Blackberry, Lemon, Vanilla Cupcakes21

Posted by chockylit in Berries,Citrus,Vanilla (Wednesday July 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm)

blackberry lemon cupcake

Summer equals berries in this house. Even if summer also equals fog. (There is something refreshing about walking to work in a cool drizzle in July.) The three of us go through containers of blackberries on a regular basis – we heart blackberries. I was itching to mash some up and make a cupcake out of them. But things are hectic these days and I was having trouble committing. I think I purchased one or two ingredients every shopping trip over two weeks until finally on the way home Tuesday night I stopped at the corner store and thought, “I will see if they have lemons and blackberries”. And they did! Organic, too!

But was fear of rotting fruit going to be enough to get me out of my cupcake funk? I walked the ingredients home with wavering intentions… it was already getting late, I had dinner to cook, work to do, a child to hug! But I new if I got the ingredients measured out, I could get them done in no time.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t that easy (I woke up early to finish them), but they got done and they were yummy! With this combo you can’t go wrong. I like the creaminess of the curd and the looseness of the blackberry mash (I didn’t want to thicken it with too much starch). It made the cupcakes messy, but I just asked everyone to eat them with a spoon. No one seemed to mind.

Vanilla Cupcakes
12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Measure out milk and vanilla together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full.
10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Return the cupcake top

Lemon Curd

2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

1. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes.
2. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in butter, piece by piece. Cover with plastic wrap, and cool in the refrigerator.
3. By hand, whip together cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
4. Fold cream into the chilled curd.

Add lemon curd

Blackberry Mash

6 ounce blackberries
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean

1. Heat blackberries, water, and sugar over medium heat until boiling.
2. Mash with a potato masher.
3. Add cornstarch and vanilla bean and cook for a few minutes until thick.
4. Remove from heat and cool.

Cupcake is filled and looking yummy

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2-3 cups sifted powdered sugar
seeds from 1/4 of a vanilla bean
vanilla extract to taste

1. Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. Beat butter until soft and creamy.
3. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.
4. Add half of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Beat until creamy.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.
6. Add vanilla extract to taste if the seeds aren’t enough adding in 1/2 teaspoon increments.

Assemble
1. Fill the cupcakes with the lemon curd and blackberry mash using the cone method. This post has step by step photos of the method.
2. Frost.
3. Top with a blackberry.

blackberry lemon cupcake

Grape Cupcakes3

Posted by chockylit in Vanilla (Wednesday May 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm)

grape cupcakes

I made these cupcakes specifically to celebrate the launch of a product at work — code named “Grape”. That’s all I needed, an excuse to make grape cupcakes. I knew at the outset I didn’t want these to be cloyingly sweet. I also would have preferred to make them in the fall when I could maybe get my hands on some fresh concord grapes. But the timing was such that these were getting done in the spring and I settled with a combination of organic, unsweetened concord grape juice and black seedless grapes. I started with a simple vanilla bean cupcake, filled it with the tart grape filling, and topped it off with a nicely sweet cream cheese frosting spiked with a touch of grape syrup for color and flavor.

It’s a nice combination and was a hit. The filling is quite tart and I am glad I skipped both adding too much sugar or using any kind of thickener in the filling. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of grapes, you might like this recipe.

Am I back? I am not sure. I know that the new site didn’t inspire me to action like I had hoped. I also know that the demands of work, a toddler, and what not make it difficult to come up with recipes on a regular basis. But as I have them, I will post new recipes for your enjoyment.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
26 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Scrape out the vanilla bean seeds into the milk.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

grape cupcake cross section

Tart Grape Filling

10 ounces concord grape juice, unsweetened
6 ounces grapes, black and seedless
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Add juice and grapes to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer.
3. After 10 minutes mash the grapes in the pot with a potato masher.
4. Continue to simmer until almost all the liquid is reduced about 20 minutes.
5. Cover and refrigerate until cool about 2 hours.

Grape Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup concord grape juice, unsweetened
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1 package of Philly cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Bring juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Allow to boil until reduced to a syrup about 15 minutes.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
3. Sift 3 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter and cream cheese. Add the grape syrup. Beat until combined.
4. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like. I used 4 cups.

grape cupcake cross section

Assemble
1. Fill the cooled cupcakes using the cone method.
2. Frost.
3. Top off with a grape, a grape jelly, or whatever decoration you have on hand. Chopped, salted peanuts might also be nice.

