White velvet cupcakes

Velvet. Silk. Leather. At what point do textile-inspired recipe names become weird? Oh, who cares. I have never eaten white velvet before, and I’ve been curious about it for some time.

I found an amusing white velvet recipe on cookbookmaniac that appealed to me, and I paired it the cream cheese frosting in my Betty Crocker book.

Good to know before you start: This recipe uses cake flour which is milled from soft wheat flour (as opposed to all-purpose flour which is milled from a blend of soft and hard wheats), which results in a finished product with a very tender crumb.  Cake flour also has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour.

You can find regular cake flour and self-rising cake flour, which already contains salt and baking powder. I used self-rising, so I skipped the salt entirely and lowered the amount of baking powder. The original recipe calls for full cream milk and caster sugar which I don’t have, so I substituted with granulated white sugar and 2% milk.

Cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated. If you are like me, and don’t like cold cupcakes, don’t frost them ahead of time. Store the cupcakes at room temperature and frost them as needed.

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 36 mini cupcakes

Cost per cupcake: $1.17

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid

Cake ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites, room temp
  • ⅔ C milk
  • 1½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 C self-rising cake flour
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP baking powder (instead of 2½ TSP)
  • NO SALT (instead of ½ TSP)
  • ½ C butter, room temp

Frosting ingredients:

  • one 8 0z block of cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 4 C icing sugar

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 175°C / 347°F. Use rack that is third from the top.

2. Separate the egg whites into a medium bowl, and save the yolks for something else. Stir in the vanilla and three tablespoons of the milk. Whisk until just combined.

You know, I really wanted to show you a picture of me separating egg whites like a pro, but since nobody was home to be my camera man you’ll just have to use your imagination.

3. In your mixer, with a flat beater attachment, add: cake flour, white sugar, and baking powder. Beat on Low for 30 seconds.

4. Add butter and remaining milk. Beat on Low until combined, and then beat on Medium for 90 seconds.

This is the first time I’ve used the flat beater and it is AWESOME. It is so much easier to beat ingredients with, why did  I use the wire whip for so long??

5. Add half the egg white mixture and continue on Medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the remaining egg whites, beat another 30 seconds.

6. Spoon into muffin tins.  Bake 14 minutes. Cool in pan for 1 minute, before transferring to cooling rack for at least one hour before frosting.

7. Make your frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat well, and add the icing sugar one cup at a time. Beat until smooth.

(Edit Aug 17, 8:40am) Got up early to take one more picture.

Verdict: Delicious. White velvet cake is really good. My frosting turned out very runny though, next time will use a little less milk, and more icing sugar. These were a big hit, Boyfriend was quite impressed.

It has an unique texture and comes out of the oven so pale, an interesting change from the cupcakes I’m used to. Really enjoyed these.

No idea why I only got 36 minis instead 48, which is what I usually get from converting a cake recipe to minis.

I was discussing this recipe with Best Friend, who (poor girl) has never eaten any type of velvet cake.  Can you imagine? That’s going to be remedied STAT next time I go home.

Next up: blue velvet!

Playlist: A-ha – Take On Me

Devil’s cupcakes

If being damned meant I could eat devil’s food cake every day then send me straight to hell.

What makes a “classic” devil’s food cake recipe is debatable, but one thing is not open for discussion, and that is the simple fact that devil’s food cake is delicious. Alternately known as the the best cake ever, devil’s food is a rich, moist, airy cake.

I was compelled to make these after several late-night Diablo 2 sessions with Boyfriend. After a few dungeon crawls which culminated in fighting various demons and devils, I woke up the other day with three words on my mind: devil’s food cake. It’s divine inspiration.

These were made from the “classic devil’s food cake” recipe in my beloved Chocolate! book by Good Housekeeping, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. I planned to make chocolate buttercream but when it was time to make the frosting I forgot, so these beauties are frosted with luscious vanilla buttercream.

Good to know before you start: although you can substitute buttermilk by adding white vinegar to regular milk, it is worth using real buttermilk for this. I’ve done the substitution a few times, but I find the flavour and texture of cake batter made with real buttermilk is much, much better. I spent $2.69 on a 1L carton.

