Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Branching Out

My friend, Jan, asked me to make some cupcakes for a baby shower she was throwing for a friend. Her friend really likes frogs and the party was girl-themed, so Jan asked me to make vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with pink and green frosting. I asked if I could expand my decorating horizons and try making some chocolate candy for the cupcakes. Luckily, Jan has faith in my abilities and said yes, so I made green frogs and pink baby feet from molded chocolate candy. Now, I know there are people who have a great deal more talent than I do with this technique, but it has been fun to learn and I think the end result was really cute and great-tasting.

Because I was making these cupcakes for a party and I didn't want to mess up the final product, I decided to go with an easier method of making the molded candies. I used Wilton's Candy Melts, which come in a variety of colors. Since they sell both pink and green candy melts, I was able to use those to make the candies. This time, I focused on getting the candies molded well and making sure there were no air bubbles. Next time, I want to use white chocolate or almond bark and dye it successfully (small steps!).

Here are the simple steps to making your own molded candies:

1. First, make sure your molds are free of any water. Water and chocolate (or candy melts) don't mix well, it can cause discoloration or streaking.

2. Next, pour the amount of chocolate into a microwave-safe container. You can also melt the chocolate over a double boiler. If you are using the microwave method as I did, start by microwaving for about a minute, then mix with a spoon. If more time is needed to melt it, use 30 second intervals to ensure the chocolate doesn't melt. Once the chocolate becomes a smooth consistency, it is ready to put into the mold. (If you are using the double-boiler method, use a small amount of water, put the top bowl with the chocolate in it on and heat over medium-low heat until the chocolate is smooth, mixing constantly.)

3. I found that piping the chocolate into the mold was easiest and less messy. Fill in the molds and then gently tap the mold to remove the air bubbles. Check the bottom of the molds to make sure all the bubbles were gone.

4. Now, place the mold on a flat surface in the freezer for at a minimum of 10 minutes. They will harden and you will be able to pop them out easily. Once you remove them from the mold, trim the excess chocolate.

And here is what you get when they are done:

And once these cute little candies are done, you can place them on top of your frosted cupcakes and make a truly special treat for a party!

I hope you enjoyed experimenting with me! I hope to keep molding candy and developing my technique. I look forward to learning other decorating techniques to make my cupcakes unique and fun.

Tip of the Blog:

You can cool your chocolate candies in the fridge instead of the freezer, however, it will take longer. Also, setting your candy in the freezer helps to remove the chocolate easily from the mold and also helps to give the chocolate a shiny finish, which really makes your candy look great!

Next: PB & J cupcakes...a great way to celebrate back to school :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Miniature Creations

My son, Ethan, is starting kindergarten on Monday. Last night, we had a back to school (or, in our case, a welcome to school) picnic. The families were asked to bring a dessert. So, what do you think I made? That's wait, that's not right! Yes, I made cupcakes. But as I thought about what flavor to make, it dawned on me that I could take this opportunity to try a different aspect of cupcake-making. Since I wanted to share my dessert with as many people as possible, I decided to make mini-cupcakes. And I picked one of my favorite flavors-my snickerdoodle cucpakes.
These were so cute and they were so much fun to make. I actually only have one mini-muffin pan, so it was kinda taking me forever to bake these. I ended up doing two batches of mini-cupcakes, then making regular sized cupcakes with the remaining batter. Here are the "mommy and baby" cupcakes...

Anyway, I just wanted to share a fun variation of the traditional cupcake. It really doesn't matter the size, these were delicious and fun to share. If you want to make these yourself, just use my Snickerdoodle cupcake recipe ( However, when baking them, only bake for 13 minutes and you will have a yummy mini-treat!
Tip of the Blog:
Once your cupcakes are done baking, take them out and let them cool for no more than a couple of minutes, then remove them to finish cooling on a cooling rack. If you keep them in the baking pans too long, they will continue to bake and could dry out. If you need to cool them fast, stick them in the fridge or freezer and they will be ready sooner.
Next post: how to mold chocolate to decorate your cupcakes!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Oreo Cupcake Creation

I think Oreos are by far one of the best cookies out there. Chocolate cookie and sweet cream filling-what could be better? How about an Oreo cupcake? And not just any Oreo cupcake-an Oreo cupcake made from scratch with a Double Stuf Oreo! I know, it sounds ridiculously indulgent, and it is :) 
Since I like to start the post with a pic of the final product, here it is.  What do you think of the zebra liners?! 

