All About Frosting – The Recipes42

Posted by chockylit in Cheese,Chocolate,Step-by-Step Photos (Tuesday December 11, 2007 at 11:13 pm)

chocolate ganache

I get many a question about frosting. I thought I would compile my thoughts on the subject in two part series of posts – a sort of one stop shop for all things frosting… from my perspective, of course! First up… the recipes.


Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache frosting is one of my favorite frostings to use. Why? Let me count the ways. One, because I love chocolate. Two, because the taste is very “adult” and not too sweet. Three, because it’s practically no fail and adaptable to what I have on hand.

Reviewing my posts, I apparently have as many ganache recipes as I do posts with ganache recipes – a testament to its versatility. If I get one point across about ganache it is that ganache is indeed adaptable to your personal taste and preference.

Ganache is typically made by bringing heavy cream to a simmer then pouring over chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, stirring to combine, and then adding remaining ingredients – pretty straightforward.

The typical ganache recipe I use contains the following ingredients:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

I have used as little as 6 ounces of chocolate with 1 cup of cream, as that is all I had on hand, and it worked out fine. I have also interchanged various types of chocolate, bittersweet, semi-sweet, different brands, etc. It changes the flavor of the ganache but not the outcome. The exception is with milk and white chocolate which don’t come up to spreadable consistency using this basic ingredient list.

I like to use Valrhona, 61% cocoa or higher, for its intense, full-bodied, earthy chocolate flavor. I have tried to stay local and use Scharffenberger, which I like to eat on its own, but I find it too bright and tangy to bake with. I have used Ghirardelli in a pinch. While I don’t like the flavor as much as Valrhona it’s an acceptable alternative and readily available in most grocery stores. The brand is really up to you, but the quality of the chocolate makes a big difference in flavor so spring for the good stuff if you can.

How I treat the ganache depends on the cupcake I am making. If I want a very adult flavor I will stick to the basic recipe (see above) and either pour it on, spread it on, or beat it then spread it on.

Poured Chocolate Ganache

Poured chocolate ganache results in a gorgeous, shiny layer of frosting that is very dramatic and very grown up. I used the method for my version of an “Opera” cupcake. Just let the mixture cool slightly and pour it onto the cupcake (or cake) before it starts to thicken. It will thicken in place and stay very shiny if you don’t touch it. Top it with something special – white chocolate dipped candied ginger, an edible flower pedal, or a smuggled dragée. Very classy…

Spread Chocolate Ganache

Cupcakes often form an attractive dome rising over top the cupcake paper. I like this look (more cupcake!) but it doesn’t support the poured ganache method. When spreading ganache, let the mixture come to room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it’s spreadable. Then spread a relatively thin layer on to the cooled cupcake with a small palette knife. To get a smooth finish, dip the palette knife in hot water, wipe dry, and then smooth the frosting.

I use this method when I want a small, but intense quantity of frosting… when I want to have the flavor of chocolate without overwhelming whatever else is going on. See examples of this method here, here, and here.

Beaten Chocolate Ganache

If you want the intense flavor of a straight up ganache, but still want to pipe it on because, well, it looks so nice piped on, then beat the cooled ganache with an electric mixer fixed with the paddle attachment for a few minutes. This will incorporate air and increase the volume of the frosting without diluting the flavor. The ganache will lighten in color compared to the unbeaten version. See an example here.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

I have been exploring a variation on ganache that is sweeter than the simple version just discussed. I use this when I want the cupcake to appeal to child and adult alike. It’s more akin to a chocolate buttercream, but with a more intense chocolate flavor. I have experimenting with various versions of this approach.

Version 1 – Basic Ganache but with Butter and Powdered Sugar

This is basically a mixture of ganache and buttercream. Most chocolate buttercream recipes use cocoa or just a small amount of melted chocolate beat into the butter and sugar. This method of making the ganache first then beating in butter and sugar makes for a more chocolate tasting frosting.

See examples here and here

Version 2 – A Totally Different Take

I first saw this method in a book by pastry chef Emily Luchetti. I have definitely tweaked it significantly since I first tried it many years ago. The recipe includes bittersweet, semi-sweet, and unsweetened chocolate and can be tailored to your personal taste by simply adjusting the quantities of the various chocolates while keeping the overall quantity the same. For example, to make it sweeter, increase the semisweet by a couple of ounces and decrease the bittersweet or unsweetened. The unsweetened chocolate imparts a rich cocoa flavor, the bittersweet gives the frosting bite, and the semi-sweet sweetens the whole thing up.

