Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cupcake Bootcamp!

Print
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't get the fascination about cupcakes. Here in Chicago, there are several cupcake bakeries, all with their special niche. It's also interesting to know that most gastro-trucks (food trucks) in Chicago are cupcake based. What is it about these things?! Is this food fad here to stay or will it eventually die down? Regardless, even I can't resist a cupcake. I may not understand why they're so popular but they certainly hit the spot. Since cupcakes are increasingly popular, it struck me to host a Cupcake Bootcamp to share a few tips and tricks, as well as indulge in this perfect, portable treat...

For the Cupcake Bootcamp, friends and I got together to make several kinds of cupcakes using a box mix. The general formula for a cupcake recipe is:

1 box cake mix (dry package contents only)
+ 4 room temperature eggs
+ 3/4 cup buttermilk
+ 1/3 cup canola oil
+ 1/2 cup add ins*

* Add ins include: nuts, baking chips, fresh or dried fruit, peanut butter, Nutella, pumpkin pie filling, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.

The fun in making cupcakes this way is that they bake up consistently without having to make a batch from scratch only to find out it isn't very good. Another reason is that it's super convenient and allows for some creativity. I love playing with various cake flavors and add ins to create something different. For the Cupcake Bootcamp, we made the following cupcake flavors (recipes to follow below):
 
French Vanilla Cupcakes
Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Pumpkin Butter Cupcakes
Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

So let's talk frosting. For the Cupcake Bootcamp, we prepared the following frostings which paired nicely with the cupcakes we baked (recipes to follow below):

Cream Cheese Frosting
Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

After we finished making the frostings, it was time to decorate! Various colored sprinkles, color gels and decorator tips were available for everyone to get creative. I plan on hosting a second Cupcake Bootcamp dedicated to decorating, learning more about frostings and the different consistencies next month so stay tuned!

French Vanilla Cupcakes
1 box French Vanilla cake mix (dry package contents only)
4 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.


Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
1 box Dark Chocolate cake mix (dry package contents only)
4 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.


Peanut Butter Cupcakes
1 box butter cake mix (dry package contents only)
+ 4 room temperature eggs
+ 3/4 cup buttermilk
+ 1/3 cup canola oil
+ 1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.
 


Carrot Cake Cupcakes
1 box carrot cake mix (dry package contents only)
4 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.


Pumpkin Butter Cupcakes
1 box cake mix (dry package contents only)
4 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling (or pumpkin butter)

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.


Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
1 box cake mix (dry package contents only)
4 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana

Preheat oven to 350 dregees. Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, mix with a mixer (hand held or stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and done.



Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.  
Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.

Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar 
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then reduce speed to low and gradually beat in chocolate. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.


Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter and peanut butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

1 comments: