Cupcake recipes from my Biltmore Culinary Academy Cupcake Craze Class.

Banana Delight Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
Yields 24 cupcakes approx.

3 cups cake flour, sifted
1½ tsp.  baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed about 2 cups
¾ cup buttermilk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup pecans, or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Method of Preparation:
•    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake trays with paper liners.
•    Whisk together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
•    In another bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk and vanilla.
•    With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
•    Add eggs at room temperature one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, and scrape down sides of bowl to make sure batter is mixing well.
•    Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the banana mixture, and beating until just combined after each addition while being careful not to over mix.
•    If adding chopped pecans, stir them in by hand.
•    Divide batter evenly among lined cups (using an ice cream scoop of about 1 ½ oz or 3 Tbsp. works perfect), filling each cup ¾ of the way full (1 scoop).
•    Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, rotate if necessary. Bake until cake tester inserted comes out clean (about 20 minutes max).
•    Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing the cupcakes.

Caramel Buttercream

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups (3 sticks/12 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method of Preparation
•    Combine ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. of sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Stop stirring, and cook until syrup becomes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming.
•    Continue to boil, gently and carefully swirling pan occasionally to color evenly until mixture is dark amber color. Be careful not to burn otherwise will have to start all over. Remove sugar from heat; add cream in a steady stream while mixing (mixture will splatter), stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth and combined. Let cool.
•    With an electric mixer on medium –high speed, cream butter until pale and fluffy. In the heatproof bowl of the stand mixer combine remaining ½ cup of sugar and the egg whites.
•    Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk sugar mixture constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch an sugar has dissolved ( the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingers).
•    Attach bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium high speed, whip sugar mixture until stiff but not dry peaks form. Continue mixing until egg mixture is fluffy, glossy and completely cool to the touch (about 10 minutes).
•    In the mean time, cream butter in a separate bowl.
•    Reduce speed to medium-low. Add butter, about ¼ cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla, mix for about 1 minute.
•    Turn mixer off, switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, very slowly pour in caramel mixture; beat 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, and continue to beat until caramel if fully incorporated.
•    Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again.

Tres Leches Cupcakes
Yields: 20 cupcakes

6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp coarse salt
1 cup sugar
4oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted

Tres Leches cream
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
¾ heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla

Frosting
1 ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2/3 cups water
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
6 large eggs whites, room temperature

Method of Preparation
•    Preheat over at 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper-lined foil liners (liners must be foil liners!!).
•    With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together egg whites, baking soda and salt until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low.
•    Add yolks and sugar; whisk until completely combined.
•    Fold in melted butter with a flexible spatula. Add flour in four batches, folding until just combined after each addition.
•    Divide batter evenly among lined cups filling each half way. Bake until light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately poke holes in tops of cupcakes with a skewer.
•    While cupcakes are baking, whisk together all of the ingredients for the tres leches. With cupcakes still in tins, brush tres leches mixture over cupcakes, repeating until all liquid has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb mixture for at least 30 minutes.
•    Top with frosting and serve chilled.
To make frosting:
•    Combine 1½ cup of sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees F.
•    Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form.
•    With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, beating to combine.
•    As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 F, remove from heat. With mixer on medium low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium high; whisk until mixture is completely cool to the touch and stiff but not dry peaks form, about 7 minutes. use immediately.

Coconut variation: add ½ teaspoon of pure coconut extract at the end of step 4, whisking to combine.

Peanut Butter- Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

2/3 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter cut into small pieces
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Filling
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Method of Preparation
•    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
•    Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
•    Put butter and chocolates in a heat proof bowl set over ( not in contact with water) a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Remove from heat, allow to slightly cool.
•    Whisk granulated sugar into cooled chocolate mixture. Add eggs, whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.
•    Spoon 2 tablespoons of chocolate batter into each lined cup, followed by 1 tablespoon of peanut butter filling. Repeat with another tablespoon of batter, and top with 1 teaspoon of filling. Swirl top of cupcake batter and filling with a wooden skewer or toothpick.
•    Bake until cake tester inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached (about 40 minutes).
•    Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
•    To make filling: stir together all of ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
Yields: 5 cups
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch –process cocoa powder
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. boiling water
12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 lb. best quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Method of Preparation
•    Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved, reserve.
•    With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter, confectioner’s sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low.
•    Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
•    Beat in cocoa mixture. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container.
•    Before using, bring to room temperature; beat on low speed until smooth again.

Pumpkin Harvest Cupcakes
Yields: 30 cupcakes approx

4 cups cake flour (not self –rising), sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup/8 oz), room temperature
2 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

To decorate:
Cream Cheese frosting
8 oz Marzipan
Orange and green food coloring

To decorate like a Turkey:
Swiss meringue buttercream or cream cheese frosting
5 Tbsp semi sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
24 large marshmallows
Mini gummy fish in fall colors (yellow, red, orange)
Long chocolate sprinkles
1 lb. sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Method of Preparation:
For cupcakes:
•    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
•    Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
•    With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
•    Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is well incorporated, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed.
•    Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until just combined.
•    Add pumpkin puree until just combined.
•    Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each ¾ full.
•    Bake until golden brown for about 15 to 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
•    Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely.

To decorate:
•    If using cream cheese frosting, use an offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Top each with a marzipan pumpkin.
•    To make marzipan pumpkins: tint two thirds marzipan orange with gel past food color. Tint remaining marzipan green for leaves.
•    Using a small rolling pin, roll out green marzipan to about 1/8 inch thickon a work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch; use a mini leaf cutter to cut out leaf shapes.
•    With the palm of your hands, roll bits of orange and green marzipan together into small ropes, cut and shape to form the stems of the pumpkins.
•    Shape pieces of orange marzipan into ¾ inch balls. Use a toothpick to poke holes in tops of balls and press creases along outer edges from top to bottom. Attach leaves and stems to tops.
•    Place on top of frosted cupcakes.

To make turkeys:
•    With a flexible spatula, fold melted and cooled chocolate into butter cream. Use an offset spatula to spread buttercream over cupcakes in a smooth layer.
•    Lightly coat marshmallows with meringue and then dip them in ground, toasted coconut.
•    With a wet toothpick, poke two holes in each coconut marshmallow; insert chocolate sprinkles for eyes.
•    Cut 12 orange gummy fish in half; push one half into each marshmallow for a beak.
•    Press marshmallows heads onto cupcakes.
•    Press 5 more gummies fish into each cupcake to make tail feathers.
•    Sprinkle toasted coconut over cupcake to cover completely to make it look like feathers.

Oreo cupcake with White Chocolate
Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: 18 cupcakes

1 and 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup (1stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup half and half or light cream
1 cup coarsely crushed Oreo cookies

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. good quality (at least 60% cocoa butter) white chocolate, broken into pieces
¾ cup cream cheese, softened, cut into pieces
6 Tbsp. (¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature cut into pieces
Miniature Oreo cookies or crushed Oreos for decoration

Method Of Preparation
•    Preheat oven at 350 degrees F., line muffin tins with paper liner.
•    Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
•    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
•    Add vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and half and half or cream ad beat until batter is smooth. Fold in crushed cookies.
•    Spoon batter into cupcakes liners, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 -25 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool over wire rack.
•    To make frosting: in a microwave or double boiler, melt white chocolate until smooth and creamy, just a few minutes. it should be just warm to the touch.
•    Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and beat again until smooth.
•    Use frosting immediately or it will harden. Press in miniature cookies or sprinkle generously the rushed ones while frosting still soft.

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