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Entries in cupcakes (6)

Tuesday
Apr052011

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Dream {aka Nanny Burke's Buttercream}

I finally did it.

After four failed attempts, I finally made the buttercream I've been dreaming of. And it's all thanks to Nanny Burke.

You may remember my first attempt. Sure they looked good (and the cupcake itself was pretty good) but the frosting had as much flavour as a of a jar of Vaseline and the texture to match.

Then last week, I made Bacon and Baileys cupcakes. I used what I thought was a decent buttercream recipe but really, all you could taste was icing sugar. In an attempt to rescue it, I glugged in a bunch of Baileys. As you can see in the photos, it was somewhat of a droopy, oozy mess. 

On Thursday, a really cute girl I know, A, said 'Oh - you need Nanny Burke's recipe!!' She e-mailed Nanny Burke in Cape Breton and asked for the recipe on my behalf. Nanny told A that over the last 50 years, she's tried a TON of buttercream recipes and this one was by far the best (and the easiest). On Friday I got a text from A with the recipe and a few notes from Nanny Burke.

So why, oh why didn't I follow my gut and trust the wisdom and experience of Nanny Burke? {sigh}

You see, I woke up Saturday morning, inspired by a recipe I had seen online for Swiss Buttercream. Ooooooh - a beautiful meringue-based buttercream that even a beginner could make without screwing up? Or so the recipe implies. Well guess what? I wasted 8 eggs and 4 sticks of butter on a nasty curdled bowl of grossness that I hurled into my green bin in a fit of frustration. 

And then I turned to Nanny Burke.

Oh Nanny Burke, I know we've never met, but after making your buttercream, I consider us kin.

Nanny Burke's Buttercream is the stuff dreams are made of. As I was piping this perfect marriage of buttery sweetness atop my vanilla cupcakes, I constantly stopped to pipe some onto my fingertip. Some for the cupcakes, some for me, some for the cupcakes, some for me...

Ok, so are you ready for the recipe? It's ridiculously easy and by far the BEST frosting I have EVER had!!

Nanny Burke's Buttercream

2 Cups Unsalted Butter, room-temp/soft (I used 1.5 Cups Salted Butter and 1/2 Cup Crisco for firmness)

1 lb icing sugar, sifted (I used 4 Cups, unsifted - I'm lazy sometimes)

1 tsp Vanilla (I used Vanilla Bean Paste)

1/8 tsp salt (I omitted the Salt because I used Salted Butter)

Notes from Nanny Burke

~ Don't mix for more than 2-3 minutes

~ Sub in shortening for butter if you want to decorate with flowers or want a firmer texture

~ Make it once and then play with it

On a side note, here's something interesting that happened when I was baking these cupcakes. I used Ina Garten's recipe for Coconut Cupcakes without the coconut. I baked the first dozen at 350 degrees until golden on top, about 22 minutes. Then I had another look at the recipe and realized that I was supposed to bake them at 325. So I reduced the temperature on the oven for the second batch. Here's what happened:

I've discovered that it is MUCH easier to decorate a cupcake when the top of the cupcake is puffed up into a little dome. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because both batches were absolutely delicious (next time though, I think I'll omit the almond extract in the cupcakes and double up on the vanilla). Today is Tuesday, I baked these on Sunday and they are still tender and moist. I'd recommend making them for sure.

Whew - I did it!! I finally did it!!

Tuesday
Mar292011

Bacon and Baileys Cupcakes

I can't believe it's been a whole year since I created kellyneil.com. I've had so much fun shooting over the last 12 months that I decided to bake something using both bacon and Baileys as a small way to celebrate!!

I'm still getting my cupcake bearings (especially buttercream - I still can't quite seem to get the hang of it) but I came up with:

Coffee Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream and Candied Bacon sprinkles

Originally I was going to make a Baileys cupcake with bacon-flavoured frosting but yesterday one of my food mentors, SB, threw out the idea of a coffee flavoured cupcake. I thought 'How perfect!!' - you see, I enjoy a cup of coffee and Baileys, well... let's just say 'often'.

