coconut cake lately. I visited Alton Brown’s recipe, but he suggests coconut milk, coconut extract, coconut cream and coconut water. I don’t even know what coconut water is, but it sounds like an unwanted road block to me!

I turned to a Cooking Light coconut cake recipe and adapted it to make one dozen cupcakes. I didn’t have cake flour on hand, so I looked up an interesting adaptation to make all-purpose flour more like cake flour. I also put some shredded coconut in the food processor to make it as fine as possible and then added it to the batter. And of course, I experimented with adding 1/4 cup of ricotta.

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You can’t pick out the ricotta, but it does give it some more flavor complexity and adds to the texture. I have a bad connotation with the word “dense” so I definitely wouldn’t call them that, but they’re more on the substantial side than flimsy and airy. I decided to pair them with the kind of frosting you’d find on a German chocolate cake – golden, full of coconut and sweetened with evaporated milk almost like Dulce de leche. I also made a batch of coconut buttercream frosting for half of them, but I much preferred the German chocolate cake frosting. The buttercream was just too sweet for the cake, I thought.

I think these cupcakes are very different from what I’m used to, and I am loving them!

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Secret Ingredient Coconut Cupcakes with German Chocolate Cake-Style Coconut Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

1.1 cups all-purpose flour (one cup plus a little less than half a quarter cup) + 2.5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3/8 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup shredded coconut, pulsed in a food processor
1/4 cup part skim ricotta

Drop paper wrappers into cupcake pan. Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine flour + cornstarch, baking powder, salt, shredded coconut in a medium bowl with a whisk.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric beater or stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs one at a time.

Alternate adding flour mixture and coconut milk to the bowl while beating; begin and end with the flour mixture. Add ricotta. Beat until combined.

Using a tablespoon, drop two tablespoons of batter into each cupcake wrapper. Divide any extra evenly so that wrappers are 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 18 minutes.

German Chocolate Cake Frosting
Adapted from Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor and also found on Cooks.com

6 fluid ounces evaporated milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut

In a large saucepan on medium heat, combine evaporated milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for approximately 10 minutes. The frosting should be thickened and golden. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting cupcakes.

Food Photography – Fudge Brownie Cupcakes

Fudge Brownie Cupcakes

Today’s photo is from a birthday Heather and I attended a few weeks back. As you may recall, Heather wrote about her Guinness Beer Brownies (and babes). Our friend had made the request for “fudge muffins,” and I had no clue what these are. However, I did receive a Cupcakes Galore from some friend for my birthday last year. I took its recipe for brownie muffins, made a few modifications, and voila! Deliciousness.

Walkin' In A (Cupcake) Winter Wonderland

Back in December, Baking Bites was running a holiday cupcake contest that got me excited. Photography has been a side hobby of mine that I’ve really enjoyed exploring with the cooking for DinnerCakes, so this seemed right up my alley. I had also recently constructed a home-made light box so it felt like the planets were in alignment for me. Surely, this was destiny.

But alas, I was quite unhappy with the results and decided not to even bother submitting it. However, my father (a former quasi-professional photographer) had been harassing me recently about a lack of updates on my personal flickr site, so I decided to throw up the least-sucky of all the shots from that shoot.

Cupcake Winter Wonderland

Apparently the ladies over at Cupcakes Take The Cake came across my photo and thought it was nice enough to post on their site. It was an honor and nice surprise to find this out. If you love cupcakes and decorative design, then check out Cupcakes Take The Cake. I know I will.

Red, White and Cupcakes

Happy Election Day! When I thought about what to cook on election day I kept thinking about hot wings and nachos. Unfortunately I seem to associate super bowl food with election food. Maybe it’s apt; I think it will be a battle! In any event I decided to settle for cupcakes.

White Cupcakes, White Chocolate Chips

There were probably several points in this recipe where I should have turned back and abandoned ship, but I had a dream of red, white and blue patriotic cupcakes in honor of election day. I wanted white cake, white icing, and a splash of colorful strawberries and blueberries.

White Cupcakes, Adding White Chocolate to the Batter

While searching for a white cake recipe in my cookbooks, I was surprised to find that I actually owned a book completely about cupcakes called Cupcakes: From the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. I knew that using this book would go against one of Edwin’s core values (thou shalt not use box cake mix), but because I was in a pinch for time and I enjoy thwarting Edwin, I went for it.

White Cupcakes, Ice Cream Scoop - Gift from my Friends for my Bridal Shower

Flipping through the first few chapters I found some neat suggestions including 5 ways to fill a cupcake. One of the suggestions is to place a large berry on top of the batter before baking – fitting nicely with my theme of berries and white cake. I also wanted to trim at least a little fat from this recipe, so I decided to top off the cakes with a dollop of fat free cool whip instead of buttercream frosting – something like mini strawberry and blueberry shortcakes. Unfortunately for me the grocery store had other ideas, and they weren’t carrying very impressive blueberries. But blackberries are just as good, if not better, right?

White Cupcakes, Blackberries

In addition to box cake mix (sorry, Edwin), the batter called for other ingredients such as milk, oil, eggs, vanilla, and white chocolate chips. The white chocolate chips sounded amazing to me as an addition to the batter, but they gave me trouble. I had to work quickly and make sure not to let the melted white chocolate sit, because after only a minute the smooth mixture hardened into large chunks.

