Saturday, May 30, 2009

My first order

These are for a coworkers son's birthday. He said he liked sharks, so this is what I ended up with. I think they're cute.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Iron Cupcake Milwaukee - Spice.

We had a great time in Milwaukee, and a blast at the Iron Cupcake, spice, tasting. I was interviewed by the local paper, and got my picture with Sandy, our cupcake queen. I will post more pictures, and recipes later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iron Cupcake Milwaukee - Spice

I'm off to Milwaukee in an hour or so, gonna stop by the Iron Cupcake Milwaukee challenge. I got up at 2:30 this morning and baked Coconut spice cupcakes with a spiced rum cream cheese frosting and Spiced Pineapple cupcakes with a coconut spice buttercream.

I am extremely disappointed in how things turned out. I made the buttercreams last night, and rewhipped them this morning with exceedingly bad results. It got flat, seperated a bit, and I couldn't beat out the graininess. It wouldn't even hold up the cookie topper I had planned to put on it. On top of that, my coconut cupcakes exploded in the oven....And God only knows how these things are gonna hold up on a 6 hour road trip.

Nevertheless, I am going...with the cupcakes, and intend to have fun. I just feel bad that the Cupcake queen will only know my cupcakes by these......

Oh, BTW, the cupcake carrier was a gift from my friend Frostie. Nice, huh?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vanilla cupcakes.

6/8/09 update: I have made this recipe several times now, and it has turned out really good. I've made some adjustments, that I will print in red.

If you've been reading my blog, you know I've been having issues with vanilla cupcakes. I have a recipe for vanilla that goes really well with a flavored Swiss or Italian Meringue buttercream, but not one that pairs well with a regular ol' American Vanilla Buttercream (Of which, I have a kick-ass recipe)........Well, not anymore......This is a great recipe, especially for kids. Sweet, dense, tastes a little like cake mix....

Sandi Oh's Vanilla cupcakes
2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
scant 1 tsp sea salt
2 cups super fine sugar (heaping 1 1/2 cup)
1 small package vanilla/white chocolate instant pudding
1 stick room temp, unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp chunks
4 oz softened cream cheese, cut into Tbsp chunks also
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp Amaretto
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup half and half

Make sure all ingredients are at room temp.
Preheat oven to 350 (340 degrees if you can) degrees. Line cupcake pan. I got 24 + cupcakes out of this recipe.
combine oil, vanilla , amaretto and half and half in small bowl or glass measuring cup. (I actually kept my half and half in another bowl, but technically you can put them all together.)
In mixer bowl put all dry ingredients, including sugar and whisk well. Add butter, cream cheese and liquid ingredients and mix on medium for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl as needed.
Next add eggs one at a time and mix for another 2 minutes on medium.
fill liners 2/3 full and bake approx 20 - 24 minutes. (Always check your cupcakes at 18 minutes, cuz you never don't want to overbake these).
or, you can use the creaming method, which works better....cream butter and cream cheese with sugar, til lite and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping well after each addition. Stir in oil, vanilla and amaretto until incorporated. Now add flour (with the other dry ingredients) and half and half alternately on low speed, being careful not to overmix. After everything is in, turn mixer up and mix on med for 10 seconds.
It's a busy recipe, I know. But it's worth it. Very tasty, and moist even the next day.

My first fondant figure.

Not perfect, I am well aware....but, still cute. They are for some birthday cupcakes I'm making later this week. This shark will be holding a sign that says happy birthday, and the other cupcakes will have the shark fins coming out of the lighter blue frosting. Should be cute.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The garden's coming along....

I have been spending some time in my hummingbird garden, even made a new smaller one. It's only one year old, so it's not as lush as it will get. But it's already attracting the hummingbirds. One dive bombed me yesterday while I was weeding!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strawberry Italian Meringue Buttercream on some pretty damn good Vanilla cuppies...

I tried 3 different recipes today to try, once again, to find Nirvana Vanilla. But(sigh), it still eludes me....However, I am getting closer, and this recipe is pretty damn good...although, I'm still gonna tweak it some more. We'll see how moist these cuppies are tomorrow to see how much I tweak it.

