Take the Plunge!

I recently bought a cupcake plunger.  It’s a plastic doohickey that removes the center of a cupcake so it can be filled with all kinds of yummy stuff.  No, I didn’t NEED one – a knife works just as well – but it looked like it would be a fun gadget to have.  I got to use it today while I was making some orange cream cupcakes.

Why does my thumb look like it belongs to an old person?

It’s really simple.  You turn the plunger back and forth as you press it down into the cupcake, then pull up and voila!  Cupcake with a hole in the middle!

The flavor I was originally going for was orange creamsicle, so I made a marshmallow cream filling to fill my orange flavored cupcakes with.  I had NO IDEA that mixing together unsalted butter and Marshmallow Fluff could produce something so divine.

I spooned the cream into a pastry bag with the tip cut off (after I finished taste testing…I think I’m going to dip some strawberries in the leftover cream!) and filled all the cupcakes.

I didn’t bother putting the tops back on, mostly because I ate them.  : )

As I mentioned, I had been attempting a creamsicle flavor using a mix of recipes I found online.  I had to go to FIVE different stores before I found the cheesecake flavored JELLO called for in the cupcake recipe.  I probably could have saved myself the trouble (and gas!) because I’m not sure I really tasted it in the cupcake.

I guess the marshmallow cream was supposed to add to the creamsicle-y-ness, but the cupcake just did not taste like the frozen treat to me.  That’s okay though, cause it was still tasty and very cute!

America’s Next Top Cupcake
Did I mention it was tasty?

Orange Cream Cupcake Recipe from the blog Bird On A Cake.

1 package white cake mix
1 (4 serving size) package cheesecake instant pudding mix
1 (3 oz.) package orange flavored Jello
1 1/4 cups orange juice
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour batter into liners, filling each 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Marshmallow Cream Filling from I Heart Cuppycakes.

1-7 oz jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

In a large bowl, whisk the marshmallow cream and butter until smooth. Cover with plastic and chill until firm about 15-30 minutes.

Orange Buttercream adapted from recipe on I Heart Cuppycakes.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1/8 (maybe a splash more) cup orange juice
6 cups confectioners sugar

In a stand mixer, with flat beater, beat the butter and shortening until creamy. Add half of the powdered sugar, both extracts and the orange juice. Combine. Gradually add the remaining sugar.  This made enough to frost all 24 cupcakes with some left over.

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Lego My Organic Waffle

So tonight I was sitting around making myself hungry watching Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.  I wandered into the kitchen in search of something tasty for dinner and for some reason decided to make waffles.  Not just any old waffles though – organic blueberry waffles.  Sounded wholesome, smelled great heating up in my toaster, tasted…like cardboard.  I didn’t think it was possible to mess up a frozen waffle.  I was wrong. I won’t name names, but this was just not right.

Back in front of the TV, completely unfulfilled and Guy Fieri is mocking me with some delicious looking pizzas.  I think about the crummy, disappointing waffles.  Then I think “leggo my Eggo!” which then reminds of LEGOS which leads me to today’s post.  LEGO Man cookies!!

My coworker was having a LEGO themed birthday party for her son and she asked me to make cookies for favors.  We decided on a cookie in the shape of the LEGO Man’s head, and chocolate LEGO bricks.  I found a LEGO shaped chocolate mold on eBay (what CAN’T you find on eBay?! ((oh yeah, you can’t find a LEGO Man head shaped cookie cutter, so I made a template out of a coffee can lid using this template from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle))

Here are my cookies, lined up and ready to decorate.

I knew I wanted a smoother finish on these cookies than I had on my angel cookies so I Googled how to decorate cookies with royal icing.  The short version is that you make the royal icing per the recipe, outline the cookies, then water down the icing to a very runny consistency which you then use to “flood” the cookie.  The outline can be done in the same color you will be using to flood, or it can be done in a different color.  For the look I wanted, I went with black (more on THAT disaster after the pictures!) then flooded with yellow.

 (note my handy mustard squeezy bottle – perfect for dispensing runny icing!)

You may be thinking to yourself, “What disaster?  They look pretty damn good!”  Just as I learned tonight that the word ORGANIC in relation to waffles really means DRYWALL, on that night I learned that it is really hard to make icing black.  I knew that it wouldn’t be as simple as mixing some black gel color into the white icing (because black + white = gray) so I also Googled how to deal with that ahead of time.  All I had to do was make a different color first – blue,brown, dark green, mix of everything?! – and THEN add the black.  Well, I tried that and got gray.  I had also read to try adding cocoa powder so I dumped some of that in there with a little more black gel color.  STILL gray. Finally in desperation I mixed in ALL of the black gel color I had.  Black icing accomplished!!!!

So I outlined and flooded and let them dry overnight, then I piped on the faces the next day.

Once they were dry I started bagging them up with my chocolate LEGO blocks…

….only to discover that apparently dumping an entire pot of black gel color (along with other colors and cocoa powder) into your royal icing can really dry it out.  : /  The faces on my poor LEGO Men started flaking off!!!  I packed them up as carefully as possible, boxed them, took them in to my coworker, apologized and told her not to move the damn things until she was ready to give them away.  Luckily they survived the trip and she was really happy with them (at least that’s what she told me!).  I had two coworkers who saw them ask if they were supposed to be computers, so it would seem that there are people who actually have never seen LEGOs before – who knew?

Anyway, I hope that someone out there can learn from my mistakes.  Organic Blueberry Waffles suck, and don’t over-color your royal icing.  I have since read that Americolor Super Black gel paste does the trick, and I have a bottle of it just waiting to be used next week when I attempt to make Pot of Gold cookies for St. Patrick’s Day!  Stay tuned…