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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

America's Birthday Cake!

Today I woke up at 2am, and drove (very carefully) under the stars, so that I could celebrate America's birthday early with all of Madison, Wisconsin at WKOW 27 with this American Flag cake and cupcakes!

An American flag inside of a cake! That in and of itself is a celebration that you can eat!
Typically, I decorate the outside of everything with crazy swirls, colors, and sprinkles.  It was challenging for me to keep the whipped cream frosting on the outside simple and plain. But this time, it was time for the cake that was hiding to shine (or sparkle like a firework?)!

This is how I constructed an American flag inside of a cake (and it is easier than you think, you just have to think inside out):
  • I mixed enough of my favorite white cake batter to make seven 7 round 8" layers of cake.
  • 3 of my layers were Americolor Gel Paste Super Red.
  • 3 of my layers were White.
  • 1 of my layers was Americolor Gel Paste Electric Blue.
  • After the cakes baked and cooled, I cut the red and white layers in half. After I cut them in half, they were about 3/4" tall.  
  • I did not cut the blue layer in half.  I trimmed any excess cake off of the top of the blue cake so that it was level, but still thicker than the rest of the cake layers.
  • Using a 4" round template made out of card stock, I cut a hole out of the center of 1 white layer and 1 red layer. At this point, I was done with these layers-they didn't go anywhere else on my cake.   I may or may not have eaten some pieces of them! I did keep the red & white rounds and set them aside for later. These are important for creating the final masterpiece.
  • Using my 4" round template, I cut another hole out of the center of the blue cake.  
  • I stacked each layer on top of each other in this order (applying thin layers of frosting to the top of each layer as I built the flag cake): Red, White, Red, White, Blue.
  • As soon as my cake was stacked, I lightly frosted the 4" red & white cake rounds I cut out earlier. I filled the hole in the blue cake with the circles.  First with the red layer. Second with the white layer.  
  • I used a simple whipped frosting to decorate the outside of the cake, and topped the cake with sparkly stars and a glitzy Uncle Sam hat.
When I cut open the cake, my breath was taken away.It was beautiful.
But there was something missing. Glitter and sprinkles. So I added mini white stars by hand.
Then I got to thinking, next time I make this cake I may just add the mini white star sprinkles to the batter!

'Merica is the home of the free...and the delicious.

Leftover batter was used to make matching cupcakes!

Do you see the mason jars with cupcakes inside of them and firework cupcake toppers?
I used the leftover cake trimmings to make little mason jar parfaits!
Those would be a hit at a picnic for the 4th of July.
Happy Birthday, America!!!!!!

(I always find an Ellen cutout whenever I go to the TV studio and take a picture. It's tradition. She is one of the people that has inspired me to become Amanda Cupcake!)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pancake Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes for Dinner!

I am a fan of breakfast.
Breakfast for dinner especially.
And bacon is getting classier all the time.
I would like to have a breakfast for dinner party sometime, and I'd bring my own creation to share.

Maple-Maple-Pancake-Pancake-Pancake-Maple Syrup-Candied Bacon Cupcakes ♥
(If you got lost, I started from the bottom and went up in that list).

An entire meal in a cupcake needs a fork.

The cupcake is made with a yellow cake mix as a base, but you'd never know because I don't follow any of the rules on the box. So for the cake mix nixers: Don't hate, just bake. You'll love it. I guarantee. I basically use the box for my base dry ingredients. The added ingredients are Pure Maple Syrup, Maple Extract, Butterscotch Pudding, Eggs, Buttermilk, Vanilla Extract, and Oil.

Reason for the Butterscotch Pudding:  I wanted to use something to substitute the brown sugar flavor.  Before butterscotch is made, one of its crucial ingredients is brown sugar.  It worked! You don't even taste the butterscotch, all the flavors blend together and create a rich maple/pancake flavor.

While the cupcakes were baking, I made candied bacon (recipe below) and I whipped up my favorite pancake recipe on a skillet by scooping the batter onto the skillet with a mini cookie scoop. (This takes time and patience and a love for mini pancakes but the result is adorable)! You can use Bisquick if you don't make pancakes from scratch, or see below:

If you don't have time to make your own mini pancakes, Eggo brand sells mini pancakes in the freezer section at select grocery stores and they look like this on top of cupcakes. I made these at a different time, for a wedding.  To turn pancake bacon cupcakes into a bridal event, I switched the maple frosting out with a light white whipped cream frosting.  Who doesn't love a little whipped cream on their pancakes?

