Sprinkles Vanilla Cupcakes

I remember the first time I heard of the California based cupcake bakery, Sprinkles. I was watching acclaimed reality show “The Girls Next Door”, the fairytale saga of Hugh Hefner and his collection of girlfriends. Bridget, his number 2 GF, was throwing a birthday party and brought in Sprinkles cupcakes for the occasion. “Doesn’t everyone order cake for a birthday? What’s the big deal?”, you ask confusedly. Well when you have your own kitchen staff like the Playboy mansion, you don’t have ANYTHING brought in unless it’s really spectacular.

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Several years later when I was interning at “E! News” in LA, I finally laid my paws on one during an event at the office. Little did I know that by then, a Sprinkles had opened in my home state of New York. It was everything I dreamed of: moist and delicate, with dense, creamy frosting. So when I found a recipe online, of course I wanted to try it. The recipe I found is for their peppermint cupcakes, so I adjusted it slightly to be plain vanilla, and to make 24 cupcakes rather than 12. I also used this fondant recipe to make the heart garnishes. Yes, I know they make the cupcakes look vaguely boob-like, for better or worse.

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Servings: Makes 24 cupakes

INGREDIENTS:

For the cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour , sifted

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

1 cup whole milk , room temperature

4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature*

4 large egg whites, room temperature*

*If your eggs are warming too slowly, gently place them in a cup, then fill the cup with lukewarm (not hot) water until they reach room temperature

For the frosting:

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter , firm but not cold

1/4 tsp. salt

7 cups confectioners’ sugar , sifted

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. milk


DIRECTIONS:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°. Make sure the racks are in the lower two thirds of the oven. Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together milk and extracts; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cupcake liners. Gently shake the tins so that any raised batter flattens. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes– I know this is a super scary way to test them as opposed to the toothpick method, but they’ll keep cooking in the pan so take them out as soon as you can touch the top without getting any residue on your finger. Rotate tins once while baking. Transfer tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

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For the frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the extracts and milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Do not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.

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To assemble:

While gingerly holding a completely cooled cupcake, scoop a large amount (thing about a half a tennis ball) onto the top of the cupcake using a spatula. Then, swipe the sides of the cupcake in a circular motion until the top looks flat and the sides are smooth, almost like a volcano. Place any decorations on top, then eat!

These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.

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Cheeseburger Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love dessert that looks like meat? Sausage shaped jello, cake that looks like honey glazed ham, cookies that open and close like clams… I’m into it all. While these cupcakes are a little more on the normal side of your dessert meats, they’re equally exciting in presentation.

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Since cheeseburgers are an American classic, these little guys are perfect for a Memorial Day BBQ or the like. But one of my friends was having a “Burgers ‘n Booze” birthday party this weekend, so OBVIOUSLY I had to make them for her. (Side note, this friend has an awesome burger blog that you should take a look at: http://projectgutenburger.tumblr.com). The girl likes burgahs!

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They’re very easy to make, but are somewhat time consuming because you have to bake two batches of cupcakes. The time went by especially slowly since I was anticipating eating the leftover cupcake bottoms while watching “Total Divas” on demand: a valiant goal that I have since accomplished. This is an adapted version of a recipe from Duncan Hines.

Original Recipe: http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cupcakes/cabaker77/hamburger-cupcakes/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 box Devil’s Food chocolate cake mix + called for ingredients

1 box golden cake mix + called for ingredients

2 cans vanilla frosting

Yellow OR red food dye

Green food dye

Coconut (optional)

Sesame seeds

Honey (optional)

Toothpicks

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DIRECTIONS:

Bake both boxes of cupcakes according to package instructions. Do not line cupcake tins; spray heavily with non-stick spray. If you use the same tins for both flavors of cupcakes, make sure you wash them in between.

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While the cupcakes bake, mix yellow (cheese/mustard) OR red food dye (ketchup) into one can of frosting, and green into the other. If you prefer, you can add a couple of drops of green food dye to a Ziploc bag of coconut. Shake it a few times, and you have your lettuce! Since I didn’t know if everyone liked coconut, I opted for using green frosting and a special lettuce-looking piping tip to create the same effect. Set aside.

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Once your cupcakes are finished baking and have cooled, cut the golden cupcakes in half horizontally. Cut off the cupcake tops of the chocolate cupcakes. You may discard the bottoms of the chocolate cupcakes, or eat them, as I did. (Waste not, want not).

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Put a small dollop of frosting on the top side of the bottom half of the golden cupcake. Adhere a chocolate top to it. Using a knife, spread on some yellow frosting. Use enough that it can be seen form under the bun, but not so much that you can’t see the chocolate cupcake (the hamburger meat). Once you have completed these steps on each cupcake, you can add your lettuce. Then, put the top halves of each golden cupcake onto the burgers. Lightly wet each top bun with your fingertips, then sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top. If you want to add an extra sweet element (though BELIEVE ME, ’tis not necessary), use a dab of honey rather than water. Skewer each burger with a toothpick.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Cappuccino Confetti Cupcakes

I met one of my best friends when I randomly moved into her apartment two years ago. Her birthday was only a few weeks after I had moved in, and I had no idea what to get her as a gift since I hardly knew her.  I felt that it would be awkward to spend a lot of money on the gift (again, we had just met). Then it hit me: when in doubt, bake. Baking allows you to show how much you care by putting a lot of time, rather than money, into a present. I made her these cappuccino cupcakes, which went over VERY well; like I said she’s now one of my best friends.

The recipe for the frosting comes from The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes, which is written by the good people of Sweet Cupcakes in Boston, and is my go-to when I need a one of a kind frosting flavor. I chose to use a chocolate box mix for the cake part; the cake recipes in this book, though flavorful and unique, are a lot denser than I like my cupcakes to be. I prefer a lighter, airier, texture.

Buy The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes here: http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Little-Book-Cupcakes/dp/1441303510/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406994862&sr=1-1&keywords=sweet+little+book+of+cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

One box chocolate cake mix

1 cup, plus 2 tbsp room temperature cream cheese (I suggest taking it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you start working)

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (ditto)

4 cups confectioners sugar

2 1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 tsp coffee extract

Round rainbow sprinkles

*Please note that this frosting recipe makes more than enough frosting for 24 cupcakes when frosted generously.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the box cake using the provided cupcake instructions.

Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. If you are using an electric mixer, use it on medium speed.

In another bowl, sift the confectioners sugar and cinnamon together.

Add the confections sugar and cinnamon mixture into the cream cheese mixture one cup at a time while beating on low speed.

Add the vanilla and coffee extracts.

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Keep the mixer on low speed for a few minutes, then switch it to medium speed until the frosting reaches its desired consistency. If you are mixing by hand, as I did, simply alter the speed at which you’re mixing.

Insert frosting into a piping bag, and pipe onto cooled cupcakes one at a time. Sprinkle round rainbow sprinkles on top. Be wary of putting on too many sprinkles, as this type is crunchy.

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Enjoy!

Leslie