Monthly Archives: March 2012

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day (but mainly my family’s weekly American Idol get-together, which gives me an excuse to bake) I decided to do a variation of a very creative recipe I saw on a blog called BrownEyedBaker. She made an Irish Car Bomb Cupcake which included Guinness and Irish Whiskey. My version is a scoche less boozy but will surely gain respect from leprechauns with sweet teeth ;)

For this recipe I used a chocolate box cake because I already had it in the cabinet. In fact I had everything I needed already which always makes me very happy.

The cake mix called for 1 1/4 cups of water, plus oil and eggs. I swapped the water for the same amount of cold coffee. This isn’t all that noticeable in the final cupcake but it adds a richness to what can sometimes be a flat flavour in box cakes.

I also added 1/2 a cup of mini chocolate chips which made the cake more chocolatey and who doesn’t like that? (You’re a ding-dong if you’re thinking either 1- “chocolatey isn’t a word” or 2- “I don’t like when cupcakes are more chocolatey”)

These cupcakes are filled with an amazing chocolate ganache that is ridiculously easy. Seriously, if you’re all “I can’t make that,” I would genuinely ridicule you.

All you have to do is pour 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (the very same that we’ve already added to our cupcakes) into a pyrex measuring cup. Gently simmer 2/3 cup heavy cream + 2 teaspoons of Bailey’s Irish cream on the stove or in the microwave. Don’t boil it or you will make the cream lumpy.

Now about the Bailey’s… you simply MUST use Bailey’s brand. I was once cheap and bought an off brand and I sorely regretted it. Bailey’s is the only Irish Cream that tastes good. Moral of the story: Don’t be cheap. P.S. Try drinking Bailey’s from a shoe… I hear its amazing.

Once your cream is hot, pour it over the chocolate and add 2 tbsp of butter. Stir for a few minutes until its all melted and mixed in, then let it cool until it thickens enough to pipe into your cupcakes. You don’t want it to be too liquidy or too hot. (I cheated and popped it in the fridge for a few minutes to cool it down and get it to a nice consistency.)

Here’s a simple trick for filling your piping bag. Fold the bag over a glass, and just pour your ganache right in.

The glass is also a nice place to rest your piping bag so all your ganache stays toward the tip.

Cut out little holes in your cupcakes using a long piping tip as a punch. If you blow gently through the other side the cake will pop out of the tip. Trust me, you’ll get annoyed trying to get that cake out of there afterward. These get thrown away anyway (or if you have an Adam, they will get eaten up!)

Now pump your cupcakes full of ganache!

For the buttercream I followed the Sprinkles recipe (which is my go-to buttercream recipe) but I doctored it up a little bit. I doubled it for 24 cupcakes and instead of milk I dissolved one individual sized packet of Nescafé instant coffee into 2 teaspoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream + 2 teaspoons of vanilla (okay maybe I was a little heavy handed on the Bailey’s ;)) and whipped it into my frosting. This not only gave my frosting the delicious irish coffee kick I was going for, but it also ended up being the exact shade of creamy beige I wanted. Feel free to up the instant coffee amount if you want a stronger coffee flavour. It would taste great with more coffee, but I didn’t want to make it too strong for my guests. I would have used Starbucks Via, but its really PRICEY! It is tasty, but not for $10+ for 12 packets. I remember having Nescafé in Paris and being surprised at how delicious it was (imagine going all the way to france to find a good cup of instant coffee!), plus its only $1.50 for a box of 8.

I learned this nifty trick on pinterest for filling a piping bag with buttercream.

I’ve been wanting to try it, and it actually really works!

Start by blopping some frosting on a sheet of plastic wrap.

Then roll the plastic wrap around the frosting and twist up the ends.

 Slide the whole thing into your piping bag and feed through the tip (with the coupler on but without the piping tip yet).

Then just snip off the excess plastic tie up the bottom and you’re good to go.

When you’re done you can just pull out the empty plastic wrap and toss it. So easy!

 DISCLAIMER: Like many things on the internet, this looked extremely easy but I somehow found a way to muck it up the first time. Fear not.

If you’ve tried this and failed…

<– This fatty is an example of how NOT to do it.

I found out that you can’t use too much frosting or it won’t fit into your bag properly. I also learned that when you roll it up be sure to do this lengthwise. You’ll need a nice long piece of twisted plastic wrap to feed through the coupler. This may have been obvious to you, but it was not to me, and when I started squeezing buttercream was shooting out of both ends.

