Highway to Heaven Cupcakes {and Sugar Cube Winner!}

Happy Monday!

Here is the winner of the The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet book giveaway:

#8 NanaBread (Jeanne): “dark chocolate & salted caramel is at the top of my list, along with coconut & chocolate, strawberry & cream cheese, and anything with cherries”

Congratulations! (I will be also notifying you by email.)

And thank you to everyone for sharing their favourite flavour combinations!

See you soon. ♥

The Giveaway:

When I was asked to be part of the Sugar Cube Blog Tour to celebrate the newly released The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet, it sounded like my kind of party, but I hadn’t heard of the book or the adorable Portland, Oregon food cart before. But, upon first glance I fell in fast love with everything about Kir Jensen’s delicious sugared world, and after first read and taste, the book is now in my leave-it-out-because-I-use-it-so-much collection. I had such a hard time deciding what to make first, and what to share with you, but when I set eyes on Highway to Heaven Cupcakes adorned with shards of Ruffles and read that she’s built her entire reputation on this particular cupcake, I knew that these had to be my first Sugar Cube experience.

So what’s this book all about (aside from its undeniably adorable cover)?

This covetable cookbook is a greatest-hits collection from Sugar Cube, a tiny pink food cart in Portland, Oregon, that is thronged daily by hungry hordes craving voluptuous sweets intensified with a spike of booze, a lick of sea salt, or a “whoop” of whipped cream. Sugar Cube founder and baker Kir Jensen left the fine-dining pastry track to sell her handmade treats on the street. Recipes for 50 of Kir’s most enticing cupcakes, cookies, tarts, muffins, sips, and candies are made more irresistible (if possible!) by 32 delicious color photographs. Sassy headnotes and illustrations that resemble vintage tattoos liven up this singular boutique baking book.

And they do not lie–this book is everything they say it is, and more. It is really special. What I love is how Kir really pushes the boundaries of classic and comforting treats in a gourmet and innovative way (think Vanilla Bean Risotto, Coffee Mallow Meringue Pie, Cream Soda Ice Cream and more). The recipes are easy to follow and the flavors and textures almost leap straight off of the page. I am sincerely excited to make each and every recipe in her fabulous book, and I’m also excited that 1 lucky reader will win their own copy! But, let’s talk more about the recipe I made to share with you, these Highway to Heaven Cupcakes . . .

But don’t be fooled: What makes these cupcakes so incredible isn’t just the fact that there are salted caramel drizzled Ruffles chips on top, because that’s simply an added bonus (a sweet & salty, crunchy, heavenly bonus, that is), because there’s so much more depth and decadence to relish in here. The cupcakes are a moist super-chocolatey delight that are brushed with coffee syrup, injected with homemade salted caramel sauce, topped with a rich sexy bittersweet ganache, drizzled with more salted caramel sauce and then, if you love double-wowing the crowd, spears of caramel-drizzled potato chips, of course. As far as cupcakes go, it just doesn’t get any sexier.

These were so enticing in all of their dark, glossy, drizzled, crunchy goodness that I couldn’t stop taking Instagram photos while I was making them. When you’re trying to decide where to start in the flurry of decadent treats in this book, I can safely say this is an ideal place to start. (It’s also safe to say I’ll be making these cupcakes at least *once a month* for years to come.) Girls, who’s with me?

Here are the details and how to enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What is your favourite dessert flavour combination?”

2. For an extra entry, tweet: “I want to win a copy of @TheSugarCube’s book from @Sweetapolita!” Simply come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

3. Contest ends Sunday, May 20th, 2012 at 11:59 pm (EST) and winner will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry.

4. One entry per person, please (or two, with tweet). *Your comment may not appear at first, but it’s there.

*Prize courtesy of Chronicle Books. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Good luck, everyone!

