Monday, January 5, 2009

Snow on the Mountain....Snowmen Cup Cakes

Happy times with kids call for cheerful cupcakes.
Easier to serve than cake, cupcakes require no slicing, no plates, and no forks -- and every child gets her fair share of icing.
Chocolate Cupcakes or Vanilla Cupcakes iced with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting. Perfect for spreading in thin layers or sculpting into thick mounds (and licking from the bowl).
The cupcakes can be baked a week ahead and frozen, but decorate them no more than a day before serving. Set up an assembly line, and put kids in charge of affixing candy eyes, gumdrop cheeks, and other trimmings. Pack the cupcakes in a shallow plastic container, and stuff crumpled waxed paper in between. Then dole them out and watch kids marvel for a second before opening wide!
Snowman Cupcake How-ToThis snowman wears a fine winter hat: a chocolate-covered mint beret. His plump figure is two marshmallows -- cut a slice off the top one and squish to make it smaller. Dabs of icing hold parts together. His eyes are chocolate sprinkles (poke holes first with a wet toothpick), and his nose is cut from a gummy fish.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:Ingredients
Makes about 9 cups, enough for about 28 cupcakes
2 1/2 cups sugar
10 large egg whites
4 cups (8 sticks or 2 pounds) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Chocolate Cup Cakes:
Makes 12
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
Sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then spread with Easy White Icing using a table knife or small offset spatula. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

White Cupcakes:
Makes 24
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl, beat in vanilla.
Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to assure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling papers about 2/3 full. Bake on the center rack of the oven until tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Easy White Icing:
Makes 3 1/2 cups, enough for 12 standard cupcakes
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 pound (3 2/3 cups) confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk (optional)
In a mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth.
Gradually add confectioners’ sugar; beat until smooth. If too thick to spread, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk.


Janet, said...

Those are cute. Of course I would do it the easy way by using a cake mix for the cupcakes and tub icing. I think a miniature peanutbutter cup would look cute for a hat, too and you could use a skinny liquorice string for a scarf.