Now for the piping. This part really was just as easy as it looks. I used a Wilton Star tip. I didn’t bother to consider which number it was, so I’m sorry to say I don’t know which one you should use. Maybe just use your heart, or common sense. Its the one that looks like it would be about the size of the one I used in this picture.

Start in the center of the cupcake, and pipe right over your ganache. Starting from the inside make a neat little swirl. Make the center swirl about an inch and a half in diameter.

Then continue making 1 inch swirls all around starting from the center of where you want it to land and working your way out. You should end up with about 7 swirls on a normal sized cupcake.

And here is the final product…

Double bonus, I got to use my sweet new Dollar Store cupcake stand :) 

DIY Dollar Store Cupcake Stand

Hello. My name is Noelle. I am a Pinterest Addict.

::Hiiiiii Noellllllllle::

Its true. And if you know what Pinterest is… you are an addict too. Now is the time for honesty. We’re all friends here.

Well I found this idea for a dollar store cake stand on Pinterest and I just HAD to make it. It was pinned from a blog called Destination:Unknown.

Since we’re being honest- the truth is I HATE dollar stores. They’re just so… (how do I put this lightly?) DISGUSTING! Most of them are just really gross, dirty, and full of really lame stuff that I wouldn’t even pay a dollar for.

But, thanks to Siri, I have found the Dollar Store Mecca.

Not 3 miles from my house, Siri led me to the most glorious dollar store I have ever seen. It was big and clean, with rows and rows of amazingly useful items. My mind was on crafty overload with all the things I could do with such a selection of wares. I spent an entire $25 and came home with all sorts of goodies.

I found some really good faux lemons which are usually uncharacteristically expensive, but indeed I got them for- you guessed it… ONE DOLLAR! I got a cute battery operated paper lantern, which has found a dandy little home swinging above my stove. I found 2 little salt and pepper shakers which I plan to label “Flour” and “Powdered Sugar” and use for dusting my cake and fondant surfaces. I got a set of 3 bumpits which I had been boycotting, but at the price of just one hundred cents I couldn’t resist and my hair has been excellently poufed ever since.

Among other things I found 3 glass plates and three glass candle sticks. These are going to be the base for the adorable cupcake stand I am about to show you. I stopped by Lowe’s (which is dangerously close to where I live and along with Michael’s and Target, is slowly stealing all my money.) I picked up a can of spray on primer, Valspar Gloss Spray Paint in “Exotic Sea,” and a can of Clear Gloss Sealer/Top Coat.

I started by peeling off the stickers and scrubbing each piece very well, and making sure everything was very dry. If you ever have trouble getting stickers off, I use this amazing product that has pretty much saved my life (and by my life, I mean my frustration when I’m trying to deal with a sticky mess when I’d rather be painting already!) Its called Un-Du and its currently only available online. It REALLY works and it is alcohol based so when it dries your sticker is sticky again and you can reuse it. I’ve actually used it on stamps, and scrapbooking stickers and it didn’t damage them at all. Get it, you’ll love it!

I started by priming everything. Then I let it dry for about an hour. If you’re wondering, it was during this time that I practiced making the perfect pouf with my bumpit.

(Nevermind the shadows in this picture, I was under the shade of some rather large oaks overlooking my porch, and it was lovely, so hush.)

After everything was dry to the touch I added my color. I like Valspar brand because the colors are very true to the cap and Lowe’s carries a nice selection of colors. This Exotic Sea color is a nice turquoise, which was exactly what I wanted. They also sell this color in regular latex, but for glass I wanted an oil based spray paint.

I let the color coat dry for about 30 minutes, then I applied a second coat which I let dry for another half hour.

Time for a lunch break! I sauteed some Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Mushrooms, with garlic, salt and pepper, and a touch of hot chili oil. I served it with a quick toast topped with butter, garlic powder and parmesan cheese and popped in the toaster oven until crisp. And of course coffee with whipped cream. Mmmm! Now back to work!

After lunch, I applied 2 coats of clear gloss sealer and let it dry over night. I propped the plates up on the lids of the spray cans so they didn’t stick to the plastic on which they were drying. By the next morning they were ready to go.

