Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Catching Up: Christmas

I just love Christmas! It is absolutely my favorite holiday :) I love the lights on the houses, the smell of Christmas trees, the good spirit of the season...and of course, all the Christmas goodies!
The Santa and his reindeer cupcakes are eggnog cake with eggnog frosting, and the decorations are made of royal icing. To make royal icing decorations like these, create your decorations on a piece of wax paper in the same way you would frost a cookie with royal icing (if you don't know how to do that, wait for my upcoming post about sugar cookies!), let them dry completely, then carefully pick them up with a spatula and transfer them to your cupcakes.
To make eggnog cake, I used my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe and just substituted the milk for eggnog. The cake had a decent noggy flavor, but using eggnog instead of milk made the cake much more dense. For the frosting, I decided on a cooked flour buttercream because that type of frosting uses a lot of milk. (If you'd like more info about cooked flour buttercream, I suggest
Pioneer Woman's tutorial on the subject.) The frosting didn't seem to like the substitution and had a bit of a strange texture, but the taste was spot-on. I don't think I can get such a strong noggy flavor with another type of frosting. Next year I will have to experiment some more, though, and see if I can create a frosting with a similarly great flavor, but that is more pipe-able. I also made some alcoholic frosting, and of course that just made it worse--consistency-wise only of course! ;)

I also made some gingerbread latte cupcakes using
this recipe from Cupcake Project.
The only difference in my cupcakes is that I only made coffee frosting, no gingerbread frosting. These cupcakes were delicious!!! I love, love, love gingerbread, and the coffee frosting was simply phenomenal. They were a great dessert, but if you're going to eat cupcakes for breakfast (and you know you want to), this one would be a great start-of-the-day cupcake. I topped them with mini gingerbread man sprinkles from my local cake supply shop.

Next up: Chocolate peppermint cupcakes!
I was originally planning on making these with a bit fancier decorations, but I think the simple crushed candy cane border actually came out looking very nice. These are chocolate cake filled with peppermint whipped cream, topped with peppermint ganache and crushed candy cane. For the whipped cream, I made a stabilized whipped cream (basically, adding gelatin to the cream) and folded in some candy cane powder. I wasn't getting a strong enough peppermint flavor with just the candy cane, though, so I also added some peppermint extract. I still didn't think the peppermint aspect of these chocolate-peppermint cupcakes was strong enough, so I also added a teensy bit of peppermint extract to the ganache. Mmmmm :)
For candy cane powder, simply crush your candy canes in a food processor. Pour the crushed canes through a mesh strainer, then use the powder to flavor (and color) the whipped cream, and use the bigger pieces to roll the edges of the frosted cupcake in.

The last Christmas cupcakes I made were classic red velvet with cream cheese frosting.

As you can see, I decorated them with wreaths and poinsettias. It's a bit harder to pipe decorations with cream cheese frosting than with buttercream, since cream cheese doesn't get as stiff, but they came out very cute :)

I'm already excited for Christmas this year and am thinking of which cupcakes I can make, and how I can decorate them!

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