PLEASE EXCUSE MY APPEARANCE, I’M BEING RE-VAMPED.

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Bolder, Better

December 7, 2009

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The saying goes, “All good things must come to an end”. Okay, so perhaps this isn’t the best of times to announce that Rubber Pants will be going on a short hiatus. After all, the holidays are upon us, this week’s cupcake was supposed to be the Crème Brûlée Cupcake, and the obvious: there’s just never too many cupcakes to go around. However, after much deliberation, I have decided that Rubber Pants is in need of greater development and subsequently, a little time to grow.

Just seven months ago, I ventured into the world of cupcake-making. Before I knew it, my love for cupcakes catapulted into a fraction of a business. I say ‘fraction’ because it’s still in the process of becoming its own business.

Through word-of-mouth, Rubber Pants has gained its current clients, catering corporate parties, weddings, and other special events. However, it’s time to take the next steps in making Rubber Pants a successful business.

A look into the past: Peach Cobbler Cupcakes with shortbread bottoms and sweet peaches.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes, another Rubber Pants favourite.

Raved by friends, family, and clients is this sticky treat: the Candy Apple Cupcake.

One of the first steps is changing this blog. Starting today, rubberpants.wordpress.com will be going on hiatus and a new website will be constructed in its place. The new website will be more business-friendly, with information on what I do, how I do it, and how you can take advantage of that. Bottom line, it will be more accessible than the current blog site.

Other factors that weigh in for the changes of Rubber Pants include the fact that it is indeed the holidays (a busy time of year!), but also exam period. I’m in my final year of my undergrad studies, so it’s a little hectic trying to stay in tune with my Cupcake Challenge on top of assignments and studying.

So like I said, perhaps this ‘break’, as we shall call it, is coming at just the right time. I hope that you will continue on this journey with me, as Rubber Pants becomes bolder and better.

Ladies and gentleman, friends and foes, here’s to a future full of cupcakes!

Stay tuned for a new and improved Rubber Pants Cupcakes.

Nonna Maria

December 1, 2009

During my post-Cupcake Camp Montreal research, I stumbled across a YouTube video, featuring the adorable Nonna Maria. In the video, Nonna Maria speaks to the Camp’s judges, tries out some cupcakes, and gets a belly ache. Shes cute, she’s sociable, she’s a puppet. Click here to watch the video and join me as I sob myself to sleep for missing Cupcake Camp Montreal 2009. The cupcakes look like they were delicious!

 

Poutine Cupcakes from Cupcake Camp Montreal.

Poutine Cupcake from Cupcake Camp Montreal '09.

And that is it for my shortest blog post ever. It’s quality, not quantity. Right, folks?

Big Kid Cake

November 26, 2009

As a kid, my Mom used to buy large slab cakes from Costco for me and my siblings’ birthdays. We’d always have big parties, so we needed a big cake to serve all of the guests, and Costco’s cakes were large and a cost friendly. We would get either vanilla or chocolate cake with a vanilla pudding filling (not going to lie, I wasn’t a huge fan of the pudding filling), with oodles of frosting layered on top. My favourite part of getting Costco cakes was having leftovers for months! Even with tons of kids to feed, we always had leftovers.

One year when I was…oh, I don’t know, 12 (?) my Mom insisted I get a Black Forest cake from Costco instead of  one of their standard birthday cakes. You know, I was getting older – more of a lady, if you will – and so something like a Black Forest cake was a little more ‘grown-up’ or sophisticated than plain ol’ chocolate or vanilla cake.

Like the standard birthday cakes, the Black Forest cake was a slab cake with filling and loads of frosting. More specifically, Costco’s cake was chocolate with cherry filling, whipped cream frosting, tons of chocolate shavings, and of course, the cherries on top! What 12-year-old girl was going to say no to something so sweet, so pretty, so delectably delicious looking? Not me. No way, no how.

So, to this day, Black Forest cake has remained in my memory as a cake of my childhood. After my twelfth birthday, I remember we continued to choose Black Forest cakes from Costco, rather than the usual chocolate or vanilla. Thus, it became a tradition, a part of celebrating my birthday each year.

