Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chillin' w/ ma PEEPS! (aka..Hippity, Hoppity, Easter's on its way!)

     Wow! It's been too long, and for that, I beg your forgiveness...

     Luckily, life has been busy, and lots of opportunities are coming my way! More on that very soon. For now, though...let's get to some sweet fun, celebrating Easter!!

     Recently, my friend, and constant source of encouragement Callye of The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, created a post with the CUTEST cookies, recreating one of the most iconic Easter treats, the marshmallow Peeps. I saw her do her trick of doing cookies-on-a-stick for cupcake toppers, and had a lightning flash of inspiration! A picture came to mind. And also, a flavor combo to really say "bright colors, bright & creamy flavors...it screamed Spring and Easter at the same time. Will this idea fly?

     Here's what I came up with: Pink Velvet cupcakes, white chocolate ganache filling, and lemon curd buttercream to crown these treats. Put it all together, and this was my vision come to life

     Now, I'm not a big fan of marshmallows in general, but when they're coated in colorful sugar, in little animal shapes...who can resist 'em? When they're in cookie form, topping cupcakes? Even I don't have the willpower to stay away :)

     So, I got to baking and decorating the Peeps cookies, and got those drying. I made white chocolate ganache, the EASIEST filling in the world. Two parts white chocolate to one part heavy cream. I used 1 pound white chocolate to 1 cup heavy cream. Put the white chocolate pieces into a medium bowl. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan on medium heat until it just starts to bubble at the edge of the pan. Be careful it doesn't form a skin on top, or it will burn! Pour the cream over the chocolate, and let it sit without stirring for at least 5 minutes. Then with a spatula, stir the mixture to combine thoroughly. Try not to mix too vigorously, so as not to incorporate much air into the ganache. Set aside, and let the ganache cool completely at room temperature for several hours. You can even do this the day before, covering with a lid once cool.
When ready to use, stir with a heavy spatula or spoon until the consistency is still quite firm, but creamy.

     Next up the cake. Red Velvet is a favorite of mine for many occasions, but I wanted to lighten up the color for Easter. I use Cakeman Raven's traditional RV recipe, with a couple tweaks. I didn't include the 2oz. of red food color, using instead a pink paste food color. I added a little at a time until I got the color I thought would work. (I should have added a tad more...but you can use as little or as much as you like). Also, for a richer batter, I did NOT compensate for the loss of that 1/4 cup of liquid. You can add that much water to the recipe, with no adverse effect. While the cupcakes cooled, I made my lemon curd buttercream.

     For this simple recipe you'll need:

             1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
             2 teaspoons vanilla ( I HIGHLY recommend Singing Dog Vanilla paste! Find them on
                 Facebook here)
             2 pounds powdered sugar
             6 oz. lemon curd (if you make your own, more power to ya LOL. I bought a small jar at the market,
                 and it worked beautifully!)
             2 to 4 oz. milk

                   1. In a stand mixer, cream the butter until very smooth, but not too light in color.
                       Add vanilla, and mix until combined.

                   2. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a little at a time, until completely

                   3. Increase mixer speed to med-high, and mix until light and fluffy, just about 3-5 minutes.

                   4. Turn down the mixer speed to low, and add the lemon curd to the icing. Once blended,
                       ramp up the mixer again to med-high, and mix again for another 3 minutes.

                   5. At this point, you're done, unless you want a little thinner icing. Add milk until you reach
                       the consistency you prefer.

     So, all the prep done, I cored the cupcakes with an old-fashioned apple corer. Filled the cuppies with
the ganache, and started decorating! Using tip 233, the grass tip, I bordered the cupcakes with a ring of grass buttercream. Using tip 96 (or any good size star tip), I then created the "nest" in the center of the cakes. Place the Peeps cookies in each cake, and decorate with small jelly beans, chocolates, or flower sugar sequins, or whatever else you like to make the design your own!
     I hope some of you give the recipes a try, and have fun creating your own spring or Easter-themed
goodies to share with family and friends.

     Enjoy, and Happy Baking to you all,
               ~ Scott