Cupcake Friday Project

A one-woman test kitchen meets nano-bakery

Category: cupcakes (page 1 of 44)

Sugar cookie cupcakes with cookie butter frosting

Sugar cookie cupcakes with cookie butter frosting

Another month, and another cupcake taking its inspiration from a dessert. This time? The humble sugar cookie, which, when done right, is delightful on its own, with tea, or dressed with a simple icing.

For the cake, I kept it simple, using my tender and fluffy vanilla cake. This recipe bakes up beautifully and fills the entire house with the alluring scent of vanilla. Then, I used a secret weapon in the frosting: cookie butter spread. Some know it as Speculoos, or Biscoff Cookie Spread. I know some people who SWEAR by Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter. “But what the heck is it?” you ask.

Speculoos/Biscoff/Cookie Butter is a spread made with Belgian cookies that have been baked, crushed, and then mixed with oils to create a spread. The flavor is a little caramely, with hints of cinnamon, and it’s delightful. If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend picking up a jar.

As with most spreads, this whips into the buttercream beautifully. Definitely taste in-between sugar additions—you don’t want a sickeningly sweet frosting.

The garnish—in this case, actual sugar cookies that are about 1 1/2-inches wide, finish off the cupcake. You can either purchase your favorite sugar cookie, or bake some yourself, using this base cookie recipe. You’ll only use about 1/4 of the dough for the cupcake toppings, but you can easily freeze the rest of the sugar cookie dough for another time. Shape the remaining dough into a 1-inch disc, then wrap twice in plastic wrap—the dough will keep for at least 2 months if wrapped up well.

Sugar cookie cupcakes with cookie butter frosting

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcake Ingredients
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/8 cup (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla

Cookie Butter Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup cookie butter spread (like Speculoos)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cream (as needed for texture)

Sugar cookies as garnish

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks toward the center. Line pans with cupcake papers.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine.

Alternate the dry ingredients and milk, and mix until combined.

Add the vanilla extract, mixing to combine.

Divide the batter between 12 wrappers in the cupcake tins and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

For the cookie butter frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add a 1/2 cup of sugar gradually, beating until combined.

Add the cookie butter spread and vanilla extract, then add the remaining sugar in 1/2 cup increments to your own taste. Check the texture ... if it's too stiff, add the cream, then whip until fluffy.

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Cannoli cupcakes with ricotta buttercream and cannoli shell crumble

Cannoli cupcakes

I have had “cannoli” on my list of flavors to try for at least 2 years. 2 YEARS!!! Insane, right?

When thinking about this cupcake, I knew I wanted to make my own cannoli shells to top the buttercream with, and I wanted to play with the cake … a lot of recipes use plain vanilla, which is fine, but I decided to use some of the Marsala wine and nutmeg that I used in the shells. The outcome is an intensely fragrant and moist cake.

I adapted my shells recipe from Joe Pastry, adding the nutmeg and cinnamon and swapping in butter for vegetable shortening. Unfortunately, the shells didn’t crisp up as much as I imagined they should, so if you’re unsure, or don’t have the time to make your own, I think buying shells from your favorite baker is a wise idea.

Also, as I learned myself, when you make the buttercream, make sure you’re piping it onto the cupcakes the same day. I made mine in advance, refrigerated it, and when I went to re-whip it this morning at 6 a.m. before leaving for my morning appointment, I was met with a broken buttercream. Lesson learned.

Cannoli cupcakes with ricotta buttercream and cannoli shell bites

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cannoli Cupcake Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp Marsala
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Ricotta Buttercream Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 oz whole milk ricotta, drained for at least 6 hours
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp corn starch, as needed

Cannoli Shell Bites Ingredients
6 1/4 ounces (1 1/3 cups) flour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 to 7 tbsp Marsala

Chocolate Drizzle

Directions

Before you get started, be sure to drain your whole milk ricotta in cheesecloth for at least 6 hours.

Start with the cannoli shell bites so they have time to cool before garnishing the cupcakes.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the sugar, stirring to combine.

Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients.

Mix on low until the butter is full incorporated (Additionally, a pastry blender would work well.).

Slowly add the Marsala, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to come together in a ball.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 2-3 minutes on a clean work surface.

Roll into a ball, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough sit for an hour at room temperature.

After the dough has rested, heat 2-3 inches of canola oil in a high-walled pot until the oil hits 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit (use a candy thermometer).

As the oil heats, divide the dough into 4 portions. Take 1 portion (keeping the others wrapped up) and roll it out as thinly as possible. Use a round cookie cutter at least 3 inches wide and stamp out as many rounds as possible.

