Thursday, May 3, 2012

Baby You're a....Rock Star!

'Rock Star' Cupcakes - Revisited

All I can say is "boy have I come a long way and still have a ways to go"! Here's the story:

Back in October (2011), someone commissioned me (through a referral) to do 'rock star' themed cupcakes for her daughter's birthday.  I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I was super psyched because I love creative cupcake projects and 'rock star' cupcakes just screamed CREATIVITY! On the other hand, I was a nervous wreck because I had yet to venture into the world of the love-it-or-hate-it FONDANT!


However, I was not defeated so I took on the task (learned lesson: it's okay to say 'no' if you are unsure of what it is you are doing). I had some time, so I begin researching how to work with fondant and while I feel I mastered that task, I neglected to research how to store it as I made the fondant figures two days before and let them sit in the refridgerator - a big fat NO in fondant world as I discovered once the order was delivered, I received a horrible review and I researched after the fact!


Nevertheless, I was pleased with the visual of the cupcakes. See photos below, and yes they are misleading. Read on for more:

Invitation that served as inpiration for cupcakes

Not too bad for an 'extreme' amateur huh? Notice I said extreme, so cut me some slack - these aren't winning any awards by no means, but for the first time, I was pretty proud of myself (that sunshine didn't last long).


Dropped off cupcakes on Thursday evening and was looking forward to any type of feedback so I rushed to put these up on this blog. By Friday evening I was literally in tears and feeling completely defeated. I had such a head ache that I went to bed and it was only a little before 8 p.m. The review (from a party goer, not the customer) basically stated that the cupcakes were pretty but tasted 'horrible'! I was CRUSHED!! After I got myself together, I called the customer and she explained that the cupcakes were hard and very dry. Which brings me back to the 'learned lesson' I stated earlier. I had yet to master vanilla cupcakes and had absolutely no business trying them out on a customer...absolutely none! (However, I've come a long way with these and even feel confidant enough to post the recipe - click here)


Well, my family gave me a pep talk, I refunded my customer's money (made her some more cupcakes) and here I am pushing on; still learning as I go.


This past weekend, with a good vanilla cupcake recipe under my belt and some fondant experience, I got the chance to redeem myselft and I'm proud to say these 'Rock Star' cupcakes were a success!!

Strawberry Kind of Weekend

It was a 'strawberry' kind-of-weekend this past weekend. I had a bridal shower and a 30th birthday party and each requested a different variation of my 'Simply Strawberry'.  For the bridal shower, I made a strawberry key-lime which was a strawberry cupcake topped with key lime buttercream frosting. The tanginess and citrus of the key lime mixed with the strawberries in the cupcake made for a very refreshing combination. I might have to add this to my 'ordinary' flavors!

'Strawberry Key Lime'
The other strawberry flavored cupcake I made was strawberry & 'roc. It's a strawberry cupcake infused with Red Berry flavored Ciroc Vodka topped with strawberry buttercream frosting with the Vodka.  So basically, the alcohol (or cocktail) is the draw with this one!  The next time I make this cupcake I'll have to up the alcohol content of the sugar drizzle because you really couldn't taste it. You don't want to put so much that it'll drain out the strawberry taste, but you want enough to taste the vodka.  As you know, alcohol tends to get drained out in the sugar with baking, so I must increase!

'Strawberry & 'Roc'

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

14-Carrot Good!

A De-Li-Cious Carrot Cupcake Recipe

Let me start by saying that my mother makes the best carrot cake I have ever tasted in my 35 years - hands down!  And it's a general concensus amongst family, friends, co-workers and anyone who has ever come in contact with Joy's Carrot Cake. The cake is always melt-in-your-mouth moist and the cream cheese icing is thee bomb. And get this, she NEVER uses anything remotely close to resembling a mixer - her two hands are the magic that's worked on this masterpiece (jealous much?!)
Well needless to say, the recipe below is not her recipe, but don't get it twisted--it's still deliciously devine! The brown sugar brings out a small taste of molasses, the toasted walnuts give it that added sophistocated and bittersweet flair, and the crushed pineapples are just plain fun! But the real star of these cupcakes is the *frosting*. The brown sugar with the cream cheese gives a tanginess that's out-of-this-world.

Some might dub these as a seasonal cupcake (fall & winter), but where I'm from, they're played all year-round because they're just that darn good!  Enjoy!


Yields: Approximately 1-to-1 1/2 dozen standard size cupcakes

- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- small can of crushed pineapple
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast the walnuts in the oven for 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
2. Rinse the carrots and peel off the rough skin; grate the carrots.
3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
4. In the mixing bowl, place carrots, buttermilk, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and pineapples together - whisk thoroughly.
5. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture. Fold in the toasted walnuts until evenly incorporated. DO NOT overmix!
6. Scoop into cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes. Rotate pan after first 15 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (cold)
- small sliver of butter flavored shortening
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 kosher salt
- 1/4 cup regular cream cheese (Philly's)
- 2 Tbsp Neufchatel cheese (Philly's)
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

1. Cream butter until whipped. Add shortening and continue to cream. Don't let it get too soft.
2. Add brown sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Mix until incorporated. Scrape bowl.
3. Add both cream cheeses and mix to get out lumps. Don't overmix and let get too soft. Don't want it to lose its shape.
4. Turn mixer speed down and add confectioners sugar.
5. Add heavy whipping cream.
6. Turn mixer speed up and mix for about 4 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Garrett McCord off of Simply Recipes

All images courtesy of That's So Morie Cupcakes


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