Thursday, October 31, 2013

Red Velvet Heart Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!

Being in the medical field, it only seemed appropriate to make disgusting (looking) cupcakes for Halloween. I came across these realistic heart cupcakes by Lily Vanilli and just HAD to try them.

Needless to say, even some of the strong-stomached individuals I work with had to pass just on looks. Most of them were brave enough (or intrigued enough) to try them though! They are basically a red velvet cupcake covered in cream cheese frosting then in fondant. The "blood" is made out of strawberry syrup mixed with red gel food coloring.

The cream cheese frosting I used is the recipe from the Carrot Cake Cupcakes I made...I liked it better than what I had used for the Blue Velvet Cupcakes because it seemed less sweet.

I can honestly say, these are the creepiest cupcakes I've ever made, but I loved every second of it, and they were perfect for Halloween! 


If they don't creep you out too much you should definitely try them! They look more complicated to make than they actually are!

Click here for my marshmallow fondant recipe.

red velvet heart cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

for the cupcake:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel food coloring (or 1 ounce liquid food coloring)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt.
  4. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to shortening mixture and beat on low. Add half of the buttermilk. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with flour mixture. Add food coloring. 
  5. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda. Add to cake batter, mixing until just combined. 
  6. Pour batter into prepared liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 12 - 15  minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely.
for the frosting:
{recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour}

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • milk or cream to adjust consistency of frosting, if necessary
Directions
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Beat in vanilla, then sugar. Add a teaspoon of milk or cream if frosting is too stiff to spread. Add additional sugar if it's too thin.
assembly

Ingredients
  • fondant
  • strawberry syrup (or other red syrup)
  • red gel food coloring
Directions
  1. Remove liners from cupcakes and set aside. Roll out an oval-shaped piece of red fondant about 1/4" in thickness. Make sure the oval will be large enough to fit around your cupcake with room to spare.
  2. Lightly frost the top and bottom of a cupcake, making it as smooth as possible (it may be easier if cupcakes are frozen first). Place a dab of frosting in the center of your oval and then place cupcake on its side on the dab of frosting. Place frosting on bare spots of cupcake (its okay if it isn't completely covered). 
  3. Bring up the sides of the fondant, having them meet at the top of your sideways cupcake. Use the extra fondant on top to carefully make three arteries. Don't worry about any wrinkling or folds in the fondant- they will make them look more gory once the "blood" is added. Repeat process with other cupcakes.
  4. Combine strawberry syrup and red food coloring until desired deep red color is created. Use a pastry brush to paint syrup mixture onto hearts and then spoon some into the artery holes and around the base of the heart.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

I. Love. These. Cupcakes. 
Period. 
That's really all I have to say about them.


I found this recipe written down in my recipe book from last fall, and knew that it must have been good (or why else would I have kept it?), but I didn't expect such a delicious and perfect fall cupcake. How had I ever forgotten it? It has the perfect flavor combination, and this year I decided to add toasted marshmallow frosting on top (not really sure, what I used last year), and it's fluffy and airy texture compliments the moist cupcake perfectly.


The decorations on top are made from marshmallow fondant (recipe here), and the toasting of the marshmallow frosting was a last minute decision. The last time I made marshmallow frosting I was discouraged because I really wanted to toast it, but I didn't have a torch and using a regular lighter was not cutting it. I still don't have a torch, but this time decided to put the freshly frosted cupcakes on a baking sheet and under the broiler for a minute or so (obviously watching them very carefully!). Now, you don't have as much control with the toasting this way, but they turned out pretty good, and if eaten right away you have that nice crunch to the outside of the frosting. Once toasted, the fondant hats and pumpkins didn't really stick to the top of the cupcakes on their own, so I had to dab some more frosting underneath them; after that they were fine!



To make the witch's hat out of fondant, I cut a circle out of the rolled fondant using a small measuring cup (if I had a small enough circle cookie cutter I would have used that). Then I made a teardrop shape out of the purple fondant and flattened the bottom. I bent the tip of the teardrop a couple times to get the desired effect I wanted, then attached it with a dab of water to the circle already cut out. Then I cut long strips out of green rolled fondant and attached those to the base of the hat. Finally I cut small pieces of rolled orange fondant to piece together to make the buckle on the hat.


The pumpkins were less labor-intensive. I simply rolled a small amount of orange fondant into a ball and then scored it using a toothpick. You don't need to drag the tip of the toothpick through the fondant, you can simply press the toothpick (lengthwise) into the fondant to make a groove. Then I took some of the leftover green fondant from the hats and made little stems to attach on top.


I hope you try these delicious cupcakes and have a happy Halloween!!


pumpkin ginger cupcakes with toasted marshmallow frosting
{Makes 24 cupcakes}

for the cupcakes:
{recipe from allrecipes.com}

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake pan. Whisk flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves and crystallized ginger in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 3 of the eggs, one at a time, beating between each one. Beat in vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Pour batter into liners.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until golden and tops spring back, about 20 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
for the marshmallow frosting:
{recipe from Martha Stewart}

Ingredients
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Place egg whites,  sugar and cream of tartar in heatproof bowl of electric mixer. Set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes (if you rub the mixture between your fingers you should not feel any graininess).
  2. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Use immediately to frost cupcakes as desired. Once cupcakes are frosted place on baking sheet and put under broiler on high for approximately 1 minute, until frosting is toasted (BE SURE TO WATCH CAREFULLY), or use a torch to toast frosting.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

As some of you may know (and most do not), I am a veterinary technician. I have been a vet tech for the past 4 years, and although it can be very stressful (as a recent 13 hour shift reminded me), it can also be very rewarding! The way I explain what a vet tech is to people is to say that it is basically a nurse for animals, but in reality it is so much more. Yes, like nurses we take care of the patients needs, take vital signs, etc, but we also do things that in human medicine there are other specialized fields for, such as taking x-rays, cleaning teeth, drawing blood and monitoring during anesthesia. And this past week was National Veterinary Technician Week, in order to honor all of those hard working vet techs out there! To do my share, I made some yummy fall-flavored carrot cake cupcakes decorated as dogs and cats (although where I work we see more than that!) to share with my coworkers!


