Alotta Colada Cupcakes Find The Perfect Portioning Batter Scoop

An Ohio Prosecutor apparently filed a criminal indictment against Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, for fraudulently predicting that spring would come early. However, don’t worry, his handler has taken the blame. Since I refuse to be angry at a cute little groundhog, but have no problems being angry at a person, I’m not so happy with his handler. Where is spring?

That said, I refuse to be the kind of person that complains about the cold and then complains about the heat. However, can I please put my long pants and jeans away? In an effort to bring on some spring, I made a tropical cupcake this past weekend. I even wore my white blazer, Miami Vice style. There were even mint green shorts amongst my crew of friends. But if fashion wasn’t enough to conjure up spring and summer, these cupcakes were!

Let’s be honest though, all I really wanted to do was try out my new cupcake batter scoop. Like anything, the right tool can change everything. Baking is my hobby and passion, and the right tool can get me down right giddy. It’s been a long evolution to the right tool to perfectly portion my cupcake batter.

From left to right, here is my evolution:

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In my early baking days, I used a quarter cup measure. Look there is nothing wrong with this. However, you need slightly less than a quarter cup for each cupcake, and here comes the eye-balling it. This is not my specialty. Asking me to hang a picture without a level is asking for a crooked picture and a lot of holes in your wall. What’s worse is I’m a perfectionist, so I will tear that picture down until I get it right. It’s a recipe for a long and difficult picture hanging event. Same goes with filling a cupcake liner.

Everyone has had a cupcake or muffin turn out like this:

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It makes me cringe just looking at these two uneven little cupcakes. #BakingProblems

At Wally World (Wal-Mart), as I like to call it, I found that middle gem of a tool. It promised perfect portions. However, again if you fill that bad boy all the way up you end up with an over filled cupcake liner. It has that nice little pour spout, but I don’t know who would use it. My batter is generally thick. Any batter with butter is. So I need a small spatula to scrape out the batter. Who wants two tools that don’t even do the job right?

Well, drum roll please, I found the perfect scoop:

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Look at that perfectly portioned cupcake batter! It is the large scoop from Pampered Chef. Go get yourself one. Knock yourself out. It not only portions things perfectly, the release valve and metal construction makes it easy to release the batter. I have also purchased the medium and small scoops from Pampered Chef and I can’t begin to tell you the amount of uses I’ve thought of for them. It’s disturbing.

Now if only someone can come up with something to portion my icing perfectly:

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Note the issue above. That said, these were all pretty tasty, no matter their size. It was a pineapple coconut cupcake injected and doused with coconut rum and topped with coconut cream cheese frosting, aptly named by my R&D department (my besties) Alotta Colada!

Bring on Spring little cupcake!

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Nautical Baby Girl Shower

I had the pleasure of co-hosting a baby shower for one of my closest friends. I truly enjoyed being a part of such a special day. Little did the Mom-To-Be know how much I enjoyed making the cupcakes, cake and cake pop favors for the event. It was nautical themed. Pink and navy blue go so well together. It might have just been the easiest shower I have ever hosted. My co-hostess handled the invites, decor and games, while I handled the food, goodies and favors. We also had several people contribute a dish and several people who didn’t mind doing dishes! I mean, who can beat that? It didn’t hurt that my co-hostess had such a lovely home to display everything in!

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The great thing about cupcakes instead of a huge cake is that there is no need to make a big production out of cutting the cake. Or any need to buy extra plates! The Mom-To-Be was even able to take home the whole cake at the top.

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The cake at the top was a two layer strawberry lemonade cake that had three little sail boats circling it.

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The cupcakes were also strawberry lemonade. Lemon is the Mom-To-Be’s favorite flavor. Each cupcake was adorned with a chocolate anchor.

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We decided to give out cake pops as favors. They are always the perfect little post event treat. Plus, they are easy to take home. Everyone can use a cake pop in their life!

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I found this glass jar at Michael’s. It had a chip, and so I was able to get it for $5. No one knew the chip was there and it fit 30 cake pops. I used glass beads to stand the cake pops up. My co-hostess made the sweet little framed sailboat in the background. So cute!

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Here is a better picture of that cute little sailboat. She made it with cardstock. Such a great idea!

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My favorite little item from the shower were these cute napkins that my co-hostess ordered.

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It was a really special day! I can’t wait to meet Ms. Clara!

