ON THE BOOKSHELF: Martha offers range of cupcakesFace it, cupcakes just make people giddy. A tiny cake, slathered in frosting and maybe even sprinkles, and it's all yours!
By: MICHELE KAYAL,For The Associated Press, Associated Press
Face it, cupcakes just make people giddy. A tiny cake, slathered in frosting and maybe even sprinkles, and it's all yours!
And there's the added benefit of portion control without denying yourself a special treat.
Martha Stewart's new cookbook, "Cupcakes," captures the diminutive desserts in all their glory. As with many of her other cookbooks, recipes range from pastry chef complexity to simple but divine.
In a layout that caters to home cooks, the book's 175 recipes are well organized into categories, from standard "swirled and sprinkled" cupcakes to over-the-top "celebration" versions. Even if you know you'll never, ever pipe buttercream chrysanthemums onto anything, you probably can be tempted to whip up a seven-minute frosting. And there's nothing to stop you from using the book's decorative ideas to dress up from-the-box cupcakes.
Accompanied by striking photographs that might stir even the casual baker's creativity, "Cupcakes" also offers intriguing twists on old standards. Yellow buttermilk cupcakes combine buttermilk with two different flours to promise a "singular texture." Mascarpone frosting seems an easy and more delicate take on the well-known cream cheese topping.
Some of it seems a lot of fuss for cupcakes. Peanut butter-filled chocolate cupcakes involve an abundance of hand-whisking, layering and swirling. Lavender-iced brownie cupcakes employ dried lavender and crystallized flowers to gussy up what is already widely perceived as a perfect food.
Other recipes fall into the "why bother" category: zucchini-spice cupcakes? Most people will tell you that's a muffin.
Still, dedicated home cooks looking for ways to spice up their baking repertoire will value the book's straightforward recipes and ideas for sending the birthday party's favorite food to new heights.
BOOK: "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes" by Martha Stewart Living, Clarkson Potter, 2009
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (includes cooling)
Makes 30 standard or 60 mini cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
2 cups fresh blueberries, plus more for garnish
For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line standard or mini muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high to cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each. Fold in the blueberries by hand.
Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until pale golden, about 25 minutes for standard and 15 minutes for mini.
Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool completely before removing the cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.
To make the whipped cream, in a large bowl whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, then whisk until combined. If not using immediately, whipped cream can be refrigerated, covered tightly, for up to 3 hours.
To finish, dollop cupcakes with whipped cream and garnish with berries. Serve immediately.
(Recipe from "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes" by Martha Stewart Living, Clarkson Potter, 2009)
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.