Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Sweets

I made a goal recently.  Not the one where I eat green smoothies and loose weight, but a different one, where I learn to make beautiful cupcakes.  It's a plus if they taste good as well.  So I'm here to report that I think I did it! That was a much easier, and more enjoyable goal to attain than some of those others.  The keys were buying some equipment and learning to make buttercream frosting. I always wondered what makes buttercream different from the frosting I usually make.  Turns out, the answer is a lot more butter!
For equipment I first tried a $10 cupcake kit from Target.  It was pretty nice.  It had an easy handle you squeeze and came with a few tips.  Everything was made of plastic, though.  The second time I used it one of the connecting pieces snapped.  I had put something on in the wrong order, but I don't think it should have broken so easily.  So I took that back and bought one at Michaels.  It was $34 but I printed out a half off coupon.  Most of it is metal, except for the connectors, but those are thicker at least.  You push with your thumb on this one.  The only down side is I think your thumb could get pretty tired if the frosting or filling is thick or you have to do a lot of cupcakes!  There are less pieces to put together.  Overall it's a thumbs up!
So it seems the key to buttercream is you have to put your room temperature butter and shortening if you choose (some swear by it, other shun it), and cream cheese if you want it, in the blender and let it whip up for five minutes or so.  Then add your powdered sugar gradually, then vanilla, and whatever else you want.  I think the recipe I first tried was a cup of butter, cup shortening, 5 cups pwd. sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup or so cocoa powder (opt.) I'm excited to try some more variations.
SoI have to share what I made for Katia's Valentine's party at school.  I used a stick of butter, cup of shortening, didn't measure the powdered sugar but used extra and added a few tablespoons of milk to make it go farther, vanilla, and part of a packet of tropical punch Kool-Aid.  I thought it was super yummy, and fun for kids!

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