Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hallowe'en Cupcakes 2008

So they came a day late, but they were still very well received. Once again, I turned to Martha Stewart for the recipes. I made One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes again and there was enough batter to make 36 good sized cupcakes. The batter didn't rise and bake up over the liners and all 36 of the bases were a nice even size. I have squeezed the entire recipe into 24 cups before, but the final product baked way over the liners. The other recipes used are below.


Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream*

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees F).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about six minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter had been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Add in melted chocolate. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

*recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook (page 386)


This made enough to generously frost all 36 cupcakes.

Frosting had a rich chocolate flavour and wasn't too sweet.


Chocolate Cookie Cutouts* (Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift flower, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.

Put butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough in 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a 3-inch cookies cutter, quickly cut out shapes from dough (if dough begins to soften, chill it in the freezer 3 to 5 minutes). Reroll and cut scraps. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Brush flour from shapes. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bake cookies until crisp, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.

*recipe from Martha Stewart Cookies (page 239)


Rolling out the dough straight from the fridge was a bit difficult. I split the dough into two to make it easier and let them come up in temperature a bit. I rolled out the dough between two pieces of wax paper so it wasn't too bad, but if I hadn't used wax paper, I would have dusted my counter quite a bit because the dough was rather sticky once it warmed up. I also recommend dipping your cookie cutter into flour and dusting your lifting spatula with flour as well.

I didn't have any parchment on hand so I lined the baking sheets with tin foil instead, dull side up. I don't think this made any difference on the end product.

I don't have the freezer space to chill the dough over and over again so I just checked on the cookies frequently when they were in the over. They didn't spread out too much because they weren't cold enough and they were nice and crispy when they were done.


Royal Icing* (Makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons meringue powder
Scan 1/2 cup water

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 7 minutes. If icing is too thick, add more water; if too thin, beat icing 2 to 3 minutes more or add more confectioners' sugar a tablespoon at a time. Use icing immediately, or store in an airtight container up to 2 days (icing hardens quickly when exposed to air). Beat well with a rubber spatula before using.

*recipe from Martha Stewart Cookies (page 241)


This recipe made a huge amout of icing for what I was doing. I was amazed at how much icing I had left over after I finished icing all the cookies. Half would have been more than enough but as this was my first time using this recipe, I made the whole thing. I poured a ton of icing down the drain.

I added much more than a scant 1/2 cup of water to get the right consistency for flooding. I couldn't find disposible piping bags (and I'm glad didn't) so I bought small squeeze bottles instead. This made it easy to handle the icing because I didn't have to worry about tying off the tops of pastry bags and I can reused the squeeze bottles for more cookies.