Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summertime Cupcakes

Playing in a company softball league this summer gives me the perfect excuse to try out new things without being required to consume all of them myself (or forcing my poor husband to eat them all!) I recently bought a mini ball pan from the Wilton Tent Sale here, and what a better excuse to see what perfectly round cupcakes look like than softball cupcakes! Because I was in a hurry, I used a devil’s food boxed cake mix and a can of vanilla icing.

One of the perks of this softball league is that you are allowed to bring your own booze to the games and drink while you play. (And, given our record, that’s probably a good thing!) So, of course, I had to incorporate booze into the cupcakes somehow. I made a brandy whipped chocolate ganache to fill the cupcakes and, let me tell you, you can definitely taste the raw brandy in the filling. I probably wouldn’t be serving these to any kiddos, but you can always leave the alcohol out for a kid-friendly filling. If you remember my Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, I felt the filling was a little too dense, so I opted for a higher cream-to-chocolate ratio this time around, and whipped my ganache as it was cooling so it wouldn’t be quite so dense when it set up. While tasty, I think I over-compensated a little. I doubt I needed to whip the ganache, but I certainly did no harm in doing so.

Next time, I will use a little bit denser mix or make my own batter, because while I love the fact that the cake was light and airy, the crumb was a little too moist and delicate to handle as much as I needed to for the filling and frosting of the cupcakes. I only had one mini ball pan with six cavities for batter which meant I had to bake off four batches of cupcakes to use up the mix and noticed that the longer the cake mix sat, the funkier the cupcakes looked as they baked. The first batch were beautifully domed. The second batch, the outer edges rose first, and then they got a weird hump-thingy in the middle. The final batch did a similar thing to the second batch, but a little more pronounced. That was a little bizarre to see, but I guess that’s why the instructions say to bake the cake ‘immediately’ instead of baking the cake ‘whenever you feel like it.’ Good to know.

Also, don’t make the same mistake I did, and while waiting for my ganache to cool enough that I could whip it, I thought I’d get a head start icing my cupcakes. Anyone else notice a problem with this? After getting through three of the mini-balls, I realized that I cannot pick up my cupcakes to fill them now, so I had to poke a hole through the icing, fill it, and re-ice the whole dern cupcake. And I made an absolute mess of my piping bag. That’s the one problem of my mind constantly running faster than my logic filter.

Like I mentioned, the cupcakes were made from a box mix. The icing was just the can of vanilla icing, with part of it tinted pink/red for the stripes. The only thing I made ‘from scratch’ is the chocolate ganache, and even that is as easy as throwing together a box cake mix.

(I hesitated to post these because I'm still practicing my piping skills with my new decorating set. I'm sure if I had more than 20 minutes to decorate them, they'd look a whole lot better. But I guess if I post these now, I will one day be able to see an improvement on my skills in the future!)

Chocolate Ganache

2/3 c Chocolate chips
2/3 c cream
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brandy

I put all my ingredients into a pyrex cup and microwaved in 30 second intervals, stirring each time. It took about 2-2 1/2 minutes for the chocolate to completely melt. I then let it cool to room temperature, stirring every 15-20 minutes or so, and once it got thick, whipped it with a whisk until it was light and airy. And addictive.

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