Chocolate Surprise Cupcake Flower “Cake”

(#24 in the limited series: cooking/baking in the time of the coronavirus quarantine)
Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes combined to make a small cake…

Still under quarantine and one of hubby’s acquaintances, who lives nearby, was having her birthday.  She planned to cook some food to celebrate informed hubby that she was sending over some birthday noodles.  Of course I asked if she had cake, because if she did not, I was going to send over something…

As it turned out, she did not have cake so here is my contribution to her birthday celebration.

cupcake bday

I was short on time… literally having only a couple of hours – so the best I could come up with was this “cake” made from cupcakes put together to form a flower shape.

The cupcakes were regular chocolate cupcakes but I placed a “surprise” inside – 2 kinds of chocolate candies… in half the cupcakes, it was Meiji milk chocolate covered macadamias, in the other half, it was a another Japanese brand (with no English subtitles) that had a delicious truffle inside.

It was a good thing that I still had some sugar flowers left over so I tied them into a bunch like a bouquet and sprinkled some Oreo crumbs to make it look like dirt and “planted” the flowers onto the cake!

Fast and easy, from start to finish – 2 hours tops!

Happy Birthday A!

Happy B, B!

Chocolate will always be her favorite flavor for desserts. But her taste is getting less child-like (or -ish?). For several years now, her request used to be chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting (using real strawberries, not jam!)

This year, however, it was slightly different – it is still chocolate, but with vanilla frosting… using my homemade vanilla extract.

Of course I could not leave it too simple so I plopped a chocolate ball (or two) in each cupcake as they baked… then instead of plain vanilla, I marbled the vanilla frosting with chocolate syrup.

I made 48 pieces of cupcakes! Half of the batch (24 pieces) was for her classmates in school, the remaining half was for other friends. In addition, she asked for her birthday cake!

It used to be chocolate cake with strawberry icing (same as her cupcakes) but as I said her tastes are becoming more mature…

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake!

The kid loved it! Although I think I should stop calling her “the kid”.

What has not changed, though, is that I am still “the best” when it comes to making her favorite treats!

Halloween Spider Cupcakes

Hmmm… for some reason, I have this thing about halloween and spiders.  Three years ago, the theme for the kid’s halloween treats were spiders too.  That time, I used gummy spiders.  This year I decided on a no-frosting chocolate cupcake with 8 pretzel sticks for legs and big candy eyes.

(although halloween is not really a holiday or an event that we locally celebrate, there are sales and marketing pitches for it.  after all, the kids love the candy-collecting activity and the dress-up costumes!)

To be honest, I found the basic design on Google images – there were lots of ideas especially for the legs but well, all I had on hand were chocolate covered pretzels.

The kid liked them anyway and was excited to give some to her classmates!

And, if you notice there is a picture that is not like the others… technically speaking, the halloween treats this year are… spiders and one ant.

The ant face was designed by hubby, with the one piece of pretzel stick that was left over.  As you can see, the single pretzel was broken into 3 and were just enough for the antennae and the mouth!

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

84 Mini Cupcakes!

Who knows where this recipe is from… I certainly don’t know.  All I know is that I was flipping through a second-hand cookbook and a paper with this recipe was tucked inside the pages.  It was titled “Big Batch Cupcakes” and specified that it made 4 dozen 2-oz cupcakes.

It was perfect timing, actually, since I had to bake at least 6 dozen mini cupcakes so I tried the recipe!

1/2 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in
1/2 cup hot water

1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup thick yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

The instructions were straight-forward and easy –

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water and let cool slightly. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients.

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix about 2 minutes or until everything is combined.

Scoop or spoon into prepared cupcake tins/pans (the recipe made 7 dozens or 84 pieces of mini cupcakes!).  To make the mini cupcakes a bit interesting, I added about half a teaspoon of cheesecake filling to the batter.

Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

img_5672

I used ganache to frost 6 dozens of mini cupcakes before I ran out.  There was a bit of coffee buttercream left over from the mocha cake I made earlier, and with that I managed to frost half a dozen, which left 6 plain ones…

 

Triple Chocolate Mini Cupcakes

While I have my standard go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes, I still try other recipes.  Especially when the recipe is by a well-known chef/baker/the like… more so if the recipe is featured in the New York Times…

So, this is Mark Bittman’s recipe (and yes, I bought 2 copies of his book How to Cook Everything – a hard copy and a soft copy!) but since I intended to make mini cupcakes, I halved the recipe, and of course, made some adaptations to suit me (ok, I admit I’m lazy so I like the dump-it-all-in-the-bowl method) –

The adapted recipe –

1/4 cup butter
45 grams unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup flour
1/8 cup black cocoa (my addition)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

ganache
62% chocolate buttons

Melt the butter with unsweetened chocolate; stir until smooth.  Cool slightly before using.

Combine the dry ingredients together (flour, black cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar).  Note that the original recipe did not include black cocoa but I wanted a super dark, almost black cupcake!

Add the egg, cooled chocolate mixture, vanilla and milk; mix well.  Note that the original recipe specified that the egg/s be separated and the whites beaten to soft peaks but like I said I am lazy!!!

So anyway, fill paper-lined mini muffin tins about 3/4s full and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting and garnishing.

Shameless but proud momma here – my kid helped me frost some cupcakes.

Really now, they’re pretty good considering her age…

Carrot Cake and Cupcakes with Maple Cheese Filling/Frosting

We went north recently and while mixing business with pleasure we explored the marketplace.  While we often went to buy souvenir food stuff and famous walis (brooms) from the famed palengke (wet market), we were greatly surprised to find out that the market that we were frequenting was just the tip of the iceberg!!!

As we discovered, the market extended to 2 other neighboring buildings!

Relying on (secret???) information, we delved deeper into the market to find… vegetables at prices that were waaaaayyyy more friendly!  So hellooooo carrots!!!!  and mushrooms, and beans, and Japanese cucumbers, and talbos ng sayote, and sayote, and… WATERCRESS!!!! (see the following post…)

Exploring further on, we found the dry goods section.  And glory of all glories, I found YARN!!!! Tons of it!  More importantly, I found SPECIALTY YARN.  Needless to say I had a field day and if I had my way, I would have gotten more but (it’s a good thing that) credit cards weren’t accepted so I had to choose carefully to fit my cash budget.

Our last and best surprise of all was discovering the meat market.  We found the famous longganisa that I adored (of course at a friendlier price than that of the souvenir shop where I used to get them from!) and hubby found the longganisa he preferred!  Do I need to say that we went home LADEN with treasures???!!!

Anyway, let me go back to the carrots.  If I bought carrots in our local market, the price would be (a bit) shocking.  Up north, where many vegetables are grown, the prices are more than reasonable, so when I have the chance, I hoard carrots!  When I return home, I peel and shred them and freeze them in portions for 1 batch of carrot cake/cupcakes!

 

 

 

Ube Cupcakes, with Ube Filling and Coconut Buttercream

In case no one has noticed… I LOVE UBE!  Cakes, halaya, pastillas… even savory dishes!!!

Here’s one of my experimental cupcakes… I keep thinking that I can make a better ube cupcake so I keep trying.  And I want to use real ube, not some flavoring…

The recipe for this –

Combine and set aside –

1-1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 to 1 cup sugar

Stir together –

1/2 cup (cooled) boiled, mashed ube
1/3 cup milk

Mix together, using a hand mixer –

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup soya oil
2 large eggs

Add the dry ingredients to the egg-butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the ube-milk mixture.

Scoop the batter into 12 paper-lined cupcake tins.  Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Don’t over bake.  Cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cooled, place a small mound of ube halaya on top of each cupcake then pipe coconut buttercream swirl to cover the cupcake and the ube halaya.

Coconut-Rum Cupcakes with Ube Halaya Centers and Ube-Coconut Buttercream

Coconut is never my first choice when thinking of baking cupcakes.  But I had leftover coconut cream in the fridge, as well as coconut flakes… so for hubby friend’s birthday, coconut cupcakes it is.  And, since I had leftover ube halaya, the cupcakes got an ube halaya center and ube-coconut buttercream on top!

