Cupcakes and Cousins

 

I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than to spend it with family.  Especially, when the family I’m hanging with are some of the coolest kids on the block.  I invited these cool kids over to the house to bake cupcakes with me and they said, “YES!”

I had text my sister-in-law, Mollie, to ask if Bella would want to be in a blog post with my kids and I. During our messaging, Mollie mentioned she was in the middle of teaching Bella how to make Madeline cookies. She sent me a bunch of pictures of Bella in the kitchen with her tag line, “Bella House Bakery.” That Bella is so cute and was thrilled about doing a blog post with my kids.

“Bella House Bakery”

Mollie brought Bella over to the house to join Charli, Fletcher, and me in the kitchen to bake and decorate cupcakes.  She was kind to stay and support me and the kids. Ok, support me and my compulsive kitchen cleaning disorder. IT’S A THING! I may get slightly anxious around messes in the kitchen and feel compelled to follow people around with napkins and a soapy sponge. Mollie was there to distract me in conversation and take some really great pictures. Thank you Mollie! 🙂

When Granny heard we were making chocolate cupcakes, I am pretty sure I heard a sonic boom and then Granny was at my door. Very strange timing!  Granny was a huge help in “cleaning the dishes.”

Speaking of chocolate cupcakes, this happened to be the flavor the kids decided on. We filled the cupcakes with a salted caramel sauce and topped them with a bittersweet chocolate ganache frosting.  The kids learned how to work with fondant to make decorations for their cupcakes.

Fondant is an edible dough that can be rolled out or molded into decorations. The texture is similar to play dough.

The pink rose on top of the cupcake was molded from fondant. You can buy the stuff from Michael’s Crafts stores, cake supply stores and on the Internet on such websites as Webstaurant.com. Fondant comes in all different colors to fit all of your decorating needs.

 

Working with fondant while the cupcakes are in the oven

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE GANACHE FROSTING:

Frosts 24 Cupcakes or 2 layer 8 inch cake

2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups of confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

1 recipe for bittersweet chocolate ganache (recipe to follow)

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoons of vanilla

In a stand mixer, beat together butter, pinch of salt and vanilla for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the cocoa powder and slowly mix together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer on high for about 1 minute. Once the ganache has cooled,  pour it into the bowl and turn the mixer on high for another minute.

Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and slowly turn the mixer on until the sugar has been incorporated. Stop the mixer and repeat with the second cup of powdered sugar. Once incorporated, turn the mixer on high for another 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

PREPARATION TIP:  You can prepare the chocolate ganache frosting in advance and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you are ready to use the frosting, let it come to room temperature then run a hand mixer through it to fluff up the frosting.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips

1/2 cup of heavy cream

Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pot. Do not let the cream come to a boil. Pour the hot cream over 12 ounces of chocolate. Let sit for one minute. Stir until the chocolate mixture is smooth. Set aside until cooled and you are ready to make the frosting.

PLANNING AHEAD: You can make the ganache up to a week in advance. Keep it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. You’ll have to warm up the ganache to loosen it up before making your frosting.

Watch out for Granny, we caught her “cleaning up” in the pantry.

The Elusive Frosting Eating Granny!

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES:

Makes 24 Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

2 cup granulated sugar

3/4  cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2  teaspoon of baking soda

1  teaspooon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup of vegetable or canola oil

1 cup of strong coffee, I use hot water and a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee

3 eggs

1  cup of sour cream

1  teaspoon vanilla

Line your cupcake pan with your favorite liners and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

PREPARATION TIP: Measure all your ingredients before you begin the mixing process. “Mise en Place” is a french culinary term that means, “Putting in place.” Having all your ingredients ready and in place will make you more efficient in the kitchen.

In a stand mixer, combine the first 6 ingredients and mix for 15 seconds. While the mixer is on medium speed, add the oil just until combined. Pour in the coffee just until combined.

Are your eggs already cracked and in a bowl? This technique makes it easy to add the eggs to the batter. Slink in one egg at a time and beat on medium high speed. When one egg is incorporated, repeat with the other eggs.

Stop the mixer and dump in your sour cream and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until your batter is cohesive, about 1 minute.

My favorite tool in cupcake baking is a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop. I use this tool to measure the batter for each cupcake. The cupcakes will be the same size and bake more evenly.

Scoop  the batter into each liner. Keep in mind cupcake liners are not created equal. For instance, some have a taller wall than others. You are looking to fill the liners about 2/3 full.

Lets pop those puppies in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, stick a toothpick in the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, then remove the cupcakes from the oven. If not, let them bake for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove the cupcakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

SALTED CARAMEL FILLING:

Fills 24 cupcakes

2 cups of granulated white sugar

1/2 cup of water

1 stick of butter, cut into 8 pieces

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of vanilla

In a large sauce pan over medium high heat, melt together the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Do not stir during the boiling process. You will want to keep a pastry brush and a glass of water near by. If you see any sugar crystals forming on the wall of the pan, wipe down the sides with the brush. These sugar crystals are destroyers of caramel.

When the sugar starts to turn an amber color, swirl around to ensure an even color through out. Remember to brush the sides down with water. It can take every bit of 10 minutes for the sugar to caramalize. Your patience will be rewarded. Take the sugar off the heat and whisk in the butter, the cream, salt and vanilla.

Pour the caramel sauce into another container and let it cool to room temperature.

PLANNING AHEAD: You can make this sauce up to a week in advance. Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.

PREPARATION TIP: This sauce can also be used as a topping for your ice cream sundaes, a drizzle over pancakes or waffles, used as a fresh fruit dip, or a mixer for your yogurt snack packs.

To fill the cupcakes, dig out a whole in the center of each one. I use a vegetable peeler. All the centers go into a bowl and we munch while we decorate!! No sense in wasting some perfectly good cake.

Pour the caramel sauce right into those little holes you left behind. You may have to allow the caramel to work its way to the bottom of the cupcake before you have to add more filling.

All your cupcakes are filled with caramel sauce. It’s time to frost them.

A piping bag with or without a piping tip is best for frosting cupcakes. You can buy them in bulk on the Webstaurant website or other places you find cake baking equipment.

Today, I hooked the kids up with a piping tip to give them their own decorative spin on their cupcakes. Notice the silver pieces at the end of the piping bags, those are tips and they have different edging for distinctive frosting textures. Fill each piping bag with frosting, cut the tip off the bottom of the bag and twist the top of the bag so the frosting moves towards the hole you created. Try to keep as much air as possible out of the bag or you will get frosting farts. They can be messy.

Start in the middle of the cupcake, squeeze from the top of the bag and swirl around. Repeat until all your cupcakes have been frosted.

 

 

The kids thought my cupcake looked like a dirty poop emoji until I topped it with the fondant rose. Kids can be so critical.

 

 

Beware of the “Granny,” if there is frosting laying around, she will find it!!

 

 

 

 

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