Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Holiday: Valentine cupcakes

I don't like baking.  Not only is it not enjoyable for me, but I am just the worst at it.  I am always embarrassed by my baking endeavors.

That said, I am a teacher, and I decided that I wanted to do something nice for my students for Valentine's Day.  I looked for some ideas online and found this one:  Admittedly, it looked a little advanced, but when I saw what the secret was, I thought why not give it a try?

Ha, famous last words...

So, I went to the store and bought what I needed which included cupcake trays and liners.  I also needed a small heart-shaped cookie cutter.  I thought it would be easy to find considering the time of year, but alas, there was none to be found in my small town.  My old roommate fortunately had one that I could borrow, although it was not a perfectly-shaped heart.  The idea of the cookie cutter, I guess, was to allow for the cookie to be hooked onto the side of a mug, though that makes no sense to me since the cookie will surely expand once it bakes.  o.O  My roommate and I both agreed that it was an incredibly stupid idea, but oh well.  I knew I could make it work.

On February 12th, the last day of class before Valentine's Day, I woke up earlier than normal and put on my kitty apron that my mom bought for me while she was in Paris.

>^_____^< Nya~n
 I then gathered the ingredients for the chocolate cupcakes that I was going to make first.

Sorry for the glare.  I have no idea how to take pictures.  X(  Also, I used whole milk instead of the lactose-free milk I usually use.  I wanted these cupcakes to turn out gyud!  Also also, I bought frosting instead of making the frosting using the recipe on the site.  I knew it was going to be hard enough to make the actual cupcakes.  (That's my cat hanging out behind the ingredients, by the way.  She just loves jumping up on the counter.)
I bought Valentine liners just for the occasion!

So far, so good!  No mishaps yet.

My first time ever using this electric mixer!  And actually, it worked great!  It was cheap, but it was light and easy to hold, and it mixed the batter perfectly.
 Pouring the batter into the cupcake liners proved to be the most difficult part, so difficult that I didn't even get pictures because I was concentrating so hard.  The recipe said to fill it a little higher than normal, about half an inch from the top.  Well...not only did I make a mess while filling each liner, but I filled them too high.  My perception of half an inch was little off, myeh.

Also, I forgot to get toothpicks!  But the cupcake liners came with these things, so I used them to check on the cupcakes.  They came out clean.

Er...yeah, so I definitely filled them too high.  Argh!  Getting them out of the tray proved to be quite difficult.
So, the chocolate cupcakes were kind of a disaster, but the batter tasted wonderful, so I knew that the cupcakes would taste good, and that was what mattered most.  Still, I was determined to do better with the vanilla cupcakes.

Yes...I made vanilla cupcakes, too, since I knew that not everyone likes chocolate.  That same site had a recipe for vanilla cupcakes, so I began on those while the chocolate cupcakes cooled.

Similar ingredients for the vanilla cupcakes.  Buttermilk instead of whole milk is probably the biggest difference in addition to lack of cocoa.

So far, so good!

Still doing okay!

This part was a little tricky.  I had to slowly add the powdery mix to the liquid mix.  With an automatic mixer, it would've been fine, but I kept having to start and stop.  It turned out good, though!  The batter was really good.
 Again, I was concentrating so hard on pouring the batter into the liners that I forgot to take pictures.  I made a mess again, but I filled them much lower this time.  At twelve minutes, which was the minimum time for the cupcakes to bake, the toothpicks came out completely covered in batter, so they ended up baking a couple minutes longer than the recipe suggested, but it was all okay.

They turned out beautiful!  Just perfect.
 The next step was frosting the cupcakes.  I took a short break to let them all cool, and then I started with the chocolate cupcakes.  The idea was to cut off the top of the cupcake, use the cookie cutter to cut a heart shape in the top, frost the bottom part of the cupcake, and then place the top back on to create the cute heart effect.

But...the chocolate cupcakes seemed to be a little undercooked.  The toothpicks came out clean, but the cupcakes kept sticking to the cookie cutter, making the heart shape looked, well, awful.

 I could see that this wasn't going to work, so I abandoned the idea and simply frosted the top of each cupcake.  The vanilla cupcakes were not undercooked, though, so I decided to try the idea with them instead.

See the weird cookie cutter shape that I was talking about?  I just used a knife to cut out the small piece left behind.

Perfect!  Just beautiful.

My roommate also let me borrow her cake carrier.  I was able to fit twenty-four cupcakes in it.  One for each of my students plus extra for some colleagues!

I wish they all looked as good as the vanilla ones...

Leftover cupcakes!  The pretty vanilla ones plus the ugly chocolate ones.  I also left out some frosting.  Sadly, my roommates weren't interested.  I ate a few when I got home from work, but ended up throwing away most of it the next morning.  Oh, well.
My students expressed great appreciation for the cupcakes, and they seemed to like them.  Honestly, they did taste really good.  I was very happy with how they turned out taste-wise.  Did I go to too much trouble?  Hmm...probably, especially since none of my colleagues did anything special for their students, but I was happy to do it anyway.  I love Valentine's Day, always have.  I just love everything about it.  These cupcakes made it even sweeter!

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