So this year has been my year of cupcakes. Every year I have a different obsession, you see. 2007 was the year of Blythe; 2006 was the year of quilts; 2008 is the year of gourmet cupcakes. I have always had a "thing" for ludicrously complicated desserts, as my family can attest, and it's my responsibility to make the dessert for our family Christmas every year. So this year, I thought it only appropriate to do cupcakes. It also gave me a chance to try out my fantastic new Williams-Sonoma Mechanical Pastry Bag, which is a very scary-looking, syringe-like contraption that makes for some seriously beautiful decorating with minimal strain on my hands. I chose one "adventurous" (not by my standards, but by my mom's) cupcake and one "safe" cupcake: the Gingerbread Latte cake with Spice-Latte Swirl Frosting
, and the so-called "Better than Sex" Quintuple Chocolate Cupcake
. (If I had been able to choose more adventurous flavors, there was a mulled wine cake with chestnut butter frosting that sounded amazing!) Both of these recipes came from Cupcake Project
, which I highly recommend if you like different, complex cupcakes. (I also recommend Cupcake Bakeshop
, where I usually get my cupcake recipes.) Stef of Cupcake Project is from my native city, St. Louis, which gives me the warm fuzzies although I've never met her.
Anyway! I spent Christmas Eve baking away in preparation for the next day's dinner. I found adorable reindeer cupcake wrappers and matching picks, and so I kept the decoration simple.
Better than Sex cakes (they really are quintuple chocolate--dark chocolate cake, with mini chocolate chips in the batter, filled with chocolate mousse, frosted with a chocolate ganache and drizzled with melted white chocolate)
Gingerbread Latte cakes (the frosting is two flavors swirled--the swirl is subtle, but visible)
My dog thought I was a Scrooge because I wouldn't give her one. Her eyes are particularly desperate and crazed in this one, as I had been baking for about five hours, and she had been begging equally long.
The cupcake as served, with an ice-cream snowball. These are beautiful, delicious and a very impressive accent--they are also incredibly easy to make. Put some coconut in a bowl, then scoop out a nice round scoop of vanilla ice cream (we used Breyer's Natural Vanilla) and roll it in the coconut. Put them on a cookie sheet and freeze them until you're ready to serve.
You can get to both recipes from the links above. I personally LOVED the gingerbread one, as I am a big spice/ginger person, but I will remark that it's a very dense cupcake and may not appeal to people who like airier, fluffier ones. The chocolate ones are very good and got rave reviews from all the chocolate lovers in my house; they are great, but I'm just not that big of a chocolate fan (blasphemy, I know) so they aren't my fave. Another one I can wholeheartedly recommend from Cupcake Project is the Pumpkin Chili Abuelita--one of my favorites.