This weekend marked itself as the official Cupcake Test Run - a chance for me to try out both the Vanilla and Devil's Food recipes from my newly bought Magnolia Bakery cookbook. A test run because I am anything but consistent when it comes to baking AND I wouldn't dream of subjecting co-workers to cupcakes, which had not already passed family muster.

This ended up being a good thing. Not only did I get a realistic idea of the time involved but I did end up wanting to tweak one of the recipes.

So hang on to your hats as I go from this:

to this:

See my little helper there? That's Doodlebug. He insisted on being immortalized in this post. While we baked the first batch of cupcakes, he was the most angelic, helpful kitchen assistant.

After that first batch, and for the next few hours, he talked and talked... and talked... and talked. And then I cried, "Oh My Dog! Do you ever stop talking?" He smiled at me and said, "Well, no. I don't."

It was about that time my hand slid off the potholder, the pad of my pinky finger sizzled against the pan, and I said a few words definitely NOT meant for eight-year-old ears. In an effort to save my own sanity, and his skin, I locked him out of the house with strict instructions to talk his Dad's ear off. With a big grin, he set off to do just that. Mr. Clean is still bemoaning the loss of his ears. BUT! In the meantime, I managed to get quite a bit accomplished. A good thing as I learned 60 cucpakes (it never translates to exactly 48 like it's supposed to) takes a LONG time.

Once the Vanilla cupcakes were all complete and cooling,

I was lulled into a false sense of baking ease. They were so easy. TOO easy, I learned. I washed (Yes! Me! Washing!) everything while cursing like a sailor about my lack of a backup bowl for my mixer and started on the next batch: Devil's Food.

Can I just say: Melting chocolate while your pinky finger is screaming for cool water (and not the steam escaping every time I knocked the bowl) is difficult.

The Devil's Food recipe was really Not that difficult, but it involved more steps and a really good sense of timing. The chocolate has to be melted and then cooled efficiently to add at the right moment. I get a little hyper when the timing of steps has to be ON and trying to get it all done while sticking my finger in a cup of cold water at the same time... *laughing* Thankfully, no one was in the house to watch.

Here's the batter:

And all of the cupcakes, completed:

You'll notice the Devil's Food ended up with domes a bit higher than the Vanilla. I'm not quite sure why that happened as I filled the liners with the exact same amount. The recipe, however, was a bit different so next time I'll use a little less batter in each cup. Also, I don't expect the cracking I got here next time I do these. Both recipes required quite a bit of fiddling with my oven temp and adjusting the cooking time. I made sure to note the final solution in the book (yes, I totally WRITE in my cookbooks).

Here are the finished products - the Vanilla iced with a simple Vanilla Buttercream (dyed blue, as Doodlebug insisted it match his sprinkles) and the Devil's Food iced with a Mocha Buttercream (made with a little instant coffee powder). Not a bad sprinkling job by Doodlebug - considering he chattered on like a squirrel on speed the entire time. I'd hoped to do a better icing job but, alas, the coupler that goes with my icing bag has disappeared... and Mr. Clean SWEARS he did not throw it away (as is usual). I'll save that whole digression for another post.

The verdicts:
The Vanilla cupcakes were not as sweet as the average cupcake (good) but also not as flavorful (bad). It was a nice, dense but moist cake... the texture was awesome. I was really disappointed in the basic flavor, though. I'll get into this more later. They did not work with the Mocha Buttercream At. All. (you'll see why in just a second). There wasn't enough cupcake flavor to handle such a bold icing.

The Devil's Food cupcakes tasted like rich chocolate brownies before they were iced. Wonderful texture. Again, quite a dense cake but packed with flavor. That being said, next time I'll use less coffee than the Mocha Buttercream recipe called for. It was a tad bit overpowering and masked some of the lovely chocolate brownie flavor of the cupcake itself. They were great with the vanilla icing.

So. Experiment done, right? Ha ha... Wrong! I had leftover icing and could not bear to throw it out. Instead, I decided I'd tweak the vanilla recipe today. After comparing the basic recipe to my previously yummy coconut cupcake recipe, I found Magnolia Bakery only uses half the vanilla of others. Weird.

In the guise of experimentation, I split the recipe and in one batch used double the amount of vanilla. In the other, I doubled the amount of extract but split it evenly between vanilla and almond. I haven't yet tasted them to experience the difference but I can definitely report that the smell of them baking was GREATLY different.

Here they are:

As you can see, the Sprinkle Monster attacked here too. And now I have to run so I can deliver some cupcakes. I MUST get them Out. Of. My. House. They have taken over my kitchen. Next time, we'll see if I can do a better icing job... maybe even a pretty one (though I have to point out that most of the above mocha buttercream ice jobs were done by Doodlebug. I finally couldn't handle the talking-talking-talking any longer and ran away, leaving the last dozen for him to do himself. Not too shabby).
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3 Responses
  1. Deb R Says:

    Your baking posts always make me hungry!!!

  2. OK another great soul writing and baking away in the wee hours. I love this. My sister will love this. I think maybe, if Doodlebug will give you the time, you might like our posts, too. Me at tsukismom.blogspot.com and sister Emily at emsmall.blogspot.com

    I figgur we're kindred goofballs. Keep on keepin' on, sistah!


  3. Dancinfairy Says:

    How you have time to bake all those cupcakes and then write a detailled post about it is crazy to me.

    If it was me it was just be pictures of crumbs and "mwumm,munnumw, wunnmle" as I stuffed them all into my greedy belly!

    They do look AMAZING!