Vanilla Bean & White Chocolate Birdie Cupcakes {and Video Tutorial}

Vanilla Bean Birdie Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Sweet tweet! Another garden-y recipe for you today (and another video tutorial). As I mentioned in my last post, I did a bunch of treats for my father-in-law’s wife, Kathy, last weekend in honour of her surprise birthday party. When I was planning what to make, I knew that somewhere, somehow, there had to be a classic and lovely bird-themed confection. (If you knew Kathy, you’d understand.) I opted for these hand-stamped Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Birdie Cupcakes–they’re simple, delightful and unique. Thin, sweet fondant medallions atop fluffy vanilla cupcakes and rich vanilla bean white chocolate frosting (and yes, let’s eat the topper!).

One thing that I love about making these decorations, is that you can create them way in advance, which comes in super handy when you’re making a lot of treats, or if you simply like doing things ahead of time (like me). Once made, if you keep the fondant circles in a nice cool, dry place in a single layer (a pizza box works well), there’s no limit to how in advance you can whip them up. Then, once ready to use them, simply pop them on a frosted cupcake. Voila!

The thing about this hand-stamping technique is that, depending on which stamp and colour you go with, the possibilities are literally endless. You can tailor the theme and create these for pretty much anything or anyone as long as you have some fondant, soft gel paste, a clean (and never used on regular ink) rubber stamp and a small paint brush. A spooky Halloween theme perhaps? A floral wedding theme? A robot party? Anything goes. You might remember my love for using rubber stamps on fondant from these Love Letter & Scripted Heart Cookies, but you’ll notice that rather than painting the stamp, I simply used the imprint for a different effect. So once you have the stamps, you can play, play, play!

Here is the video tutorial for these stamped fondant medallion toppers:

Simple, right? And honestly, once you get your rhythm you’ll find that it’s truly a therapeutic experience. If you have cakelets at home, as I do, I find that it can be a really fun little project to work on together. If you give them their own little ball of fondant, rolling pin and cutter, they’ll be as happy as larks. Or . . . small navy blue birdies.

See?

So here’s the recipe and instructions for the cupcakes. I hope you have as much fun as I did creating these. ♥

Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Birdie Cupcakes {and Video Tutorial}

Serving Size: 24 cupcakes

Moist, fluffy vanilla cupcakes topped with rich & creamy vanilla bean white chocolate frosting and topped with a hand-stamped fondant medallion.

Ingredients

    For the stamped fondant medallions
  • ~5 oz (145 g) white fondant
  • AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste, Navy Blue
  • For the cupcakes
  • 2-1/2 cups (275 g)(10 oz) cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites (60 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) Pure Almond Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (115 g)(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • For the frosting
  • 1 cup (227 g)(8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz quality (175 g) white chocolate
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) almond extract
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 3 cups (375 g)(13.5 oz) sifted icing sugar

Instructions

    For the stamped fondant medallions {can make anytime in advance}:
  1. Roll white fondant on cornstarch-dusted (or icing sugar) surface until 1/8" thin, or even thinner and cut as many 2.25" diameter circles as needed (you will want to make a few extra). Let dry overnight.
  2. Apply a thin layer of soft gel paste (I used AmeriColor Navy Blue) onto a new, clean rubber stamp using a small angled paintbrush (that you designate for food use) and gently press down upon fondant circles. Touch up any unstamped spots with your paintbrush. Let dry. {see video tutorial}
  3. For the cupcakes:
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and center the oven rack. Line 2 muffin/cupcake pans with your favourite standard-size cupcake liner, and put the first cupcake pan on a baking sheet. (You will place the second cupcake pan on the same sheet in the oven once the first tray is baked.)
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  6. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  7. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  8. Divide batter evenly among your cupcake liners–about 2/3 full–and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs only, about 16 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on wire racks. Repeat with second tray.
  10. For the frosting:
  11. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  12. Melt chocolate in microwave in a small heatproof bowl, or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop, stirring often. Let cool.
  13. Add melted chocolate to butter and beat until incorporated. Add extract, vanilla bean and salt and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add sifted icing sugar, beating on low speed until just combined, increasing to medium speed until well combined.
  14. Assembly of the Cupcakes
  15. Pipe a generous swirl of frosting atop each cupcake, using pastry tip 1M, or the tip of your choice.
  16. Gently press a fondant medallion upon each cupcake. Best enjoyed same day.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

See you soon with a slightly spookier recipe. And for my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

Good luck & enjoy!



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Chocolate Birthday Cake {Video Tutorials}

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Well hi! It’s been a bit since my last post, maybe the longest ever, but you know I’m always nearby and knee-deep in frosting and cake. I had so much fun making my the Pastel Swirl Cake video tutorial that I wanted to make yet another this week. So it turns out that I’m in a crazy-for-chocolate mood lately, and I made this 3-layer chocolate birthday cake to celebrate (party for 1?).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Since the most requested tutorial has been “how to frost a cake,” that’s the theme of the first video in this post. The second video, a part deux of sorts,  is where I share how I pipe birthday cake borders and, of course, finish with some sprinkles. You might remember this style of cake decoration from the recent How to Make a (Perfectly Delightful) Vanilla Birthday Cake post, as I used the identical technique and pastry tips for that one (you’ll also notice that it looks a smidge better when the frosting isn’t so light–oops!).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake itself is a 3-layer chocolate cake brushed with a dark rum syrup and filled and frosted with a simple chocolate buttercream that is super light and fluffy–my favourite for indulging. I actually made it a tad too fluffy for piping perfect borders, but hopefully you will still get the idea!

