Saturday, September 24, 2011

Humming Right Along...Hummingbird Cupcakes

I have always believed that baked goods can (and should) brighten a person's day.  When I was growing up, my mom would lead us in baking copious amounts of Christmas goodies for our friends and neighbors.  We would wrap them up in cute or pretty boxes and people were always glad to receive them.  More recently, one of my students has begun delivering sweet treats to me.  She and her mom bake frequently - everything from cupcakes to blondies to lemon bars....and I sample them all!  Every time she shares her baking adventures with me, it is like the cherry on top of my day.

I was in a giving type of mood last week, and decided to whip up a batch of something new - Hummingbird Cupcakes.  Hummingbird cake, a Southern tradition, reportedly got its name because people would hum while baking it.  What a happy sounding cake!  Perfect to wrap up and gift to others.

Hummingbird Cupcakes

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon (though I like to put in a bit more...)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large ones)
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Top with Cream Cheese Frosting!!!

8 oz cream cheese at room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into pieces at room temperature
1 pound of confectioners' sugar, sifted

The thing about this frosting is, it's really about your taste buds.  If you like it more cream cheesy, add less butter, or the same amount of butter but more cream cheese.  The powdered sugar is what gives it a workable consistency, so you could add more than the pound if you feel that the frosting is still too thick for your liking.  

Then, put it all in a cute little box (I like mine with polka dots - from Michael's)...

Add a hand written note to pull it all together!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Love of cupcakes runs in the Fujii Family.  Our wonderful puppyson, Taiko, had his first taste of a pupcake by Barkn Belly Bakery out of Morgan Hill.  My husband volunteered at Bark in the Park as a part of the Friends of Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority.  It was a great event, and the best part?  Taiko was invited and had a great time!  He met new friends, swam in/sat in a pool, and got lots of treats and attention!

One of the vendors there was Barkn Belly, and Mike stopped by and grabbed three beautiful pupcakes for our Taiko.  They were so nice to look at, and more importantly, Taiko enjoyed every bite.

Seriously - I wanted to eat them.  I probably could have, but Taiks would have been mad.  The first one had a blackberry puree looking frosting and a dried berry to top it off. 

This one had BACON on the top.  Enough said.  Oh, and pink frosting :)  Yes, I know my dog is a boy, but he spends enough time with mom that he is very in touch with his feminine side.

We think this one has a dried mushroom on the top, but it also looks like an apricot.  Whatever - it's awesome and elegant.

 When Taiko knew he was getting a special treat, his attention was rapt.  He watched Dad unwrap it little by little with drool gathering at the corners of his mouth.

It was all good from thereon.  What follows are some action shots.  When Taiko eats a new treat (one that he's never had before), he often holds it in his mouth for a few seconds.  Then drops it.  Stares at it. Licks it.  Eats it.  Repeat process.  Takes a while...

Hmmmm...not sure 

What IS this?

Happy puppy :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Life is but a Dream(sicle)

Last weekend, my wonderful Mother-In-Law, Sandy, celebrated her upcoming retirement.  She has been working at the same place for close to forty years!  Her colleagues threw her a celebratory bash, and requested a special batch of cupcakes.  I was more than happy to oblige!  Mike and I thought long and hard about which flavor to make her.  She likes chocolate, but that is so unoriginal - it's been done. We wanted something more festive and fun - kind of like my Mother-In-Law!  So we finally decided on Orange Creamsicle cakes, topped with homemade marshmallow and orange buttercream frosting.  Sound good?  They were, my friends.  They were.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcake
Recipe from Home is Where the Holmans Are (blogspot)

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter room temperature
2 tablespoons of citrus olive oil (you can make your own by putting some orange and lemon peels/zest in some olive oil - that's what we did!)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 eggs
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
It took a lot of oranges...Good thing I'm so strong :)
Combine butter, sugar and oil on high until light and fluffy!  Add eggs and vanilla and mix for another minute.  This is where things start to smell fruity!  Stir in your orange zest.

Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly so you spread out all ingredients equally.  Then, mix your remaining wet ingredients (OJ and cream).  Beat in dry ingredients in 3 batches - alternate with 2 batches of the wet.  Stir until just combined.  Don't overdo it!                                                                  

Line your cupcake tray with your favorite liners.  Scoop in until 3/4 full, bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until your cupcake tester comes out without a crumb!




After your cakes have cooled off, use an apple corer to punch out the center.  You will fill this little spot with the marshmallow filling (see below).



I love this because you get these little bite size samples.  Look closely and you can see the zest!
Marshmallow Filling

8 egg whites, room temperature (ever wondering what to do with the yolks?  One or two are a great treat for your canine sous chef.  Taiko loves 'em)
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put a solid dollop of this yummy stuff on there!
Orange Buttercream

1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/8 cup of freshly squeezed OJ
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter on medium until it is light and fluffy.  Add orange juice, vanilla  and zest and mix until combined.  Add powdered sugar until it is the consistancy you want.  

*I might consider adding a dollop of orange food coloring to brighten this up a bit.  Ours wasn't as bright of an orange as we were hoping for!

