Lavender lemon cupcake blooms with a lemon cream cheese icing

I know that no one needs to be reminded that I love cupcakes.

But just in case you do…

I LOVE THEM I LOVE THEM I LOVE THEM. I love them so much that my obsession justifies my lack on punctuation.

I also love making them. And buying stuff to make them pretty.

Hence the purchase of these lavender cupcake liners.

Remember a million years ago when I explored St. Lawrence Market in Toronto? In that post, I raved about this wonderful kitchen supply shop they had set up in the middle of the second floor. It was here, that I found these beauties.

I have wanted to make lavender cupcakes ever since.

Since I’m really rather logical, I chose Thursday, the hottest day on record since 1956 to bake things. No, I did not bake them outside. You’re funny, though. Luckily for me, my awesomely super student home came equipped with AC. This blast of cold air made mixing, scooping, piping and living tolerable.

It turns out that because these cupcake liners were so gigantic, I was unable to correctly estimate the amount of batter that was to go in each. And so, the Godzilla-sized cupcakes were born. My doubled (thank god I did this) recipe made a dozen of them, and frankly, each cupcake is the size of a small coffee mug. They were good though, so I didn’t mind. I also still managed to eat two (mom: this does not warrant another hyper-concerned type two diabetes email, but thanks for having my back).

Also, holy cow these were awesome. Seriously, really, really yummy. And I consider myself fairly well versed when it comes to cupcake tasting. The lemon and lavender flavours were balanced in the perfectly moist cake, and the cream cheese icing had a nice citrusy shot. Okay, maybe the icing was a little too sweet for some, BUT I LIKED IT.

Anyways, I took plenty of pictures of my cupcakes in bloom. Since she demanded that I do this, I must say that Ariel was the photo director for this cupcake shoot. She stood outside in a completely inappropriate heatwave day outfit and held cupcakes in the blistering sun while I snapped at my cupcakes from all angles. She also had the idea for the sunflower leaf photos. Very Thumbelina, n’est ce pas?

I have more than half a dozen cupcakes leftover, as of Friday evening. Perhaps I will give them away, or perhaps I will eat them all in one sitting and let a stomach ache blossom in my stomach. Yeah, I just went there.

Update: I brought the cupcakes to a fiesta-themed party I went to Friday night. It was Mexican-themed and they were boys. Could I get the theme anymore wrong?

Continue reading

Happy Birthday Lindsay! (ft. Martha Stewart’s tiramisu cupcakes)

Fact: every dessert is better in cupcake form.

Heck, lets just broaden that statement to say that anything is better in cupcake form.

Including tiramisu.

This past Friday was my roommate Lindsay’s birthday.

Since we haven’t been living together for very long, and because we are both lovers of good dessert, I wanted to make her something special for her birthday.  She requested either ice cream cake or tiramisu.  I settled on the latter, having already conquered the frozen fates when I made my homemade ice cream cake back in February.

Obviously I couldn’t just make any old tiramisu.  Silly you for thinking so.

Martha Stewart’s website has a bounty of creative cupcake ideas, albeit ones that are fairly complicated (to the point that the recipes come accompanied by a tutorial video – yikes!).  It was here that I discovered the recipe for these.

I have never used so many kitchen do-dads to make one batch of cupcakes.  I was boiling, brewing, sifting, melting and brushing… It all worked out though.  What can I say? #justcallmemartha

Having just moved into a new house with many left behind/forgotten baking utensils, I had to get creative with my methods.  For example, I used a cheese grater from IKEA as a sieve and a salad-bowl-in-a-pot as a double boiler.  I try to be resourceful, I really do.

The outcome of much kitchen labour was a batch of 15 pretty awesome cupcakes.  The cake was spongey and light (although a tad burnt on the bottom, woops).  The chocolate-marsala sauce that was brushed over the top tasted delicious (although, as Matt pointed out, it tasted a little like some sort of sushi sauce, but he is just crazy).  Finally, the pièce de résistance was the mascarpone cheese icing that was so light but so rich.

ONE more thing: I splurged and bought vanilla beans for these cupcakes!  A real life vanilla bean (actually, two).  It cost me an arm and a leg (AKA $7), but it was totally worth it.

PS (I lied with the one more thing): can you tell that I’ve been making a conscious effort to create the “setting” for my food photos?  I’ve noticed that most food blogs feature a bunch of random background items (emphasized by their sweet cameras and actual ability to achieve some sort of bokeh), so I thought I’d try doing the same thing.  These shots featured Lindsay’s container of cocoa and a silk scarf I bought at a garage sale.

Continue reading

Godzilla Peep Cupcakes

Yeah, yeah, it’s been awhile since I last blogged… I’ll resume my regular obsessive blogging back in Ottawa next week!

Okay:

I don’t think I need to explain my love of holiday-themed baking to anyone.

Past festivities have witnessed me creating a wide variety of awesome baked goods and desserts, be it homemade maple leaf chocolates, painfully difficult-to-decorate Christmas tree cake pops, or fuchsia Valentine’s Day cookies coloured with pureed beets.

This was my blog’s first Easter.

After scrapping my original idea to bake the nirvana of all Easter chocolate – Cadbury Creme Eggs (see example here) – into my cupcakes (my excuse: those things cost like, $1.25 a piece, and I’m kind of broke…), I settled on a more low key plan.

I’m staying with my aunt in Toronto right now, and since she doesn’t really bake, I had to buy a lot of the dessert-making necessities.  This purchasing saw a small bag of cake flour explode on my black jacket last Wednesday and several declarations of frustration silently aimed at the convenience store clerk, after his shop failed to sell mini eggs.

