Monday, September 27, 2010

S'more cupcakes - Part II Cupcake

My goal for this cupcake was to be as like a s'more as possible. I wanted all 3 elements (chocolate, graham & marshmallow) to exist individually and combine in your mouth like they would in the real thing. Most of the recipes I found, however, were chocolate graham cupcakes which tasted more like a chocolate cupcake with a very slight hint of graham. Like the marshmallow frosting (see previous post) I ended up making 3 different recipes until I came to the one I liked.

The first was a recipe I found for vanilla graham cupcakes with chocolate pudding. It wasn't what I wanted since it had chocolate mixed in, but I thought it would be so moist that it was worth trying. Once I had started making it, I realized the pudding was added AFTER the cupcakes were done! Basically, you made cupcakes, cut them in half, and inserted a pudding center. I definitely didn't want to do that, so I mixed in chocolate chips instead. Well, they didn't rise much and came out pretty dry. By the next day, you could have used them as a hockey puck!

The next recipe was from a famous bakery known for fun cupcake flavors, including s'mores. It also had the chocolate mixed in (as cocoa powder). This was definitely more of a "cakey" flavor but you could barely tell the graham was in there.

The final (and winning!) recipe was basically a recipe I made up using a little bit of each previous recipe. I definitely liked having chips versus cocoa powder to keep the chocolate and graham flavors more separate. I added an egg yolk to make it more moist since the graham crumbs are pretty dry. The overall flavor actually resembled a chocolate chip cookie so you could call it that too if you wanted I guess!

Here is the recipe. Keep in mind, I made this up as I went so if yours doesn't turn out how you want, you might need to tweak it a little!

Graham & chocolate cupcakes

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 whole egg & 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup graham crumbs
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 bag choc chips (I used mini chips)

In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla. Combine the flour, graham, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Graham tends to be clumpy so be sure to mix well.

Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes until browned on top. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

S'more cupcakes - Part I Icing

This recipe turned into a serious project! Three attempts later, I finally have an amazing cupcake! First of all, I found several different versions of both cupcakes and icings. So I tried several and came up with a tweaked version for my own.

Let's start from the top - the icing (or frosting - what's the difference anyway??) I wanted to have a serious marshmallow flavor. I first tried a recipe that required a double boiler and actual marshmallows cut into bits. Since it included marshmallows, I thought it would be the best. And, I have an original Chocolate Factory double pan! Yes, "As seen on TV"! The recipe had several good reviews and sounded like exactly what I wanted. Maybe I did something wrong, I don't know but my icing turned out pretty runny. I think it would have worked great for a cake, but cupcakes need an icing that can stand on it's own. Here's a glimpse of the first draft cupcake:

Doesn't look too bad, but not the fluffy frosting look I wanted. And the taste was just okay.

Next I tried to make my own fluff and use that in a recipe. Making marshmallow fluff proved to be super easy (and tasty!!) so I would recommend it to anyone. There's several websites with recipes and they are all about the same - egg whites (or meringue powder), corn syrup and powdered sugar. The fluff was perfect, but when I tried adding extra sugar to make it more stiff, I ended up with an icing that looked like it would be perfect, but actually slowly lost all shape. Within an hour, the cupcakes were completely coated with marshmallow. I mean completely - even the paper!! So here's the second (failed) attempt at MM icing:


So after searching around and looking at different recipes, I found the one that worked for me. Of all places, it was on Rachael Ray's website. I am definitely NOT a fan of hers. I can't say why for sure, she just seems really annoying to me. But anyway, apparently she (or her staff) knows something about icing!

Simply put, this recipe is a buttercream with reduced sugar and added fluff. I changed it a bit to be a smaller batch and added a bit more marshmallow. I think adding marshmallow flavoring wouldn't hurt since marshmallow generally just tastes like sugar on it's own. Plus, it would probably be better s'more flavoring if I toasted it. I've read some people will put the frosted cupcakes into the broiler and brown the tips but I don't trust my broiler to work right. Sounds like an excuse to buy a new kitchen gadget! Anyway, here's the recipe as I did it and I liked the flavor without the aforementioned improvements:

Marshmallow Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter @ room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups marshmallow fluff (I made mine but you can use store bought)

beat butter until creamy
add sugar slowly, beating until creamy
add vanilla then slowly add fluff

And here's the final product:

Exactly what I was looking for! Like I said, toasting would have definitely made a great cupcake even better, but it was given the thumbs up by everyone who tried them!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CUPcake Chemist???

Well, I'm jumping on the bandwagon! I'm officially in love with cupcakes. For several reasons -first of all, everyone loves them too! You bring a cake to someone and they'll love it. You bring cupcakes and they will be eaten in minutes! Not sure why exactly, but that's the truth. Plus, you can do so much more, it's easier to divide it up among friends & coworkers, and they're just so darn cute!!

So I've decided that every week I'm going to make (at least) one new cupcake. This weeks challenge - S'mores! To be honest, I tried it over the weekend and it was another delicious fail. The cake was a little dry (too much graham) and the marshmallow just turned to liquid and oozed over top. Not the cute s'more-ish look I was going for. So here's to attempt #2.

Stay tuned for more cupcake adventures!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


My next frosting drawing attempt was for a double birthday cake for my girlfriend and her cousin. He is a huge Bengals fan (as am I) so I made a Bengals logo. I tried doing the same wax paper tracing as before but freezing it once dried. I had the same messy result.

Then I did it again but first put a layer of powdered sugar down on the wax paper, let it dry for an hour and put it in the freezer. I pretty much wanted to cover all the bases! Well, it worked much better, but I wouldn't say it's 100% successful. I managed to get most of the design off and onto the cake, then I freehand piped in the missing side (on the right obviously). It came out not too bad. I wasn't ashamed to give it to them at least.

