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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bookworm Cupcakes (the yellow cake worm cupcakes)

As I mentioned yesterday on my punch post, I made cupcakes last weekend for a friend's baby shower. Because the theme was book-themed and we asked everyone to bring a book for the baby's library instead of a card, I thought it would be cute to make "bookworm" cupcakes. This is one of those instances where I got an idea in my head of how I wanted it to look, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to execute as well as I was imagining. Thankfully, the display of cupcakes turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

I searched hard and long for cupcake recipes, as I'm not all that experienced baking cupcakes and I always worry they'll turn out dry or tasteless. I opted to make two different types--yellow cupcakes with buttercream frosting for the bookworm and then chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting to act as the dirt around the bookworms. I'll post the chocolate recipe tomorrow, as that one turned out sub-par, in my opinion. On the other hand, these yellow cupcakes were much better. I wouldn't say I liked them as much as the homemade funfetti cupcakes, but that's just a personal preference. In general I'm not a huge cupcake person, I'd much rather just eat a bowl of the batter, but for a homemade cupcake, I thought these were very satisfying!

Yellow Butter Cupcakes
recipe as seen on Under the High Chair, originally from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

-2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 3/4 cups sugar
-4 large eggs
-2 tsp pure vanilla extract
-1 1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until combined after each addition.
4. Divide batter evenly among the prepared liners so that each is about 2/3 full.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
**this recipe can also be made into two 9x2 inch cake pans. Butter the pans well and bake for 3-35 minutes if going this route.

As you can tell, I frosted the cupcakes with a green buttercream frosting and decorated them with m&ms and other colored candies to add a little pizzazz. The glasses that each of the bookworms are wearing are cut-out sugar cookies with my standard recipe. I used the following recipe for the buttercream frosting, which made the perfect amount for 24 cupcakes:

Buttercream Frosting for Cupcakes

-1 stick butter, at room temperature
-3 cups confectioners sugar
-3-5 tbsp milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-food coloring, if tinting

1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds.
2. Stop the machine and add the confectioners sugar, 3 tbsp of the milk, and the vanilla.
3. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add 1-2 tbsp more of milk if the frosting seems too thick. Add food coloring and mix to color the frosting, if desired.