I was all set to write about this week’s CSA goodies, but got sidetracked by cupcakes. Easy to do. I love how foods can become rages. Really, a cupcake? Yes, they are so insanely cute and everyone loves running a finger through thick, rich frosting, but they have become these culinary bohemoths as of late. I would have thought their 15 minutes would be up by now, but with shows such as Cupcake Wars, it seems that time is being extended. I’d like to see Bundt cakes try to make a comeback. Poor things have been neglected for the past 30 years.
My girls and I watched Cupcake Wars just last night. They adore that show. Best cupcake=$10,000 prize and publicity at a crazy event where one thousand-themed cupcakes are a necessity. Just when you thought that every flavor had been attempted, one of the contestants whips up an Avocado Lemon Cupcake with Cilantro Lime Frosting. Got to say, that one holds not one ounce of appeal for me. I wasn’t in the minority either, as that dude didn’t make it to round two. Blech. Cayenne with chocolate…that I can do. Balsamic Strawberries topping an Orange Chiffon cupcake…I could possibly do that one, too. Hold the avocado, please.
Man, these wee cakes have become such works of art. Gone are the days of a simple chocolate glaze with a white, loopy squiggle a la Hostess. Frankly, those were delicious. Biting in and scooping the cream out with your tongue. Yes, I know you did that, too. Or peeling the chocolate topping clear off…there’s a culinary mystery…removing a topping in a single “sheet”. Perfectly hilarious and scary at the same time. But fabulous to any kid out there.
And don’t even get me started on Hostess SnowBalls. My absolute childhood favorite, especially when they colored them to match the upcoming holiday. Loved the green ones, oh mama! Unfortunately, I haven’t had one in about 20 years as reading the ingredients label and nutritional (HA) info on those babies is nothing short of petrifying. Eh, maybe one upcoming PMS week, I’ll crack.
But now, it’s all about The Cupcake, with a capital C. No messing around. This is serious business. Buh-bye, Hostess. Your ship has officially sailed.
A reader of mine inquired the other day about a good cupcake recipe for her 2-year old’s birthday. I threw out a few options to her and she settled on wanting the recipe for a Snickerdoodle Cupcake. Just saying Snickerdoodle is fun. Did you know that the name is supposedly from the mispronunciation of Schneckennudeln, which means “crinkly noodles”? We can thank Martha for that tidbit. What crinkly noodles have in common with cinnamon-sugar cookies is completely beyond me, but ok, I’ll run with it and Schneckennudeln is an even MORE fun word. Say that five times fast. Dare you (recipe below).
And, as for crazy ingredients in cupcakes, I’m going to attempt a Zucchini Cupcake-I think. As I mentioned, I was planning to talk about my CSA haul for this week. The stars at the farm currently are squash and zucchini. Piles of them. I have fourteen of them sitting on my counter at the moment and I’m frankly a little intimidated by the sheer number of them. Like a little army of green submarines.
Yes, I’ll make a loaf (or two. or three) of zucchini bread with them, but I have to do something else with them. Seeing as no member of my family is running a marathon in the near future, we only need so much bread. I was thinking Zucch-anoes (the little boats or canoes, as my friend calls them, filled with meat and rice), fritters, baked zucchini sticks with marinara dipping sauce…and then I thought, how about a cupcake? Like a teeny zucchini bread but with a delish cream cheese frosting on top. Might have to try this. Just not sure how to market it yet. It doesn’t sound all that appealing. Let’s see how the cupcake turns out first. Wonder if it will win me 10k.
Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (or Schneckennudeln Cupcakes-ha), from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups cake flour, sifted
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tb. ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 tsp. for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1.75 cups sugar, plus 2 Tb. for dusting
4 large eggs, room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla extract (have you made your Everlasting Vanilla yet?)
1.25 cups milk
Heat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 Tb. cinnamon.
In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
Fill lined cupcake cups each 3/4 full. You’ll be able to make about 28 cupcakes with this batter. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks completely before removing cupcakes from pan. They can be stored up to 2 days at room temp, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
*Note:Martha suggests a 7-Minute Frosting for the top, but I find it an annoying frosting to make since it requires a candy thermometer. I would make life easier and just go with a classic vanilla frosting. Your call.
Classic Vanilla Frosting-
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter in bowl until pale. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Frosting will be pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temp and beat slightly.
To finish….mix remaining sugar and cinnamon from recipe and sprinkle on top of frosting.
Enjoy the birthday!
(might I add one thing here…this reader asked for a “healthy” cupcake recipe. Devoid of using a true “light” recipe, I am a big proponent of healthy=good quality ingredients, “real” foods and homemade. Weigh the ingredients list for these cupcakes against any box mix and frosting container in any store and you will instantly understand what I’m talking about)