Valentines Day In Miniature
Cupcakes have been on the sweet scene for a long time; our love affair with them knows no end. Giant cupcakes, mini cupcakes, two-flavored cupcakes and clever cupcake cakes for weddings instead of a huge cake! There’s no denying their popularity.
True, the cupcakes of my youth have undergone a radical change; no more just vanilla, yellow or chocolate ones. Now there are marbled cupcakes, carrot and ginger cupcakes, caramel and coarse salt cupcakes, spiced cupcakes, banana and peanut butter cupcakes, even health cupcakes! And they have gourmet frostings to match!
Cupcake sales are hot on the web and bakeries dedicated to the little bites have sprung up everywhere. Now here’s the thing...cupcakes are just so darn easy and cheap to make and taste better. I have seen many beautiful looking cupcakes BUT they can often disappoint with a taste that is dull, and a texture that is dry and crumbly. A cupcake should taste as good as it looks. With Valentines Day just around the corner, cupcakes are ideal as a little gift of affection.
To make really great cupcakes, follow these simple rules for your favorite recipe. Don’t over-mix the batter because this could cause the texture to be dry. Use the right size pan and make sure that it is a shiny, heavy duty one. Never bake more than one pan at a time for even heat circulation. Fill the cupcake pans 1/2 to 2/3 full. Try using buttermilk based cake recipes; the result is outstandingly moist cupcakes. In general, batter for an 8-inch layer cake will yield between 20-24 cupcakes. For guiltless pleasure, use mini muffin pans to make cupcakes. Cupcakes are best enjoyed on the day they are made.
Chocolate Olive Oil Mini Cupcakes
Line several mini muffin pans with paper liners and set aside
Preheat the oven to 350F
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup light olive oil
2T white vinegar
2 cups cold water
Two 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Lite Cream Cheese, at room temperature
31/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil
Crystalized white sugar or colored sugars for sprinkling on top
Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. With a hand mixer on low speed beat in the olive oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until smooth. Fill the prepared pans about 2/3 full.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Do not over bake. It should be firm to the touch and a cake skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.
Place the muffin pans on cooling racks, and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans to cool completely. Frost when cool with frosting below
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth; gradually add in enough of the sugar to make a smooth frosting that is not runny. Stir in the cinnamon oil.
Frost the cupcakes layers and sprinkle the sugar over the tops.
Variation: for an artistic effect use a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe the frosting in long curls on top of the cupcakes.