Friday, March 29, 2013

Lemon & Lavender Cupcakes

Sunday would have been my dear friend Natalie's 22nd birthday. She was the sunshiniest person I've ever known, so to honor her, I made the sunshiniest cupcakes I could find- Sweetapolita's La La Lavender Lemon Cloud Cupcakes.

It's funny to think about sunshiney weather and Easter (and my birthday) being this Sunday, since I'm currently sitting in front of a fire in the fireplace at my parents' house about to play Assassins Creed 3 with my dad, because I have a snow day.

These cupcakes really are delightful. I usually use words like "awesome" and "insane" but I think delightful works very well. The cupcakes are light, the lemon curd is tangy, and the lavender buttercream is unique and the perfect complement to the other flavors.

It's funny that when I was making these pretty,
sunny cupcakes on a Snow Day :)
***NOTE: read the Lavender Buttercream directions FIRST! I always really sucked at reading the directions ahead of time, and it tends to bite me in the butt when it comes to baking.
Sidenote: Did anyone else ever have a teacher in elementary school give you an exercise with, like, 16 directions, and the very last one said "don't do any of the above directions"? I think it was in second grade for me, my teacher gave us that activity and I think the directions included getting up and writing your name on the chalkboard. I don't remember how many kids actually read the full directions, but I was NOT one of them. Oooops!

Lemon & Lavender Cupcakes
Yield: ~18 cupcakes
Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes
Buttermilk- 1 c, room temp
Eggs- 2 whole, 1 yolk, at room temp
Vanilla extract- 1/4 tsp
Cake flour- 2 c, sifted
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 stick), room temp
Lemon zest of 2 medium-large lemons
1. In a small bowl, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 c of buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside.
2. Sift the cake flour 3 times into the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attachment). Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and combine on low speed for 30 seconds.
3. Add the butter and blend on low speed for 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 c of buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
4. Scrape sides of the bowl and add egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches. Beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest.
5. Bake at 350 in lined muffin pans for ~15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Lavender Buttercream Frosting
Whipping cream or whole milk- 3 tbsp
Culinary lavender- 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter- 1 1/2 c (3 sticks), softened and cubed
Powdered sugar- 3 1/2 c, sifted
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Pinch of salt
1. THE NIGHT BEFORE you want to make the cupcakes, stir the whipping cream and lavender in a small bowl or glass. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight, or at least for several hours.
2. (The next morning/day) Strain the lavender cream into a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed until it becomes very pale and creamy.
4. Add lavender cream to the butter and beat. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and salt and beat well.
5. Swap out the paddle for the whisk attachment, and beat frosting for a minute to make it fluffy.

Lemon Curd (my favorite recipe)
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 stick), cut into cubes
Granulated sugar- 1/2 c
Lemon juice- 1/2 c
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
Egg yolks- 5

1. Add 1/4 c butter, 1/4 c of the sugarlemon zest and lemon juice to a wide saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
2. In a large, heat-safe bowl, combine the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar. Slowly add the heated mixture to egg yolks, whisking continuously.
3. When fully combined, return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook until the whisk leaves a trail in the curd. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 c of butter until it's melted and smooth.
4. Remove from heat and strain into a dish. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Irish Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day! A couple days late.
I have the perfect recipe for you to use up any leftover booze you've got- cupcakes! I'm resisting calling them "Irish Car Bomb cupcakes" because that name is not considered okay in Ireland, and I love me some United Kingdom :)
So, instead, these are St. Paddy's Day cupcakes. Guinness cupcakes with Irish Cream frosting, stuffed with Guinness truffles. Yum.
The cupcakes themselves come from Red Shallot Kitchen, the truffles from Sprinkle Bakes. The truffles are great by themselves, but they're fantastic in the cupcakes!

St. Paddy's Day Cupcakes
Yield: ~24 cupcakes
Bailey's Cupcakes
Guinness Beer- 1 c
Unsalted butter- 1 c (2 sticks)
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 3/4 c
All-purpose flour- 2 c
Sugar- 2 c
Baking soda- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- 3/4 tsp
2 large eggs
Sour cream- 2/3 c
1. Bring Guinness and butter to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sour cream. Add Guinness mixture, and continue beating until just combined. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed. Use spatula to fold until completely combined.
4. Divide batter among 2 cupcake tins with liners, filling them 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for ~17 minutes (rotate halfway through). Cool completely.

Irish Cream Frosting
Notes: 1) I used St. Brendan's instead of Bailey's, but either would be fine. 2) I made 1 1/2 times the recipe; the changes are reflected below in parentheses.
Unsalted butter- 2 sticks (3)
Powdered sugar- 4-5 c (5-6)
Irish cream- 6-7 tbsp (8-9, depending on desired consistency)
1. Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attached), until it's light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add the powdered sugar (1/2 cup at a time). Drizzle in the irish cream and beat until combined.
3. Switch to whisk attachment and beat for 1-2 minutes, until the volume has increased slightly and the frosting is fluffy.

Guinness Chocolate Truffles (make the night before)
Guinness- 12 oz bottle
Semisweet chocolate- 8 oz
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c, room temp (1 stick)
Pretzel rods- 1 1/2 c
1. Pulverize 3/4 c of the pretzel rods in a food processor until very fine. Crush the other 3/4 c, but not as finely as the first chunk.
2. Place 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp. Guinness in a medium saucepan. Set aside.
3. Pour remaining Guinness in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to 1 tbsp, about 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on this because once it's reduced it burns quickly.
4. Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in the medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and let stand until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir (gently) with a wire whisk to blend together.
5. When the chocolate is melted and smooth, begin to add butter 1 tbsp. at a time. Whisk gently, then add the 1 tbsp. Guinness reduction. Stir in pulverized pretzels.
6. Refrigerate mixture until firm (or overnight).
7. When the mixture is firm, line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Scoop out ganache by heaping tablespoon and quickly roll between your hands. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
(Stop at this step if only using for the cupcakes)
8. When ready to serve, roll the truffles in the crushed pretzels.

These cupcakes were a bit crumbly when I made them, so scooping out the middle was difficult- be careful! Scoop out the middle (save the tops!) and stick a truffle in. Replace with the tops, and pipe with frosting.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Richmond Tea Rooms

*Where in the world is Kelly's Konfections?* (a la Carmen San Diego)
I'm in ENGLAND! Visiting Cat :) She says hello!!
Today, we went to the Richmond Tea Rooms, which is basically EXACTLY what a tea room should be, in my opinion. Whimsical, fun, girly, and pink everywhere.
Courtesy of Richmond Tea Rooms
I'll post my pictures tomorrow, we've gotta get some sleep now. It's weird to be 5 hours ahead once again!
Courtesy of Richmond Tea Rooms
We had afternoon tea, which came with four pastries, four finger sandwiches, a scone and clotted cream (!!!) and a pot of tea. It was delightful!
If anyone knows of great tea rooms in the states (if they even exist?), please leave a comment below!!

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