Our Favorite… Cupcake Baking Tools

We Crusaders are always looking for the next best cupcakery or bakery to review, but we all enjoy baking too. I’ve said before that baking is a science, and sometimes the tools you have to experiment with help you to achieve your cupcake goal. Whether we are making Chocolate Raspberry Chambord cupcakes, Hummingbird cupcakes, or Strawberry Basil cupcakes we all use the same tools over and over; and more often than not, it is the little things in the kitchen (and life) that make a big difference. With the gift giving season in full swing, we thought we would share each of our favorite baking tools so that it might help you find the perfect present for that special baker in your life (or if you are that special baker… you may want to add these to your wish list).

Crusader Stacy: Small and Large Pampered Chef ScoopsScoops-Stacy

Crusader Stacy received these scoops as gifts for her bridal shower. They are her favorite baking tools because they make it easy to fill the cupcake liners so that all the cupcakes are even and don’t spill over. She swears they are a lifesaver! Not only are they useful for making cupcakes, but they can be used for so many other kitchen and cooking related projects, like portioning doughs, filings, side dishes, etc. They also have a charming vintage look. (And check out Crusader Stacy’s cupcake kitchen towel too! So cute.)

Crusader Jenn: Kitchen Aid Mixer Whirla-Jenn

Crusader Jenn recently received this Kitchen Aid Mixer from her husband for their anniversary. “Whirla” is her newest kitchen “gadget” and it has already been put to good use! This kitchen tool helps cupcake making go faster and is so much easier than a hand mixer, especially for frosting. She’s only had this mixer for about a month and has already made pumpkin bread, mashed potatoes, and 8 dozen cupcakes, including batter and frosting! It has quickly become the most utilized small appliance in her kitchen. (Coincidentally, I’ve got the exact same mixer and couldn’t agree more.)

Crusader Elisa: Muffinaire vintage baking pan (available on Etsy or Ebay)Elisa-TinPan

I received this “Muffinaire” aluminum pan from my Nona when I moved into my first apartment after college. Not only does it have vintage charm, but because it is made of aluminum it doesn’t hold onto heat the same way that new steel pans can, which causes some cakes/cupcakes to cook unevenly. This pan is cool to the touch after just minutes out of the oven and I won’t cook cupcakes, muffins, or mini frittatas in anything else.

These are just our favorite, of the many, kitchen tools we use when we are baking. Of course we would all be lost without our cupcakes carriers and our mixing bowls. Crusaders Jenn and Stacy even have fancy cake testers, and Jenn says she loves having a dedicated tool just for that. And have I mentioned piping tips? Yeah, we love those too! While these tools help us when we are baking in our own kitchens, and we are grateful for them, we still prefer tasting and reviewing cupcakes from other people’s kitchens, no clean up needed. 😉

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)


Quick, Easy, and Seriously Delicious: Chocolate Rasberry Chambord Cupcakes

A couple weeks ago I was tasked with baking cupcakes at home, with only a few days notice, for the Baltimore Eats Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour. Initially I thought I would buy cupcakes and bring them, but after discovering that Tiffany, from Baltimore Eats, was going to make her cupcakes I thought, “I can do that too!” (and save some money in the process…).

With only a few days until the event I decided I was going to use what I had on hand instead of making an unnecessary trip to the grocery store. The only cake mix I had was something I picked up on a whim at a dollar store a month or so ago.

I had never seen Mrs. Fields cake mix, so I was instantly intrigued and figured I’d use it eventually, and I was right. I also had a handy can of pre-made chocolate frosting that I had picked up during a sale at the grocery store at some point. Normally after finding those two items one would think I was all set to go, but I’m a Cupcake Crusader, I can’t bring cupcakes that are from a box and tub to a happy hour that would be filled with food bloggers! So, I continued looking for inspiration and came across some Dove Dark Chocolate Raspberry candies and a recent gift of Raspberry Chambord Jam from my friend and Guest Crusader, Beth Lacey (AKA: Jam Making Goddess for Sweetness Follows and all around awesome person).

I knew that the jam would blow everyone away and really take these simple cupcakes to the next level, but I wasn’t quite convinced that the canned pre-made frosting was going to go over quite as well. I also knew it would not hold up to being piped out on top of the cupcakes, so I turned to Google to help me modify that and make it better. Luckily I came across this article from Bukisa.com. It said to make canned frosting taste a little more homemade, and to make it stretch even further, just add some powdered sugar to it. For the chocolate frosting it also mentioned adding in some cocoa powder if you wanted to keep it tasting rich and dark. After reading this, I got super excited becuase I realized I had the perfect thing waiting to be used:

After our bake sale for No Kid Hungry, I received a huge package of goodies from Scharffen Berger which Jackie from La Casa de Sweets had set up as a thank you gift for the teammate that raise the most money (other than herself). Now I finally had a reason to use it.

Armed with new knowledge, fancy cocoa powder, sublime jam, left over candies, dollar store box mix, and on sale frosting, I was all set.

As always, I added a box of instant pudding to my cake mix and threw in a bunch of semi sweet chocolate chips for extra measure, then baked the cupcakes as directed. I followed the instructions from Bukisa.com for the frosting and was really happy with the results. Once the cupcakes cooled, I carved out the center with a grapefruit knife (after I did this my husband gave me my new cake plunger gadget which I still haven’t used) and then filled the cupcakes with Beth’s amazing Raspberry Chambord Jam. After adding a swirl of chocolate frosting in my favorite rose-like fashion, I topped each cupcake with half of a Dove Dark Chocolate candy. I may or may not have eaten some of the candies sans cupcakes too…

(I think I should make this my life’s motto…)

The final results? Dark, rich, tart delightfulness. These cupcakes that were thought up in a pinch might be some of the best cupcakes EVER (well, at least the best cupcakes I’ve ever made). Of course I have to give all the credit to Ms. Beth Lacey because her jam really paired perfectly with the luscious chocolate. It’s amazing what you can create with ingredients you have sitting on the shelves.

– Post by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)