Archive

Dessert

magnoliaredvelvetcupcakesif you asked me to pick a dessert i couldn’t live without, it would be cookies. cakes i could throw by the wayside, i love ice cream but could 100% live without it, and brownies, well – love them, but overall, they rate MEH in my book. but cookies, i can’t live without. that is, until i think of cupcakes. see, cupcakes are the best of both worlds: batter AND frosting. there’s something about a perfect cupcake, the combination of fluffy cake and light, airy icing, that just makes for magic inside the mouth.

such is certainly the case with these red velvet cupcakes. they’re from allysa torey’s more from magnolia book, which i “borrowed” from my friend katie two years ago and never returned. torey’s red velvet recipe is my favorite, and though she generally serves hers with vanilla buttercream, i opted to go more traditional, and topped my cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, because, well, cream cheese and red velvet go together like peanut butter and jelly.

for the cupcakes, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising, that’s different! i buy swan’s down, it comes in a happy red box)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons red food coloring (or, if you opt for gel, simply squirt ’til the dough is bright red – that’s how i roll)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

here’s what you’ll do: 

first things first. preheat your oven to 350, and prep your muffin tins. i like to use foil wrappers, but you could use pretty paper ones if your heart desires.

in a small bowl, sift your cake flour and set aside. {sidenote: i never sift anything. i don’t even own a sifter. but you should do this, because it’s what allysa torey does} next, combine the butter and sugar in a large stand mixer (or large bowl, if you don’t have a kitchenaid) until light and fluffy. that should be approximately 3-5 minutes on medium. add your eggs, one at a time, and beat in.

in an even smaller bowl than your small bowl, whisk (literally, use a whisk) together your red food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla. {sidenote: if you’re using gel food coloring, like i do, this won’t mix as nicely as you’d like since there’s less liquid in gel than there is in, well, liquid. feel free to add a tiny bit of water to move things along}

add your red chocolate mixture to the batter, and beat well. at this time, you can add more food coloring to your batter if it’s not red enough. gel’s a bit hard to measure, so you basically just need to keep adding color until you’ve got the shade of your dreams.

pour your buttermilk into a measuring cup, and stir the salt into it. add your buttermilk in three parts, alternating with the flour. every time you add something, beat until incorporated, but don’t over-beat!

now, for the fun, science-experiment part of the day. in yet another small bowl, stir together your cider vinegar and baking soda. watch as it fizzes up, just like those “volcanoes” you made in 6th grade. WHEEE! what fun, right?

using a rubber spatula, scrape down your batter into the bowl, and ensure that all ingredients have been evenly mixed in. you’ll often find a bit of stubborn, unmixed butter at the bottom of the bowl, so be sure to check for that.

fill your muffin cups 2/3s of the way full. bake for approximately 20-30 minutes (it really depends on your oven, but keep an eye on your ‘cakes after 20), until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

when they’re done, let the cupcakes cool in their tins for about 5 or so minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack and let ’em chill. go watch an episode of SVU, or house hunters.

then come back and make your frosting.

what you’ll need:

  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 1.5 cups of powdered sugar

what you’ll do:

basically, you’re just mixing all that goodness up in your kitchenaid. start with the cream cheese and the butter, add the vanilla, and then the sugar. beat until smooth. i usually beat mine at least 5 minutes, so that’s saying something. also, feel free to add more confectioner’s sugar if the frosting seems too watery. powdered sugar basically evaporates into the universe when you mix it into anything, so you really can never have too much of the stuff. i’ve added an entire box at times (SUGAR HIGH). just keep your eyes peeled, essentially, and don’t be afraid to taste test for consistency’s sake.

once your cupcakes are cooled, spread your frosting onto those babies, swirl your spoon around the top to make that little “magnolia dent” the bakery is so famous for, and eat! or dole out to coworkers, as i do. or, if you’re a person with a big heart and a big sweet tooth, do both (okay, that’s what i do).

