Tag Archives: cupcake

Vancouver’s First Cupcake Challenge

The moment I found out Vancouver was having a cupcake bakeoff, I looked at GingerMan and said, “We’re going. They’ll have free samples.” He smiled at me and said, “You had me at Free Cupcake.”

My choice for Best Cupcake: The Neopolitan by Frosting Cupcakery

It was an overcast Vancouver morning, but it was all sweet frosted happiness at Yaletown Roundhouse. Throughout the day, 1110 people came by to taste the wares of top-notch local bakers and cupcakeries. My only suggestions for improvement: a slightly larger room and a free glass of milk. 8)

Vancouver Cupcake Challenge organizers Nicole Marie Events and Follow Me Foodie invited the public to sample delicious treats and help select the People’s Choice cupcake, while a panel of judges (including a few local foodies) put in their votes for the Judges’ Choice and Blogger’s Choice.

Fabulous door prize at the Vancouver Cupcake Challenge.

Congrats to Frosting Cupcakery and Big City Cupcakes! You guys take the cake. As a cupcake connoisseur, I appreciated the unique flavour combinations presented by all the contestants. Several memorable participating bakers (including the challenge winners) are profiled below.

Frosting Cupcakery ~ Winner of Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice

Smiling bakers from Frosting Cupcakery!

Cake and ice cream is a birthday party classic. Frosting Cupcakery immediately won me over with their Neopolitan cupcake: a vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry combination that really tastes like ice cream! Their exotic Love Potion cupcake marries flavours of mango and passion fruit, and the Caramel Crunch is a divine confection of buttery caramel and madagascar vanilla with bits of Skor Bar.

Based in Langley, I’d say this cupcake shop is definitely worth a trip! They have a fantastic assortment of delicious treats and wonderfully creative recipes for holidays or any days, plus they host birthday parties for kids and offer custom cupcakes for special events and weddings. Take a peek at their cupcake menu!

Scrumptious samples from Frosting Cupcakery

Big City Cupcakes ~ Winner of Blogger’s Choice Award

When they say “big” the’re talking about the cupcakes, too. Way more than a mouthful and loaded with yummy frosting. No skimping on the good stuff. Many of their cupcakes also have fillings! The best of the bunch is the Lemon Drop: Vanilla cupcake with tangy lemon filling and lemony buttercream frosting. They also offered samples of the Strawberry Cheesecake (yes it has cheesecake filling) and the Truffle, which has a ganache truffle filling.

Big City Cupcakes has three Vancouver locations: Downtown (1015 Howe St.) ~ Kitsilano (2206 West 4th) ~ Point Grey (4481 West 10th). See their website at bigcitycupcakes.com for a complete list of locations and menu of yummy flavours, including gluten free or egg & dairy free options.

Indulgence

Sweet ladybugs and flowers!

Pastry chef Clare Thomas offered three luscious little cakes including Pistachio Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream, Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Tangy Lemon Buttercream, and a perfectly delectable Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Sweet Caramel Buttercream. The texture of the cake was divine (moist and not too dense) and it had a lovely deep chocolate flavour. I loved that some of their baby cupcakes were topped with candy flowers and tiny little ladybugs. So cute!

Cake Tease

Really creative and artistic bakers in North Vancouver with excellent taste. Their unique Oreo Cookie cupcake even had cookie crumbles in the cake! NOM! Not only does Cake Tease make yummy cupcakes, they also do fabulous structured and sculpted cakes, too. Have a look at their photo gallery.

Pink Sugar Cupcakery

Fresh ingredients, small batches, and no dairy or eggs! Pink Sugar calls their sustainable goodies “eco-chic party treats” and offered three fantastic little cupcakes to sample. The toasty coconut cupcake was a huge hit with Gingerman, and the Peanut Butter filled Chocolate cupcake was moist and delicious. An excellent flavour combo! The Chocolate Strawberry cupcake was also supertasty, with real strawberry puree in the frosting. People in Victoria are lucky to have Pink Sugar in their neighbourhood. Check out their inspiring menu of designer cupcakes.

Strawberry Cornmeal Cupcakes with Prairie Berry Frosting

A while back, I joined up with Iron Cupcake Earth in the interest of stimulating my baking muse. Each month they challenge bakers to come up with creative ways to use a particular ingredient and make nommy cupcakes. Of course, there are PRIZES, too! I love prizes.