When I  dove into the online world last year, creating this website, joining Twitter and starting a fanpage on facebook I couldn't get the username Kelly Neil (I mean really? There's more than one?!?). I sat in front of my screen staring into space thinking about what I like - things that bring me small joys. I liked the sound of 'bacon and baileys' instantly - and so here we are.

Candied Bacon is seriously one of the most unique flavour and texture combinations EVER!! Line a pan with parchment, lay out strips of bacon, cover liberally with brown sugar or maple syrup (or both!!) and bake at 350 degrees until crispy, about 25 minutes. Once cool, it's nothing but crunchy-chewy-sweet and salty-bacon flavoured goodness!!

Coffee Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart)

2 C flour, 1 tsp Baking Powder, 1/4 tsp Baking Soda, 1/4 tsp salt

1/2 C boiling water, 1 Tbsp Instant Espresso, 1/4 C milk

1/2 C butter, 1/2 C white sugar, 1/2 C brown sugar

2 eggs

1. whisk dry ingredients

2. mix espresso with boiling water - cool and then mix with milk

3. beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy - add eggs one at a time - beat well

4. alternate flour and milk mix into butter mix - begin and end with flour

5. cupcake liners 1/2 full - bake 18-20 minutes at 350

Baileys Buttercream (Mum's recipe + Baileys)

1 C butter, room temperature, 1/2 C Crisco, 4 C icing sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 C Baileys

Beat butter and Crisco - slowly add icing sugar and Baileys - adjust to taste

Sprinkle with chopped candied bacon, light a birthday candle, make a wish, blow out the candle and eat!!

Saturday
Feb262011

Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes

Yesterday was one of those days when it seemed like it was never going to stop raining, so I knew I wanted to make something that would be the exact opposite of a gloomy grey February day. Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but over the last year or so, I've developed a love for pink - and pink is DEFINITELY the opposite of grey and gloomy.

I searched through my pantry to see what I had on hand that could be turned into something special - and here's what I came up with.

Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes topped with Pink Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I thought Pink Peppercorns would add a really interesting flavour to a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. You see, Pink Peppercorns aren't peppercorns at all - they're actually the dried berries of a bush called Baies Rose. They have a light peppery taste that borders on sweet with a hint of rose (sometimes, Sean will roll the edges of beef tenderloins in crushed Pink Peppercorns before grilling - this is a fantastic addition of flavour to a steak that you should try if you haven't). I thought, 'Why not try them with something sweet?'.

I've never actually baked cupcakes before (which a few of my friends found surprising) so of course I turned to the Queen of Baking, Ms. Martha Stewart for a basic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe:

  • Whisk 3 Cups Flour, 1.5 tsp Baking Powder and 3/4 tsp Salt together in a large bowl
  • Cream 12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) room temp Butter with 1.5 Cups Sugar 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy
  • Add 4 eggs - one at a time until well mixed
  • Add 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Need 1.25 Cup Milk
  • To Butter, Sugar, Egg mixture - Add flour, milk, flour, milk, slowly until both are gone - beginning and ending with flour
  • Add 2 Tbsp Pink Peppercorns (I smashed mine in a Ziploc Baggie with a rolling pin)
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops spring back

The cupcakes were super easy and VERY tasty. I also used Martha's Vanilla Bean Buttercream Recipe - I added 2 drops of red food colouring to give a warm pink glow:

  • Beat 2 Cups room temp Unsalted Butter until creamy
  • Slowly add 3.5 Cups Icing Sugar
  • Add pinch of Salt, 1 Vanilla Bean, scraped and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Slowly add 0.25 Cups Milk then food colouring - continue on med/low speed until smooth and creamy

Ok so here's the thing. Decorating cupcakes is harder than I thought it would be!! Here's a pic of the rest of the batch so you can see more of my attempts. The Buttercream was light and subtle and tasted like it was fresh from a professional bakery however, I decided next time I bake cupcakes, I'm going to make Frosting a la Ms. Betty Crocker instead. I LOVE frosting!!

If you love cupcakes then DEFINITELY use the recipe I've posted - you could swap out the Pink Peppercorns - lemon, lime or orange zest would be wonderful - or, you could leave the recipe as is, straight-up Vanilla and then go for flavour with your icing.

Thank goodness for pretty pink cupcakes in the middle of February.

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