Friday, September 30, 2011

Pina Colada Cupcakes

I was going to say something here about how I was on a roll, posting twice in a period of two days...that was when I started to write this blog just a day after my last post.  Obviously, that is no longer roll here!  But, a new post today so YAY! 
Ok, so Pina Colada cupcakes came from, you guessed it, the Cupcake Project! 

I LOVE these cupcakes!  They were really moist and delicious!  I did, however, run into many, many, MANY issues in the baking process (aka - I learned a lot of important baking lessons!).

First, I learned that it is easier to put a lid ON a can of vanilla than it is to take a lid OFF...or I was apparently stronger when I made the margarita cupcakes than when I made the Pina Colada cupcakes...because I couldn't get the lid off the vanilla.  No worries though!  I used vanilla bean paste instead and everything worked out fine.  I'm not really sure what lesson I learned from this experience.  Grow bigger muscles?  Don't put the lid on the vanilla all the way (once I finally get the lid back off, that is)?  Who knows...

The second issue I had was with my see, with my first 12 cupcakes, about 5 came out of their cups just fine.  The other 7, however, were stuck.  One of two things happened here.  Either I (1) did not spray the silicups with Pam, or (2) these cupcakes were just stickier than other cupcakes I have made.  I'm guessing that it was my failure to spray them.  Either way, I switched to paper liners with the remainder of the cupcakes.

The third lesson I learned was to pay attention when purchasing ingredients.  This recipe calls for pineapple juice.  So, I went to the store, found pineapple juice, purchased it, and then used it to make my cupcakes.  After the cupcakes were done, I decided to make myself a drink.  Since I had purchased both Malibu rum and pineapple juice just for this baking experience, that's what I made myself.  It was at that moment that I first actually looked at the tiny cans of pineapple juice I bought and realized that they were really pineapple orange juice.  Oh well!  No one noticed!

The fourth, and probably most important lesson, I learned with these cupcakes is THERE IS A REASON RECIPES SAY TO USE ROOM TEMPERATURE BUTTER AND CREAM CHEESE IN THE FROSTING.  I just assumed that my Kitchen Aid was good enough at its job that I could pull the cream cheese and butter out of the refrigerator and use them chilled, and, for the most part, my frostings have always been fine (even if a little lumpy).  This time, however, I actually used room temperature butter and cream cheese and THE FROSTING WAS ACTUALLY SMOOTH.  It was amazing!  So...use room temperature ingredients if the recipe calls for it!  Seriously!  It makes a difference!
Finally, I learned that sometimes you just don't need to double the recipe!  This recipe should make 18 cupcakes...I doubled it thinking I would have 36...I actually had 40.  When you are baking for no one in particular and no special occasion, 40 cupcakes is definitely too many.  Luckily, I work with PLENTY of people who are ready, willing, and able to assist me by eating them!

These cupcakes turned out very well, but I believe the Margarita Cupcakes remain the crowd favorite!

Pina Colada Cupcakes
1/3 Cup Malibu Rum (or any other rum you want to use)
3/4 Cup coconut milk
1/4 Cup pineapple juice (or, you know, pineapple orange juice works too)
1 teaspoon vanilla (or vanilla bean paste)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 Cup shredded baker's coconut
1 Cup crushed pineapple
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and vanilla.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs to the sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Alternatively add the flour mixture and the rum mixture, beating well after each addition.
  7. Fold in the coconut and pineapple (I'm not sure what fold I just mixed in the coconut and pineapple, and all turned out well).
  8. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched or a toothpick comes out clean.
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, ROOM TEMPERATURE
1/4 Cup unsalted butter, ROOM TEMPERATURE
2 Cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons coconut cream
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
  3. Mix in coconut cream.
  4. Pipe onto cupcakes.
  5. Mix shredded baker's coconut with your favorite color food coloring (I used pink) and then top your cupcakes! 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes and My First Solo Jury Trial (kinda)

Hello to you, the people who read this blog!  So, it has been FOREVER since my last blog post.  As you would expect, I have a perfectly good excuse for my lack of blogging - I was simply too busy!