Once the oil is heated, add the cannoli rounds to the hot oil, letting them fry for 45 seconds to a minute before flipping them over with tongs. Fry until golden, then remove and place on paper towels to drain.

Repeat until all the dough is used up (you'll have extras, which are good for snacking).

Once the rounds have cooled, chop them up into bite-sized pieces.

If the cannoli bites are not as crisp as you'd like, place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure cannoli shell bites are fully cooled before garnishing the cupcakes.

For the cupcakes, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks toward the center. Line pans with cupcake papers.

Combine the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine.

Alternate the dry ingredients and milk, and mix until combined.

Add the Marsala and vanilla extract, mixing to combine.

Divide the batter between 24 wrappers in the cupcake tins and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

For the frosting, beat the butter and ricotta together on high for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar, and continue to beat.

If the texture looks a bit off (this can happen if you didn't drain it enough), add the cornstarch and continue beating on high for 5-10 minutes.

Using an extra large French tip (or your favorite piping tip), pipe the buttercream on top of the cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with chocolate, and garnish with some of the crushed cannoli bites.

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Cupcake Smash 2014 is almost here!

Cupcake Smash 2014

This Saturday is the return of the ever popular Cupcake Smash, benefitting Philabundance. The 4th annual Cupcake Smash ultimate baking competition will be held in the middle of The Piazza with Jessie, Radio Host on Radio 104.5 emceeing. Judges will vote on the best cupcake for the amateur and professional categories, while attendees will vote for the “People’s Choice.”

Like last year, there are 2 sets of judges … one for the pro group and one for the amateurs. The judges are:

Pro Division
Toni Johnson, Production Sous Chef/Kitchen Manager at Philabundance Community Kitchen
Jennifer Reed, Blogger at One Curly Fry in a Box of the Regular & SideTour/Groupon Dessert Tours
Patricia Smith, Owner/Pastry Chef at Foam Floaterie
Davina Soondrum, Owner of Sweet Intentions

Amateur Division
Gretchen Fantini, Owner/Pastry Chef at Sweet Box Bake Shop/Truck
Stephen Wilson, Pastry Chef at 10Arts Bistro & Lounge
Jennifer Zavala, Chef/Owner at Cherry Bomb Bus & Top Chef Season 6 Contestant

and …

ME!

Judges page

Exciting right? I’ve turned in my whisk and apron, and instead of baking my usual 150-300 mini cupcakes, I’ll be judging them. I’m super excited, but I’m also trying to figure out how I’ll make it through sampling 15+ mini cupcakes without going into sugar shock.

So, if you’d like to see me and the rest of the incredible bakers who are raising awareness about hunger in the Philadelphia area, make it out this Saturday to Cupcake Smash! You can get your tickets online, and help us smash hunger!

Event Details at a Glance
4th annual Cupcake Smash
Saturday, April 26, 2014
The Piazza at Schmidts
1050 N. Hancock St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
*Rain or shine!*

Advance Ticket: $25
On-Site Ticket: $30
Child’s Ticket (Ages 6-12, with parent): $10
Children Under Age 6: Free

Your ticket includes entry into the event, mini cupcake samples created by our professional and amateur bakers, complimentary cocktails (for those 21 and up) and more.

Pink grapefruit cupcakes filled with grapefruit curd

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes with grapefruit curd

Happy Spring! It’s Spring … right? Well, to celebrate the slow start of Spring in the Mid-Atlantic, I decided to craft a pink grapefruit cupcake recipe for today. I really enjoy grapefruit juice, and have wanted to make a grapefruit cupcake for ages. I even purchased a natural grapefruit extract to help me punch up the flavor.

Citrus curds are also one of my favorite things to make … and eat. I hunted around a bit to find a good grapefruit curd recipe, because I didn’t think switching in grapefruit juice for lemon juice would be wise (I wasn’t sure how sour it would be). I found the following recipe on Serious Eats—I halved it, and skipped the vanilla, and am pretty pleased with the outcome.

Grapefruit curd

I thought about making a honey buttercream, but I know in the past the flavors have been very bold (which is nice). Because this was my first time working with grapefruit, I didn’t want to overshadow it with honey, hence the triple grapefruit combo of cake, filling and frosting.

Grapefruit cupcakes filled with grapefruit curd

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Grapefruit Cupcake Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp grapefruit zest
4 eggs
1 cup milk
4 tsp grapefruit extract

Grapefruit Curd Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp grapefruit zest
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Grapefruit Buttercream Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp grapefruit extract
1 tbsp milk (as needed for texture)

Directions

Make the grapefruit curd first so it has time to set.

