Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gilded Irish Coffee Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Meringue Buttercream (Cupcake of the Month #12)

So I got a bit behind with non-Christmas baking over the last couple weeks, but I finally found time this evening to make the final 2012 Cupcake of the Month.

Ain't it pretty?  Plus, it marks

Teacher, Baker, Gourmet Meal Maker's 100th Post!

It's an Irish coffee mini cupcake, topped with brown sugar meringue buttercream and "gilded" with festive gold sugar sprinkles (because I could find neither gold luster dust or sanding sugar).

It's quite a finish for the 2012 Cupcake of the Month series - but never fear, cupcake fans!  My mom got me the 2013 Martha Stewart Cupcake calendar, so there are more cupcakes on the way. Perhaps not one every month, but they'll make an appearance every so often. Promise.

To start the cupcakes, I combined a half cup of boiling water and two tablespoons of instant coffee powder (another slight adjustment, since I couldn't find "espresso" powder, specifically).  After the coffee cooled, it was combined with 1/2 cup of milk - skim, because I don't keep whole milk on hand.  I think it worked fine, personally.

While waiting for the coffee to cool, I creamed a stick of butter with a half cup each of granulated and brown sugars, until light and fluffy.  Then I beat in two eggs.

In a separate bowl, I whisked two cups of all-purpose flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a 1/4 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt.

I added the flour mixture and the coffee/milk mixture to the mixing bowl, alternating three additions of flour with two additions of coffee, ending with the flour.  What a creamy, lovely, thick batter!

I lined three mini-cupcake tins with liners and doled out the batter.  The cupcakes baked at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  I let them cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes were baking, I started on the buttercream.  Since I was only making 36 mini cupcakes, I decided to halve the recipe so I wouldn't have exorbitant amounts of frosting left.  In my small metal mixing bowl, I combined 2 and 1/2 egg whites (approximately, it's not real easy to divide an egg white in half) and 5/8 cup of brown sugar.  Over simmering water, I whisked the sugar and egg whites together until they were hot, which took about 5 minutes.

Transferring the bowl to the mixer, I whisked the sugar/egg whites on medium speed for about 12 minutes or so, until they had cooled down.

One tablespoon at a time, using the paddle attachment, I beat in two sticks of room temperature butter.  Then I stirred in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

I transferred the buttercream to a disposable pastry bag and cut the tip to pipe.

I dumped my gold sugar sprinkles into a small bowl for easy decorating.

Then I put all the cupcakes into a couple containers, then popped them into the fridge for the night (the buttercream needs to stay refrigerated).  We will enjoy them at work tomorrow!

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