Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter cupcakes!

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to decorate Easter cupcakes with my friend and her adorable 2 year old daughter : ) It was fantastic having a little helper in the kitchen! I can't wait for my baby girl to be old enough to be my little sous chef hehe We had an array of Easter candy to choose from including jelly beans and the infamous marshmallow Peep. Here is a picture of the fantastic job she did decorating her cupcakes- boy, did she like those jelly beans! haha

Anybody that bakes has a stand by cupcake recipe that they use when they set about the task. I like to try out different recipes though. I have a cupcake recipe that is always great, but I am searching for one that is fantastic. These were a yellow buttermilk cupcake- not bad, but not great. The batch was way too large than I could ever possibly handle on my own and the cake wasn't as moist as I like them. Still perfectly edible and good eats though. However, since I was not impressed I will not be sharing the recipe with you. What did impress me was the frosting. It was just so incredibly silky and smooth. THAT I would like to share with you. Usually when I make frostings I make a ganache, chocolate buttercream, or the always amazing cream cheese frosting. I usually steer clear of the ordinary vanilla buttercream that is made so simply with butter, confectionary sugar and vanilla extract. It is just too reminiscent of the canned frosting for me. This cupcake recipe suggested a swiss meringue buttercream, so I thought "why not make the attempt?". To familiarize those of you that don't know, a swiss meringue buttercream is made by first dissolving granulated sugar in egg whites over simmering water and then beating them to stiff peaks, followed by the gradual addition of butter. Sounds fancy and labor intensive, right? I always thought so too and that's why I have stayed away from such a task. But since I have been going into uncharted territory in the baking arena lately, I went for it. Honestly, it wasn't as hard or long of a process as it seems and the results are so worth the little extra work. This frosting is nothing like an ordinary buttercream! It reminded me of the buttercream that was on our wedding cake. I assume that this was the technique the pastry chef must have used. At the time I wondered how she managed the consistency. I thought maybe it was whipped heavy cream, that's how light it was. That is really the best way to describe it- light. So delicate and velvety smooth. I am a big fan and am happy to say I now have 4 stand by frosting recipes for my cakes. I am still searching for that drop dead cupcake recipe though!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
yield: 5 cups

5 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tb granulated sugar
pinch of salt
4 sticks (1 lb) butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.) Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

2.) Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

3.) With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

*Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes*

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