In a large metal mixing bowl, massage the zest into the sugar with a large spoon (or your hands!) until fragrant.

Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks.

Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water to make a bain marie and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl.

Stir the curd for approximately 30 seconds until the sugar dissolves. Add the grapefruit and lemon juices.

Stir the curd continually for 12-15 minutes until it reaches roughly 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer.

Take the curd off the heat, and position a fine mesh sieve over a bowl.

Pour the curd through the sieve, using a flexible spatula to press it through, holding back the zest and any cooked egg. Discard.

Add the butter and stir until melted.

Let the curd cool and refrigerate until ready to serve. [Please note: this curd must be refrigerated ... it is not shelf stable].

For the cupcakes, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks toward the center. Line pans with cupcake papers.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside.

Add the grapefruit zest to the sugar and stir until fragrant. Add the butter.

Cream the butter with the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine.

Alternate the dry ingredients and milk, and mix until combined.

Add the grapefruit extract.

Divide the batter between 24 wrappers in the cupcake tins and bake for 20-24 minutes.

Cool completely before coring and filling with grapefruit curd.

For the frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add a 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar and mix to combine.

Add the grapefruit extract, and gradually add the remaining confectioners sugar. Whip until light and fluffy. Add the milk if the texture needs to be evened out.

Fit a bag with an extra large star tip and pipe the frosting on top of the cored and filled cupcakes.

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Maple French toast cupcakes

French toast cupcakes

Recently at work we hit a major milestone, so to celebrate I decided we all deserved some cupcakes (sound logic, right?) I flipped through my copy of Robicelli’s: A Love Story with Cupcakes and found inspiration in their Pecan French Toast cupcake, adapting it for a smaller yield, omitting the pecans and making my own maple buttercream.

The cupcakes baked up nicely, and the maple soak really added a lot (especially to the texture and aroma of the cake). I finished them off with some gold sprinkles, just to keep them classy and simple.

The cupcakes were a huge hit with my coworkers, and the perfect recipe to get me back into the swing of regular baking. This Friday will be the first Friday of 2014 where I bring in a delectable goodie for sampling, and I have the perfect recipe on hand!

Maple French toast cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cinnamon Cupcake Ingredients
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Maple Soak Ingredients
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp heavy cream

Maple Buttercream Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks toward the center. Line pans with cupcake papers.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine, then add the vanilla.

Alternate the dry ingredients and milk, and mix until combined.

Divide the batter between 12 wrappers in the cupcake tins and bake for 20-24 minutes.

As the cupcakes bake, create the maple soak. Mix together the maple syrup, milk and heavy cream. Stir to combine, then microwave for 15 to 20 seconds until warm.

Once the cupcakes are finished baking, place them on a wire cooling rack and poke holes in the tops. Let cool for 5 minutes before slowly spooning the maple soak onto them (if you pour it on too quickly, it won't absorb properly).

Let the cupcakes soak in the mixture and finish cooling before frosting.

For the frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add a 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar and mix to combine.

Add the maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla, and gradually add the remaining confectioners sugar. Whip until light and fluffy.

Fit a bag with an extra large round tip and pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes.

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Cupcake Friday Project turns 3!

Cupcake Friday Project’s 3rd Birthday by Slidely Slideshow

Three years … it’s been three years since that snowy Friday when I trekked into work carrying lemon limoncello cupcakes and gave them to some of my favorite people at work. Since then I’ve accomplished a lot, though I’m still an amateur baker, working out of my kitchen (though I have been working on finding a space I can rent!)

I rattled off my 2013 accomplishments already … and as for my plans for 2014? I’m not completely sure, and that is a little scary. I plan on bringing in goodies at least once a month for my taste testers, but it won’t always be cupcakes. I’ll be competing in baking events as much as possible, and I have some partnerships with fellow bakers and food makers on the horizon. And I think 2014 is the year I bake more for myself to simply bake, not to fulfill orders and expectations.

And to celebrate this year, I baked Saveur’s chocolate chip cookie recipe that everyone is raving about (I have some opinions to share later on about it), and wandered around the office playing the Cookie Fairy.

As always, thank you all for reading, sharing your comments, letting me know when you’re baking my recipes. I love sharing my baking with you, I love you sharing your baking with me. If my greatest accomplishment with Cupcake Friday Project is convincing someone that they can bake from scratch, then it will be a great one.

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