Learning to bake fearlessly <3

OMG, it has been such a cupcake week, and especially a buttercream week. So far, I’ve used up nine sticks of butter and more eggs than I’d like to admit–I kept breaking the fragile little sillies, as clumsy as I am. But my family’s more than happy to serve as taste testers, especially after tasting the gorgeous, silky swiss meringue buttercream. I honestly think I’d be happy never making another kind of frosting my whole life, it’s luscious enough to go on everything!

This recipe is the one that made me confident enough to start this blog. If I can handle meringue, I can do anything!

Yummm <3

Both recipes in this post were adapted from Sweetapolita.

Dark chocolate cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Makes roughly 2 dozen cupcakes

These are probably the perfect cupcakes. Bar none. They’re moist, fluffy, and soooo chocolatey it hurts. They disappeared in three days, and that’s saying something for my health-loving family. Definitely not to be eaten standing up!

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Black raspberry swiss meringue buttercream
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Two large spoonfuls black raspberry jelly/jam

I heard about swiss meringue buttercream probably a year before I actually tried it. It seemed so intimidating—a hundred different things seemed like it could go wrong! But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually really really simple, and I’ve made it twice this week simply because I can. And oh my gosh, is it delicious. I licked every implement used to make this completely clean before washing—I couldn’t bear to let any of it go to waste. And don’t stop at just raspberry. You can make it any flavor you like! Because SMB isn’t sweet-sweet, any flavor will shine.

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm. I’ll level with you: the first time I made this, I intended to run the sugar through the food processor beforehand, making it superfine, but it melts just perfectly without it, so I don’t bother.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add your jam/jelly, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D


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