Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Picks for UFC 100. In Cupcake Form of Course!

Is anyone else excited for UFC 100?? I have been anticipating the rematch between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir for months and months and months!!!

BF is rooting for Mir. I'm a diehard Lesnar fanatic. So I decided this time to let the cupcakes do the talking!! As always, just click on the picture for a closer look.

They turned out awesome, but it was a long time getting here. First I made a batch of Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes, using the recipe from the book Crazy About Cupcakes.

They were by far the worst cupcakes I've ever made. I was so disappointed. Usually the recipes in this book are really good, but this one was the exception I guess. While I was mixing the batter I fell in love. There were so many fabulous ingredients, like cocoa, raspberries, sour cream and toasted almonds. The batter was so soft and luxurious, I had never made anything like it.

Into the oven they went and when they came out, they had hardly risen at all. As they cooled, the centers sunk into the middles of the cupcakes and the cupcakes pulled away from the liners. The taste was awful. They were gritty, and tasted like unsweetened cocoa despite the 1 1/2 cups of sugar in them. I was so sad. I almost gave up.

Then BF brought me a brand new stick of butter, a bag of sugar and a carton of eggs, gave me a kiss and asked me to try again. I found a jar of cherries in the fridge and made a batch of my tried and true cherry cupcakes. Perfect. I topped them with swirls of chocolate buttercream and popped my fondant decorations on top.

I'm especially pleased with how my fondant rendition of Mir turned out. This was the first time I've ever made a face out of fondant, I'm more of a flower person to be sure. Here he is in real life and in beaten up fondant form:
I cut out all of the pieces (except the letters) freehand. I was a little stumped with how to make his hair look textured, and ended up using the rough edges that occur naturally when you roll out the fondant. I think they turned out great.

BF was very unhappy with this cupcake.

So we've got cupcakes and I made a batch of pulled pork for sandwiches for the party tonight.

Lesnar, GSP, Henderson, don't let me down!!!

Post Fight Thoughts: Hey, all three of my guys won! Maybe my cupcakes are lucky? Now if only the Atlantic Lotto Commission would extend their sports betting to include the UFC, lol.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes! With Recipes!

Oh, these were too much fun to make!!

I know I'm a couple weeks late, but these were actually Father's Day cupcakes, I just wasn't able to get together with my dad on the actual holiday (his work sent him to Australia, how awesome is that?). My Dad has a definite silly side, so I thought he would appreciate some cupcakes in disguise. When I saw this idea for spaghetti and meatball cupcakes in the book Hello, Cupcake! I knew it would be perfect!

They really look like spaghetti, don't they?

I loved the concept of these cupcakes, but the actual recipe in the book includes more premade ingredients than I am comfortable using in my baking, so I made everything (except for the meatballs!) from scratch. I made peach cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, strawberry sauce and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. If you've never had a Ferrero Rocher, I have to say they are probably my favorite chocolate that you can buy at the drugstore. Starting from the center and working out, they consist of a hazelnut in the core, surrounded by chocolate hazelnut cream, a thin chocolate wafer shell, and a chocolate and crushed hazelnut coating on the outside. Just the perfect combination of crunchy and smooth. So decadent! Their size, colour and outer texture make them perfect fake meatballs.

Here are my recipes and the assembly instructions.

Recipe: Peach Cupcakes

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes


  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large can of peach slices
Drain peaches. Cut slices in half lengthwise and then into small pieces crosswise until you have 1 1/2 cups of peach pieces. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for a full minute after each addition. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to the cream mixture, alternating with the milk and mixing after each addition. Mix for an additional two minutes after all the dry ingredients and milk have been added so that the batter is nice and fluffy. Gently fold in peaches.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes until cupcakes test done with a toothpick. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Recipe: Vanilla Buttercream frosting (Spaghetti colour)

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp milk
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa
  • small amount of yellow icing colour (only use a tiny bit, we want the frosting to be more of an off-white than a bright yellow)
Beat butter and shortening together for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix. Add icing sugar about 1 cup at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Add cocoa and icing colour and mix until colour is uniform. Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time until the frosting reaches the proper consistency.

Recipe: Strawberry sauce


  • 1 pint of fresh strawberries, halved
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water
Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened somewhat.

Allow the sauce to cool and then puree in a blender or food processor. Return the sauce to the saucepan and return to a gentle boil. Combine cornstarch and remaining water in a separate bowl. Slowly pour into the strawberry mixture, stirring the sauce as you pour. Continue to cook the sauce for another minute or two until it has thickened. Allow to cool completely before using it on the cupcakes.

Now, time to put it all together! (this is the easy part)

Recipe: Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

  • 24 cupcakes
  • 1 batch of vanilla buttercream frosting, spaghetti colour
  • 1 batch of strawberry sauce
  • 24 Ferrero Rocher chocolates
  • 1/2 ounce white chocolate, finely grated
Using a spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake. Arrange cupcakes in a rectangle on the dish you want to serve them on.

Place remaining frosting in an icing bag with a #5 tip (alternately you can just cut 1/8" off of the tip of a disposable bag. I don't use this method because I find it puts a seam in the icing from the seam in the bag).

Squeeze out the icing on to the cupcakes sort of randomly, making sure to cover all of the areas (including the gaps between the cupcakes), so that there is spaghetti icing mounded on top of each cupcake and draping down the sides a little bit.

Coat each chocolate with strawberry sauce. The thinner the coat of sauce, the better because it allows you to see the texture of the meatball better. Set aside.

Take the remaining sauce and gently spoon it onto each cupcake, making sure not to deform the 'noodles'. Again, a thinner coat is better. I recommend putting a little bit of sauce in the center of each cupcake and gently working it over to connect to the other cupcakes using the back of a spoon, adding more sauce where required.

Place a chocolate in the center of each cupcake and sprinkle some of the white chocolate on top of each cupcake. You're all done!

Here are a dozen packed in a foil tray ready to be taken to my Dad's house.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

New Bento Book! And my bento lunches are in it!!!

I'm too excited!!

The photos and recipes for some of my bento lunches have been included in this brand new book called 501 Bento Box Lunches. I've known about it for a while, but I was waiting until I actually had the book in my hand before I was ready to tell everyone.

When I first sent my photos and recipes to the publisher (twenty of which have been included in the book) and she told me she was compiling a collection of 500, I couldn't even begin to imagine the work that would go into organizing all of that information. But somehow, she pulled it off! There are pages and pages of recipes, and pictures of each and every bento lunch. It's all compacted into a neat little package. Like many of the bento boxes I've ordered online, the book was smaller than I expected but it's exactly the size it needs to be to include all of the information.

If you want to check it out, I've included links to some sample pages below (with the publisher's permission of course). I've also included it in the list of my favorite bento cookbooks in the left column of this blog so that you can link to its listing on Amazon.

I love this book and I'm not just saying that because I'm affiliated. I think it is an amazing source of inspiration and I can only turn a few pages before I see something new I want to try. I don't think it's a great beginner book, as it doesn't cover off a lot of the basics of bento making (like how to make onigiri, ratios of rice to meat to veg content, speed tips, etc.) but if you ever need a place to go for new ideas, this book is the best one I've seen.

Here are the links to the sample pages:

Pages 18 - 19
Pages 80 - 81
Pages 94 -95
Pages 126 to 127