3 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea Salt36

Posted by in Simple Recipe,Step-by-Step Photos,Vanilla (Saturday April 19, 2008 at 8:33 pm)

3 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla sea salt

One of my most favorite places to discover unique ingredients and find inspiration for my latest creation is Boulettes Larder. My recent visit turned up the very special sea salt used to garnish these cupcakes and a very delicious pasta dish that was well worth the 18 dollar Tuesday lunch splurge.

The vanilla cupcake recipe is a make-up for my bookkeeping mishap of this post. It’s close to the same recipe, slightly altered and I amped it up with more vanilla. The recipe contains vanilla in 3 forms – vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, and vanilla bean. Why 3 forms? Why not.

As you may recall, I did a side by side comparison of Martha’s and Amy’s vanilla cupcakes for this post. The end results of these two recipes are two very different vanilla cupcakes. One tastes better and has a more delicate texture (Amy’s) but is more difficult to execute. The other is fail safe, but dense and not as tasty.

I am looking to come up somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards the tasty/delicate end of the spectrum. I have also tested Magnolia’s recipe and Claire Crespo’s vanilla cupcake recipe. Based on my recollection and comparison of the recipes, Martha’s is the most dense/fail proof, Magnolia’s comes next (note: Billy’s is pretty much the same as Magnolia’s minus a few tweaks), then Claire’s, then Amy’s.

I, of course, am trying to come up with my own version… My goal is to be as close to the texture & taste of Amy’s, but without the execution challenges. So, the recipe below is probably the second or third try and I still have some work. This version is probably between Magnolia’s and Claire’s, but I want to be somewhere between Claire’s and Amy’s. Whew… That was likely confusing.

The vanilla sea salt is a nice touch. If you can’t find it, just find some high quality sea salt, and mix it with some vanilla bean seeds. The Chef at Boulettes gave me the low down as to where this salt came from – Anglesey, Wales – and how its made. Its made by a family on the beach by evaporating sea water in stainless steel vats. The sea salt is then stored with Tahitian vanilla bean in clay pots. Sounds nice…

vanilla sea salt
vanilla sea salt

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, split
1 pound sugar

1. Split the vanilla bean but don’t scrape out the seeds. Put it with the sugar in an airtight container. Store in a cupboard for around 5 days or more. Shake it up once in a while.

splitting vanilla bean
splitting the bean

3 Vanilla Cupcakes
20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-2/3 cups vanilla sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-2/3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

scraping vanilla seeds
scraping the seeds

Vanilla Bean Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
-4-5 cups powdered sugar

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble
1. Frost each cooled cupcake with a healthy mound of frosting.
2. Top with vanilla seat salt or whatever you so desire.

filling frosting bag
filling the bag

frosting
frosting the cupcakes

I should mention… You should actually save the vanilla beans you scrape the beans out of and also use those to make vanilla sugar or reuse in some way as there is likely a lot of life left in them. Reminded by this post

pear & vanilla bean filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream35

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate,Pear,Vanilla (Sunday March 30, 2008 at 10:18 am)

pear & vanilla bean filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream

I made these here cupcakes for the first ever bay area cupcake meetup that happened this weekend. A lovely group of people showed up at Dolores Park in San Francisco with creative and tasty cupcakes to share. We talked shop and caused a bit of a scene. Apparently the idea of a group of people meeting up in a park to eat cupcakes is unusual. Go figure! If you are in the bay area sign-up for the meetup we plan to meet seasonally. The next gathering will be sometime this summer.

Back to the cupcakes… I often think of fall when I think of pears (much like apples), but I hadn’t worked with pears in a cupcake and was eager to do so. I decided to “spring them up” a bit and paired the pear with vanilla bean. I enjoyed the combination and all in all consider the cupcake a success.

