Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Cherry Filling, Cherry Buttercream

Vanilla and cherries are BFF’s when it comes to flavor parings. I cannot resist cherry season, although you can make these cupcakes year round with quality cherry preserves-both used in the filling and the buttercream. Trader Joes has a great preserves they sell that is chock full of whole cherries. Make sure to pick a preserves that is mostly on the tart side- you don’t want one that is too sweet. I have been in the kitchen lately experimenting with cherry recipes. I’m working on a no bake cheesecake parfait recipe that is coming soon that uses both dark sweet and tart dried cherries.

Also, I’ve included a picture of some of the same cuppies with a vanilla buttercream decorated for the Fourth of July, if you want to use an American style buttercream- see the “Bonus” recipe below. Happy Independence Day!

   I used an Ateco 829 tip for the piping on both cupcakes you see here

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Cherry Filling

yield: 24 cupcakes

2  1/2 Cups cake flour

2  1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2  Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1  3/4 Cups sugar

2 lg. eggs, room temp

1  1/4 Cups whole milk, room temp

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Filling: Sour Cherry Preserves (I like Trader Joes brand) it is chock full of whole cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350° F. Drop cupcake liners into two trays of a standard size cupcake/muffin tin.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated, stopping in between to scrape bottom of mixer bowl. In a pyrex glass measuring cup mix the vanilla bean paste and milk well. Mix the dry ingredients well with a whisk.

Add in one third of the dry mixture and mix until incorporated, then add in half of the milk mixture and mix until incorporated. Repeat with another third of the dry and alternate with the wet, ending with the last third of the dry mixture until batter is homogenous.

Scoop batter into lined tins filling 2/3 way full. Bake for 16 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool on wire racks.

Remove a small portion of the cake from the middle of each cupcake to allow for the cherry filling. An apple corer works well for this or (do as I do and use the tip end of an 808 Ateco piping tip). Fill each cupcake with cherry preserves making sure to try and include a whole cherry or two. Hint: a baby spoon works well for this! I’ve kept a couple over the years for this very job.

Decorate with the cherry buttercream and top with a fresh cherry. * Note: If you aren’t serving right away-wait to top with the cherry as the stems will turn brown while being chilled. You’ll notice in my pictures the stems are brown-it’s because I topped them and took pictures the next day.

Swiss Meringue Cherry Buttercream

4 egg whites

1 Cup sugar

3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 Cup cherry preserves

optional: 1-2 drops of deep pink gel food coloring

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla,  then beat until smooth. Mix in the cherry preserves until incorporated. Note: If you like a deeper pink color you can stir in a drop or two of deep pink gel color.

Vanilla American Style Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted

2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste

Beat the butter and add in a little at a time until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. For decorating- stripe the inside of a decorating bag with red and blue gel paste food coloring and use a open star tip for a swirled effect.

 

 

 


Pink Candied Popcorn for Breast Cancer Awareness

Pink Popcorn for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This simple ‘recipe’ is devoted to all the lovely ladies who are battling or have survived breast cancer. It is part of my annual posts for Breast Cancer Awareness

And a special shout out to my friend AK!

 

 

Candied Popcorn for Breast Cancer Month

Pink Candied Popcorn

2 bags popped white microwave popcorn OR 1/2 Cup (kernals) white popcorn popped in air popper or kettle* See note

1 bag pink Wilton candy melts

mixture of white, pink, and dark pink m and m’s

pastel sprinkles

kosher salt to taste

*Note: A quick and easy way to air pop in a microwave: Place popcorn kernals in a brown paper lunch sized bag and fold over the top twice- place in a microwave on high for about 3 minutes or less to pop. Stop microwave when you hear the kernals stop popping with about 3 seconds between pops. Each microwave is different, so error on the side of under popping as not to burn.

 

Sort through popped corn and remove any un-popped kernels. Place popcorn in a large bowl.

In a microwave safe bowl place Wilton candy melts and melt in a microwave stopping to stir, and check at 30 second intervals.

Pour melted candy over popcorn and stir with heat proof spatula until coated. Sprinkle in a hand full of m and m’s while stirring and stopping to sprinkle in pastel rainbow sprinkles. Pour coated corn onto a Silpat lined baking sheet or a parchment lined sheet. Sprinkle salt to taste. Allow corn to set; which will take 30 mins. or longer depending on how humid your weather is.

