First off, congratulations to Sharon Ashwood for her RITA win with UNCHAINED! The RITAs are the Romance Writers of America’s Oscars, so this is wonderful acknowledgment of her Dark Forgotten book. AND she gets a golden statue!
Currently working on: My tan
Summer doesn’t officially arrived in the Portland area until the first week of July, but it’s here now! I’m typing this outside, sitting in the shade, actually, because it’s finally warm The raspberry bushes are kickin’ out the berries so of course I had to use them in a holiday dessert.
Happy Fourth of July! (For those in the U.S.) Happy Summer! (For those in the Northern Hemisphere.) Happy Monday! (For pretty much everybody, I think.)
Red, White & Blue Cupcakes
Start with a box cake mix. I’m sure there are times when baking from scratch is called for. Mixing up festive cupcakes for people who will be drinking beer all day is not one of those times. I’ve enthused before about the Cake Mix Doctor‘s cookbooks. I recommend the chocolate cake mix cookbook and choosing one of the recipes with pudding in the mix as well as sour cream/yogurt for extra scrumptiousness.
The fun of cake mix doctoring is the doctoring part anyway. For these, I injected the cupcakes with a raspberry/strawberry coulis and then made a barrier wall of buttercream frosting around the top of the cupcakes and backfilled the interior with the coulis.
- 1 cup of raspberries
- 1 cup of strawberries (or whatever berries you have)
- 1 cup of sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 Tablespoons)
Mix all ingredients the day before to let the flavors blend if you have time, then blender/food processor it all together into berry soup. Sample repeatedly over vanilla ice cream, because you’re the cook, and cooks deserve to sample. (Some people take out the seeds, but the beer drinkers won’t notice such niceties so I don’t bother.)
While the cupcakes are still warm from the oven, make a hole in the centers with a chopstick or similar implement. I used a cookie gun/cake decorator to aim the coulis into the hole, but you can just spoon it in too, as long as you have decent aim.
Let the cupcakes cool. Sample a few just to make sure there’s enough coulis in the middle.
- 1 stick of butter (room temp)
- 1 8-oz package of cream cheese (room temp)
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 2-4 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar (the recipe calls for 3 3/4 cups of sugar with more for spreadability, but I think you lose some of the cream cheese flavor to the sweetness if you use all the sugar. So I just add enough sugar to make enough to cover the cupcakes. Plus, the less sugar/slightly thicker frosting works well in the cookie gun/cake decorator.)
Make a monk’s tonsure/barrier wall in a circle around the cupcakes’ tops. Usually I am a “more frosting is better” gal, but this ratio works out nicely with the strong mouth feel of the buttercream. Plus, the barrier wall gives you room to spread more of the pretty red berry coulis.
To thicken the coulis for the top of the cupcake, mix corn starch with just enough water to make a thin paste. Gently warm the leftover coulis and add the starch/water mixture until the coulis thickens enough to stay on top of the cupcake.
Spoon the thickened coulis behind the barrier wall, top with a berry (I might have used a blueberry instead of a raspberry, but I don’t share my blueberries with anybody), add a light dusting of blue decorator sugar, and eat.