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Monday, April 13, 2015

How to ship cupcakes and cakes in the mail!

It can be complicated and costly sending cupcakes to a loved one in the mail (or sad if the cupcake makes it there but is smashed). I even have a cousin who rides his bike everywhere and wants a way to transport his cupcakes by bike without the frosting getting how do we solve this problem?!
I call one of my solutions to this cupcake shipping problem "Cupcake Kaleidoscopes!"  Some may call these "cupcakes in a jar" but I call them "cupcake kaleidoscopes" because the cupcakes look extra pretty from the outside and you can stare in awe at every enticingly beautiful angle before diving in.  You stack them inside the jar like a layer cake.The cupcakes are already baked and cooled before stacking them inside the jar.
Order from bottom inside:  sprinkles♥frosting♥cake♥sprinkles♥frosting♥cake♥frosting♥sprinkles!

As long as you pack the cupcake kaleidoscopes tightly in bubble wrap and popcorn before boxing them up, the cupcakes shouldn't get smashed in transit!

In addition to cake & frosting, for interest, you can sprinkle a bunch of fun surprises inside-like cookies, candies, candy bars, fillings, caramel, peanut butter cup gems, rainbow confetti sprinkles, edible glitter. Textures and shapes are what define a kaleidoscope! I like to add edible surprises to the bottom of the jar, just like the extra fudge or caramel on the bottom of a sundae!


You could send..

A cupcake in a can! I made these on TV recently, Fox 11 Living With Amy

 You start out with a can like this (preferably one with a flip tab on the top).
To prepare the cans for baking, remove the paper from your empty can.  Keep this paper if possible-you can use it as a template to make a decorative wrapper for the outside of the can.  Remove the bottom "lid" from the can with a can opener.   Do not remove the top lid part that has the flip tab.  The magical thing is that the person who receives your cupcake as a gift can open the top with the flip tab like it is the first time the can has ever been opened.  They will wonder how you fit the cupcake inside!  Do not throw away the bottom lid piece that you just removed.  You will be using decorative duct tape or shipping tape to re-tape the bottom piece onto the can after the cupcake / cake has been baked inside the can and decorated.  Grease and flour the inside of the can.

Fill the inside of each can about half full with cupcake batter and set on a baking sheet, or a baking sheet with mini holes on the bottom for better circulation.  You could also bake these directly on your oven rack, but make sure you only fill halfway or batter will explode all over your oven! Bake at 325 for about 28 minutes.

This is what they look like after they are baked. Mini cakes!

Once your cake in a can has cooled, you can remove it from the can.
Cut the cake with a serrated knife so it is level, or you can cut into different "layers".
Sprinkle sprinkles inside of what will be the "top" of your can.
(You have to think backwards here)...

Swirl frosting on top of the sprinkles.
Set your cake back inside of the can..
For a surprise, you can put fillings or frostings on what will be the "bottom" or in between cut cake layers before you seal the can shut.  Remember that lid you removed before? Seal this back on your can using decorative duct tape. Your can is closed.

Flip the can right side up now and it'll be such a magical surprise inside!
You can decorate the outside of the cans! Use the wrapper from a can as a pattern/template and cut different cardstock prints out to use as decorative wrappers for your cake in can. I used double stick tape to stick these patterned "wrappers" to the cans.  I also like tying bonus gifts to the can! Bows and ribbons and spoons to dig in!

Hint:  I use USPS Priority Mail 2 Day Express, Regional Rate Box A to ship these little cupcakes and cakes in a can. (the boxes are free and the shipping is pretty reasonable).  This box size fits two jars that cuddle up right next to each other after they are wrapped in bubble wrap.

There are other options case you want to enjoy your cake in a can more locally..
(this was a screenshot from my video guest appearance on Fox 11 Living With Amy, thank you Amy Hanten!)  As pictured here... you don't have to put the cake back in the can.  You can use your cake in a can as a mini smash cake or a fun cake to decorate at parties. Can you imagine making a bunch of these for a cupcake decorating party and setting them in the center of a painter's palette??  Every one would get to decorate their very own "mini cake" with frosting and sprinkles! 

Happy Baking!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Red Velvet Cross Cupcakes ♥

I know it may sound super silly to some, but I believe that my mission in life is to share love to you through my cupcakes.