The end result was these Godzilla Peep Cupcakes.

My co-worker Ron instagram-ed the hell out of these cupcakes.

In case you can’t tell, the chocolate icing (which was piped out using a freezer-sized Ziploc bag, go improvisation!) is supposed to resemble a nest.

I initially failed to realize how huge the peeps were, and so the cute marshmallow candies ended up looking like giants.  They were so awkward looking that they needed a mention in the title of this post.

The cupcakes were infused with lemon zest, and were perfectly baked in my aunt’s normal person oven (which preheats at an Olympic speed, I was very impressed).  Our student home oven would have created golden brown welts and a crispy bottom.  God I love real person kitchen appliances.

I brought these into the National Post newsroom last Thursday – thus marking the restart of my “baking for colleagues tradition” just in time for the summer months.

I officially declare the dessert-carrying-on-bicycle season open!

PS: These cupcakes endured an hour-long TTC communte.  I only dropped them once.
PPS: I made a mini cake for my aunt and uncle, since it would be unfair to take everything into the newsroom.  The peep-to-cake ratio was a little less ridiculous on their dessert.

The mini cake I left for my aunt and uncle at home

Psychedelicakes

PSYCHEDELIC CAKES.

There, do you get the clever title now?  I have Brittany to thank for that one, it’s genius!

I think my entire life has led up to me making these cupcakes.  Ever since I started baking I’ve wanted to make a rainbow cake.  I was initially inspired by my favourite blog, Color Me Katie (check it out, she’s AWESOME!).  Here is a post about cute cupcake sandwiches she made.  Throughout my cooking adventures I’ve also stumbled on some other amazing rainbow-themed baked goods.  Ogle over them here, here, here, and here.

So I guess you get that I like colour, huh?

After a successful first venture into the world of colourful food with Christine’s American-themed birthday cake, I figured I could take a bit of a risk with this one.  Britt had a load of gel colours leftover from making cookies for one of her class projects, so I had all the materials on hand to make some legendary cupcakes.  I used Martha Stewart’s cake batter recipe and divided it into six bowls.  I excitedly dropped a small amount of dye into each bowl, and watched the batter transform before my eyes into multi-coloured hues.  The colours were so bright that the cake almost looked inedible.  Almost.  Kindergarten in a bowl.

Since I had no class to feed, my roommates were gifted with these.  Twenty cupcakes, six roommates, 24 hours eating time.  We’re averaging about four cupcakes per person… Healthy habits FTW.

Finally, I’m so happy that I got a new header out of these cupcake photos.  I had intended to revamp my blog, and these cupcakes were the perfect subject for my new site.  I figured it was about time I got a food related header photo…

I wasn’t sure how I wanted my header to look, so I took some 100 pictures of these cupcakes out on our patio.  At one point I made Amanda and Ariel hold up white paper to create a neutral background.  They were extremely (un)enthusiastic about this…

Fun fact: Amanda said she looked dirty and requested to be cropped out

In the end, I settled on a picture I took on top of our television.  Simple, clean, effective (I hope).

I topped my cupcakes with cream cheese icing.  My roommate Alex said that they were the best ones yet, and that they were even better than some of the cupcakes we’ve sampled as part of my Ottawa Cupcake Challenge.  I’m beyond flattered.

Continue reading

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes: happy birthday to ME!

I do a lot of happy birthday wishing to a lot of different people on my blog.  This entry is a 100 per cent self-indulging birthday post to ME.  That’s right.  It is my birthday today and I am now 21.

My birthday celebrations, circa 1993. My cake was chocolate and shaped like a snake.

I wish I had time to post this earlier, but I’ve had an absolutely exhaustingly busy day.  Today in my television class we had our first same-day assignments due.  For those of you who don’t understand the j-school lingo, this means that we had to interview and edit a news feature piece on tight deadline.  It was a tad stressful in the end, but thanks to my two awesome teammates Ariel and Christine and a little birthday luck (also found wicked lucky quarter on the bus this morning), we got through it.

I didn’t actually intend to bake or cook anything special for myself, so when my class was cancelled yesterday morning, I spontaneously made the decision to spoil myself.  While I’m glad I did, my spontaneity left me with several kitchen dilemmas.  First, I had to rush to the local grocery store to buy milk, whole milk and raspberry jam.  Second, I realized after the oven was preheated and the cupcake batter was mixed that I was out of cupcake liners.  Oh terrible misfortunes!  THANK GOD I live in the best neighbourhood that has ever existed.  I quickly got changed out of my pajamas and rushed around the corner to Grace in the Kitchen where a speedy visit provided me with these semi-ugly but completely effective unbleached muffin liners.  Beggars can’t be choosers.  Also, while I was there I met one of the workers, Andrew, who says he has read my blog!  So what if this is mostly because I shamelessly plugged it to him when I bought a massive amount of white chocolate, it’s still neat.

Anywho, I got this fantastic recipe off of Tastespotting.  The blog is called A Spicy Perspective, and the original recipe was named “zingy raspberry lemon cupcakes.”  Two reasons I liked these: (A) the blogger totally made up the word “zingy” and (B) they were completely adorable.  As a half asian, I 200 per cent fulfill the stereotype of liking cute things.  I squealed with delight when taking the pictures you see below.

PS: Britt got me a brie baker for my birthday!  BRIE. BAKING. Need I say more?

Finally, can we please just appreciate the cool and creative qualities of iPhone photo apps (thank you Hipstamatic!)