Saturday, July 21, 2012

My 100th Post: Let's have Samoa

Some bakers have an incredible gift for making baking intricate desserts seem like no big feat. My favorite bloggers regularly turn out the most beautifully decorated cakes and cookies, and until I started baking and occasionally decorating myself, I never appreciated how incredibly talented these bloggers truly are.

I've tried with some success to create cakes, cupcakes and cookies that are as beautiful as they are tasty.

I think my most stunning treats have been these Up-Scale Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, Michigan Football Gingerbread Cookies and Passover Pavlova.

All three of these desserts were serious labors of love — each of them took at least a full day to create!

While these time-intensive treats were certainly worth the work, I've found that some of the simplest things I've made are the most favored. For instance, this Birthday Cake Bark took less than an hour total, only required 4 ingredients and has been almost as popular as my more intricate goodies.

In the last year I've spent blogging and baking, I've learned something very important — the greatest successes ALL stem from creativity. Beautiful, ugly, simple, or intricate, all of my most popular blog posts are also the ones I consider the most creative and the ones I've enjoyed the most... and I guess you do too!

Today's Samoa Cupcakes came together in a marathon 2.5 hour baking session after work one day this week, and could not have been accomplished without the help of my roommate!

More often than not, especially lately, I find I have less time than I would like to devote to this blog. My hectic schedule has led to sparse postings and a slight decline in desire to bake as regularly as I have in the past — mostly just because I'm often exhausted when I get home during the week and busy catching up with friends and/or running errands during the weekend.

June 9, the 1 year anniversary of this blog came and went unnoticed because I was busy attempting to create a livable space for minimal cost in my new apartment. A few days later, I realized I missed the day of my first blog post: English, Prison, and Cookies... OH MY!

On this, my 100th blog post, I promise that as long as I can say this blog is something that brings me happiness, I will continue to maintain it. I will not look at it as a chore or job, but as an opportunity to create and share. However sparse my blog posts may sometimes be, I will continue on as your Young Idealistic Baker.

Cheers to 100 more posts! Or as we might say in Boston, Chee-ahs to Sa-mo-ah!

The recipes and concept of these Samoa Cupcakes were inspired and adapted from a number of sources. They are Vanilla Cupcakes filled with Coconut Cream, topped with Caramel Frosting, toasted coconut and dark chocolate drizzle.

Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Cupcake Project)
Makes 12-16 cupcakes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil 
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F 
  • Slice vanilla bean vertically and scrape out seeds with the back of a spoon
  • Mix sugar and vanilla seeds in a small bowl and break up any clumps of seeds to infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined
  • Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes — because there is so little butter, you will end up with a very fine crumb texture
  • In another small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, Greek yogurt, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined
  • Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined
  • Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full
  • Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done — they are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it
  • When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack to cool

Coconut Cream (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes enough to fill 12-16 cupcakes
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ounces sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Place egg yolks in a large bowl, whisk to combine and set bowl aside
  • Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan 
  • Gradually whisk in milk and cook, stirring regularly, over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 10 minutes 
  • Remove from heat and whisk 1/2 of the hot milk mixture with reserved egg yolks to temper
  • Slowly pour warm yolks into the saucepan, stirring constantly
  • Cook slowly, stirring, over medium-low heat, until mixture begins to bubble, about 5 minutes 
  • Remove from heat and stir in coconut and vanilla
  • Transfer filling to a small bowl or container and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap until firm, at least 1 hour
  • Microwave for about 30 seconds and stir before using

Easy Caramel Frosting (recipe adapted from Group Recipes)
Makes enough to frost 16-18 cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • Melt butter in sauce pan, add brown sugar and stir constantly over low heat for 2 minutes
  • Let mixture cool until it is luke warm
  • In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar mixture and 1 tablespoon of milk on medium low speed and gradually add powdered sugar
  • Mix until thick enough to spread, adding more milk if necessary

  1. Core cupcakes and remove small piece of cake, saving only the very top of the center pieces
  2. fill each space with a teaspoon or more of coconut cream
  3. Replace tops of cupcakes
  4. Frost with caramel frosting 
  5. Top with toasted coconut shavings (toast coconut on a baking sheet once cupcakes come out of the oven about 5 minutes until coconut is light brown and fragrant)
  6. Pipe on melted dark chocolate (microwave 2 bricks of baking chocolate or 2 ounces of chocolate chips for 30 seconds, stir and microwave for 30 more seconds)

Happy Baking! Cheers to Sa-mo-ah great adventures! 

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