A Girl ThingPosted: May 26, 2010
If there’s one sweet treat that most girls can’t resist, it’s cupcakes. I don’t know what it is about them but all my friends coo at the sight of a pretty cupcake and two seconds later, they’re devouring them. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re mini cakes and a decorated cupcake is really pretty.
There’s been a cupcake boom over the past few years and I’ve sort of jumped onboard the Crazy Cupcake Train myself. I’m a little fussy about them, though. I think that they shouldn’t be too sweet, especially the frosting. I like the cakes to be really moist and fluffy. I think the aroma of a plain vanilla cupcake is important so I don’t like it when cheap butter is used because it doesn’t smell too great. Likewise the vanilla extract.
I’ve tried numerous cupcake stores back in Malaysia and most of them have been pretty horrible. We’re talking disgustingly dry cakes, overly sweet and grainy icing. I really hate when people don’t sieve their icing sugar. I can taste the granules and it’s so unpleasant. And some deck on the icing so high that you can’t really take a bite without smearing your face with icing. To be honest, I’m one of those girls who scrapes most (if not all) the icing off and just have the cake. And if it’s terrible, I don’t finish it.
I’ve made some bad cupcakes myself. Some were too dense, some were too sweet, some weren’t fluffy enough, and the list goes on. And I’ve made way too many overly sweet icing that would knock you over with the intense sweetness taking over your mouth and dominating any other flavour. Horrible!
I don’t think I could call my cupcakes perfect, but I do tend to prefer my own cupcakes to any others I’ve bought. I have to say that My Little Cupcake in Melbourne makes pretty decent cupcakes, though. My tastebuds are just a little more sensitive to sugar. I like to lighten up on sugar when I make desserts, so I tend to find most cupcakes available too sweet for my liking. I have friends who would disagree with me, but it’s a matter of preference.
I had two friends visiting from Perth last week, and a few more friends in Perth whom always leave the loveliest compliments on pictures of my food on Facebook (where I have an embarrassing amount of photos of my food). They’ve never had any of my desserts before and I thought it was time to pass them some cupcakes, especially because it’s been years of friendship and no goodies from me.
I didn’t really have much time to make the cupcakes. In fact, I went grocery shopping at about 11.30 p.m. when the supermarket closes at midnight! It takes about 15 minutes to whip up one batch of cupcakes (excluding baking time) so it wasn’t really a chore or hard work. I wasn’t sure what cupcakes they would like so I whipped up two flavours, the safest choices in the world: vanilla and chocolate.
However, plain ol’ vanilla and chocolate might be a little boring so I decided that a lemon buttercream would be lovely with the vanilla, and I’d put dark chocolate chips in the chocolate cupcake batter, and topped it with a milk chocolate ganache.
It’s no secret that I love me some French buttercream and so I used it again here. This is honestly the best buttercream to consume. It’s amazingly light and fluffy and it tastes really rich. If you’re going to go for buttercream, you may as well go decadent with it. I added the juice and zest of an entire lemon and the acidity brought the flavour to a whole new level. Even though I usually don’t enjoy cupcakes with icing on them, I happily nibbled away on a few of these babies.
Me + citrusy desserts = true love.
As for the ganache, I was initially a little worried because it turned out a little runny and even after half an hour in the fridge, it wasn’t hardening up to the texture I preferred. I think it’s the fact that it’s milk chocolate (I usually make dark chocolate ganache) and the lower percentage of cocoa butter affected the texture a little. It turned out okay in the end, though.
Piping out icing is one of my favourite things about making cupcakes. I know most people hate it, and I did too at one point then I started playing around with icing tips and different buttercreams and it’s actually fun when you’ve got the right consistency of icing to pipe and know which tips to use.
It’s no secret my favourite medium for decorating cakes is actually fondant. Unfortunately for me, when I set out to make these cupcakes, the store that specialises in cake decorating equipment was closed when I got there. So this is actually supermarket fondant and… liquid colouring. Liquid colouring is a total mess with fondant. You’re not meant to add any water to fondant because it becomes sticky and hard to work with and the painful thing about liquid colouring is I needed a LOT to get it to even hit this shade of pink. Thankfully it’s been pretty cold these days, combined with the dryness of winter, the fondant held up okay.
On top of the whole issue with the liquid colouring, I also didn’t have most of my fondant cutters on hand. I had a tin of gradual round cutters, and a set of gradual flower cutters. I saw the round cutters and thought, “Easy, I’ll get buttons of this!” but I was a little worried about the flower cutters. Why? It was just the outline of a flower so I would have to divide the petals up myself and I’m not the most consistent person when it comes to decorating work.
I winged it anyway and used some leftover lemon buttercream tinted blue to make the stitching on the buttons, and whipped up a really small batch of royal icing to fill up the centers of the flowers. As you can see, it was a bit of a botched job because the consistency of the royal icing was a little off and I kept getting little peaks every time I tried to pipe a dot so I decided to just flood it in (but I still had a small issue with peaks!).
I found these adorable Chinese takeaway boxes at the Asian grocer and they fit a single cupcake perfectly. It held the cupcake in place so it didn’t mess up the frosting and it was easy to handle (as it was traveling by air to the girls).
Thankfully, the girls loved them!