3.18.2012

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes


I've been on Spring Break this past week and I think I needed it more than I thought I did. Because I really kind of don't want to go back to school tomorrow. Of course that's not really true, though. I just don't want to go back to all the homework. But if Spring Break is already over, there really isn't much of the semester left. Only six or seven weeks. And then I'll be a senior.

Weird.

I was excited about spring break this year because I didn't have any real plans. I didn't go to the beach or go on vacation anywhere. All I really wanted to do was read and bake. I didn't read very much, but I got to bake a lot!



Sunday was a baking day. One thing I like about baking at home is that my mom can take my baked goods to work with her and get all her employees to eat them. I decided to make cinnamon apple brownies from a recipe I saw on FoodGawker. But my mom took off from work for most of the week, so my dad was going to take them to some of his customers. But the brownies were really good. And I never really got around to packing them up for him. So they sat in the kitchen. And then they were gone.

Monday, my mom and I did a lot of errands and shopping because on Tuesday I had some businessy things planned. I ate lunch with a very nice woman from Hoffman Media (the company that made Paula Deen famous) to talk about future job opportunities. ;) And then Tuesday night I went to a work event with my mom. The Birmingham Business Journal participated in a trivia tournament for charity that was happening all across the state of Alabama. Apparently, it was much harder this year. We scored most of our points in the first round. There were three. It was still really fun, though! And I got to wear my new black heels and shiny new black blazer. On Wednesday, my mom and I did some more running around and I made cupcakes.

Thursday I got to pretend like I was a kid again. I went to my grandmother's house with my cousin Sarah, where we ate pizza, played rummy, and then went to the movies to see The Lorax. It reminded me of when I used to go with my grandmother to my cousins' house during the summer. It was good times. Friday we visited my other grandparents for lunch and went out to eat for dinner at our favorite Mexican place with my uncle. Today was mostly grocery shopping and visiting with my other grandfather.

So this week was actually much busier than I thought it was going to be!


I decided to post this recipe before the others that I've been meaning to post for a while since today's St. Patrick's Day. I wanted to make some cupcakes with different shades of green.

I really wanted to put chocolate gold coins on them, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Party stores carry them I think, but I guess I got there too late. I completely improvised on the four leaf clover design so I hope they look like actual four leaf clovers and not puffy X's!

For the cupcakes I made regular yellow cupcakes with green food coloring. I topped them with mint chocolate ganache and mint buttercream.

Mint Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Bakerella

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
mint extract*

*I originally put 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract in the ganache, but it was way too much. I added another 3/4 cup of chocolate and that helped tremendously. There was a lot of ganache left over, though, which would normally be a good thing, but I gave up chocolate for Lent. So I suggest only using a few drops of it instead.

1. Put the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Heat whipping cream and butter in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and creamy and before it boils.
3. Pour cream mixture over the chocolate chips and let it sit for a few seconds.
4. Add mint extract. Whisk until everything is completely incorporated and smooth.
5. Let it cool before putting it on the cupcakes.

Mint Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons mint extract (depending on how minty you want it to be)
4-5 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter until smooth and creamy.
2. I like to add the extracts and some of the milk after that, but some people do that last.
3. I also like to add the powdered sugar a cup at a time so it doesn't make a mess. I scrap the sides of the bowl after each time, too.
4. If the frosting is too thick, add more tablespoons of milk until it's the consistancy you want it to be.

I didn't want these cupcakes to be too minty, which is why I added some vanilla to the frosting too. I wanted there to be just a hint of mint. My mom did take these cupcakes to work with her, and her co-workers seemed to like them!

Tomorrow I'm heading back to T-town. I guess I really have missed it more than I thought. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more posts in before my homework starts piling up!

3.07.2012

Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes

Hey! It's been awhile. I've been meaning to write this blog post for so long, but I've been so busy with school. It's been crazy, but thankfully, this is the week before spring break. For me, that means no big assignments and a couple of canceled classes. I know most other students have some midterms this week, but one of the perks of being an English and creative writing student is that we don't have many tests. Luckily, I only had three midterms total this semester, even though I'm taking six classes. I wrote a short paper for my Shakespeare class, had one test for a literature class, and had a "test" for my hip hop class. That last one is sort of a long story.


I’ve seen these cupcakes many times, and I really just wanted to try it out. I didn’t use any special recipes, just yellow cake and vanilla frosting. There were already about five different colors of sugar sprinkles in my pantry from previous cakes and a Valentine’s Day bake sale. That’s why there’s so much red and pink! And black. It was a Valentine’s Day/Anti-Valentine’s Day bake sale.



 
The process for the marshmallow flowers is pretty simple.
You’ll need a bag of mini-marshmallows and some scissors.

Take a marshmallow and cut it in half diagonally. The inside will be really sticky. Dip it in the sprinkles of your choice, and then put it sprinkles-side-up on the cupcake with the shorter end of the marshmallow in the frosting. Yep, pretty simple. I did two rows of petals and then a couple in the center. It might be hard to get the center petals positioned right, and I’ve seen some other versions with regular sprinkles in the center instead. It doesn’t really matter and will still be pretty cute either way.


I sort of made these cupcakes on a whim. Usually, I try to bake when I know other people are going to be around eat it all. My roommate and I ate a couple of them, but I knew we were going to need some help. I eventually got some friends to take them to a couple meetings, which worked out because I got some good feedback.
Next week is Sprink Break. I don't have any plans, and I'm very okay with that. All I want to do is go thrifting, read, and bake a TON. So be on the lookout for more blog posts! I'm excited about actually having time to post them.