I break off pieces of my glittery heart and bake them inside everything I create.
(This hand drawn art is by Andrea Bills of Wisconsin, we are creating illustrations like this one for a children's book I am writing, more info here)

Before I made cupcakes, I was looking into doing philanthropist/missions work and traveling the world to help others, but my little God whisper told me to wait. That there was something else planned for me. So I did. I stopped and was still.  A year later.. I changed my name to Amanda Cupcake. 

So even if it seems quiet, you may want to listen to that inner whisper of yours. You never know where it will lead. My cupcakes are little philanthropists, healing hearts and making people smile.

So I thought this Easter I'd share a piece of Heaven with you:

Red Velvet Cross Cupcakes for Easter
I chose red velvet cupcakes for this blog because red is very symbolic to the true meaning of Easter.  To make your own red velvet cupcakes, see the recipe at the end of this blog. ♥
To make the chocolate crosses you will need:
♥1 cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper
♥1 bag of dark chocolate candy melts (I like Make N Mold)
♥1 disposable piping bag
♥1 pair of scissors
♥A microwave proof bowl
♥...and a microwave!

1.  Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. If you are not a freehand drawer with melted chocolate-sketch as many little crosses as you want to make on a sheet of parchment paper in advance.  These will be your cross templates!
3..  Open the bag of candy melts and dump into microwave proof bowl.
4.  Melt the candy melt wafers in your microwave, in 30 second increments. Stir in between increments. Do not over microwave or the candy melts will burn and get lumpy/impossible to work with.
5.  Once candy melts are smooth and warm, pour into your disposable piping bag. Cut a tiny hole at the end of your disposable piping bags. Using even pressure, pipe the melted chocolate onto your parchment paper in the shape of crosses.
6.  Once you have sketched all your crosses, place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to make sure they harden. ♥ Place on top of your cupcakes like pictured above.

You can do the same thing, but draw hearts to symbolize "LOVE" out of red candy melts instead like my red velvet heart cupcakes! They look extra pretty with fudge frosting.  (see recipe below)

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe,  for perfect cream cheese frosting swirls like these:
1 Cup softened butter
1 Cup softened cream cheese
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 Cup whole milk or heavy whipping cream
Appx 10 Cups of powdered sugar

Cream Butter, Cream Cheese, Milk, Vanilla and Heavy Whipping Cream using flat beater attachment in a stand mixer.  Gradually add powdered sugar until frosting peaks when touched.  To achieve heavenly frosting swirls like these, I used a 1A decorating tip (it has a large round hole at the end of it for the dreamiest of cupcake swirls).

Red Velvet Fudge Frosting, for perfect frosting swirls on top of red velvet cupcakes like these:
1 Cup softened butter
3/4 Cup of Hershey's Cocoa
1/4 Cup Buttermilk (just like what's in your red velvet cupcake)!
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 cups powdered sugar

Cream Butter, Buttermilk, Cocoa, Vanilla Extract together using flat beater attachment in stand mixer.  Gradually add powdered sugar until you reach desired texture for piping fluffy swirls on top of red velvet cupcakes.  To achieve these flufy frosting swirls, I used a 1M decorating tip!

Bake-At-Home Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe, makes about 18 cupcakes.

My favorite red velvet cupcake recipe is from scratch, and I use one from scratch to sell my cupcakes at grocery stores.  However.. I came up with this easy bake at home version that you can try too that is pretty close to the authentic red velvet flavor you'll get in a from-scratch cupcake! You can even use the cream cheese frosting recipe above to make "Double Red Velvet" Cupcakes. Just replace the milk in the recipe with buttermilk and add Americolor Red Gel Paste to achieve the bright red color in the frosting! I used silver sugar crystalz as the glitter on the cupcake ♥  You can top any of the frosting swirls with the chocolate crosses or red hearts that you made.
Start with:  
1 box white cake mix
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 box of dry white chocolate instant pudding (3.9/4 oz)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
4-6 tablespoons of Americolor Super Red Gel Color Paste

..and Bake!:
1.  Preheat oven to 325 and line cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers.
2.  Sift  white cake mix, cocoa, pudding in big bowl, set aside. (I like Betty Crocker the best)!
3.  Measure 1 1/2 cups buttermilk in liquid measuring cup, set aside.
4.  In stand mixer using flat beater attachment, whip eggs, extracts, and oil together until combined.
5.  Gradually alternate the addition of dry ingredients and buttermilk to creamed ingredients in stand mixer, scraping bowl down to the bottom to make sure all ingredients are included.
6.  Add Americolor Super Red Gel Color Paste to batter until you reach your desired level of redness.  If you don't want to use food coloring and you want to use an alternative, you can puree 3 medium sized beets and the buttermilk together in advance for a natural red color!
7.  Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake wrappers a little over 1/2 full.  Bake for appx 22-24 minutes or until cupcakes spring back up when you touch them.  Let them cool before frosting. ♥

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eggless Sugar Cookie Dough, one of my BFFS.♥

Definition of a BFF in my world:  A cupcake's best friend.
Every cupcake needs a BFF in a world full of fluff.
Yesterday was one of those days for me.

