Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring-tastic cupcakes

With Easter just around the corner, Justin and I headed over to our friends' place to color Easter eggs with their girls.  I decided some cupcakes were a necessity for this evening, and set out to make some, with the appropriate accoutrements, of course.  Here is the result...

And here's how you can make some for your Springtime or Easter celebrations...

Step One: make some cupcakes.  I admit, I used a box cake mix.  And I'm ok with that.  If you feel inspired to make cupcakes from scratch, you are my hero.

Did you know Duncan Hines started out as a restaurant critic?
Step Two: Make some frosting.  While you can get a decent cake or cupcake from a box, The same can not be said for frosting.  And frosting is a snap to make, you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already.  I found this recipe in my recipe box on an index card.  I'm assuming it came from my grandma... it's a pretty standard mix.

**Remember, that this frosting is made with butter and cream cheese, which are dairy.  Whatever you frost with this creation will need to be refrigerated.  Not only will the frosting melt if it gets too warm, but the cream cheese will spoil, and nobody wants to eat that.  

You will need:
  • 1 lb (that's two of the 8 oz. blocks) of cream cheese.  It needs to be room temp, so set it out on the counter for a while
  • 1 cup (or 2 sticks) of butter.  Also room temp.  I usually use unsalted butter for baking, but all I had was the salted kind, and it came out great, so... use whatever you have.
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. (or thereabouts) of vanilla (or whatever flavor you choose) extract.  Vanilla is pretty standard for cream cheese frosting, but you can use any flavor you'd like.  When I made cookies last week I used lemon extract in the icing and it was delicious. You could also use peppermint, and when combined with the chocolate cupcakes it would be chocolate mint.  yum.
  • food coloring - I always use gel colors when color food, they are much more concentrated than liquid food coloring.  This means you don't have to use as much, and they won't water down your mixes.  This is the exact green I used for my grass.
image borrowed from

If you're lucky enough to have a stand mixer, making the frosting is a piece of (cup)cake.  I, unfortunately only have a hand mixer.  It's still pretty simple, but not fun for my carpel tunnel ridden hands.  Here's how the frosting comes together:
  • Cream the cream cheese and the butter together until you have a smooth, homogenous mix.  
  • Add in the vanilla, and mix until combined.
  • Add in the powdered sugar.  Make sure you start the mixer off on its lowest speed so that you don't have a powdered sugar EXPLOSION all over your kitchen.  No one wants that. 
  • Be patient, it takes a few minutes to incorporate all the powdered sugar, but it will all come together into a creamy bowl full of delicious-ness.  Give it a taste, if you want to add a little more extract, now is the time
  • add a few drops of the gel coloring, start off with just a LITTLE BIT.  You can always add more, but you can't take away. When you're using green there's a fine line between spring time grass and Nickelodeon slime.  The former is great for these cupcakes, the latter is useful only for 10 year old boy birthday cakes.  Green can quickly make food unappetizing.
Here's my frosting in the bowl:

Step Three - Loading up the frosting. Let me just say that I don't like pastry bags.  Maybe it's my small, child-sized hands, maybe it's the weird cone shape... I don't know.  But whenever I've tried to use them, I made a huge mess with the frosting always spewing up the top of the bag.  So, I use zip top bags.  Mine are from Target.  Snip a small piece off of one of the bottom corners and attach your piping tip like normal.  I used the small star tip.  Load up a reasonable amount of frosting into the bag and seal the top up MOST of the way.  Smoosh the frosting down to the tip and you're ready to go.

Try to get as much air out of the top of the bag before you start
Step Four - the piping.  I started at the outside of the cupcake and spiraled my way into the center.  I wasn't really worried about covering every inch of cake, because I just figured it would look like dirt.

Step Five - the finishing touch.  I have a weakness for Cadbury mini eggs.  Not the big ones with the fake egg yolk inside, those are a bit too sugary sweet for me.  I'm talking about these:
mmm the creamy crunchy delicious-ness
There's just something about that creamy chocolate and the crunchy candy coating.  They are my favorite Easter candy.  I thought the little pastel colored eggs would look cute on top, and I was right!
I loaded the cupcakes into my cupcake holder and we were off ...

 Miss Sonora gave them a rating of delicious!

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