Remember these? This birthday cake is the cake version of these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting, minus the Nutella (gasp!) and plus the rum syrup. Oh yes, I’d say that’s a reasonable trade, no? Oh, and I promise you won’t taste rum, but rather heightened chocolate glory.

Like I said, party for 1 . . .

Hey, do you want to hear something kind of strange and magical? While I was watching the videos, listening to myself explain the life-altering topic of frosting and piping borders onto a cake, and watching the turntable spin all the while, something occurred to me. Something that gave me butterflies and actually startled me, in a mystical way that is. In 2004, and several years before I immersed myself into the world of cake, I went to a psychic (I’ve always loved that kind of thing). I can recall, clear as can be, her asking me if I make pottery. Pottery? Hmm, no, I’ve never . . . potted? She continued, revealing with conviction that she sees me in years to come frequently working with a turntable, creating art with great passion and eventually teaching and sharing with others. She was so sure of it. I was perplexed, and a little dismayed, since I knew that I had no connection with pottery . . .

Turntable? Creating with passion? Teaching and sharing with others? Could it be?

Chills.

So here are the two videos–again, I’m not a cinematographer, but I sincerely hope they help in some way!

First, How to Frost a Cake: 

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And How to Pipe Frosting Borders:

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • To make the chocolate cake layers I made 3-times the batch of this cupcake batter (1 batch makes one 8-inch round layer) and 1.5 times the batch of the frosting, minus the Nutella (that recipe will yield a good consistency for piping–I added extra milk and whipped it into a frenzy, which is why it tasted incredible but was a bit too soft for piping).
  • Every oven varies, but I baked the cake layers at 350°F until a toothpick comes barely clean, about 22 minutes.
  • With any confectioners’ sugar frosting, you can always thicken it up by adding extra confectioners’ sugar (sifted is best) afterwards, until you achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, you can always soften it up by adding small increments of milk or even a bit of water.
  • I made a dark rum syrup to brush over cake layers with a pastry brush before filling. To make: Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of dark rum and voila!
  • As I mention in the videos, I used Pastry Tip -#1M for the bottom border, and Pastry Tip #1E  for the over-sized top border. I used the Small Offset Spatula for the top of the cake, a Medium Straight Blade Spatula and a Bench Scraper while frosting and decorating the cake. I topped the cake with Pastel Confetti Sprinkles/Quins.
Good luck & enjoy!



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Pastel Swirl Cake {Video Tutorial}

Pastel Swirl Cake via Sweetapolita

It seems that I’m on a layer-cake-making frenzy lately, and you know, it kind of feels like home. So here’s what else: I’m excited to share my first cake tutorial video, as I mentioned I was working on in my “hello” video yesterday. Just a note that it’s not fancy, and it turns out I’m no cinematographer, but it was kind of fun talking to you for a change.

Back in September, I shared this cake to celebrate my blog’s 1st anniversary, and since then I’ve received several requests to explain how to achieve this sort of watercolour, pastel swirly effect, so here we are!

I came across this technique a few years ago from Serious Cakes, and it remains one of my favourite ways to whip up a super-pretty cake, and quickly. I’ve added my own twist, and what I love most about this effect is that no two cakes are the same, making it even more artful.

Pastel Swirl Cake via Sweetapolita

As I mention in the video, it really doesn’t need sprinkles, but I like to add some metallic and shimmer bits on top when I make this cake. The pastel swirling feels beachy to me, and these little decorations somehow fit (in my mind, anyway). Even sans sprinkles, the way the colours blend and change before your eyes while frosting is reason enough to give this a try. I tinted three small bowls of frosting for this version, but you can add as many colours as you wish–you honestly can’t go wrong.

Pastel Swirl Cake via Sweetapolita

This time I opted for dark chocolate cake, because I love the contrast of the pastel whipped vanilla frosting and the dark cake, but vanilla, or any flavour you can dream up, would likely be a delight. Taking cues from the cake layers for colour choices, or the other way around, works well too–a strawberry layer cake would be charming with blended shades of pink, white, red and even a hint of mint green. I personally love when a cake’s design, colours and flavours all make sense. You know?

Pastel Swirl Cake via Sweetapolita

When I look at this cake I suddenly feel an unrelenting need for a beach house, cotton candy, saltwater taffy and possibly a canvas and paint brush. Oh, and a slice of dreamy swirly pastel cake.

Pastel Swirl Cake via Sweetapolita

So, here’s the how-to video (a tad longer than the others will be) on how I frost this style cake, or how my hands do–I kept it zoomed in so you could really see what I was doing. Hopefully it helps you along!

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

Good luck & enjoy!



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