Have you ever been to Montreal? It’s such a beautiful city. Quite a few years ago I went to a conference there for work. I have to admit; I ditched one of my classes about a quarter way into the lecture after my head was bobbing up and down and I could barely stand myself. I headed out into the street and started zipping into as many shops as I could before I had to be back for my next lecture. One of the things I noticed rather quickly was there are a lot of shops displaying maple syrup. Canadians are really proud of their maple syrup and they should be. It’s top quality. They like to use their maple syrup in a lot of things; not just over pancakes. I came across a store that had maple syrup tastings. What, stop, whoa…maple syrup tastings? that’s right. There is light, darker, darkest; whatever you like. I learned a lot that day about maple syrup. I learned you should never settle for anything but the real thing. These cute little mini cupcakes are topped with maple buttercream. Make sure to use the best you can find.
Butter Pecan Mini Cupcakes
yield: 24 mini cupcakes
recipe: adapted from 200 mini cakes & bakes
1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 Cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 Cup milk
1 Cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 Cup finely chopped pecans
whole pecans, toasted, to decorate
1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar, sifted + more if needed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
6 Tbsp. real maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a 24 well silicone mini muffin cup liner on a baking sheet. Conversely if you don’t have a silicone muffin pan you can use regular mini muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla and stir. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat to combine. Stir in the chopped pecans.
3. Fill the wells of the mini muffin cups with one Tablespoon of batter. Bake for about 11-12 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for about 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling until completely cool.
4. Frost cupcakes [use a start tip if you have one] with Maple butter once cakes are completely cool and top with a whole toasted pecan.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Add in the salt and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the maple syrup, beat until smooth. Add any additional confectioners sugar if needed one Tbsp. at a time if buttercream is too soft.
I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me the secret to a good red velvet cake recipe. People swear to me [and I’m not braggin’] that my red velvet cake is the best. You wanna know the secret? No, you don’t have to move to the South. No, you don’t need to add vinegar. No, you don’t have to use buttermilk. You wanna know? Do ya? Do ya? Okay. Here’s the answer….Drum roll….wait for it, wait for it…
You go to www.mcCormick.com and look for the recipe. Or better yet; it’s right below for your convenience. That’s right. The same recipe I have been using for years comes straight from the people who supply that red food color/one ounce of/love it red boldness/gotta make red velvet cake color red food color. That’s right. You heard me right. I’m not even kidding. I’ve tried all kinds of recipes and theirs is the best. I swear-you just have to trust me on this. I just have one piece of advice. When you go to the store to buy the McCormick red food color buy more than one bottle. Buy three. Next time when you want to make red velvet cake and you can’t find red food color because let’s say it’s the eve of Valentines Day and every other baker Betty has cleared the shelf; you’ll thank me. Keep it on hand. Okay, down to business. One other piece of advice. Make sure the dairy and the eggs are room temp when you go to mix the batter. That’s it. Carry on.
Red Velvet Cake
(recipe from McCormick spice co.)
(yield: 24 cupcakes, one 2 layer 9 inch cake or one 9 x 13 inch pan)
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs (room temp)
1 cup sour cream (room temp)
1/2 cup milk (room temp)
1 bottle (1 ounce) McCormick® Red Food Color
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans; or (for cupcakes prepare a standard size muffin/cupcake tin with 24 paper liners) or (for 9×13 inch pan grease and flour the pan, tap out excess flour). Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pans/cupcake pan. [For cupcakes use a 1/4 cup equivalent ice cream scoop to fill them 2/3 full].
3. For 9 inch Cake pans: Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For Cupcakes: Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For 9 x 13 inch pan; Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans if using 9 inch pans; cool completely on wire rack.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: (Suzie tip: I make double the amount of the recipe originally called for in the recipe). I can’t stand a cake that wimps out on the amount of frosting. I’m just sayin’
2 (8 oz. packages) (1 lb. total) cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 Cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
(optional)* 8 oz. white chocolate melted and cooled
Beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Fill and frost cooled cake or frost cupcakes with frosting.
* Suzie variation: If I’m making the 9 inch cake where I’m using the frosting as filling and frosting I like to add the white chocolate. It gives the frosting a little more body and adds a really rich flavor.
Strawberry Guava Cupcakes
Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues with pretty in pink cupcakes, and to also honor my friend Ruth and her birthday. Ruthie as we like to call her sprinkles sugar where ever she goes; just like these pretty cupcakes. Happy Birthday Ruthie! We love you so much.
Strawberry Chiffon Cake
(this chiffon cake recipe is from Jennifer at use real butter) please check out her blog- it is amazing. Her site is www.userealbutter.com)
[note: this recipe calls for a lot of egg whites- because of this I like to buy the carton of fresh egg whites; you can find them near the butter section of your grocery store] It will save you time and you won’t have a ton of egg yolks leftover.
14.5 oz cake flour
8.75 oz. confectioners sugar
0.5 oz. baking powder
6.75 oz. whole milk
6 oz. canola oil
3-4 oz. strawberry puree
13 oz. egg whites
9.5 oz. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
(Guava jam for filling cupcakes)
1. Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 standard muffin tray with cupcake liners.
2. Sift the dry ingredients (except the granulated sugar) together and set aside.
3. In a large bowl combine the milk, oil, 2 eggs, strawberry puree and vanilla.
4. Whip the 13 oz. of egg whites and the granulated sugar together until they reach medium peaks.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients from step 3 and combine until incorporated.
6. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter gently. Note; if you like you can add some additional red food coloring at this point if you want your batter a little darker.
7. Fill the paper liners with 1/4 Cup batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-16 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack. Fill and frost when completely cool.
8 egg whites (or equivalent of liquid “just whites” the carton will tell you the conversion amount)
2 Cups sugar
6 sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C strawberrry preserves
1. In the mixer bow of a stand mixer place the egg whites and sugar and place over a saucepan of simmering water.
2. Heat the egg white mixture while whisking until the temperature is about 160 degrees and/or the mixture is very warm to finger touch and can no longer feel any sugar crystals between your fingers.
3. With the whisk attachment; place the bow on the stand mixer and whip until you have a stiff meringue and the bottom of the bowl is barely warm. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time until all of the butter is incorporated; mix on high speed. Add the vanilla and strawberry preserves. Whip until smooth.
If you desire you can remove a piece of the cupcake with an apple corer and fill with guava jam. Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and sprinkle with choice of decorated sugars. To get the swirled effect as above I have used a 1M Wilton pastry tip.