In the last two months, my work life has exploded!  I have been staying late and working weekends all to prepare for my FIRST SOLO JURY TRIAL.  Preparing for a trial is A LOT of work.  My case was a car accident/personal injury case.  The defense (aka - my argument) was that the injuries the plaintiff was complaining about were not caused by the accident.  I spent countless hours pouring over medical records and deposition testimony, creating a timeline of injuries as she explained them and comparing them to the injuries as they were documented in her medical records. 

At some point, the plaintiff's attorney must have started to do the same thing...because less than a week before the trial was set to begin he called and said that he was preparing a settlement offer for our client.  Up to this point, we had offered $7,000 to settle, and they said they would not take less than $100,000.  Well, just three business days before the trial, we received their offer - $18,500.  We countered with $8,000 and they accepted.  So...I did all of my prep work for my first jury trial...and then settled.  It was very anticlimactic, but a very good learning experience.

After the case settled, I have continued to work crazy hours in an attempt to catch up on the rest of my cases!

NOW, on to the cupcakes!

During my busy time at work, I have had very little time to bake (and even less time to blog, duh!).  However, I did find time to make some margarita cupcakes! 

I found this recipe at the Cupcake Project, which is fast becoming my favorite baking blog.  The changes I made (which might not be changes because she doesn't really specify in her recipe) are basically just quality changes (I also didn't follow the vegan recipe...cause I am not vegan).  I am a tequila/margarita snob, so I used fresh squeezed lime juice.  I also used Milagro tequila (shown here on another night when Ian made homemade pizza and I made homemade mango margaritas!  YUM!).

Edit:  Picture of tequila on baking night -

I also used cute little candy lime/lemon/orange slices for my decorations, which I thought fit better with the margarita theme.

The biggest issue I had with this recipe was the frosting.  First, it refused to thicken.  On the first cupcake I frosted and tried to add the colorful rim to, the frosting dripped down the side of the cupcake, the rim completely came off, and the cupcake didn't even look frosted anymore.  I added more powdered sugar to the frosting and whisked it more...and then I stuck it in the fridge for a while, and eventually it was thick enough to stay on the cupcakes while I decorated them.  Then I quickly put the cupcakes in the fridge, where the frosting hardened.  It was a process, but it ended up working well! 

The second issue with the frosting is that I made WAY TOO MUCH.  I never intended to make a double batch of frosting.  But apparently doubling the cupcake recipe confused my brain, because I just automatically started doubling my ingredients for the frosting.  It wasn't until I started adding the powdered sugar that I even realized I was doing it! 

In the end, I thought these cupcakes were fine.  They weren't my favorite, but they were tasty. 

Other people, on the other hand, LOVED these cupcakes.  I had more people request the recipe/stop by my office to tell me how much they loved these cupcakes than I have ever had they are definitely an office favorite!

Margarita Cupcakes - (makes 12, so I doubled this recipe)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 tsp lime zest (about 1 lime)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp tequila
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large bowl, mix together lime juice, lime zest, milk, oil, tequila, vanilla, and sugar.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the lime mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Divide evenly among 12 cupcake liners.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 20-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed.
Margarita Frosting Recipe - the Cupcake Project recommends cutting this recipe in half if you only make 12 cupcakes...I made 24 cupcakes and doubled the recipe...obviously I ended up with too much frosting.
1/4 Cup butter, melted
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp tequila
2+ cups confectioners/powdered sugar
course colored sugar (and a little salt) for the "rims"
Candy lime wedges for decorations
  1. Cream together butter, heavy whipping cream, lime juice, tequila, and confectioners' sugar.
  2. Add in more sugar as needed to make the frosting smooth and spreadable.
  3. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes.
  4. Combine the colored sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Roll the edge of each cupcake in the sugar/salt mixture.
  6. Top with the candy lime wedges.