Since moving away from home, however, I have not celebrated with Black Forest cake, and what a shame that is. I still think Black Forest cake is delicious – especially if made properly, and Costco is no competition – yet you just never see it anywhere but the grocery store. That’s not a bad thing, but I always wonder why that is. Why isn’t it served at restaurants? A fancier version of the Black Forest cake perhaps? Or what about Black Forest Cupcakes? I don’t see those anywhere. Has anybody made those?

Well, I’m sure someone somewhere has made Black Forest Cupcakes, but friends, now it’s my turn. This childhood memory is about to become a cupcake reality. I present to you: dark chocolate cake, cherry filling, topped with whipped cream frosting, chocolate shavings, and a cherry on top! Just as the Black Forest cake does, these cupcakes do too!

 

Cherry anyone?

Cherry-filled!

 

For my cakes, I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe. I then filled the cakes with cherry pie filling (I used store-bought filling, but you could make your own), topped them with vanilla frosting, then a sprinkle of chocolate shavings, a couple of cherries on top, and a chocolate decal. The result? Well, they taste as good as they look.

Next Week’s Challenge: Crème Brûlée Cupcakes

400 Live

November 23, 2009

It started off as cupcakes. Actually, it started off as Zucchini Munchkins in the spring of this year. Now, now it’s cake balls. Apparently.

One of my favourite instructors at the spin studio I go to approached me several weeks ago with a cupcake request. She knew I made cupcakes and so asked if I would do the cupcakes for her wedding. Excited, I obviously accepted, but then later found out that the bride’s mother had already confirmed cupcakes with another baker. The bride, disappointed that she couldn’t serve my cupcakes – I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want my cupcakes at their wedding! –  wanted to include me in the wedding somehow. So, when asked if I “…do anything else?”, I replied with “Cake Balls”.

It’s true. The one thing that I’ve made other than cupcakes (within the past several months) are cake balls: bite-size morsels of velvety cake, enrobed in a silky chocolate dress.

And it couldn’t have been more perfect. The bride needed wedding favours, and what better favour than a truffle box with custom-made cake balls? Okay. Cool. Done. That was it. Cake balls it was going to be. Four hundred to be exact.

 

Pink cake crumbs ready for frosting and to be rolled into bite-size balls.

Waiting for the chocolate bath.

They just kept on piling up.

This weekend, I set out to make 400 cake balls, two per guest. The wedding palette is hot pink and purple. I decided to make two contrasting cake balls, a dark chocolate and a white chocolate. The dark chocolate would encapsulate bright pink vanilla cake, while white chocolate would conceal a dark chocolate cake. No purple, but pretty nonetheless.

Well, the cake balls were a success. Over the course of four days (not four entire days, but bits and pieces of each day), I whipped up 400 wonderful cake balls and had them delivered to the bride for packaging. The wedding is this coming Saturday, and my boyfriend and I have been invited to the party, so I’ll be sure to check out my cake balls in what the bride has chosen to present them in: little gold boxes with pink ribbon.

 

One half of the cake balls.

Inside a dark chocolate cake ball.

I can’t wait! I’m excited to see my cake balls in action. This will be the first time I will actually get to see my ordered cupcakes/cake balls enjoyed by the client. And there’s no doubt about it,  my favourite part of baking is witnessing the sheer enjoyment of those tasting it.

Cupcake Camp: Abort

November 17, 2009

Ahhhhh!! It’s coming! Only one week away from an afternoon of free cupcakes, mingling with other cupcake lovers, and all for a good cause, Kids Help Phone. But if you can believe it…I’m no longer going to be there. Dead silence.

I’ve been looking forward to my very first Cupcake Camp since the day I found out such an event existed – for months, months!! And now, I’m not going to go. How can I reason not going to Cupcake Camp? Oh, the reasons.

