Monday, June 28, 2010

Callisto Colada

Coconut cake with fresh pineapples baked inside topped with coconut frosting and a cherry on top

The Jovian moon Callisto was discovered in 1610 by Galileo. The surface of the moon is heavily cratered and there is a strong possibility that a subsurface ocean of liquid water exists making this moon a good candidate for future human bases among the Jovian moons.

The best part of these cupcakes is that they are completely vegan! I did have a frightening moment whilst baking these though... About 6 minutes after I popped these cakes into the oven did I notice the unopened bottle of apple cider vinegar, after shouting out a few select words did I take them out of the oven. Vinegar is an important ingredient in vegan baking as it is used for leavening and flavor enhancement. So I divided the tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar among the half baked cakes stirred it around then put them back into the oven and hoped for the best.

I must say that these cakes turned out fabulous despite my baking flaw! This was my first time baking vegan cupcakes and I honestly wouldn't have been able to tell that they were vegan had I not baked them myself! They were very delicious and make for the perfect summertime treat.

They came out super cute despite my misadventure

Piña Colada Vegan Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/4 cup coconut flakes

Coconut Vegan Frosting:
1/2 cup Earth Balance (or refined coconut oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups coconut flakes
15 Bing cherries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.
2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl combine oil, milk, vanilla, and vinegar (don't forget the vinegar!!).
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, beat until smooth.
5. Fold in coconut flakes and diced pineapple. Evenly distribute batter amongst baking cups (makes about 15) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Let cool completely then frost!
7. Dip the frosted cupcakes in coconut flakes and top each with a cherry.

Beat the Earth Balance and vanilla together then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired frosting consistency.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vanilla Sky

Vanilla bean cake with mystical swirls of vanilla bean frosting

I had originally set out to make comet cupcakes in honor of Comet McNaught which is gracing our night sky near the constellation Perseus. The atmosphere around the coma of the comet is actually bigger than the planet Jupiter! However, I was craving vanilla bean cupcakes and I couldn't bring myself to name them comet cakes since I envisioned the perfect embodiment of a comet-esq cupcake complete with a coma and tail, which these were not. I still do plan to make the comet cakes in the near future, I've just been preoccupied enjoying the summer time and much needed break from school. Besides that my apartment is unbelievably hot during the summer months. I like to think of it as a brick oven preheating all day and retaining all of that heat at night making baking a bit of a daunting task. In fact as I'm typing this I have two fans blowing on me simultaneously... I'm one step away from placing a tray of ice in front of said fans.

The vanilla bean cupcakes that I did manage to bake in my very hot apartment were very delicious. I packed them on a recent trip to the mountains that I went on with some friends to view Comet McNaught (the irony!!) and stargaze. I decided it be fitting that these scrumptious vanilla cupcakes be named after one of my favorite movies of all time, Vanilla Sky.

I altered the recipe using Earth Balance which is a healthier alternative to butter that has no cholesterol or hydrogenated oils. I've been experimenting with swapping out ingredients in favor of healthier alternatives... Soon I plan to venture into making completely vegan cupcakes for my vegan friend Paul. Enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Cake:
(makes about 18, adapted from Good Things Catered)
1 1/2 c cake flour, sifted
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature (try Earth Balance instead)
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 c whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Bean Frosting:
1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with baking cups
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and whisk together to combine thoroughly, set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
4. Add sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
6. Add innards of the vanilla bean and extract.
7. Turn mixer to low and alternatively add milk and flour mixture until fully incorporated.
8. Divide batter among baking cups (fill about 3/4 full).

Look at those luscious vanilla bean flakes!

9. Bake for about 20 minutes
10. Remove from over and let cool completely prior to frosting.

I swear I let the cupcakes cool completely prior to frosting... I blame my hot apartment for the frosting meltage.

I used the cutest all natural sprinkles to decorate with :o)

Beat the butter in a medium sized bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; add vanilla bean innards and salt. Beat in powdered sugar and milk in two batches. If the frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar.

