Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of the Perfect Cupcake

Sometimes you have an idea about a certain cupcake flavor in your head but it can be difficult to find the right recipe.  I don’t yet consider myself good enough to just completely whip something up on my own like the contestants on Cupcake Wars.  Once, when I was a teenager I wanted to make microwave brownies but I didn’t have the cocoa called for in the recipe.  I (mistakenly) thought I could use hot cocoa mix instead.  Instead of gooey, chocolaty brownies I created the most foul-smelling thing to have ever come out of a microwave.  So you can see why I don’t quite trust myself to just wing it.

A friend has asked that I make Rum and Coke cupcakes for her son’s 21st birthday coming up later in the month.  Having never made them before, I wanted research some recipes and do a test batch.  I found this recipe for Cola Cake, direct from the makers of Coca Cola themselves.  I figured that would be a good place to start.  I followed the recipe exactly, and then topped the cupcakes with a basic vanilla butter cream icing that I spiked with some Gosling’s Bermuda Black Rum.

I got to have some science experiment type fun, dissolving the baking soda in the buttermilk and watching it fizz up, and I ended up with a very tasty, slightly chewy around the edges cupcake that tasted NOTHING like Coke.  : /  The icing did taste like rum at least, but I was definitely not getting the Rum and Coke vibe.  Back to the drawing board…

I found a recipe on Betty Crocker‘s website for rum cupcakes which I think I will try, and then I purchase a bottle of cola extract online which I will try to incorporate into the icing.  I have never used cola extract before so if anyone has some experience with it and can offer some advice, I’m all ears!

As you can see, in the meantime I got my Rum and Non-Coke cupcakes all gussied up for the upcoming holiday!  I hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July!  And here’s  just a little bit of humor for the road…

Piña Colada and Sweet Tea Vodka

Don’t worry, I’m not making Sweet Tea Piña Coladas.  This post is a two-fer!  First off – Piña Colada cupcakes!!

There was another birthday in the office last week.  This time I went with Piña Colada cupcakes.  I recalled an at-home jewelry demonstration where the birthday girl consumed quite a few pineapple Jell-o shots made with coconut rum, so I knew she’d love the flavor combo.

At first I considered incorporating some coconut rum into my cupcake batter, but all I had was a bottle of 90 Proof Parrot Bay.  I’ve baked using a little bit of alcohol before (made cupcakes with some Caramel Bailey’s once) but for some reason the thought of sticking 90 proof booze in a hot oven filled my head with thoughts of cupcakes on fire so I decided to skip it.

Instead, I grabbed another boxed cake mix and in place of the water I used pineapple juice.  I also folded in some crushed pineapple.  I went with my basic buttercream recipe and put in a little coconut extract.  One of my favorite parts of a Piña Colada is the little plastic sword skewered through a cherry and a chunk of pineapple, so I mirrored that on my cupcakes using a dried pineapple bit instead of fresh fruit.

I seem to recall an episode of Cupcake Wars where the baker got bashed for putting a maraschino cherry on top of her cupcakes as decoration but the judges were obviously being idiots that day.  There’s a reason the phrase “cherry on top” exists!

The balance of pineapple and coconut was perfect, and I ended up helping myself to a second one of these before the work day was done.

Cupcake Wars style

In other news that actually does involve alcohol (time for all you underage kids to go back to looking up Justin Bieber or whatever it is you do these days)… A coworker was telling me about Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka on Friday afternoon.  I’ve heard of Sweet Tea vodka obviously, and I had seen this brand in the liquor stores but hadn’t tried it. She said that you can make a great boozy Arnold Palmer by mixing it with lemonade.

That night, I was out at a local bar/restaurant and what should be on the happy hour menu but a Jeremiah Weed Arnold Palmer for just $5?  Yup!  I had to try it and I’m glad I did!  It came out in a mason jar type glass garnished with a lemon wedge and tasted dangerously just like iced tea lemonade.  I’m not sure what the ratio of lemonade to sweet tea vodka was, so I can’t give you an exact recipe but I’m sure you won’t mind experimenting to figure it out on your own!

If I hadn’t been the chauffeur for the evening I would have doubled up on this drink the way I did on those Piña Colada cupcakes!

 

Pineapple Cupcakes

Ingredients:

White boxed cake mix and oil and eggs listed on box
8 oz can crushed pineapple
pineapple juice

Directions:

Prepare mix according to directions on box, subbing in pineapple juice for the amount of water called for.  In my case, I needed one cup of water.  I drained the juice from the crushed pineapples into a measuring cup and then used Dole pineapple juice to get the 1 cup needed.  Once you have beaten the batter for the requisite two minutes, gently fold in the crushed pineapple and bake according to the directions on the box.

For the coconut buttercream, use the same basic recipe from my Cherry Lemonade cupcakes but instead of the grenadine use 1 teaspoon of coconut extract.