 

 

First, my bus ticket to and from Montréal would cost just over $80. Okay, not bad. However, I was going to leave at midnight on Saturday, arrive early Sunday morning, spend the day exploring Montréal and attending Cupcake Camp, only to hop back on a bus at 9 o’clock on Sunday evening. Talk about driving yourself into a deep hole of exhaustion. Traveling can be tiring. But if that’s not enough, my next reason for not going is simple and sweet: Cake. Balls. 400. Four hundred cake balls. Excuse me?

Friends of mine are getting married in a week and a half and have asked me to make 400 cake balls as party favours for their guests. Four hundred is a big number, but it’s not too big for me. I just figure that a trip to Montréal (there and back) in 24 hours might be a little exhausting, especially with work and school on top of everything..will I really want to come home and make balls out of cake? Unlikely.

Finally, last January was Cupcake Camp Toronto, so I’m crossing my fingers for another one early in the new year. That’s only…a few months away, right? I can hold out just a wee bit longer, no?

So, being the good girl I am, I’ve decided to save the $80 I would’ve spent on my bus fare and to spend next weekend baking cupcakes and making cake balls. And maybe crying a little too. Just kidding. I really do think I’m making the best decision by saving the money I would have spent on bus fare (and a taxi cab too!), and by not stressing myself with limited time to make cake balls. And just think, now I have Cupcake Camp Toronto to look forward to. Right?

But enough about me, how about you?! If you are in the Montréal area, I’d highly recommend checking out Cupcake Camp this coming Sunday. Go! Enjoy yourself. And fill me in with all of the juicy details!

This Week’s Challenge: Black Forest Cupcakes

Welcome to Boston

November 9, 2009

It’s layered, it’s cream-filled, and it’s chocolate all in one. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Boston cream pie – er…except it’s the cupcake version. Obviously.

 

I keep my promises. I live up to my challenges. And this past week’s challenge of Boston Cream Cupcakes was no different. If you’ve been following, you’ll know that the cakes are a little overdue because I got sidetracked when I stumbled across phyllo pastry in my freezer and insisted on making Baklava Cupcakes instead. But do not fear, the cakes are here. And unless I’m crazy, they’re here to stay. These babies are b-e-a-utiful! And delicious too.

Most people have a pretty good idea of what Boston cream pie is, so I’m not going to get into the sweet details. That said, it’s a dessert that I don’t see around too much anymore. The only thing you ever hear about that’s close to Boston cream pie are Boston cream doughnuts. But what a great combination: vanilla cake, a custard or cream filling, and frosted with chocolate. The best part is that it’s not that difficult to make.

I’ve seen a lot of Boston Cream Cupcakes, many of which follow Martha’s style, which is illustrated below. For my Boston Cream Cupcakes, I wanted to keep things simple with the classic Boston cream pie elements of cake, cream, and chocolate, but also wanted to put my own twist on the cakes.

 

marthacupcake

Martha's version of the Boston Cream Cupcake.

 

I started with my go-to vanilla cake recipe. Then, I filled them with pastry cream (or crème pâtissière). On a side note, it was the first time I ever made pastry cream, but it turned out perfectly. I recommend checking out the Joy of Baking website for a great and simple recipe. For the tops of the cakes, I prepared a light chocolate buttercream and then dipped each cake into a pool of glossy chocolate ganache glaze (you know, to keep with the traditional Boston cream pie look). For ganache recipes, the Joy of Baking has a recipe and so does Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book. However, I found a recipe on the Food Network website that only uses two ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream. The fewest ingredients, the easiest to make, plus it looks and tastes great too!

 

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Chocolate Ganache Glaze

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Drum roll, please! The finished product.

 

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Okay, so I usually don’t fall for following exact recipes, but I had never made pastry cream before, nor chocolate ganache glaze, so I wasn’t about to try my own version. For the future though, perhaps I’ll be able to create my own recipes. Regardless, these cakes are beautiful and delicious. If you’re looking for an exciting dessert to serve dinner guests, something that’s not store-bought but looks and tastes fantastic, try making Boston Cream Cupcakes. And heck, don’t do what I did. You can’t go wrong with creamy filling and shiny chocolate finishes anyway. Get creative and make your own!

