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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Cupcakes for a Cure"/Breast Cancer Awareness

In Austin, TX they are kicking off "Cupcakes for a Cure" in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). What a great cause, and a beautiful cupcake!

9/29/2009 3:24 PM By: News 8 Austin Staff

Tasty frosting on top of even tastier cupcakes is just one of the many ways to help find a cure for cancer.

"Cupcakes for a Cure" kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness month for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Local bakeries competed for the honor of best cupcake in town, and while the cupcakes are a tasty treat, those who benefit from the organization the most say there's nothing sweeter than the support they receive.
"You get on the Internet and you see a lot of negative and not so great stats," Komen recipient Michelle Bynum said. "But if you turn the computer off, and see the folks that surround Komen, and the hope in people living and living well, not just alive, but not just breathing, but really, really living and eating life with a big spoon."
The annual Race for the Cure will be held Nov. 1 at the Domain in North Austin.
For more information on how to participate, go to

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posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cupcake Determination

This past weekend turned out to be a busy one. I had to fill a cupcake order for Saturday, and of course my usual... Sunday baking for essence.com. If you haven't heard, the place to be on Sundays is my house, lots of cupcaking going on!

Anyway, back to the cupcake order. It was for an eight year old birthday party. A girly ice skate party to be precise, although I think boys were allowed, maybe her father, brother, perhaps grandfathers- at best three or four men were invited. The order was for 24 cupcakes, 12 vanilla and 12 chocolate with fluffy sugar frosting. And, yes the kids will be bouncing off the walls, but don't call me, because I told ya so. For any adults who wish to indulge in this sugar topping, childhood birthday cake memories will definitely be evoked. It's a kid thing, we wouldn't understand. Oh yes, and--there--was--one--special request--the skate motif. Uh-oh! Can't say that I've ever done that before. But, I figured it was a no brainer. I'll just visit one of the arts & crafts stores and stock up on a skate motif design, maybe even find a stencil- no problem. Uhhh, problem. I literally searched everywhere, and came up short, everywhere.

What do you mean not the season? I thought winter, spring, summer, fall. HELLO-heard of indoor arenas. You mean, I have to wait until the dead of winter to find skate art? I thought winter gear hit stores in July- isn't that the norm? Well, at least I have the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. Normally, a minimum of 48 hours for cupcake orders is required, but if there are special requests (like a skate motif), then perhaps more time may be needed. Let's see it's September, gotta wait until its snowing- I guess January 15th should do the trick! Well, I know next time, fool me once. Less then 24 hours to go, I was determined to have a skate motif adorned on two dozen cupcakes. Time to consider plan b... go find Tonya Harding- I figured, whats she got to do? I didn't think it would be too much to ask, to play the mannequin for a couple of hours, isn't she still repaying her debt to Nancy Kerrigan? Ha-maybe, too controversial. What about, Michelle Kwan, the most celebrated figure skater in U.S. history- she'd be perfect for some charity work. My mother always told me to reach for the stars- well, here I go. So, after I returned to Earth. I figured I could make a stencil myself, wasn't sure how- but I could give it a try. After, the 10th try, I remembered art wasn't my major or minor in high school nor college. Help! Two hours later, 27 pieces of paper- I finally got it! The ice skate stencil was born. I was exhausted, stimulated, overjoyed, wiped out, pleased, tired, and just plain depleted. But, I still had to finish the cupcakes with less than 20 hours to go. Keep smiling. Finally, the order was complete. And after all that hard work, do you think she like the cupcakes? Nope. She loved them! Hard work really does pay off!

Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dark, Chocolate, and a mouthful!

Dark chocolate--oh so tempting. Whether tall dark and handsome or silky smooth and "devilish". Chocolate is undeniable sinful. The...secret...is...out! Many of us desire chocolate in one way or another. Cupcakes are my fancy. Some like it bitter, others prefer semi-sweet or just plain milky cocoa. There's even chocolate disguised as white, for those who like a little cream in their sugar.

Indeed, the package may vary but the rush remains the same. The best part, there's no disappointment, stand-ups or dramatic break-ups. Frankly, its an undercover lover, for sure. I wouldn't really call it an "affair" though, cause he'll know. No apologies necessary. "Chocolate"-- it is what it is!! Dark, Delicious, and Devilish. Given the chance, it will melt your heart. Beware!