The Milwaukee Cupcake Queen’s decree for June: SUMMER BERRIES.

Sweet Summer Strawberries

Sweet Summer Strawberries by ellievanhoutte

So many possibilities! Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, snozzberries . . . and so many ways to use them. This weekend, the farmers market was full of fresh organic strawberries, and it was high time I took up the Queen’s challenge. This is my first attempt at an Iron Cupcake, and I’m pretty well satisfied with the results. Ginger Man ate three right off the bat! It was a tasty adventure, plus I got to use some of my favourite things:

  • Fresh Fraser Valley Strawberries
  • Citrus Salt by Maison Coté
  • Bonne Maman Prairie Berry Jam: a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Made in France.
  • Silicone Cupcake Liners: super-easy cleanup and no trash!

Strawberry Cornmeal Cupcakes with Prairie Berry Frosting

strawberrycckeThe addition of a little cornmeal to the batter enhances this cupcake’s texture without making it taste like cornbread. It’s a sweet cake, not savoury, and the baked tops have a pleasant toothsomeness.

Note: Mix the batter with a regular ol’ wooden spoon so the ingredients don’t get overmixed. For the frosting, use an electric mixer for best results.

Cook the strawberries:

In small saucepan, combine 1 pint fresh strawberries (quartered), 2 Tbs sugar, 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, and a few grinds of Citrus Salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced by about half. Set aside to cool.

Mix the dry ingredients:

  • scant cup sugar (not quite a full cup)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix the wet ingredients:

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 3/4 cup milk

Combine the mixtures:

  • Gently stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined.
  • Do not overmix.
  • Fold the cooked strawberries into the cupcake batter.

Bake the cupcakes:

  • Divide batter among 12 lined muffin cups.
  • Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

surprise inside*At the last minute, I decided to add a little surprise when the cupcakes came out of the oven. While the cakes were still warm, I scooped out the center of six cupcakes and filled them with a few mini chocolate chips. Strawberries love chocolate, and so do I. Covered with frosting, they all looked the same. The little extra chocolate boost was fun to find!

Make the frosting:

  • Whip 1/4 cup softened butter until fluffy.
  • Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 Tbs milk. Beat well.
  • Stir in 2 Tbs Bonne Maman Prairie Berry Jam
  • Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.
  • Garnish with berry of your choice.
Flickr Creative Commons Photo
by ellievanhoutte

Thanks for your votes! This month’s winning cup cake was:

Not-so-blue-berry Cupcakes from How To Eat A Cupcake

Luau Cupcakes two ways, both delicious.


luaucpkbit

I nom dis.

Macadamia nuts, pineapple, coconut, and ginger. Island flavours combine in a moist, tasty cupcake that is delicious with frosting or whipped cream, but don’t let that stop you from eating them buck nekkid.

I’ve been working on my luau cake recipe for a while, and this is an excellent version. I use minced ginger in a jar from The Ginger People—one of my favourite pantry items. If you want to use powdered ginger, reduce the amount by half.

This is a small volume recipe. It makes just enough batter for about 12 cupcakes, or 6 cupcakes and two baby cakes. I have two miniature springform pans that I use to make itty bitty cakes for two (since most of the time it’s just me and Ginger Man at the table and a whole cake is really just too much). Sometimes when I bake, I’ll throw part of the batter into my baby-cake pans and then freeze the layers for later. Long after the original goodies are gone, I can whip out these sweeties and voilá! The perfect size layer cake for two!

Grinding Nuts

I love using ground nuts in cakes, cupcakes, and muffins. It adds texture, flavour, and lots of good-for-you nutrients. Grinding works best in a food processor, but you can use a coffee grinder or blender, even a mortar and pestle. Got none of these? Put the nuts in a ziplock bag and whack them with a rolling pin.

Tip #1: Add a teaspoon or so of granulated suagar to the nuts just before grinding. This will help absorb oils and keep nuts from turning into nut butter.
Tip #2:
Pulse the food processor on low speed until you get the grind you prefer.