I used to avoid buying it because I had no idea what to do with the leftover milk, but I will just MAKE MORE CUPCAKES NOM NOM NOM.

Before you open the buttermilk shake it well.

I was experimenting with camera settings for these shots. My apologies if the lightning is off.

Time required: 1.5 hours

Yields: 48 mini cupcakes, 24 regular cupcakes, or three 8″ round cakes

Cost per mini cupcake: $1.08

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42-$52 depending on the quality of vanilla extract

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer!
  • 2 mini cupcake trays

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ½ C unsalted butter (one stick), room temp
  • 1 C golden brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 1½ C buttermilk

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Place cupcake liners in trays. (For round cakes, grease the pans, line with parchment paper, and dust with cocoa.)

2. In a medium bowl combine: flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl at low speed, beat: butter, brown sugar, and white sugar, until blended. Increase speed to high: beat 5 min until it’s light and fluffy.

4. Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time.

Sometimes when Boyfriend walks into the kitchen, he will find me already in there, staring at my blue mixer.

“What are you doing?”

“Admiring.”

“Er…okay then.” (as he slowly backs away)

5. Beat in vanilla.

6. Add the dry mixture and buttermilk alternating like so: half of the flour, all the buttermilk, and the rest of the flour. After each addition beat until just combined. Scrape the sides a few times and make sure the batter is smooth.

7. Bake times: 14-15 min for mini cupcakes, at least 20 min for full size cupcakes, 30-35 min for 8″ rounds.

If making the round cakes, place two pans on top rack and one on bottom rack, no pan should be completely on top of another to allow air circulation.

A toothpick inserted should come out nearly clean.

Let cupcakes cool in pan one minute before removing from pan and placing on rack.

Let cakes cool 10 minutes before using thin knife to loosen edges and inverting onto rack.

Cool for at least one hour before frosting.

8. Frost! Oops. Forgot about making chocolate buttercream and made my regular vanilla buttercream for this: cream together 5 TBSP of unsalted butter at room temperature with 3 C of icing sugar. One at a time, mix in 1 TBSP milk, 1 TSP pure vanilla, and 1 TBSP lemon juice. If desired add a few drops of food colouring.

Verdict: Delicious. OMG. Delicious. Love love love. Real buttermilk batter is where it’s at.

Although I like mini cupcakes (because I can argue that eating two is only the equivalent of one), making them is aggravating. Manipulating batter into such a small space is so annoying. I have half a carton of buttermilk left though. Ah hah! I’ll just make full size cupcakes!!

I’ve been looking for an excuse to practice making buttercream roses. Perhaps I failed at making a perfect rose (more of an artists’ interpretation of a white carnation) but whatever! I still make heavenly cupcakes. The humidity is part of the problem, normally my frosting is firmer, but it’s been so humid and it came out slightly runny, which made is easy to pipe but it couldn’t hold a shape well.

I’ll make up another batch in a few days and will definitely go for chocolate buttercream.

What is your favourite cupcake and frosting flavour combination?

Playlist: Depeche Mode

O Canada cupcakes – by Patty!

Nothing says Canada like red, white, and maple syrup. Happy birthday Canada! =)

These cupcakes have a lot in common with red velvet, but they are not red velvet, they are full of real maple goodness instead. I wanted to make something with our official colours, and a flavour that is undeniably Canadian.

Time required: 2 hrs

Yields: 24

Cost per cupcake: $1.75

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • muffin tin & cupcake liners
  • KitchenAid mixer

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 2¼ C flour
  • 1¼ C granulated white sugar
  • ½ C butter (one stick)
  • 1¼ C milk
  • 1 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 3 TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP pure maple syrup
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • red food colouring, I just winged it

Buttercream frosting ingredients:

  • 3 C icing sugar
  • 5½ TBSP butter, room temperature
  • ¼ TSP pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ TSP pure maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions:

CUPCAKES:

1. Pre-heat oven 177°C / 350°F.

2. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.

3. Beat on High for 4 minutes, scraping sides constantly.

Once everything is in, add the food colouring.