We stuck a popsicle stick in there for the cute factor!

Not a "Miette" Left....

Sometimes at the end of a great week, you need things to get even greater.  That is when you call your girlfriends and arrange to have a magical girls night out.  I love having girl time.  I really enjoy all of the sigoths of my friends, but, I love the silly-laugh-at-anything ridiculousness that happens when it's just us girls.

We had planned on dinner and possibly a movie, but Emily also mentioned a MUST SEE cupcakery in Hayes Valley. She spoke about it on a couple of occasions, so I knew it was great and memorable!  We stopped first to get some pedicures, and then it was off to do some serious business at Miette!

Thank goodness I have friends who are ready to help with my serious blog research!

Emily and Mira - ready to go in!!
 Miette is located in both the Ferry Building and Hayes Valley.  We went to the Hayes Valley stop, and I was in awe from the moment I crossed the threshold!

Imagine this: glass jars filled to their brims with colorful confections - candy, cookies, chocolates, caramels, sweets, sours, crunchies, chewies....  Gorgeous vintage (looking) wall paper in warm and cozy colors, framing the white antique tables.  The counter in the front houses gorgeous cakes, cupcakes, works of art.  The lady behind the register? Not so friendly, but it doesn't matter because you are distracted by the hand wrapped chocolate bars, antique scales and perfectly centered and balanced displays. 

Okay - you can stop imagining - here it is!

This place was even more so what my ideal cupcakery would be.  But don't you know it - they had no chairs!!!  What do people have against chairs!

In all seriousness, though, it was absolutely stunning.  Almost like a museum - I felt like I had to whisper...but I didn't :)

Then we headed out to dinner, and talked about heading back to Em's for a glass of champagne while we enjoyed these beauties.  But instead, we decided on warm tea and forks.  Talk about quality time.  Emmy even busted out the silver platter.  That's just how we roll, kids.  

We got four flavors: Chocolate with Rasberry, Gingerbread with cream cheese, Pumpkin with cream cheese and vanilla with vanilla.  Hands down, best frosting I've had in a long cupcake tasting while.  Very light, and fluffy.  It didn't have an overwhelming flavor, and was just a perfect compliment to the cake.  Because we got there a bit later in the day, the cake was kind of dry for the chocolate and vanilla, but the other two were great, probably because of the water packed veggies inside!

So, for taste, I would give Miette three stars.  The cake left something to be desired, and that's about 75% of the cupcake!

For decor - hands down a five!  Look at the pictures!

For decorations, a five!  They were dainty, beautiful and simple.

A few cupcakes, a warm beverage, good friends and a great night out?  I would say it was a success on all fronts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Campfire Cupcakes

Every Labor Day, for the last seven years, my boyfriend, then fiance and now husband, have gone with our friends on a camping trip.  More often than not, we pitch our tents on the "shores" of Lake Shasta, where we enjoy a few unadulterated days of campfires, swimming, boating and eating good food with great company.  Over the years, our group has grown and changed, adding dogs, kids, boyfriends/girlfriends and husbands and wives.  It is something that the Fujii clan looks forward to every year.

This year, I thought it would be fun to trying and capture some of that camping magic in a cupcake.  To me, there is nothing that is more quintessentially camping, than the taste of s'mores.  Actually, I should say that there is nothing edible that is more so - the smell of deet, sunscreen and dirt all scream camping, but I would prefer not to take a bite out of any of those flavors...  I knew that the flavor existed in the cupcake world, as I have sampled it at Kara's before.  One of my besties has also tried the flavor, but with a little twist in that she made a grahm cracker cupcake (in leu of chocolate.)  But I wanted to try it out on my own!  I searched around for a recipe that looked like it might work (and not involve too many steps...or dishes...)  I stumbled upon a great new blog that had a ton of great cupcake recipes that I will definitely be trying!!!  Margarita cupcake, anyone?  Yes please!!

What follows is an account of my s'mores baking adventure!!

Pulled out the polka dot liners for this one, and my trusted cupcake spatula!  Another bridal shower gift!

Grinding up the butter + grahm crackers...things are already looking good.

1 tablespoon in each cup, and then pound it down with a shot glass.  We have plenty of those! Makes a perfect crust   for many things!

I liked this part - adding marshmallows and chocolate chips before you even put the batter in!

They are a bit more flat than I like, but there were a lot of wet ingredients....I guess it's all about taste!

 The frosting took a LOT of eggs (8 egg whites, to be exact).  I should have whipped it for longer so that it was a bit more stiff, but it was still nice and glossy!

We are without a kitchen torch, so my husband brought up his jumbo one from the garage!  I was not allowed to handle it because chances are good that I would light something on fire...
But he enjoyed the job, and did great I might add!

 The next day I brought about 1/2 of my loot to school to share.  Our camping group was small and I didn't want to be "forced" to eat too many :)  I enlisted the help of two of my fabulous students, Saatchi and Emma.

Excuse the blurriness - the light wasn't right and my hand was shaky!

This looks like a s'more to me!!

These lovely ladies are members of the clean wrapper club :)  

I definitely recommend trying, eating and enjoying this summertime/anytime treat!


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