On top of these cuppies is an Italian Meringue Buttercream made with strawberries and lemon. I tried THREE times today to make Swiss Meringue, and each time it was an utter disaster. My problem always occurs at the end when I add the strawberry. It turns into a curdled mess (I continued to beat it for a long time, and it never came together). So, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I was bound and determined to get this right, because I have fallen in love with meringue buttercream. The taste is so much clearer, brighter, and doesn't leave that nasty tang of too much sugar on my tounge afterwards. (sorry, I digressed)...anyway, I tried Warren Brown's recipe, and it turned out fantastic. I AM NOT DONE WITH YOU, SWISS MERINGUE....I WILL CONQUER YOU....but for now, the italian meringue was super yummy.

note: I took this recipe off. the next day, they were still moist, but way too dense.

Iron Cupcake - Savory

Boy, I had a hard time deciding what to do with this month's challenge. I've been so busy with my gardening, trying to make a decent vanilla cupcake, and getting ready for next week's Iron cupcake Milwaukee, that I almost skipped this challenge. But I'm glad I didn't. These don't really look much like cupcakes - but my family sure liked it....Of course, around here we like just about anything with Guac...

Black Bean Loaf Savory Cuppies

1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, rinsed
1/2 can diced jalapenos
1/2 can diced green chili's
1 small bag shredded taco cheese
2 1/2 cups cooked rice
16 oz. can tomato sauce
15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used a brand with onion, garlic and chili)
2 tsp salt
tobasco sauce
corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan. cut circles out of corn tortillas to fit in bottom of cupcake pan. I cut out 2 per muffin, then put about a tsp of cheese in between the layers.
Mix everything but the corn torillas, reserving some of the cheese, in a large bowl.
Place rice mix ontop of tortillas and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Let sit for a few minutes to set, other wise you'll have a big sloppy mess as you try to get your cupcake out!!!

Top with fresh Guacamole and Pico de Gallo - then enjoy!!
Prizes for this month's challenge are as follows (and as always, you can see more at
Our May ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH,
something sweet and dangly from CHERRYCREEKCHARMS at
a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery,
PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY,, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; TASTE OF HOME books,; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Survey Results

Well, Warren Brown got the most votes, followed by mine, followed by Cooks Illustrated, followed by the pound cake.

But....they all got a good amounts of votes.

So what did I learn? Everyone has a different opinion about what makes a good cupcake. I think it might be a very difficult thing to find one cupcake that everyone agrees on.

However, I feel strongly that my recipe is tasty. And I will continue to make it and use a lighter buttercream (Swiss Meringue) with it. In the meantime I will continue my quest.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Man, am I annoyed....

The best vanilla cupcake I have ever tasted, actually is one that I made.....However, it was from a mix (From the 'Cupcake Doctor' cookbook). It was flavorful, moist, dense and just plain good. Everyone at my house loved it, and when I brought it to work, multiple people said "It's the best cupcake I've ever had". BUT, I figure, A real cupcake baker is only as good as his/her basic cupcake - so, I've been trying ever since to replicate it. I thought I had done pretty good but recently a friend of mine told me that my vanilla cupcakes "were not fantastic". Well, that put me into a tailspin....I never have found my Nirvana vanilla, so I thought "This time I'm gonna do it". Guess what? I didn't. After days of thought (actually obsessive, compulsive, irrational plotting) and the whole day making cupcakes, I am no farther than I was before.

Based on what "Tofu and Cupcakes" did with chocolate cupcakes, I'm bringing 4 different cupcakes to work tomorrow to have people judge...kind of a useless gesture, since I already know that I haven't found Nirvana - but let's see what they think.

I made 4 kinds, as follows:

In the Halloween wrappers: A vanilla pound cupcake recipe I found on the "Cupcake Project" blogsite.

In the Valentines Day wrappers: My vanilla cupcake with some alterations - such as I replaced some of the sugar with honey and I seperated the eggs and whipped the whites to fold in at the end.

In the St Patrick's Day wrapper: Warren Brown's yellow butter cake recipe.

In the Easter wrappers: A recipe I found on the Cook's Illustrated website.

