DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! In a college town, once August hits, there’s a flurry of lease turnovers with pretty much the entire population moving out of their houses and apartments, and moving into new places. I haven’t had to move in […]
DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! I’ve been swamped in medical school applications the last couple of weeks, but I’m moving out of my house to a new apartment soon, and I needed to clean my kitchen out a bit. After taking stock […]
DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!
My brother, Tim, has been home for most of the summer, but he’s heading back to the east coast to where he goes to school at the end of this week. He was hoping I could make something for the Fourth of July that he could bring back to his girldfriend. He also emphasized that she likes strawberry shortcake. I pointed out that anything that resembled a strawberry shortcake was going to need to stay chilled the whole way back east from Michigan where I live, but he seemed to come up with a solution. (I learned long ago with my brother to just let him do what he wants and assume that things will fall into place). He asked me to see if I could make strawberry shortcake cupcakes and red, white, and blue them up.
The nice thing about strawberry shortcake is that shortcake itself is pretty simple and it’s white. (Imagine trying to turn chocolate cake red, white, and blue). Strawberry shortcake cupcakes also wouldn’t be difficult since it’s essentially plain yellow cake. I briefly toyed with the idea of using genoise cake like a Japanese style strawberry shortcake which is my personal favorite kind of cake, but I got nervous just thinking about it. Genoise cake rises only with egg whites and its finicky enough when you’re making one big cake. I don’t even want to think of the challenges of keeping the batter from deflating while spooning it into cupcake liners and then hoping that they all rise about the same. Shortcake, on the other hand, is a pretty simple recipe that’s hard to ruin.
To make the cupcakes multi-colored, I split the batter up into three bowls after I finished mixing it up. I dyed one bowl red, one bowl blue, and left the last bowl plain. I always use gel food coloring. You only need a bit on a toothpick to tint an entire bowl. I’ve found that using liquid food coloring doesn’t color things as vibrantly and requires a lot more. Once the batter was colored, I spooned a bit of each colored batter into the cupcake liners. Then I swirled the colors together with a toothpick — gently so I didn’t turn them purple — before baking. The end result definitely looked like “patriotic strawberry shortcake cupcakes.” I was pretty pleased with myself (and hopefully my brother and his girlfriend were as well).
Whenever I do anything with whipped cream frosting, I always stabilize it. Stabilized whipped cream frosting is whipped cream with gelatin mixed in. This makes it much more unlikely that your frosting collapses on you, and, if you want to pipe it, you can. (This doesn’t mean you can suddenly pipe flowers out of whipped cream, but it will hold a simple shape). Essentially, the only extra step is pouring liquid gelatin into your cream once it reaches the “soft peaks” stage. Once the gelatin is in, whip it up to stiff peaks. NOTE: if you overwhip whipped cream and it gets all curdled and grainy, you can revive it by adding in some more unwhipped cream.
How I frosted:
I used the Wilton open star #21 tip. This tip gives you the nice, sharp edges I was going for
Then, pipe a ring around the perimeter of the cupcake.
Fill in the center.
After filling in, place strawberries.
Next, pipe a smaller ring on top of the strawberries.
Fill in the center again.
Place blueberries on top.
Finally, pipe a small peak on top of the blueberries.
A couple notes:
- If you’re vegan/vegetarian, taking the gelatin out of the recipe will not cause an issue. The only difference will be that piped frosting may not hold edges as well.
- On the flip side, if you plan on piping the whipped cream, gelatin will be a big help. It keeps the whipped cream from “deflating” after a while.
- I am a big proponent of gel food coloring. It may be a bit more expensive and a bit harder to find than normal liquid food coloring but it’s much more effective in my opinion. A small amount lasts a while too.
- If your whipped cream gets overwhipped (you’ll know), just add in some unwhipped cream.
- If you make these before an event, store them uncovered in the refrigerator. Because the fruit has so much moisture, you’ll get a lot of condensation inside the container if you close it.
Easy to make red, white, and blue strawberry shortcake cupcakes
- 1 stick butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- red and blue food coloring
- strawberries and blueberries for topping
- 2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 8 tsp cold water
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cream the butter
Add in sugar and beat for ~2min until the mixture is light and fluffy. (I always think it looks like mashed potatoes)
Beat in eggs, one at a time
Add in vanilla extract, salt, and baking powder
Add flour in 3 parts, alternating with milk.
In other words: 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour
Bake for 20-30min or until toothpick comes out clean
Let cool completely before frosting (or your frosting will melt).
Bloom gelatin by sprinkling gelatin over water in a small bowl and letting it sit for 5min
Combine cream and powderd sugar in a mixing bowl
Whip to soft peaks
Microwave gelatin for 10secs or until it has dissolved completely
Slowly pour gelatin into cream while continuing to whip until it forms stiff peaks
Refrigerate until ready to use
Cut strawberries into triangular shapes
Put a layer of whipped cream on top of cupcakes. I did this by piping a ring and then filling in the center.
Place strawberries in a circle
Put another, smaller, layer of whipped cream on top of the strawberries
Place a few blueberries on top of this layer
Top with a peak of whipped cream
DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!
