Favorite Quote Ever :)

Life is short. Eat more cake!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blackberry Peach Cupcakes

These were just a fun little "science experiment" to use up some peaches and some blackberry curd I've had patiently waiting in the fridge! Fresh peach cupcakes, blackberry swiss meringue buttercream, a dollop of blackberry curd, topped by a slice of peach and a fresh blackberry. Loved how all the elements looked together, but even better was how it all tasted - super yummy!

Avengers Cupcakes

Wow, did I ever love working on these cupcakes! Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and custom fondant/gum paste toppers for a big Avengers fan's Birthday! Have to admit, my favorite was Thor - but I truly loved how each and every one turned out! Cupcake Avengers assemble! :)

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

So I recently treated myself to a new Nordicware bundt pan and since I've been pinning recipes for quite some time I had quite the decision on my hands with which one to try first! I turned to the help of my facebook friends and put it to a vote - and this one was the winner! Brown Eyed Baker's lovely blueberry lemon bundt cake with a powdered sugar glaze - oh, so wonderfully yummy! I highly encourage you to try this when you get the chance!

Yo Gabba Gabba Cupcakes

My two were a little too old by the time this show came around, but it's still such a fun colorful-looking show and I had such fun working on these cupcakes for a special little guy's birthday! Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and custom fondant/gum paste toppers with all his favorite Yo Gabba Gabba characters - especially Plex! :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Banana Pudding Cupcakes

As a Southern girl, I pride myself in love of "traditional" Southern flavors - sweet tea, shrimp & grits and of course, banana pudding! What church dinner or gathering is complete without a huge dish of this delectable dessert? And when you luck up and get it still warm out of the oven? Wow. Nothing better! I am so very excited with the way the cupcake version of this most beloved treat turned out, and I hope you'll enjoy it as well!

For the cupcakes:
4 cups mini Nilla wafers, finely crumbed
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:
One 3.4oz box Jell-O Banana Cream instant pudding
Two ripe bananas

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners. For your Nilla wafer crust, you'll take the finely crumbed Nilla wafers (I pulsed mine in my food processor for a few moments) and mix them with the melted butter in a small bowl until completely combined. Take a spoonful of your mixture (just enough to cover the bottom of each cupcake liner) add to each cupcake liner, and press down (I used the bottom of a small, clean cup) to compact a little.

On to the cupcakes! In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are baking or cooling (completely up to you, this is so quick to make!) prepare your pudding filling according to directions on box. Peel and chop the bananas and fold into prepared pudding and place in fridge until needed.

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of a few inches of simmering water. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined. 

To Fill/Complete Cupcakes:
To fill my cupcakes, I simply used an apple corer - love those! Discard cupcake removed by corer. Fill space with a small spoonful of banana pudding mixture. To achieve the look of my cupcakes, I simply filled a disposable decorating bag with the meringue, snipped the tip off with scissors and piped a messy spiral of meringue on each cupcake. I then used a small spatula to "fluff" into peaks until I was satisfied with the look and placed in my preheated oven under the broiler to brown the meringue - caution - if you use the broiler as I did, keep an eye on your cupcakes! You could even keep your oven door open and watch them, they'll brown so quickly in a preheated oven! Enjoy!

Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Orleans Cupcakes

These were fun cupcakes to celebrate a friend's upcoming move to New Orleans! Chocolate espresso with vanilla buttercream and red velvet with cream cheese frosting (not pictured). Gum paste fleur de lis symbols were perfect in black and gold :)

Graduation/Elopement Cupcakes

When I received the request for these cupcakes (and the theme) I was excited, but also thought, "Hmm...now how am I going to say all that in cupcake form?!" A sister wanted cupcakes to 1) celebrate her sister's graduation from ECU 2) announce elopement with her boyfriend and 3) give a nod to the fact that they'd be soon moving overseas (whew!) That's a lot to say with cupcakes! I stuck with the pirate theme (since she graduated an ECU Pirate) and went from there! The cupcakes were red velvet with cream cheese frosting, lemon with light lemon cream cheese frosting and vanilla buttermilk with chocolate frosting.

Fireman's Helmet Cake

A fun request for the crew at Durham Fire Station 1! Vanilla buttermilk cake with vanilla buttercream filling, covered in fondant with all fondant details decorated just like one of their helmets!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

These were a fun flavor combination I've attempted before, only this time I used Swiss Meringue instead of American buttercream and pumped up the style factor for a bit more fun! Light lemon cupcakes with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, a slice of lemon and striped paper straw present a perfect form of cupcake refreshment! :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pink Zebra Princess Birthday Cake

Fun little cake to celebrate a special Princess' 7th Birthday! Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream filling, covered in fondant with fondant/gum paste details. Loved making the crown and sceptre for this regal little cake :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July First Birthday

Wow, was this theme ever right up my alley! I love all things Americana, so I've really been looking forward to working on this smash cake and cupcakes! The cupcakes were strawberry and vanilla buttermilk with vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with custom fondant/gum paste toppers. The smash cake was vanilla buttermilk with vanilla buttercream frosting and all fondant details. The little plaque on top reads "Miss Independence" ;)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes

It has been HOT around here. Quite so. So much so, that I thought it called for a nice cool, refreshing cupcake. (When CAN'T a cupcake fix a problem really?!) After picking up a bag of limes at the store, I knew just what to do! ;)

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes

Cupcake Batter
2 ¼ Cups Cake Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ Cups Buttermilk (at room temp)
4 Large Egg Whites (at room temp)
1½ Cups Sugar
1½ Tablespoons Fresh Lime Zest
½ Cup Unsalted Butter (at room temp)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Key Lime Extract

Lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 Large Egg Whites
1 Cup plus 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 lb (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, Softened, Cut into Cubes
2 Tsp Key Lime Extract
Pinch of Salt

Lime slices (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in another bowl. Put the sugar and lime zest in a mixer bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and with the paddle attachment beat at medium speed with a stand mixer until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the extract and lime juice, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the swiss meringue. Add egg whites and sugar to standing mixer bowl, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). Add key lime flavoring and salt, mix well.

Fill a piping bag with a fitted tip. Pipe on the buttercream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with lime slices and enjoy! :)

Lightning McQueen/Cars Birthday

Fun, Lightning McQueen and Cars themed Birthday for a special little guy! The main cake was a fun flavor combination - a neapolitan cake (one layer chocolate, one layer vanilla buttermilk and one layer strawberry cake) with vanilla buttercream filling, covered in fondant with all fondant details and a hand sculpted Lightning McQueen topper. Then there were chocolate and vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and custom fondant/gum paste toppers to match :)

Thing One/Thing Two First Birthday

Another fun, Seuss-themed first Birthday for twins! :) All vanilla buttermilk cake with vanilla buttercream filling, covered in fondant (Thing One and Thing Two were hand sculpted from a fondant/gum paste mixture). The smash cakes were vanilla buttermilk with vanilla buttercream frosting and fondant plaques reading "Thing One" and "Thing Two".