Monday, April 30, 2012

puffle cupcakes--guest post by bonnie @ inspiring pretty


i have been so excited about my oldest son’s birthday this year. birthdays are always fun, but this year he changed schools. why does that matter, you ask? only because his old school forbade any homemade goodies of any kind. and for a mama who sometimes bakes just to pass the time, this was almost sacrilege. so when we began school shopping, imagine my delight when I found out that our school of choice not only allotted time for classroom birthday parties; but they also allowed you to bring in any kind of treat you desired.

i wanted to make something special, but i didn’t want to go overboard for a bunch of second graders who don’t know the difference between marshmallow and meringue. aiden (the birthday boy) and I decided to do hostess throwbacks in chocolate and orange. his class is really into club penguin, so we went with a puffle theme.

i settled on a few batters from the sky high cakes cookbook. i chose vanilla buttermilk (and added orange extract) for the orange cake, and chocolate butter cake for the chocolate. the chocolate batter called for brewed coffee, which i was pretty sure the other parents wouldn’t appreciate, so I subbed it with hot cocoa. then i chose smitten kitchen’s seven-minute (aka, marshmallow) frosting as a filling and a swiss meringue buttercream frosting to go on top for its pipe-ability.

they were a LOT of work (if i never beat another egg white to stiff peaks again, it will be too soon), but they were spectacular. and the look on my sweet 8 year old’s face when he got to hand them out coupled with one of his classmates exclaiming, “i wish we lived next door to you!” made it all worth it. 
p.s. i halved the batter recipes, so they each yielded about 15 cupcakes.

orange buttermilk batter

ingredients:
2 whole large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon orange extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

directions:
preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with liners.

place the eggs and the yolks in a medium bowl. add the orange extract and 1/4 cup of buttermilk. whisk well and set aside.

combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer; whisk to blend. add the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk and the butter to the dry ingredients and blend together on low. raise the mixer to medium speed and beat until light fluffy, about 2 minutes.

add the egg mixture in three additions, scrapping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Don’t over mix.

fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then pop them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

chocolate butter cake batter

ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup hot cocoa, cooled to room temperature

directions:
preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with liners.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, and salt on low speed until combined. add the butter and buttermilk and mix on low until moistened. raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

whisk the eggs and hot cocoa together in a bowl, and add to the mixer in 3 additions, scraping down the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition.

fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then pop them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

seven-minute frosting

ingredients:
5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs whites at room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

directions:
whisk first five ingredients together in a double boiler. To do a make-shift one, place a metal or heat-proof glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. beat the whites on low speed until the mixture reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. do not stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet, or the egg whites will be overcooked.

beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. remove the bowl from the skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool.

swiss meringue frosting

ingredients:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
20 tablespoons butter, softened (2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

directions:
beat butter in a stand mixer until light an fluffy.

whisk egg whites and sugar together in a double boiler. whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers, a minute or two.

remove from heat and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. be sure to mix long enough for it to cool completely.

add the vanilla.

finally, add the egg mixture to the butter and whip, whip, whip.
do not worry when this takes a while to come together. it can take up to 15 minutes, but it will come together. beating the butter ahead of time should reduce this problem, but you still have to whip it good. qlso, if you add the eggs while they are still warm, they will melt the butter and you will basically be out of luck, and $4 worth of butter.

to assemble:

tools:
several pastry bags with tips (in my experience ziplock bags will not suffice. the seams always seem split when any pressure is applied.)

miniature marshmallows, two per cupcake

black writing gel

directions:
fill a pastry bag fitted with a small, pointy tip (the design doesn’t really matter) with seven-minute frosting. push the point into the center of the cupcake and gently squeeze filling into the middle. you will see the cupcake start to expand, so stop short of it actually exploding.

separate the swiss meringue frosting into several bowls, one for each different color you want to do (we used four). mix desired amount of food coloring into each one. spoon about 1/3 on each color into its own pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or any tip that you think would make good looking hair.

frost the cupcakes with a knife or offset spatula in your different shades. flatten marshmallows into between clean fingers and place two in the center of each cupcake.

use black writing gel to draw a pupil on each marshmallow and a mouth below the marshmallows.

pipe hair onto each cupcake with the matching color in pastry bag.

keep cupcakes refrigerated until serving.

bonnie blogs at inspiring pretty along with lindsey and claire. it's a home for everything women care about. from recipes to weddings and spirituality to raising a family, we are here to share our lives with you and make yours prettier. our motto is 'a pretty home, a pretty faith, a pretty life'. born just outside chicago, illinois and raised in the mountains of colorado, bonnie found her home in southern california alongside her husband and three little boys. when she’s not cleaning up after all four of them, helping with school projects or making fabulously healthy dinners and scrumptious desserts, she enjoys being outdoors, a good cup of tea, writing and giving design advice to anyone who’ll listen. you can also find them on facebooktwitter and pinterest.