Two of my co-workers are leaving this week (bye, Meghan and Sirichai), so I did my usual thing and brought a cake into the office. When I’m making cakes (or other desserts) specifically for people, I usually fire off 5-10 questions that pop into my head and try to combine some of the answers into what I decide to make. My questions this time around were:
- What’s your favorite color?
M: purple fasho
- What’s your favorite animal?
- Chocolate or vanilla?
- What’s your favorite fruit?
- What’s your favorite candy?
M: sour patch watermelon
- Is frosting yummy or gross?
M: frosting is gucci as long as it’s not everywhere and overwhelming
After some very serious deliberation, I decided on Nutella cake with Nutella frosting and cherry mousse that I would decorate with purple buttercream flowers. I got to working and ended up with my batter exploding over my stove and then setting paper towel on fire while cleaning it up. If you decide to make this cake, I suggest using a very large pot for the first step. However, batter spill aside, the cake turned out looking and tasting good.
For the buttercream flowers, I made roses, rose buds, and 5-petal violets using a Wilton 104 petal tip. I filled in the negative space with the leaves. As an extra tip, I’ve always found that popping buttercream flowers in the freezer for a couple minutes before transferring to the cake makes handling a lot easier to avoid damaging your flowers. I use Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) to side almost all my cakes because it’s wonderfully smooth and I hate the taste of American buttercream (ABC), but if you plan on piping flowers, make some ABC. It’s a lot stiffer and SMBC has a tendency to wilt if you try to pipe it into shapes. I get most of my flower-making tipes from this book, which you can read for free if you have an Amazon Prime subscription.
A couple notes:
- For real, use a large pot. The baking soda causes the batter to expand significantly when it starts to boil.
- Let the cakes cool! Mousse turns to liquid when it’s warm. So does buttercream. You don’t want your would-be beautiful cake to melt while assembling.
- For a nice squared cake, level off the round tops. It’s easiest to do this with a cake leveler or a long (mine is a 12″) serrated knife.
- I find the easiest and fastest way to cover a cake in buttercream is to pipe are the side using an extra large piping tip such as this one, and then covering the top with the leftover frosting. Use a smoother and offset spatula to smooth.
- If you’re having trouble making the top perfectly smooth, use the cheat I used, and using an offset spatula, spin your cake table and make a spiral pattern on the top.
A dense, chocolate-y cake covered in light fluffy nutella buttercream and filled with sweet cherry mousse.
- 2.5 cups light brown sugar
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chopped
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup Nutella
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups water
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flower
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 11.5 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick + 3.5tbsp)
- 120 g Nutella
- 13 oz pitted cherries
- 5.5 tbsp granulated sugar (separated)
- 1.5 tbsp cold water
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare 2 9-inch cake pans
In a very large pot or saucepan, combine light brown sugar, semisweet chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, nutella, espresso powder, baking powder, and water
Place pot on stove and stir on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. (If the sugar doesn't dissolve first you could end up with a nice layer of hard caramel on the bottom and cake without sugar)
Increase the heat to high and stir continuously, bringing the batter to a boil
Remove from heat immediately after it comes to a boil and set aside to cool for 20min
Beat eggs in, one at a time
Stir in flour and salt, be careful not to overmix
Pour batter evenly between the 2 cake pans and bake for ~40min or until a toothpick comes out clean
Cool the cakes. I go so far as to stick them in a refrigerator or freezer to make leveling and stacking easier
Preheat oven to 425°F
Combine the cherries and 3 tbsp of granulated sugar and throw them into some kind of baking pan. (I used an 8in brownie pan but anything works really)
Put the pan in the oven for 15min, stirring every 5min
Puree the cherries and transfer to a bowl. For a super smooth mousse, strain the puree as you transfer to a bowl, but for the purposes of putting it in a cake, I wasn't too concerned with some bits of cherry so I didn't bother dirtying another thing to clean and waiting for the puree to strain
Prepare an ice bath (or if you're like me and making a bunch of ice is difficult, make some room in your freezer)
Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling it over 1.5tbsp of cold water and waiting 5min
Combine 2/3 cup of your cherry puree (which should be almost all of it, you can discard the extra), with the remaining 2.5tbsp of granulated sugar in a small pot or saucepan
Place on heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes to a boil and continue for another 30secs
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1min
Whisk in gelatin until smooth
Again, if you want a super smooth mousse, you should strain it again at this point. I chose not to.
Place the cherry mixture in your ice bath (or the freezer) and stir until the mixture has cooled and thickened
Allow the cherry mixture to continue to cool and beat the heavy whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks using a stand mixer
Fold the whipped cream into the cherry mixture in 3 parts very gently so it the cream doesn't collapse.
Place the mousse in the refrigerator to cool and harden a bit more
Combine 2 egg whites and sugar in a large mixing bowl
Create a double-boiler by placing the bowl in a smaller pot filled partially with water. Heat on high while beating continuously
Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat and beat until the mixture reaches 150-160°F
Remove from heat and continue to beat until the whites form stiff peaks. (If you've already reached this point, set the meringue aside to cool)
Beat in butter
Continue to beat until light and fluffy (it should look and feel like frosting)
Add in Nutella and mix until combined
Level your cake layers
Spread mousse liberally on first layer and stack second layer on top
Cover the cake with your buttercream
Decorate with buttercream flowers or however you please