See the recipe for Dark Chocolate cupcakes on http://www.essence.com/
Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, September 20, 2009


A few weeks ago when I started the "Cupcake of the Week" feature on Essence, my mother-in-law asked me if I had ever made a pineapple-upside down cupcake. My answer, "Nope, but I won't let that be a deterrent". Bring it on! I'll try almost anything once or twice and if I like it, well I just might keep going. I thought to myself why not make a cupcake version of an old favorite? But, I wasn't sure if they should be the standard size or the extra large cupcakes. Either, would do the trick. The giant size cupcake pan wasn't even a thought- for obvious reasons. I was on the fence with this one. Did I want deep and delicious or shallow and sweet- some decisions are really hard to make. So, I didn't make one, I chose both! I figured what could be better than a bite size treat. A bigger treat, of course.

I, made my batter, the pineapple glaze, cut up my maraschino cherries, floured my pans, and I was in business. Then, the unthinkable- I ran out of batter. Huh! I needed more batter to fill the rest of the cupcake wells. That's when it was time for the box legends to the rescue. I pulled out good ole Duncan Hines yellow cake mix from my pantry. Clearly, that wasn't part of the plan. I quickly mixed up the batter from the box and filled my empty wells. Normally, when I bake cupcakes, there is a sweet distinctive homemade aroma in the air, but not this time- it was an artificial scent. Mr. or Mrs. Duncan Hines was polluting my high. Nevertheless, this was the perfect opportunity to do a side by side taste test, not that there was any uncertainty who was the real champ, but I had to seize the moment.

The cupcakes were done, about 25 minutes later, the extra large looked more like mini towers or like the water buffalo hats Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble use to wear to their water buffalo meetings. Not very appetizing! Maybe that didn't work after all. But, the standards, well that was an understatement there was absolutely nothing standard about these few mouthfuls. Quite the contrary. Anxiously awaiting to try one as they cooled, I analyzed the differences between the scratch and the box. The box had an artificial smell, orange-yellowish color and it was a bit spongy- in a bad way! The scratch was a perfect shade of pale yellow with brown bits and crispy edges, it smelled refreshing. I knew how this story ended.

Drum roll.....it was a clear-cut finish, Duncan Hines was not even a contender. Not only was scratch the winner, but the amaretto pineapple-upside down cupcakes were absolutely...DELICIOUS!! I hope you try them, and remember, you never know what sweetness you can gain from your mother-in-law.

Happy Cupcaking!!!

Amaretto Pineapple-Upside Down Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
¾ cup milk
¼ cup amaretto


1. Preheat oven 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Mix in extracts. Combine milk and amaretto, set aside. Reduce speed; add flour mixture alternating with milk-amaretto mixture, ending with flour until just combined.

Pineapple Glaze:

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1½ cups canned pineapple slices packed in juice, drained
6 maraschino cherries, halved

1. Spray muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour, tapping out excess.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, stirring occasionally, until sugar bubbles. Divide butter-sugar mixture among cupcake wells to generously cover bottom.

3. Cut each pineapple slice in diagonal fours to create eight fan-shaped chunks. Place 4 or 5 of the chunks evenly over the butter-sugar mixture with the broader part of the fan along the edge of the well. Place half a cherry, rounded side up into the center, gently press down.

4. Divide batter evenly over pineapple glaze filling two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

5. To finish, run a small icing spatula or thin bladed knife around cupcakes and invert over a baking sheet to remove. Use a spoon to replace any topping stuck to bottom of pan. Serve immediately.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cupcake Busy-Ness

Whew...today, really took the cupcake...I piped, swirled, sprinkled, topped, filled, and layered. I must have baked more than 60 cupcakes all some version of chocolate. By then end of the day, I was covered in chocolate. First, there was my usual cupcake business, the "Cupcake of the Week" feature, on essence.com, then I have this other cupcake gig, its basically a six month stint, the deal is the Cupcake Craze's services were auctioned off back in the spring, we took a summer hiatus, and now we're back in business with the "Cupcake of the Month", then there's the "Cupcake of the Moment" and that is every time, I make cupcakes there's not a moment that goes by that I'm not sticking something in my mouth- That is a REAL problem! I just can't keep this up. I may have to start baking some low cal goodies or "just say no to cupcakes". Yeah right! The first step is admitting there is a problem-right? Well, there's no problem here. Shhhhh!