Toasting Nuts & Coconut

If you like using nuts or coconut, you’ll be amazed at the difference toasting makes. Toasting heightens flavour and aroma, and in the case of coconut, pleasantly changes the texture. Coconut toasts more quickly than nuts, so keep an eye on it and be sure to stir for more even browning. You can toast nuts whole, chopped, or ground.

With vanilla ice cream and pineapple-ginger whip.

With vanilla ice cream and pineapple-ginger whip.

Luau Cupcakes

Prepare pan for 12 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350°

Mix dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup macadamia nuts
    (toasted and ground)
  • 1/2 Cup coconut flakes
    (toasted if you want)
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1/3 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Add wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1/2 Cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 Tbs coconut milk (or sub regular milk)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Spoon batter into lined cupcake pan. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely, then frost with Orange Ginger Buttercream frosting OR split the cupcakes with a fork, then fill with vanilla ice cream, and top with a dollop of Pineapple-Ginger Whipped Cream.

cupcakesOrange Ginger Buttercream Frosting

Whip 2 Tbs softened butter with 1 tsp minced ginger, 1 Tbs orange juice,  and the zest of 1 orange. Gradually add 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, blending well after each addition. This frosting is quite rich and sweet, so I don’t use a lot. Double the recipe if you want more.

Pineapple Ginger Whipped Cream

Whip 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream with 2 Tbs powdered sugar and 1 tsp minced ginger and 1 tbs pineapple juice until the mixture is stiff enough to dollop.

2009 Virtual Cupcake Crawl Participant
see all entries @ Kitchen Rap
GourmetGirl Magazine

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes and Whiskey Truffles

These edible "car bombs" will blow up your taste buds.

Edible "car bombs" will blow up your taste buds.

When I bring my cupcakes to the yard, all the ginger boys scream “Erin go bragh!”

A hint of beer, boozey and sweet, like an Irish lover’s kiss. These cupcakes are truly scrumptious. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes with enough leftover ganache, frosting, and cupcake middles to make a little plate of truffles.

This is not an ordinary cupcake recipe, and it’s definitely not for kids. The recipe is decadent and very rich (using real butter, heavy cream, and three kinds of alcoholic beverage). It also takes time to prepare and involves quite a few steps, but the reward is worth the effort.

The flavours are inspired by a pub concoction called an “Irish Car Bomb” (careful where you order these, or you could get a poke in the puss). It’s a type of boilermaker: a shot glass full of Jameson’s and Bailey’s gets dropped in a pint of Guinness, then you have to chug it down before the Bailey’s curdles and you end up drinking cheese. Ew. Trust me, the cupcake version is much better.

Hand out a few of  these decadent and delicious goodies and people will say the most wonderful things, like “You’re a genius! I love you! Marry me.”

Caution: Because of the complexity of this recipe, try to resist the temptation to finish off the extra beer or nip the wiskey while you cook. You could end up half in the bag and pass out in a pool of ganache . . . not that that has ever happened to me. *hic*

How To Streamline The Process:

  1. Read the recipe through several times.
  2. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you need.
  3. Make room in the kitchen and set up cupcake pans and piping bags.
  4. Chop the chocolate and let the butter come to room temperature.
  5. Make the cocoa beer butter, then preheat the oven.
  6. While the beer butter cools and the oven heats, start making the cupcake batter.
  7. While the cupcakes are baking, start making the ganache.
  8. While the ganache and cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.
  9. Set up an assembly line for excavating, frosting, and filling the cupcakes.
  10. Clean up as you go, be patient, and take your time.

Special Techniques

Making Ganache

Making Ganache

  • Ganache is the heavenly union of chocolate and cream (and usually flavouring—in this case, whiskey). Heated cream meets chopped chocolate, then gets stirred until smooth and thick. In this recipe, thickened ganache is piped into hollowed out cupcakes. Once it cools, it will set to a fudgy consistency.
  • Ganache changes if you alter the temperature or the proportion of chocolate to cream.
    • Increase cream / decrease chocolate = lighter and thinner ganache (good for pouring)
    • Increase chocolate / decrease cream = thicker and stiffer ganache (good for truffles)
    • Heat ganache to thin it. Cool ganache to thicken it.
  • Beating the ganache too much can make it grainy. To learn more about ganache, including how to smooth out a grainy mistake read on at The Global Gourmet.

