Three weeks of cooking nothing but s'mores + birthday in the office = time to get creative!
After traveling for so long, my cupboards were pretty bare, but my cooking fervor motivated me to scrounge up enough goodies to make 6 different flavors of cupcakes for this week's birthday party. I found a white cake mix on the shelf and decided to use that as a launching point for fun in the kitchen.
With the cake mix made according to the box instructions (I prefer Duncan Hines brand), I then divided the batter into 6 equal parts and began playing. I flavored the batters and spooned up 4 cupcakes of each flavor (one box mix makes 24 cupcakes). While they were baking I prepared a double batch of firm buttercream frosting, half of which I reserved as is, and half of which I made into chocolate buttercream by adding unsweetened cocoa powder to taste (I had planned that half of my flavors would take chocolate icing). These are very generously frosted. Once the cupcakes were cooled I customized the icing; some of them took straight chocolate or vanilla icing, but for others I added flavoring to the chocolate or vanilla base.
Hope you can use these ideas for your own kitchen playdate!
Batter: Mix in 6 frozen sweet cherries, chopped and defrosted with juice, and 1 or 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Decoration: Chocolate buttercream icing: Pipe with a large round tip in a spiral and then bury the tip in the middle and squeeze tube to form icing cherry. Top with red sprinkles and cherry stem (fished from jar of maraschino cherries!)
Batter: Mix in pure almond extract to taste and dish into cupcake pan; in small bowl in microwave heat 1 Tbsp. butter with 4 tsp. almond paste, then mix the butter and paste thoroughly and press 1/4 of mixture into the middle of each cupcake before baking.
Decoration: Vanilla buttercream icing: Mix in a splash of almond extract. Pipe with a medium star tip in a spiral around the top, weaving tip back and forth to create waves and building up with concentric spiral layers to create a dome. Top with sliced almonds (roasted if desired).
Batter: Mix in 2 or 3 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder to taste and dish into cupcake pan; press a square of chocolate into the middle of each cupcake prior to baking. Squares of Hershey's would work.
Decoration: Chocolate buttercream icing: Pipe with medium star tip in a spiral around the top, building up with concentric spiral layers. Top with a broken piece of chocolate.
Batter: Mix in several teaspoons of finely chopped pistachios, 1/2 tsp. honey, and a drop of green food coloring.
Decoration: Vanilla buttercream frosting: Mix in 1 tsp. honey and then pipe onto cupcake with petal tip in a spiral on top, then create sweet pea petals in a circle in the middle and then in groups concentrically around the edge. Top with whole shelled pistachio.
Batter: Combine 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee with just enough boiling water to cover granules; stir until dissolved. Mix dissolved coffee and 1 or 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder into batter.
Decoration: Chocolate buttercream icing: Prepare instant coffee as for batter and mix into icing. Pipe with petal tip in spiral on top, building up in center with layers of concentric spirals. Add coffee-bean-like form on top with petal tip wide end up.
Batter: Mix in sprinkles as desired; solid thick sprinkles last better than non pareilles (pictured on top of this cupcake), which dissolve in the batter.
Decoration: Vanilla buttercream icing: Pipe with middle round tip in spirals on top, building up with layers of concentric spirals. Top with desired sprinkles.
Create your own cupcake playtime and let me know what flavors your kitchen produces!