Vanilla Bean and Musk Funfetti Cupcakes

Everyone seems to be getting on the funfetti at the moment (see Raspberri Cupcakes, MiniBaker101 and Sweetapolita), so I thought I’d give them a whirl, too. I made these super pretty cupcakes for my little sister’s school fete’s cake stall, so the more colour and sugar, the better, hey!?

I used the same Vanilla Bean Cupcakes recipe as used in My First Order, which is from Taste.com, however I halved the recipe this time, and it made 15 cupcakes. This recipe is certainly a winner, they turn out perfectly every time! The pink buttercream is musk (clearly my favourite), and white buttercream is vanilla bean. Yum!

I put about 3/4 of a cup of funfetti hearts in the cake mixture, too. It may be sad to admit but I find it kind of exciting biting into the cake and seeing a kaleidoscope of different colours…or maybe I just love cake waaay to much! I think so.

I almost loved boxing these delights up as much as making them. They look so cute!! Mmm…I think I do love cake a little too much! But I guess if you’re reading this post, chances are you probably do too 😛

Have a great weekend and eat lot’s of cake! X

My First Order – Choc and Vanilla Cupcake Tower + Layered Musk Cake

I was a bit nervous about doing this! It was my friend Nikki’s 21st Birthday Party, so even more reason not to stuff up. My time management skills are close to non-existant, so it took a lot of careful planning and timing over 3 days for this to eventuate. Anyhow, we got there. And I was so happy with the end result, as was Nikki. I can’t believe I actually produced this!

Nikki wanted 70 cupcakes, half chocolate and half vanilla bean with pink and purple icing and white fondant hearts. It was also decided that I would make the Musk Layered Cake for the top layer, too. I was excited and up for the challenge! This is the first time I’ve ever properly done a cake for a party, and I really enjoyed it. Everything came together nicely and ran smoothly, with minimal disasters (there were still a couple!). The one thing I really wanted to nail were the cakes themselves. So many times at parties, the cakes, in particular cupcakes, whilst looking amazing, are often horribly dry, tasteless  and crumbly to eat. I desperately wanted to achieve a tasty and fluffy cupcake as well as perfectly swirled buttercream icing. I was lucky I found 2 fantastic recipes that worked beautifully, and the cupcakes were so delish!

I used recipes from Taste.com (best website ever!) for both the vanilla cupcakes, and the chocolate cupcakes. I made another half of the vanilla cupcake recipe, and doubled the chocolate one, and they both made around 38 cupcakes each. A tip for the vanilla cupcakes – don’t substitute vanilla bean paste for extract or essence, or god forbid imitation essence!! I think the paste really made the cupcakes, plus I love the little flecks of vanilla bean, too.

For the fondant hearts, I simply used a small heart cutter from West’s, an amazing cake supplier in Burwood, Victoria. All you have to do is roll the fondant with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 1cm thick, then cut away. I brushed a tiny amount of edible glitter on each heart, which I also got from West’s. Oh, and my fondant supplier, who also made the ’21’ on top of the Musk Cake, is amazing, check out her awesome cakes here!

For the buttercream, I just beat 350g of softened, salted butter until pale and creamy, and slowly added 5 cups of icing sugar mixture. Once all that is combined, then add your colouring/flavouring. I ended up making 2 batches of pink buttercream for the vanilla cakes, and another half of the recipe for the purple icing for the chocolate cakes. For the musk buttercream, I just added 3 drops of musk essence, and 4 rolls of crushed Musk Lifesavers. If you leave the buttercream in the fridge overnight like I did, make sure you take it out for it to come down to room temp about 2-3 hours before. Although, you can always buzz it in the microwave for 20 seconds.

I really enjoyed piping the cupcakes, and they weren’t as difficult as I expected them to be. Because I was SO over washing dishes, this time I just used the Multix disposable piping bags, which are available at most supermarkets, and come in a bright orange box in the baking aisle. However, I used a  good quality large star nozzle, which worked perfectly. When you are piping a swirl, the key is to overlap the previous layer by about half, otherwise you will end up with big gaps and it will be uneven 😦

I can’t wait to make these cupcakes again, and if you ever want/need to make them, PLEASE use these Taste recipes. You won’t regret it I promise!!

Happy Birthday Nikki!

Musk Layered Cake with Musky Macarons + Macaron tips

As an avid reader of awesome baking blog raspberri cupcakes, I have soooooo wanted to try doing a layered cake similar to the Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing. It was my friends birthday, and I knew she loved Musk Lifesavers, so I gave it a go – and it actually didn’t look too bad. I wasn’t expecting amazing results here – as I have never, ever made layered cake before. And, with my complete lack of artistic raw talent, I just didn’t know what it would turn out like!

