Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Pink Pomegranate Buttercream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Pink Pomegranate Buttercream

  Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to bake something pink and adorn it with pretty flowers! So, I broke out my seldom used muffin tin and put my rusty cupcake frosting skills to work and made these vanilla cupcakes with rose pink pomegranate buttercream. It’s been quite some time since I last made cupcakes or just a plain, yellow cake for that matter. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a yellow vanilla cake for the blog, so this is probably a first. After two failures and thirty cornbread (they literally looked like cornbread, thanks, chickens!) cupcakes later, I finally got my ratios right. The outcome was a soft, moist, and not too custardy-tasting cupcake. The frosting came out smooth, and not too sweet; with a pleasant tang and rosy pink hue from the pomegranate juice. I was originally going to use a fresh pomegranate but found it was much easier to use the bottled juice instead. 

  Then came the recollection of why I don’t like making cupcakes in the first place: frosting cupcakes. You would think it easy compared to a layer cake, but damn it’s difficult to get these things looking good! Seriously though, it’s an art and it takes lots of practice. Out of twelve cupcakes, I was only able to frost five. FIVE. The rest I may or may not have stabbed with the frosting spatula and angrily ate. In the end, it was nothing a few mini-roses and baby’s breath couldn’t fix. Overall, I’m quite happy with how these cupcakes turned out, even if it was just five that made the cut.


Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Pink Pomegranate Buttercream

  ingredients: makes about 15 cupcakes

180 grams (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

64 grams (1/2 cup) cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

226 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

196 grams (1 cup) sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 large egg, room temp. 

3 large egg whites, room temp.

107 grams (1/2 cup) coconut milk (preferably the brand ‘So Delicious Dairy Free Original Coconut Milk’), room temp.

  frosting:

339 grams (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temp.

3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cups pomegranate juice, room temp.

2 tablespoons coconut milk, room temp.

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (use more if needed)


  method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F / 177° C. Prepare a muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract on high speed until pale and fluffy; about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl half-way through. Add the whole egg and beat on low until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg whites. Beat on low until combined. With the mixer still on low, add half the flour and half the coconut milk to the creamed mixture; once just combined, add the remaining 1/2 of the flour and milk. Beat until the flour is just incorporated(don’t over mix!). Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the baking cups, filling them half-way full. Use a spoon to spread them around until they’re even in the cups. Bake 17-19 minutes, checking for doneness at the 17-minute mark. If not done, bake for two more minutes. Immediately remove the cupcakes (carefully) from the muffin tin and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely. 
  3. Meanwhile, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla, coconut milk, and pomegranate juice. Beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes until voluminous, smooth, and light. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost then decorate with fresh flowers if desired.

Chocolate Shortbread Hearts with Toffee Popcorn

heartshortbread-(13-of-18)

  I’ve been on a hiatus from posting going on a few weeks now.  There has been so much going on over here that my mind hasn’t been in the recipe writing mode.  I really cannot stand those days(or weeks), ugh!

  The great news is, though?  I found out this past week that I’m going to be an Aunt!  How awesome is that?!  I’m so excited!  I could not have asked for a better way to ring in February(which is usually the worst month of winter here; way cold and so much rain and snow!).

heartshortbread-(9-of-18)heartshortbread-(7-of-18)heartshortbread-(8-of-18)

  Since Valentine’s Day is coming up this Sunday, I have every excuse to include chocolate upon chocolate in these shortbread cookies.  It’s pretty hard for me to avoid using chocolate in everything I bake, can you tell?

  But seriously, things got real here in my kitchen and shortbread cookies got an upgrade!  You’re bound to win someone’s heart with these things.  Though, besides the heart shape, they don’t look at all festive; but really, all that matters is that they include a ton of chocolate and toffee popcorn piled on top, right?  Right.

heartshortbread-(16-of-18) heartshortbread-(17-of-18)

  Toffee Popcorn + Chocolate = Heaven pretty much for me.  Even though these cookies may take a little time to put together, they’re not at all difficult.  They’re worth every minute you put into them.  Oh, and hopefully all that toffee popcorn makes its way onto the cookies and not into your stomach.  I may have had a little difficulty with that rule…

heartshortbread-(15-of-18) heartshortbread-(18-of-18)

Chocolate Shortbread Hearts with Toffee Popcorn
Yields 14
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
SHORTBREAD
  1. 2 tablespoons dutch-process cocoa powder (can use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa)
  2. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  6. 8 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped
TOFFEE POPCORN
  1. 2 cups popcorn (I used store-bought, but you can pop your own if desired)
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), cubed
  4. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
SHORTBREAD
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. This part is crucial to how the shortbread will turn out, make sure the butter is soft enough, but not melting, to cream with the sugar.. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon till it becomes crumbly in large chunks. Now use your hands and knead it till all the ingredients are incorporated. It shouldn't be dry after squishing it around in your hands for a short while, it should be like handling playdough.
  3. Turn out onto a flat surface* and form into a ball, with your fingers flatten it out some and with a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle that is about 1/4 inch thick. With a heart shaped cookie cutter*, cut-out 12-14 hearts and place them on a large cookie sheet. With a toothpick or fork, poke a lot holes in each cookie.
  4. Place the baking sheet of cookies in the fridge and chill till firm, about 25-30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Once preheated, remove the cookies from the fridge and into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
TOFFEE POPCORN
  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, add the butter by cutting into cubes. Add the sugar and vanilla. Stir over medium heat till the butter is melted. Allow the toffee to come to a boil, stirring occasionally but keeping a close eye on it. When the toffee reaches a dark amber color, remove from heat and immediately add the two cups of popcorn, stirring till all the popcorn is covered. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten down with a spoon. Let it cool completely till hardened. About 1-2 hours. Once the toffee has hardened, shatter into pieces and set aside in a bowl till needed.
ASSEMBLE COOKIES
  1. After the cookies are cooled and the toffee is hardened; chop the bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 15-30 seconds intervals till the chocolate pieces start to look melted, remove from microwave and stir the chocolate with a spatula till smooth and all the chocolate lumps are melted. Take each cookie and dip the side with the holes face down into the melted chocolate, sprinkle on the toffee popcorn and place on a large plate to let the chocolate harden, drizzle with chocolate if desired. Repeat till all the cookies are assembled. You can put the plate of cookies in the freezer for about 5 minutes to speed up the chocolate hardening. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. *To make things easier(and cleaner!), I rolled the dough out on a large piece of parchment paper so when I cut out the hearts, they were easily peeled from the paper and put on the pan without distorting the shape.
  2. *The cookie cutter I used was about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter, I was able to cut out 14 cookies.
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