 

 

Advertisements

chai-coconut-ice-cream-frozeni am a bonafide chai addict. i can’t get enough. i drink a venti iced chai from my beloved starbucks (don’t judge, their chai beats most small, independent coffee shops by a mile) every morning. i start my day by saying “hi” to my baristas, many of whom i have befriended thanks to the sheer frequency at which they see me. or maybe they just pretend to be my friend. well, whatever, at least they start my mornings off right.

anywho, chai. I DON’T CARE, I LOVE IT. thanks to icona pop for crystallizing my feelings and putting them into song lyrics. i stumbled upon a new to me cooking blog the other day and came across this recipe for chai ice cream. yes, i said chai ice cream. HUBBA HUBBA. i know it’s not fall yet, but the temperature today is definitely below 80, and we’ve only got one month of sweltering heat and stick to your skin humidity left before fall ushers in like prince charming and makes everything right again. and when that happens, i can’t wait to make this recipe.

i’ll let you guys know how i fare when i do. in the meantime, if you need me, look for a blonde girl with big boobs at your local starbucks. chances are, you can find me there.

Imagegrowing up, i was always a chocolate person. i have this vivid memory of baking brownies one day and offering one to my next door neighbor scott, only to have him tell me he didn’t like chocolate, he liked vanilla. i’m pretty sure i almost dropped the brownie, i was so shocked. i mean, what kind of person doesn’t like chocolate? was scott an alien? was he trying to pull a fast one on me?

turns out, the kid just didn’t like chocolate. last summer, when he got married, there was no chocolate in the cake. he’s all vanilla, all the time. we’re no longer five years old and playing hopscotch on our driveway, and as i’ve aged, i’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of vanilla. vanilla extract is my secret baking weapon. i always add extra to everything i bake, and the results are pretty much always spectacular. i derive great pleasure from gutting vanilla beans and scooping out their fragrant insides. and yes, i even eat (and make) vanilla ice cream. which is what prompted this ice cream escapade, which utilizes recipes from david lebovitz’s the perfect scoop

the man is practically an ice cream god, so rest assured, this recipe is quite good. i’d never made cookie dough ice cream before, and so initially, i searched for a cookie dough ice cream recipe. turns out, there’s no real recipe for that. what you’re supposed to do instead is make your favorite vanilla ice cream, and then add special cookie dough (sans eggs) into it at the very end. well, color me educated in the ways of the ice cream elite.

i took both the vanilla bean ice cream and the cookie dough recipe from the perfect scoop, though i found an abundance of recipes on google that are probably just as good. the result is ice cream that’s so creamy you swear it’s melting the second you put the spoon to your mouth, and cookie dough that tastes pretty damn close to the real thing (hard to achieve without any eggs, let me tell you).

so, shall we? note: you’ll need an ice cream maker for this recipe. i have this one from cuisinart. it was dirt cheap, and works like a charm.

The Recipe: Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup white sugar

2 cups heavy cream

pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

6 large egg yolks

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

to make, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. you don’t want it to boil, per se, so keep the burner somewhat low. scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk, and add the bean in there as well. when the milk is warm, cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

go give yourself an at home mani, or watch 1/2 of the latest episode of nashville while you wait. done?

good. now, pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top of it. in a medium bowl (i do this part in my stand mixer), whisk together the egg yolks. slowly pour the warmed vanilla milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly (this is where the stand mixer comes in handy; you can just set it on low), then scrape the warmed egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan. take care not to dump all your warmed  milk into the eggs at once, the last thing you want is for them to cook.

stir the egg/milk mixture over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. in my experience, this takes anywhere from 3-7 minutes. wondering if the mixture is ready? run your finger down the middle of the spatula. if the mixture parts like the dead sea and doesn’t run, it’s ready. not running? congratulations, you’ve just made custard!

pour your custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. put the vanilla bean into the mixture, add the vanilla extract, and put your bowl over an ice bath, stirring until cool.

chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge. usually, this takes about an hour or two. that’s enough time for two episodes of chicago fire or one episode of the voice’s blind auditions. there’s really no bad option – you either get hot firefighters or two hours of blake shelton wearing the hell out of a really great vest.

when the mixture is cold and ready to churn, pour it into your ice cream mixture and freeze according to your machine’s instructions. when the ice cream is almost done, add your cookie dough…

…which you can make by following the instructions below.

