Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Medical Cupcakes

For the record, these cupcakes were approved by a (future) physician. A lot of people (namely my brother) often request cupcakes that are "healthy," but I'm conscientiously opposed to low-fat baked goods. They just never taste even slightly as good as the unmodified versions. Another thing is, how often do people really eat cupcakes? I mean, aside from me, cupcakes are a once in a while indulgence. And you shouldn't skimp calories on your indulgences. The diet can wait until Monday (or Tuesday...or Wednesday). Trust me.

Red velvet with a mini stethoscope

Ok, off that spiel now. This past weekend I baked 5 dozen cupcakes for a graduation party that was occurring on Saturday. The son of my parents' friends was graduating college and heading to medical school in St. Maarten. Why didn't I think of that when I was graduating college? Maybe not the med school, but definitely grad school in the islands.

Box of medical cupcakes

I know I've been talking about my summer time baking (bad) habits, and this bunch went just about the same. After returning home around 10:30 am from the night before, I went straight to making mini fondant stethoscopes to adorn the cupcakes. When it was evident the fondant wasn't going to work for the tube portion of the stethoscope, somehow through my hangover-induced haze, I was able to improvise and whip up some royal icing to replace, while baking the last dozen cupcakes. After finally getting the full five dozen baked, frosted, stethoscoped and boxed, I was immediately out the door to drop these off.

Full cupcake tower

The full order was for 2 dozen red velvet with the stethoscopes, 1 dozen Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, 1 dozen chocolate with chocolate ganache, and 1 dozen orange cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. I thought it was a pretty good assortment for a party with a mix of adults, 20-somethings, and kids.

Also, it's worth mentioning a friendship was almost lost in the baking of these cupcakes. SOMEONE who will remain nameless (Morgan) promised she'd bring me a bagel & Diet Snapple and never showed up with it. I will let it slide this time, but don't let it happen again! You should know better than to mess with me when I am baking hungover. Tears were almost shed when no bagel arrived at my door.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (Minus the Whiskey)

For a graduation party request I baked this weekend, one of the flavors they asked for was chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's frosting. The party was on Saturday, and I knew I would never get everything baked on time if I waited until Friday night to start (especially since I knew I would be going out with friends Friday night). Because of this, I started the baking before leaving Hoboken for the weekend. This was a crucial call, especially being as I struggled to complete the order as it was.

Guinness post-explosion, still foaming at the top

There's a convenience store named Delite two blocks away from me that has been my go-to place for all of my pre and mid baking needs. I am terrible when it comes to running out of ingredients in the midst of mixing, and these store owners have seen me in various states of panic, desperately running in for eggs, cocoa powder, etc. Last Thursday, I stopped into Delite pre-baking to pick up some eggs and Guinness. The cashier looked horrified when I insisted I could just put the Guinness in my purse to carry home (it was raining really hard and I just didn't have enough hands).

Butter melting into the Guinness - two delicious ingredients

Not surprisingly, when I went to open one of the cans to use for the recipe, it exploded all over me & my kitchen. Excellent way to start the whole baking process. After finishing the Guinness cupcakes, I still needed to make plain chocolate cupcakes and realized that I had no milk in the apartment. Running back out to Delite, I realized in a mix of slight amusement and embarrassment that I not only was covered in a fine layer of flour, but also reeked of alcohol from the Guinness explosion that occurred. Standing as far back from the register as possible, I quickly paid for my milk and ran out of the store, praying the cupcakes I had left unattended in the oven hadn't burnt down my apartment. I got back and the cupcakes were perfectly baked, there were no fires, and I had all the ingredients needed for the rest of the night.

