Tag Archives: cupcakes

Surviving a Salted Caramel Cupcake Fail!

Salted Caramel Cuppies

I just have to deal with the fact that I am not a great baker.

I’ll still try to do it, but wow I need to have a little more patience with myself.

Since I bought the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book earlier this year, I’ve been wanting to make the Salted Caramel chocolate cupcakes. They looked like everything I like about food – sweet, rich, salty and chocolatey. I finally decided to make them to bring to Hallowe’en movie night.

I managed to mess something up at each stage.

D’oh #1 – Footless Cupcakes

The cupcakes stuck to the baking tin, and lost some chunks when I pulled them out. I didn’t have mini cupcake liners, but it wasn’t a problem last time. I just oiled it up and went ahead. Needless to say, I was not happy. Some of them wouldn’t stand on their own because of their injuries. On the other hand, they were really tasty and I decided it wasn’t too big of an issue.

D’oh #2 – Crazy Caramel (Corn?)

I messed this up twice, basically. The caramel sauce ended up being the worst part of the whole thing – everything else sort of pulled together, except for this part. Instead of sauce inside, it’s like a piece of caramelly fudge, or like the texture of candy corn. Grrr. My problem revolved around my lack of a candy thermometer, and I couldn’t judge when it was cooked enough. I knew we had a thermometer and pulled it out – only to discover that it’s a meat thermometer and doesn’t measure a high enough temperature. Crap on a stick!

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it helps to know the different stages to look for. I found this web page that describes the different stages, but I still messed it up. First, I pulled it off the heat too early because I thought it was cooked more than it was. I added the cream, and realized it was too light and oogy. I put it back on the heat, cooked until it browned and tasted better — but then after I poured the sauce into the cupcakes, it started to harden funny (the aforementioned candy corn texture). Ah well, not much to be done about that – and I was too lazy to start over by baking new cupcakes.

At least it still tasted good…

D’oh #3 – Mmmm, Chocolate Soup

Following the instructions, the dark chocolate icing ended up being the consistency of chocolate soup. I saved it by putting the bowl of icing ingredients into a larger bowl full of ice, and beating the crap out of it as it cooled. It turned out really really good. As a side note — I have no scale and had no idea what one pound of chocolate should look like. I guesstimated, and it worked. I don’t think my baking warrants getting a scale, either.

Salted Caramel Cuppies - Insides

Oh yeah – and I forgot to add the decorative salt on top before I took pics. Hahaha!

The Verdict

While I screwed all sorts of things up, these turned out pretty tasty. I do eventually want to try the recipe again, to try to get it all perfect. First, I’ll tackle the caramel a couple more times and use it in other things. The chocolate frosting on this is really incredible – and it should be, considering the amount of butter that’s in it!!

They don’t have this recipe up on the Martha Stewart website, but I found it posted on this blog. Note that this blogger had no trouble with the caramel… so it’s obviously me.

UPDATE: I bought a candy thermometer. I am determined to make this work, because I really love caramel and I think I should be able to make it.

Salted Caramel Cuppies - solo

The Last Cupcake

Tiramisu Cupcakes

This past week was my hubby’s birthday, and I decided a long time ago that I would make him any special dessert he wanted. At one point, I even offered to make the Tiramisu recipe posted on the Daring Kitchen (one that requires you make most things from scratch – the biscuits, the mascarpone cheese, etc.). He decided that he wanted cupcakes, so the logical choice (having just bought my Martha Stewart Cupcakes book), was to make Tiramisu Cupcakes.

This recipe came from “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes” book, but you can also find it online at marthastewart.com. I tried to stick to the recipe as closely as possible, but did take the opportunity to make the mascarpone cheese from scratch. So much fun!!

Tiramisu Cupcakes - inside

Inside the cupcake.

This cupcake has three parts, to imitate the flavours and textures of Tiramisu: a vanilla bean cake, a Marsala/Espresso syrup that is allowed to soak into the top of the cake, and a light mascarpone/whipped cream icing.

I was really happy with the way these turned out. The Marsala/Espresso syrup really made it, as it gave the most flavour punch. Both the cake and frosting were lightly flavoured and not too sweet.

One thing I should mention — paper liners work better than silicone ones for these particular cupcakes. I had only used the silicone ones once before, with a more firm type of cupcake. They worked perfectly with those cupcakes, but didn’t work quite as well with these delicate babies. I think the combination of a fluffier cake base, and the soaked tops made it REALLY hard to pop them out of the silicone. Awkwardness ensued, and messes were made.

This will be the last cupcake I make for a little while. April has been a kind of cupcake eating bootcamp for me, and I’m a little cupcaked out. I keep telling people that I feel like my body is made of cupcakes right now. 🙂

Cupcake Party!!

Cupcake Party - solitaire

Last weekend, I completely gave into my cupcake obsession by holding a cupcake party.

The rules were simple: bring “gourmet” cupcakes.

You could purchase a few from a bakery, cupcake shop or otherwise “good’ place, or you could bake cupcakes (as long as they were made from scratch!).

My contribution was a batch of chai mini-cupcakes, topped with one of two frostings: condensed milk icing, or vanilla almond buttercream. I got the recipe out of the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book. I really liked how they turned out, but found that they started to feel quite dense the day after. I’m not sure if that happened because they were mini, or maybe I did something. Who knows, I’m still getting the hang of this cupcake thing!