The Recipe: Egg-free Cookie Dough

5 tbsp salted butter, melted (if you only have unsalted butter, just throw some salt in it)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 semisweet chocolate chips (in retrospect, i wish i’d used mini chocolate chips)

to make, stir butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl until smooth. stir in the flour, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. form the dough into a 1/2″ thick disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. once chilled, unwrap the dough, and chop it into bite size pieces.

and there you have it, folks. now, go forth and make ice cream.

Image

red velvet cupcakes with gold sugar sprinkles

what did you do on MLK day? instead of going out and giving  back to my community like i should have, i went to bar method and then spent the afternoon crafting red velvet birthday cupcakes for my dear friend bruce. i feel slightly guilty about this, but i’d like to think that the hours i spent cleaning caked cat pee off of the crates at petco sufficed as my volunteer commitment for the weekend (i volunteer with a no kill cat rescue called kitty kind. they are wonderful, the cats are adorable, and i don’t even mind the pee).

so let’s talk red velvet. red velvet is one of those cupcake flavors that hit its heyday when cupcakes became a “thing.” you know, when magnolia and buttercup and baked by melissa and butter lane and sprinkles and the 9 million other scenester cupcake places opened. back in the day, people made chocolate and vanilla and they were satisfied with that. but then the fancy schmancy cupcake places came along, and lord, am i glad they did. otherwise, i’d never have learned of such wonders as chai cupcakes (holy food orgasm) and red velvet cakes (holy melt in your mouth amazing).

Image

doling out batter. kind of looks like little red turds, no?

red velvet’s funny, mostly because people seem to automatically assume that the red coloring corresponds with a ‘red’ flavor, such as cherry, strawberry, or watermelon. this isn’t the case. in fact, red velvet cupcakes are flavored with a hint of cocoa and a splash of cider vinegar; this is what gives them the sweet but ever so slightly tangy taste they’re known for. of course, there’s lots of red food coloring. i’m partial to this one, which i buy at ny cake (if you don’t live in NYC, ny cake ships!). gel food coloring is great, because it means you’re not pouring three bottles of chemicals into your cupcakes.

not that i poured three bottles into mine – i probably used about half the amount of food coloring recommended in the recipe because i was using gel instead of liquid.

so, want to make these babies for yourself? you do, they’re good. really, really good.  unless my taste buds and my friends lied to me, in which case, taste buds, i’m sorry, friends, go find your own cupcakes.

The Recipe (from the More from Magnolia cookbook) 

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising!)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups white sugar

3 large eggs at room temperature

6 tablespoons liquid food coloring (use only 3 if you’re using gel color)

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

to make, preheat your oven to 350, and line 2 cupcake pans (24 cupcakes total)

Image

mixing up the butter and sugar…heavenly.

to make the batter, sift the cake flour into a small bowl and set aside. in your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – this should take about five minutes. once light and fluffy has been achieved, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

next, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. if you’re using gel food coloring, it’s okay to add a few droplets of water to thin the mixture out a  bit (i didn’t have to, but you never know). add the red chocolate mixture to the butter/sugar/eggs mixture, and beat well. now the fun comes – your batter will start to turn a brilliant pinky red. BEAUTIFUL!

now, pour your buttermilk into a glass measuring cup, and stir the salt into the buttermilk. add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the cake flour. beat until the ingredients are just incorporated, but don’t overbeat.

Image

painting the town red with chocolate, vanilla extract, and red gel food coloring

in a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. it’ll fizz up like a second grade science project! volcano cupcakes! just kidding.

add the cider/baking soda mixture to the batter and mix well. use a rubber spatula to scrape down all the edges, and make sure the batter is smooth throughout.

divide your batter into the prepared cupcake pans – fill each cupcake liner 3/4 of the way full (don’t overfill or your cupcakes will overflow. trust me. been there, done that).

arrange the pans in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, switching the pans halfway through. use a toothpick to make sure the cupcakes are done – you want it to come out clean; a goopy toothpick means that shit ain’t done!

cool cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack before icing.

which brings me to the best part: FROSTING. i like cream cheese frosting for red velvet, but vanilla buttercream would be delish as well.

cream cheese frosting is the easiest in the world to make – which is part of why i love it.

