Monday, September 16, 2013

Cupcakes Cupcakes!

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A couple of weeks ago at the beginning of the semester, we invited all of the new theatre students to join the scholarship students (that's me!) and the faculty and staff of the Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance for a little welcome gathering so that we could all meet and get to know one another. I thought, what's a party without something sweet? So I made cupcakes, and lots of them.

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I had seen an idea on Pinterest to use ketchup cups to make mini cupcakes, and since we had those on hand, I thought it would be a great way to test the idea. Plus they are just so cute! They ended up being the perfect size, even if it was a little bit tricky to figure out the best way to open them. Some people were treating them like jello shots until we realized that you could pull the rim apart and it would fall right out. I think that their size also allows them to bake better than regular sized cupcakes, because they were especially fluffy.

Our school color is green, so I used green edible glitter to decorate the cupcakes, as well as both silver and gold shimmer. I also use my Cricut (the most awesome crafting machine ever) to make little signs to stick in the tops of the treats, just to add a little something extra.

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I opted to do both yellow and chocolate cupcakes, but I used the same frosting on both. It's my homemade buttercream, and it gets RAVE reviews. I have perfected it over time, but at the core, it's just the basic Wilton buttercream recipe:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter and shortening together to start. I have found that this is tremendously easier if the butter is at room temperature. If you don't have an electric mixer (hand mixers work better for this than stand mixers), you can use a hand whisk, but it takes a lot (and I mean A LOT) of work, especially if your butter is still cold. It is possible, however. I've done it.

Once they are well combined, add the vanilla and mix well.

Gradually add your sugar, one cup at a time. Again, electric mixer beats whisk any day. The frosting should be stiff at this point. Don't worry about that, it's normal, and even necessary for your final consistency.

Once all your sugar had been added and mixed well, gradually add milk until you get the consistency that you want. Stiffer is better for piping and detail work, while a little bit of a softer consistency makes frosting a cake super quick and easy. If you add too much milk, it can easily be fixed by adding more sugar.

VoilĂ !

I don't really use this recipe any more because I have found which measurements work better for me. However, I couldn't tell you what they are because I don't actually measure anything. I have gotten the hang of how much sugar is enough and then how much milk is enough. I go slowly adding my ingredients because the consistencies tell me everything. I come out with great frosting every time! If you're not quite ready to let go of those measuring cups yet, this recipe is absolutely smashing when followed to the t. Also, I have made it with all butter, rather than half butter and half shortening, and it's much richer, but still delicious. You can also substitute different extracts to get different flavors. For example, I have used almond before to get an almond-flavored frosting. I also used almond milk and it was just delightful! This recipe is so simple that you can play with it and tweak it. So fun!

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My family liked them so much in fact, that I was asked to make them again for our Labor Day get-together! So I used the rest of our ketchup cups and got to work. This time I decorated them all with orange glitter. It was a little bit less fancy, but still just as festive, and my family went nuts over them.

These cupcakes were an absolute hit! Everyone, from staff members to students to my own family, was saying how they were the best cupcakes they'd every had. I encourage you to go get some ketchup cups and try this!

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What's your favorite thing to bake?

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