Cupcake Party - My Chai

My chai mini-cupcakes, with condensed milk icing.

My girls did NOT disappoint, and we were treated to a fantastic variety of flavours, textures, and styles.

A couple of us had the same idea, and both ended up making chai cupcakes!! They were based on different recipes, and were different in almost every way. One comment that was made was that the chai cupcakes had a flavour reminiscent of a muffin — I think it comes down to the fact that we don’t often think of cupcakes as being spiced, despite the fact that there are many recipes for spiced cake cupcakes.

I’ve asked a few people what they think the differences between cupcakes and muffins are… it’s a pretty interesting topic, and maybe I’ll get into it in another post. This one is already chock-full, so I’ll stop myself from writing a novel.

I took pictures of most of the cupcakes, but unfortunately none of the lovely ladies! I really did mean to take pics of everyone in their nice outfits, cramming cupcakes into their faces, but it just didn’t happen. I got caught up in the cupcakes, the discussion, and the lovely day. I’m sure they’re happy they get to remain anonymous (dodged a bullet there, ladies!).

On that note, here are some pics of our cupcakes, before they fulfilled their cupcakey destiny.

Cupcake Party - assortment

More of my mini chai cupcakes, topped with buttercream frosting (back-left), and a different take on chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – Yum! (front-right)

Cupcake Party - Swirly Bunch

A crazy assortment of cupcakes from Swirl’s!

Swirls http://www.swirlscupcakes.ca/
Highlights: Mangolicious, Lemon Luau, Red Velvet,

Cupcake Party - Cop-out Vanilla

“Cop-out?” No Way! Light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes, from Starbucks.

Cupcake Party - vegan

Three kinds of filled vegan cupcakes – heavenly!

Cupcake Party - chocolate

Devilish Chocolate Cupcakes with ganache or icing.

(not pictured)

The Cupcake Shoppe – http://www.thecupcakeshoppe.ca/
Highlights: After Ate (chocolate cake & mint buttercream), Sticky N Sweet (vanilla cake, dipped in caramel), Pretty N Pink (chocolate cake, raspberry buttercream)

Buttercream Harumph! / Delicious Science

This was very nearly going to be a cranky post.

Instead, it is a tale of overcoming hardship broken, oogy buttercream frosting.

I really should have taken a picture of it, but I was so upset at the time that I didn’t think to. Let’s rewind.

This was my first attempt at buttercream frosting, to go along with my first attempt at making cupcakes from scratch. The cupcakes were brilliant, so I think I got a little cocky. I started the buttercream frosting, excited to think of the yumminess that would be the reward for my hard work. It started off well enough. I followed the instructions carefully, even looking online to try to figure out the difference between “hard peaks” and “dry peaks”. I added in the butter and things got a little chunky. Not to worry!! The recipe said this might happen, and to just keep mixing it at medium-high speed.

It just got worse.

It went from “almost there, just a little lumpy” to “oogy, clumpy and soupy”. I stopped the mixer and just stared at it, my face falling. Then, I picked up my computer.

“How to fix a broken buttercream frosting”

“Lumpy buttercream frosting”

“Butercream frosting disaster!”

Finally, I found a post on a board where someone had the same problem I did… and an answer that made me think I could still pull it off.

Published March 1, 2001. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Can I save broken or curdled buttercream frosting?

Given proper proportions and supervision when its sugar base is cooked, buttercream frosting can be made quickly and easily. But cooks are inclined to read catastrophe into their finished efforts if the icing looks curdled or broken. However, appearances can be deceiving and most problems with buttercreams can easily be corrected.

The biggest threat a buttercream faces is temperature. If the frosting appears soupy and slippery, it’s likely grown too warm. Plunge the bowl into an ice bath and whisk briskly until the icing becomes silky and cohesive again. If the buttercream resembles fine-curd cottage cheese and slides about in the bowl, it’s likely too cold (from cold butter or a chilly ambient temperature). Wrap a steaming hot dish towel, turbanlike, around the bowl to heat it up and whisk or stir it with a wooden spoon to bring the icing back to its shiny, satiny self.

I had to read it a couple of times, and then I laughed. My frosting seemed to have a little bit of both problems, being both soupy and clumpy. First, I plunged it into an ice bath and while things started to firm up a bit, it really just turned back into butter. I put it back on the stand mixer, with no success. I then decided to put it back on the steam to melt it all down and start over. After it melted down, I plunged it back into the ice bath and whisked it by hand as the mixture cooled. Once I thought it had cooled enough, I pulled it out of the cold water and kept whisking. My arm was getting tired and sore (can you tell I don’t do this kind of thing often?!), and I was just about to give up on the clumpy mess when it suddenly began to change, and become a smooth and creamy mixture.

Mini Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

Mini Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting

I did it! I actually fixed it!

In some ways, this was probably better than the recipe working out right away. It made me do a little problem solving, put in a little bit of elbow grease, and in the end I was proud of what I had learned.

As I keep learning, it isn’t about the recipes that go off without a hitch, it’s learning what to do when there is a hitch.

I added a bit of colour to my newly made frosting, added some to a piping bag and did a few test swirls on some mini cupcakes.

What delicious science!

(P.S. I was using the Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book)