Category Archives: martha stewart cupcakes

MSC: Pumpkin patch cupcakes

Linus: “Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world. He’ll come here because I have the most sincere pumpkin patch and he respects sincerity.”
Sally Brown: “That’s a good story.”
Linus: “You don’t believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.”

note the real pumpkin prop in the background.. slightly contrived, yessss...

note the background prop.. slightly contrived, yessss... and the 'forest green' food-colouring I used turned out to be more of a sea-green in my opinion, but oh well..

Well, I haven’t taken a bite yet, but I’m trusting that these are going to be phenomenal. Firstly, they’re cream-cheese frosted, which always spells ‘winner’.  Secondly, the cakes themselves smell fantastic, rose to a perfect dome and look deliciously moist.  But just looking gets harder and harder… I baked these up to take over to a friend’s house this evening (that way, I can only eat as many as I can stuff my face with in one go), but unfortunately she’s going through a rough time, so I’ve put ’em on ice for now.  Literally.  Which is why I’ve got less than a patch at the moment…
But it’s a sincere patch! You don’t get much more sincere than cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  And although I thought the marzipan pumpkins would be a nightmare to make (especially as I don’t have a leaf cutter.. clearly..) it was actually an easy task and I’ve come away inspired to skill up on the ol’ sugarcraft.. and to revisit the fun of play dough.

obviously, I had no leaf cutter and had to play it free style

obviously, I had no leaf cutter and had to play it free style

Somehow, living overseas for most of my life, I’ve developed a passion obsession for any and every tacky holiday tradition – the kitscher (read: tackier), the better.  So this was a perfect pick to kick start the halloween season.  The cupcakes were simple enough to put together, but I had trouble – as usual – getting my hands on pumpkin puree over here.  I made my annual pitstop at Selfridges (the only source of Libby’s 100% I’ve come across in London – as obscenely priced as it is) only to be told that they wouldn’t be receiving the shipment for another few weeks.  Eventually, I overcame the horror and resigned myself to missing out on this one.  (No time for DIY pumpkin puree).
Luckily, and despite having no faith whatsoever, I asked at my local (giant) Waitrose where – lo and behold – the fantastic saleswoman produced the (non-Libby’s) goods after a lengthy search.
Right, er, that’s my long-winded way of giving this bake a 2/5 for availability of ingredients (when living overseas and trying to survive the ‘great pumpkin crisis’ of 2009, apparently) and a 5/5 for simplicity. I can’t comment YET on taste or texture combo.. but I’m predicting high scores.  Big thanks to ‘What the Whisk’ Kim for this perfect seasonal pick, and please check out the other patches here.

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MSC: Courgette.. er, Zucchini (ahem) Spice Cupcakes

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie”  ~Jim Davis

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This month’s MSC pick was a winner, in my book.. I LOVE carrot cake with cream cheese frosting more than any other edible substance on the planet (a lot) – but I’ve always wanted to swap veg and try using zucchini/courgette instead (look at me being bilingual..skills, innit.)

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The cupcakes baked up beautifully – with a perfect dome, which is impressive given my track record on overfilling..  They were moist and nicely-spiced on their own, but the frosting added that sweet creamy oomph needed to bump ’em up to a nom-worthy status of 3.5/5.  I’ve just now decided that I might start giving these bakes ratings a la bakingblonde – I always love knowing how recipes compare on ingredient availability, difficulty, and taste.. So here goes:
(bear in mind I’m comparing these with other cupcake+frosting recipes)

ingredients = 4/5 (double check you’ve got all the spices)
effort/time = 4.5/5 (half a point for the grating.. although that might be too harsh)
difficulty = 1/5
taste/texture combo =  3.5/5 (carrot still wins, for the extra crunch and natural sweetness.. plus, this was a lot more dense than my c-cake favourite..)

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I made these for a friend’s birthday and it was my first attempt at two-tone frosting.. obviously, practice is needed but they still did the job.  Thanks so much to Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures for such a good pick! And to our lovely leader Betty of EatMyCupcake!Please head over to the MSC clubsite for a look at what the other cupcakers thought about this one!

