Sunday, September 18, 2011

Strawberry Jello-O Cupcakes with Vanilla-bean Cooked Flour Frosting

These cupcakes are completely bonkers. Moist, springy, flavorful, but not overly rich. They are based on my Apple Cupcakes recipe with a vanilla-bean version of Frances Frosting. The basic principle could be used with any flavor--and I've had it as a sheet cake with orange jello and mandarin oranges, which was fantastic. You can go 100% trailer trash and frost it with Cool-Whip, but I recommend the frosting variation below.

You can see the incredibly moist strawberry interior of a completed cupcake in the lower right.

1 recipe Apple Cupcakes (or other white or yellow cake)
1 package strawberry Jell-O
1 c. boiling water
12 strawberry fruit snacks for garnish
foil cupcake liners with paper lining
pink sprinkles
~2 c. frosting (see below)

Place the paper liners in the cupcake pan, saving the foil liners for later. Fill each cup to within 1/4" of the rim. Bake as directed (22 minutes). Allow to cool to about room temperature in the pan.

Poke 10-12 holes in each cupcake. In a cup with a pouring spout, mix the package of jell-o with the boiling water until dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over each cupcake, trying to stay within the cup liner. Allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan, brushing off any extra Jell-O. Put the foil liners back on the cupcakes (if you're into appearances, that is). Frost each cake with 1/3" frosting and decorate with sprinkles and a strawberry gummy. 

Vanilla-Bean Cooked Flour Frosting

3/4 c. milk
scant 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 vanilla bean
1 pinch salt
1 stick (1/2 c. unsalted butter) at room temperature
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract


Whisk together the flour and milk in a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the beans and add to the pan. Add a small pinch of salt. Bring just to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, whisking constantly for 10 minutes. The liquid should be a pourable porridge. Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and then add in the powder sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. When the milk and flour are cool, beat in gradually, alternating with the vanilla extract. The resulting flour is light and fluffy, with a whipped cream flavor, but easier to work with and less likely to soggify your cake.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple Cupcakes

These are based on a Texas sheet cake recipe and turn out unbelievably moist and springy, ready for whatever frosting tickles your fancy. They have the added advantage of not needing the tiresome butter-creaming step. This recipe also makes a great sheet cake, but may need a couple more minutes. Makes 12+ cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350°

1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 apples, peeled
1.5 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour cream
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Grate the apples into a bowl. Squeeze them dry, retaining the juice in a measuring cup. Add water (if needed) to reach 1 c. liquid. Place the juice and the butter into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.

While mixture is still warm, whisk in the sugar, then buttermilk and vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool while you sift together the dry ingredients. When it is cool enough not to cook the eggs, whisk in the eggs.

Mix in the flour gradually, blending thoroughly. Fold in the grated apples. It will be a pour-able batter.

Pour into cupcake cups and bake for 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.