A Baking Adventure: No Frosting? No Problem!

Have you ever found yourself wanting cupcakes when all the bakeries were closed? You have all the ingredients in the pantry for cake (or in my case, a box mix), but nothing for frosting? I know I’ve been in this situation. I was pregnant, craving yellow cake, and NOTHING could get my mind off of it until I had it. So I baked 2 dozen vanilla cupcakes, even with no frosting, or frosting ingredients, in the house. After the cupcakes came out of the oven and I devoured one (or maybe two…) with no toppings, I browsed the fridge and freezer to find creative frosting options I could use throughout the week.

Strawberries

I had fresh strawberries and was lucky to find Cool Whip in the freezer (actually, I pretty sure I always have Cool Whip in the freezer). It was perfect for a strawberry shortcake cupcake! The next night I decided to take it to the next level.

Berries

I got fancy and layered the cupcake with whipped cream, mixed berries, and cake. Messy to eat, but oh so good!

IceCream

Being pregnant, I of course craved ice cream at some point, so I cut the top off of a cupcake, creating a little “cake bowl.” What you do with the top is up to you. I managed to save it for photos (how I resisted is still a mystery!), but no one here will judge if you eat it as soon as it’s cut off the cupcake.

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Lastly, one night I was craving chocolate and peanut butter. I attempted to make frosting by mixing peanut butter with Marshmallow Fluff, but it still stayed fairly dense. That’s okay, it was still delicious! I also melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and spooned it on top.

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At the time I wanted the chocolate to harden to create a “shell,” so I chilled the cupcakes for a little while. Looking back I think the melted chocolate would have been amazing too!

The great thing about leaving the cupcakes “naked” after baking them was that I was able to tailor each to my cravings and got a lot of variety. I’m not one to run out every time I’m craving something I don’t have. Instead, I use what I do have to recreate my craving or act as a substitute. So, the next time you think, “I need a cupcake!” but don’t have all of the obvious ingredients, think about us and get creative! Do you have any frosting alternatives that you like to use? Let us know!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

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Baking Adventure: Bourbon Black Forest Cupcakes

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I’m not usually a big fan of Black Forest cake. I like fresh cherries, but can’t seem to get into anything else that has cherries in it, or a cherry flavor. That was until Guest Crusader Beth, from Sweetness Follows, gave me a jar of her Bourbon Cherry Jam. As soon as I tried it, I knew I wanted to use it in a cupcake (you may remember we used her Raspberry Chambord Jam in Chocolate Raspberry Chambord cupcakes).

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(Sweetness Follows jams are available on Etsy in seasonal flavors.)

I had un-frosted chocolate cupcakes in my freezer, waiting to be turned into something good. After thawing, I filled them with the delicious jam. Since I didn’t have to bake or cook anything, the first two steps made these the easiest cupcakes I’ve ever made.

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The first two steps being so simple, I decided that I needed to do something to challenge myself…this is called a “Baking Adventure” after all. So, instead of picking up a tub of Cool Whip or can of whipped topping, I decided to make my own.

I’ll be honest, I was scared. I watch Food Network, I know making whipped cream can make or break a dessert (I’ve seen it happen on Chopped). The cream may never set properly or you can over whip it. There’s such a fine balance to making it successful.

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Well my fear was for nothing, because my whipped topping was PERFECT. I found a recipe on AllRecipes.com for Black Forest Cake, which included the frosting. I only made a half batch, so I used 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, but instead of the small amount of confectioner’s sugar, I slowly added in about 1/2 cup so that it would be stiffer (hoping I wouldn’t mess it up!). The recipe didn’t tell me how long to whip it with an mixer, only to do it until it formed stiff peaks. I opted to pull out my hand mixer, thinking that I might over whip it with my standing mixer.

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In the end I was really please with how the frosting piped, yet was still super airy (just like what you’d expect from the aerosol can stuff). The cupcakes were pretty good and not overly sweet, thanks to the liquor infused jam and light frosting. What I really loved was how simple they were and I learned not to be afraid of making my own whipped cream! I need to get my hands on more Sweetness Follows jams, since they are so good in cupcakes!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Boozy Blue Hawaii Cupcakes

It’s April, but feels more like February. Urgh. I am very ready for warmer weather, which must be why, when thinking about cupcakes to make for my next experiment, my mind wandered directly to tropical flavors. Coincidentally, I happen to have the Booze Cakes cookbook (which I have been eager to use) and found the perfect recipe to quench my tropical thirst: Blue Hawaii Pineapple Upside-down Cupcakes.

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I know… it’s not my own flavor combination, nor is it filled, but it was all I could think about making once I saw it. It was a complicated recipe, that included several challenges: homemade rum sauce and boozy whipped cream, dying and layering batter, and toasting coconut – all from scratch. After gathering all the ingredients, including a bottle of Blue Curaçao, I was ready to bake. I only hoped my cupcakes turned out as beautiful as the photo in the book.

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First things first, the Rum Pineapple topping. Butter, brown sugar, and rum makes the sauce, and I was so excited to use the Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum I brought back from a trip. (Side note: If you go to Jamaica, buy a large bottle of this rum, it is totally worth it.) The sauce gets spooned onto the pineapple rounds at the bottom of the cupcake pan. No liners for this baking experiment, the top was really going to be the bottom for this cupcake.

Pineapple-PineapplePan

Once the sauce and pineapple rounds were in place I moved on to making the batter. Having never dyed batter before, it was interesting dividing it out and adding the food coloring. It felt and looked more like I was mixing paint than making cake batter. Very fun! And I had no idea you had to cool the first layer before you add the second layer. (I’m now looking forward to the challenge of making more color layered cake recipes.)

Pineapple-BlueMix

The cake didn’t bake up the way that normal cupcakes do, instead it stayed very flat. But it looked that way in the pictures, so I tried not to worry too much and moved on to make the “spike whipped cream,” which was possibly the easiest and BEST recipe for really fantastic boozy whipped cream:
• 3 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, cold
• 5 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons liquor, wine or liqueur
• food coloring (if desired)

The Appleton Estate Rum made another appearance, and I couldn’t believe how much rum flavor came through in the whipped cream. Assemble and voila!

HawaiiBlueCupcake(Almost as pretty as the picture in the book!)

I managed to create my own little teleportation device in the form of a cupcake… all together the flavors whisked me away to a tropical beach! I literally closed my eyes and imagined laying on a beach while drinking a pineapple and rum cocktail. The cake turned out a bit on the dense side, but it was so moist and flavorful that it didn’t matter. Boozy for sure: you could definitely taste the rum and the blue curaçao in the cake, as well as the rum in the whipped cream. On a cold too-much-like-winter day in April, a little bit of the tropics is just what this Crusader ordered!

Moogie & Pap also made these cupcakes. To read about their results and to get the full recipe, click here.

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