Ironically, after all that work (and it was HOURS in between each attempt) I realized I have a projector! DUH! So next attempt will be onto the cake which should solve all these problems and result in a cake that will BLOW YOUR MIND! Ha ha!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Great idea...okay cake

I was asked to make an Ohio State wedding shower cake. I was pretty excited about this because it combines my two favorite things - a football team I love & cake! As usual, the internal parts of the cake were easy peasy. I made a basic chocolate butter cake with chocolate buttercream between the layers. I iced the outside with classic buttercream. As I'm sure I've said before, I hate piping icing and I pretty much suck at it. So I opted for doing little dots around the outside ring. I was going for a wedding cake look.

The bad part is the chocolate inside was trying to ooze a little and when I iced around the outside, I kept noticing a dark ring where the chocolate layer was in the middle. I put ribbon around to hide the darkness. To be honest, this might have been one of those things where no one else would have noticed but it drove me nuts!

Now came the fun part. I wanted to incorporate the OSU logo but I didn't want it to look like the groom graduated or something. I came up with lots of ideas, but the one that sounded best to me was to link two OSU "O"s to look like linked wedding rings. I first printed out the logo and cut and pasted them to look like what I wanted. Then I made up some royal icing and piped it onto wax paper.

Here is when things went horribly wrong. It seemed like a great idea. I know from reading (and personal experience) that royal icing will dry to an incredible hardness. Unfortunately, if it's sitting on wax paper, it stays moist underneath. So, when I tried to remove the decoration I made it came apart completely. I was so upset about this, I almost had a breakdown. Due to time restraints, I had to just pipe it on top of the cake. It came out like this. I hated it. But I also became determined to do better.

Expect more tales of my piping adventures. I'm going to get this icing to work if it kills me!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Beer + Chocolate = Yes please!!

A few weeks back we had a house warming party and my friend Rob brought us the funnest gift -a 6 pack mix of random beers! Obviously Rob knows who he's shopping for. Well one of them was a raspberry ale which I thought would be great in a cake. Why not.

I looked around and found a recipe from a fellow blogspotter - which used Guinness as an ingredient. Well, I'm actually not that into Guinness (don't tell my Irish relatives!) but I do love the idea of booze and cake! I'm thinking it would actually have lended a great flavor. Maybe I'll try it that way sometime later.

Here is my modified version. Note that I had to add more chocolate because there's never enough! Clearly it was agood call because everyone LOVED them! I made 4 different kinds of cupcakes for the party and these guys were all snatched up. I'd say that's pretty good proof!

1 cup of ale (or stout!)
2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
1 large bar of Special Dark chocolate melted (I used one of those huge baking bars)
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Rounded 1/2 cup of cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt chocolate bar and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the cocoa powder, and add stout. Slowly wisk in melted chocolate. Let the mixture cool. Blend flour, sugar, baking soda, salt together. In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream cheese together. (**This is much more difficult than I thought it would be. Maybe nuking cream cheese in the microwave would have helped) When blended, add the stout/chocolate mixture to the eggs about a quarter cup at a time, and blend, continuing this step until the eggs are tempered. Add the flour mixture and stir until well-mixed. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake about 20 minutes. Yields approx. 24 cupcakes.

These cupcakes turned out more like brownies. Probably the chocolate bar. I think next time I make these (and there will definitely be a next time!) I will make them in mini cupcake pan like brownie bites.

I made up a simple chocolate icing with orange flavor to go on top but really it doesn't need any icing. If I'd had more time, I might have made up a dark chocolate icing just to make it over the top tasty!

The Most Delicious Fail (so far!)

My husband loves cherries. Pretty much anything cherry. Even that artificial flavor that I think tastes like cough syrup or throat drops. Not sure what to say about that exactly. He's weird. Anyway, I found this recipe for a chocolate cherry cake made with cherry pie filling on allrecipes ( that sounded awesome. Probably if I had just followed the recipe and made the cake, it would have been perfect. But that's not my style! I did follow the recipe, except I added chocolate chips. Because I believe less is not more - more is just enough! Then I made it into cupcakes. Because I'm currently obsessed with cupcakes. And I had to make some for the bachelorette party this weekend so I figured they would be a hit.

Well, it was so good! But structurally, it was such a fail. The little paper cupcake wrappers couldn't hold all that goodness and they ended up looking like this.

The taste was AWESOME!! I took them into work and everyone loved them. Actually, we loved them too much which is why I wanted them out of the house!

I'm thinking I'll try this again. As a cake. Probably I will still add more chocolate. Because there is no such thing as too much chocolate in my opinion!

Product Review - Wilton Easy Pour Funnel

I saw this funnel and thought it was a great idea. I'm pretty much notorious for being messy so I'm interested in anything that can help. Also, I bought it off Amazon ( for about $4 so it was worth trying.

When I first opened the package, I was disappointed by the plug mechanism. It's basically just a piece of plastic you manually slide up and down the side to stop the flow through the funnel. I guess I expected it to be spring loaded or something so that it would be plugged all the time. But besides that, it was pretty much what you'd expect. I can't use it for cupcakes with any kind of solid bits (fruit, chocolate chips, etc.) but I used it for a few that I made this weekend and found it worked okay. A little messy, but about 1/2 of the usual mess, so that's nice.

It did have the unfortunate effect of making chocolate look like this.

I work in a medical laboratory. I see enough of that throughout the work week! HA HA! But, after baking, they did turn out nicely.

All in all, I think it's probably worth the $4 but not much more than that. Maybe if I get into candy making or something like that, this would be more handy.