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MSC: Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini-cupcakes

“Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn’t in them” (Anonymous)

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I’ve always felt a bit… dubious, I guess… about Martha Stewart.  Having grown up overseas (without access to the cable channels I so desperately craved as a member of the MTV generation), I wasn’t  fed on daily episodes of Martha and I’ve never read Living. I remember being vaguely aware of her stealthy build towards world domination, but Martha really only came into focus for me when she swapped fame for infamy as news of the ImClone scandal broke.  For a long time, this association reigned and I didn’t bother to disentangle images of prison stripes from gingham prints when references to the home ec. guru cropped up.  But I’ve become aware of a shift in the past few years –  Martha-bashing has fallen out of fashion and recently I started to wonder why I’ve never tried any of the lauded MS recipes.  To be fair, I got the impression that Martha (actually ‘Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’) is a bit like marmite – whether you’re a lover or a hater, she’s a trademarked tradition that you’ve got to try. (Or so my boyfriend keeps insisting, in the case of marmite).

So I’m trying!   I splashed out and bought Cupcakes in a spend-happy moment, and promptly signed myself up to the brilliant new MSC baking group – brainchild of the stunningly talented Betty of EAT MY CUPCAKE.

…and I’ve been giddy with excitement about our inaugural bake since Betty announced that we’d be kicking off with Chocolate Salted-Caramel Cupcakes!  See, I recently experienced a gastronomic ephiphany  while on holiday in France – On our last night, we stopped by the most charming ice cream parlor ever in a little town called Maussane (near St Remy and within throwing distance of Nimes).  Naturally, I went for a king size cone with heaps of Nutella ice cream, but my Uncle also convinced us to try a scoop of their Salted caramel flavour too..  and thank god he did.

I know salt is supposed to bring out the flavour of chocolate, and although I haven’t yet got round to chucking salted peanuts in my peanut-butter blondies as Dorie advises, I was willing to believe that the combo might work…  But now.. after that phenomenal scoop.. I am a genuine believer.

So armed with newfound evangelical fervor, I dove into Martha’s recipe with high hopes.

Unfortunately, things went a bit pear-shaped..

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I made the full recipe and although it’s technically titled ‘mini-cupcakes’, I decided to make 12 standard sized cupcakes to take to a friend’s birthday, which left enough batter  for about 20 mini-cupcakes… or so I thought..  In retrospect, given the overflows, maybe I should have reigned in the pouring, eh?  My boyfriend described these as looking “like smurfs… in high wind”.

I do wonder though why the extreme lopsided-ness often seems to arise when I make chocolate cupcakes.. I admit I have a bit of a freehand and I do overfill my cups, but the overflows usually seem more balanced with vanilla and carrot cupcakes, for example… mysterious, no? hmmm

Anyway, back to the recipe ..
Mixing these babies up was a dream – the cake recipe was a simple, straightforward one-bowl wonder.. hallelujah, no extra dishes! My taster tried a naked minicupcake and described it as a bit dry – Personally, I found them moist and rich enough – but not quite as good as my usual GO2 (post on this later).  When it came to the caramel though, disaster struck.. and then struck again..

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I made 2 batches and managed to bugger them both up . The first one tasted a bit undercooked – the flavour and colour were far too light, as you can probably tell from the picture..  Then the second batch tasted way too overcooked – I basically ended up burning the bottom layer of sugar before the temp actually reached 360.. My caramalizing skills leave a LOT to be desired.

The frosting though, was amazing – incredibly rich and silky. In fact, I’ve just had several spoonfuls sans cake, and unfortuantely, I’m still going back for more despite how sick it’s made me feel.. It had a beautiful sheen when I first mixed it up, but after an overnight refrigeration and second beating, things dulled a bit.. still tasted great though!

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All in all, I’d say the cupcake recipe is worth trying and the frosting is a new personal favourite for sure.  I’m also gonna keep trying with the caramel because I’m sure the problems I had were more to do with my skills/anxieties/concentration difficulties than Martha’s recipe.

Thanks SO much to Betty for selecting such a brilliant, unique cupcake to kick things off with!! Please take peek a what everyone else has concocted too! (You can find the blogroll on Betty’s lovely site.)

I’m really looking forward to baking up another batch next month, see you all then!

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