Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter treats part two: egg nest vanilla cupcakes

As the photo shows the kitchen was rather busy on Thursday afternoon. Having finished my work for the day I started making all the Easter treats at around 3pm. I had ciabatta proving, roast tomatoes cooling, hot cross bun dough resting and the came the cupcakes. Oh yes, there had to be cupcakes!

Having just posted about how rarely I use the Kenwood I have to admit that it got a good outing on Thursday. All stages of the cupcakes called for it. I think it must have felt rather smug to have usurped the bowls (which to be honest were full of hot cross bun-y goodness!). I wanted to make a plain cupcake that I could decorate with a predictable Easter theme, egg nests.

I chose the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe that everyone raves about as the base and decided that I would finally attempt a ganache icing. N's birthday is coming up and when asked about what sort of cake he might want he said there was a certain type of icing he would really like. I have spent the last few weeks pointing to pictures on the front of food magazines, cakes in the windows of shops and photos on the web and finally figured out that it is probably a chocolate buttercream ganache. In order to be sure about this I thought that I could use it on my Easter cupcakes, as the colour and swirled piping would make it perfect for imitating a birds nest, and it would allow N to try it and confirm I was right.

So I made a batch of vanilla cupcakes and then mixed a ganache, piped it on and added mini-eggs. The result, a lovely textured but plain cupcake with a nicely rich cute topping. The plain cupcakes meaning that the overall combination wasn't too over the top. I was really pleased.

N was also delighted, not only because he got cupcakes, but because the icing was indeed what he hoped for. We took them away with us on our country break to sustain ourselves. A good job too because it snowed and there is nothing like curling up in front of Match of the Day with a cup of tea and indulgent cupcake, with the snow swirling outside the window.

I also made six mini-cupcakes and iced them, this time adding a variety of sprinkles rather than eggs. I hide them in an egg box and presented them to N this afternoon as a treat for in front of the football. It was so quaint I couldn't resist!

And now for the recipes:

Vanilla Cupcakes: Adapted from Magnolia Bakery recipe (I don't actually have their book yet, but I am hoping to pick it up asap)

Makes 12. (I cut it down to this as the original made 24 and that was way too many for me)

1/2 + 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 + 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Line a 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Chocolate Buttercream Ganache:

(I actually halved the following and it made enough to ice 6 large and 6 mini cupcakes)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter , room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add butter to the chocolate (make sure its soft and at room temp) and stir until combined.
5. Whisk together sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in another bowl until combined.
6. Pour the sugar mixture onto the chocolate mixture, then stir until combined and smooth.
7. Let sit at room temperature until thickened.
8. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
9. Pipe onto cupcakes when they're completely cooled.

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