Friday, January 26, 2007

The Cupcake Challenge

24 cupcakes are just too much for one gal to eat. Well, 24 of the same type of cupcakes anyways. So my co-workers got really lucky today when I brought in a whole bunch of Cappuccino Chip Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream.

When Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit and Vanilla Garlic issued a challenge to create a cupcake, I was trying to come up with some unique tastes. I was inspired by the Wattleseed Ice Cream I tried recently from Vosges Haute-Chocolate. I ordered some aboriginal wattleseed and went in search of a recipe I could use as a base and then modify with the wattleseed. It was a great opportunity to crack open Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor which I purchased from a school charity a few months ago. Anne Byrn, the author and self titled Cake Mix Doctor, specializes in using cake mixes as a base and making amazing cupcakes. Her secret is to add other ingredients such as pudding, yogurt, spices, fruits and nuts to give them a twist. It didn't work out for me though, I ran into problems though when I tried to customize it myself and use the wattleseed. I tried several things but realized that I should have bought the wattleseed extract instead of the grounds.

After messing around for an hour or two with no success, I was still determined to get some edible cupcakes! So I made the recipe I was going to customize just as it was originally written, straight out of the book. And they turned out great! I got a bunch of compliments on them and I learned a whole lot. I'm not much of a baker and this book offered lots of good tips on the art of cupcakes.

Cappuccino Chip Cupcakes
24 paper lines for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)
1/3 cup water
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips,
Mocha Buttercream Frosting
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or cracked roasted cocoa beans for garnish

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. 18 to 20 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wine rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare the Mocha Buttercream Frosting (see below).

Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or the back of the spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Garnish with the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips or roasted cracked cocoa beans. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup milk
1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee granules
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 ounces (1/2 bar) German's sweet chocolate, grated
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon water, if needed

Place the milk and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup. Plan in the microwave oven on high power until the milk is hot enough to dissolve the instant coffee, 30 to 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Place the butter in the large mixing bowl and add the coffee and grated chocolate. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture has softened, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners' sugar. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon water if the frosting seems too stiff.

Use to frost the cupcakes of your choice.


Anonymous said...

Yeah...this cupcake event??? I just HAD to stay outta that one. (it sorta helped being sick) Cupcakes.....ooooh I just love 'em so much, and the posts on 'em have been makin' me crazy! ME with NO appetite and all these cupcakes floatin' around.

SO not fair

Kate said...

uh...dunno what happened...but that post pretty much sucked my identity away


Kristen said...

I'm with Kate... I love cupcakes! They are my little vice.
Your cupcakes look amazing. Wish I was one of your coworkers!

sher said...

Well, I'm sure your co-workers are so grateful for this event!! They look fabulous!

Anonymous said...

This has fast become a fan favorite of my co-workers and friends. Thank you for posting it!