Now, here’s the recipe, shared with permission and as written in the book: The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet

highway to heaven cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

ingredients

cupcakes

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm strong-brewed coffee or french-pressed coffee
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

coffee syrup

  • 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 recipe sexy bittersweet chocolate ganache

1 recipe salted caramel sauce, at room temperature

instructions

  • To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, coffee, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until incorporated and there are no lumps. (It’s a thin batter, but it will bake up beautifully.)
  • Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups, leaving about 1/4 inch room at the top. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • To make the coffee syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the coffee and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil for 1 to 2 minutes more to concentrate the mixture.
  • While the cupcakes are still hot, brush the tops with coffee syrup. (You’ll use most but not all of it. Just discard the rest or use it in a cocktail.) Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
  • Place the caramel in a squeeze bottle. Insert the tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze in some caramel. (You’ll see them plump up a bit, but don’t fill them with so much that the cupcakes split.) Dip the tops in ganache, then tilt to shake off the excess. Let the chocolate set (it will be glossy but not runny) for about 30 minutes before drizzling with more salted caramel to serve.

sexy bittersweet ganache

makes about 2 cups

ingredients

  • 12 ounces chopped good-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, but into cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoons good sea salt, such as fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

instructions

  • In a medium metal bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, salt, and corn syrup. Put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring, until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the heat.
  • Use as a glaze for cakes, or let cool until spreadable and use as a frosting or filling. Ganache can be refrigerated for 1 week. To gently rewarm, heat it in a microwave on 50 percent power or put it over a saucepan of barely simmering water and give it a good whisking.

salted caramel sauce

makes about 2 1/2 cups

ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • 2 cups heavy cream, warmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

instructions

  • In a deep heavy-bottomed pot, combine the sugar, water, and salt and stir until well mixed. Cook over high heat until the sugar starts to color around the edges of the pot, swirling the pan to promote even caramelization of the sugar. (Do not stir or the sugar will crystalize, that is, harden.) Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until the caramel is very dark mahogany is color and lightly smoking (it should be on the verge of burning), 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Immediately remove the pot from the heat, and while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon, add the warmed cream in a steady stream. (Since you’re taking the caramel to the dark side, you have to work quickly and being adding the cream right away to stop the cooking process. But you don’t want to add it all at once, so pour it in a continous, steady stream. Be careful: The mixture will steam and bubble up furiously. (I recommend wearing an oven mitt on the hand that’s stirring in the cream.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in the vanilla and let cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered for several hours to thicken.
  • Whisk before using or transferring to an airtight jar for longer storage. It will keep refrigerated for at least 1 week.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I followed the recipes for each of the components exactly, and they were a success.
  • I served and tasted several of these sans potato chips, and just drizzeld in the caramel sauce, and they were incredible too.
  • As with some of my other favourite chocolate cake recipes, the coffee in these cupcakes simply enhances the deep chocolate flavour–they don’t taste coffee-ish, I promise.
  • As Kir explains, the sexy bittersweet ganache goes on super glossy and dries with a nice sheen.
  • I used Fleur de Sel for the salted caramel sauce and the sexy bittersweet ganache, Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder for the cupcakes, and Callebaut Dark Callets and the ganache.

Good luck & enjoy!


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Ruffles & Roses: A Mad(ish) Tea Party

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

You made it! You are so sweet for coming to my first tea party in honour of my enchanting friend and talented artist, Vanessa Valencia and her annual A Fanciful Twist virtual Mad Tea Party. So perhaps her tea party will be a teeny, tiny bit madder than mine, and nothing short of magical, but of course it will. That, my friends, is why she is the one and only Vanessa Valencia. I, however, am more than thrilled to share my Sweetapolita spin on a mad tea party with you all, and to me, a tea party, mad or not, could only be complete with some fancy tea-time treats. Now, let us see if we can find our way to those treats . . .

Oh my goodness, I’ve a feeling we’re not in suburbia anymore. Many miles away from suburbia, the air is different, there are open fields, seemingly endless trees and flowers, and we can hear the loons. It’s definitely a lovely day for some tea, ruffles and roses.