Using a Pastry Bagpastrybag

  • Fit a pastry tip and coupler inside the bag, screw on the outer collar, then fill the bag about 1/2 full. Twist the end of the bag to seal it shut and push the filling forward to the tip. Hold the twisted end in your right hand and squeeze to control the flow. Direct the tip of the pastry bag with your left hand.
  • If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can improvise with a Ziplock baggie. Fill the baggie about 1/2 full with icing or ganache, seal it by twisting, then snip off the corner tip and start piping. You can also make a simple piping bag with a piece of parchment paper. Watch Liv Hansen’s video to learn how!
  • Pretty piping takes practice. If you’re new to the idea, experiment on a clean plate or a piece of parchment paper and start with simple designs like swirls, dots, lines, or stars.

The Recipes

You can find the original recipe @ Smitten Kitchen. Thanks to Sassy Radish and Bruce who turned me on to the idea. My version below uses the maximum amount of booze, and I added a bit of vanilla to the ganache to balance the flavour a bit. I used two kinds of dark chocolate (Cote d’Or Belgian 70% cocoa and Alprose Swiss 74% cocoa). In metric Canada, two 100 gram bars = about 7 oz of chocolate, slightly less than other recipe versions, but the end result was fine. I also took the trouble to sift the flour, cocoa powder, and icing sugar before using it, to prevent lumps. I used Canadian Club whiskey, as my bottle of Jameson’s was dry. *hic*

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Whiskey Truffle Filling and Bailey’s Frosting

Make the chocolate beer butter.

Can I get a Hail Mary?

Can I get a Hail Mary?

  • Over low heat, melt 1 cup unsalted butter in 1 cup Guinness (room temp).
  • Remove from heat and blend in 3/4 cup cocoa powder.
  • Allow to cool slightly.

Mix the cupcakes.

  • Combine 2 cups all purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt.
  • In separate bowl, mix 2 eggs with 2/3 cup sour cream.
  • Slowly add cocolate beer butter to egg mixture, blending well.
  • Gently stir in flour mixture until combined.

Bake and cool.

  • Spoon batter into cupcake pan (fill each liner about 2/3 full).
  • Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 17 minutes.
  • Cool cupcakes completely before excavating.

Make the whiskey ganache.

  • Put 7 oz (200gm) chopped bittersweet chocolate into a heatproof bowl.
  • Heat 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream to a simmer.
  • Pour hot cream over chocolate and DO NOT STIR.
  • Let it sit and melt for a couple of minutes, then stir the ganache until smooth.
  • Add 2 Tbs unsalted butter (room temp), 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 tsp whiskey.
  • Let it cool until it thickens enough for piping.
  • Spoon ganache into piping bag (I didn’t bother using a tip for filling the cupcakes).
  • Reserve about 1/2 cup of ganache for the truffles.

Excavate the cupcakes.

  • Using a grapefruit spoon or apple corer, dig a small hole in the top of each cupcake. Do not dig through the bottom.
  • Reserve excavated cupcake “dirt” for making truffles.

Make the frosting.

Very Irish Creamy.

Very Irish Creamy.

  • Using an electric mixer, whip 1/2 cup unsalted butter (= one stick) at room temp.
  • Gradually add 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar (about 1/2 cup at a time) and 4 Tbs Bailey’s Irish Cream (about 1 Tbs at a time). Beat well after each addition.
  • Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip (I used a star tip).
  • Save a small amount of frosting to decorate the truffles.

Assemble the cupcakes.

Ready to fill and frost.

Ready to fill and frost.

  • Fill each excavated cupcake with a generous blob of ganache. Smooth the top flat if needed.
  • Decorate with Bailey’s frosting (a little goes a long way; it’s very sweet). Top with sprinkles if you want.

    Storing the cupcakes:

    • Refrigerate filled (or filled and frosted) cupcakes uncovered ~ 1 hour.
    • Wrap individual cupcakes in cling wrap or pack sets in airtight containers. Store in fridge or freezer. Thaw to room temp before serving, if you can wait that long.

      Irish Screams

      They go oooh aaaah wooo!

      They go oooh aaaah wooo!

      • Mix leftover whiskey ganache with the excavated cupcake dirt.
      • Chill.
      • Roll into little balls.
      • Decorate with leftover Bailey’s frosting and green sprinkles.
      • Praise the Lord.