Ingredients

2 oz. packages of cream cheese, left to sit out for a bit so they soften slightly

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract ( i used about 2 1/2 cause i loooove me some vanilla extract)

5 cups sifted confectioners sugar

to make, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed in your stand mixer for about 3 minutes, or until smooth. add the vanilla and beat well. gradually beat in the sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth and creamy. cover and refrigerate for a bit to thicken – or spread as is if you’re happy with the consistency as it stands.

i added gold sprinkles on top of mine because i’m fancy like that – but any toppings will do. sprinkles just make everything nicer, if you ask me. but these babies are so delicious they’d be fine with frosting and nothing else.

now, go forth and eat!

Image

a couple of years ago for hanukkah, my parents gifted me with what i consider to be my very own bible: the all-american cookie book by nancy baggett. this book is where 99% of my favorite cookie recipes come from, with the exception of one: the peanut butter kiss.

 you’ve probably had a peanut butter kiss before. in fact, in high school i once made out with a guy after a party who tasted a lot like peanut butter. et voila, a peanut butter kiss! no, but really – it’s my experience that many a man taste like peanut butter when you kiss them. hey, it’s better than tasting of cigarettes and stale beer, right?

 anywho, you’ve also probably had a peanut butter kiss COOKIE before, too. you know, those deliciously crackly peanut butter cookies wrapped in sugar, the ones with a hershey’s kiss melted smack dab into the middle. there’s little better in life than peanut butter and chocolate (mint and chocolate is pretty damn amazing too), as reese’s cups and haagen dazs’ chocolate peanut butter ice cream demonstrate. these cookies are incredibly simple and take less than 10 minutes to whip up, then another ten to bake. they taste amazing, look adorable, and make a great gift. right now, there’s a bunch of them sitting in my glass cookie jar, looking pretty all day every day. 

 seriously, you can’t go wrong with these. they converted my peanut butter hating roommate into a fan. girl ever asked for the recipe. that’s when you know she’s come over to the dark side of PB and chocolate. you’ll notice that i went for hershey’s white chocolate swirl kisses. this wasn’t intentional. i was actually quite unhappy when i opened the bag and saw i’d gotten the wrong kind –  but you know what? turns out peanut butter is just as good with white chocolate as it is with milk chocolate. 

The Recipe *adapted from a cooks.com recipe search

 1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

4 tbsp milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 bag hershey’s kisses (flavor of your choice)

 additional 1/2 cup white sugar

 to make, preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease two baking sheets (or cover with parchment paper or silicone mats).

 combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. set aside. in a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer, if you’ve got one), mix sugars, butter, peanut butter, egg, milk and vanilla until creamy. go on, dip your finger in. it’s goooood, isn’t it? now, slowly mix in the dry ingredients.

 take your additional 1/2 cup of white sugar and put it in a small bowl. roll your dough into golf-sized balls (or a little smaller) and roll in the sugar. place on cookie sheet, about 1″ apart. bake for 8-10 minutes (they should be golden and cracked around the top), and immediately place a single chocolate kiss* in the center of each cookie.

 *insider’s tip: peel the wrappers from your kisses ahead of time, and stick them in a bowl in the freezer. this ensures that they won’t melt entirely when you put them into the hot cookies.

 now, resist the urge to eat the whole batch at once. or don’t. but don’t blame me if you have a tummy ache tomorrow. 

Image

when i first started this blog, i thought i’d mostly write about cookies, because they’re the thing i make more than anything. but since it’s been hot as balls outside, i’ve been experimenting (i’ve got some great  easy popsicle recipes coming up!), and since i’ve been working long hours, i’ve been procrastinating on food gawker, finding some cool non-cookie recipes. but with this recipe, i’m going back to my roots. you know, my cookie roots.

if you ask me, there’s really nothing better than a freshly baked cookie. slightly crisp on the outside, perfectly chewy on the inside. a good cookie isn’t halfway to heaven – it’s all the way there, propelling you past the stars into some outer space like region where everything sparkles and is drenched in natural sunlight and filled with the most adorable kittens you’ve ever seen. what? that’s not your vision of heaven?