 

Special Note: Due to my involvement in a conference next weekend, the Cupcake Challenge will be suspended for one week. Wha?! Perhaps that’s why I made two this week. Just maybe.

 

Remember That Time

November 8, 2009

All right, I know, for this week’s challenge I was supposed to be baking Boston Cream Cupcakes. No need to worry, they’re still on the way. However, yesterday when I set out to make Boston Cream Cupcakes, I came across phyllo pastry in my freezer. And it  was calling me. Just thaw me, slather me with butter, and bake me until I’m crisp. That’s what it was saying, I swear.  So, I took a detour and instead of making pastry cream, I set out to make gooey nut filling and crispy phyllo triangles. The result? Baklava Cupcakes.

 

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Sugary sweet Baklava Cupcakes.

 

As a little girl – or not so little, I had quite the chubby phase as a kid! – I had a real sweet tooth and so obviously it was love at first bite when I sunk my teeth into  syrup-slathered crispy phyllo layers with gooey nut filling. If you like sweet things, you’ll love baklava. For more on baklava, check out this link.  

The first time I tasted baklava was around Christmas. Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are over, stores and streetsides are filling up with Christmas decorations. I’ve even started listening to Christmas tunes. I know, ridiculous. So as I settle into the Christmas season, I wanted to make a dessert that reminded me of the holidays. In cupcake form, of course.

For my Baklava Cupcakes, I started with my vanilla cake for the base. Then, I made a sweet nut filling mixing roasted walnuts, hazelnuts, and spices with a sugar and honey syrup. I filled the cakes with the nut mixture, topped the cakes with vanilla buttercream, more nut filling, and a crispy phyllo pastry triangle.

 

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Ready for gooey filling!

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Flavour with ground spices or whole cinnamon sticks.

 

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I love this cupcake for all its sexy layers.

Tips & Tricks:  The decorating process for these cakes is a quick one. The nut filling will quickly harden as it cools, so make sure to apply it to the cakes when it’s still warm and gooey.

M. Stewart

October 31, 2009

She seems perfect, but as we’ve learned over the years, she isn’t. I’m talking about Martha Stewart, of whom I am a huge fan. Okay, not as big of fan as some people I know, but perhaps that’s because for many years, I was a closet Martha Stewart fan.

It started when I was 8 or 9. I watched Martha Stewart Living everyday and was fascinated with everything that Martha said or did. All for one reason: EVERYTHING SHE DOES IS SO PERFECT. It’s reason to dislike someone really. But with Martha, it’s different. She’s not perfect. Many of her ideas aren’t hers at all. She’s a thief, a stealer, a burglar in the night. She and her furry Chow Chows and half a dozen Persian cats. Yes, I make fun, and I still love her.

While many of Martha’s ideas, tips, recipes, whatever, are passed on from other sources, there’s something about Martha that exudes pleasure. Maybe it’s the guilty pleasure of taking from others. Yikes. The pictures on her website are beautiful, the on-set kitchen used for her television shows is the dream kitchen; she has really good taste, whether it’s colour palette or architecture. She’s a business woman, and she’s done well for herself. I mean, there’s people everywhere – just like me – who cringe at Martha, but can’t help love the lady at the same time. She’s the blonde bombshell of home living.

 

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

                                                                                      

Ever since I began watching Martha Stewart on television, I have been inspired by her ideas (whether her own or stolen). A few months ago, my boyfriend bought me the recipe book, Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. I love recipe books and the Cooking section is always my first stop at any Chapters or Indigo bookstore. However, I never end up buying anything. I’m always too cheap, and just tell myself I can find it online – which is often true. When my boyfriend surprised me with Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, I couldn’t say no. That said, I also didn’t want the book to interfere with my own cupcake adventures, which began at the beginning of last summer. I read the book front to back, back to front, and then again for extra information. There’s some great tips in the book, but I refused to let myself follow any of the recipes. To this day, I still haven’t used any of the books exact recipes. I’ve always adjusted something, changed a measurement.

 

Roasted sweet potatoes ready for a spin in the mixer!

Roasted sweet potatoes ready for a spin in the mixer!

