Latest bake recipes and feedback

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Although I provided links to the original source and inspiration for the recipes with which I experimented in my latest bake, I decided I ought to post the recipes including modifications as well as the feedback I received.

Pumpkin cupcakes with gingersnap crust, Rolo/Center candy center and spiced apple cider icing

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin

Package of gingersnaps or pepparkakor cookies

24 Rolo, Smil or Center chocolate caramel candies

Directions/cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line 24 muffin cups.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
Beat 1/2 cup of butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to be fully incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin. Stir in the dry mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Place a thin gingersnap or gingerbread (pepparkakor) in the bottom of a cupcake paper. Put cupcake batter over the top of the gingersnaps and fill to about two-thirds full. Press a Rolo into the center of the batter.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Spiced apple cider frosting
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Two or three packets spiced apple cider

Mix the egg white and the sugar over a double boiler. The sugar should be completely dissolved when you remove it from heat. Pour the mixture into a large bowl (preferably the mixing bowl of a stand mixer — Swiss meringue is mixing intensive, so a stand mixer works best). Whisk on high speed until stiff but still wet peaks form. Continue to beat for about five or six minutes after these peaks form.

Switch to the paddle attachment and turn the speed to medium low. Add the butter in one or two tablespoons/pieces at a time. The mixture might start to look lumpy and curdled. Don’t worry. Keep mixing. When things start to come together, beat in the flavoring (in this case, the apple cider powder) and keep beating for another two minutes. It might take some time to get to the right texture. You will know when it comes together in a solid, fluffy, frosting-like consistency.

Among the feedback on these – which were giant (I double the recipe and baked them in double-sized cupcake papers) – were statements like, “I have a new favorite. The pumpkin cupcakes are like a meal! And then a caramel surprise in the middle. I loved it!” And, “That pumpkin cake was amazing! The balance with the icing was perfect… and then a toffee middle! Was it ginger and cinnamon in the sponge or just cinnamon? Was it lemon in the icing? I loved it … definitely made my morning.”

(And to answer those questions… yes, ginger and cinnamon in the sponge along with cloves, nutmeg and allspice! That’s a LOAD of spices! And no, no lemon in the icing!)

About the “fauxstess” Hostess cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can quickly make some by adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice for each cup of milk you’d like to “sour” – or use “súrmjólk” or “filmjölk”)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat sugar and vegetable oil until fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Add vanilla. Mix. Sift all dry ingredients together and add in thirds alternately with the buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 175C.

Put batter into prepared cupcake papers, fill to about two-thirds full. Bake 20-24 minutes. Let cool in pan for five minutes and then remove to cooling racks. Let completely cool before filling.

Fauxstess vanilla filling
The original, suggested filing recipe was too heavy and thick for me to use but you can find it on the lovely Lemon Sugar blog site.

My filling recipe is the same as I use for Swiss meringue buttercream frosting
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder, a teaspoon or so of liquid vanilla (to taste)

Mix the egg white and the sugar over a double boiler. The sugar should be completely dissolved when you remove it from heat. Pour the mixture into a large bowl (preferably the mixing bowl of a stand mixer — Swiss meringue is mixing intensive, so a stand mixer works best). Whisk on high speed until stiff but still wet peaks form. Continue to beat for about five or six minutes after these peaks form.

Switch to the paddle attachment and turn the speed to medium low. Add the butter in one or two tablespoons/pieces at a time. The mixture might start to look lumpy and curdled. Don’t worry. Keep mixing. When things start to come together, beat in the flavoring (in this case, the vanilla) and keep beating for another two minutes. It might take some time to get to the right texture. You will know when it comes together in a solid, fluffy, frosting-like consistency.

Add to a piping bag and use a piping/frosting tip that can be poked into the tops of the cupcakes to fill them. Gently squeeze piping bag to fill the cupcakes with filling, being careful not to let the cupcake explode. If using the original filling recipe, you are supposed to set aside a cup of the filling to make the white icing curlicue on top of the cupcakes, but because I did not do that I used some store-bought white-writing icing.

Chocolate ganache topping

5 ounces chocolate
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Over a double boiler filled with boiling water, heat cream in the top until steaming. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stir until smooth. Cool completely. When cool, dip the filled cupcakes into the ganache (or spread them with the ganache). Set in fridge at least 30 minutes to let harden/solidify.

Use the icing “pen” to make squiggles on top. Refrigerate the cupcakes so everything sets nicely.

People were truly bowled over by these, no matter how ugly they turned out. I mean, heck yeah, it’s chocolate. But they didn’t turn out looking like their namesake and processed “inspiration”, the Hostess cupcake. I guess they don’t have to look exactly the same to taste even better.

The most effusive feedback came from the only other American person (someone who actually knows the real Hostess cupcakes) to try these out. The exuberance and all-caps are hers (she emailed her feedback): “WHATEVER ON EARTH WAS IN YOUR CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES?!!?!?! IT WAS SO GODDAMN SPANKING GOOD! IT REMINDED ME OF THE JOY OF A DING DONG AS A CHILD – BUT THIS WAS BETTER! IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LIGHT… I’m like….. in heaven… It was AMAZING! PERFECT! You have to make those again!!” When I responded with a thanks, she answered, “IT WAS TOTALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY A HOSTESS!!! TOTALLY! TOTALLY! TOTALLY!! !%&”!%”#@!”

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