anywho, there’s not much to say about these cookies, except that they involve peanut butter. and oats. and when you put those two things together, magic happens. i know everyone hates on oatmeal raisin cookies. they’re like the bastard stepchild of chocolate chip, the one that always has to sit way at the end of the dinner table and gets served last at breakfast. but i LOVE oatmeal cookies, because they’re thick and chewy and substantial (sometimes, a chocolate chip cookie just ain’t enough). now, that’s not to say i don’t love a good chocolate chip recipe. you know i do. i’m just saying, sometimes you need a lil more somethin’ somethin’….you know what i mean?

of course you do. and you’re going to make these guys and REALLY know what i mean. i stumbled across this recipe on my favorite time-wasting website, pinterest, and bookmarked them immediately. i mean, hello, can you say “peanut butter oatmeal sandwich cookie” three times fast? i can. this recipe yields the sort of homey, straight to the top of your “comfort food” list, stuff your face while you’re watching bad TV cookies that sweet dreams are made of.

let’s make ’em, shall we?

*recipe adapted from broma bakery.

The Recipe

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey roasted peanut butter (you can find it freshly ground at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
for the filling:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2-4 tbsp milk (for extra creaminess)
1 tsp vanilla
to make, preheat your oven to 350. in a medium sized bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. set aside. in a stand mixer (or a large bowl, if you don’t have a stand mixer), whip the butter and sugars until creamy. mix in the egg and beat until incorporated then do the same with the peanut butter and vanilla. note: i added more vanilla than broma’s original recipe. i add more vanilla to everything i bake. in fact, i don’t even measure it. i just pour it in. and it always tastes better.
now, beat in your dry ingredients until just incorporated (don’t overbeat!). now, place rounded teaspoon-sized balls of batter onto an ungreased baking sheet. note: i use silicon baking mats on all my baking sheets. they help your cookies bake more evenly and prevent burning and sticking. get one. bake your cookies for 8-10 minutes, until golden on the sides. let cool for a few minutes on your baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
while your cookies are cooling, clean your stand mixer bowl and get to work on the filling. beat the confectioner’s sugar and peanut butter until light and airy. i needed to add some milk to mine to thin it out, and i also added a few squirts of vanilla. what? i can’t help it. i’m a vanillaholic.
to make, line up your cookies and match them up sizewise. then, spread about a teaspoon of filling onto one cookie and top with another. smush together to spread out the filling. et voila! sandwich cookies that are WAY better than any regular sandwich could ever be.

Image

it is my belief that birthday cupcakes should be two things: 1) delicious and 2) colorful. these babies cover both those requirements, what with being extremely delicious and ahem, HOT PINK. of course, such cupcakes should also be covered in sparkles whenever appropriate (aka, always). i made these to celebrate my friend maddie’s 24th year of life, and the hot pink color couldn’t have been more appropriate, nor could the sparkles. maddie is the epitome of one of those people who literally lights up a room when she walks in. she’s a ray of sunshine, with a huge smile and a warm, friendly aura towards which people naturally gravitate. as such, she deserved the best of birthday cupcakes, and so hot pink it was.

Hot Pink Birthday Cupcakes Vanilla Buttercreamas it happened, i had a big thing of buttermilk in my fridge. and since buttercream frosting is, well, butter and “cream” (milk) and sugar, i figured why not use buttermilk instead of regular milk and make the frosting just a bit more rich? i mean, if you’ve just hit a ball to the outfield, why not head for a home run, right? these babies were already so calorie-laden, i figured it couldn’t hurt to go ALL.THE.WAY. so i did, swapping milk for buttermilk, and mama mia, am i glad i did. this frosting was light, creamy, and SOO GOOD. melt in your mouth good. perfectly sugary and vanilla-y and oh so amazing.

for the cupcakes themselves, i used smitten kitchen’s “best birthday cake” recipe. everyone needs a go-to yellow cake recipe, and sk’s is mine. the woman knows her cakes, what can i say? speaking of smitten, i’ve long been positively smitten with her blog. if you haven’t read it yet, you are MISSING OUT. she’s got a cookbook coming out in october that i can’t wait to snag, and her recipes are BANGIN. plus her pictures are pretty, with a beautiful contrast thanks to a dark background and bright, colorful dishes. in short, she’s a food genius, a blogarific idol, and seems pretty all around wonderful if you ask me. maybe she even likes cats(!!) – that would just put me over the edge. Vanilla Yellow Birthday Cupcakes

