The Elvis Cupcake

ElvisCupcakes

We had a couple of bananas sitting in our fruit bowl this weekend that were looking pret-ty ripe. They were leftover from Ben’s last week of marathon training, as he ran the London Marathon last weekend!  So instead of baking last week, I was standing on the sidelines, cheering on thousands of runners as we waited for Ben to pass. He did really well and finished in 4:09:32, not bad for a first marathon!

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Back to the bananas…Their depressingly faded yellow peels covered in brown freckles were just begging to be put out of their misery. Instead of tossing them, I decided to make an old favorite: Elvis cupcakes.

Why Elvis? Because apparently the man loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Only these cakes take it a step further with a chocolate buttercream frosting. You may now be wondering where the peanut butter is if it isn’t in the frosting and the answer is the best surprise of this cake: a creamy peanut butter center!

While the flavor combination sounds like a strange amalgamation, you’d be amazed at how good these cakes taste!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes (makes 9):

  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour (preferably cake flour, if you have it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole overly ripe banana
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (58 grams) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 egg

For the peanut butter filling:

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons icing sugar

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5/8 cup icing sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix the vanilla and buttermilk.

3. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Once everything is incorporated, mash in the banana and mix well.

4. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients, alternating each addition with the buttermilk mixture. Make sure everything is blended in and smooth before adding the next addition. Once the batter is completely mixed, fill your prepared cupcake pans – filling each cup about 2/3 full.

5. Bake the cakes for about 17 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Once they are ready, let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the peanut butter filling, beat the peanut butter and butter together until creamy.  Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Cut a hole into the top of each cupcake and spoon the filling into the hole, or using a piping bag with a filling tip (my method of choice).

7. To make the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until no clumps remain, and it’s completely smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool while you prepare the rest (about 5 – 10 min).

8. In medium sized bowl, beat butter for 3 minutes, until very very creamy.  Add the milk and beat until smooth.  Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat well. Add vanilla and whip for 3 more minutes.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until it’s nice and airy, then fill a piping bag and pipe onto the cakes.

Springtime Cupcakes

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It may be nearly a month late, but spring has finally come to London! Today was the first day that it’s gotten above 40°! In fact, it was nearly 70°! Ben and I had the balcony doors open to our flat and let the warm Southern breeze float through our living room – a welcome freshness to help air out an apartment that’s been hermetically sealed for the winter since October or November.

For some reason, it feels like winter lasts forever in the UK, but then one warm day and POOF! every single flower and tree is in full bloom and the grass is suddenly a bright shade of green as it soaks up the sunlight.

To welcome the season, here’s a simple cupcake that will bring the spring from outside in to your kitchen.

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Ingredients

For the cupcakes (makes 12):

  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
For the frosting:
  • 6 Tablespoons (86 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups (160 grams) icing sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 36 chocolate minieggs

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; then beat in the eggs one at a time.

3. Gently mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder, being careful not to overmix.

4. Spoon the batter into your cupcake liners, then place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them, as chocolate cupcakes have a tendency to dry out really quickly. Once they’re finished, allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the buttercream, place your butter into the bowl of your mixer, and beat it on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy. Then, lower your speed and gradually mix in the icing sugar. Beat until they are well mixed, then add in the milk and vanilla. Divide your batter by thirds, dying one third green and the other two thirds brown. Place each frosting color into a piping bag.

6. Fit the green piping bag with a grass-type decorating tip (it has a bunch of little holes in it). Roughly pipe the grass around the outer rim of your cake, lifting and releasing the pressure each time so that it breaks up into several ‘tufts’ of grass. Fit the brown pastry bag with a flower-type decorating tip. Use this bag to create your nests by swirling it around while leaving the middle hollow. Arrange three minieggs into each nest to finish.

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

RaspberryMuffins

For some reason this week, the raspberries in the grocery store were calling my name. I wanted to make something relatively quick and easy, so I decided on these muffins, and boy were they worth it!  With the sweetness of the cake and chocolate, combined with the slightly tart bite of the raspberries, I could have sat and eaten all of them in one go!

This recipe came from a church cookbook that Ben’s dad gave me for Christmas. I find that church cookbooks are often some of the best, because the recipes are truly homemade and not perfected in some professional kitchen. Plus, the money from sales goes to a good cause, rather than someone’s pocket. 🙂

The key to making these muffins is to gently fold in the raspberries by hand at the last minute before pouring into your cupcake tin. That way, the raspberries don’t burst open and turn the whole batter pink.

