Monday, February 28, 2011

Strawberry-Champagne Cupcakes!

For the Oscars, I wanted to make cupcakes that would fit in with the celebration, so I decided to try strawberry-Champagne cupcakes. These were really easy to make, especially since I used a cake mix. This gave me more time to spend on the decorations.

What's great about making these cupcakes is that there's plenty of leftover Champagne and strawberries to enjoy while baking.

This is an illustration of my grandmother from 1930s. I love her outfit - she would have fit right in at the Oscars.

oven: 350
baking time: 17-20 min


1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Vanilla Cake Mix
1 1/4 cups dry Champagne (to replace the water in the cake mix)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites (instead of 3 whole eggs listed on the cake mix box)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries (cut in smallish pieces)


1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Champagne
1-2 tsp vanilla extract


combine cake ingredients, mix well. fold in strawberries and fill baking cups 3/4 full.

Bake until toothpick comes out clean in center of cupcake. Remove from tin and allow to cool completely on rack.

Whip the butter on medium speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. add the powdered sugar slowly, and add Champagne and vanilla. The frosting will have a light consistency, similar to whipped cream. Fill pastry bag with frosting and decorate the cupcakes using a large star tip.

For the Oscar theme decorations, I didn't have much readily available to use, so I had to get creative. I found a good image of the Oscar statuette online, reduced it in size and printed out several on a sheet of paper. i flipped the image to get the reverse side so I could glue the two sides together on a toothpick. It was tricky and tedious work to cut out such a small image, but the result was pretty awesome.

I cut up strawberries into quarters to lay on top of the cupcakes, not only to give them more color, but also to simulate the red carpet. I also considered using red sugars, but didn't want to make the frosting too sweet. The strawberries looked good, but caused the frosting to break down a bit and get a little drippy. Maybe next time I'll dye the frosting red to get the look of the red carpet.

I found some red fabric, which I used to cover a tray and add to the red carpet look. i liked how the red fabric reflected in the silver baking cups.

The cupcakes were a big hit - the flavor of the Champagne really came through in both the cake and the frosting. Next time I'll try making the cake from scratch.

As for the Oscars, I managed to accurately guess the winners for 16 of the 24 awards, which isn't bad considering I saw only a couple of the films nominated. I even won my own statuette for placing third in the pool organized by a coworker. I should incorporate Pez into a cupcake. That would be sweet.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Cupcakes

For this year's Super Bowl, I decided to attempt Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. I've had a simplified version before, made from a Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix and without the bomb in the center. The whiskey/chocolate ganache really makes these cupcakes "da bomb". The cake itself loses most of the Guinness flavor after baking, but helps keep the cake rich and delicious. It also seems to keep the cake moist. I love the Irish cream in the butter frosting, it's quite potent.

This recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes. Bake at 350 for 18-20 min. cool completely before adding the filling.

Devil's food cake with stout

1 cup Guinness
1 cup butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling

8 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
3 tsp Irish whiskey

Irish Cream Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 tbsp Bailey's Irish cream


combine butter and stout over medium-low heat. Drink what's left in Guinness bottle while butter melts.

add cocoa powder, stir until well combined. remove from heat and cool slightly.

mix together eggs and sour cream. add chocolate mixture and beat until combined.

in a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients and add slowly to wet ingredients. fill baking cups 3/4 full.

after baking, remove from pan onto cooling rack. allow to cool completely before inserting filling.

when cooled, cut 1" round holes in tops of cupcakes, and cut about half way through the center of the cupcake.

to make filling, chop chocolate into small pieces. heat cream on stove until heated through (do not boil). pour over chocolate and stir until chocolate is completely melted. add butter and whiskey and mix well. let cool slightly before filling pastry bag (use a wide tip attachment).

fill the holes in the cupcakes to the top.

allow ganache filling to set before frosting. make sure butter is at room temperature and beat for a few minutes until fluffy. add sugar slowly and mix until well combined. add Irish cream. frost cupcakes generously and enjoy!