Whenever you put yourself out there like I do, you will be paid in return with LOVE. But when you pour your heart and soul out to the public, sometimes you'll receive the opposite.  It is a risk you take, especially when you blog,  become a business owner, or voice your dreams, wishes, and opinions to the public.  This week I received a statement on my public blog saying that I don't care about my fans because I haven't been on my blog lately.   I won't go into details as to why I've been a bit behind, but I plan on doing some really wonderful things going forward.  ♥   I think their statement stuck out to me more than any other critique could have because I do everything one girl can to share my love of baking with you, I've dedicated the past 4 years of my entire life to do that and want to dedicate the rest of my life to doing amazing things to share the love of what I do with others. I recently told someone I wanted my cupcakes to change lives and I want to prove that it can be done!   I have a whole plan and I want you all here with me ♥ I've already shown that it can be done, little by little.  I've made cupcakes with Girl Scouts of America, the Make A Wish Foundation, the Sibling Network of Wisconsin, and delivered cupcakes to people with leukemia to cheer them up.

So I made a little sign dedicated to moving forward:
(Thanks to T-Swift for the inspiration)

And here's a long awaited recipe for you...
One of my favorites that I created out of an Amanda Cupcake BFF
(Sugar Cookie Dough):

Eggless Sugar Cookie Dough, Recipe:
(You can roll this into balls, poke with sticks, and dip into chocolate and sprinkle with LOVE like I did above, scoop on top of cupcakes with an ice cream scoop like a big ball of frosting, or eat right out of a jar...or a bowl.. or off of a spoon. I could go on and on and on. It's amazing, really):

1 Cup Butter (softened)
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Flour
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Malt Powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons Milk or Almond Milk
4-6 Cups Powdered Sugar

Cream the butter and milk together in a stand mixer, using flat beater attachment.  Gradually add remaining ingredients (except for the powdered sugar).  When ingredients are creamed together, gradually add powdered sugar until you reach desired sweetness or desired texture.  If you are rolling into balls to dip into chocolate or candy melts, you will want the texture to be sticky like play-dough.  If you are going to scoop on top of cupcakes, you want the texture to be just like sugar cookie dough (as pictured above).  If you are just going to eat it out of the bowl, add just enough powdered sugar so that the dough tastes sweet enough for you!

To make the cookie dough balls:
Roll the sugar cookie dough balls by hand:  Using your hands, roll into 1 – 1 1/2”  balls and set on parchment paper lined baking pan.  Refrigerate for appx 1 hour.  Refrigeration helps harden the cookie dough balls so that they are solid enough to coat with candy melts.

Melt candy melts.  In microwave proof bowl deep enough for dipping, melt candy melts, in 15-30 second increments in the microwave, stirring in between until melted and smooth.  Do not over microwave or candy melts will burn and harden.

"Glue" sticks into truffles using melted candy melts. (I enjoy using mini wooden popsicle sticks for the cookie dough pops).  
Dip the tip of each stick  into melted candy melts, and insert this end of the stick all the way to the bottom of each cookie dough ball. Repeat for all cookie dough pops and let the edible candy melt “glue” set for appx 5 minutes.

Dip sugar cookie dough balls into melted candy melts:  
Holding onto the stick, cookie dough ball upside down,  dip each pop into bowl of melted candy melts and lightly spin, to coat the entire ball with candy melts.  Hold cookie dough pop upside down and let excess candy melt drip off. Stick the bottom of the cookie dough pop onto parchment paper so it can sit flat on a pretty platter.  While the candy melts are still wet, sprinkle with rainbow heart sprinkles or your desired sprinkle of choice. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

How to throw a Cupcake Party fit for a Snow Queen ♥

People always ask me...
"Why do you share your baking tips with others?"
Because I love to teach, and I believe everyone has their own style when it comes to baking and decorating cupcakes.  Every cupcake is an original.  I haven't always been a Cupcake Queen. I was a Cupcake Student at one time too! Some of my favorite online bakers that I learned the most from are I am Baker and Bakerella.  Because I've learned from others, I pass on the knowledge. Pay it forward ♥

This early winter, I taught two cupcake classes at the Royal Palace, Givens Farm in Hortonville, Wisconsin ♥ The theme:  By popular request..Disney's movie "Frozen".  The ambiance was perfect.  Glittery snowflakes were falling both nights I taught classes.