I adapted the cake and icing recipes from raspberri cupcakes, but obviously didn’t add the orange. I have used this recipe for cupcakes before as well, and it’s great. I made three layers, in three different shades of pink, and they looked pretty good when it all came together. There is a hell of a lot of butter and sugar in the buttercream icing, not to mention the musk essence and musk lifesavers, too! It was a very, very sweet cake, which I guess in a way is good because you only need a little bit, and it will last longer 🙂

Having the macarons on top of the cake was an idea I had seen on raspberri cupcakes, too. The macarons also have a musky flavour to them, but instead of putting the buttercream icing in them, I decided on a vanilla bean cream. I just thought it would be way too much. The cream worked really well, as I didn’t add any extra sugar, just a tiny bit of vanilla bean paste so it wasn’t too sweet. It cut through the sweetness of the buttercream really nicely.

Here’s the recipe!

Musk Layered Cake:

For the cake: (cake can be made one day ahead – just wrap in cling film and refrigerate)

  • 165g unsalted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 3/4cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g self-raising flour (2 cups), sifted
  • Pink food colouring (I used Wilton’s food colouring gel, it’s great)

For the buttercream icing:

  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 750g soft icing sugar (6 cups)
  • Pink food colouring gel
  • 2 small drops of musk essence, you can adjust to taste
  • 4 rolls of musk lifesavers, crushed in the food processor almost to a powder, but you still want some chunky bits

Vanilla Bean Cream:

  • 100ml thickened cream, for whipping
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (I love vanilla bean paste, because you get the little vanilla flecks without having to scrape the seeds out of a bean, not to mention how expensive the beans themselves cost)

Preheat the oven to 190c (180c fan forced). Grease and line a round baking tin (I only have one, so I had to bake 3 cakes). Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat well to combine. Add vanilla. Add flour and mix until well combined. Measure the mixture, and divide into three separate bowls (my mixture equated to three very generous cups). In each bowl, add small amounts of colouring until you have 3 different shades of pink.

Pour the lightest mixture into the tin (or the three mixtures into three tins), smooth with a spatula so that the mixture is spread evenly, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cake mixtures.

For the buttercream icing, remove butter from fridge 45 minutes before use. Beat butter until it is pale and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat in well until smooth. Icing should not be runny, but should not hold its shape, either. Add musk essence and crushed lifesavers, and mix well.

To make the vanilla bean cream, beat cream and vanilla together until stiff peaks form, and it is solid enough to sandwich between macarons without dripping from the sides.

To assemble cake, begin with the lightest coloured cake. Sandwich together cakes with thick layers of icing, with either a spatula or a small rounded knife. Have a glass of warm water on hand to dip your knife into, as it makes it a lot easier to produce smooth icing.

Now for the macarons!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • Food colouring and flavouring (optional) In these ones I used 2 drops musk essence, and a tiny bit of colouring gel

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Line three oven trays with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 4 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until it is hot and syrupy (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If white, powdery bubbles begin to form around the edges, start again!

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add colouring/flavouring, now’s your moment. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $5. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle :)). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 4-5cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier(I usually make them smaller, about 3cm, but I thought bigger ones would look better on top of the cake). Gently tap the bottom of the trays and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

 Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons.

To fill, place the vanilla bean cream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe about 1/2 – 2/3 tsp of cream onto one half of the macarons, and sandwich with the other half. When done, very gently push the edge of the macarons into the edge of the cake (do this when icing is still pliable), to make a circle around the edge of the cake.

I can’t wait to try some different versions of this cake! It is a first, and the raspberri cupcakes Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing leaves my baby for dead! I still love it anyway.

  

Some tips for macaron making:

Once you have made these a few times, usually you will be able to tell if they are going to work or not. If there is absolutely no form in the mixture, good luck to you! And if it is really, really grainy and you’re having trouble pushing it out of the piping bag – good luck to you too! But please don’t let that discourage you from making them, they do take a while to master. I’ve made probably close to 100 batches, and sometimes they still don’t work out!

NEVER make macarons when you’re stressed or tired! I can almost guarantee they will not work. Make sure you have plenty of time.

When you’re making macarons, a rule of thumb is to measure everything exactly. However, if you’re using quite a bit of flavouring and/or colouring, put an extra 5-8g of almond meal in. Any extra liquid is likely to change the consistency of the mixture.

It is macaRON. Not MacaROON!

Snickers Macarons filling:

I know in the last post I said I would put the recipe up for the Snickers macarons. So, in the macaron mixture just add 1 and 1/2 tsp of good quality cocoa.

For the peanut dulce de leche, boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours. Pour into a mixing bowl and add half a cup of salted and crushed peanuts and combine well. To make the ganache, simply combine 100g good quality chocolate (I usually use dark, or half dark, half milk) and half a cup of cream in a small saucepan until smooth and glossy. Pour in bowl and refrigerate until set (2-3 hours). Spoon 1/2 tsp of peanut dulce de leche, and 1/2 tsp of ganache on one half of a macaron, and sandwich with another. Yum!