Monday, June 29, 2009

Graduation #3: Sig-O's graduation/Red Velvet Cupcakes

This is the third and last graduation of the graduation season. This is certainly not the least significant graduation, mind you (not that there is a least). My sig-o was graduating! Yep. With two majors and a minor (management). He's going to be displaying two, count them, TWO diplomas in his future office - one in biology and the other in chemistry. I was so happy for him. What a wonderful day I was able to meet most of his immediate family and enjoy two meals with them. I enjoyed getting to know his young cousins and his younger brother.
Since his graduation, about two weeks ago, he has landed a job at the same company I work in, which is such blessing, considering the state of the current economy. We aren't in the same location, however, but we're only about 4 miles apart.

To celebrate this event of my wonderful sig-o who is always there for me and who can almost solve all of my problems, I had to bake something equally as wonderful. I decided to bake a classic red velvet cupcakes recipe with cream cheese buttercream frosting. I chose these because I knew they would not be too sweet, just in case not everyone has as much of a sweet tooth as I do. For a little extra touch, I made some cupcake toppers with a photograph I took of him at Disneyland, complete with graduation cap and ears!
Congratulations again, my dear sig-o!

Red Velvet Cupcakes adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. natural cocoa powder (not Dutched-processed)
2 tbsp. red food coloring
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz.) sugar

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla together. In a small box, mix the cocoa and red food coloring together to a smooth paste.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Beat in the cocoa mixture until the batter is uniform.

4. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined.

5. Pour each cupcake cup 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15-20 minutes, switching and rotating the tins halfway through baking.

6. Let the cupcakes cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting adapted from Sky High

Note: By the time I finished making the frosting, it was slightly soft. I had to chill it in the freezer for a few minutes before I was able to use it on the cupcakes.

12 oz. cream cheese, slighly chilled
1 stick plus 6 tbsp. (7 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar sifted after measuring
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 egg whites

1. Place the cream cheese in a mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1 to 2 tbsp. at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set this aside at room temperature while the buttercream is prepared.

2. To prepare the buttercream, combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

3. Meanwhile, put the egg whites in a mixer bowl and have the mixer set up and ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer to medium-low and begin mixxing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites, taking care not to pour it directly onto the beaters, or it may splash. When all of the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until the egg white mixture has cooled to body temperature and a stiff meringue forms.

4. With the mixer on low speed, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

5. Pipe or spread onto completely cooled cupcakes.

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