To sum up my families response to the above, my daughter says "well, you haven't found that 'to die for' vanilla, but you have some real good ones."......ERGH.

And to add insult to injury today, I tried to make Swiss Buttercream for the first time. All was well until I added the blackberry puree at the end. I got a cottage cheese looking consistensy - gross looking, but super yummy. I'll have to try that one again.
On a positive note (ha ha), the strawberry frosting on the cupcake in the picture was fantastic. That recipe is in the previous post.

I quess, for now I'll continue to use my recipe or Warren Brown's (minus the brandy for the kids) and even my cakemix recipe.....If you have any idea's let me know (BTW, Magnolia, Billy, Amy Sedaris, Martha....tried 'em, don't like em - too dry).
I'll post recipes later.

Berry Puree's

Strawberry Buttercream

2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
6 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
splash cream
1/2 cup strawberry puree

cream butter, add half the sugar and extract, beat until sugar is blended. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add the other half of the sugar and a splash of cream (est. probably a tablespoon). Beat until blended, then scrape down bowl and add strawberry puree. Beat until well blended, scraping down bowl as needed. (I beat mine for about 3 - 5 minutes).

Strawberry Puree
1 lb strawberries, cleaned, hulled and pulsed through the food processor until minced.
1/2 lemon- I used the zest and the juice from this half
1/8 tsp sea salt

Mix together, and let sit for a couple of hours in the fridge. Puree in food processor. Note: no sugar added to this - there's plenty of sugar in the frosting, and so I wanted some zing to this puree.

Blackberry Puree
1 pint blackberries
1/2 lemon, using the zest and the juice
pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Puree in food processor, then put thru seive to strain out seeds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

get to know me quiz

I saw this meme-style quiz over on How to eat a cupcake who copied it from Brownie Points. Both are awesome blogs, so check them out after you read this quiz.PS: Feel free to copy it onto your blog so we can get to know YOU! :D


Metal or non-stick? I use metal and lots of Crisco spray.

Cast iron or stainless? I actually have both, I love my cast iron for certain things, but mostly I use my stainless!

Cutting board: silicone or wood? silicone. I need to invest in some better cutting boards tho.

Knife: carbon steel or stainless? I think I have stainless, don't know for sure....I know I would love to have better ones....

Kitchenaid or hand mixer? I have both, plus a Bosch mixer - which btw, makes the best buttercreams....

Cooktop: gas, electric, induction? I have an electric stove. 3 years ago, had the decision to go gas and chose electric.....I have regretted it ever since....

Side-by-side, freezer on top, fridge on top? I have the freezer on top. when I bought my fridge, I didn't want my toddler to keep opening the freezer door.....

Apron or whoops? I think aprons are so cute, I don't want to get them dirty.....

Mashed potatoes: by hand, ricer, or mixer? Usually by hand, I like my taters chunky too, and I usually end up spraying potatoes all over the place when I use a mixer anyway...

Sandwich or wrap? I don't like wraps, I love bread.....

PB & _________ ? thick, chewy wheat bread. I'm not big on jelly unless it's a really good blackberry.

Pancakes: syrup or applesauce? I don't generally eat pancakes, except when I'm pregnant....and if I ever get pregnant again, someone will have to talk me down from the roof......

Cake: scratch or mix? Well, I am torn, because I make most of my cakes from scratch, but to be honest....I have some really good recipes that use a mix, that I cannot replicate from scratch - so whadda ya do, not make something, cuz it's a mix? hell no.

Chili: beans or no? Of course beans....they are a magical fruit.......

Napkin: cloth or paper? I use paper. I'm alot on the lazy side.

BBQ: takes the whole weekend to make or take out? take out for the family, none for me thank you.

Chicken: white or dark? prefer it alive, eating ticks.

Ice cream: cone or dish? I love cherry chip ice cream with that chocolate syrup that gets hard....yum.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More spice please...

More experimenting with spice for the Milwaukee challenge. I'm mad at myself though, because I had planned on doing something different with my frosting, but when it came time to do it, I forgot. URGH. So I'll have to attempt these again before the challenge.

