Vegan Engagement Party Cupcakes

As you know from my last post, my sister-in-law and her fiance had their engagement party three weeks ago. The Mr. Met Cake Pops were a hit and a big surprise, but the main thing I baked for the party were vegan cupcakes.

The recipe for these cupcakes came straight outta “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”. I decided to go with the basics: Chocolate and Vanilla, and frosted them all with the Vegan ‘Butter’cream Frosting.

Megan and Michael are planning a wedding with a vintage New York City theme, and deep jewel-toned colors like green, blue and purple.

The first thing I knew that I needed were toppers. And I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pull them off, so I turned to the place where I knew I would find something awesome: Etsy.

I think I typed in ‘cupcake toppers’ and scrolled through the astoundingly large selection until I stumbled upon the cutest moustache and lipstick print toppers.

Cupcake toppers from Purple Peony Couture on Etsy

They immediately struck me as vintage, fulfilling one of the wedding’s themes.

These toppers are made by Purple Peony Couture, and the talented artist behind them has a myriad of styles in cupcake toppers, as well as many other fun items.

I contacted her to see if she might be willing to do some customized toppers for me. She was game, so I put her to work making the moustaches and lipstick prints, feminine and masculine ‘M’s and a New York City-esque skyline with ‘Love’ in the background, fulfulling the second of the three themes.

And they were all going to be printed on dark green, blue or purple paper, which met the third theme.

She got them to me in record time, so I set to work on my part of the work – the cupcakes.

I put them all in gold foil wrappers, and tinted three bowls of frosting with purple, blue and teal (dark green frosting didn’t sound totally appealing to me).

I managed to get them to the rec center in New Jersey were the shower would be taking place and set them up on Michael’s mom’s cupcake tower.

Here’s a shot of the completed Cupcake and Cake Pop table:

Cupcake Tower

And here are some close-ups of the cupcakes and the toppers:

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

The bride and groom with their custom desserts!

The happy couple with their desserts

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The recipe for these cupcakes came from Sprinkle Bites.

Salted Caramel Cupcake

I’m going to start with the positive on these cupcakes. The first co-worker who sampled one told me after two bites that they were “better than sex”. That’s something you hear people say on T.V. or in books – that a baked good is “better than sex”. I’ve never heard it in real life, until a few weeks ago.

Let me start at the beginning. These cupcakes very nearly didn’t happen. Or, rather, the frosting almost didn’t happen. The cupcakes turned out fine. They baked up exactly as they should have, and cooperated when I cut little cones out of them and filled them with caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Then it came time to make the frosting. I was already a little hesitant about it, because it used FOUR STICKS of butter. (Can you feel your arteries hardening just a little bit? I know I sure did.) But then the caramel happened.

The first round of caramel I made, which was used to fill the cupcakes, went fine. Everything turned out perfect, and I was sneaking little spoonfuls of what was leftover in the pot while I was assembling the cupcakes. However, the second round didn’t go quite as well. For some reason, it was made differently than the first round, and I could not do it. The first time around, I let the sugar go too long and burnt it. The second time around, I didn’t let the sugar go long enough, and my caramel was more of a slightly tan sugar water.

At that point, I looked at how much caramel I had left from filling the cupcakes and thought, “Well, might as well see how that goes” and dumped it in with the butter and sugar twirling away in my mixer.

It wasn’t quite enough caramel in my opinion. Not to mention the fact that the first round of caramel had contained butter, so now there were nearly FIVE sticks of butter in frosting meant to cover 30 cupcakes. Yikes.

I will say that letting these cupcakes hang out in the fridge overnight did wonders for them. The flavors really developed and the caramel tones came through beautifully. Not to mention the delightful, light saltiness.

Salted Caramel Cupcake

The Brooklyn Baker Bakes! Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Rum Frosting and Marzipan Pumpkins

Today just happens to be one of my favorite days of the year. Don’t let the abnormally high temperatures in most of the country fool you into thinking that autumn isn’t here. Because it is. Check your calendar. I’ll wait.

That’s right! Time to start thinking about wool coats, hayrides, falling leaves and harvest foods. Pumpkin and apple and sweet potato, mmm mmm. This is easily my favorite time of year. Once we hit October, I’ll be on cloud nine.

To celebrate the first official day of autumn, I decided to bake up some pumpkin cupcakes. And what better pumpkin cupcakes, than these bad boys over at The Busty Baker. Danae made that cinnamon rum frosting about this time last year and I just about lost my mind over it. It’s dangerously good.

I knew I needed a little extra oomph in these cupcakes, and remembered that I had another tube of marzipan left over from my Carrot Cake Cupcakes a while back, so I set to work making an army of pumpkins.
Marzipan Pumpkins

I used the sturdy part of sprigs of mint to make the stems for the pumpkins, and pressed a toothpick against their sides to make the indentations. I wasn’t sure about them at first, but as soon as I put the stems in, I knew I had a winner.