I even wore glittery eye make up and a braid to look like Snow Queen Elsa.

Have you seen the movie yet? I enjoyed watching Frozen because while it channeled my love for classic Disney Princess nostalgia for the first time in a long time (think Sleeping Beauty, Snow White), Frozen empowered Disney princesses in a very different way than any other Disney princess movie has!  
Plus..there is this snowman named Olaf who makes the movie worth watching.  Snow Queen Elsa creates him with her snow queen magic.  It is the first time since Frosty the Snowman that I have wished for a snowman as a best friend.  Olaf is the kind of fun snowman friend that would take a sunny tropical vacation with you. You have to watch the movie to understand!
 I shared some of my Cupcake Queen magic with the class, and we all created our own Olafs.  His huge smile made all of us smile.

His nose was made out of Cheddar Bugles.  They look just like carrots!  Using a clean pair of scissors, we cut them down to fit the size of his sweet cupcake face.

On a pan lined with parchment paper, we poured melted chocolate candy melts into a disposable piping bag or ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole at the end of each baggy.  We piped out the little "branches" for the top of his head onto the parchment paper.  We used the same technique to make the big smiles. While the chocolate "smiles" were still wet on the parchment paper, I centered a piece of Trident gum on each chocolate smile for Olaf's tooth.  Candy melts dry really fast, but I like to "set" all of my pieces in the refrigerator when I am done piping because all the little pieces of handiwork are very fragile and they tend to break if too warm.  The colder the little chocolate pieces are before you handle them, the harder they are and the less likely they are to break apart or melt.

Since I am super detail oriented, I piped Olaf's famous eyebrows on his little edible sugar eyes using the melted dark chocolate candy melts (you can find the sugar eyes at local cake decorating stores).   
Look at how many Olafs I had in the kitchen with me when I was practicing for my class!   Every Olaf will look different, but I think that's what makes your hand-crafted Olaf cupcake charming.

When throwing cupcake party classes, I love using these little painters palettes to put the sprinkles and edible gems in!  You can place your cupcake in the center of the palette as the centerpiece. Some of my favorite sprinkles for a Frozen Cupcake class:  Mini Snowflake Sprinkles, Edible Pearls, Chocolate Covered Blueberries, Disco Dust, Hot Pink Nonpareils, and Lavender Sixlets that look like giant pearls.

As a class we made handmade "Frozen" hearts and princess names by piping them freehand onto parchment paper.  (Hint:  If you're not great at freehanding, you can find any shape clipart you desire on the internet.  Parchment paper works awesome as tracing paper.  You just print the clip art out on a piece of paper, place under the parchment paper, and trace over the art onto the parchment paper with your candy melts).

Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. 

Remember those princess dress cakes from your childhood?  We recreated those princess dress cakes as cupcakes!  ♥  All you have to do is find your favorite picture of your favorite princess..and glue the paper doll to a toothpick.  Once you have frosted your cupcake to look like a puffy ruffly princess skirt, you can insert the paper doll.

The perfect flavor for a Frozen themed cupcake class?
 Blueberry Velvet cupcakes.
Rich, Royal and "Iced" for a Snow Queen.
Recipe for Blueberry Velvet Cupcakes here.
Recipe for Fantasy Rainbow Frosting Swirls and Buttercream Frosting here.

The lavender colored cupcakes remind me of Anna more than Elsa. I used a dot of Americolor Regal Purple Color Gel Paste in white buttercream to achieve this color!

I love using oversized chocolate covered blueberries on top of the cupcakes. Edible gems!

Student Art! Pretty amazing!

Last but not least....
(She who leaves a trail of glitter is never forgotten)...
Each student received a capsule of non-edible glitter as a gift (and a warm hug) from me!  At the end of class, we each opened a capsule of glitter and threw a fistful of glitter into the wind/snow.  If that won't make you feel like a Snow Queen, I don't know what will.  I told the students to feel free to make a wish as they were throwing the glitter.  (I found the glitter in cute little capsules like this at the dollar store-nail art actually, but perfect for this occasion).