Friday, October 28, 2011

Saved by the Decorations... Almost

I suppose since I promised I would be honest, I have to admit to the tiny... I mean, pretty epic failure I experienced today. Here is what happened.

Not too long a ago, I spent a significant amount of time putting together a recipe book which I am fairly proud of. Lots of pictures, laminated pages, yummy recipes... it's awesome. Well I had my 8-year-old cousin to entertain this morning, so I thought that it would be a great occasion to bust out some of the new cupcake recipes I had found. Plus, with a friend's birthday this weekend I thought that further made it an opportune time to bake.

Well, not to place blame, but I woke up this morning in the mood for devil's food with ganache topping (I'm really not much of an icing fan. I tend to scrape it off because it's just too sweet for me), but Abbie wanted to try the Blue Velvet Cupcake recipe. I agreed because I love red velvet, and the cupcakes did look super cute. The recipe is listed below with instructions:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, at room temp.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs. Wilton royal blue gel food coloring
  • 1 small dab of violet gel food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners - makes about 26.
  2. Cream sugar and butter in mixing bowl till light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg.
  3. Mix cocoa and food coloring together to make a paste. Add this paste to sugar mixture and mix well again.
  4. Sift (or buzz in food processor) flour and salt, and add to creamed mixture a bit at a time, alternating with buttermilk, then mix in vanilla.
  5. Combine baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl and add to cake batter; mix just to combine.
  6. Scoop thick batter into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for probably 25-30 minutes, but start checking at 20 minute mark; watch for toothpick inserted in center to come out clean.
  7. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
To Make Frosting
  1. Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with electric mixer until nice and smooth.
  2. Add sugar gradually and beat on low until combine, then beat on high speed until very light and fluffy.

Our beautiful and tasty blue batter
Everything started out great. Abbie and I were skeptical about the amount of food coloring (1 tablespoon seemed like an awful lot!), but it made the batter a beautiful shade of blue. When the batter was done, it tasted wonderful and we were ready to start filling our cupcakes. That's when things started going down hill. 

First, the recipe and instructions say that it will make approximately 26 cupcakes and that you should fill your papers 2/3 of the way up. Well, we made 26 cupcakes, but 2/3 is WAY to high. About 15 minutes into baking, the cupcakes started overflowing. There was nothing we could really do except watch the batter topple over the edges and start to burn. I wanted to pull them out early, but even after 23 minutes, my toothpick wasn't coming out clean. I ended up cutting around the cupcakes that had overflowed with a knife to trim off the burnt edges and get the treats out of the tin. And although they were pretty darn ugly, the cake itself had a really good flavor. 

At this point, we thought that maybe adding the frosting would help cover up the imperfect edges and no one would really care that we made ugly cupcakes. Well I should have known better than to use a cream cheese frosting. It just is a flavor that my family doesn't really care for too much. Also, it was extremely soft... Not the best frosting to use when you're trying to cover up an ugly cupcake. Abbie gave one to our grandpa to try and it started dripping all over him. I ended up putting them in the fridge uncovered for a little while to get the frosting to harden. I'm a bit afraid to take them out now though. 

In the end, I guess they didn't end up a huge disaster, and we did have a few successful cupcakes, but as a whole, I was disappointed. I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to making my own work aesthetically pleasing so this was a very frustrating morning for me. However, my experience with a group of guys is that they typically are not too picky. So hopefully these will go over a little better at the birthday party tomorrow. That being said, there are a few adjustments I would make to this recipe for the next time. 

Cupcakes chilling in the refrigerator
  1. Fill the cupcake papers only half full. Two-thirds is far too much.
  2. Use a different frosting. These are very rich cupcakes, and a sugary frosting seems like too much. It might not be as pretty, but next time I think I would use a chocolate ganache or less sweet chocolate frosting and brush the decoration with edible gold paint.
  3. OR if you like the cream cheese frosting, make sure everything is chilled before you use it. Also maybe use a little less sugar.

I'm not giving up on this recipe just yet because the cake has a very good flavor, and I think they have the potential to be super cute. Especially paired with some red velvet cupcakes, I think they could be a big hit at 4th of July parties in the Summer. If you are brave enough to try to conquer blue velvet, let me know how it goes! Happy baking :)

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