And, later I have to decorate 35 cupcakes for my sons birthday party, although his birthday technically was a couple of weeks ago, we're just getting around to his kiddie party. A little late, but better late then never. So, inevitable there will be more of the same piping, swirling, sprinkling, topping, filling and layering. It's all good though, literally.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And the winnner is: Red Velvet!

Votes are in and polls are closed. Congratulations to the Red Velvet cupcake. She received 70 percent of the votes. Vanilla was a descent second with 50; those darn red and blue constituents are always on the fence! Carrot and Chocolate weren't even in the ball park. That's surprising. I'm a chocolate lover myself. You know what they say, once you go chocolate its hard to go back to vanilla. Okay, so that's not really what "they" say. Perhaps, in the cupcake world. Seriously though, I do enjoy red velvet cupcakes, some would argue that they are really chocolate cupcakes with food coloring. Others, well....does it really matter? Of course, not. Actually, the cocoa powder, an ingredient used, has a bit of a reddish hue, which is enhanced by a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda, also ingredients. But, the deep redness is achieved with food coloring. Here's a tip, you must use the real deal, not that generic stuff at supermarkets sold in the little box with the matching cone shaped caps- uh-uh! The best food coloring to use when baking is the gel food color, its more concentrated and gives it a nice vivid shade, without having to use the entire bottle. Well, that's my tip of the day. Enough blogging, let's get to baking...keep me posted.

Happy Cupcaking!

Yield: 24 cupcakes

2½ cups cake flour, sifted
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon red gel food color
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar


1. Preheat oven 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together sifted cake flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl combine milk and vanilla extract.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Mix in food coloring and vanilla extract. Reduce speed; add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk, ending with flour until just combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar in small bowl, let foam, then add to flour mixture and mix for 10 seconds.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups (tip: use an ice-cream scooper) filling three-quarters full. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool before removing cupcakes.

5. To finish, use a small offset spatula or small butter knife to spread cream-cheese frosting.

Cream-Cheese Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed add sugar ½ cup at a time, then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Serve immediately. Excess frosting can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in airtight container; before use, bring to room temperature and re-beat on low speed until smooth again.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cupcakes All Week!

The UK has got it going on! Apparently, they've kicked off "National Cupcake Week" starting today. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to begin and end my week than with everyone's favorite treat. A "Happy Cupcake Week"celebration- now that's my cup of tea. Of course, the queen of all "Living Media", Martha Stewart celebrated Cupcake Week on her show back in July. The craze continues to be in full swing. First Martha, then Great Britain. What's next? National Cupcake Month or Year, how far will it go? It all sounds so heavenly to me. Perhaps we (meaning the United States), should adopt the idea, there could be an "International Cupcake Week." YUMM-O! Chances are Congress won't include that as part of their national agenda-right? But seriously, I'd rally for it. Yup, I actually have the "audacity to hope" for more cupcakes. Well, in the meantime, I'm willing to do my part and kick off my own holiday or at least support Britain's tradition from afar. I guess, I'll have to bake a batch of cupcakes a day this week- well, maybe not everyday-perhaps every other day.

Why not jump on the band wagon? Don't fight it--give in to temptation and pay homage to the Great Brit's. Let me know how it goes! If you need ideas, blog me, I'll see what I can come up with.

Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Glamour Magazines Cupcake Campaign

Glamour’ Courts Buyers with Cupcake Campaign
Published on September 08, 2009 Email this article
Conde Nast’s Glamour is hoping to reinvent its image among media buyers, and differentiate itself from its competitors, with an all-out campaign which positions its readers as aggressively cheerful all-American girls.

The campaign, the launch of which coincides with Fashion Week in New York, will see cupcakes delivered to Universal McCann, Mediaedge:cia and Mediavest. Clients nationwide will also get cupcakes, which will be topped with the words, “Live for Glamour,” reports The New York Times. Cupcakes will also be delivered to crowds around Fashion Week tents in Bryant Park and at Bloomingdale’s, and images of cupcakes will be projected onto the walls of Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomie’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, and sites in the meatpacking district.
The cupcakes are also featured in a series of print and billboard ads, along with other happy images like hearts, smiley faces, lollipops and balloons. The ads, which will run in trade publications such as Drug Store News and Cosmetic World, attempt to inform media buyers that the publication is not attempting to be Vogue. Wackerman hopes the campaign will convince buyers that the magazine’s unique readership is more attractive to fashion and beauty brands than the other fashion magazines. - courtesy of http://www.mediabuyerplanner.com/

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Saturday, September 12, 2009

cupcakes on FIRE!!!!