The last step was assembly. I happen to have this awesome UV glass glue on hand that I use for wine bottle projects I’ve done in the past. It comes in a little bottle with a nail polish like applicator. Just brush on a small amount and stick the candle sticks to the plates. (Make sure they are centered!) It is amazingly strong and will completely seal glass together.

I have a UV lamp that will speed up drying time but if you don’t have one, you can set your project out in direct sunlight and it will dry in less than an hour. You can buy this glue, and a nifty wine bottle cutter from GreenPowerScience. They have some cool videos on how to cut glass.

And here is the final product…

You can stack all three up for an adorable cupcake stand, or use them individually for different sized cakes. I like the top one for a single cupcake. They would also be really cute with hors d’oeuvres. You could set bowls on top and fill with candy. The possibilities are endless!

Cake Pops Are Not Easy!

Who ever said making caking pops was easy? (Ahem… bakerella). It most certainly is not. It is a ton of work and takes a lot of practice and finesse. There, I said it. I’m so tired of these DIYers out there making it look like everything they do is just the easiest thing they’ve ever done.

            Its time someone spoke out, and I’m willing to be the someone.

This is the true story of how I tried and failed, and tried again, until finally I made the (almost) perfect Cake Pop! This post is dedicated to all of you who, like me, had a dream of being a baking goddess… only to be faced with the ugly truth, “I am NOT Martha Stewart.”

I picked up a Bakerella book at William’s Sonoma the other day and read through the whole thing right there in the store. Don’t judge me, but I snapped a couple pictures of the recipes. Armed with the ease of the illustrations and the gorgeous ideas, I was ready to go! I popped into Michael’s with my 40% off coupons in hand, and stocked up on lollipop sticks, Wilton candy coating, candy food colors, and styrofoam blocks. I picked up some box cakes and vanilla frosting as well.

First of all, the Bakerella recipe is WRONG. I’m not trying to disparage her because I think she’s an innovator, but whoever the test chef was who wrote this recipe obviously did not test it out first. There’s just no way.

The recipe calls for one boxed cake to one 16 oz cannister of frosting. This made for extremely mushy dough. A whole canister of frosting is WAY too much. Even after freezing the balls they were much too soft to hold up on the stick. It was even worse once I tried to coat them with the candy.

Several fell off the sticks into the candy and crumbs got all in my velvety candy coating.

The ones that made it through the coating process fell off while cooling on the sticks.

<– These are the ones that bit the dust. :(

Ugh, the whole thing was very frustrating. But alas I am a champ.

I did not give up! I gave it another try. This time I am very happy to say I was successful! Yay!

Here’s how I did it…

I started with a chocolate cake this time, the kind with the pudding mixed in.

After it cooled completely I cut the crust off the edge, so I didn’t have any crunchy pieces in my dough. Adam gobbled the crusts up in seconds!

I crumbled up the cake into evenly broken up crumbs. If you roll the cake between your palms it will really help for a nice smooth crumb. It was lots of fun getting my hands in there! This would be a great part to let the kids help with.

This time I only added about 1/3 of the frosting. About 5/8 of a cup if you’re making your own frosting.

The result was a nice firm dough. —>

Using a 1 oz scoop made perfectly portioned balls.

Though the portion was perfect, the shape wasn’t- so I rolled them between my palms to make nice smooth round balls. Then I popped them into the freezer to firm up.

Now comes the fun part! I made a handy little double boiler to melt the Wilton candy using two pyrex measuring cups. I just kept my electric kettle near by with freshly boiled water to change it out so the candy stayed smooth. I also added a few teaspoons of shortening to thin out the candy a bit so it wasn’t too thick of a coating on the cake balls. It only takes a few minutes to melt and it gets really smooth.

Start by dipping the sticks into the candy and then gently push them only half way into the balls.

Then stick them into a styrofoam block and chill in the fridge for a few minutes.

On my first attempt I tried dipping them into the candy but this made the balls fall off the sticks. So I like holding them over the dish and spooning the melted candy over them.

Then gently twist & tap the cake pops on on the edge of the dish until no more “blops” of candy drip off.

Now all that I had to do was set them in the block, and let them cool. Then they were ready for embellishments!

I melted some white candy and poured it into a squeeze bottle.

I kept a glass with boiling water nearby in case the bottle started to cool. Then I just drizzled it over the pops.

And here is the final product!

They were a hit at my mom’s dinner party!

And finally… always be sure to buckle up for safety when transporting your little pops.