Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CUPCAKES!




All 6 of my family members birthdays fall in the summer months - 2 June, 2 July & 2 August (not to mention many, many more siblings, in-laws, nieces & nephews!). So we always seem to eat a lot of cakes, cupcakes, ice cream cakes, etc. all summer long. This year, my husband turned 40 and I had a little party for him. My husband loves cupcakes!

Lucky for me, the party took place AFTER my daughter and niece took a Cupcake Wars Camp, after I got the fabulous May 2011 Real Simple Magazine, featuring "The Only Cake Story You'll Ever Need," AND after my sister Kate gave me a great cookbook, FLOUR. With a combination of these great items, I made a variety of cupcakes I was really thrilled with!

For the party, I made 4 batches of cupcakes - 2 yellow, 2 chocolate. I topped one batch of yellow with chocolate ganache frosting and one with lemon frosting; topped (and filled) 1 batch of chocolate with marshmallow cream frosting (and filling) and 1 batch with chocolate ganache frosting. The recipes are as follows.

Chocolate Cupcakes & Yellow Cupcakes Recipes came from Real Simple Magazine, along with the Lemon Frosting (Vanilla Frosting with the Lemon variartion). The magazine also has adorable ideas for decorating them - check it out!

The marshmallow cream frosting (from Marthastewart.com) could not be easier: Mix 7.5 oz jar of marshmallow fluff with 1 stick of butter until fluffy. Make an opening in the cupcake with melon baller or apple corer and fill with marshmallow frosting (from a pastry bag). Place cupcake back on top and top with marshmallow frosting. Could also do a layer of ganache over the top of the cupcake.

The Chocolate Ganache Frosting from Flour is fantastic: Put 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a mixture of dark and semisweet) in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, scald 1 c. heavy cream over med-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edges, but the cream is not boiling). Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute, then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until completely cool. (Or, referigerate the ganache until cool, about 30 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes.)
Beat 1 c unsalted butter (at room temperature) on med-low speed for 10-15 seconds, or until smooth. Add 1 c. confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and continue to beat on med-low speed for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy and smooth. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to release any clinging butter or sugar. On med. speed, add the cooled ganache and beat for about 2 minutes or until completely combined. Turn up the mixer speed to med-high and beat for about 1 minute or until the frosting lightens in color and thickens. You should have about 4 cups. (Use the frosting the day you make it, or cover and store in refrigerator for up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature and paddle again for a few minutes until smooth before using.)

I topped the lemon cupcakes with lemon zest, the others with colored ball sprinkles in the party theme colors and all of them had little cupcake toppers on sticks made from scrapbook papers in party colors, cupcake stickers and some with cute pictures of my husband throughout the years.
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