Buying mini bottles of alcohol always makes me feel like an alcoholic for some reason

I don't have any pictures of these cupcakes on their own, but in the next couple days I'll post all the cupcakes from the weekend and you can see the Car Bomb ones set up on the stand with the others.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

The last of the cupcakes I made last weekend were for my parents' annual summer party. Their summer party is an event both their friends and my friends look forward to every year. Because my mom loves themes, this year's theme was Mardi Gras. I knew I wanted to do flashy cupcakes to go with the theme. I also knew I was likely going to be hungover from Friday night and needed to keep them simple. Hence, I went with all vanilla cupcakes with edible glitter in green, gold, and purple.

Cupcakes waiting to be set up after they were baked

Sure enough, Saturday morning I was not in good shape. The night before my best friend's brother got married and we all took full advantage of the open bar (sorry Mr. & Mrs. O!). I stumbled out of bed some time in the late morning and got to working. With the oven on, the kitchen was hot and it felt like I was sweating vodka. This was not one of my finest baking experiences.

Top tier of my new stand!

When they were finally done and sprinkled with the glitter, I set them aside for the party later that night. After I got ready, I accidentally dragged my arm through some of the spilt glitter, which quickly migrated all over me, making it look like I applied body glitter. I haven't worn body glitter since 1995, so I was pretty unhappy about that.

Set up in the "desserts room" as my friend used to call our dining room

Morgan's mom made me a new cupcake stand so that was on display at the party. The party was great and the cupcakes were a hit. By the time they actually came out with the rest of desserts, almost half of the cupcakes were already pilfered in secret by the party guests.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bachelorette Party Cupcakes

In the past couple months, I have received several requests for cupcakes for bachelorette parties. Immediately upon hearing this request, I think, "oh no, no erotic cupcakes." My cupcakes are supposed to be pretty, not have fondant genitals on them. Not to mention, one of these requests was from a coworker where I would have to bring them into work. I'm sure my company's HR department has never even contemplated that nightmare of someone bringing erotic cupcakes into work. Or maybe they's a pretty big company.

Red Velvet Cupcake

Fortunately, everyone I have dealt with wants pretty cupcakes, not raunchy ones. This weekend I made 2 dozen cupcakes for my brother's friend to to take to a bachelorette party she was going to. She wanted a dozen red velvet and a dozen cookie dough, specially made pink.

Packaged Cupcakes

I had some hot pink edible glitter I had picked up a while ago at NY Cake, a cake supply store in Chelsea, and I used that on the red velvet cupcakes. I dyed the cream cheese frosting a very light pink color and sprinkled the glitter over it. Very nice effect. For the cookie dough cupcakes, I dyed the frosting a darker pink before adding in the mini chocolate chips. I thought the end result of the cupcakes was very pretty - perfect for a girls' night out!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cupcake Jars from Last Week

The cupcakes in jars idea has solved the whole dilemma of shipping cupcakes. Since my friend Dan's request, I've shipped out several more boxes of cupcakes. Last week a friend of mine asked me to send half a dozen to her friend as a gift. The recipient is the co-chair of 80 Million Strong, a coalition advocating for jobs for millenials. Because of this, my friend wanted rainbow cupcakes in the organization's colors - blue, red, orange and green - with green star sprinkles on top.

Cupcakes fresh out of the oven

I may have mentioned this before, but when it comes to my cupcakes, I'm an obsessive perfectionist. I was able to find multicolored star sprinkles, so I picked out the green ones individually much to the astonishment and dismay of my mom who watched this.

Finished cupcakes, before lids

I really liked the way the rainbow cupcakes looked in the clear jars - very pretty. The rainbow jars are something I'd like to experiment more with in the future.

Carefully selected sprinkles

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Jackie!

Today was one of my favorite coworkers' birthdays, and I knew I wanted to make her cupcakes for it. After unsuccessfully trying to stealthily figure out her favorite flavor, I decided to go with just plain vanilla cupcakes. For some reason, when I think birthday cake (or cupcakes), vanilla immediately pops to mind. Probably because it's my favorite flavor. I feel like birthday cupcakes need sprinkles too.

