Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sweet 16th! Lemon Cupcakes with Ombre Sugar

and Happy Valentine's day,  which is of course why sweet 16 is early this month.

I struggled with what I wanted to make this month and then the lovely folks over at Cake Wrecks posted a fantastic valentine sweet with a tutorial for making ombre sugar hearts.   Now, I'm always up for a good sugar challenge and so I went ahead and tried it.  I didn't make hearts because I don't have a small enough heart shaped cookie cutter.  Anyways,  Here's what I created this week:

This is a lemon cupcake (tinted pink for valentine's day) with lemon cream cheese frosting and ombre sugar decorations.   And by the way, this is probably one of the best cake batters I have ever had.

So here we go,  I found the recipe for the cake at My Baking Addiction, their instructions are great so I'll post my pics and some things I tried, but follow the link for easy to follow directions.

I made the ombre sugar first because they have to harden overnight.  Here's the very easy recipe from The Wedding Chicks.

You need:
sugar (lots)
1 egg white (more depending on how much you make)
paste food coloring of you color choice
parchment paper, cooking sheet, bowls, measuring spoons, rolling pin

Start with 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl.  Add food coloring and mix until evenly colored,  this takes a while.  I used a rubber spatula to press it in.  You want to mix this to be your darkest color, also, it will get a little darker when you add in the liquid.  After the color is all mixed in, add 1 tsp. egg white and mix in thoroughly.  It should look like wet sand.  Don't mix too much liquid in or it may dissolve the sugar.

Dump the mixture out onto a parchment covered cutting board and press flat.  You want it to be as compact as possible.  Roll over it with a rolling pin to flatten it. 

Then use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut out shapes.  Transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Return the rest of the sugar mix to the bowl.  Add another 1/2 cup of sugar and mix.  Add another tsp. of egg white and mix in well.

This should give you a shade lighter than the first batch.  If it is not light enough add in another 1/2 cup sugar and tsp. egg white until desired shade is reached.  Then repeat the flattening, rolling and cookie cutting process until you have all of the sugar shapes you want.

Bake them at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Then let them cool and harden overnight.  They should be the consistency of sugar cubes.

After I made these I realized that I needed something to put them on.  Not that I couldn't just eat colored sugar rounds, but I figured it would be more fun if some kind of cake or something was involved.

For the cupcakes you need:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two lemons
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

First sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.  Finally, in a large mixer bowl mix the sugar and the lemon zest with your hands.  This is the most amazing thing ever, the smell, the texture, totally one of the best baking experiences ever!

 Add the butter into the sugar and lemon zest and combine with a mixer.  Beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.  Beat in the extracts and 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk mixture and blend in well.  Then add in half of the remaining flour mix and blend.  Mix in the last of the milk mix until the dough is well mixed, then add in the last of the flour mix.  Beat for a full two minutes to make sure the batter is well combined and aerated.

At this point I added in 2 drops of pink food coloring to tint my batter pink for the holiday.

Pour the batter into lined muffin tins:

and bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. 

Set to cool on wire racks.

The frosting now!

you need:
2 8oz. packs of softened cream cheese
1 stick butter softened
2 lbs. confectioners sugar (yes really, a whole bag)
2 tsp. vanilla
juice from one lemon

Blend the cream cheese and butter in a mixer. Gradually add in the sugar until it is all incorporated.  Lastly add in the lemon juice and vanilla and blend well.

This makes a lot of frosting.   You probably only need a half recipe for this many cupcakes, but who doesn't want a little extra frosting in the fridge : )

Frost the cakes with a knife or with a pastry bag, up to you!

Decorate however you like.  Here were my first failed attempts:

Didn't like the way these ones looked so I decided to just do one or two sugar rounds.

Naturally these are toddler approved (is any cupcake not?)

Frosting face!

Happy baking and Happy Valentine's Day!