White Cupcakes, Use Smaller Slices

Adding a berry to the top of the batter before baking was also problematic. I tried it a few different ways, sometimes hiding a thin slice of strawberry or a blackberry inside the batter and sometimes leaving it on top. The cupcakes with strawberry slices had to cook for an even longer time than the blackberry cakes – approximately 22 minutes. The cook time for all of the cupcakes was a little tricky, and on my very first batch a few of the cakes just completely sunk in the middle.

White Cupcakes, Complete

Ghost Baker’s Tips to Avoid Trouble at the Polls:

Work quickly to avoid having your white chocolate harden and ruin your batter. Make sure it’s fully incorporated into the batter. If you’d like to add a berry filling, stick to either small blueberries or blackberries or just a half berry. Set it gently on top of the leveled batter right before it goes in the oven. Adjust your cook time as needed, but make sure the area around the berry slightly springs back when you touch it lightly after taking it out of the oven. Make sure there are no pockets of uncooked batter.

Red, White and Cupcakes with Berry Filling
adapted from White on White Cupcakes in
Cupcakes: From the Cake Mix Doctor

24 Paper Liners for cupcake pans
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 package white cake mix, extra moist
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries or blackberries (approximately)
1 container of cool whip for frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 and line°F and line your cupcake pans. Set aside.

Place the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 50 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir with a rubber spatula until the chips are smooth. Set aside.

Mix cake mix, milk, oil, egg, egg whites, vanilla, and melted white chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Blend with a stand mixer or electric mixer on low for 1 minute, then medium for 2 more minutes.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 measuring cup, scoop batter into your lined cups, filling it approximately two thirds of the way. Level your mix with a spoon. Lay a small berry or half a berry in the center of each cake; do not push down.

Bake approximately 22 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to make sure your cakes don’t burn. They should be light golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. The batter surrounding the berry should not be runny.

Cool for 15 minutes, then top with a dollop of cool whip and decorate with berries as desired.

The Eyes Have It (Eyeball Cupcakes)

Halloween has to be the best “holiday” of the year. Don’t get me wrong; Christmas is cool, Thanksgiving is fun, but Halloween is a free pass to go nuts. Whether you’re one of thousands of girls who take advantage of the one day it’s socially acceptable to tramp it up, an individual who plays out his/her secret fantasy without fear of judgment (furries are people too, or so I’m told), or just someone who likes a little make-believe; this day has something for you. Halloween is the best night of the year to go out. No other day will complete strangers be so open to meet you; so willing to start random conversations.

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And then of course, there’s the baking. The great thing about every holiday is the themed baking. There are plenty of ideas out there on Halloween-themed culinary delights and I took full advantage. Last year’s vampire cupcakes were a hit, but here at DinnerCakes we are ever venturing forward; forging new paths. This will be a two-parter, folks. And by two parter, I mean two posts that are Halloween themed. (ok, so I guess that’s not really a two-parter at all. whatev.)

Making the eyes

My friend Lindsey and I were talking, discussing potential works of art to bring to her party and she mentioned recently coming across “eyeball” cupcakes. Doing a quick search on foodblogsearch gave me plenty of examples. Having dabbled in fondant before (sometimes successfully), I decided to give it a shot.

Almost

This is more of a how-to on the decorative process than it is a recipe. For the cupcakes, I used a recipe from Joy Of Cooking (also known as my bible). You could use anything. Like yellow cake? Do that. All about red velvet? Go for it. The world is your oyster (pantry).

They're Looking At Me!

Eyeball Cupcakes (of DOOM!)
Two dozen cupcakes (give or take)
Two pounds of white fondant (this is more than enough, you WILL have leftovers, but this is unavoidable)
Two cups royal icing in a pastry bag or plastic bag with the tip cut off (butter cream also works well)
Red and black icing for veins and pupil, respectively (royal works well, but any icing in a tube at the store will work)
Lifesavers

After the cupcakes have cooled, begin working on the fondant. Start with half and work it in your hands; warming it up. When it’s comfortably pliable, set it on a clean working surface to roll it out. Note, some fondant can stick to some (most?) surfaces. Not as big a deal with the small shapes we’re making here (pastry cutter for the win), but you could always dust the surface with corn starch. Roll out your fondant like you would a pie crust; from the center out. Feel the surface of the fondant to see how smooth and even it is. You’re going for 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick. This process is really forgiving since you’re going to be making really small shapes. Use a pie cutter of the proper size (or a glass or anything round) to cut the whites of the eyes for each cupcake.

Spread a layer of icing on the top of each of the cupcakes. This is your glue. Glue your eyeball whites onto the cupcakes. Depending on your icing, it might dry somewhat quickly, becoming less awesome in the glue category. You may want to consider only icing half first, gluing on the whites, then continuing with the other half.

Next, the veins with the red icing. Start from the center, drawing squiggly lines out; as many as you want. Don’t worry too much about how pretty the center is. After you’re done with this, you’ll place lifesavers at the center and dot its hole with black icing.

And then, BAM.