Ingredients

  • 300 grams flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 225 milliliters milk
  • 50 grams butter, melted
  • 100 grams raspberries
  • 75 grams white chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C. Prepare your muffin tin by lining it with baking cases.

2. Sift together the flour and baking poder into a large bowl, then stir in the sugar.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and melted butter. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir together, then add in the chocolate chips. Finally, gently fold in the raspberries, trying to avoid breaking them open as much as possible.

4. Divide the batter amongst the baking cases, filling each one about 2/3 full. Bake for 30 minutes until they rise above the cases and just start to turn golden on top.

 

Pumpkin Cupcakes

 

Ask anyone who knew me growing up and they’ll tell you – Halloween is my favorite holiday. I used to go overboard making my own costume every year, determined to have the best one out of everybody. It’s a shame that Halloween isn’t really a “thing” here in the UK – it actually made me a bit sad not dressing up, carving a jack-o-lantern, or going to Halloween parties, pumpkin patches, or haunted hay rides. *note to self – must throw a Halloween party some year.

And fall is pretty much my favorite season from a culinary perspective. It marks the beginning of the best cooking and baking season that leads up to Christmas. One of the best seasonal ingredients is pumpkin. Cooking with pumpkin just instantly signals fall – so I special-ordered a few cans of pumpkin to load up for a few rounds of pumpkin baking.

As a Halloween treat to my co-workers, I decided this week to throw together a batch of pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. As I was baking these on a weeknight and ended up staying up pretty late, I completely forgot to take photos. Luckily I had a photo from another time I baked these a few years ago. So while I apologize for the poor-quality photo, I will not apologize for the presence of Jack Skellington.

If anything, he just adds a bit of the Halloween spirit.

 

Ingredients

For the cupcakes (makes 24):

  • 2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (or cooked and mashed up)
  • 3/4 cup milk
For the frosting:
  • 1/4 cup (57.5 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pound (1 box, about 4 cups) icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (approx 190°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Once everything is incorporated, add in the pumpkin.

4. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients, alternating each addition with the milk. Make sure everything is blended in and smooth before adding the next addition. If you’d like, you can also add in some chopped walnuts or pecans at this stage. Once the batter is completely mixed, fill your prepared cupcake pans – filling each cup about 2/3 full.

5. Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Once they are ready, let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese in your mixer until it starts to become creamy. Then turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add in the sifted icing sugar. Finally, add in the vanilla and mix until it is completely blended. The consistency of this frosting is best spread on with a spatula, rather than piped. If you’d like a stiffer frosting, then add more sugar.

Bat Signal Cupcakes

 

Holy cupcakes, Batman!!

This weekend was Ben’s cousin Alex’s birthday and his girlfriend decided to throw him a Batman-themed surprise party. I volunteered to make a few special cakes to take along. I decided to evoke the theme by making the bat signal, and I used some cupcake liners with bats on them as well.

To make these, I made Guinness chocolate cupcakes for the cakes, and then a basic vanilla buttercream (using butter, vanilla, and icing sugar) and dyed it bright yellow. The frosting was piped on using a jumbo cupcake icing round tip: hold the piping bag straight at 90-degrees about 1/2 an inch away from the top of the center of the cake and hold it there while you pipe the icing on. It will fill out towards the edges on its own. When you’ve covered the desired amount of the top, reduce the pressure on your piping bag, dip it down a bit, then lift.

To make the bats, first draw out the bat shape multiple times onto a sheet of paper, then place this on a baking sheet and lay a sheet of baking paper over it. Tape down the edges of the baking paper so that it doesn’t shift when you are trying to trace the shapes.

Melt some chocolate (I used semisweet, as I had some on hand from a recent trip back to the States, but otherwise use dark chocolate) until it reaches a thick, but still liquid-like consistency that you can pipe with. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small circular decorating tip (like you’d use for writing) with the melted chocolate.

Quickly trace over your bat shapes with the chocolate, starting by outlining the shape then filling in. Once you’ve traced all of your bats, leave the chocolate to set. If you need it done faster, you can put them in the fridge, but you won’t get the same shine. I put these in the fridge because I actually wanted the chocolate to be a bit dull – it just seemed to fit with the matte black finish on The Dark Knight’s costume and cars.

I really loved the way these cakes turned out, especially since I did them on a bit of a whim. I was able to get a really great effect without a whole lot of extra effort – so I will definitely be using chocolate to decorate again!