A little belated, but nevertheless, I had to tell you about my smokin' Labor Day. Boy oh, boy! Did we have some excitement in my house. I was knee deep in cupcake business, for the “cupcake of the week” feature on essence.com. Our neighbors dropped by (they have two boys) and the kids were in and out, up and down the stairs having a blast. With the help of our "Bob the Builder" friendly neighbor, my husband was climbing up this roof ladder while his wife kept me company in the kitchen. We were planning on grilling outside, but something weird was going on with the grill, plan b was in action. We'll use the indoor grill- simple enough-right? Not exactly! My husband claims to be the grill master, so I let him have that title, one less thing for me to do. While I baked, his responsibility was to manage the grilling- huh, he managed to slip out the door and never returned. So, I got stuck manning the indoor grill- somehow it didn't work out the way I envisioned. Does it ever?

Anyway, while I continued to make cupcakes the grill continued to do what it does-smoke, I didn't think anything of it. I just turned on the exhaust and kept on baking. The smoke continued to rise until the whole house was full of black clouds. Still I didn't think much of it, I just opened the windows. Finally, the smoke alarm went off and I shut it off and continued to bake and grill. Then it went off again- so I shut it off again, I figured the alarm company would call, but I never heard the phone ring- so I yelled out the window told my husband the happenings, he didn't say much so, I kept on baking and grilling. By this time, the better half of our neighbors went back to her house to get her dinner going and the kids including hers were still in and out and up and down- honestly, I really didn't know where they were! My cell phone rang- I looked at the 800 number and thought -huh, who is this calling me on a holiday from an 800 number, so I did what most of us do- I ignored it. About 10 minutes later, my stepdaughter comes in from outside and says there's a fireman here, and I said, WHAT? Walking through the gray smoke that filled the kitchen air appears a real live firefighter, standing about 6 feet 4 inches tall wearing a yellow jacket with matching pants, fire hat, boots, fire extinguisher the whole nine dead center in my kitchen asking "Is everything okay," Where's the fire"? It was like a scene out of a movie. I just stood there and smiled- what else was I to do? The kids thought this was the coolest thing ever-a real LIVE firefighter up close and personal. My husband never showed his face- he was too embarrassed. I told the firefighter everything was okay-I guess I just missed the calls from the alarm company, but there was no fire here, just some shishkabobs and cupcakes. I apologized and offered him a plate and a cupcake to go, I thought that was the least I could do. After all it was a holiday. The rest of the 25 firefighters, 4 firetrucks, police officer and fire chief were very happy there was not a fire to fight on Labor Day and needless to say we were too.

And, happily the Apple Walnut Crumb cupcakes turned out fantastic and the shishkabobs too. Check out the recipe on essence.com/recipes.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Giant-Size Cupcake- Oops! Continued...

Well, 8am came and went, 8:10am, and 8:20am, this giant size cupcake sure was taking a giant size time. It had been almost 45 minutes and it still wasn't done. Half of it was still shaking when I checked it, I even stuck the toothpick in the middle and it came out with wet chocolate batter. Exhale-wheeeeewwwwwww!!!! This was not good. I. had. to go. I could only give it 2 or 3 more minutes, now I was choosing the cupcake over education. That was a real problem, but I didn't want to spoil his birthday with a sunken cupcake and I couldn't leave it in the oven, couldn't take the chance of burning it- I had to stand watch like a friendly neighborhood watchdog. I know, this was crazy- all in the name of wanting to make my birthday boy happy. The things parents do- I started to break out into a Diana Ross 70's hit remake "Ain't No Cupcake High Enough, Ain't No Oven Hot Enough, Ain't No School Far Enough To Keep Me From Baking This Cupcake For Yooouuuu,(slow it down) Ain't--No--Cupcake--High--Enough". Sike! Don't worry I saved the serenade for another day!
Anyway, at 8:26am, almost an hour later, I had to get to steppin'. I checked my chocolate mountain one last time, toothpick inserted, and YESSSS, it was done. I took it out of the oven and we ran out the door. EJ was late of course, but I did bring some Apple Walnut Crumb cupcakes for the teachers- who ever said there was anything wrong with a little kissing up? When I returned home, it was time for the icing- how the H*#@ do you frost this ginormous thing? Well, I did figure it out, well-kinda, I topped it off with some chocolate sprinkles and washed my hands. When EJ got home we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed the yummy cupcake. It was a nice birthday after all and his first day of school was fun too. THE END.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Giant-Size Cupcake- Oops!

