Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cherry Filling

As much as I enjoy cooking, doing as little work as possible often holds enormous appeal. I don’t normally buy cakes and cake mixes, but feel no guilt in doing so if I’m tired or not in the mood to produce a special-occasion dessert. 

Today’s Vanilla Cupcakes with Cherry Filling meet all of the above criteria, but with a touch of fun. I am the proud owner of a “cupcake corer,” which cuts a perfectly centered hole in any standard-sized cupcake. Fill this newly created crater at the cupcake’s center with mmm … melted chocolate or jam or fruit filling or lemon curd or just about anything you like. 

My cupcake corer is seriously cool. I have no idea how much I paid for it, but it had to be under $10, because I’m sure I wouldn’t shell out more for a gizmo like this, having never before had the urge to drill a cupcake (stifle, Dollinks; cheeky comments dont become you).

Although the teaser photo in yesterday’s brief blog showed me clutching a couple of branded products, go ahead and use any brands you like and everything will still turn out fine. No cupcake corer? Poke a little hole into the cupcake with a thimble, or use a grapefruit knife to scoop a small hole from its center. 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cherry Filling:

One 16-oz. (461 g) pkg white cake mix
Partial contents of a can of cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. (Cupcakes and cakes baked in dark, non-stick pans require just 325 deg. F.) Place Valentine-themed or red paper liners into cupcake or muffin pans (see Note). Prepare cake mix as directed, using egg whites, oil, and water. While packaged cake mixes generally offer reliable baking times, I divided my batter into three portions, producing 8 standard-sized cupcakes (baking time, 30 min.), 12 mini-cupcakes (baking time, 20 min.), and a small, heart-shaped cake (baking time, 22-to-25 min.) 

Lacking a heart-shaped cake pan, I made the cake in a greased-and-floured metal jelly mold. Although the mold held 3 c. (750 mL) by volume, I poured in just 1-½ c. of batter, until the pan was half-full. The baked cake rose near the top of the pan. 

When the cupcakes were completely cool, I had some fun coring the standard-sized batch, filling the resulting hole with 2 or 3 tsp. cherry filling. Some cupcakes, I frosted fully; some, I frosted only partially, exposing some of the cherry filling. This was about as much excitement as I could stand in the hours leading up to Valentine’s Day, so the next thing on my agenda was a bubble bath. No rest for the wicked, as they say ...

Note: I spray-oiled my liners, with the result that the papers pulled away from the cupcakes. While that’s to be appreciated if you use plain liners, I’d paid a premium for decorative ones and lost some of their effect when I spray-oiled them. Next time, I won’t grease the liners when I bake white cupcakes. 

I’ve found that the color of chocolate cupcakes bleeds through expensive, decorative liners. A professional baker suggests baking dark-colored cupcakes in plain liners and later popping them into the fancier ones, but I haven’t tried that and don’t know how well it might work. Any suggestions?

Choose gaily themed paper ...

... or colorful foil pan liners

Fill standard-sized cupcake pans about 2/3 up ...

Mini-cupcakes a little higher ...

And cake pans about 1/2 full.

I sifted confectioners' sugar over this small cake ...

And cored and filled the standard-sized cupcakes.

Frosting will disguise any minor fruit over-fills. 

And there we are!

Beautiful to see, beautiful to eat!

I iced these cupcakes with pink-tinted Pastel Palette Frost, a recipe I’ve used and enjoyed for years. This frosting recipe uses red berry-flavored jelly powder: It’s the color that counts for Valentine’s Day! The recipe’s in the post immediately below this one.

Before I love you and leave you, take a gander at this little cupcake and what she’s learned to say at a very early age!

Tomorrow’s recipe for Ruby Slipper Cake also uses a cake mix and red jelly powder. I’m bound for culinary hell, and loving every minute of it!

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