Posts tagged ‘Duncan Hines’

October 12, 2012

Tools of the (Cupcake) Trade

Bakers may have noticed a new product in the grocery store aisles sometime in the last 6-9 months.  Little packages of flavoring for a new fangled pre-made frosting from Duncan Hines.  They come in fun flavors like Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, White Chocolate Raspberry and many more.

I first bought the mint flavored packet and the accompanying frosting.  I made chocolate cupcakes and topped them with Junior Mints.  The cupcakes overall got a relatively poor rating from my tasters.  I almost didn’t buy the packets again because of that and I found the frosting had a really odd consistency…gooey, but not in a good way.

Then, this summer when I was dying to make Cotton Candy cupcakes I turned to the packets when I couldn’t find the liquid flavoring from any of the stores that sell extensive baking supplies in my area.  I just figured that the packets could be thrown into a cake mix and they could also flavor a homemade butter cream despite the directions to only use Duncan Hines frosting formulated to work with it.  Don’t believe the hype!  The flavor packets worked quite well in both the cake mix and homemade frosting.

As a cupcake baker, I’ve come to love them because they are pretty cheap, they are single use so I’m not stuck with a bottle of flavoring I’ll probably not use again, and the range of flavors is great.  I just picked up some seasonal apple flavored packets for next week’s cupcakes!

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September 3, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Cupcakes

Since my tasting audience is 99.9% students, I often ask what kind of cupcakes they’d like to see on Monday. Sometimes I may ask someone whose birthday is coming up or if I want to connect with someone. There are times when I just have so many choices I don’t want to be the one to decide! If we’re near a computer or iPad, I’ll hand over my Cupcake/Monday Pinterest board for them to scroll. If not, I ask for a flavor profile. The latter is how this week’s cupcakes came to be.

I’ve found several different variations of blueberry lemon cupcakes around the web, and at first I found one I was going to use. But, then when I was in the store to pick up a white cake mix that the recipe called for I saw a lemon cake mix and thought I’d make up my own cupcakes this week.

I also got a new cupcake pan for making mini cupcakes. When making a purchase for kitchen equipment, I hate to admit but my strategy is always to go with the cheapest over the highest quality. This time I made an exception though. While in Home Goods, I found a couple of different mini muffin tin options. At first glance they were mostly the same, but then I found this one that was a little larger than the others and the wells were wider, but more shallow. The wells were really unique and although the pan was $5 more than the others, I really liked it. Standard mini cupcake liners are too small for the wells, but I just put the cupcakes in the papers after baking as you’ll see.

The Recipe

Lemon Cake Mix (plus ingredients called for on the box)
Zest of one lemon
One bag frozen blueberries
2 oz. water
1 tbs. sugar
4 c. powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or line with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, add half the bag of blueberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until blueberries can be mashed easily and a thick sauce that coats a spoon forms.

While blueberries are cooking, prepare cake batter according to package directions and add zest of one lemon. Pour batter into muffin tins. Place about three blueberries per cupcake in the middle of the batter. You should still have blueberries left over for garnish.

Bake cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. My mini cupcakes took 14 minutes, my larger versions (I had a ton of leftover batter) took 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

For the frosting, start by pureeing the blueberries in a food processor – the mixture will have texture, and not be completely smooth. Place mixture in a bowl and add butter and sifted powdered sugar and beat with electric mixture until well combined. This will not be a smooth frosting since blueberry bits will be speckling the mixture, beautifully so.

Frost cupcakes with the tip of your choice and top each peak with a blueberry. It is wise to pick out the best of the blueberries for this before using them for the other parts of the cupcakes.

The Results…

Visually, these cupcakes are stunning! The color of the frosting is a gorgeous purple and the dark blueberry looks like a black pearl perched on top!

I first tried the larger version of the cupcakes and was a little disappointed because the blueberry flavor in the frosting felt too subtle. Since the regular size cupcakes were an afterthought, I didn’t have any blueberries to put in the batter or on the frosting. A few leftover swirls of the cooked mixture went into the batter, but only added visual appeal not flavor. It also let me know another stick of butter was necessary, but I only had one left so there was no immediate remedy to be had.

I wondered then about the flavor mini versions with each one hiding three blueberries inside plus the one on top. This time, I was really pleased because they really popped with the right amount of blueberry flavor and the combination of the two flavors was perfectly balanced. The frosting is the perfect hit of sweetness against the tart blueberries. Once I loaded them in the carrier I was so happy to find that two didn’t fit so I just had to eat them instead!