For the chocolate cupcake part, I used my basic chocolate cupcake recipe.  To make these Oreo cupcakes, I added A LOT of Oreos.  For this recipe, you will need two packages of Double Stuf Oreos (you could always buy the regular Oreos, but the Double Stuf are so much better!). 

Here is how to make these sweet treats:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line muffin pans with liners as usual, but in each cup place a whole Oreo cookie.

2. Next, chop up about 8 cookies, coarsely.

I had a helper to cut up the cookies for me-my husband, Jason!  Isn't he doing a great job?!
3. Make the chocolate cupcake batter.  Add the cut up cookies to the batter at the end and gently mix in.

4. Fill the liners about 2/3 full.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool briefly in muffin pans, then remove cupcakes to cool completely.

Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Cream together butter and cream cheese.
2. Add vanilla, then add powdered sugar slowly until blended well.
3. Put about 10 cookies in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add to frosting.
4. Pipe onto cupcakes.  Garnish each cupcake with a whole Oreo.

These are truly a treat for anyone who loves Oreos.  Take a look at how yummy they look inside...

and some more pictures of the final product, because they just look so good...

Tip of the Blog:
When making the cupcake batter, over mixing is a no-no.  It will make the cupcakes heavy and dense, instead of light and airy.  Mix until the ingredients are just combined.  I used to over mix my batters because I wanted to make sure everything was well incorporated, but I have learned my lesson.  Instead, make sure your ingredients are brought to room temperature (unless the directions say otherwise) to help blend them faster and you will avoid the need to over mix. 

After making these cupcakes, I got inspired to try making cupcakes using the Golden Oreos, check back to see how those turned out!  Also, I was recently asked to make cupcakes for a baby shower, I will post some pictures soon to show you what I came up with.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Perfect Chocolate Cupcake

Sorry for taking so long to get a new post up, my family and I were on vacation at the beach and just got back last night. We went to Wildwood for a fun week of playing the ocean, here is picture of my happy family:

But back to the cupcakes, my husband is my sounding board for figuring out what new cupcake flavor to try.  He helps me to come up with new flavors, and lately, he has been asking me to make him an all chocolate cupcake.  His request: a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate mousse filling topped with chocolate buttercream frosting.  I know, it sounds decadent and possibly borders on chocolate overload, but I gave it a go.  Here is a "taste" of the finished product...

There isn't a new recipe here, I have made all of the components of this cupcake in other cupcakes.  All I did was add them together, and the result was an explosion of chocolate love.  For those that want to know what goes into these, read on (if you don't really care because you know I will make them for you and save you the trouble, just scroll down to look at the pictures!)

Chocolate Decadence Cupcakes
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Wilbur's dutch cocoa-for those local folks who want to use something truly decadent!)
- 2 c sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 pkg sugar free chocolate pudding mix (1.4 oz)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c sour cream
- 1 c coffee, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 30 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Whisk in sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, eggs, vanilla, sour cream and coffee.
4. Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
5. Divide evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 24-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Mousse Filling:
- 2 c heavy whipping cream
- 1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix

1. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. 
2. Add pudding mix and continue to whip mixture until stiff peaks form. 
3. Core out holes in the center of each cupcake using corer or by using a knife to cut out a hole.

See my Tip of the Blog from Sweet Strawberries for an easy way to cut out holes in your cupcakes

4. Fill a pastry bag with a #12 tip with mousse.  Fill each cupcake with the mousse. 

Overfill the cupcakes with the mousse slightly, to ensure that the cupcakes will have enough filling.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 c butter, softened
- 3/4 c cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 c powdered sugar
- 3-4 tbsp milk

1. In mixing bowl, cream the butter.
2. Add cocoa powder and vanilla extract
3. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
4. Add the milk (start with 3 tbsp, and add the 4th tbsp if necessary) and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
5. Pipe onto cupcakes and enjoy your treat!

Tip of the Blog:

When using a pastry bag to pipe on frosting or fill a cupcake, only fill the bag halfway.  If you overfill the bag, you won't be able to close the bag well and get a good grip on it to pipe well.  Another trick I learned from a decorating class I took was to fold the bag over itself  (see the pic above) when filling to get the frosting to the tip easier and keep the outside of the bag as clean as possible.  Once filled, twist the top of the bag to keep air out and to keep a good grip on the bag as you pipe.