I am very excited to announce that I have joined yet another blogging group! This one is the Martha Stewart Cupcakes Club, and is dedicated (obviously, hence the title) solely to cupcakes baked from Martha's Cupcakes Cookbook. I am really looking forward to cooking along with the other members; this is a group I have been following ever since they started out, nine or so months ago. However, this group had filled up with eager members very quickly in the beginning, so by the time I wanted to join, the club was closed to new bloggers. There was a waiting list, but I didn't sign up for it. Instead, I would read the blogs each month and enjoy other people's results, virtually.
But now the group is open for anyone to join! So I decided that it was time. You only need to bake along once a month, so it seems completely possible to keep up. Plus, I have been looking forward to using my Martha Stewart Cupcakes book more often; now is my chance!
For my debut outing, I made Strawberry Cupcakes (found on p. 146), which were chosen by Sherry of Sherry Starts Cooking. This is a great recipe; you incorporate real, finely chopped strawberries into a vanilla cake batter. The result is a light, sweet little cake studded with tart, red flecks that give it this extra pop. So good! I don't even eat strawberries, but I loved them in these cupcakes!
The recommended frosting was a Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which could also be found in the book. Here's where my problems began! It's been years since I have made this type of frosting; it's very tricky. I recently tried my hand at Italian Meringue Buttercream, with great results. I felt confident that I could pull off the Swiss variety.
Well, my confidence waned after my first attempt, when I began whipping an egg white/sugar mixture that had been heated on the stovetop, over a saucepan of simmering water. Instead of forming stiff, meringue-y peaks as the recipe called for, I got.....well, I don't know what I got, exactly. It looked like taffy, the kind you can get on the Jersey boardwalks of my youth, watching it pull and stretch on a machine in the storefront window. It was thick and sticky, almost like chewing gum after it's been chewed awhile. I was baffled. I chucked that batch and started over.
This time, pretty much the same thing happened. I got goop; it proved to not be usable; I scrapped that batch. By now, I was ready to give up and run to the grocery store for some canisters of whipped cream. It was only because of Andy that I tried one more time. He had been helping with the whisking stage of the proceedings, and he convinced me that if we tried again, we would be successful, darnit! I was skeptical, but I plunged onward.
I am so glad I listened to him! Our third attempt was a wild success. This buttercream is to die for! The consistency is that of silk; smooth and light on the tongue. The added pureed strawberries give it the right amount of fruit flavor and tartness. The frosting piped onto the cupcakes like an absolute dream. It was wonderful. We were victorious, and it was worth all the hassle! A garnish of fresh sliced strawberry perched on top completed these little cuties.
So, what went wrong? Andy thinks I made an error by setting my egg white/sugar mixture over a COLD pot of water, then heating it to a simmer. By the time the egg whites had come to the temperature they needed to in order to remove them from the heat, I had overcooked them. The third time we did this, Andy started with an already-simmering pot of water, and we were fine. So I'm gonna go with him on this. Now I know for next time! And there will be a next time, because these were an enormous hit! I sent Andy to work with 2 dozen cupcakes, and he returned that evening with one left. People loved them! I'm glad, because now that I'm in this blogging group, they get to sample cupcakes once a month from now on!
Once again, I am thrilled to be a part of the group and can't wait to keep baking! If you want more cupcake goodness, check out the MSC website to find out how all the other members made out this month.