Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vanilla Raspberry Bachelorette Cupcakes + Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I've been going through a bit of a blogging funk lately, with no real ambition to write any new posts. Not to mention, it's now taken me 3 days to complete this post (although in my defense I was trying to work a new editing program, of which was basically another language to me). You know how sometimes the less busy you are the less motivated you become to do things? I think that's what's been happening with me; after all the craziness of moving and getting our adorable puppy, I've been pretty much lazing around.

I have made a thing or two that I would have liked to blog, but it just didn't work out. One was the most delicious Lemon Blueberry 3-layer cake that would have been perfect to share... if it had not slowly fell apart on the drive to my parent's house. 'Surprise birthday cake Mom! Take a good look at it now because it may be completely destroyed by the time we get to eat it.' FAIL. I also made some pretty tasty Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter and Sage sauce for my Mother's birthday dinner, but didn't have time nor was in the mood to snap pictures.
But I am pleased to say that I have these B-E-A-U-tiful and delicious cupcakes that I made for my best friend's bachelorette party that just took place this past Friday! What a fabulous night it was: 13 girls, 1 SUV limo, a trip to Niagara Falls and some very fun events that will not be named...

The cupcakes were made from a yummy vanilla bean recipe that I have made before, found here. Keeping it simple, I filled the cupcakes with Smuckers seedless raspberry jam, which has a nice balance of tart and sweetness and the perfect texture. The cupcakes were topped off with a raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which was OMG yum (I might have kept squeezing out the remainder in the piping bag onto my finger and eating it), and then with a royal icing transfer, in the shape of hearts, engagement rings and corsets. As you can see by the pictures I also made martini glasses and the letter E for Emily, but they were too fragile to even peel off of the wax paper :(.

To start, the royal icing transfers should be made at least a day ahead, preferably two so they have enough time to dry properly. Transfers might be the easiest, simply because you can copy/trace a picture. I printed the pictures I wanted to the appropriate size, and lay the sheet underneath wax paper. As an added bonus, the shapes are all uniform! To view a recipe for royal icing, go here.

To put filling in the cupcakes, simply cut a small dome in the top and cut off the bottom half of the dome. Replace the dome on the cupcake, and when the cupcake is iced, nobody will be the wiser.

I've recently become a much bigger fan of Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB). It was the first Buttercream icing I ever tried, and let me say I failed miserably more than once. However, when I first tried Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMB), it worked like a charm, so I may be partial to it for that reason. Also, SWM uses more butter and therefore has a more pronounced buttery flavour, which is why I enjoy the lighter IMB. However, more steps are involved in the IMB and if you're looking to save some time, go with the SMB. It's all done in one bowl (if you have a stand mixer), which is definitely a plus.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (raspberry vanilla)
Yield: for 24 cupcakes + a little extra
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice
3/4 lb butter (1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
*3-5 tablespoons raspberry jam (or other flavouring, ie. caramel, coconut, strawberry puree, etc.)

Fill a pot with approximately 1 inch of water and heat until simmering lightly. Whisk together egg whites, sugar, salt and lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer or heat proof bowl. Place the bowl on the pot of simmering water, and whisk the mixture continuously until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F, and the sugar is completely dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high sped until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8-10 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. It will be ready when the buttercream transforms from a soupy curdled appearance into a whipped-like consistency. You may need to whip it on medium-high for several minutes to achieve this consistency, or add a few more tablespoons of butter. At this point, whip in the vanilla extract and jam until just incorporated. 

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart

The final result: YUM!

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