Of course I did not have a coconut cupcake recipe on hand!  Thank goodness there’s a number of them on the internet.  I picked one from Brown-eyed Baker.  As usual, I changed a few things…

my adaptation –

1-1/4 cups flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes
1/2 cup butter (I used butter flavored Crisco)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut cream (well-stirred)
2 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place paper cups in cupcake tins.

Stir flour, baking powder, salt and coconut flakes together (I did not process the coconut flakes); set aside.

Beat Crisco and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat to mix well.  Add vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the coconut cream and coconut rum.

Scoop mixture into the paper cups.  Place a small teaspoon of ube halaya in the center of the batter.  Bake for about 18-22 minutes; rotate pan midway.

When the cupcakes have cooled.  Frost as desired.  I used ube-coconut buttercream for mine.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup ube halaya
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut cream (well stirred)

For the frosting – Beat butter and halaya until well combined. Gradually add powdered sugar (adjust according to personal taste). Add coconut cream by tablespoons, beating well after each addition.

 

 

Saging at Yema

I recently made cupcakes with caramel and frosted with caramel buttercream. It is superb combination that is universally liked. But an idea popped into my head after baking a yema-topped cake (joining the bandwagon of yema cakes that have sprouted in many malls!) for a friend…

I wondered what would happen if I frosted my banana cupcakes with yema? Hmmmm…

Yema, after all, is a close relative of caramel… Yema, in the traditional sense is a candy made from egg yolks, milk and sugar (and the “secret” ingredient that is dayap!).

So, what is yema anyway?  According to pepper.ph –

Yema is Spanish for “egg yolk,” and is most likely a reference either to its golden-yellow appearance or to its composition (traditionally a batter of egg yolks, lime peel, and sugar). Intensely rich and similar in texture to the French crème brûlée, it is sometimes made more decadent by the addition of a thin, crisp coating of caramelized sugar. Wrapped in squares of colorful cellophane, yema can be purchased everywhere, from sari-sari stores, roadside stalls, to street vendors outside churches, as well as a few select groceries and bakeries.

Anyway, I experimented with using yema as base for the frosting.  As a safety net, I also frosted some with caramel buttercream and truffle frosting… and was quite amazed at the result! Everybody preferred the yema-banana combination over everything else!

Wow!

Having Fun in the Kitchen!

There are days when I am stuck at home with nothing to do…  For such a day, I usually catch up on sleep or reading… or I have fun in the kitchen!

This particular day I went crazy… made orange-speckled mini cakes – 1 frosted with Truffle Frosting for BFF’s birthday and the other one frosted with Yema Frosting, for a colleague.  (a bit more about yema in my next post.)

Then I made banana cupcakes and mini cupcakes – a dozen mini cupcakes frosted with Truffle Frosting for BFF still, half a dozen of mini cupcakes for another colleague AND a couple for the kid’s piano teacher, AND, of course, the kid!

I was tired after all that (plus the kitchen was HOOOOOTTTT!) but it was all worth it.

 

Caramel-Banana Cupcakes

There are 2 ways to infuse the banana cupcake with caramel – add it to the batter (take away some of the sugar while you’re at it) or swirl it in the batter (in the cupcake pan) right before baking.  I chose to add to the batter.  Then to intensify the caramel-ness, the cupcakes were frosted with caramel buttercream.

To make your own caramel is not difficult, as long as enough you keep an eye on it.  I remember when I first started to make caramel and I would always, always burn it, until a friend told me her secret.  Nope, not using a thermometer… rather, the crucial equipment is a…. TIMER!  The magic number? 7!

First, set your timer to 7 minutes.  Then place 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, 1 teaspoon light corn syrup, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla paste in a thick-bottomed pot.  (Add a pinch of salt if desired.)  Set the heat to medium.  Stir the mixture occasionally.  Once the mixture boils, start your timer.  Stir occasionally.  When the timer beeps, turn off the heat.  Let is cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a heat-resistant bottle.  Cool completely.  Store in the fridge for 4 to 5 weeks.

To make the caramel buttercream, beat 1 cup softened butter.  Gradually add 1/2 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar (by spooonfuls).  Stir in 1/2 cup caramel; beat a couple of minutes, or until fluffy (don’t over-do it.)