Sweetapolita

Why yes, roses! Now, if you can just find your way past these lovely roses, you may find a much needed cup of tea and treats.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Finally, you’ve arrived, and you’ve spotted something petite and sweet . . .

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Fairy cakes? What a pleasant change from cupcakes with towering frosting (although I think I have spotted a few of those as well, and that’s never bad news!). Although I’ve heard of many different ideas and descriptions as to what a fairy cake really is, I can’t imagine a cuter name for a l and tastier cupcake, and so that’s what we’ll call this: a tender and buttery vanilla cupcake topped with a sugary glaze, basically a royal icing (meringue powder, confectioners’ sugar, and water). What I really like about it, aside from how lovely and pure white it is (a rare luxury that isn’t possible with butter-based frosting), is the fact that, even though the icing is very sweet, there is so little of it that it really just highlights the vanilla in the cupcake and offers a hit of sweet. And, what do you know? They are perfectly delightful with a cup of tea.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Can you tell we had a little bit of rain on our tea party day? Actually, it rained the entire day, and as it should be, everything was outside! You can see the petite fondant ribbon roses on the fairy cakes and the icing are shiny and glossy, which happens when there’s so much moisture in the air. But, we weren’t going to let a little rain (or a torrential downpour) stop our fun or our indulgence, and, actually, what’s lovelier than a tea party in warm summer rain?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

If you decide to make your own fairy cakes, you can always flavour the icing with a little bit almond, clear vanilla, or rosewater perhaps. Really, as long as it’s not oil-based, you can add a wee bit of any flavour your heart desires. I left these classic, but there is a lot of room for experimenting.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

I agree–we should have one now.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

And no mad tea party would be complete without mad buttercream ruffles! In the name of petite tea party treats, why not create a few petite ruffle cakes?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

And petite teacup cupcakes?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

And,  yes, more petite ruffle cakes! Under all of those angelic Swiss Meringue Buttercream ruffles, you’ll find a rich, Devil’s Food Layer Cake, which is always a nice surprise for tea party guests to reveal when they slice into this cake-for-two (or a few).

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

And yet another petite ruffle cake . . . that is why I love the petite 4″ version, because you can fill a table with them, as opposed to one full-size cake. With ruffle cakes everywhere you turn, it would madder than mad to not take a slice.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Through the ruffles and roses, I see more tea party sweets: vanilla cupcakes with simple buttercream rose swirls.  With all of that Swiss Meringue Buttercream already created for the ruffle cakes, and all of the delightfully vanilla cupcakes from the fairy cakes already made, why not take a few moments to pipe some roses on them and offer your tea party guests another treat?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

And since you have the open star pastry tip already out and ready to go from your buttercream roses, perhaps baking a batch of raspberry rose meringues would be a nice addition to the tea-time menu? Sweet and crunchy baked meringue is the loveliest (and simplest) of treats, however, I don’t see them offered as much as I wish they were. These have some freeze-dried raspberries and a quick and easy (and possibly unexpected) raspberry ingredient that gives them their bright pink hue.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Well, I knew you were coming, so I baked a cake. Or four. Ruffles, ruffles, and more ruffles for us to share.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Or one mad and not-so-petite bite-full? That would be one divine bite, I believe.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Or perhaps you’d prefer more cake, less ruffles?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Some little guests appear to love cupcakes and tea, or, is it teacakes in cups . . .

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Shh . . . what’s that sound? This little cakelet seems to hear some buzzing overhead. What could it bee?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Ahh, of course, the mad sugar bee has landed. Those darn country bees are like no city bee we’ve ever seen. Must be something in those country roses.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Either way, this tea party guest isn’t sharing her cupcake.

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Unless, of course, it’s with her beloved rabbit. What’s a mad tea party without a peculiar rabbit?

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Finally, after we’ve shared tea-time stories, tales, and treats it’s almost time to part, until next time, of course. Wait a mad moment–is it just me, or have our petite cakes grown? I suppose we just never know what madness will unfold over tea and cakes, but you are always welcome here. We love the company!

