The Devil’s rejects

Sometimes substituting ingredients can lead to rapturous results. Other times, not so much. Like tonight, when I decided to make devil’s chocolate cupcakes, without buttermilk. But looks can be deceiving, will these devil’s wannabes live up to my expectations?

I haven’t baked in … yikes! I hemmed and hawed this afternoon over what I could make, and cupcakes kept coming up. I rummaged through the fridge and found 2% milk and heavy cream. No buttermilk. Think think think. Cupcakes with…heavy cream? This could be a prelude to a heart attack.

I’m game.

I dusted off Nemo and got to work, creaming the butter and sugar together.

Mixed the dry ingredients together.

Added dry and cream to mixing bowl in alternating pours.

Stared at batter in bemused silence. It seems… foamy?

Houston, we don’t have doming. This can’t be good.

Flat tops with two leavening agents? Ugh. Decided to mix up frosting and hope for the best. (Best thing about having two bowls for your mixer is not having to clean the bowl in between stuff. Go Nemo go!)

Sampled frosting and…. woah. That is some sweet, sweet icing. Also much too light in colour. Not quite what I had in mind.

Verdict:

No wonder the devil rejected them, back to the drawing board on this one. It turns out that the only acceptable substitute for buttermilk is milk and vinegar, but even then it’s not nearly as good.

Well, I tried. It didn’t really work out but they were still palatable, just not my best. They were slightly overdone, oddly dense, and with overly sweet frosting. Boyfriend enjoyed them despite those flaws, bless him!

The search for the perfect chocolate buttercream continues. Stay tuned!

Playlist: various Final Fantasy tracks

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

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!