Monday, May 10, 2010

Back to basics

I promised to bring cupcakes to my last fiction class (and last class ever I hope!), and got kind of worried about that promise after last week's chocolate-mint fiasco. Plus there was my attempt at root beer float cupcakes on Friday (I realize this is the first you've heard of these cupcakes. That's because I had such problems with them [such as not tasting like root beer in the slightest and not being frosted with the intended whipped cream, which once again failed to whip into more than a viscous liquid] that they weren't even worthy of being blogged about. Sad) that left me seriously doubting my baking abilities.

So for my class, I decided to take the easy way out and go with some nice standard yellow cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla frosting. Not only that, but I used a box of yellow cake mix instead of making them from scratch because I have yet to find a yellow cake recipe that I like (though now that I've bought vanilla extract I'll probably have a bit more luck. If you have a worthwhile recipe for yellow or white cake, email it to me please!).

I just made standard vanilla buttercream (butter + powdered sugar + vanilla + milk) and dyed it pink with the new food dye I bought. I got it at a cake-decorating store instead of the grocery store, so it worked really well with very little dye. The brand is AmeriColor (never heard of it before, but the lady who owned the store said it was the best, even better than Wilton, and she was very intense about cake-decorating so I'll take her word for it) and the color is fuchsia. I also got royal blue and egg yellow and had good luck with those on my cupcakes that did not resemble a root beer float in the slightest.

For the chocolate frosting, I used my favorite recipe (and by favorite I mean the only one I've ever used) from my 1969 Betty Crocker cookbook.

Chocolate Butter Frosting
fills and frosts two 8 or 9" layers
(or about a dozen cupcakes if piped on)

1/3 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate (cooled)
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
about 2 T. milk
  1. mix butter and cooled chocolate
  2. mix in powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla
  3. beat until fluffy

Really easy and really good. Make sure you use it as soon as you're done beating it because as the chocolate hardens the frosting gets dry and it's hard to spread (or breaks apart as you're piping it as it did for me).

I used the Ateco #829 for the chocolate frosting and the Wilton 1M for the vanilla. I've changed my mind now and I like the Wilton one better, so I'll definitely use that for my wedding cupcakes (to come in just over a month!).

I have two questions for all of you out there:
  1. If you have a good, flavorful yellow cake recipe, can you give it to me?
  2. How do I make whipped cream that actually gets stiff??? I tried not adding the powdered sugar and vanilla until I'd already beat it some. Didn't work.

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