And truly, no tea party would be complete without a tiny tea set: Meet Violetta (and her tiny tea set). She is one of Vanessa’s most recent paintings, and, as you can see, she is gorgeous and mysterious,  just as all of Vanessa’s enchanting pieces are. “Violetta and the Tiny Tea Set” is my current favourite painting in the A Fanciful Twist Etsy shop, and Vanessa has generously offered to give away an 8 x 10 print of this original artwork to one lucky reader (so sweet, right?).  To enter (and anyone can enter, as she will ship the print anywhere in the world), simply leave a comment below telling me what your favourite tea-time treat is or would be. That’s it & good luck! Winner will be selected Monday, June 27th at 12pm EST.  *CONTEST HAS ENDED

*Winner will be randomly selected using random. org.

If you’re wondering where the non-suburban gorgeous setting for my tea party was, it was in Hillier, Ontario (Prince Edward County). What  an incredible setting.

If you would like to make some of these tea-time treats, here are the recipes:

Fairy Cakes         {click to print}

 

 

 

 

One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes for Fairy Cakes

Yield: 2.5 dozen

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups (175 g) cake flour, not self-rising

1 1/4 cups (157 g) all-purpose flour

2 cups (400 g) sugar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) baking powder

3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt

1 cup (2 sticks, 227 g) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (250 mL/8 liquid ounces) whole milk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract for all of my baking)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line standard cupcake pans with your favourite paper cupcake liners.

2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and mix on low speed until blended. Add cubes of butter, one at a time, and mix again until all butter is coated with flour.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, to mixer and blend until incorporated.

4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula after each addition. Beat until just incorporated (try not to over beat).

4. Using a 1.5 oz cookie scoop (or your cake batter tool of choice), divide batter among liners (should be 2/3 full). Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto  a cooling rack by inverting the tray. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting.

*Recipe source: Billy’s Bakery Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes via Martha Stewart

Fairy Cake Icing (Royal Icing)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

2 tablespoons (30 mL) meringue powder (I avoid Wilton brand and I like Ateco 480 Meringue Powder, 20 oz.)

*Optional: Flavouring/extract to taste (nothing oil-based) such as, almond extract, rosewater, vanilla extract (clear if you want the icing to remain very white), etc.

1 lb (454 g, about 3 3/4 cups) icing (powdered, confectioners’) sugar

Few drops food colour gel (optional)

Method:

1. Place meringue powder, cream of tartar, and water (and extract, if using) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on low speed until frothy.

2. Add the icing sugar, and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. You can use the paddle attachment or the whisk attachment and see which you prefer (I tend to use the paddle attachment because it’s how I was taught by Bonnie Gordon, but I’ve done it both ways, and they both work!). The icing will be fairly thick, but glossy and not as thick as regular royal icing at this point.

3. If too thick, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the icing just runs off a spoon and is glossy and spreadable (but not too watered down). I was also taught at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts that you can run the tip of a knife through the icing and count how many seconds until the line disappears, and when it takes about 8 seconds (in this case), I find it to be the best consistency for these fairy cakes.

4. Cover with Glad “Press’n Seal” until you are ready to use, and in between use. You can also use a damp cloth over top of it to keep it from drying out, but you need to keep it covered as it will dry out and get crusty very quickly if it’s exposed to the air for too long.

5. Best used right away, but as the brilliant Callye from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle explained, you can, if necessary, keep in refrigerator in the mixing bowl itself with a damp cloth and dinner plate over top, and it keeps well that way overnight. Genius! This was quite a revelation considering I used to throw unused royal icing in the garbage *cringe* after being told it couldn’t be used after day 1.

Assembly of the Fairy Cakes

1. Make your mini fondant ribbon roses: colour approximately 8 ounces of fondant desired colour (I used Sugarflair “Pink”) and seal in small Ziploc-style bag. Remove quarter-size ball from bag and roll out into a long strip 1/8″ onto lightly icing-sugar-dusted surface. Using a pizza cutter, cut out approximately 3″ x 1″ strips, folding each one in half lengthwise and thinning the folded edge slightly by pressing down gently withyour fingertips (you can place a small piece of plastic wrap between the fondant strip and your fingers). Roll the strip fairly tightly until you get a rose-like effect. Trim the underside with a small, sharp knife and set aside to dry.

