Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes with Marshmallow Filling

I have a problem.  I literally cannot go a week without baking.  Last week, I thought I was going to be able to go without making something-- I had to work all day Saturday and on Sunday I decided to start training for the 9K I signed up for in March (I have obviously lost my mind).  I was tired, I was sore...and yet the oven was calling my name.  Luckily, I had ingredients on hand to make dairy-free brownies for little miss.  This weekend, it's cupcakes.  The people at work are going to hate me tomorrow at lunch. :)

These are, for the most part, very modest cupcakes.  There's no hugely in-your-face flavors-- the frosting is very sweet and chocolatey, but it's balanced by a really mild chocolate cake and the very light marshmallow cream in the middle.  I didn't love the marshmallow cream for this-- it's good, but I think I can find a better recipe for the next time.  I had to doctor it quite a bit to get it to actually taste like anything.  Also, I made a half recipe of cupcakes and a whole recipe of frosting and had WAAAAY too much left over.  I've halved the frosting recipe below, so you won't have an insane amount at the end, like I did. 

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cream Filling
(Inspired by recipe from The Pastry Affair)

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes
(From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)
Makes approximately 15 cupcakes

1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/8 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
5/8 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, baking soda, and salt.  In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.

Add the oil and the milk mixture to the flour mixture in the bowl.  Beat until combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until  incoporated.  Scrape the bowl as needed.  Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat until just combined.

Line the cupcake pans with liners.  Fill each halfway (these cupcakes definitely rise!) and bake for approximately 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Cupcakes are done when a toothpick/cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack, then core the cupcakes in preparation for filling.

Toasted Marshmallow Filling
(Adapted from The Pastry Affair)

8 large marshmallows
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Broil until golden brown.  Watch carefully!  You don't want burned marshmallows-- good on s'mores, but not so good in filling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine toasted marshmallows, fluff, vegetable shortening, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add more sugar, vanilla, and fluff to taste, if necessary. 

Fill the cored cupcakes with the marshmallow filling.

Chocolate Malt Frosting
(From The Curvy Carrot)

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
5 Tbsp milk

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, vanilla, and salt.  Beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar, the cocoa powder, and the malted milk powder. 

Add the dry ingredients to the butter in three additions.  Beat until incorporated, then add the milk following each addition of the dry ingredients.  Scrape the bowl as needed, making sure that the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Frost the filled cupcakes, using an offset spatula, bag and star tip, or a ziploc with the corner cut off. 

Garnish, if desired, with Whopper candies.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I love caramel.  I mean, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE caramel.  I love the fact that I can make my own caramel now and it tastes so much better than store-bought caramel-- not that I would ever turn up my nose at the store-bought stuff.  Caramel can be scary to make, though.  I have only ever made caramel using the "wet" method, where you add water to the sugar as you initially cook it.  The "dry" method still freaks me out-- cooking just sugar in a pot on the stove?  To me, that sounds like a recipe for disaster, burnt sugar, and a ruined pot.  This caramel, however, is YUM.  My husband almost made himself sick eating the leftover caramel out of the pot.  You really should try it-- people freak when they find out you can make caramel. Everyone is Very Impressed with that skill.

I made my own caramel for these, obviously-- for the filling and the icing.  I was also able to use the fleur de sel that I got for Christmas, which was fun.  These are super-good cupcakes.  I was impressed that the cake isn't too heavy-- it's nice and light, so it doesn't overpower the other flavors-- and you really can taste the salt in the caramel filling and the icing, especially on day two.  I will tell you that next time I make these, I will use foil liners-- the caramel makes the already-moist cupcake even more moist on the bottom (you can see it a little bit in the first picture). 

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
All recipes from 20Something Cupcakes
Makes 20-24 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk*
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

*I very rarely buy buttermilk, mostly because I know I won't use it all.  If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by adding 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk.  It will curdle and look gross and perfectly substitute for buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake pans.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk these dry ingredients until combined.  With mixer on low speed, add the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and water.  Beat until combined.  NOTE:  This batter is super-thin.  I was really worried-- I thought I had messed it up when I first mixed it.  From this point, the original recipe says to "spoon the batter" into the cupcake liners, but I couldn't do that-- the batter was too thin.  Instead, I poured it into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup and literally poured the batter into the liners.  I would suggest that you do that rather than trying to spoon it in.  Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes, or until cake tester (toothpick) inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks; after 10 minutes, remove from pans to continue cooling.  When cool to the touch, core each cupcake (instructions here). 

Salted Caramel
(For filling and icing)

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt-- use fleur de sel, if you have it

NOTE:  Caramel is weird and finicky.  I will give you the original recipe here, as well as my experiences making this particular recipe. 

Heat sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear. Clip a candy thermometer to the side and stop stirring.
(My syrup did not get clear.  When the syrup began to boil, I stopped stirring.  Once it boiled for a few minutes, then it got clear.  Also, I do not own a candy thermometer.  You don't need it to make caramel.)

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F.
(I don't wash down the sides of my saucepan.  You will need to watch your caramel carefully-- plan to devote about 10-15 minutes to hanging over the stove, watching it boil.  When the mixture becomes a nice amber color, then it's done.  Again, I would recommend that you don't leave your caramel unattended.  It will burn very quickly!  Also, don't get freaked out and take it off too early-- let it get to the amber color.)

Once your caramel is amber in color, remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.
(Pour in the cream slowly and carefully!  Do not pour it in all at once- your caramel will seize and harden.  Also, please be careful-- the caramel gets very angry and spits and bubbles and hisses when you pour the cream in.  Just keep stirring and slowly adding the cream.)

