Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dr Pepper Cupcakes

Today is my friend Lynette's birthday.  She currently lives right around the corner from me, but in a few short weeks she and her family will be moving.  While they won't be moving too far, I won't be able to just run over any more, so I really wanted to make sure I made her a little something for her birthday.

Of course my go to treat always seems to be dessert.  I was wondering what to make for her and just kept thinking that she loves Dr Pepper.  I had heard of a Coke cake, so I wondered if there was perhaps a Dr Pepper treat and I found several recipes.  Having never made one before, I read some reviews and pieced together what sounded best.  I also decided to make a cupcake instead of a cake.  Lynette, like me and a few other of our friends, has been trying to shed a few pounds, and I thought a cupcake would be easier for portion control.  Plus cupcakes are just so darn cute! 

The recipes I found came with a variety of frostings and toppings:  Chocolate frosting, Peanut Butter Frosting, Chopped Peanuts, Chocolate frosting with pecans, Chocolate Ganache with Dr Pepper in it......  I decided to use Ina Garten's Chocolate Buttercream because I love how light it is.  You can click on the link for her original recipe.  Below is the recipe that I use.

Dr Pepper Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt 
1 cup Dr Pepper*
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 tablespoons butter, softened, cut up
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line regular size muffin pan with paper liners or spray with Pam.  This recipe will yield 24 cupcakes.

Heat the Dr Pepper in a small saucepan over medium. When it starts to bubble, reduce heat to low, add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Set aside to cool (about 10 minutes)

While the Dr Pepper mixture is cooling, sift together the flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda; stir in the salt.**

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla, and almond extract for 2 minutes. At lowest speed, slowly add the Dr Pepper mixture and beat for 1 additional minute. Gradually add the dry ingredients (flour mixture), and beat until smooth by hand or using medium to low speed of mixer.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.  I like to use an ice cream scoop so that all the cupcakes bake evenly and look uniform.  Bake for about 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

*Some of the reviews I read said you should absolutely NOT use Diet DrPepper because when you heat it up, the artificial sweetener will turn bitter.
**I'm too lazy to sift my flour and white sugar, but I did sift my brown sugar and cocoa powder cause the humidity doesn't agree with that stuff.  (Or with my hair either!)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

6 ozs bittersweet chocolate*
4 ozs semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup egg whites at room temp (2 extra large eggs)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again. 

*If you don't like bittersweet chocolate you could use all semisweet or any combination that you like that equals the weight of chocolate.  When my kids tasted it today, they thought it wasn't sweet enough so I ended up adding some powdered sugar and a little milk to sweeten it up a little. 

Ina Garten's original recipe calls for a pound and a half of butter!!!  I imagine that makes a huge batch of buttercream frosting.  I scaled it down to a third and it generously covered 24 cupcakes and there was some leftover.   I also omitted the coffee and rum.  If you were pairing this with something other than DP  you could could add in all kinds of other yummy flavors such as mint or orange.  Delish!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ciara's Creations - Chocolate Cupcakes

Ciara loves going to Activity Girls!  She was especially looking forward to today because her teacher had a pool party planned.  The party was actually meant for the girls and their families but there were a few glitches when it came to Ciara's family attending.  Mom has a wicked kidney infection - yuck.  Simply being upright does not feel great right now.  Dad gets home a little late in the evening and worked from home yesterday to help care for the ailing mom, so ducking out of work early just wasn't going to happen today.  Thankfully several of our good friends offered to take her along with their own daughters.
I suggested to Ciara we make Brownies.  You know, the kind out of a box.  Dump in a bowl, eggs, oil, water, stir, dump in a pan, bake.  No fuss, and the best part, very little energy expended on my part.  But no.....Ciara wanted cupcakes today.  She wanted to decorate them for her friends.  Because she was disapointed that we weren't going to the party, I decided to go ahead and help her make the cupcakes.

 I helped her make little tags, and of course she had to put sprinkles on top!

The cupcakes are cute, but they have nothing on that cute face!