It Tastes A Little Like Christmas
Well it DID until I forgot to post this before the actually holidays came and went.
What do you think of when the words 'Christmas' (or Holidays if your politically correct) and 'treats' are in the same sentence? For me I really only think of my Mom's seven layer bars. Sure, there are other things that she makes - ginger snaps, cherry bars, jam thumbprints, sugar cookies - but I'm ALL ABOUT the seven layer bars. It's the one thing I OD on every year. That said, when it came time to think up what cupcake flavor(s) I would whip up for the celebrations I went straight to Gingerbread, Eggnog, Peppermint (no, not all together in one cupcake - GROSS). But then it dawned on me - why not make a seven layer cupcake (yeah, I'm a bit slow)?
So the weekend before last I set out to make the first of the four flavors - Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced and Spiked Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting. I followed this recipe but spiked the frosting with a bit of rum...actually a lot of rum - I didn't measure.
Then, last Wednesday I took advantage of my 'rest' day from training and decided to go crazy making the remaining three flavors as a test run for all of our Christmas festivities. The 'easy' part was the fact that all three flavors were based on a vanilla cupcake. In theory I could make one batch and then divide it three ways and modify as needed.
I started with this recipe for 'moist' vanilla cupcakes. I tweaked it just a bit - adding more milk towards the end because the batter seemed a little thick and my non-chocolate cupcakes always come out a bit denser than I'd like (I think this did the trick). I separated the batter into three separate bowls. For the Eggnog cupcakes I simply added Eggnog until it reached the consistency that I was happy with. I didn't measure sorry. And for the Peppermint I believe I added 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the batter. For those two flavors that was all I had to do. Pour into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. One trick that I picked up from the vanilla recipe was wrapping the cooked cupcakes in plastic wrap to keep them moist as they cooled. I think this made a huge difference.
The Seven Layer Cupcakes were a bit more 'involved' obviously. Layer 1: First I mixed crushed graham crackers with about a tablespoon of butter (I was only making 4 of this flavor for this test run so it was about 1/4 cup crushed graham cracker and a tablespoon of butter although I think I could have used a bit more melted butter). I also added a splash of sugar. Then I covered the bottom of the cupcake liners and patted it down - I used a narrow bottle from the refrigerator to pack it in. Baked those for about 5 minutes at 350.
Layer 2: I sprinkled butterscotch morsels on top of the graham cracker layer.
Layer 3: Vanilla cupcake batter - cook for about 25 minutes at 350. I think these could have used a bit more time in the oven in comparison to the other flavors.
Layer 4: I made a quickie ganache - melting chocolate chips with warmed milk and then dipped the tops of the slightly cooled cupcakes.
Layer 5: Sweetened Condensed Milk Buttercream Frosting adapted from this recipe (I didn't follow the measurements really and just winged it).
Layer 6: Crushed walnuts to sprinkle on top of frosting
Layer 7: Coconut flakes to sprinkle on top of frosting
These cupcakes are so decadent. They taste EXACTLY like my Mom's bars but fluffy. Ridiculous!
Okay, back to the other frosting. Eggnog frosting - butter, eggnog, powdered sugar. I randomly added eggnog until I liked the flavor. And a few pinches of nutmeg. I topped the whole thing in a dusting of nutmeg. Peppermint frosting - pretty much the same as above just substitute peppermint extract and definitely in a small dose as opposed to the eggnog. Again, I added to taste. On top of those bad boys I crushed up candy canes (for the final version I actually blended in the crushed candy canes with the buttercream instead of coating it on top). As you can tell by the picture below I didn't get all fancy decorating these with piped frosting because they were my 'trial' run cupcakes... but no one should be surprised that I didn't do any piping for the real batch either. I mean a 17 mile run and then a day of baking the day before Christmas...there was no fanciness just mass production!
One last note - in case you've lost track these are numbers 26, 27, 28 and 29. Only ONE more cupcake to go before I reach my 30 while 30. I think the next one is going to involve a bit of champagne to ring in the new year.