Monday, June 28, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Seeing as that I’m spending July off on a cross-country adventure with Mom I decided to get ahead this month and try out two cupcakes for June (especially since the early June cupcake was such a disaster). After planning a little housewarming fiesta and making all sorts of salsas toppings for dinner I wanted to make a dessert that would have a little south of the border kick to it. Flan just seemed like asking for trouble so I tried my hand at these spicy chocolate cupcakes. They were a huge success! Simple, delicious, and a great way to end a fiesta.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box devils food cupcake mix (which again, means half a cake mix)
2 eggs
1/ 2 cup water
1/ 4 cup oil
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/ 4 tsp chili powder

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 tub store bought cream cheese frosting
1 /2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Pipe cupcakes liberally with frosting and dust lightly with ground cinnamon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Cupcake of the Month to Celebrate a UCLA grad

Although graduations in Claremont have come and gone (congrats to all the new masters by the way!) it’s time to start celebrating people finishing up their last quarters in the UC system. One of my good friends who used to craft with me back in my days working at Betty’s Fabrics in San Luis Obispo graduated on Saturday from UCLA.

Because June snuck up on me so fast I didn’t have chance to come up with a cupcake plan in advance I decided her graduation party would be the perfect excuse to try something new. After many hours of googling I narrowed my options to either “Blue and Gold” lemonade cupcakes with blue cream cheese frosting to show a little UC pride, or “Future Brownie” chocoate cupcakes with mortar boards made out of peanut butter cups and chocolate to celebrate that my smarty-pants friend is off to Brown University in the fall to get her master’s.

To get her opinion I dropped a very critpic e-mail (happy graduation. lemons or peanut butter?) and the decision made: lemonade cupcakes!

This month I would just like preface my cupcake recipe with the suggestion that you DO NOT TRY IT. It did NOT work well.

Lemonade Cupcakes

1 box yellow cupcake mix (meaning half a cake yellow cake mix)
2 eggs
6 oz lemonade concentrate, melted
6 oz plain yogurt

Although the box suggested I bake 12 cupcakes for 21-25 minutes at 350˚ after half an hour my poor overfilled cupcake wrappers were brown on the bottom, gooey in the middle, and concave on the top. They turned out more like a lemon custard than anything resembling a cupcake. But the party was mere hours away, so I continued on.

For the frosting (which was later used to fill in the half inch deep sunken centers of my distasterous cupcakes) I mixed half a tub of white frosting with half a package of cream cheese and far too much blue food coloring. I piped it on with a pastry bag starting and ending at the center to fill in the sinkhole.

For the decoration (there to hide the mess I was making) I bought bite sized “English Lemon Cookies” which have a footprint the size of a quarter and are white with powdered sugar. They look just like Mexican wedding cookies, but taste like lemon. I also picked up a tube of square shortbread cookies and a bag of vanilla tootsie rolls. I frosted the tops and sides of the shortbread cookies and let the frosting set up for about 2 hours, then used a little more white frosting as glue to affix the shortbread to the lemon cookie. To make the whole thing a little more lemony and polished I mixed a small amount of lemon juice with about a cup of powdered sugar and made a thin glaze to pour over my little white mortar boards. Again, I let the icing set up for about 2 hours at room temperature.

While they were setting I microwaved 5 vanilla tootsies for 15 seconds and rolled them out into thin strips with a rolling pin on parchment paper. I sliced each flattened oval into three inch-wide strips with a paring knife and rolled each one up like a little diploma. They cool quickly, but needed a second reharden as well. Then with my trusty little tube of Betty Crocker blue icing (I don’t know what I’d do with out it) I put tassels on each mortar board and ribbons on each diploma.

Finally I put the whole mess together, dropping a hat and scroll on each cupcake and praying the diploma didn’t get lost in inch thick frosting by morning. Next time I stick to better trusted recipes, that’s for sure.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cheesy, I know

The weekend after the San Antonio wedding was my mom’s 60th birthday. She has recently taken up cheese making and although she is too humble to admit it has made some delicious goat cheese, and some very unique blue cheese already. To show my support I pulled back out the Dremel to handcraft some cheese plates to celebrate her success in cheese making. I pulled a little clip art off the web and sat in my evolutionary psychology designing a little logo for her.

After making 4 small appetizer sized clear glass plates and one larger serving tray I promptly wrapped them and handed them off without taking any photos, but I did learn something very important to share, so I had to write about it. Once I got the logo to the size I wanted it, I reversed the image in photoshop to print it so I could tape the paper to the front side of the dish and etch the bottom of the dish so the eating surface doesn’t get textured.

A German sweater in Texas

May proved to be just as chaotic as I had anticipated between weddings, birthdays, and graduations, but I managed to make a few good messes (and failed to blog about them, might I add) along the way. The first experiment was a knitting project inspired by my mom’s hasty reminder that bare shoulders and full Catholic wedding ceremonies don’t mix.
Too broke and pressed for time to buy yarn I got to dip into my mom’s stash when I was home and head back to school with two skeins of what I assume was a wool acrylic blend my mom picked up when we were in Germany back in 2008. She insists she was probably never going to find a use for anything white and fuzzy anyway, so she didn’t mind seeing me put it to good use.
I used this pattern for a very easy little shrug just to cover my shoulders in the church. I ended up using a size 7 needle (my guage is always off) and couldn’t believe how fast it came together. I made it just the size the pattern calls for because I usually wear a size small top and figured it would be close enough. I'm lazy, I know!
I can’t wait to try the idea of just making a lacey rectangle and sewing up the sides into sleeves again! It seems to me you could use any yarn, any needle, and any lace pattern to make a quick little shrug for any occasion or season.