2. If you would like to include the green leaves, you can either use a small silicone leaf mold, or you can always colour and roll green fondant (I use Sugarflair “Gooseberry” for a more authentic leafy green) 1/8″ thick and simply cut small leaves by hand. Set aside to dry.

2. If you would like pastel fairy cakes, divide your icing into small bowls and colour as desired (since royal icing is pure white, you need very, very little colour, particularly if you want pastel shades).

3.. Holding the cupcake in one hand, add a spoonful of icing onto the cupcake and tilt the cupcake so the icing spreads itself and clings to the sides of the paper liners. You can also use the bottom of the spoon to spread it, but be careful to not get crumbs in the icing. The last thing we want to do is to make the fairies cringe when they see crumby fairy cakes! If you find your icing is too thick, add a bit more water to the bowl of icing.

3. Set each one aside as you finish icing them, and gently add your fondant rose (or any other decoration you may choose) and leaves about a minute after you’ve iced each one. Try to avoid picking them up again until they have completely set (a few hours), or the surface won’t be as smooth as it should be, and will likely crack. I like to place them into a cupcake carrier, as I go, so that when they are complete I can just pop the lid onto the carrier to keep them fresh and to avoid too much handling.

Raspberry Rose Meringues           {click to print}

 

 

 

 

Yield: 28 2″ meringues

Ingredients

3 large egg whites, room temperature

pinch of salt

1 package (3 ounces) Raspberry Jell-O

1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries (optional)

1/4 cup (50 g) sugar

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°F (94°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Grind the sugar and freeze-dried raspberries in a food processor until it reaches a powdery consistency. (If not using freeze-dried raspberries, omit this step and add sugar on its own in step 3.)

3. Place the room temperature egg whites and salt in a grease-free bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until frothy. Add the Jell-O and sugar mixture into the mixing bowl in a steady stream, and turn the mixer speed to med-high, beating until meringue is stiff, thick, and glossy — about 5 minutes.

4. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

5. Place the meringue into a large pastry bag (such as 14″) fitted with 1M pastry tip (or other desired open star tip) and pipe the roses onto the baking sheets. Begin in the middle and, moving outwards, pipe 2 complete circles. Keep roses about 1 1/2″ apart.

6. Bake for 2 hours, then turn off the oven and keep the trays in the oven overnight.

*Store in airtight containers or Ziploc-style bags at room temperature and away from moisture. Trust me!

*Recipe adapted from uTry.it

Petite Ruffle Cakes  

1. Bake and cool your favourite cake recipe in 4′ round cake pans. I used Devil’s Food Layer Cake, from this post. Keeping with the “petite” cake, I used only 2 layers per cake.

2. Make a batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

3. Trim first cake layer so the top is nice and flat (if necessary) and place face up on a 6″ round cake board, or plate. Place 1/2 cup of Swiss Meringue Buttercream(or filling of choice) on top of layer and smoothwith a small offset palette knife. Trim the second layer, and place face down on the cake.

4. Apply a thin layer of Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I don’t recomment using sugary buttercream, but Italian or French Meringue Buttercreamswork nicely as well) over the cake, smoothing top and sides with a small offset palette knife (as you can see, I use this all of the time!) to seal in crumbs and to give the buttercream ruffles something to adhere to.

5. Using the a petal decorating tip of your choice (they come in different sizes, but I use the larger size Wilton #123 or sometimes a smaller size, such as Wilton #104) use the buttercream ruffling technique found in this previous post, complete the cake and serve!

Thanks so much for joining me at my mad(ish) tea party! I hope you enjoyed your visit, and I’ll see you soon with another baking post this coming week!

Good luck & enjoy!

Love, Rosie xo

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