Let the caramel cool for 15-20 minutes, then fill each cored cupcake with caramel.  Sprinkle a few flakes of fleur de sel on top the caramel before replacing the cupcake top.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup Crisco (or you can substitute another stick of butter here)
1/2 tsp flaked sea salt/fleur de sel
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/2- 3/4 cup caramel (from above)

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, Crisco, and sea salt until combined.  Add the vanilla extract and beat until absorbed.  Next, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until absorbed-- scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition.  (I used about 3.5 cups.)  Scrape the bowl again and add the half cup of caramel-- beat until incorporated.  If you want a more intense caramel flavor, add more, beating each addition until well-combined.  If your frosting seems soft, you can refrigerate it until it sets-- the caramel may make it soft, especially if it was warm when added. 

Using a pasrty bag with a tip (I used a large start tip) or a ziploc with the corner cut off, frost each cupcake.  Garnish each cupcake with a few flakes of the sea salt.  Store in a covered container at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

S'More Cupcakes

 Yep.  I made those. 

Sometimes the things I am able to make astound me.  I am, generally, not a crafty person.  I don't scrapbook.  I don't knit.  I definitely don't draw.  Sometimes I don't even write neatly.  So, when these things I bake turn out pretty, it always surprises me.  Every single time.

I'm not going to lie-- these suckers are MESSY.  Messy to make, messy to assemble, messy to eat.  If you have an aversion to things that are sticky, you may want to avoid these.  But if you do decide to make them, they are totally worth the messy and the sticky.  The only hiccup with these cupcakes is that they do seem to reqire some special kitchen equipment; however, if you are not me and you did not receive every kitchen gadget known to man for Christmas, do not fear.  I can help with the modifications. :)  It will be fun!  Just pretend we're outside...then you won't freak about the frosting that is flying all over your kitchen.  This will happen.  It's unavoidable.  Be prepared.  We're pretending to be Girl Scouts!

S'More Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Cupcakes
(Adapted from Ming Makes Cupcakes)
Makes approximately 12 cupcakes

Graham Crust Bottoms
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/8 cup sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together until the sugar is absorbed and all the graham cracker crumbs are wet.  Press into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  It took about a tablespoon to crumb mixture to cover the bottoms.

Graham Cracker Cupcakes

1 cup flour
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 5-7 pieces
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400.  (Or, if your oven is as hot as mine, 375.)  In the large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in the butter a piece at a time.  Beat in sugar thoroughly-- at this point, the mixture will look pretty sandy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Next, add vanilla and milk. mixing until just incorporated.  Spoon the cake batter on top of the graham crusts already in the cupcake liners.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack, then core for filling. (For this recipe with pictures and commentary, click here.)

Milk Chocolate Ganache
(Adapted from

3-4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (You should definitely use milk chocolate if you're looking for the classic s'mores taste.)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring cream and butter to a simmer.  Pour cream-butter combination over chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes.  This is important!  Don't be impatient and try to stir too early (like I did the first few times I made ganache).  Then, whisk until smooth.  Let the ganache cool-- it will thicken a bit as it cools.  Fill cupcakes with milk chocolate ganache.

Seven-Minute Frosting

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used the clear stuff here)

Place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler (or in a clean mixing bowl that can fit over the top of a saucepan).  Beat with a mixer for about a minute, then place over boiling water (either over the bottom of your double boiler, or over your regular saucepan.  (Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of your double boiler/mixing bowl.) Beat for seven minutes (hence the name).  Be warned: this is the messy part.  The frosting will greatly increase in volume, and, depending on the depth of your double boiler/mixing bowl, may start to get flung around the kitchen.  Just get through it.  Remove from heat and beat in vanilla.

You have already filled the cored cupcakes with the chocolate ganache-- now it's time to frost the cupcakes.  I have icing bags and tips, but the thought of trying to do more with that sticky frosting just about sent me over the edge.  So, do what I did-- put some in a baggie, snip the corner off the baggie, and voila! Disposable icing bag!  Once you've frosted the cupcakes, it's time to toast them.  You can do this with a kitchen torch (I just got one! Excitement!) or by putting them under the broiler for a few minutes.  Either way, watch the cupcakes carefully to make sure you don't burn the frosting.



Christmas Goodies

A very serious conversation. :)
I am obviously a little late with the Christmas blogging.  I thought I was going to have all this time and I'd be able to tell you all about the amazing things I made...and somehow time got away from me.  Now, here we are, already in January and already back to school and I haven't put anything new up in weeks.  Somehow, looking at the picture above, I can't make myself feel bad about it, since I spent my vacation hanging out with that cute girly-pie.  Guess what Santa brought her?  An Easy-Bake Oven (of course).  She was excited, and so was I.

The first Easy-Bake Oven product!
I made a million and one things this Christmas season...some of them I took pictures of, and some of them were consumed too quickly for me to capture.  Here's a general list, with links to the recipes.

For Christmas Goodie Baskets:
Homemade Coffee Syrup (recipe from Annie's Eats)
Rosemary Spiced Pecans (I will post this recipe the next time I make it)
Sugar Cookies (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens)
Dipped Pretzels (ummm, pretzel rods and recipe needed)
Vanilla Sugar (vanilla bean pods left to rest in sugar...again, no recipe needed)

The sugar cookies

A small version of the baskets

Other Christmas Goodies:
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes (recipe from Annie's Eats)
Cranberry-Orange Mini Cheesecakes (recipe from My Baking Addiction)
Tollhouse Cookies (recipe from
Maple Walnut Fudge

The last two on the list are my grandmother's recipes.  They fully deserve their own special attention, so they will one day get their own post.  I hope that your own holidays were as full as mine were-- here's to a New Year!