See examples here, here, and here

There are other recipes and methods out there, of course. I plan to try recipe on David Llebovitz’ site which uses water instead of cream. I know that dairy products mellow the flavor of the chocolate, but I have also been hesitant to combine chocolate and water for fear the chocolate will seize. I hope to post about my attempt soon.


Buttercream

cherry-vanilla cupcakes

There is nothing more frustrating to many readers than buttercream frosting. A classic and main stay, buttercream is also one of the sweetest frostings of the bunch often too sweet for the average adult. I however love American-style buttercream especially paired with a simple cake and in moderation. This post has a pretty typical recipe for American-style buttercream. I understand though that not everyone is a fan. So if I am serving cupcakes to adults I typically do not use buttercream! The only exception I have found is with this recipe, somehow the mint makes the frosting more palatable.

American Style Buttercream

American-style buttercream is simply butter beat with confectioners’ sugar and a little vanilla and a little milk. In order to get to a piping consistency a lot of sugar is required. This results in a very sweet frosting. Like I said I actually like this. I have a sweet tooth though and not everyone does. There is no way I know of to decrease the sweetness of this frosting.

Swiss and Italian Style Buttercream

There are less-sweet alternatives to American style buttercream, Swiss and Italian style buttercreams for example, but these frostings have a different quality that I simply don’t like. They leave a film in my mouth and taste as though they are made with vegetable shortening even if they weren’t. I can’t stand them! Just like I can’t stand Génoise cake, but that is for a different post. But you might like them. Its worth trying for yourself before ruling these styles of buttercream frostings out of your repertoire.

The bad news is that I don’t have any recipes for Swiss or Italian style buttercream frostings. In this case, google is your friend.


Cream Cheese

sweet corn cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting is my friend. It is my very favorite frosting to use. It’s always a crowd pleaser and balances out the sweetness of any cake well. I work with two versions. One has a higher proportion of cream cheese. It is tangy, on the soft side, and my preference for recipes where I want to really taste the cream cheese (carrot cake, hummingbird cake, red velvet, etc). The second version has less cream cheese. The cream cheese tang is more subtle and its really just there to balance the sweetness of the sugar. I use that recipe as an alternative to buttercream for just about any cake.

Cream cheese frosting takes on flavor very well. Just to give you an idea, this recipe uses Thai Ice Tea as a flavor, this recipe uses citrus, this uses ginger and this uses tarragon. But there are more, just peruse the table of contents to find other flavor suggestions.

I have jut started using the “buttercream alternative” method. Here are some examples, one with matcha and one with salted caramel. But any of the above cream cheese recipes can be adjusted to this method by simply decreasing the amount of cream cheese and increasing the amount of butter.


Meringue Frosting

The thing I love about meringue frosting is how easy it is to have a dramatic presentation. It’s sweet, but not sweet as butter cream. It takes flavor well, but don’t try to add a substantial amount of liquid. It will collapse. Small amounts of extracts (vanilla, mint, lemon), spices, very thick flavored simple syrup, or crushed things (like red hots). And the best thing about meringue is that you can take your culinary torch to it.


Whipped Cream

I don’t use whipped cream very often. It’s just not terribly exciting. I pair it with a cupcake that is plenty exciting on its own like this one. It is very easy to adjust the sweetness though. So, if you have a very sweet cake, whipped cream is a good option. Beware, it doesn’t hold well. So if you use it, keep the whipped cream refrigerated until you are ready to use it and frost the cupcakes just before serving.

There are of course other frosting options, but this is all I have for now. Part 2 of the series will cover frosting technique, frequently asked questions, and more on flavoring frostings.

Cupcake Round-Up II8

Posted by in General (Monday October 1, 2007 at 10:59 am)

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

San Francisco doesn’t really have four seasons. The weather changes, but you will likely be freezing your butt off in July, sweating in October, and doused in rain in January. Having grown up in the North East I am very familiar with the four seasons and all it takes is one crisp, sunny day in September in San Francisco and I get nostalgic for fall. And there is nothing like fall and cupcakes. It’s like they were made for each other.

So, even though it hasn’t quite been a year since the last Cupcake Round-Up, Garrett and I agree that fall is a much better time to host it what with all the seasonal fruits and veges at your disposal. So, dust off those mixers and get baking!

This time around we are giving you a theme to help reign in the ideas. The theme is Re-Invention as this is a favorite past-time of Garrett and I both.

To participate just create a cupcake of your very own, post it to your blog / LiveJournal / flickr account / whatever, and then send your name, the name of your cupcake, a link, and a picture to both Garrett (vanillagarlic{at}yahoo{dot}com) and me (chockylit{at}gmail{dot}com).

All submissions are due by October 21st, and the round-up results will be posted on the October 29th.