Totally didn’t bother measuring the red dye.

Thinking, “When it starts to resemble Canadian red I’ll stop.”

Perhaps not the best plan.

Yuck, pink isn’t one of Canada’s colours, this won’t do!!

Nothing says “I love my country” like vulva pink batter…  ah well, maybe a miracle will occur in the oven. (Hah, get it?)

4. Ladle into muffin pan, filling about two-thirds of the way.

5. Bake 20 min, and immediately remove cupcakes from pan and place on cooling rack.

6. Cool at least 1 hr.

FROSTING:
1. In large bowl, cream butter and icing sugar together.
2. Add half of the milk, and mix well.
3. Add vanilla.
4. Add remainder of the milk and lemon juice.
5. Mix until you can no longer feel sugar granules.

After they are frosted, get patriotic and devour!!

Hurrah! They turned out red after all! Miracles do happen.

Verdict: You know, this is the first time I have actually gotten exactly 24 cupcakes, usually I run out before I get to the final one. Yes!!

The colour did darken as they baked. Thank God.

The maple flavour was very subtle, almost to the point I didn’t notice it. Next year I’ll increase the amount of maple syrup to at least one tablespoon.

Boyfriend and I ate some cupcakes as we watched the Canada Day fireworks from our balcony.

He said, “Patty, you make great cupcakes. It’s like vanilla cupcakes, with lemon vanilla frosting.” (unintelligible salivating sound).

Playlist: Final Fantasy OSTs

A dessert of ice and fire

Warm cake made from Belgian chocolate, with a hot centre that erupts onto the plate, cooled with frozen yogurt. Say hello to my first lava cake!

On my way home yesterday, I ran into Boyfriend on the subway. This might not seem like a big event, since we live together, but I love serendipity. I commemorated that happy chance with a dessert that’s hot and cold, decadent and sweet.

I found a recipe for “molten chocolate cakes” in Chocolate! favourite recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, puddings & other sublime desserts by Good Housekeeping, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Good to know before you start: You don’t have to cook them all at once, the batter can be refrigerated or frozen, to bake as needed – oops, wish I realized this myself!

Chocolate will seize if it comes into contact with moisture, so always make sure the pans and utensils are dry, and use low heat without a cover to prevent condensation

Time required: 1 hr

Yields: 8 cakes

Cost per portion: $3.50

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $28.00 or higher

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • electric beaters
  • 8 ramequins
  • baking pans large enough to hold the ramequins
  • kitchen scale

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz of semi-sweet Belgian chocolate (equivalent to 4 squares)
  • ½ C butter (1 stick), room temp
  • ¼ C heavy cream
  • ½ TSP vanilla extract
  • ¼ C granulated white sugar
  • ¼ C flour
  • 4 eggs, room temp (need 2 full eggs + 2 egg yolks)

Step 1 – preheat oven to 204°C / 400°F. Grease and sugar ramequins, and place them into baking pan(s).

Step 2 – use a serrated blade to chop the chocolate. I’m glad I used the premium stuff, because Callebaut Belgian chocolate is delicious. I get mine from Domino’s in the St. Lawrence Market.

It’s easier if you cut the chocolate from an angle.

Including the weight of the container I needed 5.3 oz, so weigh it out and set it aside.

Step 3 – take 2 of the 4 eggs, and separate the yolk from the white. Return whites to fridge.

Step 4 – using a mixer on High speed for 10 minutes, beat: sugar, 2 eggs, and 2 egg yolks. Stir down the sides a few times, and it will get thicker and lemon-coloured.

Step 5 – (I did this while the mixer was going.)

In a sauce pan on Low, melt: butter, heavy cream, and chocolate.

Stir the chocolate constantly until the mixture is smooth. Chocolate has a very low melting temperature, and it will scorch if you let it get too hot.

Step 6 – remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Step 7 – gently whisk in the flour, until just combined

Step 8 – fold the egg mixture into the chocolate, adding one third at a time.

Mmm, the way it looked  reminded me of chocolate cheesecake ice cream, which I haven’t had since I was a kid. WANT NOW.

