Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St. Patrick's Day cupcakes

It is St. Patrick's Day this weekend! As tradition would have it, I am again one of the class moms in charge of sending in goodies for my daughter's St. Patrick's Day party in school. :) Of course, I had to bake something special. So, here are the cupcakes I whipped up for this occasion... They turned out pretty yummy and very, umm.... green! :))

Rainbow cupcakes with green magical frosting topped with green chocolate covered pretzels

Rainbow cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup rainbow colored sprinkles 
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners (for cupcakes).
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).
Blend vanilla, oil and sour cream.
Add flour and milk, alternating- starting and finishing with flour. 
Add the sprinkles and mix just to blend in.
Pour in muffin tins. Bake 18-19 minutes or until they test done.

Green Magical Frosting

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature
green food coloring (I use Wilton gel food coloring)
green sugar for decorating (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, for me it was ready in exactly 7 minutes. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. (It took my mixture a good 2 hours to come to room temperature and it was smooth sailing from there.) You can also refrigerate the mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting properly.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), pop the bowl on your stand mixer and beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work its magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Add green food coloring and blend until the color is distributed evenly. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour, or chill if you want a stiffer consistency for piping. I piped mine without chilling it and it was stiff enough.

Green Chocolate Covered Pretzels

30 or more pretzels
1 bag (12 oz) of dark green candy melts (I use Wilton)
sprinkles or decorative sugar (optional)

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
2. Put candy melts in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.Take it out of the microwave when there are still unmelted chips remaining, and stir until the final chips melt.
3. Drop each pretzel in the melted candy melts and submerge it slightly. Use a fork to pull the pretzel out. Shake the chocolate-dipped pretzel several times to remove excess chocolate, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. If you are using sprinkles, decorative sugar or small candies, sprinkle them on when the chocolate is still wet. Repeat with remaining chocolate and pretzels.
4. Place the pretzels in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate (or just leave out overnight- this is what I do).

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