Friday, August 13, 2010

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Well, the Scooby-Doo theme continues! The other day I posted about my Scooby-Doo Dog Tag Sugar Cookies, and now I'm going to tell you about my Scooby-Doo Cupcakes! For my son's 5th birthday party at a local children's bouncey house, I decided to go with cupcakes because they're easy, they're kid-friendly, and it would give me an excuse to once again whip out my trusty Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book!

I knew the birthday boy would want cupcakes that were as plain and simple as could be. Therefore, this was the perfect opportunity to finally try out Martha's Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. My son's kinda strange, for a 5 year-old. He does not like chocolate cake, only vanilla. He absolutely hates frosting; I had to serve him a plain, "naked" cupcake with no frosting on top. And I wouldn't even dream of offering him ice cream with his cake; he won't even touch the stuff. I thought I'd be safe with the yellow cupcakes, and I could give the vanilla frosting to his party guests, but not to him.

I was lucky enough to find these adorable Scooby-Doo cupcake papers on Ebay, and I originally contemplated frosting each cupcake with two different-colored frostings at once. However, that made me nervous because I've never done something like that before. I decided I didn't want to risk there being a cupcake disaster the morning of the party! So in the end I kept it simple and did half the cupcakes bright orange (Xander's favorite color) and half the cupakes teal. The colors were great, really vivid, and I thought they represented the colors on Scooby and the gang's Mystery Machine quite nicely! I used Wilton gel-paste food colors for the frosting.

The cupcakes were delicious. They were light, tender, and very moist. They were like the quintessential kids' birthday party cupcakes. I can definitely see why so many other people say that these are their go-to yellow cupcakes.

And the frosting was fabulous, too! So often, American buttercream icing can be so cloyingly sweet that you get sick from eating it. That's not the case with this frosting. The technique Martha employs, of alternating between beating it at a very high speed for short bursts, and beating it at a lower speed for longer periods, really made the frosting super fluffy (hence the name). It wasn't a dense, heavy frosting; rather, it was light as air and almost felt, texturally, like whipped cream. I even got compliments about it; one person said they don't normally like frosting, but she liked this frosting. I wonder what she'd think of Swiss Meringue Buttercream...

So these were a tremendous hit, cake, frosting, all of it. The little party favors adorning the cupcakes were a hit, too! I found these little Scooby-Doo rings that I was excited to use. It was so easy; I just nestled them right into the frosting. The kids got to take them home with them. My younger son, the 20 month-old, used his ring as his fork. He kept dipping his ring into the frosting, and then ate the frosting off. I thought it was creative!

There will be even more cupcake fun later on this week. The Martha Stewart Cupcakes Club will be making Triple Citrus Cupcakes!

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes
from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
makes 36 cupcakes

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Fluffy Vanilla Frosting (recipe follows)
Gel-paste food coloring, optional
Colored sprinkles, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers. (I froze these the week before the party, and what I did worked well. I place them back in the muffin tins after they were cool, then triple-wrapped each muffin tin in saran wrap. I placed all the tins inside a large plastic bag and pushed as much air out of the bag as I could. Then I tied it off and placed the whole bag in the freezer. When it was time to defrost, I took them out, unwrapped everything, and took the cupcakes out of the tins. Then I allowed them to thaw. They were perfect!)

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
makes 4 cups

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb. (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. (If coloring your frosting, it can either be done right after beating, or after storing in the refrigerator and beating again. Add gel-paste food coloring until you reach the desired shade. Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired.)

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