 


Mini Rose Cupcakes With Sugared Rose Petals

rose cupcake with vanilla bc and sugared rose petalrose cupcake

This is my new favorite way to bake mini cupcakes-in “party cups”. The cake does not stick and they push right out- no peeling of paper needed. Perfect for a party! I was in one of those girly, pretty in pink kind of moods today, so decided to make mini rose cupcakes. You can pair the cupcakes with either pistachio buttercream or vanilla buttercream, but they are especially pretty with sugared rose petals.  I chose to divide the vanilla buttercream and tint half of it with rose pink. Pistachio and rose is a classic combination-made popular by middle eastern and certain cultures. If you use rose flavor- just make sure to use a subtle amount because they flavor can turn soapy tasting if too heavy.

rose cupcakes with pistachio bc and rose petals

rose cupcakes with pistachio buttercream and sugared rose petals

 

Rose Cupcakes

(yield: 24-28 mini cupcakes)

1  1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. Cake flour

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 Cup sugar

3 (Lg,) egg whites (room temp)

1 tsp. vanilla

2  tsp. rose water (make sure to use rose water and NOT extract)

1/2 Cup milk (room temp)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare mini muffin tins with paper liners or use “party cups” as I have done here. If you use party cups you simply place them on a sheet pan; no other prep is needed.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium low speed, add the egg whites one at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix until combined. Mix in the vanilla and rose water. Starting with the flour mixture add 1/3 of the mixture alternating with the milk in two additions, ending with the flour mixture. Note: if you desire you can add a little pink gel food coloring paste if you want a pink colored cake.

2. Fill the cups or tins 2/3 full with batter. The batter really rises, so resist the urge to fill them further. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° F for about 10-12 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean or if you press on them lightly the cake springs back.  The cakes will not brown. Frost  cooled cupcakes with either Pistachio Buttercream (recipe below) or Vanilla Buttercream, decorate with optional sugared rose petals.

Pistachio Paste

1 Cup shelled unsalted & roasted pistachio nuts

3/4 Cup sugar

3 Tbsp. water

2 Tbsp. pistachio oil (or vegetable oil)

1. Prepare a sheet pan with either a Silpat or by lightly greasing with vegetable oil.

2. Pour the water in a saucepan and then add the sugar. With a clean finger mix the sugar and water until it looks like wet sand. Have a cup of water with a clean pastry brush placed in the cup.  Bring the sugar to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar dissolves-stop stirring. If sugar crystals form along the sides of the pan; use the wet pastry brush to let water drip down to dissolve the crystals. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a light caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and cook until comes to a medium amber color. Working quickly- pour the nut mixture onto prepared pan and with a heat proof spatula do your best to flatten out nuts. Allow the nuts to cool until they become hard.

3. Once mixture is hard and completely cooled- use your hands to break apart any large clumps. Place the mixture in a food processor and pulse several times to initially break up the mixture. Proceed to process the mixture until it starts to form a thick paste. When the blade no longer seems to move add the oil and continue to process until as smooth as possible.

Swiss Meringue Vanilla Buttercream

4 large egg whites

1 Cup sugar

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

2 tsp. vanilla

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs whites and sugar and place over a pot with simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is about 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer* (*alternatively- you can feel the mixture with your first two fingers and if you don’t feel any sugar granules then it is ok). Turn off the heat. Attach the mixer bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk the mixture on medium until the bottom of the bowl is almost cool to the touch and the mixture has turned into a nice stiff meringue.  This will take several minutes. With the mixer on medium high, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. It will go through a curdled looking stage as it mixes; but don’t worry keep adding the butter and it will come together. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.

For Pistachio Buttercream: Mix in 4-5 Tbsp. Pistachio paste (recipe above) and 1-2 drops of “Mint Green” colored gel paste

For PInk/White Vanilla Two toned Buttercream: Divide buttercream into two equal portions. Tint one half with 3-5 drops “Deep Pink Rose” colored gel paste- mix well to combine. Prepare a large piping bag by standing it upright in a tall glass fitted with chosen piping tip (such as star tip). Place one color down inside of the pastry bag and the other color down the other side; make sure to get the buttercream down all the way to the tip. I find it helpful to place each color inside a disposable pastry bag and squeezing each color down inside the bag.

