Saturday, December 13, 2008

Candy Cane Cupcakes

I feel like I've been making cookies all week, so I decided to take it easy today and make some cupcakes.

Here they are; candy cane cupcakes!
I'm not going to post the recipe because these were really simple. I took a vanilla cupcake recipe (makes 36 cupcakes) and crushed about a dozen candy canes and added it to the batter along with 1/2 tsp peppermint flavouring. I crushed the candy canes by putting them in a ziplock bag and hammering them with the bottom of a wine bottle for about three minutes before deciding that the food processor would be easier (which it was!).

The frosting is a plain, white buttercream with peppermint extract instead of vanilla. To get the red and green swirls, I 'striped' a disposable icing bag. Just use a small paint brush to paint a stripe of icing colours up the inside of the bag. I did one green stripe and one red stripe opposite the green. The only downside to using this method is that you have to use a new bag every time you need to refill. The last touch was to use cupcake cups with candy cane coloured stripes. They're made by Wilton.

Here's a picture of the inside of the cupcakes. The candy canes melted while the cupcake baked, leaving little flecks of colour and a mild minty flavor.

I think the trick with these is to make sure the mint is present but not overpowering. I think I managed a pretty good balance with a mildly minty cake and a stronger flavour (but not toothpaste strong!) in the frosting.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Two Types of Christmas Cupcakes + Recipes

Two Types of Christmas Cupcakes + RecipesChristmas baking is my favorite kind of baking.
I have a whole list of things I plan to make this year and all kinds of pretty boxes and cellophane to package it and give home baked gifts to friends.

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to wrack my brain for a way to include cupcakes in my holiday baking, given their relatively short shelf life compared to something like cookies which can be frozen and thawed as needed. I generally don't like to serve cupcakes past their second day.

So, in the end I decided to make cupcakes all month before Christmas and distribute wherever I see the opportunity, and save the traditional baking for the week before Christmas. I came up with three types of cupcakes that I want to make this Christmas, two of which I made yesteday.
BF has a "Christmas Dive" today, where he and his scuba diving buddies are actually decorating a tree underwater. And what is a Christmas party without cupcakes?
I decided to go with contrasting flavours; one light and airy, and one dense and rich. I made gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and eggnog cupcakes with eggnog and orange buttercream.

Wait, eggnog and orange?

I was amazed to discover that these two flavours combine so naturally and deliciously, like a spicy creamsicle. I was doing some Christmas shopping yesterday and stopped for a smoothie break and the holiday flavour they were serving was eggnog and mandarin. I was a bit apprehensive (I automatically thought it would be curdle-y) but decided to give it a shot and was instantly in love with this combo.

In keeping with the light and airy theme, I used blue snowflake cups and sprinkled the cupcakes with a little icing sugar to represent snow. I think they turned out beautiful and were incredibly fluffy.

For the gingerbread, I had wanted to use a whipped cream frosting, but since it would be about 5 hours between when they left the house and when they would be eaten, and BF wasn't sure he would be able to refrigerate them, I went with cream cheese frosting instead. Whipped cream shouldn't be left to sit out more than 1.5 hours max.

You can't see from this picture, but they're packed in adorable cupcake cups with gingerbread men on them (they're Wilton, but they're not on the site, so I can't link to them). I also found tiny gingerbread man shaped sprinkles at my local bulk food store.

BF brought both flavours to work yesterday as well. He said that people immediately went for the bright eggnog cupcakes, but that the people who were 'stuck' with the gingerbread ones ended up being really impressed by them. Despite their modest appearance, they are truly rich and delicious.

I expect I will end up making more of these before Christmas (I've already gone through two batches of the eggnog ones!), and I plan to make some candy cane cupcakes as well. I'll post pics and a recipe when I do!

On to the recipes! The eggnog cupcake recipe is adapted from the vanilla cupcake recipe I've cited many times. The gingerbread recipe is adapted from a recipe from

Recipe: Eggnog Cupcakes with Eggnog and Orange Buttercream Frosting

Makes about 3 dozen


1 cup butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs separated (room temperature)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups eggnog

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp orange extract
6 Tbsp eggnog
Orange icing colouring (just a tiny bit!)
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line muffin tins.

In a large bowl, cream together first portion of butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 4 or 5 minutes). Add two egg yolks and mix for an additional minute. Add remaining egg yolks and mix for an additional minute.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Alternate between adding dry ingredients the eggnog to the butter mixture, a little bit at a time.

In small bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, add about 1/2 cup of the egg whites to the mixture and fold in gently, to separate and lighten the batter. Add remaining egg whites and fold in gently until no white streaks are present.

Fill cupcake tins half full and bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a wire wrack. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

For the frosting, mix remaining butter and the shortening in a medium bowl until light and fluffy (about three minutes). Add orange extract and mix until combined. Add icing sugar a little at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Once all of the icing sugar has been mixed in, add eggnog 1 Tbsp at a time until icing has reached desired consistency. Mix in a small amount of orange colouring to acheive a colour that will contrast with the white icing sugar dust, but is not too dark.

Frost cupcakes using a 1M tip to make a swirl and dust with icing sugar by placing a few tablespoons of icing sugar in a small strainer and gently tapping the side.

Recipe: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes


1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease or line muffin pan.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg for an additional minute, and mix in the molasses.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a wire wrack. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about three minutes. Add vanilla and mix. Add icing sugar and blend until consistency is uniform.

Frost cupcakes by piping a swirl with Wilton tip #2A. Garnish with sprinkles.