Today is my sons 4th birthday he wanted a giant-size cupcake, of course. Thinking ahead a couple of weeks ago, I bought a giant cupcake pan from Michael's Arts & Crafts or AC Moore, can't remember, one of those places-cute though!
This morning is also EJ's first day of school- so I have a lot going on and I'm blogging. For some reason, I had this crazy idea to bake the cupcake this morning before I took him to school, what was I thinking? I mean, I'm usually up at the crack of dawn-6am to be exact, depending on what time my human alarm clock goes off (that's my 1 1/2 year old) he let's me know when it's morning so I didn't really think it would be a big deal especially since I planned on getting some help from Mrs. Crocker- Gasp! I know save the drama- how dare I, right! But a batch from scratch would have been out of the question- I needed something quick, really simple and easy- I thought! Kids don't care even mine just want mile-high frosting and tons of sprinkles anyway. The supermom thing just wasn't in my favor this morning- besides a little backsliding every now and then never hurt nobody. I'll get back on my homemade game next week.

So, I get the devil's food cake box 'cause chocolate is his favorite, and all the recommended ingredients, but of course I have to add in my own substitutes, usually I like to omit the water and add buttermilk (sour cream or yogurt) are also great substitutes for water if you are using the box legends. While I was prepping I was also tending to my 1 1/2 year old who was busy in his high chair eating his favorite food- cheerios. I was also preparing EJ's lunch, getting his breakfast, Apple Jacks-usually the cereal of choice, and unloading the dishwasher- whew I had a lot to do and needed to get it all done and have this giant-sized cupcake in the oven by 7am. I wasn't sure how long it would take so I gave myself about an hour before I had to take EJ to school.

I added the buttermilk, four eggs instead of three, 1/3 vegetable oil and 1 1/2 cups of water- WATER? What- I wasn't supposed to add the water because I added the buttermilk- Oh no, what am I going to do? The batter looks and moves more like chocolate pancake batter rather than cupcake batter. I mildly panic, and just stood there momentarily in a state of disbelief trying to retrack my steps and figure out how I goofed! I added, the buttermilk, the eggs, the oil AND WATER- I just had too many things going on usually I can multi-task no problem, but this morning wasn't going so well. I thought I should just dump the whole thing out and start over, but what about the four eggs, the cup of buttermilk and the oil- what a waste that would be. So, I turned to google for answers- NOTHING! Yikes! I stood there starring over my chocolate syrup a little longer and thought- CAKE FLOUR Eureka!! I'll sift some cake flour about 1/2 cup and add it to the batter to thicken. So, I did. I rebeat it and it seemed like it was okay. It looked the part, tasted the part...hmmm...poured it in the pan, popped it in the oven. Not really sure how long it's going to take, but I have to be out of here by 8am and it's now 7:39- I better hurry, I say c'mon EJ let's get dressed, nope he's not even dressed yet- this is so not good. Gotta run I'll get back to you later......

To be continued

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Saturday, September 5, 2009

August cupcake of the month


Chocolate Mocha Chip cupcakesYield: 24 cupcakes


1 cup all-purpose flour1 cup cake flour3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder1 tblspoon baking soda1/2 spoon slat1 1/2 stick unsalted butter (make sure it's room temperature)1 1/2 cup sugar1 tsp pure vanilla extract3 large egs1 1/2 cup buttermilk (room temperature)1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in cupcake pan.

2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

3. In a large bowl beat butter until creamy (2-3 minutes) with an electric mixer. Add sugar
gradually, beating until light and fluffy, abou 3 minutes scraping the bowl down a few times. Beat in Vanilla extract and eggs in one at a time TIP- separate eggs-just in case one is spoiled don't want to spoil the whole bunch. Continue scraping bowl after each egg is absorbed. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk. Should begin and end with the flour mixture TIP- slow mixer down to low-medium speed when adding ingredients so that you don't become a flour puff. Mix until smooth.

4. Fold chocolate morsels into cupcake batter.

5. Using a icecream scooper divide the batter into cupcake wells, approximately 2/3 full. TIP -pick up pan and gently drop on counter to remove any air bubbles in batter before baking.

