Makes about 24 cupcakes
Adapted from Zen Cupcake
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups cherry cola flavored beverage
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp cherry extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans with 24 liners. Set aside.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium size bowl stir together cola, cherry juice, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and cherry extract. Slowly add liquid mixture to the dry mixture and beat until just smooth. Scoop into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 4 cups
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cherry extract
1. In a heatproof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water, combine the sugar, egg whites, water, cherry juice and cream of tartar. With a hand mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating on low over low heat until frosting reaches 160° on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
2. Pour into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer; add extracts. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.
3. Place frosting in a large pastry bag and pipe onto cupcake, starting about an 1/8-inch from the edge of the cupcake, and spiraling up into a 2-inch high cone-shaped mound on top. Refrigerate while you are making the coating.
Adapted from Cupcakes by Elinor Klivans as well as assembly instructions
4 cups (24 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
6 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1. In a heatproof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water, stir together chocolate and oil until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Scrape the coating into a small bowl and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
2. Holding each cupcake upside down by the bottom, dip the mound of frosting in the chocolate coating, covering completely. Let any excess drip off by rotating the cupcake several times above the chocolate. Returning the cupcakes to the tray or cookie sheet, top with a cherry, and let sit for 15 minutes, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set the coating. Once set, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.
When I first began meandering around the blogosphere, I kept noticing this cute little icon on different blogs. It was a picture of a cupcake with a map of the world as the frosting and the words "Iron Cupcake Challenge Baker". Intrigued, I finally clicked on one of them, and was taken to the Iron Cupcake: Earth site. I couldn't believe my eyes! A contest for the entire blogging world, competing Iron Chef style with cupcakes as a medium. I had to try my hand at this! Unfortunately, I happened upon it during the voting portion of the coffee round. Too late to enter that one.. Maybe next month? Round 8 turned out to be Nuts and Seeds. Hmm. I wanted my first entry to be something spectacular, but I couldn't come up with anything nut or seed related that I felt was worthy of entry. Guess I'd sit this round out too. Finally April rolled around. It's my birthday month, so something great has got to happen! Checking out a recipe on How to Eat a Cupcake that I plan on using for a cupcake event in May (more to come on this), I noticed she was currently working on an entry for Iron Cupcake: Earth Round 9--Soda. Soda? Seriously?? Score!! I can surely make something amazing with soda! This is totally my month! And I'm totally entering in my very first baking competition. Ever. Yay!!
Now what could I do with soda? And why do I keep calling it soda? Let's call it by it's proper name, shall we? It's "pop" here in Ohio! And what kind of pop was I going to use? Therein lies a minor problem. I don't really remember what any kind of pop tastes like. I quit cold turkey about 4 years ago, and haven't really had anything since. I still crave it every now and then though, and I think that's why this challenge appeals so much to me. I finally get to have a tiny taste after so long! My first thought was root beer. Too common. How about red cream soda? Oh how I love red cream soda. I bounced the idea off my muse (Boyfriend), but he wasn't sold on it. He suggested 7up. Hmm lemon-lime has great potential for something truly yummy, but I wasn't feeling it. Maybe Dr. Pepper? Or Coke? Better yet, Cherry Coke. Mmm Cherry Coke. My ultimate weakness. As soon as it was suggested, I knew I had to do it. I started putting together my game plan and somehow arrived at the idea of Chocolate Cherry Coke Hi-Hats. What could be better than a Cherry Coke flavored chocolate cupcake, topped with cherry flavored meringue, coated in chocolate, with a bright red cherry on top? Absolutely nothing.
The cupcakes themselves came together quite easily. A two bowl recipe and into the oven they go. The meringue frosting on top was, by comparison, slightly more involved, but still an easy recipe. It made a LOT though. I still have a whole bowl of it in my fridge that I don't know what to do with. The only issues I had seemed to be user, and mixer, related. It took a bit longer to come to temperature than the recipe says, but I think I had the burner set too low. I was scared of it getting too hot too quickly, and possibly burning. Also, my hand mixer doesn't seem to have a low speed. Well, that's not entirely true. It claims to have a low speed, but its definition of low must be drastically different than mine. To me, low means a slower, steady pace. To my mixer, low means splattering meringue all over me and the stovetop. I'm still finding sticky pink dots on my walls. By my standards of speed, it mixes at what can only be called moderately high, and slightly less than a furious pace. But only slightly. Maybe I'll ask for a new hand mixer for my birthday to go along with the blender I already have on my list. Fortunately, the next step, the chocolate coating, was the easiest of all. No mixer mishaps. Just melted chocolate stirred with oil until it was smooth, then set aside to cool.
As it is with cookies, frosting the cupcakes is always my favorite part. (Well favorite behind eating them, of course!) I have somehow misplaced my largest round piping tip, so I improvised with a star tip and concentrated very hard to get perfect swirly mounds on top of each cupcake. I think I did a pretty good job! What do you think? Into the fridge they went to chill for a few minutes before dipping. Here's where I ran into a slight bit of trouble. I don't think I let them chill enough at first. It may have only been about 15 minutes before I pulled them back out and started to dip. The frosting was still a bit soft, and the chocolate had cooled enough that it started to get a bit thick again. Between the softness of the frosting and the weight of the chocolate, some of my beautiful mounds started to slide off to the side of the cupcakes as I was turning the cupcakes to let the excess drip off. I tried working quickly, but that lead to almost disasterous results. The chocolate almost pulled my frosting completely off the cupcake at one point. Alright. I got the hint. Back into the fridge they went to harden up a bit more. And a little later, the chocolate went to the microwave to heat up and thin out. I left the cupcakes in for an hour this time, and my 2nd round of dipping went much smoother. Just make sure your cupcakes are cold and your chocolate is still slightly warm and thin. It'll harden up in the fridge, and if you want a thicker coating on it, do another round of dipping later, after they're chilled again. I plopped a nice bright red cherry on top of each cupcake and let them chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours.
The recipe calls for them to be served cold. I wholeheartedly agree with this. These need to stay cold, otherwise you'll have a melted mess. A tasty melted mess, but a mess indeed. I had my taste-test cupcake out for about 10 minutes while I took pictures of it, and by the time I bit into it, the chocolate was almost completely melted, and the meringue was really squishy. It was almost easier to eat it with a fork. Despite its climate restrictions, the Chocolate Cherry Coke Hi-Hat is a really good cupcake. The flavor of the soda is very subtle, but the cherry juice and extract really bring out the cherry flavor, especially in the meringue. I'd definitely make these again! I just have to make sure they're for a movie night or a dinner party, and not a summertime backyard barbecue. Now what am I going to do with the rest of that 2-liter that keeps taunting me every time I open the fridge?
I'm so excited to make my first entry in the Iron Cupcake: Earth challenge! It's been so fun, and I hope now that I've cleared this hurdle, I can go on to do more baking challenges, and start challenging myself to be more creative and crazy with my cupcake flavors! (I've already decided to put this to the test next month at a local cupcake event. They have 4 categories to enter for judging: Best Decoration, Best Vegan, Best Use of Alcohol, and Best Use of Bacon. Guess which one I'm entering. Yep. If I'm going for it, I'm gonna go all the way. I'm gonna try bacon. Cross your fingers for me.) As much as I don't want my birthday month to end, I'm already looking forward to May to find out what the next IC:E challenge will be! But first things first. Here's all the details for this month's challenge, complete with awesome prizes I hope to win!
Our April ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com .
- A creation by FRUITFLYPIE, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=16748
- a pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6057281.
- a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery, http://www.acupcakery.com/
- PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5243382, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!