To be completely honest, I did not plan my decorating very well in advance and ran out of frosting 3/4 of the way through (hence the plainly frosted ones you can see below), but I made the best of what I had!


The cake turned out extremely moist and delicious, as expected with carrot cake, and the cream cheese frosting was a perfect compliment!

If you're wondering what I used to decorate each animal, I can explain. For the cats, I used mini M&M's for the eyes and tongue, and then a sugar heart candy (kind of like Runts) for the nose. I cut marshmallows into triangles for the ears. Next time I would melt some chocolate and pipe it into triangles on waxed paper and use that for the ears. My brain was just not working properly that night.


For the dogs, I used chocolate covered raisins for the noses and mini M&M's for the eyes.



I did make mini cupcakes so if making regular-sized cupcakes you may need to use normal M&M's vs mini M&M's for decorating purposes.

I hope you find this recipe as delicious as I did and Happy Vet Tech Week to all the vet techs out there!

carrot cake cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
{recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour}

for the cupcake:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard muffin pans or cupcake pans; or line with paper liners and grease the papers (I used foil liners and did not need to grease them).
  2. Beat the oil, sugar, salt, eggs and spices together.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda, then stir into egg mixture.
  4. Add the carrots and nuts, and mix until just blended. Pour into prepared pans.
  5. Bake cupcakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and after about 10 minutes transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.

for the frosting:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • milk or cream to adjust consistency of frosting, if necessary
Directions
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Beat in vanilla, then sugar. Add a teaspoon of milk or cream if frosting is too stiff to spread. Add additional sugar if it's too thin. Frost cupcakes, as desired.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nutella Mousse Brownie Trifle

No this is not necessarily a fall recipe, but it is incredibly delicious! I don't own a trifle bowl, as I had never made one before this, so I ended up putting it in a regular glass bowl. It wasn't as pretty as it could have been, but I had no complaints from those devouring it!

Kind of lost the sense of layers because of the glass bowl vs a trifle bowl, so just use your imagination!
I don't know why I didn't think of putting in multiple little glasses at the time (although, I wouldn't have had enough of those either), especially considering how I love everything bite- size! Next time around I'll add some whipped cream to the top and sprinkle some more toasted hazelnuts on top to finish it off...or maybe add strawberries....or both! I really was just trying to use up some extra ingredients I had lying around the house, and I was not disappointed with the results!

nutella mousse brownie trifle

for the mousse:
{recipe from Mele Cotte}

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 16 ounces cream cheeese, at room temperature
  • 13 ounces Nutella
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped


Directions




  1. In stand mixer with whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and whip until cream holds stiff peaks. Carefully transfer the cream into bowl and refrigerate until needed.
  2. In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining one cup of powdered sugar, starting on low speed and gradually increase to medium speed until incorporated and smooth. Add Nutella and hazelnuts.
  3. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of whipped cream to lighten the hazelnut mixture. Then, carefully fold in remaining whipped cream. Transfer into bowl and cover completely witth plastic wrap or a cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
for the brownies:
{recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home}

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Directions
  1. Melt butter in large saucepan. Whisk cocoa in oil until smooth. Cook and stir over low heat until cocoa is blended. Transfer to large bowl; stir in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to cocoa mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  2. Spread into greased 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Assembly

Cut up brownies into small pieces and put a layer of the chunks on bottom of trifle bowl. Layer mousse on top. Then place another layer of brownie over mousse. Repeat process until all mousse and brownie is used up, preferably ending with brownie layer on top.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

It's finally fall! Everybody seems to love fall, not only for the cooler weather (which I honestly could do without...give me a little heat any day!), but for the wonderful flavors that come only in this season. You know what I'm talking about- pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple... need I say more?

I decided to ease myself into the fall season with a tasty Snickerdoodle Cupcake recipe. I simply altered the cinnamon cupcake recipe I used for the PiƱata Chocolate Churro Cupcakes. In order to make it more snickerdoodle-esque I subbed in cream of tartar.



At the end I was supposed to add a "light dusting" of cinnamon on top, but unfortunately that turned into a rather "generous" and uneven amount of cinnamon on top of the frosting so I decided to just mix the cinnamon into the frosting and then repipe it on. It seemed to work out well and was very delicious!

snickerdoodle cupcakes
Makes about 12 cupcakes

for the cupcake:
{recipe adapted from love and olive oil}

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Combine milk and vinegar in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Whisk in sugar, oil and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until mostly smooth (there will still be some lumps). 
  4. Fill the liners with about 3 tablespoons of batter (just under 2/3 full). Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
for the frosting:
{recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart}

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions
  1. Combine 3/4 cup sugar with water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally  until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring until syrup reaches 230°F.
  2. Meanwhile, in bowl of standing electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running add remaining tablespoon of sugar, beating until combined.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230°F, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed pour syrup down side of bowl in slow, steady stream. Raise to medium-high speed and whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching bottom of bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Whisk in cinnamon. Use immediately and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.