My husband and I tend to have conversations like, well, when this is over we can finally relax a little. For example, for months we looked forward to our little girl’s first birthday. We threw her double parties, one in St. Louis and one in Detroit. Through the entire planning process, we kept saying, yeah, when her birthday is over, we’ll relax for a couple of weekends. But, it just seems like those weekends never really do come. This weekend is supposed to be our first weekend of “relaxing.” I guess when we were thinking about relaxing, it may have slipped our mind a bit that my law school started back up this week or that I had to bake four flavors of cupcakes for two birthday parties. But then again, if we didn’t have eight things going on at once, I may have to consider renaming myself restedandrelaxedcupcakegirl. And let’s face it, that’s just not a very good blog name.
As I mentioned, my law school started up this week. If I said I took last semester off because I was getting burned out, that would be a slight understatement. I took last semester off in a flurry of hormonal tears screaming that I hated my professors, my school, and the arrogant classmates. I found out that I was pregnant that night. So I may have been a little harsh… But I did do some serious re-evaluating of my career choices. I took a few months off to think about if I really wanted to be an attorney, what my dream job would be, and what exactly I wanted for my life. Let’s just call it an “I’m on the verge of my last year in my 20’s and will probably set the record for number of years in law school” breakdown. However, two really good things happened to me during these months. First, I got promoted, giving me total validation that I am good at what I do and should continue to pursue a career in the law. Second, I started this blog. I now have a creative outlet for all of my ideas giving me a sense of balance in my life. So, with confidence in my job and an outlet for my cupcaking, I re-enlisted in law school. It will still be another three years before I’m near graduation. However, I’ll have law degree to show for it. And, with my legal nerd status in full swing, you can expect to see a little more of that in future blogs. Now… on to the cupcakes!
I was asked to bake chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate for a five year old’s birthday party for one of my co-workers children. I opted for a ho-ho cupcake and a chocolate covered strawberry cupcake. For the ho-ho cupcake, I started with my basic chocolate recipe. I stuffed it full of ho-ho cream, double-dipped it into silky ganache and put a signature white ho-ho swirl on top. For the chocolate covered strawberry, I again started with my basic chocolate. I baked a strawberry swirl into the cupcake, as well as filled it will strawberry jam. I topped with chocolate cream cheese buttercream and a fresh strawberry (***TIP*** mix some lemon juice and sugar and brush it on top of the strawberry slice to keep it glistening and prevent browning, but don’t forget to blot it on paper towel, otherwise you’ll get too much juice on top of the cupcake).
Ho Ho Cupcakes
Ho Ho Filling: There are lots of recipes out there simulating ho ho filling. The basic step is that you start with two tablespoons of flour and a cup of milk to create a roux. You really need to whisk the crap out of this otherwise you’ll get lumps. Heat until warm and add 1/3 cup of sugar. Bring to boil until thickened, only a couple of minutes. Cool completely. In another bowl, beat 1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cups of real butter, 1 tsp of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Beat until completely smooth and add the flour mixture. Beat the crap out of it to make sure you don’t have any lumps. Fill cupcakes!
Ganache: This is the simplest most delicious frosting to make ever. In a double boiler, melt one bag of chocolate chips, 3 tbsp butter, ¾ cup of heavy cream, and a tsp of vanilla. Melt until smooth. Let cool until slightly thickened and dip the cupcakes in it. After the first dip, I stuck the cupcakes in the freezer to set and then dipped them again.
Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (for the strawberry cupcakes): Beat until smooth one brick of cream cheese, one stick of butter, and a tsp of vanilla. Add two cups of powdered sugar and a half cup of cocoa. Beat until smooth. Add 2 tbsp of cream or milk and beat again.
I was also asked to bake anything NOT chocolate for two of my cousin’s joint 30th birthday party. I opted for a fresh roasted banana cupcake, topped with cream cheese frosting, caramel swirls, and a banana chip and a traditional mini cheesecake (I’m hesitant to call this one an actual cupcake), that was topped with blueberries and strawberries.
Roasted Banana Cupcake
I found a recipe on recipezaar.com a long time ago and have used it ever since. It’s delicious! However, this time, I took cues from Martha Stewart’s roasted banana cupcakes and roasted the banana. I’m not quite sure I could taste a difference, but the cupcakes were moist and yummy regardless.
4 roasted bananas (put in over at 325 for 15 minutes, peel will darken), then peel and mash, squeeze half a lemon over top and mix
3 c. flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ c. butter
2 1/8 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. buttermilk
Mix flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Beat the snot of out of the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Gradually add the buttermilk, continue to mix until well incorporated. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat one brick of cream cheese and one stick of butter until smooth. Beat in 1 tsp. of vanilla. Add 2-3 cups of powdered sugar one cup at a time until you get a consistency you like. I like mine a little thicker so that it stands up on the cupcakes.
I’m dying to try to make my own caramel, but I just didn’t have time for these cuppies. So I used regular sundae caramel in a squirt bottle and swirled it on the cupcakes. Top with a banana chip and enjoy!
This recipe is borrowed from Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Cheesekcake. You can find the recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/the-ultimate-cheesecake-recipe/index.html. I just divided everything up into the cupcake pans. I do advise baking the cheesecakes in a water bath. Otherwise, the mini cheesecakes fall a little. To bake in a water bath, just put the cupcake pan in a large roaster and fill until water goes about halfway up the cupcake pan. Bake at 350 for about 23-25 minutes until the cheesecakes are set. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I even used the blueberry topping in this recipe and it was delicious! For strawberry topping, heat one cup of sliced fresh strawberries, the zest of one lemon, 2 tbsp of water and 3 tbsp of sugar. Heat until the strawberries begin to break down. In a separate dish, mix together 1 ½ tsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water. Add to the strawberry mixture and heat until mixture thickens. Cool before adding to cupcakes.