UPDATE: Slight adjustment to remove baking soda which should help with this recipe.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
~30 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 1/2’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: As mentioned previously with this recipe, if you overfill the cupcakes, they will overflow and then sink. To be on the safe side I am now recommending that you fill the cupcakes 1/2 full. With a big batch you may still have some problems with one or two of them, but the majority should work out just fine. Your oven must be for sure hot enough, so it doesn’t hurt to get an oven thermometer and make sure it’s at the correct temperature. These cupcakes are temperamental, but the resulting cake is worth it.

chocolate cupcake
chocolate cupcake

Pear Filling

1 good sized pear, pealed, pitted, and chopped into small dice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 vanilla bean

1. Add pear and water to a medium sized pan. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch then stir into the pears.
3. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the pears.
4. Cook until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Note: The filling can be made a day in advance and stored covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

pear filling
pear filling

Soft Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy.
2. Sift powdered sugar into the mixer bowl (right on top of the beaten butter). Beat to combine.
3. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the frosting.
4. Add the vanilla and the milk. Beat until combined.

Pear Chips

1 good sized pear

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice thin cross-sections of pear.
3. Place on a baking sheet making sure that the slices do not touch.
4. Let them dry in a 200 degree oven for about 1 hour (depends on how thin the slices are) flipping 2 or 3 times until they are dried out and no longer soggy.

pear chip
pear chips

Assemble
1. Fill the cupcakes with the pear filling using the cone method. This post has step by step photos of the method.
2. Frost with frosting and top with a pear chip.

cupcake meetup cupcakes
cupcakes from the meetup

Plain and Simple Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes78

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate,Vanilla (Monday February 25, 2008 at 6:40 pm)

vanilla and chocolate cupcakes

We are being visited by out of town guests this week. The visitors include three youngsters who happen to be very plain and picky eaters. I definitely wanted to treat them to cupcakes, but knew that I couldn’t veer far from very straightforward flavors. I decided to do four recipes – a basic chocolate cupcake, basic vanilla cupcake and chocolate and vanilla frostings – but with quality ingredients. It was also an opportunity to further tweak my basic recipes as I am on an apparently never-ending quest for the perfect chocolate and perfect vanilla cupcake.

I am especially pleased with the chocolate one this time around. I started with my old-fashioned recipe and tweaked it some mostly bumping up the cocoa and cutting back on flour. The cake is soft and fluffy with a nice deep chocolate flavor – irresistible in my book… The vanilla cake recipe is different than my usual. It’s less dense than my usual vanilla cupcake and a bit sweeter. Both frostings are simple and came out nice.

UPDATE: Someone posted about the vanilla recipe asking if its correct in its ingredient amounts. Normally I would say confidently, yes. Sometimes I get instruction slip-ups but never ingredient amounts. Well, I looked at my spreadsheet of vanilla recipes and to be honest, I am not sure now. So, to be safe, I am removing the vanilla recipe until it can be retested.

UPDATE: Slight adjustment to remove baking soda which should help with this recipe.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
14 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: I try to use the best quality cocoa I can find. It makes a huge difference. For this recipe I used Valrhona cocoa. Its so dark that the batter is almost purple.

Note: This cupcake recipe is the kind that will result in a flat cupcake (not domed). One thing you must be careful of is over-filling the cupcake paper. I did just that with the last cupcake and the result was a sunken hole (see photo below). If the cake continues to rise and has no where to go and will one over flow and two start to sink back on itself as it doesn’t have the structure to hold the excess batter up. So, stick to 2/3’s full and don’t be tempted (as I was) to squeeze that last bit of batter into one of the papers.

what not to do
what not to do

Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

5.3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Melt over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 – 20 minutes.
2. Dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Scrape the bowl.
4. Add powdered sugar and beat to combine.
5. Add cooled, melted chocolate and beat to combine.
6. Add cocoa paste and beat to combine.

frosting and sprinkle close-up
shiny, tasty frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes
removed until it can be retested

Soft Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy.
2. Sift powdered sugar into the mixer bowl (right on top of the beaten butter). Beat to combine.
3. Add the vanilla and the milk. Beat until combined.

Note: This makes a softer, less sweet buttercream that is good for swirling on but not for piping as it’s not stiff enough.

simple vanilla/vanilla cupcake
creamy frosting

Assemble
1. Spoon about a tablespoon of frosting onto each cooled cupcake. The frosting recipes make just enough for about a tablespoon each.
2. With a small offset spatula, smooth the frosting into a swirl.
3. Top with sprinkles.

I frosted some vanilla with vanilla and some with chocolate and vice versa. I ended up with 4 combos total. My favorite was the chocolate cake with the vanilla buttercream frosting. Yum!