Thursday, February 6, 2014

USA-Inspired Cupcake Torches

 If you've even turned on your TV during the past the couple weeks, I'm sure you are well aware that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia are fast approaching! The opening ceremony is tonight, and it's always quite the production.  Let's just keep our fingers crossed that it won't be as disappointing as the Super Bowl was this year.

 I don't know about you guys, but I can remember sitting in front of the TV with my head tilted back about 45 degrees, my mouth open, gazing as the incredible athletes showcased their talent.  I would be captivated for hours by the ice-skaters especially; their grace, fluidity, and poise stunning me.  I love to watch the Olympics and I've created this treat just for the opening ceremony!!  Because who doesn't love to eat while watching professional athletes workout?

 I came up with this idea when I saw a photo in the last edition of the Food Network Magazine (which I love).  I took their idea and added my own little twist on it.  And so, I present to you, USA Torch Cupcakes!!  In order to achieve the "torch-like" look, I baked cupcakes in ice cream cones.  You can find these cones in virtually any grocery store.  To represent the great USA, I made strawberry cupcakes and filled them with a blackberry/raspberry jam, and topped them with fresh whipped-cream buttercream to mimic the red, blue, and white colors of our flag.

 Begin by preparing the cupcake batter.  Set up the cones in a cupcake pan by rolling aluminum foil into circles to stabilize the cones during baking.

 Fill the cones to the inner ring of the cone.  Tap each cone slightly on the table to settle the batter and refill the cones.

  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when touched.  Let cool, fill with jam, and then top with the buttercream.  Ta-Da!!

Strawberry Cupcakes (recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction)

 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
 1 cup granulated sugar
 1 large egg
 1/4 cup yogurt (strawberry yogurt would be ideal but greek yogurt works too)
 3/4 cup skim milk
 1/2 cup diced strawberries
 2 tablespoons strawberry juice (get this by mashing the berries a little bit and then straining them)

 (1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk melted butter with sugar until fully incorporated.  Add the egg, yogurt, and milk and whisk thoroughly.
 (2) Slowly add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until combined.
 (3) Fold in the strawberries and juice, mixing only until just combined.
 (4) Bake for 25 minutes.
 (5) Fill a pastry bag with jam.  Once the cupcakes are cooled, insert the tip into the cupcake and squeeze slowly while pulling up to fill the cupcake.  
 Note: These cupcakes will be very moist due to the strawberries.

Whipped-Cream Buttercream

 2 cups softened butter
 4 cups powdered sugar
 3 tablespoons heavy cream

 (1) In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip the butter until it lightens in color, about 2 minutes. 
 (2) Add in the powdered sugar half a cup at a time, making sure to mix thoroughly.
 (3) Add the heavy cream and whip for 2 minutes.