Archive for the ‘Cakes – Frosting’ Category
When strawberries are in season and my local farmers markets are overflowing with them, I can’t resist taking home basket after basket. The problem with this is that I can end up with almost more berries than I know what to do with! Fortunately, I haven’t quite run out of ways to use strawberries yet, and these Fresh Strawberry Mini Cupcakes are my current favorite application.
The cupcakes are bright pink and have a strong strawberry flavor. With a dollop of vanilla buttercream on top, they taste like strawberries n’ cream. All of this berry flavor comes from pureed strawberries, which serve as the liquid in this recipe (where most cupcake recipes will call for milk). Choose fresh, flavorful berries that have a deep red color to them for the best results because there is no food coloring in them, just a lot of fresh berries!
These cupcakes are very moist and tender. That moistness comes from a mixing method that is a little different from that of other cupcakes. For these, cold butter is rubbed into the dry ingredients to create a very sandy mixture, then the eggs and dry ingredients are added. This creates a tight, fluffy crumb and delicious texture to the cupcakes. This can be done with a hand mixer or a stand mixer, but I find that the process goes very quickly if I whip up the batter in the food processor, so you might want to try that option when making these at home.
I made these as mini cupcakes and the recipe will yield two dozen miniature cupcakes – the perfect bite-sized treats (they also happen to be strawberry-sized) for a party. You can also bake these as full sized cupcakes, but the recipe will yield about 9 full sized cupcakes, not a full dozen.
Refreshing isn’t a word that you often associate with cupcakes, but these Lemon Lime Cupcakes definitely have a refreshing element to them. The cupcakes are bright with both fresh lemon and lime zest, and have a lemon lime buttercream on top. It is sweet, light and surprisingly palate cleansing, for a cupcake. They’re quite different from most cupcakes, as the combination of lemon and lime doesn’t show up that often in cupcake form, and that also makes them a very nice change of pace for those of you getting bored with chocolate and vanilla.
The cake for these cupcakes is very moist and tender, with a soft, tight crumb. The lemon lime flavor comes from fresh zest that is grated into the cupcake batter. Zest – the colored, outer portion of a citrus fruit – is extremely flavorful because that is where all of the intense citrus oils are. . I used one large lemon and one large lime to get enough zest for one batch of cupcakes, but you might want to have an extra lime on hand in case yours turn out to be a bit small. A microplane is the perfect tool for easily zesting your fruit. Don’t skimp on the zest when making these to get the best lemon-lime flavor in the finished cakes – and if you have to cut back, you can boost the flavor with some lemon or lime oil, which you can buy bottled.
The cupcakes are topped with a lemon lime buttercream, where I used the juice from the fruits I zested for the cake to give the frosting a bright citrus flavor. The lemon and lime juice blend well together, and this frosting is one that you could easily use to make a batch of yellow or vanilla cupcakes more exciting. If you find that you don’t have quite enough juice from your zested lemon and lime, and you don’t have any more fruit on hand, you can add a little bit of water to the frosting to make up the difference.
There are many flavors that pair well with chocolate. Coffee is one, and it is often included in chocolate cakes to bring out some of the darker notes of chocolate. Believe it or not, but dark stout is another. These dark beers often have an intense malty flavor and an almost chocolate-like profile to them, and they can enhance the bitter and malty notes that you find in dark chocolate, giving a cake a great chocolate flavor and a lot of character.
This Chocolate Stout Sheet Cake is made using a stout beer. I used a beer called Boatswain Chocolate Stout, which is actually brewed with cocoa to enhance the chocolate-like notes often found in stout beer (although it doesn’t have more than a subtle hint of cocoa to it). It is worth noting that any stout beer will do the trick in this recipe. The cake is very moist and tender, using butter, vegetable oil and yogurt in it. It has a great dark chocolate flavor to it thanks to both the beer and a generous amount of cocoa powder. You won’t taste the beer in the finished cake, but it definitely takes the edge off what would otherwise be a fairly sweet cake and gives it a grown up chocolate taste.
I topped this cake off with a Chocolate Stout Buttercream, adding a little bit of my chocolate stout beer to a simple chocolate buttercream. This introduced a distinct malty note to the frosting (again, giving it a grown-up flavor) and really tied it in well with the cake. You can leave out the beer and opt for a plain chocolate buttercream by simply adding milk to your frosting instead. This cake is also good with vanilla frosting, and is satisfying enough to eat plain – with a cup of coffee or even a glass of that chocolatey stout that you used to make it.
These Midnight Chocolate Cupcakes are the perfect recipe to make if you’re in the mood for a very dark, chocolate cupcake. They get their name from the fact that they’re almost pitch black in color. They’re based on a much loved Betty Crocker recipe for Black Midnight Cake (which has been in dozens of Betty Crocker cookbooks over the past several decades). The cupcakes deliver as much chocolate as they promise with their dark coloring. They are moist, fluffy and pack a lot of flavor into every single bite.
The recipe has slightly more sugar than many other cupcake recipes, but that sugar helps to keep the cupcakes moist and tender, and also adds much needed sweetness to the very large amount of cocoa powder in the batter. I typically add a small amount of instant coffee to highlight the darker notes of the cocoa powder, but that can be omitted if you prefer not to have a hint of coffee in your cake. The finished cupcakes are not too sweet, even when generously spread with chocolate buttercream frosting.
These cupcakes are also made with shortening, rather than butter. Shortening is also used in the old BC recipe (in my 1950s-era cookbooks) for this type of cake. The shortening, like vegetable oil, helps the cakes to retain moisture and stay fresh and soft for several days after baking. Since it doesn’t add any flavor of it’s own to the cake, unlike butter, the chocolate flavor also seems a little more pronounced than it does in some other recipes. All that said, you can substitute butter back into this recipe with no problems whatsoever and still end up with a great chocolate cupcake.
I topped my cupcakes off with a simple chocolate buttercream and a square of star-spangled chocolate. The buttercream also has a rich chocolate flavor, even if it isn’t as dark in color as the cake. I used a chocolate transfer sheet – a sheet of acetate with a colored cocoa butter design printed on it – to make my starry night garnish. A few chocolate sprinkles would also make a lovely way to finish these off.
A traditional whoopie pie is a pair of cake-like chocolate cookies sandwiching a fluffy, marshmallow frosting center. It’s a good combination, to be sure, but whoopie pies are a lot more interesting when you mix things up with different flavors and, fortunately, it is very easy to add some flavor to a whoopie pie. These Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Buttercream pair soft, chocolate cake and a fruity raspberry filling. Flavor-wise, it’s a great combination, but the bright colors in the finished dessert make this a lot of fun, too.
The cake portion of the whoopie pies is a simple, chocolate cake that has a generous amount of cocoa powder in it to ensure that each pie has a strong chocolate flavor. They’re moist and tender, but they are a little sturdier than chocolate cupcake would be so that they are easy to handle when filling and serving. The raspberry filling is a simple American buttercream – butter, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar – spiked with some raspberry puree. You can buy the puree at some stores, but I make batches by defrosting frozen berries and pureeing them in the food processor, then straining out the seeds. It takes a little extra time to make a puree, but they pack a lot of flavor and the raspberry really turned this buttercream a beautiful shade of pink. Chocolate and raspberry is a good flavor combination in any kind of dessert and this one is no exception.
The recipe makes about 16 generously sized whoopie pies, so they’re good for serving to a crowd or at a party. I think they’re an especially good Valentine’s Day treat because of the lovely pink filling inside of the pies. They keep well for several days when stored in an airtight container and they can even be frozen if you want to tuck one or two away for another day.