Cupcakes With A Kick

Today I made…

Jalapeno Corn Cupcakes

with Cream Cheese Frosting!

I wanted to make Tristan a more savory cupcake, since he (despite my best efforts) is not a lover of all things sweet like me. I long for the days of popping open a fresh container of icing with him and digging into it with a huge spoon, but, alas, I know that day will never come. I will always have to enjoy this simple pleasure alone…

The recipe that I used (from Taste of Home) was very simple to make and produced fantastic cupcakes that blew Tristan and I out of the water (I must admit to feeling a bit smug since just this morning Tristan said he thought “user-submitted” recipes from home cooks would most-likely produce second-rate minicakes – since there is no one around to review and validate their quality)! I can definitely say that this is the first time that I’ve made a cupcake with olive oil, cornmeal, corn, and jalapenos.

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These cupcakes were not too dense, they had the perfect amount of moisture, and the corn and jalapeno pieces were delightful to bite into and taste. The cakes even rose (and retained their shape post-cooling) better than any cupcake I’ve made to date!

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The best part about this recipe is the amazing flavor. But, another unexpected benefit, it is that if you don’t add the icing you actually end up with one of the best cornbreads I’ve ever tasted – so much so that I plan on making these for Thanksgiving!

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Cupcake Fun

I know it’s been awhile since I last posted; I apologize. I am teaching 3 university labs this semester, studying for the GRE, looking into Ph.D. programs, and planning my wedding so that might help explain the situation! However, Tristan and I went “home” this weekend to go a greyhound picnic with my mom and her/our retired racer named Jude. Naturally, I thought I would surprise her with cupcakes.

Almond Cupcakes with Vanilla Whipped Frosting

I love almond flavored baked goods – like, a lot. So, I was excited to try almond emulsion with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, substituting the inferior vanilla extract with almond – the superior, nearly divine flavor favored by those of us with the most highly evolved taste buds!

Then, my aunt sent me a recipe idea for frosting that I wanted to try out and almond cupcakes seemed like the perfect time to go for it. This recipe was for a whipped frosting that calls for Cool Whip, instant pudding mix, milk, and flavor extract (unusual, I know). The most awesome part of this recipe, besides how fast it is to make (seriously – you just mix and you’re done), is that the pudding mixes come in so many flavors! You can make a variety of yummy frosting flavors just by substituting different types of pudding mixes – cool, huh?

I put some glitz on my little puffs of mouthwatering delight and this is what I came up with: 

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I decided to get the dog’s opinion of the frosting since it had a light, pup-friendly design. I think he approved.

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Thanks for the Recipe Aunt Kathy!

For the Love of Cupcakes

Well, the big birds certainly approve of the vanilla cupcakes. I gave them a few pieces as a little treat yesterday. Boy, I have never seen them enjoy food so much; they even “fought” over who would get the crumbs and, surprisingly, Ben was the winner (he stole entire chunks of cupcake right out of Sera’s beak).

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Don’t worry, birds can pretty much eat anything humans can (with a few exceptions thrown in). However, eating junk food for them is the same as it is for us (unhealthy). So, they only get little nibbles of things like pizza crust, cookies, and goldfish from time to time. Goldfish were their favorites prior to this cupcake experiment (I think I might have created monsters now though and goldfish will probably be so “last week”).

Battle 2: Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe

Yes folks, the time has come for my next cupcake battle. This time I will be facing off with a vanilla cupcake recipe from Laura’s Sweet Spot (adapted from Taste of Home). I scoured the internet (specifically baking blogs) for the recipe with the most potential. Based on taste tests, this recipe was the clear winner.

These cupcakes are white cake instead of yellow cake. In case you don’t know, the difference between the two type of cake is that white cake uses egg whites, while yellow cake incorporates the egg yolk. Of course, this creates a color difference between the two varieties, too (“white” vs. yellow).

Goal

My goal with this recipe is to find a versatile white or yellow cupcake base that I can add pretty much any flavor extract to in order to create a wide variety of cupcake types.

When I first told Tristan about this recipe, he was weary because it called for buttermilk. He doubted how the tartness of the milk (due to the acid in it) would work out in a cupcake. However, I think he will be pleasantly surprised.

Directions

This recipe was very simple. I creamed the butter and sugar first. Then, I added the egg whites one at a time. Next, I mixed in the vanilla.

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Then, I added in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in alternating batches (with the dry ingredients being added first and last). Finally, I filled the cupcake liners and baked! One thing I have learned since I started baking is that in my next kitchen I need an oven with an interior light. I never again want to have to check my baking goods with a flashlight like this:

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Results

I am going to have to call this battle a TIE. The cakes were large, super moist, and had a good crumb. The cupcake was fluffy, but strong enough that it would easily hold icing. However, the vanilla flavor just did not impress me. Before fully committing to this recipe, I would like to give it another try with a bit more vanilla extract. In order for me to fully embrace this recipe, I have to be sure that it will successfully produce a cupcake with an appropriate flavor punch. This first time, the cakes just didn’t have that perfect one-two combo of awesome texture + delicious flavor.

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Strawberry Disappointment

Issue

Let me first say this: Tristan and I both agree that the strawberry cupcakes from Battle 1.2 are sinful, delicious, fluffy diet offenders. Having said that, I am a worrier. I was worried that converting Smitten Kitchen’s cake recipe into cupcakes might not have produced the best possible cupcake. I was wondering if a recipe specifically designated as a “strawberry cupcake recipe,” instead of a “strawberry cake recipe,” would actually produce a better cupcake and outperform the one we just perfected.

Solution

We scoured the internet for an alternate strawberry cupcake recipe. We agreed that La Mia Vida Dolce’s looked the most promising. I whipped up half a batch of these cupcakes in order to see how they would stack up against our version of Smitten Kitchen’s cake.

Result

The Dolce recipe looked like it would be stiff competition from the get go. It used fresh made strawberry puree, which we thought would definitely make the strawberry flavor stand out even more. Then, when baking, the Dolce cupcakes rose like champs. I only filled the liners 2/3 full (I usually just fill to the top of the liners) and they rose well above the top of the muffin pan! However, things went downhill from there. While cooling, these cupcakes also shrank like champs, so much so that they pulled completely away from their liners. I was still optimistic about taste at this point, but that fell flat, too. You can’t taste any strawberry in these cakes (as compared to Smitten Kitchen’s which you can 100% taste and even smell from across the room!)

Product 

  • Shrinkage (notice how they pulled away from the liners entirely?)

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  • Our revised rendition of Smitten Kitchen’s cupcake (top) vs. La Mia Vida Dolce’s cupcake (bottom)

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Conclusion

We have found and perfected an extraordinary strawberry cupcake recipe (thank you Smitten Kitchen for providing the inspiration).