Hurricane Sandy is in full force, but as long as I have power I’ll be baking up a storm!
Okay, okay, I’m sorry for the terrible pun, but I couldn’t help myself. Today was one of those days when it was great to be tucked inside. It was one of those— I want to put on a big comfy sweatshirt, curl up with a good book, and drink some hot tea—type of days. When I got the notice that the federal government was closed on Monday and Tuesday, I felt like a kid that just found out they had a snow day. I got all giddy and wondered what I was going to do with all my extra time. Easy question. Assuming I still had power and gas, I was going to have a baking extravaganza!
For the longest time I’ve wanted to work with fondant (the fancy frosting you find on lots of wedding cakes) but I thought it was just too time intensive, and quite frankly beyond my abilities as a baker. Today I decided to scale my expectations down from a full-fledged wedding cake and try to tackle a fondant cupcake recipe. To my surprise the process was still pretty time intensive. I had to bake the cupcakes, glaze them, make ganache, cover them, let them dry, make fondant, and finally decorate them. Sigh… what a project! However, being that I had some extra time, I thought it would be the perfect project to take on.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Fondant Icing
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold milk
16 ounces white chocolate, chopped fine
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons gelatin
1/2 cup corn syrup
5 teaspoons glycerin
2 1/4 pounds pure confectioners’ sugar
2 drops flavor extract
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place liners in 12 muffin tins. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture and stir in milk. Place in oven and bake for 18-20 minutes.
For the ganache, put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and mix with a hand whisk until the ganache is smooth. Allow to cool completely and then leave to set overnight. Using a knife spread 2 1/2 teaspoons of ganache across the top of each cupcake. By the time you have ganached your last cupcake your first cupcakes should be ready to “hot-knife”. Place a long knife in a pan of boiling water and leave for a few seconds. Glide the knife over the surface of the ganache using even pressure. Let the cupcakes sit until the ganache has set hard before you start decorating them.
To make the rolled fondant icing, sprinkle the gelatin over 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Leave until the gelatin is spongy. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the corn syrup and glycerin and stir until melted. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl, make a well in the center and pour in the gelatin mixture. Mix until it becomes too difficult to stir with a spoon. Tip the mixture onto the counter, add the flavoring if using, and knead with dry hands into a smooth and pliable dough. Add food coloring if you wish to dye the frosting at this point. Roll out the icing to 1/8 inch thick using a rolling pin. Cut out circles of different sizes using a round cutter. Feel free to get creative with the colors and shapes you use- that’s the fun part of working with fondant!
Heather’s Helpful Hints
Cupcakes dry out very quickly. One way to prevent this is to treat them with syrup. With a fork, make some holes in the top of the cupcakes and then brush fairly liberally with syrup (1/3 cup of apricot jam and 6 tablespoons of boiling water whisked together).