I love baking. Measuring, mixing, pouring, cooling, tasting. Every part of the process is just this awesome combination of relaxing and rewarding.
I’ve been a little fixated on cupcakes lately. OK, “a little fixated” is a bit of an understatement. “Completely obsessed” is likely more accurate. But they’re just the perfect little treat! Easy to make, fun to decorate, just the right size for a sweet, singular indulgence.
I was beyond excited when my new cookbook — Cupcakes: Luscious Bakeshop Favorites from Your Home Kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski — arrived last week. I thumbed through it, drooling over the beautiful pictures and appetizingly named recipes.
Luckily for me, I had a great reason to try out the new addition: My son’s 19th birthday was Thursday and we had a trip planned to see him at college. Of course, I had trouble narrowing down which recipe to try so I decided to make three different types of cupcakes to take with us. Each recipe only makes one dozen cupcakes, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal. And the kid does live in a dorm, with plenty of friends who likely would love to help him scarf down a cupcake or three.
After consulting with the other two kids, I narrowed down the choices to PB&J cupcakes, Salted Caramel cupcakes and Black & White cupcakes (which featured a yummy cheesecake center).
Here’s the part in the story where I go off on a little tangent and tell you that I learned three very important lessons while making these cupcakes:
1. A cooling rack full of cupcakes is apparently irresistible to my cat, who nibbled off the tops of two of them while I took Miss L to preschool that morning.
2. Our beautiful, sweet greyhound discovered that her snout is at the perfect height to snatch cupcakes off the butcher block while they are cooling. Another two gone, including cupcake papers.
3. The chickenese is not content to let her big little sister eat all the goodies and can, in fact, knock a cupcake off the butcher block and onto the floor by jumping up and down vigorously enough. No lie. (This is actually how we discovered the greyhound’s cupcake pilfering.)
The cupcakes were amazingly good. Like, so good that I can’t believe I handed over the boxes to my kid and let him have them all.
The Black & White cupcakes were the most challenging, mostly because the centers tried to fall out through the bottoms when I took the cupcakes out of the pan (they aren’t cooked in liners). The Salted Caramel required the most work, since the buttercream has caramel swirled into it and that had to be cooked from scratch. Well worth the effort, though, although we all though they didn’t really need the chocolated-dipped caramel on top of them. I used my favorite seedless raspberry jam with the PB&J cuppies, plus some organic peanut butter in the frosting. I’ll probably use regular peanut butter the next time I make them to see how it compares.
My only complaint is that the directions say to “distribute evenly” when filling the cupcake pan, even with the cheesecake filling of the Black & White cupcakes. It would have been a bit more helpful to give an amount for people like me who are a little challenged in the dividing-batter/filling department.
We ended up with leftover frosting and chocolate glaze, so I made a batch of Devil’s Food Cupcakes today. I topped them with the rest of the peanut butter frosting and then did three with the Gooey Chocolate Glaze. They were just as delicious as the others — only I get to enjoy them a little longer.