Monday, October 3, 2011

Coneflower Spice Cupcakes with Maple Apple Butter

My aunt celebrated her birthday a couple weeks ago, and I decided to do cupcakes for her.  I had some regular old Duncan Hines spice cake mix in my pantry, so I used that and "spiced" it up a bit.

I decided to take a really pretty technique created by Amanda at i am baker for a large daisy design and downsize it for cupcakes.  But my aunt wanted pink frosting, so I couldn't do daisies.  Then I realized if I did the same design in pink, I would essentially have coneflowers.

And because I've come to love filling cupcakes with yummy surprise flavors, I filled them with maple apple butter we got from a local "jam expert" at our farmer's market.

I started by letting my cupcakes cool completely.  Then I used a sharp knife to cut a "cone" out of the center of each cupcake.

Then I used the handle end of a European egg spoon to sort of hollow out a nice cavity.

Hello down there!

Now I filled each cupcake with several egg spoonfuls of maple apple butter, tapping the cupcake gently on the rack to force the apple butter down to the bottom of the cavity and fill in every available space.  Then I pressed that little cone I removed earlier back in place, sort of like a plug.

I was almost dying from how good these smelled.

I quickly whipped up some cream cheese frosting (recipe follows), scooped about a cup of it into a separate bowl, and dyed it bright green.  Then I generously frosted the cupcakes and popped them, and the remaining frosting (dyed bright pink) into the fridge overnight, because it was 10:30 and I was tired.

The next morning I used a toothpick to score six lines in sort of a star pattern on top of each cupcake to used as guidelines.

I then filled a pastry bag with pink frosting, fitted it with a Wilton #104 petal tip, and went to town.

My petals were nowhere near perfect, and it was rather warm in the kitchen so my frosting got very soft very quickly (I should have used more powdered sugar than I did), but it was still really pretty.  The tutorial on this technique over at i am baker is way better than my awful pictures, so if you want good instructions, check Amanda's out.

Regardless, they looked very pretty and bright, a sweet blend of fall and summer (on an unseasonably cold Sunday afternoon).

Now came one of the more tricky parts.  I needed to create the center of the coneflowers.  I decided to use some yellow sugar sprinkles (not exactly "accurate" but you use what you've got).

I figured if I could get them to stick just to the center of the flowers, it would look as close to correct as possible.  So I piped a large dot of frosting in the center of each cupcake.  Then I repeated this step twelve times.

I used some baking parchment to fashion a funnel, the end of which was slightly larger than the centers I'd just piped.  I used the #12 round tip I'd just piped with to guesstimate the size.  Then I carefully positioned the funnel over each cupcake and dumped in some sprinkles.

The effect wasn't as precise as I'd hoped. But they sparkled and shimmered and still looked so pretty.

I popped them into the fridge for a couple hours till it was time to head to my aunt's.  Then everybody enjoyed them!

Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  1. Cream the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, blending well between each addition.
  3. Add more sugar as necessary to get the desired stiffness.
  4. Store in an airtight container up to one week, or freeze up to 3 months.  Stir well before using.

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