Standard cupcakes on my desk shot

Having no sprinkles in my apartment (yes, I know, it's shocking), I decided to decorate with some of the new tiny silver dragees I bought a while back. Dragees are balls of sugar covered with a metallic coating. There was some confusion with me for a while whether these were safe to eat because on the bottle I first bought it said "For decoration purposes only." After some intense research (aka Wikipedia), I discovered that while the FDA does not consider these edible, they are perfectly safe for you to eat. I have tested this personally myself. Apparently they used to be made with mercury finishing, which is not safe to eat, but they no longer contain mercury. Despite this, they are still banned in California.

The piping tip I used kind of made them look like roses

Have I mentioned my apartment kitchen does not have air conditioning? Halfway through this baking process, I was dying and sure that the frosting was just going to melt clear off the cupcake.

Jackie with the cupcakes!

I then made it to work today with my dozen pink birthday cupcakes with edible silver sprinkles despite also juggling my backpack (yay - my weekend starts today!) and purse and attempting to feed money into the bus machine. I would have sworn I was going to drop the cupcakes upon getting on the bus.

Jackie looked pretty surprised when I handed these over this morning. Hopefully it was a look of good surprise, not a look of "wow, pink is my LEAST favorite color" surprise.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chocolate Ganache

In addition to the rainbow cupcakes I made for 4th of July this past weekend, I also baked 2 dozen for a friend's family party they were having. It was an order for 12 red velvet (which remains the leading favorite) and 12 vanilla with chocolate ganache. When I first heard they wanted chocolate ganache with vanilla cake, I was a bit thrown off guard. Ganache is the smooth, shiny cake coating that is comprised of dark chocolate and heavy cream. It's also frequently paired with chocolate cake.

Cupcake from 4th of July

The only other time I had made chocolate ganache was for my housewarming party last October. I had made four different types of mini cupcakes (which was crazy considering all the other things I had to do) - chocolate with chocolate ganache and Halloween sprinkles, caramel apple, red velvet, and orange vanilla.

Tower of cupcakes from last year's housewarming - Chocolate ganache in middle

There were a couple extra vanilla/chocolate ganache cupcakes left over from the batch so I got to try them. I think I'd label these as cupcakes for adults. Before you get any ideas, I don't mean that kind of "adult" cupcake - I've had so many requests lately for cupcakes for bachelor and bachelorette parties lately with inappropriate cupcake toppers. I mean in that the taste is more sophisticated, probably due to the quality chocolate in the ganache and the absense of traditional frosting. These are definitely the cupcakes I would serve at a dinner party.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Weekend

I always feel like 4th of July is the turning point in the summer. It's generally when summer starts to take its course and establishes how the remaining summer months are going to be. Fortunately we had some good weather down at the shore and a lot of good times over the past weekend.

In honor of the holiday, I put together some red, white & blue rainbow cupcakes. Over the course of the whole weekend, I toted my cupcake carrier around from bbq to bbq. By Monday, almost all of the cupcakes were gone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cupcakes from the Past Weekend

First of all, I'd like to apologize for being negligent about baking & blogging lately. It's summer and it seems like a million other things have been demanding my attention, depriving my friends, family & coworkers of delicious baked goods. What can I say? The call of the bar is just too strong, and when you're getting home as the sun is coming up, getting up a few hours later to slave away in a hot kitchen is just the last thought on your mind.

That being said, I did throw together some cupcakes for a friend's informal gathering by his pool Sunday. I had some leftover Oreo frosting in my freezer and had a craving for chocolate cupcakes. I have no clue what happened with the cupcakes, but when I took them out of the oven, all of the cupcake liners pulled away from the cupcakes. They weren't even the silicone-coated ones I was initially having the problem with. As my guy friends will attest to though, they still tasted pretty good. I used the remaining Oreo frosting for half of them and threw together some vanilla frosting for the rest. I thought it was a pretty solid effort for being so hungover.

Because this weekend is 4th of July though, there will be some baking going on so be sure to check back here next week to see what made it to all the bbqs!

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