Minecraft Cupcakes

Minecraft_Cupcakes

Cupcakes for a 6-year-old boy’s Minecraft-themed birthday party

As I have tended to concentrate more on flavors than decorating, this was my first time working with gum paste for my own cupcakes. Gum paste is similar to fondant except it dries hard. (I also think it tastes a little bit better, but it still doesn’t taste wonderful!) That makes it more appropriate for detailed decorations.

Minecraft_Cupcake_Topper_Grid

I drew a 1 cm grid on parchment paper to provide a guide, flipped it over and taped it to a white cutting board. That gave me a clean and stick-resistant area to work.

The gum paste was white, so I colored a batch with food coloring gel to a light green before rolling it out onto my grid. (Note: Use gloves if you don’t want your hands colored like mine were! The easiest way to color is to work the gel into the paste by hand.) I used a pastry cutter to cut out 5×5 cm squares. I scored them gently with a grid, not cutting all the way through, to provide the base for my Creepers.

I colored other batches of gum paste a darker green and black for the details, cutting 1×1 cm squares.

Minecraft_Cupcakes_Green_Squares

I applied water with a brush to glue the small squares onto the larger to make my Minecraft Creeper cupcake toppers and let them dry overnight.

Minecraft_Cupcakes_Cut

The cupcakes were dirt-color (chocolate!), and vanilla buttercream attached the Creepers. As creating the toppers were time consuming, I made enough for half the batch, piping buttercream “grass” onto the rest.

Minecraft_Cupcakes_Creepers

The birthday boy was delighted with his Minecraft cupcakes, it was totally worth staying up late and dyeing my hands green and black!

MinecraftPinata

The TNT piñata was a hit.

Gum paste may harden, but it wilts in the summer sun! The birthday party guests didn’t seem to mind at all.

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Travel Treats: Princeton, New Jersey

Attending a 1st birthday party in NJ, I was of course delighted that cupcakes were on the menu.

Princeton

House of Cupcakes
32 Witherspoon Street
www.houseofcupcakes.com

House_of_Cupcakes_NJ

The cupcakes were the stars of the dessert table at the birthday venue, North End Bistro. I didn’t visit the bakery itself, which is owned by Cupcake Wars winner Ruthie and Ron Bzwedka and offers more than 30 varieties of cupcakes, even—so I hear—pupcakes for your pooch!

There was so much good food at the party, I had to take one to enjoy at home. I picked out a carrot cupcake for the road. My husband and I split it a day later, and it was still moist and flavorful.

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There was some evidence of carrots, but they weren’t immediately obvious. If I had not known its flavor, I may have at first mistaken it for a spice cake. The spicy flavor hit first, the carrots came through as an aftertaste. It was quite good, though, and the cream cheese frosting was perfect. My husband also notes that it pairs well with whiskey.

Carrot_Cake_NJ

I will certainly make it a point to stop by the bakery, if ever I am again in Princeton!

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Grapefruit Cupcakes for Fourth of July

These citrus-flavored cupcakes hit the spot after some Independence Day BBQ.

Fourth of July Cupcakes

I used grapefruit in my Lemon Cupcake recipe, which resulted in a subtle citrus flavor that no one could quite guess. They tasted good, but they could have used more of a grapefruit punch.

I upped the amount of grapefruit zest in the cupcake recipe below. It should make their taste slightly stronger yet not overpowering.

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

Recipe: Grapefruit Cupcakes and Frosting

Makes about 16 frosted cupcakes

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
FROSTING:
1 1/4 sticks butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the grapefruit juice and vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the grapefruit zest to the flour mixture.

Incorporate the dry ingredients gradually into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix.

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins with an ice cream scoop (about 3/4 full). Bake about 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan, then move to racks to cool completely.

For frosting: Beat the butter until smooth and add the vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar, then the grapefruit juice and zest. Add a little milk if frosting is too thick or not smooth. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thick.

Frost the cupcakes once they reach room temperature.

[ Posted in Decorating, Fruit, Holidays ] [ Photos by ] [ 1 Comment ]

Cake Balls – Carrot Cake & Chocolate

cake balls

Have leftover cake, icing or melted chocolate? Make cake balls!

For all of these, I used my small ice cream scoop, the one I usually use to scoop batter for mini cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Balls

The secret to cake balls is that they are really just crumbled cake mixed with frosting in most cases. I had leftover carrot cake and vanilla buttercream, these were the result.

carrot cake balls

Most cake balls have some sort of chocolate or candy coating, but mine went bare. If I’d planned ahead, I would have gotten some white chocolate to melt and dipped these. That may have made them over-the-top rich, but that just seems to be the deal with cake balls or pops.

Chocolate Balls

My first type of chocolate balls were really candy rather than cake. They were made from a mix of milk and dark chocolate melted with a little cream, scooped into balls when cooling and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

The second chocolate-based batch was basically chocolate icing and peanut butter, chilled and scooped, then dipped in chopped hazelnuts. I kept them in the freezer until I took them to the event (with ice packs), where they eventually reverted to mush. They made tasty mush, but I wouldn’t try this method again unless I were serving immediately.

Cake and Candy Balls

Carrot Cake, Chocolate with Powdered Sugar, and Peanut Butter Chocolate with Hazelnuts

These treats made good use of my leftovers!

[ Posted in Candy/Cookies, Technique ] [ Leave a comment ]

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Swirl Cupcakes

peanut_chocolate_swirl3I’d never tried the swirl. It seems the perfect recipe to end up on Pinterest Fail. However, sometimes you’ve got to mix it up!

I stuffed a bag with chocolate icing on one side and peanut butter on the other. It worked out ok but wasn’t perfect. My main issue wasn’t in separating the flavors but that the chocolate and peanut butter icings were different consistencies. You can see in the photos how they didn’t behave the same, the peanut butter was not as smooth (probably not a frosting best suited to piping).

peanut_chocolate_swirl

I later saw someone doing this with three bags (two bags of icing in a third bag with tip), and I will try that method next time! I’ll also make sure my frostings are more similar.

I was fulfilling a birthday cupcake flavor request of peanut butter and chocolate. The swirled icing wasn’t the only chocolate in my peanut butter, the cupcakes themselves were peanut butter with chocolate chips.

chocolate chip peanut butter cupcakes

I added chips to peanut butter cupcakes for an extra punch of chocolate.

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