It took quite awhile for the batter to reach a uniform colour.

Step 9 – ladle the batter into the ramequins, and bake for 8-9 minutes.

Check for doneness by shaking the pan, the edges of the cakes should be set but the centres should jiggle.

Step 10 – cool on rack for 3 min, in pan

Step 11 – remove ramequins from baking pan, run thin blade around the edges of each cake to loosen it from the ramequin; then immediately turn them upside down onto a plate and serve

I was a little surprised how flat they look. I was expecting more volume, but since there is no leavening agent it makes sense. I added some vanilla frozen yogurt.

Verdict: Yum. I’m quite pleased. They were delicious and visually interesting. Boyfriend really liked them too, and said “Oh wow, this is good, this is really good.”  I snuck one into his lunch as a surprise when he gets to work. Am waiting to hear how it tasted after being microwaved. :/

Before last night, I had never eaten lava cakes, so I’m glad that situation has been rectified.

Apple cake with cream cheese frosting

This was a delicious accident. It was supposed to be my first carrot cake, but instead became my first apple cake, with cream cheese frosting.

apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Back in November I purchased Betty Crocker Baking Basics – recipes and tips to bake with confidence, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. It’s been a very useful book.

I planned to make the carrot cake recipe but didn’t have any carrots, so I went to the store, and was promptly distracted by the shiny apple display. I came home and emptied my shopping bag, perplexed with what to do with a bag of Granny Smith apples and cream cheese.

Not to worry! A spice cake can be made with either apples or carrots, and all the other ingredients remain the same

Good to know before you start:

This cake is perfectly delicious without frosting at all, however if you intend to frost this, take the cream cheese out of the fridge now.

After frosting cake must be refrigerated. Let frosting set before cutting.

getting started

(Here is the moment I realized I bought apples instead.)

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 32 squares

Cost per slice: $1.63

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $52.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • apple peeler & apple corer
  • spatula (do not use a flexible one)
  • baking pan: 9″ x 13″
  • electric beaters

Cake ingredients:

  • 3 tart apples (or 6 medium carrots)
  • 1½ C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 2 C flour
  • 1½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ¼ TSP ground nutmeg

Frosting ingredients:

  • one package (8 oz) cream cheese, room temp
  • ¼ C butter (half a stick or 4 TBSP), room temp
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 4 C icing sugar

Step 1 – preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F, centre rack. Grease and flour baking pan.

Step 2 – peel apples, core apples, and dice into small pieces. Set aside.

apple peelers are GREATso are coring devices

Step 3 – in medium bowl combine:  flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Step 4 – in large bowl, beat on Low for 30 seconds: sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.

Step 5 – beat dry ingredients into wet, adding a third at a time until blended. Once all dry mixture is added, beat on Low for 1 min, frequently scraping the sides.

adding dry to wet

Step 6 – using a hard spatula, stir apple pieces into batter

never using a flexible spatula again

Step 7 – “pour” (hah!) batter in greased pan, use spatula to smooth batter down. Shake pan and let it settle for a few minutes, then place in oven.

Step 8 – bake 40-45 min, it’s done when toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool cake in pan, on rack, at least 1 hour.

Step 9 – remove cake from pan and make your frosting.

Step 10 – forgot to take pictures of making the frosting but it wasn’t that exciting anyway:

  • In medium bowl on High, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add butter, milk, vanilla, and beat on Low until smooth.
  • Still on Low, beat in icing sugar, one cup at a time, until mixture is smooth and spreadable.
  • Store frosted cake in fridge, covered.
  • Let frosting set before cutting cake. Oops.

You can’t tell, but before frosting this I cut off a piece to try the cake on its own. Yum.

mmm I love creamcheese frosting

apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Verdict: I loved this. Boyfriend’s reaction was lukewarm.

Two things I’ll change next time; use apple sauce instead of vegetable oil, and instead of frosting the cake after it cools, I’m going to make the frosting and put it in the fridge, and just frost pieces as they are served because storing a frosted cake in the fridge was irritating.

My favourite part of making this dessert was that while baking, it perfumed my whole home with spiced apple goodness.