A mini video on how I stacked the pancakes on top of the pancake bacon cupcakes:

An entire local cable TV segment, step by step on how I made the pancake bacon cupcakes:

Maple Pancake Cupcakes with Candied Bacon.
Printable Recipe
Makes about 15-18 cupcakes

1 box of yellow cake mix
1 packet of butterscotch pudding, in dry powder form, not prepared
1 Cup Buttermilk (room temperature)
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup oil
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325.  Line cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers.  Pour dry yellow cake mix and dry butterscotch pudding in bowl and set aside.  Measure ¼ cup pure maple syrup and set aside.  Measure 1 cup buttermilk and set aside.  In stand mixer, cream eggs, oil, and extracts together.  Gradually alternate the addition of dry ingredients, syrup and buttermilk to the creamed mixture until all is mixed together. Scrape bowl down to make sure there are no leftover ingredients stuck on the bottom of bowl and re-mix. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake wrappers a little over half full and bake for about 24 minutes or until cupcake springs up and doesn’t sink in when touched. While cupcakes are baking, you can bake mini pancakes and candied bacon in preparation to decorate the cupcakes.

Maple Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4-6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons dry butterscotch instant pudding
2 teaspoons maple extract
1/4 cup buttermilk or milk

Using a flat beater attachment, cream the butter and the dry butterscotch instant pudding on high speed until fluffy.  Add syrup, maple extract, and liquid.  Scrape bowl down to make sure all ingredients are evenly mixed.  Gradually add powdered sugar until frosting is stiff enough to pipe on top of cupcake.

Candied Bacon
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and line with aluminum foil.  Lay bacon strips out on aluminum foil and lightly sprinkle each piece of bacon with light brown sugar. Bake the bacon at 450 for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Once bacon is done baking, remove immediately from pan and let cool on a plate.  Tear the bacon up in little pieces to decorate the top of your pancake bacon cupcake.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dirt cupcakes

Fact: I make colorful messes.

This is what my table looks like after I am done with a very busy night.
I think my messes look pretty. I'd love to paint a canvas like this.

Beautiful disasters are what inspired my version of DIRT cake cupcakes.
I've never been one to play by the rules, call me a rebel..but honestly I believe that a mess or a mistake can turn into a masterpiece, if you let your imagination run wild.
My beautiful disaster starts with a chocolate cupcake.  I  swirl around the outside of the cupcake with chocolate frosting (using a 1M open star decorating tip) and leave a little empty hole in the center of the frosting swirl. I pour a chocolate ganache "mud" pool in the hole, and sprinkle the "dirt" on top: crushed Oreo cookies.  The bright side? Little "airhead candy" rainbows and glittery rainbow gummy worms on top.

I've also baked my dirt cupcakes inside of mini gardening pots by filling them 1/2 full and baking on a sheet pan in the oven. These can be as messy as you'd like.  Pour chocolate ganache on top and sprinkle with crushed Oreos.  These are totally fun to eat with a fork!

Recipe for your very own Bake-At-Home Beautiful Disaster (have fun!!):

Chocolate Cupcake "CANVAS":
(makes appx 24 cupcake canvases)
3 ¾ Cups flour
2 ½ Cups fine baking sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons salt
¾ cup cocoa
1 ¼ cup oil
2 ½ cups hot water
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla
2 ½ tablespoons vinegar

♥Preheat oven to 325.
♥Line cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers.
♥Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa together in bowl & set aside.
♥In stand mixer, cream oil, sugar, and vanilla together.
♥Measure hot water in liquid measuring cup, set aside.
♥Add vinegar to oil, sugar, vanilla blend in stand mixer.
♥Gradually alternate the addition of dry & liquid ingredients to the mixture in stand mixer.
♥Scrape bowl down and make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
♥Fill cupcake wrappers 3/4 full and bake at 325 for appx 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chocolate Ganache "MUD":
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

♥In a saucepan on the stove, bring heavy whipping cream to an almost boil. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat and add 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate chips are completely melted and you see a shiny glaze.

Chocolate Buttercream Fancy Swirl:
1 Cup butter (room temperature)
¾ Cup Cocoa
¼ teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Cups powdered sugar

♥Cream butter, heavy cream, and vanilla in a stand mixer.
♥Gradually add cocoa and a dab of salt, scrape bowl down.
♥Add powdered sugar little by little until frosting forms peaks, strong enough to pipe frosting swirls on your cupcake canvas.