To illustrate the explosion of flavor these cupcakes pack

The Vanilla Sky soundtrack made for some laid back baking vibes

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Strawberry Supernova

Strawberry cake with crushed Oreo cookies baked inside topped with a trio of frosting and an element of surprise

This is the remnant of a supernova that was the brightest supernova in recorded human history which was seen on the Earth beginning in the year 1006 AD. The supernova was about 7,200 light years away from Earth.

Strawberry Oreo Cake:
(makes about 18)
2/3 c fresh strawberries, pureed
1 1/2 c sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 egg whites, room temperature
about 24 Oreo cookies

Butter Cream Frosting:
2 sticks butter, slightly cold
3 c powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp strawberries, purred
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line about 18 cupcake cups with paper liners.
2. Place an Oreo halve on the bottom of each liner for a sweet surprise.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
4. In a small bowl mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Slowly beat in the egg and egg whites until blended.
6. Add half of the flour mixture beating on low speed. Add the milk mixture and mix until just blended. Slowly add the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
7. Crush up about 12 Oreo cookies and fold into the batter.

8. Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared cups.
9. Bake for about 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely prior to frosting.

10. Make the frosting and frost cupcakes. To create an explosive stellar look, use a star attachment fitted to a frosting bag and hold the bag at a 45 degree angle to the surface and as you squeeze the frosting, pull the tip up and away from the cake. Work your way from the outer edge in.

I listened to DJ Tiesto's album, Elements of Life, for some good baking energy

Beat butter and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and slowly add powdered sugar beating until well combined. Divide the mixture among 3 small bowls; mix melted chocolate into one, pureed strawberries into another, and leave the remaining one plain.

She loves cupcakes :o)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carl Sagan Cakes

Fresh banana cakes filled with peanut butter creme, topped with fudge frosting, walnuts, & love

I wasn't sure what name to give to these cupcakes so I decided to name these delicious cakes after one of the most inspiring astronomers and personal hero of mine, Carl Sagan. These cupcakes were a big hit! I listened to the song 'A Glorious Dawn' by Symphony of Science (which features Carl Sagan!!) while baking these cakes.

Check it out:

Banana Cake (courtesy of Martha Stewart):
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 c mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Creme Filling:
1/3 c powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Fudge Frosting:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 c butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c walnuts (for decoration)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line about 18 cupcake cups with paper baking cups.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In the well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir just to incorporate flour mixture (do not over-mix, which was hard for me!)
3. Divide mixture evenly among baking cups; smooth surface.
4. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes. Immediately remove cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

5. To fill the cupcakes with the peanut butter filling: use a star tip attached to a pastry bag and plunge it about 3/4 of an inch deep into the top of the cake. Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake until you feel it expand slightly, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze.

6. Frost the cupcakes and add a sprinkling of walnuts.

'Let It Be' by Benny Benassi was a perfect follow up song to 'A Glorious Dawn' as well as frost to.

Peanut Butter Creme Filling:
In a medium bowl, beat the peanut butter with the butter until creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla to the bowl and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Spoon the filling into a pastry bag and fill the cupcakes once they have cooled.

Fudge Frosting:
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from head and let cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (~ 1 minute). Add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy (~2 minutes). Add the vanilla. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is smooth and glossy (~ 2-3 minutes).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Milky Way

Chocolate cake with melted marshmallows topped with vanilla icing and a swirl of caramel

My inspiration for the cakes:

Chocolate Cupcakes (courtesy of Hershey's):
2 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 c Hershey's Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c boiling water
about 12 large marshmallows, cut in half

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 c powdered sugar
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce (courtesy of Barefoot Contessa):
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c water
1 1/3 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake cups with paper liners.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
3. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
4. Stir in boiling water.
5. Divide the mixture among baking cups.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven, place on a rack, and top with marshmallows.

8. Spread marshmallows.
9. Make butter cream frosting.

10. Spread the cakes with frosting and add a swirl of caramel.

Butter cream frosting:
Beat the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in the sifted powdered sugar and milk in two batches; add the vanilla.

Mix the water and sugar together in a sauce pan; cook over low heat until sugar dissolves; increase heat and boil uncovered until the mixture turns a golden brown; add the cream and vanilla and simmer until the sauce is smooth and thick.

I listened Deadmau5's Random Album Title while decorating these :-)