Thursday, June 17, 2010

Graduation Cupcakes

Yay! I have my laptop back. Hence, my ability to share pictures from the weekend. It's only fitting that I share pictures from my cousin Andrew's graduation party today, as I have the afternoon off to go attend another cousin's high school graduation ceremony. Graduation season is definitely in full swing!

First off, the food. I feel like I haven't done much creative baking in a while. Part of it's been the heat and part of it's just the lack of overall time and energy due to the million other things I'm trying to get done these days. However, when I saw a picture of graduation themed cupcakes, I felt inspired by their simplicty and overall cuteness to make them for the party.

I went with my go-to chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes. I could gush about this recipe for days, not only does it exclude eggs as a leavener (making them easy to make even if you are out of eggs or worried about not having enough), but it results in the most perfect cupcakes. Nice, rounded domes + moist cake = perfection.
Perfect chocolate cupcake recipe (from Hershey's Kitchen):
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.

2. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooken pick inserted in cake portion comes out clean. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes two dozen cupcakes.

Now comes the fun part, the stages of frosting the cupcakes. I used another recipe from the Hershey's website since I love the consistency and the color contrast of the frosting against the cupcakes.

One-bowl Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

I frosted these using my cloth pastry bag and an icing tip, using a simple spiral design that allowed me to move quickly from cupcake to cupcake. I had to pause after frosting the first cupcake to admire how nice it looked!

As you can see, to make graduation caps, I end up decorating each one with a mini Reese's peanut butter cup (large end down), topped with a Ghiradelli chocolate square (I went with the caramel squares) and adhered using a small dot of frosting. Another dot of frosting on top was used to hold a M&M in place and tassels and Andrew's initials were drawn on with a Betty Crocker gel frosting tube.

I think these look a little messier than I was looking for and it would've been better to have created a red frosting to use, instead of using the store-bought gel frosting. However, I've learned that I can't do everything and sometimes, it's worth a shortcut to save some time and frustration! Plus, I like the contrast of the vivid red with the chocolate, although as my Andrew pointed out, tassels are supposed to hang off the sides rather than lay on top. I saw some creative decorating ideas that used thin strings of red licorice to achieve that effect, but I definitely didn't have the time or patience to add that effect this past weekend. :)

What warmed my heart at the end of the day? Seeing the graduate of honor chowing down on a cupcake. I knew the cupcakes were right for him simply because they were loaded with tons of candy. Ever since he was little, Andrew has had the habit (aggravating for me at times) of picking candy off the top of my baked goods without eating the rest of the item (such as Hershey's kisses off of peanut butter cookies). So this time around, I figured he could pick the candy graduation caps and eat them, and this one time, I wouldn't scold him for it!

1 comment:

andrew said...

thats a sexy pic u have to admit