Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How can one go wrong with cupcakes?

It won't be just an ordinary Wednesday Treat Day tomorrow for Jeff's co-workers... this week's treat is all about cupcakes!

Because it is not quite the best time for fresh strawberries in the market, I used a local batch of delicious strawberry jam for our first recipe - Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

The "shortcake" part of these cupcakes is a light and moist vanilla-scented cake. If you're feeling especially extravagant, I think the addition of a vanilla bean, instead of the extract, would add a sweet boost. There really isn't anything too unusual or tricky about the preparation of these - the only things I would note would be to allow the eggs and milk to be at room temperature so the batter is silky smooth and not curdled. I do have to say though, other times where recipes have called for this and I missed it, the resulting baked good turned out just fine.

The frosting for these is just a basic butter and confectioners' sugar frosting - however, be sure to add a pinch of salt (fine popcorn salt works well) to help cut the sweetness. This is where your jam comes into play - add enough to give the frosting that fresh hint of strawberries and a light pink hue... add tablespoon by tablespoon until you get the taste and consistency that you like. I think I went a little heavy with the jam and the frosting lost some of its smooth texture, but I decided to stay with flavor over looks! If you do find some especially tasty fresh strawberries, top each cupcake with a whole berry that has been fanned out.

If you're a big fan of those chocolate cupcakes with a creamy filling inside, you may wait on those strawberry cupcakes and give these Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling your attention.

While these cupcakes are a bit more fussy preparation wise, that extra work paid off in the texture department. While the above were light with a tighter crumb, these chocolate guys are a bit more tender, airy and almost spongy (in a good way though). The reason? Cake flour and taking the time to separate the eggs and beat the whites until they were stiff and glossy. Before adding the whites, the rich chocolate batter was thick and fairly dense - however, as soon as those whites were folded in, the batter flowed beautifully from a spoon. I do have a note on this process - be sure to just stir in a small portion from the whites into the batter to help lighten the base. This will make folding them together much easier and help not deflate all the air you put in the whites.

Once the chocolate-y cupcakes had baked and cooled, a fantastic filling is combined by beating together butter, confectioners' sugar and a secret ingredient... Marshmallow Fluff! We love that stuff (remember those Fluffer Nutter Bars?) - while I'm sure Marshmallow Creme would work fine, it just isn't the same to me! This mixture is placed into a pasty bag and then plunged into the bottom of each cupcake (hence why these have no cupcake liners!). A quick squeeze from the bag and they are filled! While you could fill them from the top, you will be frosting these with a shiny and decadent chocolate ganache, so you want to leave yourself a nice, smooth top. You could stop there, but I know I wouldn't be satisfied unless it had that classic squiggle on top! This simply comes from thinning a bit of the leftover filling with cream and pipping it out with a small plain tip. Sweet, without being too sugary or cloying, I'm afraid these might not even leave the house in the morning if Jeff has his way!


  1. Joe, I would head right to the chocolate ones. I'm a chocoholic. Looks so good.

  2. Those chocolate cupcakes are certainly a step up from Hostess. I'd take both! :)

  3. Can you really blame Jeff? Those chocolate ones look so good, loved seeing them open!

  4. Where do I apply for a position at Jeff's work?! Those strawberry shortcake cupcakes are on my immediate agenda.

  5. I'm guessing these were a raging success today. It would be so hard to choose! Though I would probably eat a chocolate one first - because of the magic ingredient, marshmallow fluff. In my world, that is a food group....


  6. Boy, did these every go fast! I was Most Popular Kid On The Block today :)

  7. Helene - you and me both!

    Sharon - I wish I had some left to offer!

    CC - Yeah... but still!

    Madeline - I hope you like them... I was surprised with how much we did!

    Quinn - they were!

  8. I never knew there was a difference in marshmallow creme and fluff!

  9. Anon - I think there is, but it is more of textural difference than taste.

  10. Ooh, decadent. They look fantastically yummy.

  11. Gorgeous! That chocolate cupcake has my mouth watering! Just beautiful!

  12. haha, the hostess cupcake looks absolutely adorable!

  13. I just finished making them and, of course, sampling one.

    I really enjoyed the textural difference between the cream filling and the cup cake.

    Also the use of bittersweet chocolate really keep it from being overly sweet.

    My only complaint was, compared to the original, they were a little bit more dry. I might try a Mayonnaise cake batter in hopes of getting that sticky kinda cake that I love so much.