I enjoyed an exciting Memorial Day weekend in Marlboro, New York! It was awesome....even sang...should I call it singing??... backup karioke in "Annie's" with Marie...with my sister, Robin, singing lead...Walkin' on Sunshine, huh?...this is something I have never, ever done before...we were very brave...and...luckily...not to many people were there to witness the event! But, we had a blast...we also had a couple of shooters, jack&diet, etc. to get the courage up...AND, you're probably wondering who the H is Charlie!
Well, he is my cousins'...Marie and Gary...son...and he is an ardent Cupcake Queen supporter and he checks this blog EVERY Monday...as I'm sure you do, too! When my Mom and my sister, Robin, got to New York we went over to Charlie and Jen's lovely house...which we had never seen before...they're going to have a baby in August...so fun!...I asked Charlie what kind of cupcake he would like the CQ to make for the party at his sister's house...Noelle, Chris and Maddie...he came up with the brownie cupcake with peanut butter inside! Okay, I was definitely up for that one!
Of course, that entailed a trip to a local grocery store in Highland...Hannafords...which I explored at lenghth...and I found everything I needed. You may recall that I usually have some funny experience in grocery stores having to do with a loud speaker announcement...this time I was in the candy aisle in the back of the store...here was the announcement: All Managers Please Report to the Freezer...followed by someone in the background saying "Uh-Oh!" OMG...I almost lost it right there...did they have their meeting in the freezer, CQ wondered? N E Wayz...I gathered my cupcake goods and made my way to the checkout lady...who was very nice...I was tempted to ask about the freezer but told myself, no....just get in the car, head back to the house and make those cupcakes before the parade starts!
Okay...so these cupcakes are made with Duncan Hines Brownie mix....I made the "cake-like" version and popped in a Hershey Peanut Butter Kiss...oh yes...I made mini cupcakes this time. More deatails later...but I need to get to work now. I'm leaving you for now with this video hello from Charlie!
Yum! Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting topped with Strawberries Soaked in Grand Marnier!
I'm taking Layla to New York this weekend...specifically, to a little town called Marlboro for a Memorial Day pool opening at what used to be my aunt and uncle's house. Both of them are gone now, and their granddaughter, Noelle, bought their house and moved in a few months ago with her husband, Chris and daughter, Madeleine. Can't wait to see them and the rest of the New York gang: Marie, Jen (who's pregnant) and her honey, Charlie, Meghan and Erik and their boys, Colleen and Richie and their boys. I can't wait!
Here's the recipe:
1-3/4 cups flour all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2-cup walnuts chopped
1/2-cup vegetable oil
1/2-teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract
1 cup crushed fresh strawberries mixed with 3 tablespoons sugar
Mix together flour, baking soda, sugar and nuts in a bowl.
In another bowl, beat together eggs, flavouring and oil until well blended.
Add strawberries and beat at slow speed of mixer until berries are partially broken.
Beat in flour mixture slowly until smooth, but pieces of berries are still visible.
Pour batter into greased muffin tins, filling to half.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until they test done.
Whipped Cream Frosting
1 c. whipping cream
Dash of salt
Rounded 1/3 c. flour, sifted
1 c. butter, soft
1 c. sifted confectioners' sugar, 2 for a stiffer frosting
2 tsp. vanilla
Mix cream, flour and salt until lumps are dissolved. Cook over medium heat while stirring continually with a wood spoon. Cook this mixture until thickened and it forms a paste like ball which pulls away from the sides of the pan easily. Allow the paste mixture to cool.
After the paste is cooled, whip. Add the butter and whip together. Add sugar and continue whipping. Add the vanilla and beat well.
This is a good frosting for those who don't like too sweet frosting. In hot, humid weather this frosting tends to be too soft when beating.
Working on a college campus, you always know SOMEONE who is graduating...either in the spring or winter. So, now is a great time to make graduation cupcakes. Maryland's commencement exercises are Sunday and Monday. Our commencement speaker is U.S. House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, who also happens to be our congressman, and a Maryland alum...class of '63!
Okay...now back to the really important items...like CUPCAKES!
This photo shows several decorated versions of the cupcakes: Hi Dad, ThX Ma, Grad, and BYE. I bought the candy letters at the local Giant and the graduation decorations at Michaels...you know...one of my favorite places...which by the way...now has Martha Stewart Craft items....Martha has a complete aisle to herself...the decorations were in the scrapbook area and are called "Jolee's By You."
The cupcakes I made are from a cake mix by Duncan Heinz... Dark Chocolate Fudge....I meant to add a box of instant vanilla pudding to the mix, but I grabbed the wrong box and added banana pudding!!! It actually turned out okay and the cupcakes tasted pretty good! I had bought some Duncan Heinz Whipped Frosting....awesome taste and easy to work with!
Last...but definitely not least...we have Layla who did graduate from doggie school, gazing at her favorite object...other than breakfast, dinner or her Frosty Paws Frozen Treats, that is!
Hope you have a gr8 week...filled with lots of cupcakes!
Rock On, kids! CQ
Encouraged by The Queen's Visit...see Thursday's postng below...I got in touch with Nigella...by book, I mean...and used her recipe for what she calls "fairy cakes." They seem smaller than regular cupcakes and are very cute. The cupcakes are pretty easy to make...everything goes into the food processer!
Then, I saw some "spring cupcakes" made by Martha with this cool lavendar icing....which turned out to be delicious! It is kind of like royal icing, really shiny!
Layla is looking especially regal tonight....mailnly because The Queen is in town. Layla may be going to the White HOuse for dinner tomrrow night...who knows?
Recipes are below...enjoy!
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g self-raising flour
half teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk
500g packet instant royal icing
12-bun muffin tin lined with 12 muffin papers
How to Make:
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.
It couldn't be simpler to make fairy cakes: just put all the ingredients except for the milk in the processor and then blitz till smooth. Pulse while adding milk down the funnel, to make for a soft, dropping consistency. I know it looks as if you'll never make this scant mixture fit 12 bun cases, but you will, so just spoon and scrape the stuff in, trying to fill each case equally.
Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fairy cakes are cooked and golden on top. As soon as bearable, take the fairy cakes in their cases out of the tin and let cool on a wire rack. I like my cherry-topped fairies to have a little pointy top, but for all floral and other artistic effects, darling, you need to start with a level base, so once they're cool, cut off any mounded peaks so that you've got a flat surface for icing.
Martha Stewart's Lavendar Icing
Serving: Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
3 cups confectioners' sugar
Violet gel-paste food coloring
Bring milk and lavender just to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and let steep 10 minutes. Strain, and discard lavender. Whisk in sugar until smooth. Strain again. Add food coloring until desired shade. Use immediately.
My sister, Robin, works at the College of William and Mary, and today she got to photograph The Queen...that's what you're supposed to call her...today on campus! Robin was so excited, and she got some great shots. Check out her flickr account for more.
I might just have to make some sponge cupcakes with The Royal Icing this weekend!
The Queen visited the University of Maryland in 1957 with Prince Phillip. In honor of The Queen, The Terps went on to upset North Carolina (he he), in what then-head coach Tommy Mont later called his finest moment as coach.
The Cupcake Queen :)