so, here’s the dealio. you’ll want to whip up a batch of smitten kitchen’s cake, and then add some hot pink food coloring. i get mine at NY Cake, which, if you live in NYC, is a baker’s paradise (for those who don’t live in NYC, you can order online). seriously, if you’ve never been, GO NOW. it’s on 22nd between 5th and 6th, and is a floor to ceiling supply shop stocked with everything you never knew you needed. for instance, before i went there for the first time, i did not know that i needed fuschia-colored gel food coloring. but then i saw it on the shelf, and it was like we were meant to be. instant lust. i also didn’t know i needed ten different tips of cupcake liners, but you know what? i do. i also needed edible gold and silver stars in place of traditional sprinkles, and dusting sugar in every color under the sun. like i said, this place is paradise. get yo’ ass over there, stat.

once your batter is made, divy it up into cake pans, or split it into cupcakes, like i did. this recipe should make 2 cake layers (for one cake), or about 24 cupcakes (i had enough for 24 cupcakes AND about 6 minis, and i ate a bunch of the batter).

OKAY LET’S DO THIS.

The Recipe: Best Birthday Cupcakes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (for new bakers, cake flour is the shiznat. it makes a huge difference…TRUST. i buy swan’s down at my local grocery store)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

to make, preheat your oven to 350 and line your cupcake pans. i spritz my liners with a little bit of pam just in case. if you’re making cake, just spritz two 9″ cake pans with some pam instead. Hot Pink Birthday Cupcakes

start by mixing the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. set aside. in a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer is preferable here – i have and love my kitchenaid), cream together the butter and sugar. room temperature butter works best here; softening in the microwave means you run the risk of over-melting. i like to take my butter out of the fridge about 30 minutes before i’m ready to bake. by the time i’m ready to use it, it’s soft enough to beat, but not so melted that it’s watery and overheated. stir at medium speed with an electric mixer until the butter and sugar are soft and fluffy, then add in your vanilla.

now, add the eggs in one at a time. make sure you’re scraping down the sides of your bowl to evenly incorporate all the ingredients as you go. once your eggs are added, turn the mixer down to low and add your buttermilk. if the mixture looks curdled, don’t be alarmed. this is normal. mix in your flour in a few batches, and beat until just combined.

now comes the fun part. grab your food coloring (remember, i used fuschia), and squirt about a quarter sized amount into your batter (note: if you’re using regular food coloring, you’ll need a LOT of it to get such a saturated color. this is why gel food coloring is best – you use less and get more color). mix until evenly incorporated. if the batter isn’t bright enough, add a few more squirts of the gel. i’d estimate i used about 2 or 3 teaspoons worth of food coloring total. Hot Pink Birthday Cupcakes

now you should have hot pink batter that tastes exactly like that duncan hines yellow cake mix you used to eat as a kid. go on, dip your finger (or two) in and have a lick. DELICIOUS, right? hats off to miss smitten kitchen.

spoon your batter into your prepared muffin tins – fill about 3/4 of the way. bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick. when it comes out clean, the cupcakes are done.

cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove and stick the cupcakes on a drying rack to cool completely. i made my cupcakes the night before, then my frosting the afternoon of the party – this enabled me to frost the cupcakes when they were completely cooled and hence, i was able to avoid any melted frosting issues.

now, let’s frost these babies.

Buttermilk Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks of butter, softened

6 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 – 1/2 cup buttermilk

buttercream frosting is just about the easiest thing to make on the planet – mostly because you can customize it to your taste. i like the measurements above, but if you wanted it thicker, you’d add more sugar, thinner, less. if you wanted more vanilla taste, add more extract. maybe you want some more creaminess in there – add more buttermilk. essentially, all you need to do is whip your softened butter until smooth, then add the buttermilk, extract, and about 2 cups of the sugar. beat until all are combined. now, add a cup at a time of sugar until the frosting has reached your desired consistency. for me, that consistency is pretty thick. i like the kind of frosting you can simply swirl on with a spatula.

i covered my cupcakes with some rainbow colored dusting sugar for a bit of extra pizzazz – but you could leave them be. they’d be pretty spectacular either way, thanks to the fuschia food coloring.Image