We also added a new rule: No old posts will be taken as submission, we want you to take a fresh approach!

I am so looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

Cheryl

S’mores Cupcakes40

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate,Experimental Recipe,Step-by-Step Photos (Sunday April 22, 2007 at 8:18 pm)

s'mores cupcakes

For some reason being pregnant has made it nearly impossible for me to come up with cupcake ideas. I find this very troubling and hope it will pass. (Probably just in time for me to have no time to make cupcakes, haha.) So, now I have resorted to quizzing my husband and friends for ideas, most of which I shut down. “Nah, that doesn’t sound good,” is my typical response. However, at dinner last night my friend Margaret suggested s’mores cupcakes. Immediate appeal. And someone (Margaret? Chris? Me?) came up with the idea of topping the cupcakes with homemade marshmallows that I would then toast with the culinary torch. Toasted marshmallows! Yum!

The end result was delicious, as I hoped. The cake had some issues (see note below), but tasted nice and graham crackery, especially with the graham cracker bottom. The cake wasn’t too sweet, which is good considering the very sweet marshmallow filling. All on all, I found it a successful representation of s’mores in cupcake form.

I just did a quick search for S’mores Cupcakes and found this take, posted just a few days ago. They look pretty darn tasty.

Note: I just posted a new page, linked to on the right, that includes a list of basic equipment one might need to make cupcakes.

Graham Cracker Cupcakes
15 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup graham cracker crumbs, from 6 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs, from 2-1/2 whole graham crackers
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.
2. Scoop a heaping teaspoon into each cupcake paper, pressing down to cover the bottom.
3. Beat butter on high speed until soft, about 30 seconds.
4. Add brown sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each.
6. Whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
7. Measure out milk and vanilla together.
8. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
9. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
10. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
11. Scoop into cupcake papers three-quarters full.
12. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: This recipe takes great, but needs a bit of work. The cupcakes didn’t rise much (which is fine) but also shrunk quite a bit on cooling… my only real complaint. I suspect that there is too much butter and next time I try the recipe, I will cut the butter to 1/2 cup.

graham cracker crumbs
scooping crumbs

making the graham cracker bottoms
pressing crumbs

baked cupcake
baked cupcake

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate like Valrhona 61% cocao
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add vanilla and stir until combined.
5. Let cool to room temperature.

Marshmallows from MarthaStewart.com

Vegetable oil, for brushing
2 packets unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with foil. Brush foil with oil. Set aside.
2. Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften for at least 5 minutes.
4. Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high. Beat until mixture is very stiff, about 7-9 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with oiled fingers.
5. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.
6. Sift 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar onto a work surface. Unmold marshmallow onto confectioners’ sugar; remove parchment. Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into 1/2-inch squares. Roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat.
7. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days. And they are great in hot chocolate.

homemade marshmallow
transferring marshmallow

cutting up marshmallows
cutting squares

Assemble

marshmallow fluff

1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with fluff.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Scoop a tablespoon of ganache on top of each cupcake. Smooth with a small offset spatula. (I dip the spatula in hot water, wipe off, then smooth.)
5. Top with a marshmallow and toast with a culinary torch.

marshmallow filling
filling cupcakes

toasting marshmallows
toasting marshmallows

Cupcake Round-Up!25

Posted by chockylit in General (Sunday January 28, 2007 at 7:30 pm)

One call for cupcakes and what do you end up with? Well over what I could come up with in a year. Over 60 recipes, each different… lots of chocolate cupcakes, many fruity cupcakes, some spicy ones, and a few more that fit no category. Garrett and I were delighted (if slightly overwhelmed) with the response.

Enjoy browsing. I know I have. I will be hard pressed to pick just one recipe to recreate for a future post.

Note that cupcakes are organized into four categories (chocolate, fruit, spice, other) and that there are a handful of gluten-free recipes dispersed among them.

Chocolatey Cupcakes

Black and Tan
By Mike of
A Tasty Pedia’s Blog

Dr Pepper Cupcakes
by Kristen of
Dine and Dish

Cappuccino Chip Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting
By Rachel of
Rachel’s Bite

Orange Chocolate Cupcake with Nutella Ganache Filling and Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting
By Sandra and Ernae of
The Sour and the Sweet

Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins
By Lexi of
Boybeater

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes
By Mary of
Alpineberry

Party Cupcakes
By Shini of
Shini

Chipotle Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes
By Garrett of
Vanilla Garlic

Triple Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes
By Janell the Great of
Janell the Great

Tiramisu Cupcakes
By Becky Brown of
beckybrown24

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
By Margaret Meaney of
Chez M, en Retard

Mocha Cupcakes
By Haalo of
Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once