For sugared rose petals: Place a small amount of liquid pasteurized egg whites (such as 100 % liquid egg whites) in a bowl. Have your organic (non pesticide) rose petals already cleaned and dried. Using a soft clean brush- brush each rose petal (front and back) and then sprinkle with fine granulated sugar. Place petals inside a mini muffin tin to dry. This is best done the day before you assemble your cupcakes- as it takes them several hours to dry completely.

Note: any leftover buttercream may be frozen in an airtight container. To use from frozen; allow buttercream to thaw at room temperature, then rewhip using the whisk attachment.


Quick And Easy Cherry Petite Fours

I get a lot of requests for quick and easy recipes. I know not everyone is an ambitious baker and sometimes you just want to make something that is quick and easy, but still unique. This idea would be cute for a baby shower, party or informal get together. I think they are  elegant and pretty and great for a party since they are dainty in size. Since I am focusing on pink this month, I thought these little petite fours would be perfect for Breast Cancer Awareness. The tea cakes are a good recipe for someone who is not inclined to spend too much time in the kitchen. The recipe is super easy as well since it uses store-bought angel food cake. No actual baking involved! Enjoy, xoxo Suzie.

Cherry Petite Fours

 

One store-bought angel food cake; rectangle loaf size preferred

Purchased cherry preserves

6 Tablespoons Tart Cherry Juice

3 Cups Confectioners sugar

1 drop Red food coloring

Slice off the brown edges of the angel food cake so you have only pure white cake. Cut the loaf into slabs that are one inch thick, then cut each slab in half lengthwise so you have slabs of 1/2 inch thick cake. Process the cherry preserves in a food processor or Vitamix until it is smooth and you no longer have any chunks of cherries. Spread a thin layer of preserves on a layer of cake ”slab”  and place another layer of cake on top to make a sandwich. Cut into little squares.

In a bowl combine the confectioners sugar and cherry juice. Whisk until smooth. Add a drop of red food coloring to make the glaze pink  and whisk.

Place the little cakes on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and pour over the icing making sure to cover all sides of each cake. I did 3-4 layers of icing. You can re-use the icing that falls onto the baking sheet and pour it through a fine mesh strainer over bowl to remove any loose crumbs of cake, then pour another layer of icing over the cakes and repeat as desired. Let the cakes rest so the icing becomes no longer tacky to the touch. Serve a room temperature.


Pink Champagne Cupcakes With Champagne Buttercream for Breast Cancer Awareness

Last year I did a few recipes with pink in mind in the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year I would like to continue the tradition and post more recipes with pink as a message in tribute for continued awareness. The month of October is for Breast Cancer Awareness. Wear  your pink proudly. Men, this means you too; you know that pink shirt you have hiding in the back of the closet? Pull it out baby. Women everywhere will stop and thank you.  Everyone who knows me knows I love anything retro. This recipe is one of those 1950 retro style cakes. The recipe hails from Oceana restaurant in New York. Instead of a big cake I decided to make cupcakes. The recipe will make about 24 cupcakes or a good 2 layer standard size 8 or 9 inch cake. One last thing- make sure to sip a good glass of bubbly when you are whipping up this wonderful cake….There’s just the right amount leftover for sharing a glass with a loved one.

To your health, and a toast to all the ladies out there who are breast cancer survivors.

Cheers,

xoxo Suzie

 

Pink Champagne Cake (cupcakes)

Recipe adapted from Oceana Restaurant in New York

Yield: 24 cupcakes or a 2 layer 8 or 9 inch cake

3 Cups Cake flour

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 Cup unsalted butter (1  1/2 sticks) room temp

2 Cups sugar

6 egg whites (6 oz.) (I like to use ” liquid egg whites” in the carton  and fill to the 6 oz. mark on a liquid measuring cup)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Cups pink Champagne, room temp

red food coloring

Champagne Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 lb. confectioners sugar

3 Tbsp.  pink champagne

1 tsp. vanilla

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift all the dry ingredients together through a mesh sieve and set aside. In a mixer bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg whites slowly until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions; alternating with the champagne in 2 additions, and ending with the flour mixture until combined. Tint the batter if desired to a shade of pink with pink or red food coloring. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes until a few moist crumbs show when pierced with a wooden skewer or until cakes bounce back when pressed lightly. Let cool and frost with champagne buttercream.

To make the buttercream: Cream the butter along with sifted confectioners sugar until creamy and combined well. Add the champagne and vanilla and beat until combined. Careful not to overbeat or the liquid can cause the buttercream to separate.