DIY Birthday: Cupcakes

Happy Tuesday babes!
I have been a little caught up with school and life over the past couple of days and just haven't made the time to blog. But finally I am sitting down and writing a couple posts that I have been planning for a while.
On Friday it was my dear, sweet, precious, perfect best friend MacKenzie's birthday. Last year we spent her birthday cooped up in our dorm studying for our huge biology test the next day. I tried to make it as special as possible but this year I knew I needed to do it big, after the girl deserves it! Starting the weekend before I made trips to the craft store, wrote lots of to-do lists and made my own secret pinterest board for the whole thing. One of the best parts of the whole ordeal, in my opinion were the cupcakes. They turned out too sweet for my liking with all of the butter cream piled high, but they were lookers. I could have been describing myself there rather than a cupcake.
I ended up choosing Martha Stewart's salted caramel cupcake recipe along with one for white chocolate cupcakes that I added a strawberry filling to.

I then piped them with at thick butter cream recipe. I knew it was trouble when it called for 8 cups of powdered sugar. Did I mention I fed these to my diabetic best friend, whoops! Thank goodness for her pink pump.
Originally I had planned to find a bouquet online and replicate it with frosting. However, after breaking two pastry bags and splitting others in half I decided that hydrangeas and carnation sort of things would be just fine. So, the bouquet was all of my own design in the end.
So was the frosting technique.
I had planned to watch all of these videos and read tons of blogs telling me how to make the perfect frosting flower when I finally thought, how about not. I decided that I would throw some tips on bags, fill them with icing and pipe away. They turned out pretty nice if I say so myself.
The final, and best, thing about these cupcakes was 'potting' them in their flower bouquet. I took a cheap pot from the craft store, hot glued a 6" Styrofoam ball onto it and tooth picked my babies in. This part was frustrating because I did not plan it out, at all. Cupcakes went in, I forgot to balance it and down tumbled my hard work. I tried again and soon enough found that the more toothpicks, the better. In the end it came out pretty well, and even made it 40 minutes to the birthday girl's house with minor injuries. The best part was that she loved it and was totally surprised, I would do it again for her any day!

The cupcakes I made were:

 Salted Carmel Cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart
{Makes 18 cupcakes}
·      1 ½ cups all purpose flour
·      ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
·      1 ½ cups sugar
·      1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
·      ¾ teaspoon baking powder
·      ¾ teaspoon salt
·      2 large eggs
·      ¾ cup buttermilk
·      3 tablespoons vegetable oil
·      1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·      ¾ cup warm water
1.      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.

2.      Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.

3.      To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.

4.      Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip (I used Wilton #1M) and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do NOT refrigerate. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Cupcakes
{Makes 18 cupcakes}
·      1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

·      1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

·      ½ teaspoon salt

·      ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

·      ¾ cup sugar

·      2 eggs, at room temperature

·      4 ounces white chocolate (I used chips), melted and cooled to room temperature
·      1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

·      1 cup milk room temperature
1.      Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.

2.      In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3.      In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter until light in color. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla until combined. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture into the bowl and mix until just combined. Add half of the milk, mixing until just combined before adding the rest of the flour and milk in alternating additions (half of the remaining flour, the remaining milk, the remaining flour) Do not over mix.

4.      Place 2 level tablespoons of batter in each cupcake liner. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until centers are slightly firm. Allow to cool completely before filling or frosting.
Strawberry Filling
·      ½ cup water
·      1 tbsp & 1 ½ tsp cornstarch
·      1 ¼ cups strawberries cut into bite sized pieces
·      ¼ cup & 2 tbsp white sugar

  • Whisk water and cornstarch together in a large saucepan.
  • Stir strawberries and sugar into the water.
  • Cook strawberry mixture over medium heat until thick, about 10 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely before use.
  • Salted Carmel Filling
    1.      2 ½ cups sugar
    2.      2/3 cup water
    3.      1 tbsp light corn syrup
    3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

    1. Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
    2. Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. 3. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove rom heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

    Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable. 
    Butter Cream Frosting
    ·      1 cup Crisco butter flavor shortening
    ·      1 cup unsalted butter
    ·      2 tsps vanilla
    ·      8 cups icing sugar sifted
    ·      3-4 tbsps milk
    1. Mix Crisco and butter until light and fluffy
    2. add sugar
    3. add vanilla, clear will make frosting more white
    4. slowly add in milk, depending on how thick you want it to be