November 24, 2011
Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I met several interesting people this week. This might be due to my living in the mall for three days and a day long visit to my old office. Ok, you got me; I didn’t actually sleep in the mall. But, I did spend an approximate total of 20 hours over the course of those three days lingering in the halls of a strange contrived world full of fluorescent lights. I forgot to add that I was with a nine month old. Lots of fun.
On to the stories these people shared with me. The first has to do with Mario. You know, Super Mario by Nintendo. The fellow that replaced me at my old office previously worked for the real Mario. Yes, Mario is named after a real, live, breathing person. And this person lives in Seattle, well just south of Seattle if you want to get technical. Mario Segale is a wealthy landowner and developer who rented out the warehouse where the first U.S. Nintendo Headquarters where located. At Nintendo they were in the process of developing a character originally coined as “Jump Man” and were in search of a better name. In entered Mario, a dynamic Italian man, to collect rent, and the rest is history, Super Mario it was. The full story here.
Two days later I met a German lady that fell in love with the nine month old I was hauling around. She lived during Nazi Germany. She tells the tale of how her sister, because she was born mentally disabled, was killed after being born. Her mom was told to come back to the hospital the next day to pick her up and upon her return the child had gone “missing.” It is unsure how many children where killed during the Nazi regime due to similar circumstances. She went on to tell me how later during her schooling in Bismarck post-WWII Hitler and the Nazi regime were never, ever mentioned. It was as if those years had never even occurred. I know I usually keep things lighthearted here, but this story was one I had to share.
And last but not least, there was the lady that was letting the bank repossess her home, and is going off with her husband on a 47 foot sailboat to sail around the world. Total time to take on such an endeavor? Five to seven years, though she did state that some of that is prep time. This, I am certain, is Jon’s dream. I might actually need to sign up for some of those sailing classes. We would need a third person, because otherwise you would only be able to sleep 4 hours at a time. Takers?
Ok, on to the goods I baked for you. I have been working on perfecting the swirls on my cupcakes for some time now. The problem isn’t so much the swirling but the consistency of the frosting itself. It can’t be too hard or too soft. The best method I know of to check if the consistency is just right is to make a swirl on a piece of parchment paper and see how it turns out. You want it to keep it its shape and make a perfect peak. If it’s too soft, add more powdered sugar. If it’s hard, add more milk.
To watch a video on how to master the cupcake swirl go here.
I purchased the cupcake kit from Bake it Pretty which I highly recommend.
Regarding the cake recipe, I have been in the search for perfectly moist white cupcakes. I loved this recipe, but I think I shall continuing looking. This recipe was developed by Deb from Smitten Kitchen. I halved the recipe and got 16 cupcakes out of the batch. The frosting comes from Glorious Treats. I love this frosting recipe once I got it down. The addition of the cream cheese makes it creamy and delicious and not so powdered sugary.
Enjoy! And have a wonderful, delicious Thanksgiving.
Cupcakes Recipe (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen):
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners into muffin pan.
Mix together in a medium bowl cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside. In an electric mixer beat sugar and butter together until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and almond extract and beat again until incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time and beat again until incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. Slowly poor in the buttermilk while the mixer is on a slow speed until just combined, it while resemble cottage cheese. Then add the flour mixture in several batches, mixing between each batch. Fill each cupcake with batter 2/3 of the way up. Place in the oven and cook for approx. 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure they are done.
Cream Cheese Frosting (from Glorious Treats):
½ cup (1 stick) butter (set at room temp for 10 minutes– should still be cool to the touch)
8 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 to 4 Tablespoons heavy cream, buttermilk, or milk (I usually just do 1 tablespoon)
Cream the butter and cream cheese together in an electric mixer. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix again. Mix in the powdered sugar in batches of one cup at a time. Then pour cream/milk for the desired consistency. Place in piping bag and swirl away!