Red velvet cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting

Mmmmm, sinfully delicious. I vividly remember the first time I had a red velvet cupcake; Boyfriend brought me a surprise from StarBucks, one bite and I was in heaven. I thought, “I can make this”.

They pair well with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, or creamcheese frosting. If that special someone is allergic to food colouring, you can substitute with fresh fruit juice, as long as the juice doesn’t contain whatever sets of their allergies.  Red velvet cupcakes add a special touch to any romantic occasions, particularly Valentine’s Day.

Usually I make mini cupcakes on the theory that eating 2 minis is like eating 1 regular but decided to go for the medium size  this time. I prefer buttercream frosting and that’s what I made last night.


Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 24 medium cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

Cost per cupcake: $0.40

Total cost if you have none of the required ingredients: $46.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • electric beaters
  • 1 hard spatula
  • flour sifter (optional)

Good to know before you start:

Use a hard plastic spatula because wooden spoons absorb dye.

Red batter splatters, wear old clothes.

As soon as you’re done with the bowls, rinse and soak to make clean-up easy

Take out the butter required for the batter and the frosting at the beginning. While the cupcakes are cooling, you have enough time to make the frosting and the butter is already softened.

You can either make the batter with buttermilk, or fake it by adding either white vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. Unless you cook with real buttermilk often, why bother buying it for one recipe? If you use cranberry juice instead of dye, try lemon in the milk to get a complimentary flavour.

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 2¼ C of flour
  • ¼ C of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 TSP salt
  • ½ C unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 2 TBSP red food colouring
  • 1 TSP vanilla bean paste
  • 1 C buttermilk  – or 1 C regular milk mixed with 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar (in addition to the portion used in the milk)

Step 1 – use centre rack. Pre-heat oven to 175°C / 350°F. Line cupcake tray.

Step 2 – in a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, and salt; this is a good time to use a flour sifter as cocoa is lumpy, but I  forgot.  Oh well. Set bowl aside.

Step 3 – measure out the milk and vinegar (or lemon juice), also set aside.

Step 4 – in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on Medium speed, until combined.

Step 5 – add eggs, beat 2 minutes until fluffy.

Step 6 – stir in food colouring, then stir in vanilla. Ever play that game where you see shapes in the clouds?  I see a scorpion. Or a busted aorta.

Okay now I see something from a Japanese horror film.

Step 7 – On Low speed, beat in half of the flour mix until combined, then half of the milk. Continue adding half of each until everything is added.

Doesn’t that look vile?

Step 8 – beat in baking soda and vinegar, mix well:

Step 9 – fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds. Bake 20 minutes for regular size or 13 minutes for mini…. oops, I overdid it. Wow, those are huge!

Step 10 – let cool in pan 2 minutes, then remove from pan and set on cooling rack for at least30 minutes.

After an hour it’s frosting time! At this point I was kicked out of the kitchen while Boyfriend made dinner, so I moved operations to the dining table.

Buttercream frosting ingredients:

  • 3 C icing sugar
  • ⅓ C butter, room temperature (5⅓ TBSP)
  • dash of vanilla bean paste (or 1½ TSP vanilla extract)
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1 TSP to 1 TBSP of lemon juice (optional)

Step 1 – using a large bowl, mix the butter and icing sugar. In my experience using an electric mixer will send sugar flying, it’s easier to do this by hand. Confession: every time I make frosting I get sugar all over myself.

Step 2 – after butter and sugar are mixed, add half of the milk, and mix well

Step 3– add vanilla, mix well

Step 4 – add remainder of the milk and mix well, then stir as if your life depends on it. Sample a little bit, if you can still feel the sugar granules keep stirring.

Step 5 – for visual interest I frosted some plain white, and then added a drop of red dye to get a pale pink, then added more red to get darker pink, et cet.

One reason I rarely make creamcheese frosting for these is that it has to be refrigerated, and a refrigerated cupcake doesn’t feel moist. You could put the frosting in the fridge and frost the cupcakes as you need to, but that seems like a pain. Buttercream does not need to be refrigerated.

Hope you had a happy Velntine’s Day!