Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crazy idea #17 - Cupcakes

Some time in the last couple of years, cupcakes became fashionable in Spain. There were news reports of cupcake bakeries, services, parties, opening all over. I blame Sex and the City.

V insists that I will be forever idenitified as ¨that American¨ once we move, so I might as well capitalize on it. Now cupcakes are not something I´ve had much to do with since I was about 12, but they don´t strike me as mysterious. So, with the excuse of a guests coming to dinner Saturday, I made some Boston Cream cupcakes. *Note that Boston Cream Pie isn´t, in fact, a pie at all - it´s a cake.

I looked around online for a bit, and was struck by the number of recipes that started with ¨1 box of cake mix¨ or ¨1 package instant pudding¨. Then, naturally, I went to Martha. But the only review noted they were heavy and sort of dry. So I looked for a recipe for vanilla cupcakes from the wonderful Chockylit. There is some serious cupcake science going on here. Now realize that I lack a stand mixer, multiple cupcake trays, cooling racks, even the right sized cupcake paper cups so I knew the results were going to vary. Added to that, ovens are tiny over here, so there is only 1 rack. And I´m on a diet, so I don´t want 3 dozen cupcakes lying around calling to me (even though Ohio Farm Girl would have them for breakfast).

In the end, I used Martha´s recipe, halved. I also tried out the tiny tart pan for the batter remaining after the dozen (turns out I should have just filled the standard cups more - they were too short, but that´s why experience helps). But the mini pan wouldn´t fit in the oven with the large pan, so that meant 2 batches. In the end they were too small to be worth trying to ¨fill¨. Another lesson learned.

The pastry cream was surprisingly straightforward and tastes terrific. My error here was not cooking it to a stiffer thickness - I thought it would firm up as it cooled. Not so - it´s too runny. But I cut the cupcakes in half, added the cream, and chilled in the refrigerator during dinner, then opened them up again and added some more cream while I was making the chocolate ganache. That allowed the cream to penetrate the dense cake and soften it up. Win-win!

Chocolate ganache is one of the best things known to man - and it´s unbelievably easy. I like bitter chocolate, so I heat cream just to simmering and add the broken pieces of baking chocolate, stirring to incorporate as it melts. Voila! Yummy, gourmet tasting ganache! The cakes were quite sweet, so I hope the slight bitterness of the chocolate compensates a little.

All in all a pretty good first effort. Is it a business idea? No telling.


  1. You could have made a full batch and sent the spares over to Asturias....

  2. There is nothing crazy about this idea. It is, in fact, AWESOME!

  3. Seriously - chocolate ganache - put it on anything.

  4. Oh my goooood. I want one... or two... or three... xo Jen