Oreo "DIRT" crumbles:
1 box of Oreo Cookies
Large plastic ziploc bag

♥Empty Oreo cookies into ziploc bag
♥Close ziploc bag
♥Using a large rolling pin, roll over the top of cookies until they are crumbled.  I like crumbling them until they are chunky and not finely ground. It adds texture.  If you want the oreos to be finely ground like dirt or sand, you can use a food processor for this technique.

Bonus cupcake idea:
Using the same ingredients, decorate with random candies and snacks that are in your cupboard to turn a mess into a beautiful cupcake creation!  Frost the top of your cupcake with chocolate buttercream, dip it in chocolate ganache, and sprinkle with leftover candies & snacks from your cupboard. I've made these on Halloween and called them Trick or Treat cupcakes, but they are yummy any time of the year ♥♥♥

Monday, May 4, 2015

Pinata Cake & Cupcakes

If you know me really well, you probably know that I get intimidated by making cakes.
I work day in and day out with little cupcakes most of the time. Super cute, mini little, transportable treats with dollops and swirls and fluffs of frosting on top that you can play with like play-dough. ♥  Cakes are intimidating to me because I feel like I have to add an architect/engineer hat to my artist brain.  I have to create a foundation so that the cake won't slide or fall apart. I am way better at creating textured, fancy flouncy frosting swirls on top of adorable little cupcakes than spreading on a perfect sheen of frosting to cake that is so polished it looks like fondant ♥

However...there can be exceptions made.....
When there are pinata cakes involved!!!!!!
A Pinata cake doesn't have to be polished or neat.
It is exploding with fun and celebration from the inside out!
The best thing is that you can fill the cake with any candy or treat you desire.
(I even thought of making a Mountain Dew cake with Doritos coming out of it, maybe I'll do that in the future).

I made matching Pinata Cupcakes to complete a whole "set."
I divided shredded coconut into ziploc bags and added a dot of Americolor Gel Paste to each ziploc bag (colors used here are Electric Pink, Sky Blue, and Electric Yellow). I sealed each baggy shut and danced a little in my kitchen to shake the color into the coconut. I piped frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkled with colored coconut. I piped pretty big fat swirls on top so that the cupcakes would look bigger and more full, but you can put on as much frosting as you desire.

Each Pinata cupcake is filled with Sixlet Pearls as a "SURPRISE"!
And look at how the shredded coconut colors the frosting!
It reminds me of one of those mexican hoodies you can buy at farmers markets.
I use a measuring spoon to scoop a hole out of the center of the cupcake. I keep the cake I scooped out and put it to the side. I fill the hole with pastel Sixlet pearls and cover it again with the the leftover cake from my scooping.

How did I make the pinata cake?
Using my favorite cake recipe, I baked four 8" round layers of cake.
I used a 4" biscuit cutter to cut a hole into the center of 2 out of 4 of my cake layers.

Cake Assembly Order:  
A.  Place 1 uncut layer on a cake stand/turntable and spread your favorite frosting on top using a piping bag or a frosting knife.
B.  Top this layer with 1 layer that has the center hole removed. Spread frosting on top but not over or inside the hole.
C.  Top this layer with the other layer that has the center hole removed. Spread frosting on top but not over or inside the hole.
D.  You'll see a big hole in the center of your cake. Fill it with all kinds of goodies! I used Peanut Butter M&Ms, milk chocolate M&Ms, multi-colored gumballs, and chocolate coins in many colors! Can you imagine making a baby reveal cake like this too using pink or blue M&Ms and other colored candies?
E.  Place the final layer on top of the cake.  Using a large frosting knife and your favorite frosting (the more creamy & whipped the better), frost the outside of the cake!

You can even top the pinata cake with another mini sized pinata that is also filled with nummies.

Mind..blown!! ♥

I decorated my pinata cake all fancy schmancy.
Each layer was frosted with a different color before I stacked the cake layers on top of each other!

Just remember, the most fun part of the cake is the inside! Cut a BIG PIECE out of your cake using a large knife..or if you are feeling it, smash the cake.  Either way you'll find something you like, I'm sure of it. My favorite are the chocolate coins. What's yours?