 

For today’s cupcake – the last cupcake for the month of October – I wanted to make sweet potato-flavoured cupcakes, more specifically Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes. You know, something to tie in with all of the festivities this time of the year: Thanksgiving, Halloween. In Martha’s book, there’s exactly that recipe (which is where I got the idea from), but as I’ve always done, I didn’t follow this recipe. Instead, I made my own. I used my go-to vanilla cake recipe as the base, but added roasted sweet potatoes and some spices. For the tops, I did do what Martha does and made a marshmallow topping: brown, crisp, and with candied pecans.

 

No sweet tooth? Then maybe these are for you. The cake is mostly sweetened by roasted sweet potatoes and a small mound of marshmallows adds just an extra touch of sweetness. Sweet.

The cake is sweetened mostly by roasted sweet potatoes and the small mound of marshmallows adds just an extra touch of sweetness. Sweet.

 

Okay, so they don’t look as pretty as Martha’s, but they’re mine. And they’re delicious (I couldn’t resist!)

Serve warm with a plain cup of tea or warm milk.

Serve warm with a plain cup of tea or warm milk.

Tips & Tricks: Next time, I think I would use more all-purpose flour in my ap flour to cake flour ratio. These cakes had a little too delicate of a crumb to be very sturdy with all of the sweet potato. Less cake flour and more ap flour should fix this problem.

 

Next Week’s Challenge: Boston Cream Cupcakes

Holy Cow, Caramel

October 24, 2009

I’m starting to believe that no matter what it is you add caramel to, it’s bound to taste delicious

There’s a drink that several of my friends order whenever they’re at a coffee shop: the caramel macchiato. I’ve only ever had a sip of this drink, and although I’ll always retreat back to my green tea or chai lattes, I’ll admit that this too is a delicious option.

Since the temperatures have dropped (or not…crazy global warming!) I’ve been all about the hot beverages: different types of teas, steamed milk…and every now and then, good ol’ coffee. Sipping something hot on a chilly autumn day is comforting. Soothing, calming. So for this week’s cupcake, what better way to keep things calm (with my October theme of piping hot beverages) than by creating yet another cupcake representative of a caffeine-saturated (or sometimes not) drink, the caramel macchiato.

For some reason, I was really excited to make this cupcake. All week, I’ve been anticipating its execution. Yeah, I know, I’m insane. But it’s true! I mean the anticipation part, not the bit about me being insane. All week, I was thinking about how I was going to create a caramel macchiato in the form of a cupcake.

 

Half-vanilla and half-espresso, light and fluffy Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes.

Half-vanilla and half-espresso, light and fluffy Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes.

 

Not reiterating what the Starbucks website says or anything, but a caramel macchiato is a creamy mix of vanilla and freshly steamed milk marked with intense espresso, topped with velvety foam and buttery caramel sauce. Holy moly. Sounds like a day at the spa, but for a milky beverage – or in my case, for cupcakes.

Okay, rewind. So, this one time I made Espresso Cupcakes. They were good, but they weren’t great. There wasn’t enough espresso flavour. They were chocolate with coffee, topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream cream cheese frosting and a chocolate covered espresso bean. No espresso in the cake whatsoever. Had I used espresso in the cake itself, I think the espresso flavour would have been stronger. Brewed coffee can only do so much. 

 

Dripping with caramel.

Dripping with caramel.

 

For the Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Instead, I used espresso: 3 parts to 1 water. Perfection. I made a batch of my vanilla cake batter and a batch of espresso-flavoured batter. Once the cakes were baked, I scooped out a hole in the tops and filled them with part caramel, part vanilla buttercream, which then overflowed onto the crowns of the cakes. After a few quick squiggles of caramel and a chocolate decal and there you have it! Caramel making yet another appearance, and a good one at that.

 

Make your own chocolate decals and choose whatever designs you like!

Make your own chocolate decals and choose whatever designs you like!

 Tips & Tricks: Next time, to make my caramel have a thicker consistency, I would add light corn syrup. It will act as a thickening agent, and then the squiggles of caramel will stay put rather than slowly dissolve or separate as they did for these cakes.