Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

I've been meaning to make these mint-filled brownie cupcakes (no link on Martha's site) for awhile now. I was originally going to make them a couple weeks ago but came down with a sudden flu bug or something. In short, it was a day of unpleasantness spent in the bathroom, followed by a day in bed which all equated to a 5-pound weight loss. So really, all in all I'd call that a win. I actually ended up making these for St. Patrick's Day, for some reason mint makes me think St. Patrick's Day, but I haven't gotten around to posting them until now. Sometimes my life is just madness, I can hardly keep up.

Anyway, I love mint-flavored things... cookies, ice cream, gum, so I was excited to make these cupcakes. I was also excited that these cupcakes were easy to make and I wouldn't end up with a ton of them. I'm in training you know, and ever since Bobby brought home Girl Scout cookies last week I fell off the good-eating wagon for a little while and I'm trying my best to get back on board.

The step that required the most work was chopping the chocolate and butter, other than that it was just melting and stirring. I didn't even need to use a hand mixer! When the batter was done I started layering together the cupcakes. I ended up doing one cupcake at a time because I didn't want to put a tablespoon of batter into each of the cupcake liners to start, and then not have enough batter to finish all the cupcakes. So, I spooned one tablespoon of batter into the cupcake liner, pressed a peppermint patty on top and then spooned two more tablespoons of batter on top of the peppermint patty. I repeated that step until I ran out of batter and managed to get myself 11 cupcakes, just one short of what Martha said I would get.

The recipe said to bake the cupcakes for 35 total minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. I upped the time by a couple minutes because the cupcakes weren't quite ready (at least I didn't think they were) after 35 minutes. In hindsight it may have been a little too much baking time, but I was afraid they would be too soft and mushy in the middle if I didn't add a little time. If I were to make them again I would probably stick with the 35 minutes and let them set in the pan after they were finished baking.

Overall I was happy with how the cupcakes turned out, but again, I wouldn't bake them as long the next time around. I think they should have been a little softer. But overall they tasted good and I managed to control myself and only eat just one. Small victories people, small victories.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Curd is the word, lemon curd that is. Lemon curd is the lovely filling and topping for Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes (no recipe on Martha's site). First things first, I don't know what Meyer lemons are nor do I know where to find them. Martha's cookbook says they can be found at specialty stores in winter and early spring. While it is currently winter/early spring in Connecticut (definitely more winter, will the snow never stop?) I didn't go searching for Meyer lemons at a specialty store. I went to Stop and Shop and bought lemons in the produce section. I just didn't think Meyer lemons could really be that important for the recipe. Who knows, maybe I bought Meyer lemons and didn't even know it.

Second things second, my initial thought was to cut this recipe in half because it's supposed to yield 42 cupcakes. My husband and I don't need 42 cupcakes for ourselves. But, after I saw I needed 7 large eggs for the whole recipe I knew I wouldn't be able to cut the recipe in half. I have no idea how to cut an egg, at least a raw one, in half. So, a full recipe it would be.

Beforehand I left out all the necessary ingredients to get to room temperature. Once I started working I realized I was going to have a lot of batter and that I was going to get a lot of cupcakes. Martha did not lie. I was worried that I should have used my stand mixer instead of a large bowl and hand mixer, but in the end it worked out fine. I had just enough room. Because the batter ended up being thick I spooned rather than poured it into the cupcakes liners. I filled each roughly three-quarters full. In the end I must have filled them a little too full (but they were a good size once they were done) because I only ended up yielding 36 cupcakes. I baked each batch for 28 total minutes with a turn halfway through the total baking time.

After the cupcakes were cooled, and a little baking break, I started working on the lemon curd. I've never made lemon curd or any other kind of curd for that matter, so I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into. But, I was hoping that it wouldn't be too much work. I was tired. Turns out it wasn't too much work, it just took a little time and patience. For awhile I wasn't sure if the mixture was ever going to thicken. I felt like I was whisking, and would be whisking forever. But, once the mixture started to warm up and thicken just a little bit it took almost no time for it to get to the appropriate consistency.

Once the lemon curd was the appropriate thickness I strained it through a fine sieve into a small bowl. I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 2 hours. When the curd was chilled I put it into a disposable piping bag (I buy them by the boxful so I almost always have them on hand) and fitted it with a tip that was closest to the size I thought it should be. I didn't have a round #8 tip, maybe I should buy one, but the one I had worked just as well.

Before I filled and topped all the cupcakes with lemon curd I dusted each of them with confectioner's sugar. Next, I inserted the tip of the piping bag into the top of each cupcake and filled the inside. Then, I lifted the top out and made a pool of lemon curd on the top of each cupcake. When I was done with all the cupcakes I had quite a bit of lemon curd left over. Even if I had made 42 cupcakes I still would have had extra.

Other than wishing I had the appropriate tip to pipe the cupcakes with (it would have made the pool on the top look smoother) I was really happy with how they looked and more importantly how they tasted. I would definitely make them again, and now I kind of want to try to make different kinds of curd to see what I can come up with. But instead I'll just make the next cupcake in Martha's book.