Adieu, Cupcake?

26 Jul

The cupcake has come a long way. I can remember being in grade school and students’ mothers would bring trays of cupcakes for the class to share. Cupcakes back then would usually be store-bought in some way or another, either made by the supermarket or made with a boxed mix and a jar of frosting. That was my and my mother’s go-to method for cupcakes for as long as I can remember, until I moved to DC and discovered the growing cupcake scene here.

Now there are entire bakeries dedicated to selling several versions of the cupcake. Icing is no longer just a sugary frosting dyed in different colors; there’s buttercream, cream cheese, royal, fondant, ganache… And you can find vegan cupcakes, gluten-free cupcakes, cupcakes for anyone with any sort of diet or allergy. There’s a show about the local cupcakery Georgetown Cupcake. Even the cupcake chain Crumbs is opening a couple of locations in the DC metro area soon. Our taste for cupcakes obviously isn’t abated.

Yet folks have been wondering lately what will trump the cupcake as the next dessert “du jour.” Some think frozen yogurt was on-par with cupcakes (and by evidence of the number of froyo spots now in DC, it’s still just as big). Others theorized it would be macarons, which I crossed my fingers for. But when people realized how expensive and fragile they are, and how difficult they are to make correctly, everyone dropped that idea. Word on the street is that whoopee pies are next, but a friend of mine is hoping churros will take off. We’ll see.

So with this I give the cupcake a sort of farewell – a dedication, really – to all those times I actively sought one out, to all the cupcakeries I’ve visited in the past few years, to all the friends and relatives who know how obsessed with this dessert I was…or am.

Vanilla cupcakes with Nutella butter cream frosting

I took the Nutella frosting left over from the giant cake I made with Amanda few posts back and slapped it on top of a vanilla cupcake from Ming Makes Cupcakes.

For the cupcake

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in butter gradually. Beat in sugar and mix thouroughly. Beat in eggs, then vanilla and milk. Beat just until mixed. Pour into lined cupcake pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

NosherNote 1: Use an ice cream scoop - it allots even amounts of batter and is less messy!

For the frosting

NosherNote 2: This is adjusted from the vanilla and Nutella cake I made with Amanda – this will make A LOT of frosting, so either bake lots of cupcakes or save any leftover in a carton and freeze until you want to use the rest.

NosherNote 3: Ming Makes Cupcakes also has an awesome-looking Nutella frosting (Cupcake 22), that’s only 3 ingredients and 1 step. Unless you have a stand mixer and some time on your hands, definitely try Ming’s.

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 4 sticks (1 lb) of unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1T chunks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Nutella, at room temperature

In a sauce or medium-sized pan over medium heat, bring about 3 inches of water to a gentle simmer. Put the egg whites and sugar in a large heat-proof bowl and set over the simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisk egg whites and sugar together constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by feeling between your fingers – should be sticky yet smooth, not grainy). This takes about 5 minutes or so.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer (be sure not to let any condensation from the heated bowl to get in the mixure). Set the mixer to medium-high speed and whip until the whites are cool and form firm peaks.

Once the egg whites are stiff, lower the speed to medium and add the butter one chunk at a time. Let each chunk mix before adding another. Continue to add until all the butter is incorporated.

Continue mixing; you will have to for quite some time (at least 15-20 minutes). When the buttercream is smooth, fold the Nutella into it.

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