Thursday, July 28, 2011

Having my cake, and eating it too!

I’m just going to come out and say it: I made my own birthday (cup)cake.  It wasn’t for lack of offers from other people, or because I didn’t think anyone could do it properly, but more because I saw it as my chance to make something that I really wanted to make.  It gave me the opportunity to go through all of the recipes that I have saved from magazines, other blogs and cookbooks, and pick out something that was really “me”. 
There were many contenders for this honor, but in the end I settled on Chocolate Kahlua Coffee Cupcakes, from Samiwich and Addiecakes.  These did not disappoint.  Soft, moist, rich chocolate cake, with a Kahlua glaze, and topped with coffee frosting.  The most notable change that I made was that I didn’t make a buttercream frosting, as the original recipe called for, but rather a coffee mascarpone frosting.  It’s much lighter and fluffier, and so so good (and I don’t like buttercream frosting).  However, this frosting is pretty temperature-sensitive, and I spent a good portion of my party stressing that the frosting would melt and look terrible.  I ended up keeping them in Tupperware in a cooler with ice packs until after everyone had eaten, so they would be okay.  It worked like a charm.  They looked fine, and were a total hit.
I tripled the recipe, since I was expecting about 25 or 30 people.  However, when I was taking one tray of them out of the oven, some combo of the tray burning me, and it getting caught under the cooling rack, and me spazzing out caused me to tip over a whole tray of fresh-out-of-the-oven cupcakes, flinging them out of the tray and onto the counter.  Behold the wreckage:
I managed to salvage 5 of the 12.  Since they were so hot, they were really fragile, so I’m impressed that I got that many back from the accident.  Anyway, back to the tripling….if you triple the number of cupcakes, don’t triple the frosting or the glaze.  I may not have used enough glaze, but I probably had at least ¾ of a cup of it left over.  I would say a single batch of that stuff is probably enough, maybe a double if you are really going to drench the cuppies.  As for the frosting, at most I would double that recipe.  I had a TON of that stuff leftover.  I would say just make a double batch, or maybe a 1.5 batch. 
One more quick note about these cupcakes: since you don’t cook the Kahlua, the alcohol doesn’t really burn off.  It’s a pretty small amount of alcohol in the entire recipe, so maybe this isn’t anything to worry about, but if you want to make these kid-friendly, just skip the glaze.  Or just make some other kind of cupcake for the kiddos.
My only complaint about these was that they weren’t pink.  I added some pink sparkling sugar to the tops (which then bled into the frosting by the time I served/photo’d them), and the liners I used were a really girly pink and green plaid, so that made me feel better. 

Chocolate Kahlua Coffee Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

6 Tbsp cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup milk, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature and lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup boiling water

1.    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F.
2.    Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
3.    Add butter, milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes
4.    Add boiling water and beat to combine. Batter will be thin (fp note: really thin.  So thin that I was worried it wouldn’t set up in the oven. But it did, so don’t worry!)
5.    Evenly divide the batter into each cupcake tin and bake for 18-20 minutes. (fp note: since the batter was so thin, I found it easiest to pour it into a large glass measuring cup that had a pour lip thingy.  A big pitcher would work too.)
6.    Let cool before assembly.

Kahlua Glaze
¼ cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp Kahlua

1.    Heat the glaze ingredients EXCEPT the Kahlua over low heat in a small saucepan.
2.    Continue to stir until sugar is dissolved
3.    When the sugar is fully dissolved, take the pan off the stove and stir in the Kahlua. Set aside.

Coffee Mascarpone Frosting
Source: Martha Stewart, with alterations by me

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tbsp instant espresso (or more or less, to taste)

1.    With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar and instant espresso until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.  I piped mine on with a big round tip.  It’s pretty soft frosting, so I wouldn’t use a really fancy tip, but I have done a star tip before and it worked just fine. 

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