New Year’s 4 Tier Tower of Treats

I did an obsurd amount of baking for the holidays, along with an obsurd amount of any and all holiday over indulging. As usual though the New Year has arrived and I’m back to being on my best behavior. For the most part anyway.

I got a lot of things that I can’t wait to use for baking and displaying all of those baked goods, but this little gem was too much fun to wait to use.

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I spent a lot of time hashing out how I wanted to use this first, but decided on making a tower of treats for New Year’s. I started with attaching some fabric ribbon. I also at one point attached thinner curl ribbon that you use to decorate a wrapped present, but it didn’t look right. The thin ribbon didn’t wrap around the circular levels very well. This ribbon though, was just right and was $2.97 for a roll.

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I had decided to alternate cake pops and cupcakes on each tier and top it with four cake pops that spelled out 2013. I sort of enjoy that they each look like the New Year’s ball that has dropped.

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I had to cut down 4.5 inch sticks for most of the cake pops to make them fit in the middle tier, but the 2013 was attached to 6 inch sticks so that they would stand out. I got the 2013 at Wal-Mart in a package of numbers and letters meant to be used on poster board. The package was $5.00, which seems a little steep but I figure I’ll find a use for the remaining numbers and letters eventually.

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My little top flair is a balloon weight from party city for $.99.

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I think $9.00 for this flair was worth it, and although people seemed too scared to ruin it by eating it at New Year’s I think it was worth it. Plus, it was fun for me. It’s the little things!

Happy New Year!

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Farewell to Fall

Thanksgiving was sunny with a light autumn chill to the air. Three days later though, the cold has set in and the leaves have dutifully shed another layer of leaves. Winter is upon us. I spent the day cooking, just like most everyone else I imagine on Thanksgiving, making She Crab Soup and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. My favorite thing I made that day though was Apple Pie Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting. They were an apple spice cake filled with apple pie filling and topped with salted caramel buttercream with a salted caramel drizzle.

There were a couple of exciting things about this. First, I got a new toy. A friend of mine found a “cupcake plunger,” as I would like to call it, brand new and packaged at a yard sale for just a couple dollars. I was stoked to use this.

This made scooping out the middle of my cupcakes a breeze and very uniform. These are the things that make a  perfectionist happy.

The other exciting thing about this was that I got to make salted caramel for the first time, which was an exciting science experiment that turned out more delicious than anything you could buy at the store. Cheap too. I found my salted caramel recipe on Pinterest. Where else?

http://kimberlytaylorimages.com/chocolate-cake-with-salted-caramel-frosting/

I did not use her frosting recipe, although I am sure it is delicious. I literally just combined buttercream with salted caramel. The cupcakes are my own concoction, and while good I think they could be improved on.

When you take a bite of these first you get the hint of cinnamon and allspice from the cake followed by a sour tinge from the granny smith apple pie filling and finished with a sweet and nutty flavor from the salted caramel buttercream. Until next year, farewell fall!

Super Hero Cupcakes

I was asked to make Green Lantern and Flash inspired cupcakes for a Big Bang Theory themed 30th birthday party. In case you’re not familiar with the show The Bing Bang Theory, as I am not, Flash is the character Sheldon’s favorite super hero. I have no idea where the Green Lantern fits in to the show, but I do know Ryan Reynolds looks pretty good in the Green Lantern suit. That is the extent of my knowledge on The Big Bang Theory, Flash and The Green Lantern. I’m a Batman fan.

I was given a picture of Flash and Green Lantern sugar cookies as a guide, and I think they turned out to be great cupcakes as well.

The Flash cupcakes were a lemon cupcake with lemon meringue buttercream and adorned with a Flash inspired fondant top. The Green Lantern cupcakes were a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and adorned with a Green Lantern inspired fondant top.

In case you are not familiar, fondant is that stuff on wedding cake that many people peel off of the cake and leave on their plate like a discarded banana peel. It tastes a lot like stale marshmallows. I generally do not eat it. However, many people do seem to like it, and from my perspective it’s a lot of fun to work with. Think edible play dough.

The fondant top for the Green Lantern cupcakes were time consuming and required me to think about geometry for the first time in I don’t know how long. Those two shapes that make up the top and bottom of the “lantern” are trapezoids. I’m certain that I spent a fair amount of time wondering in middle school geometry when I would ever use the information provided there. It only took me 17 years to discover it. I would have taken pictures for you of each step in the process, but honestly I was too busy figuring out the right tool for the right proportions.