Next, I baked up the cupcakes, which smell so much Thanksgiving that I want the Yankee Candle company to come and bottle up the scent.
Unfrosted Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Finally, I set to work on the frosting, loaded it up into a piping bag, and swirled my way through 22 cupcakes. Twenty of those cupcakes were then topped with a marzipan pumpkin. And then I took what might be the greatest photo of a baked good that I’ve ever taken:
Pumpkin Spice Cupcake with Cinnamon Rum Frosting and Marzipan Pumpkin

I took some other photos as well:
Pumpkin Spice Cupcake with Cinnamon Rum Frosting and Marzipan Pumpkin

I found those copper colored cupcake wrappers at a grocery store in midtown. They were over $3 for 24 wrappers, but I really think they completed the look.

I brought these into work this morning and distributed them to some of my co-workers. The reviews were pretty positive (but, c’mon, how could they NOT be?), with one woman telling me she thought they were “gourmet cupcakes, like ones you’d go to a bakery to get” and another guy took a bite and said, “These are heaven.” Heaven! And that’s coming from a guy named Jesus, so I’m pretty sure he knows what he’s talking about.

The Brooklyn Baker Bakes! Fourth of July Desserts

Long weekends mean baking for me. I’ve had the desire to bake a ton of stuff for a while now, but I haven’t had the time. My weekends have been so full lately that the only time I spend in my apartment is to sleep.

So with the Fourth of July approaching, I started thinking about what I could bake. My husband’s aunt and uncle invited me, my husband, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over to their house in New Jersey for a little barbecue, so I knew I had to bake something.

I settled on two things; an apple pie and vegan cupcakes.

The apple pie would be easy enough to make. I’ve made several of them throughout my baking career. But I didn’t want it to be the same old, same old pie, so I started looking through various recipes to find something that was a little different.

The winning idea came from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”. In it, she features a blueberry pie with a top crust made up of stars cut out of pie dough. I was really craving an apple pie, so I decided to use Martha’s apple pie recipe and put it in the star pie crust.

Fourth of July Apple Pie

I followed the pie recipe pretty closely, although I added ginger and cloves to Martha’s somewhat paltry cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness. The pie turned out great.

Fourth of July Apple Pie

Continue reading

The Brooklyn Baker Bakes! Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemony Buttercream Frosting

My sister-in-law recently started living la vida vegan. Being a baker and having vegans in your life means you need to have some vegan dessert recipes under your belt so that your non-animal-product-eating friends don’t get left out of the goodies.

I’ve fiddled with vegan recipes in the past and had success with a few, but I’ve got to step up my game. So on Father’s Day, when my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her boyfriend all came over to our apartment for dinner and dessert, I pulled my copy of “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World” off the shelf.

My sister-in-law is the one who actually gave me this book as a Christmas present last year. Talk about a return on your investment!

I selected the Gingerbread Cupcake mostly because I love gingerbread and this recipe did not require the purchase of too many ingredients that I wouldn’t normally use (soy milk being one of them).

The batter was ridiculously gingery and I thought it was going to be too much, but the flavor mellowed out substantially upon baking, leaving behind that wonderful warm feeling that ginger provides. The ‘butter’cream frosting was actually a combination of shortening, margarine, powdered sugar and lemon juice and zest. It came out very well, although I always find recipes that substitute shortening for butter to be lacking just a bit. But that’s just me. I love butter.

My sister-in-law enjoyed her tailor-made dessert, and I think the other diners that night did as well.

Vegan Gingerbread Cupcake with Lemony Buttercream Frosting

(Because this is a long weekend, and because my husband’s aunt and uncle are hosting a family barbecue this afternoon, I’ve been crazy-busy baking. I’ll post my exploits over the next week, including another vegan cupcake.)

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

So my pal Jennifer Prochilo is an awesome vegan chief/baker. She keeps a blog called Good Good Things, where you can read about her vegan goodies and her daughter.

This Saturday, vegans around the world will unite to host bake sales, and I’ve volunteered the only vegan cupcakes I’ve made of which I am super proud: Vegan Root Beer Float Cupcakes.

You can stop by and sample my wares and those of about 20 other bakers. The event will be held this Saturday, May 1 in front of Go Lightly Eco Store at 4 S. Fullerton Ave in Montclair, New Jersey. All the proceeds from the sale will benefit For The Animals Sanctuary and PAWPAC.

Washington, D.C. Cupcake Tour

Cherry blossoms and me

About two weeks ago, my husband and I packed a bag and jumped on the Bolt Bus to Washington, D.C. for a long weekend. We went to a couple of museums and spent six hours walking the Mall, stopping at the major monuments for photo opportunities. At one point, President Obama himself flew right over our heads in his helicopter heading for the White House (we didn’t actually see him in the helicopter, but he was just coming back from somewhere that day, and his helicopter was flanked by two other helicopters, so we’ll just keep telling ourselves it was really him).

Before we left, I gathered up a list of bakeries that I wanted to check out. Our days were so packed that I only got to hit one of the bakeries on my list, but two other cupcakes fell into my lap without me trying at all. Continue reading