But, so far what I have is 1. Chai Coconut Cupcake with a Brown sugar, spiced rum and cinnamon cream cheese frosting (oh, and there's a dollop of a cinnamon spiced pineapple in the middle). And 2. Spiced pineapple cupcake with a chai coconut buttercream.

The pineapple are at the top of the picture, and the coconut are at the bottom of the picture.

Recipes to come......


I came up with a delicious recipe today, WHIPPED REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUP GANACHE, yeah, you heard me.....and it's really good.

Whipped Peanut Butter Cup Ganache
11.5 oz of chopped Reese's PB cups (I used the small ones, and weighed them on a scale)
1 cup + 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 sticks butter (I used one salted, and one unsalted.)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Place chopped PB cups in a heatproof bowl (preferably stainless steel).
Bring cream to a boil, then pour on top of chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes (3 - 5), then stir until chocolate is melted. (your gonna have chunks of peanut butter - but that's okay).
Let cool, If you want to place it in the fridge, be sure to bring it back to room temp before whipping.
Place softened butter in mixer, and cream until well blended, add ganache, then beat until light and creamy. taste. if you want more sweetness, add sugar.

This has a very light, silky texture. Tastes great.

My deepest apologies to Fondant.

I have always bad mouthed fondant, mostly for it's taste. But that was before I tried marshmallow fondant. I made some up yesterday, and sampled a bit of it today and was highly impressed. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world of cupcake opportunity. Today I played with it a little, and made a few cutouts of dinosaurs, shark fins (for an upcoming cupcake project) and snakes. Now all I have to do is get some fondant toys.........

The picture above is my brown sugar vanilla with vanilla buttercream, some with my fondant dinosaurs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I've been experimenting with spice, the ingredient for "Iron Cupcake Milwaukee". I thought it would be fun to take a road trip with some cuppies. I'm doing something with Chai spice and spiced pineapple, but I haven't quite perfected it yet. The picture above is from a few of the variations I made last night. Stay tuned, more to come on spice....

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon cuppies with strawberry buttercream, topped with a lemon infused white chocolate heart (middle cupcakes in picture)
I used Warren Brown's Light and Lemony Cake recipe from "Cake Love". This is an awesome recipe, really loved how moist they were. These take some extra time to make, but totally worth it, in fact I don't think I'll ever use a different lemon recipe, unless I'm in a big hurry. Try these, buy the limoncello - you won't regret it. I frosted and filled these with the same strawberry buttercream that I used from "Fields of Cake" in a previous post.

Light and Lemony Cake
by Warren Brown

8 1/2 ounces unbleached AP flour (approx 1 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp) - I measured, read the book and you'll understand why.
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda (no, that's not a typo. that's all you use.)

2 lemons
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tbsp limoncello
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon oil (I did not have lemon oil, so I use 1 tsp vanilla extract)

1 stick unsalted, room temp, butter
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
16 ounces extra-fine granulated sugar ( approx 2 cups)
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar (look in the organic section of your store)
1 tbsp lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk.

zest the lemon, set aside. segment the lemons (basically, you cut the peel-with white- off the lemon and then cut the fruit out as you would a grapefruit, being careful not to get any seeds or membrane in with the pulp.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring. Measure the other dry ingredients into a seperate mixing bowl, add the flour and whisk for 10 seconds.
Measure liquid ingredietns into a seperate bowl, whisk to combine - don't try to break up the lemon, the mixer will do it.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugars and lemon zest on lowest speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one a time, fully incorporating after each addition (scraping bowl when needed).
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry. this should take a total of 60 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl and all the way down, then mix on med for 15 to 20 seconds.

Bake approx 18-22 minutes. I got 23 cupcakes, both times I made these

Friday, May 1, 2009

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Bravo

I made 4 different cuppies for a friend from work and her new husbands wedding reception tonight (Just for the head table). I made:
1. lemon with strawberry buttercream filling and topping.
2. chocolate with strawberry buttercream filling and topping.
3. brown sugar pound cake with pralines topped with brown sugar cream cheese buttercream and a candied pecan.
4. Guinness with dark chocolate ganache and Baileys Irish Cream buttercream frosting.
All recipes have been posted with the exception of the lemon, which I will post later.....