Monday, June 21, 2010

It's All About the Cute Cupcake!

When I first started baking, I really enjoyed making cookies. Actually, I was obsessed with making cookies that I did not make anything but cookies. I preferred perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe than trying something new like pastry, cake, or bread. Well, after my little obsession, I was hungry to try something new. That is when I moved into the cake and bread realm and became a more well-rounded baker.

Anyways, my latest obsession has been cupcakes and frankly, I think it is an obsession that will stay. Not to the extent where I only make cupcakes but I think it is something I will never ever get tired of making. It started about a year ago when I decided to make cupcakes for my co-workers as a recognition event. Every month, I would make a dessert and bring it to my meeting of 48 people. I always made something in the lounge but I had to be strategic with what I made because I was in a residential hall with limited equipment and supplies without breaking my piggy bank. I had to make shortbread, brownies, cupcakes - things that were individualized, easy to make, and required little ingredients/equipment. Now, these bake goods can get plain and boring so I began thinking of ways I can jazz up these desserts, particularly the cupcake. That is when I began exploring at different ideas online and came across books such as Hello Cupcake and What's New Cupcake.

That is what I have been doing, jazzing up the cupcake. This is what I have made so far and there will be many more cute cupcakes to come!

Fortune cookie cupcakes

Fried rice cupcakes

Take Out Cupcakes - Would you like some takeout?

Hamburger cupcakes - There's nothing like a good burger! Too bad it came out a little blurry.

Bears on the Beach - Teddy bears having a good time at the beach!

Apple cupcakes - You're the apple of my eye!

Dirt 'n Worms cupcakes - It is just as dirty and gritty as it is delicious!

 Sushi cupcakes - Where's the soy sauce?

Sashimi cupcake - poor fishy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Good Ole Cupcake!

I am going to be completely honest, I love boxed cake. I think it is delicious and very convenient but as much as I like it, there is a part of me that gets the satisfaction of making it from scratch. Usually when I make cupcakes, I want them to look cute which is why I often use boxed cake mix. I was contemplating what to make last night when my brother told me he wanted simple yellow cupcakes. I thought "how boring" but sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying. So, I whipped out my Better Homes and Garden cookbook and found the recipe for yellow cake. Instead of making the cake, I put the cake batter in muffin tins and voila, cupcakes!

I decorated the cupcakes very simply, chocolate fudge frosting and my favorite kind of sprinkles! I even scooped out some batter, mixed in cocoa powder and make marble cupcakes too for some variation. They were indeed satisfying, just how simple things can be!

Oatmeal Banana Streusel Muffins

I know, the title is a mouthful! You're probably thinking, "does this actually work?" Yes, it does! I like to think of this as a perfect grab and go breakfast. Usually breakfast muffins are full of bran and bland but this muffin is tasty and satisfying. The bananas keeps the muffins moist and the oatmeal gives it nice texture. To make this healthier than it already is, you can switch the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I made a streusel to put on top of the muffins but of course you can omit the streusel if you want a truly healthy muffin. However, the streusel adds more texture and sweetness to the muffin and is still a fairly healthy muffin with the streusel on top. If you want to mix it up, you can make half with the streusel and half without. I did this because I like the healthier version with no streusel but the rest of my family thinks like the extra calories.

Store bought muffins tend to be overly sweet, moist, and delicious that we often neglect the fact that they are high in fat and calories. Muffins have gained the reputation of being cakes in a muffin tin but these muffins have the taste of cake but just not the fat or the calories.

Brown Sugar Shortbread

Quick! What do you think of when you hear shortbread? Yummy, tasty, light, high in fat. Shortbread is actually a quite simple cookie to make yet the flavor can be as complex as any other cookie. These are delectable shortbread cookies. I have personally never been a fan of the shortbread. My earliest memories of shortbread came from eating te packaged Walker shortbread. While it was tasty because of the buttery flavor, it was not fulfilling as a packaged chocolate chip cookie. If I had good shortbread, I always felt guilty eating such a rich and fattening cookie. As I was flipping through my Mrs. Field Cookbook, I felt so inclined to make shortbread. Perhaps the pictures made them simply irresistible! I was particularly intrigued by this recipe that uses brown sugar instead of white sugar and was dipped in chocolate and pecans. I allowed myself to make these cookies because I was making them for a party and knew that it would be a crowd pleaser. And it gave me an excuse to eat one but only one of course!

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