Grasshopper Cupcakes
By Freya of
Writing at the Kitchen Table

Turtle Cupcakes
By Raspil of
The Noisy Kitchen

Chestnut Cupcake with Chocolate Swirl Frosting
By Helen of
Tartelette

Orange Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Chocolate Whipped Cream
By Garrett of
Vanilla Garlic

Oh My Darling Clementine Cupcakes
By Christina of
Wishing on Clovers

Devil’s Food Cupcake’s
By Ellie of
Kitchen Wench

Chocolate Cupcakes with Berry Ganache & Cinnamon Buttercream
By Sarah of
Slighcarp and Grimshaw

Deep, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Tangerine Honey Frosting
By Lis of
La Mia Cucina

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
By Anita & Cameron of
Married with Dinner

Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Quick Orange Frosting & Chocolate Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream
By Maggie of
The Maggpie

Cuba Libre Cupcakes
By Rachel of
Coconut and Lime

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
GLUTEN FREE!
by Brendon of
Something in Season

Pumpkin and Mexican Chocolate with Toasted Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
by Posy of
Posy Party Cakes

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes with Two Kinds of Chocolate Buttercream
by Sheryl C. of
Crispy Waffle

S’mores Cupcakes
by Aoife of
Yumbrosia

Fruity Cupcakes

Lemoncello Ricotta Cupcakes
By Cynth of
A Tasty Pedia’s Blog

Almond Cupcakes with Guava Cream Cheese Filling
By Jenny of
Sew Darn Cute

Lemon Sunshine Cupcakes
By Jennifer of
Weekly Dish

Fruit-filled Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
By MRBUNSROCKS of
Definetly Not Martha

Hunk of Burning Love (The Elvis Cupcake)
By Sher of
What Did You Eat?

Chempedak Cupcakes with Mango Drizzle
By Noraishah Hamid of
My Gastronomic Adventure

Passionfruit-Coconut Cupcakes
By Ann Martin Rolke of
Sacatomato

Figgy Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing
By Kelsey of
ironskillet90

Lime-Vanilla Cupcakes with Cucumber Buttercream
By Andrew of
Real Butter and Clean Milk

Coconut Cloud Cupcakes
By puddingpop of
Wait and See Pudding

Avocado Cupcakes with Palm Sugar Buttercream
By Ratna of
Simply Cake

Lammas Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Whiskey Cream
By Pancha of
Panxa

Almond Brown-Butter Cakes with Sour Orange Meringue
By Lara of
Cook and Eat

Double Seville Orange Cupcakes
By Gemma of
Dressing for Dinner

Almond-Ricotta Cupcakes with Lemon Royal Icing
By Sean of
Hedonia

Carrot Cupcakes and Banana Cupcakes
by Brilynn of
Jumbo Empanadas

Banana Tropical Pomegranate Surprise Cupcakes
by Sandra of
Yes, I Am a Bitch, Get Over It

Spicy Cupcakes

Vanilla-Cardamom Cupcakes with Grand mariner Buttercream and Candied Orange Zest
By Julie O’Hara of
A Mingling of Tastes

Saffron Vanilla Cupcake
By Kerry Alice of
a Tasty Pedia’s blog

Ginger-Cardamom-Jaggery Cupcake
By Mandira Banerjee of
Ahaar

Spice Cupcakes with Maple Marshmallow Frosting
GLUTEN FREE!
By Gluten Free Momma of
Gluten Free Organics

Key to My Heart (Pear & Walnut Cupcake with Cardamom Buttercream)
By Glenna of
A Fridge Full of Food

Curried Cupcakes
By Emilie of
QuintanaRoo

Gingerbread Cupcakes
By Laura of
Laura Rebecca’s Kitchen

Very Gingery Cupcakes
GLUTEN FREE!
By Cathy, aka “The Dear Wife” of
Something in Season

Candied Lemon Peel, Walnut, & Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
By Letincelle of
Leitncelle&Soleau

Other Cupcakes

Citrus-Basil Cupcakes
By Michelle of
Another Yarn

Green Tea Bubble Cream Filled Cupcakes with Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting
By Chockylit of
Cupcake Bakeshop

Demarara Sugar Rimmed Pound Cake Cupcakes
By The Parson’s Wife of
The Parson’s Wife

Green Mung Bean Cupcakes with Palm Sugar Buttercream Frosting
By Ratna of
Simply Cake

Baklava Cupcakes
By Lara of
Aral Traven

Black Sesame Peanut Butter Cupcakes
By Joann of
Baking + Graduate School = Joann’s Life

Cappuccino Cupcakes
By Margaret of
Kitchen Delights

Derby Cakes
by Posy of
Posy Party Cakes