Monday, February 28, 2011

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes and "Magical" Frosting

For Nate's 1st birthday, I tried my hand at homemade birthday cake.  I was very disappointed in that they were extremely dry and . . . . well, horrible.  So, I had decided I need to find the perfect "white" cake recipe and the perfect chocolate cake recipe of this next year so that I have a "go to" recipe.  I did NOT think I would find one this quickly! 

I made this recipe for Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes recently and they turned out perfectly.  They were moist and slightly dense and so tasty!  I also experimented for the first time ever with Frosting and there is no word for this frosting other than "Magical".  It is soooo good!  It does take planning but is actually very easy to pull together as long as you read the recipe first and know what you have to do!

Both of these recipes come from Mels Kitchen Cafe

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
*Makes between 16-24 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 for light, aluminum or silicone muffin pans or 325 for dark, nonstick muffin pans. Line about 16-24 muffin cups with liners and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in eggs and egg yolk one at a time and then mix in the vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine. Add 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix. Add the final 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix and then add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and the batter is smooth. Spoon out batter into lined cupcake pan, filling only halfway or just barely over halfway.
Bake for about 15-18 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven based on the type of muffin pan you have), until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with moist crumbs. Don’t over bake!
Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired
No, I did not make these LOL  These are from Mels Kitchen Cafe.  Once I master the cake and icing part - I do want to try my hand at making the cuties like these!
The Best Frosting (Or Magical Frosting)
*This frosting is so magically delicious, it would be perfect on everything from sugar cookies to pumpkin bars to cake. Options are endless!
*Note: this frosting takes a bit of advance planning since the frosting needs time to cool so plan ahead! Also, the frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. When ready to use, let the frosting stand at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours. Beat with stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute. Finally, I pipe a lot of cakes for my kids’ birthdays (think: Spiderman covered in Wilton stars) and although I haven’t tried it, I highly suspect that an hour or so of chilling time will lend this frosting nicely to being piped. When I try it, because I will, I’ll update the recipe with my notes.

*Makes about 4 cups frosting (plenty for two 9-inch cake layers)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1% with stellar results)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.
Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. I suspect if you chill it for an hour or so, it would be stiff enough to actually pipe with instead of frosting with a rubber spatula.

Chocolate Version: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt mixture in the first step. Once the frosting has been mixed for five minutes and is light and fluffy, mix in 3 ounces of semisweet chocolate that has been melted and completely cooled to room temperature.
*Note from Mel: I made the chocolate version a few days after I originally posted this recipe and it is delicious! The color wasn’t quite as dark as I was hoping for; it definitely made for a lighter-colored chocolate frosting but the chocolate flavor is deep and terrific. I increased the melted chocolate to 4 ounces when I made it and may even do 5 ounces next time
My Notes:
1. I seriously could have eaten the bowl of frosting without a cupcake.  Yes, it was that good and I am not a frosting person at all.  My husband also said it was fantastic
2. I mixed up the cupcakes first and while they were cooking, I did the frosting.  When cooking it, it turns from "easy" to whisk to "not easy" to whisk almost all at once so don't walk away from it.
3. Once done, I just let both cupcakes and frosting cool on to room temp for a few hours and frosted them. (I did read recently that you can put the frosting bowl on top of a bowl with ice in it to cool it faster - haven't tried it but you could if you are in a rush!)

Next - I still need to try her chocolate cake recipe and another frosting recipe she has as well :-)

Weekly Challenge Week 4 - The Kitchen

It's time for another challenge!  This week A Bowl Full of Lemons is challenging us to get our kitchens organized.  I know it sounds like a huge task for one week but, if you have followed her challenges since the beginning of the year she also did a 21 day challenge in January where we conquered quite a few individual areas in the kitchen so there is less to do than you might think . .. unless you are me LOL  This is another challenge, like last week's gift wrap challenge, that will not get done this week.  Funny thing is, I just started a kitchen "re-do" last week and part of that process is totally re-organizing my kitchen by moving things around in cabinets to make it more user friendly.  I have one cabinet painted and some sample colors on the wall but other than that, progress will be slow! Here are a couple of pictures for you - hopefully I'll have a few more later this week!  Make sure you check out the link above, though, to see how Toni has organized her kitchen - it is wonderful!!

The first paint goes up!  The cabinet is painted and the door is done, just need to put it back up.  This is also a well organized cabinet :-)  I did this one along with the recent Recipe binder challenge from a few weeks ago.  The colors on the walls are samples - I know the dark green is a no go - the other two are still in the running but I have a third color to add to those as well as soon as I get it mixed.

This is the next cupboard to get done - we are planning to make this the trash cupboard.  The pots and pans are moving!  And, of course, if they move, that means I have to organize another cupboard and another . . you get the idea LOL 

This cupboard is organized and is not changing so I figured I would post this photo now. 

Toni is also hosting a give-away and it is perfect!  It's a Tupperware package and, the funny thing is, I was just thinking that I might have to search out a Tupperware site to see about getting some storage items for my kitchen - what better way than to win some!  :-)  So check it out and follow the instructions to enter if you want to try for it too!