6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs.

7. Allow cupcakes to cool on rack for 5 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cupcakes Gone Fishin'

This past week my family and I headed up north to Massachusetts for an almost Labor Day retreat (since technically the holiday isn't until Monday), we hopped on the ferry to the vineyard for some real R&R. If you've ever been to Martha's Vineyard you know exactly what its all about. It's quaint, cozy and charming. Everyone is on "soon come" time, the ultimate chill out spot. There's biking, boating, beach bumming or just hanging on circuit avenue. It's al--most perfect. Just one little thing missing CUPCAKES!!! Where are the cupcakeries on this God forsaken island?????? Shame on me, I just assumed the whole country had gone cupcake crazy. Apparently not! I couldn't find a Magnolia's or Crumbs anywhere. Needless to say, I was seriously jonesin', craving, longing, yearning- anyone of those nouns would be an appropriate description. You know when you want something really really badly and you can't get it--you want it even more. Right? Well, HELLO-that was me! I searched high and low from Oak Bluffs to Chilmark-NAA--DAA! ZILCH!! NOTHING!! Now, of course there was your average old-fashioned bakery--not the same though. I wanted cupcakes with adult fanfare- call me spoiled. Perhaps? While I came up short with my fix, I continued to obsess like a junkie, so I thought I would try a substitute. I'll bake some Nestle chocolate chip cookies (the new batch post the E. coli scare), I convinced myself that it would do the trick- Negative! Wasn't it. Maybe some cake- Nope! Didn't work either. I tried everything to turn my errrrrr's into ahhhhh's! I had one last idea...GO HOME!!!!

Four long days later, we returned home to my quaint, cozy, charming bite size treat. First stop-the nearest cupcake shop, please. This was definitely a food(cupcake) for thought trip next time I'll remember to bring my own batch!!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Sweet Summers End

Perhaps you have seen my "Cupcake of the Week" feature on essence.com. It just launched last Thursday and I'm very excited about it. Well now that I have this weekly cupcake business I have new responsibilities, tasks and deadlines. It's all very sweet-though, no pun intended. As you know Labor Day is quickly approaching- the last hurrah of the summer, so I had this idea of doing watermelon cupcakes for my next feature. Part of my responsibility is to come up with a new recipe every week, actually that's my only responsibility for this position. Anyway, back to the cupcakes. I wanted to use fresh watermelon puree in my batter. I had never done this before, but I thought this was a special occasion and so apropos for the holiday. In the past I've used other fruits and vegetables in cupcakes so I figured I had a good idea about how it should go down. So, I gave it a try. And all I can say is DELISH!!

First, I bought a whole watermelon sliced it in quarters ate about half of it while cutting it up (laugh), but I did reserve enough for the cupcakes of course. I pureed my juicy reddish-pinkish fruit in a blender until it was good enough to enjoy as a watermelon smoothie. I added the liquid to my batter tasted it, (even though you should never eat raw batter) I had to know if it was watermelony enough (don't think that's a word). So here it goes...tasting...
Yuuu-mmmm-yyy! I bake them for 20-25 minutes until they're spongy and the toothpick inserted comes out clean then I take the cupcakes out of the oven, let cool. The color is perfect! The best shade of fresh watermelon straight from the farm. I say to myself, this looks good! Should I frost them? What hue of food coloring should I use? Moss green or Christmas red? Do I want to match the skin of the watermelon with the dark to light green vein like lines or do I want to resemble more of the interior of the rosey seedless ready to eat appeal? Hmmm decisions. Sometimes I like it bare, but then again sometimes with frosting on top, pretty please is my fancy. Can you relate?

I can't wait to taste my perfectly colored watermelon treat straight out of the oven (more like after 10 minutes of cooling) but still slightly warm-love that! Once I bite into it, immediately, I decide frosting- no way!! So I leave them plain. They looked like perfectly ripe miniature watermelons in cupcake liners. Couldn't beat the aesthetics. Besides cupcakes these days come swirled and sprinkled, piped and topped or not! I'm just having it my way that's all! Isn't that my prerogative? So, if you want to see the finished product check out the recipe this Thursday on essence.com/recipes. P.S. my stepdaughter took the photo, maybe the next Annie Leibowitz (smile). Have a Happy Labor Day!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze
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