It turns out the best tool for making that outer green shell was this:

Before anyone gets concerned and runs out to buy me baking supplies for Christmas (hint hint), I do in fact own fondant cutters that worked fabulously for all of the inner circles. However, you’ll notice I needed four circular cutters and I only have three. I realized this late in the game, and ended up throwing out a fair amount of fondant and starting over. I never would have suspected that counting was going to give me more trouble during this project than geometry.

I was able to do the Flash fondant tops in a… flash. Get it? I’m allowed one corny joke per blog post. The only detailed portion was the lightning bolt. I made a lightning bolt stencil out of cardboard so that they would all be relatively uniform, and cut them out by hand.

Pictures from the party were shared with me. It looks like they fit in nicely with the theme, and I hope they made this surprise 30th birthday party that much more special!

 

 

Lightning McQueen As Cupcake

I was asked to make cupcakes for a true Lightning McQueen super fan turning four this week. He watches Cars the movie every weekend, he sleeps in Lightning McQueen pajamas and he needs Lightning McQueen themed cupcakes for his birthday. I perused a lot of ideas, but found the idea for actual Lightning McQueen cupcakes on Pinterest. Using that concept, here is how I chose to tackle it!

He’s ready for the Road! Although I will admit I’m not sure how he drives on those tires, particularly the back tires.

Here’s what you will need:

Chocolate Cupcakes
Red Frosting
Red Sugar
Red & White Fondant
A Black Food Color Pen
Yellow Chocolate Candy Coated Sunflower Seeds OR Yellow M&Ms
Mini Rollo

I liked the idea of Lightning McQueen having a little sparkle to him. Plus, I felt it would make a good pallet for everything else. So I frosted the chocolate cupcakes with red frosting and rolled them in red sugar.

I decided to make windshields out of red and white fondant, but I think a large marshmallow cut in half and iced on all but the cut portion would work too.The windshields started off as just squares that I let sit out to harden all day.

Then I cut them in half and trimmed them up.

This is where the black food color pen comes in. I used that to add eyes.  My windshields could be the makings of some decent robots, or maybe an edible dominoes game as well.

At this point, I’m still concerned I’m making robots, and not the intended Lightning McQueen.

This is where he comes together though. He gets mini Rollos for wheels and yellow chocolate covered candy coated sunflower seeds for headlights. I originally bought M&Ms for headlights, but didn’t have enough yellow. Since they are more prevalent than the sunflower seeds, I’m certain you could use M&Ms as well. The sunflower seeds did make for the perfect proportion though.

Lastly, I made a little mouth out of fondant. This is where he gets all of his personality. I used a little circle cutter to do this.

Can you see that little mouth taking shape?

I have to admit, I love how each little mouth gives each one different personalities. Some are grinning, some are smirking and some are just quietly happy.

Cupcakes for Clara – It’s a Girl!

Most people who know me well, know that I am not a baby person. I don’t think all babies are cute, I don’t have an overwhelming urge to hold every baby I see and tiny baby clothes and shoes do nothing for me (Ok tutus on little girls are cute). However, I have been blessed to become “Auntie” to some really amazing kids, whom I love dearly. Moreover, I will be becomeing “Auntie” once again in March 2013, and was honored to play a huge part in revealing the gender of the baby of two of the most wonderful people I know.

I’ve also always wanted to make a gender reveal treat. We decided on cupcakes, and after much deliberation I decided on chocolate cupcakes filled with pink or blue icing, topped with white icing that is adorned with a pink and blue question mark. Here is Mom with her cupcake:

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I started with your basic chocolate cupcake, white, pink and blue butter cream frosting.Image.

I popped their tops.

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And then filled them with PINK icing. It’s a girl!

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And shoved the tops back on.

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Frosting please!!

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And top with a multi colored question mark.

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Take a bite for the big reveal!

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This is what everyone should have seen. Although, it was brought to my attention not everyone took a deep enough bite on the first go around. Note: Add more icing next time!

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I truly can’t wait to meet Clara Helen Hansen!

Funfetti For Leslie

Funfetti: It’s a classic. I made a classic white cupcake and added the left over sprinkes I had laying around. It’s a great way to use those random sprinkles up.

Funfetti cupcakes are as spunky and fun as Leslie. Happy Birthday!