Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes


When I got my job I had decided to make a birthday treat for everyone on my team (there are 8 of us, including me).  Somehow, in our four month term, there was only one birthday and it was on October 25.  I asked my teammate what kind of cupcakes were her favourite and she responded enthusiastically, "red velvet!"

I was apprehensive at first because I didn't see what made red velvet any different from a chocolate cupcake except for the presence of red.  However, I decided to make them anyways because if someone tells you what kind of cupcake they want for their birthday, you can't just make a different kind!

I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and adapted it for my purposes!  What you see below is an almost identical recipe but I altered it to make ~18 cupcakes and also altered the icing appropriately.  My favourite part was mixing the vinegar and baking soda.  I'm not sure (chemically) why this is done but it was in the recipe.  I definitely kept a couple drops of red food colouring so I could make a volcano.

For the Cupcakes:
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1.5 large eggs*
3 tbsp red food colouring or 1 tsp red gel food colouring dissolved in 3 tbsp water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp white vinegar

*For the eggs: crack one egg into a separate small bowl.  Eyeball about half into the mixture and discard the rest.  If it's not 100% exact your cupcakes will still turn out fine, but I don't know what would happen if you used one or two eggs.

Special Equipment:
muffin tin
18 muffin cup liners (or butter or non-stick spray)
stand mixer, electric mixer, or very strong arm
piping bag
piping bag tip #30
red sugar crystals for decorating

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tin with liners or grease.
2. whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended.  Beat in eggs.  With machine on lowest setting, blend in food colouring.
4. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches.  Scrape bowl down and beat just long enough to combine.
5. Place baking soda in a small dish and stir in vinegar.  and add to batter with machine running.  Beat for 10 seconds.
6. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.
7. Bake for 20-15 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Ingredients:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl (or bowl of stand mixer--smaller one if you have a choice).
2. Beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Beat on low speed to combine.
3. If the icing is too soft to use right away, refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Assembly:
1. Once cupcakes have cooled and icing is appropriate consistency, load up a piping bag with icing and #30 tip.
2. Pipe swirls on cupcakes.
3. Sprinkle with red sugar crystals from a good height to get a sprinkled look.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

こんにちは。(Kon nichi wa)

Sorry if I offended anyone with the title.  Some website said that's how you say "hello" in Japanese so I believed it.  Anyway almost a year ago Jackie asked how my Japanese Wave Mittens had turned out.  The answer: fantastic!

I knit them in Cascade 220 leftover from my Fornicating Kangaroos Hat.  It was my second pair of mittens and my second time doing colourwork.  I actually finished them last January so they got to test out a verrry cold winter!  I'm pleased to say my hands (and the mittens) have made it through!  I knit them quite tightly so they are extra warm.

I'm wearing them again now for the rainy Vancouver "winter" (although I still have a hard time calling this time of year "winter" because it's not -13°C on a daily basis with some days being -40°C).  They keep my paws warm and relatively dry.

I get compliments on the mittens all the time and that makes me feel awesome.  They fit just right and have gotten pretty soft inside.  As they felt (I'm sure they will), I think they will age nicely.  Maybe some day I'll put a picture of them when they're all old.

The best part about these mittens?  I haven't lost one yet!

Tell me about your favourite pair of mittens!  What makes them great?  Where did you get them?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hello again!

I always do this.  I'm not sure why, but I always do.  Every blog I've ever had, I end up neglecting.  It's not because I want to, but because life gets in the way.  I moved about 1/3 of the way across the country.  That's 1000km, or for you Europeans, approximately the distance from France to Hungary from what I could tell on Google Maps.  So maybe I'll start blogging again.  I'm not making any promises because I will probably break them at some point.  I'm setting goals but not telling you what they are because I don't want to disappoint anyone.

I think I'm going to shift the focus of this blog.  I'm going to start talking about things other than knitting because honestly I don't really have time to do it as often as I'd like.  Also I've been doing some fun things lately (cooking and baking) and I'd like to share that with you as well.  And I have a few crafty things up my sleeve but I haven't completed them (yet), so I want to show you those too!

I've become addicted to Pinterest.  You can find me here.  I spend a lot of time on there but hopefully I'll be more of a "doer" than a "dreamer" soon.  Again with the crafty ideas up my sleeve...

So for those of you who are new, enjoy this blog!  And those of you who have been eagerly checking back to see if I've written anything, you'll be pleased to find this post.  And hopefully more soon!  Take care, stay warm/dry (or cool for you in the southern hemisphere!).

Adios amigos!