Hello! My name is Amy, I am a friend of Kristin’s and since I love cooking and baking so much she suggested I post some recipes.
I want to start with a simple cupcake that is great for spring and summer. I call it the Key Lime Blueberry (Mini)Cupcake. It is vanilla cake iced with key lime buttercream and topped with a blueberry. I like to bake it in mini cupcake tins because then the size is perfect to have one blueberry on top.
My usual style for baking/icing cakes is to use a cake mix from the grocery store (I like Betty Crocker) and to make a homemade icing. This cuts down on the number of supplies you have to have on hand and goes a bit faster.
You will need…
For the cake:
A box of vanilla cake mix (I prefer white over yellow)
4 large eggs – you will only be using the whites
For the icing:
About 4 cups of powdered sugar
About 2 cups of shortening
A bottle of fresh key lime juice (Key lime extract can be used but the flavor comes off a little artificial. Also if using extract use a very small amount)
Corn syrup (optional)
1 container of blueberries
Granulated sugar for sprinkling
To make the cake you are essentially going to be following the directions on the box. I prefer to use white cake mix because I think it has a better flavor and comes out lighter and fluffier. To keep the pretty white color I only use egg whites when mixing the cake which is why I use four eggs rather than the three the box says.
Having watched the food network obsessively for many years I follow professional baker’s advice on the way I mix the ingredients. Start by dumping the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl. Add the oil and water and mix on medium speed for about a minute until everything is incorporated. Next crack your eggs into a separate bowl scooping the yolks out as you go, they can be tossed or used in another recipe. If you are adventurous French vanilla ice cream uses egg yolks. Turn your mixer onto a low/medium speed and add the eggs roughly one at a time. Give the first egg time to incorporate before adding the next egg, after two eggs use a spoon to scrape around the bowl to get anything sticking to the sides. When all eggs are added turn the mixing speed up to medium/high and let run for another minute or until the mixture is free of powdery substances and looks a bit light and airy. Make sure your cupcake tray has liners and put a scoop of batter into each one filling it between ½ and ¾ of the way. Try to remain consistent in the amount you put in each so that it cooks evenly.
As those cook you can make your icing. Many people use a combination of shortening and butter in their icing and I only use shortening for a few reasons. One is that shortening does not have to be refrigerated the way butter does and you can keep your cake out on the counter without worrying about it spoiling. Two is that shortening has a higher melting temperature than butter so on a warm day any design you’ve made with the icing will last better. Three is that you can buy butter flavoring at the store which adds a great buttery flavor without the butter. Oh and it’s the way my mom taught me how to do it and when it comes to baking she is the queen. A general rule for making buttercream is that for whatever you are using between butter and shortening you will need double that amount in powdered sugar.
Start by adding two cups of shortening to your mixing bowl. If you are using a Kitchenaid like mixer then either the whisk attachment or the triangular attachment will work. Turn the mixer on low speed to cream the shortening. Add the powdered sugar a half of a cup at a time. As a side note the measurements are approximate, a lot of this next part has to do with your own personal taste when it comes to the density and sweetness of your icing. My goal here is to get the mixture to the point where it is just starting to form small balls because it is getting dry. This tells me that it is ready for the liquid ingredients that will thin it back out and add flavor. Usually at this point I add water until I reach the consistency I want, but because we are using juice rather than extract a lot of liquid will be added with the flavor so it comes first. When adding flavors always start small and work your way up! Fixing the flavor after adding too much is way more difficult than adding a little bit more and stirring again. I recommend measuring out the key lime juice one tablespoon at a time. Turn your mixer onto low and add the tablespoon let it incorporate and check the flavor, repeat until you have reached the right level. The right level for me is usually between 4-6 tablespoons. If your icing is still too dense, add water a tablespoon at a time to loosen up the sugar and make the icing airy. A tablespoon of corn syrup can also be added if you want to make the icing a bit smoother without thinning it any more. Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract and a 1/4 teaspoon of butter extract. Mix well. Taste and adjust any of the flavors to your own preferences.
Once the cupcakes have cooled pipe your preferred amount of icing onto the top of each one and follow it with a ripe blueberry. Sprinkling granulated sugar over the whole tray will make the top of the cupcakes sparkle and add a bit of sweetness. If you are using a box cake mix then this recipe will make 48 cupcakes. Enjoy!