Tuesday, January 08, 2008

cupcake factory

cupcake ingredients
what starts out as a neat and orderly pile of ingredients and equipment as you see pictured above quickly turns into a pile of flour and sugar and a fine coating of sticky over your entire kitchen when you start turning it into 72 cupcakes. this is what i did on saturday--i made cupcakes. all day long. and let me tell you, i can't think of many better ways to spend a day! i heart cupcakes. i love making them, and i love eating them--i consider them one of the Perfect Foods, along with bacon, biscuits, sauteed mushrooms, and really good ice cold gin martinis. (there are others, of course, but i am trying not to digress...y'all know how i am once i get going.)

for christmas, i received two cupcake cookbooks, cupcakes, by susanna tee, and cupcakes year round, by sara neumeier. the first is quite pretty and is great for inspiration and decorating ideas, but it isn't very practical for mass production of cupcakes. all of it's recipes make different amounts of cupcakes--one will be 12, one 16, the next 26, and so on. the other one, however, is awesome--every recipe i made on saturday came from this book, and all of them were fabulous. highly recommend this book! evey cupcake recipe is for 24 cupcakes, and every icing recipe is enough icing to generously ice all 24 (and then some).

i spent some time thinking about what flavors to make and how i wanted to decorate the cupcakes. i settled on 3 batches. 1) red velvet, because there's just something about red velvet that people like--it feels festive. 2) chocolate mocha because well--mmmm...chocolate. 3) carrot cake because i thought i should do something that had no chocolate in it for people who either don't like it or might be allergic or something. besides, carrot cake rocks. i made a big double batch of cream cheese icing, and then flavored it differently for each kind of cake. the red velvet got plain cream cheese icing, the carrot got cream cheese with lemon zest grated into it, and the mocha got crushed candycanes mixed in for a subtle peppermint flavor. (that was an idea from the cookbook, although they used buttercream as the base rather than cream cheese icing--they called them reindeer snacks. cute.)

white chocolate snowflakes

lemon twists
i decided to individualize each flavor of cupcake by decorating them differently. i made white chocolate snowflakes for the red velvet cupcakes. this is easier than it sounds--you just start with good quality white chocolate ( i used ghiradelli), melt it over a double broiler, put it into a pastry bag, and then draw out the snowflakes. i put a piece of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and drew them there. then i decorated them while they were still soft with silver dragees and put the whole sheet into the freezer. when they are frozen, just peel them off the foil as you need them. takes a little time, but it's worth it. the bit if white chocolate on top really adds a nice richness to the red velvet, too. for the carrot cake, i sprinkled the tops very lightly with cinnamon and added a sugared lemon twist to each one. the fragrance was awesome, and i think it added a bit of sophistication to these humble little carrot cakes. for the mocha ones, i just sprinkled them with a bit of red sanding sugar and added a few more pieces of crushed peppermint to the tops. simple and festive. i have to say, i was really happy with the results, and i am sad that all the cupcakes are gone. click on the picture below if you want bigger pictures and more detail.

cupcake mosaic


Kristin said...

i hesitate to comment for fear that i may sound like a food expert BUT i'm going to 'go for it' anyway...... :0)

when kieran is old enough to assist, he will LOVE this...my kids look forward to Christmas goodies each yr. because i give them bags of peppermint candy, a towel (to wrap the bag), and a hammer to smash the mints OUTDOORS. a friend of dylan's who was over to play kept coming indoors to see if i was ready to give them the bags b/c he was ready to smash some candy. there's just something about smashing and tools that excite kids about baking. :0)

gray la gran said...

ummmm ... red velvet cupcakes! that was my favorite !!!!

(hint hint)

hmmmm .... red velvet sundays ....