Friday, March 16, 2012

The Victoria Cupcake: Gourmet Flavor for Beginning Bakers

Are you new to working in the kitchen but looking for a recipe that will impress everyone without having to work with challenging recipes or hard-to-find ingredients? Here’s your solution.  The Victoria Cupcake is easy, fun, and (by comparison) relatively low in fat because it is made without any oil!

Many of you have probably heard of the Weight-Watcher’s cake which uses a can of soda and a boxed cake mix to make a low-point dessert. This is basically just a modified version of that. I made it up last week for a friend who was not feeling well. It is essentially a raspberry red velvet cupcake with a dark chocolate ganache topping and a fresh raspberry garnish.
            Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients for cupcakes:
1 box red velvet cake mix
1 can raspberry soda

Ingredients for ganache:
1 bag dark chocolate baking morsels
1 cup heavy whipping cream
            That’s it, folks! You’ll want fresh raspberries for your garnish, but you don’t even have to do that if you don’t want to. Here’s what to do:
            Start with your cake ingredients and supplies. This will include  the ingredients listed above as well as a mixing bowl and a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
            Pour your ingredients into the bowl, leaving just a sip of soda still in the can (cans are usually 12 oz., but you only need 10 oz. for the cake). Or, you can do as I do and just take a hefty swig from the can before you pour it in the bowl!  The soda will bubble up when you pour it over the cake mix.
            Stir your ingredients together. (Remember, you are COMPLETELY IGNORING the directions on the box of cake mix. You will NOT use any eggs, any water, or any oil.)
You’ll know it’s ready when it looks like tomato sauce (no lies!).
            The batter is now ready to be poured into muffin tins. You can grease your pan directly, use paper liners, or grease metal liners so you don’t have to wash your pan. I used metal liners.
            You can now pour your tomato-sauce batter into the pan!
            Tada! Now, you’re ready to bake. Bake your cupcakes in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll let them bake for about 20 minutes.
            These cupcakes aren’t quite done. You’ll know when they’re ready when you can push down on the tops of the cupcakes and it springs back (if it doesn’t spring back, your finger mark will just stay on the cupcake - if that happens, keep baking).
            There you go! Nicely baked raspberry red velvet cupcakes. While these are cooling, you can start on your ganache.
            Here’s what you’ll need (pictured above). Heat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until it boils. (Make sure you stir frequently because once it starts to boil, it could boil over and make an astounding mess!)
            Once the heavy cream is boiling, add the entire bag of dark chocolate morsels.  
Stir until the two ingredients are a consistent texture. The mixture below is not stirred well enough:
                      When it is stirred well enough, it will look like a really thick Hershey’s chocolate syrup. You now have TWO choices for how to top your cupcakes. You can just top them with a regular ganache (which you’ve already made), which will give the cupcakes a nice, sleek, shiny look. I took the tins off my cupcakes. You don’t have to. 
            Take your cooled cupcakes by the bottoms, and dip the tops in your pot of ganache, like so:
      Top each cupcake with a fresh (rinsed) raspberry and let the ganache set for a spell. You’ll then have finished cupcakes! OR you can whip your ganache. To whip your ganache, let it first cool completely (I stuck mine in the freezer for about 15 minutes to speed up the process). Then, with an electric mixer, beat the ganache on medium speed. You’ll know it’s ready when it forms stiff peaks and is a lighter brown color, like this:
If you’re big into baking, you may have decorator bags like the ones put out by Wilton. If not, regular gallon-sized plastic bags are fine. If you have decorator tips, feel free to use them, or just pipe it on smoothly.  Spoon your whipped ganache into the plastic or decorator bag.  Push it all into one corner and twist the opening closed.

            Cut off the tip of that corner so the opening is a little less than half an inch thick. Then, start piping the ganache onto the tops of your cupcakes.
            In the picture above, you can see how the regular ganache and the whipped ganache will look very different, but equally appealing. Once you’re done with the whipped ganache, top with a raspberry and serve!
            And that, my dears, is the Victoria cupcake! Super easy, super fun, and super impressive! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

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