What’s a baker to do when the receive a plea for your skills and only three days to make it all happen? I had a very last-minute request for two and a half dozen cupcakes, which sounds like no big deal until I tell you that there were four cupcakes in each of eight different flavors! As a home baker, this was a bit of a undertaking.
Start with a simple cake base and modify just enough batter and frosting to make this work. I gathered the following and went to work:
- A basic yellow-cake batter, enough for 2 and half dozen cupcakes
- Whipping cream
- Vanilla Buttercream
- Cocoa Powder
- Root beer and rum extracts
- Toffee chips
- Chocolate Chips
- Brown sugar
- Interesting toppers picked from whatever you’ve got in your pantry (popcorn, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc.)
Cupcake #1: Root Beer Float
Just adding a healthy TBSP of root beer extract to the batter zipped up the flavor on this cupcake tremendously. I made a simple whipped cream frosting and topped it with some strawberry-candied popcorn that I had in my pantry (you could also use a maraschino cherry, a piece of candy, whatever!), snipped a straw in half for decoration, and all done.
Cupcake #2: Toffee Delight
Same yellow cake batter with some cocoa powder mixed in, and boom, chocolate cake. You can add as much or as little as you want, but if you batter starts looking a little too thick, consider adding a couple of TBSP of milk, or even coffee. Then, using a bit of the whipping cream from Cupcake#1, made a simple ganache for filling and to spread on the top. Rollin chopped toffee bits, squirt of whipped cream frosting, a mini heath bar (or chocolate chips, whatever you’ve got) and a sprig of mint and you’re done.
Cupcake #3 – Coconut Dream
Stir in a bit of rum and coconut extract into that yellow cake along with a handful of flacked coconut. Toss a mixture of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a sauce pan. Cook over low heat until the sugar melts and you are left with this beauiful, caramel-colored syrup. Add in about a quarter cup of whipping cream, some rum or rum extract and sliced bananas and cook until the bananas take on some color and you have what looks like a banana caramel sauce. Then cool (resist the urge to eat it with a spoon!), and fill your cucpakes. A simple vanilla butter cream, sprinkle of cinnamon, and drizzle of the caramel with a banana chip and #3 is all done.
Cupcake #4 – The Elvis
Using the same yellow-to-chocolate conversion as in Cupcake #2, bake a chocolate cupcake, borrow some of the filling from Cupcake #3, and then make up a small batch of Peanut Butter Buttercream (regular buttercream with a couple TBSP of peanut butter and a bit more powdered sugar). Add a little chocolate drizzle and it’s done.
Two-Days but Only Two Hours
I find it easiest to do these kinds of baking projects over two days. Bake all the cakes and make all the fillings and frosting one day, and then assemble the next. This gives flavors time to mellow and keeps the time spent in the kitchen to just a couple of hours each day.