Category: Literary Cupcakes

The Giving Tree Literary Cupcake Recipe

By , September 26, 2011 12:00 am

 

"The Giving Tree" Literary Cupcake by MMRule

"The Giving Tree" Literary Cupcake (Photo by R. T. Jae)

 

A Book that Evokes Strong Opinions

Love it or hate it, but it’s impossible to feel indifferent about The Giving Tree.  Until a few weeks ago, however, I was part of the group who never read the story.

 

The Perfect Cupcake for Fall

When the cool pangs of fall launched my cravings for candy corn and pumpkin lattes, I decided to incorporate some seasonally appropriate flavors into this month’s literary cupcake.  As I drooled over the colorful varieties of apples at the grocery store, I recalled the iconic green, white, and red cover illustration from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, and I found my inspiration.

 

Rediscovering a Book for All Ages

While I was familiar with The Giving Tree and other Silverstein classics like Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, and A Light in the Attic, I had no interest in reading them when I was young.  As you may recall from my FAQ, I learned to read early and pushed myself to enjoy increasingly difficult works.  But what I didn’t mention was that I actively dismissed any pleasure reading that teachers recommended for my peers because I set my own goal to read “harder” books.

 

“The Artist Can Express Everything”

Creating this cupcake recipe was my opportunity to go back and read a classic book that I had missed out on for so many years.  If you are unfamiliar with the plot of The Giving Tree, it tells of a boy who takes everything he can from the tree that loves him, and when he is elderly and has no energy to do anything else, he rests on the tree’s stump.  For the debate over the meaning of the book and whether it is really for children at all, check out its Amazon reviews for many insightful comments.

 

I found the book to be haunting, sad, and morbidly uplifting.  Of course, as Oscar Wilde writes in the preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray, “No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.”  Just because there is no message of “happily ever after” and the consolation of a great conversion experience, doesn’t mean that the book should be criticized.

 

On to the Cupcake!

Apple Cake with Baked Caramel Filling

Cinnamon Buttercream

Candied-Apple Red Caramel Sauce

 

From the cycle of selfishness/generosity and the iconic illustrations of the book, came a cupcake that also is suitable for all ages.  This cupcake has many layers of flavor to represent the stages of the boy’s life and how the tree gives its every part to him.  Because the tree is an apple tree, applesauce in the batter is appropriately delicious and easy to manage if you plan to bake with children.  The middle of each apple cupcake delivers a surprise piece of caramel baked inside to mimic the tree’s stump at the end of the book.  I also used red, white, and green in memory of the cover art that I recalled after so many years.

 

Comment on this post by sharing your opinion about The Giving Tree or the cupcake recipe!

 

What You’ll Need

For the Cake

  • 24 green cupcake liners.  I found striped ones in my local baking aisle!
  • 1 18.25 oz. white cake mix (not one with pudding added)
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened apple sauce
  • About 6 large soft caramel candies

 

For the Frosting

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3+ cups powered sugar (more may be needed for consistency)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk if frosting is too stiff.
  • 1 gallon zip sealed bag

 

For the Glaze

  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 7+ drops red food coloring

Directions

(If working with a child, remember to supervise and help with each step of the baking and decorating process!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° or 325° for dark or nonstick pans.
  2. Line two 12 cup cupcake pans with liners.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients for the cake except the caramel candies in a medium bowl.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and finish beating the mix on medium speed for two minutes.
  4. Fill each cupcake liner with batter.  I used an ice cream scoop like this one to evenly distribute the batter.
  5. Cut the caramel candies into marble sized pieces and roll into 24 spheres.
  6. Place one caramel marble into the center of each cupcake.  Use a butter knife to gently push toward the middle of the cupcake.  Make sure that the caramel is covered with batter.
  7. Bake cupcakes for 13-18 minutes until cake springs to your touch.
  8. When cupcakes finish baking, let them cool until they are safe to touch, and transfer them to a plate.
  9. While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.  Beat the powered sugar, butter, extract, and cinnamon on medium speed for about a minute and then finish on high speed for another minute or two.  Check the consistency and add more powdered sugar if needed.  You want the frosting to be soft enough to pipe on the cupcakes and firm enough to hold its shape.  A tablespoon of milk will help if the frosting is too stiff.
  10. Open the zip sealed bag and spoon the buttercream inside.  Push the air out and seal the bag.
  11. Push the frosting to one bottom corner of the bag.  Cut the corner off the bag, making a dime sized hole.
  12. Starting at the edge of the cupcake and working toward the middle, pipe on the frosting in a circular motion.
  13. In a small bowl, combine the caramel sauce and the red food coloring.  Gently spread on the top of each cupcake.
  14. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 

Enjoy!

This recipe is inspired by The Cake Mix Doctor.

Check out her books for delicious and simple cake ideas!

The products I suggest are the ones I use in my kitchen.

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow Literary Cupcake

By , August 22, 2011 12:00 am

 

Nathan Bransford Cupcake

Number one on my list of best-friends-who-don’t-know-I-exist is former agent turned author Nathan Bransford.  When I discovered Bransford’s blog about a year ago, I learned that I could trust him to knock out all of my newbie aspiring author questions:

How to query? Bam!

Word count? Pow!

Synopsis length? Zap!

Bransford’s blog has been there for me during middle of the night writing freak outs and when I feel the pangs of rejection.  So when he recently posted about the trials of self advertisement, I decided to give back to the man who keeps a light at the end of the writing tunnel.

 

The Exception to the Rule designed a literary cupcake after Bransford’s debut novel, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, a fast paced and ridiculously fun middle grade novel.

Jacob Wonderbar Cupcake Kapow Nathan Bransford

Jacob Wonderbar Cupcake Kapow—Photo by R.T. Jae

“Earth Swirl” Vanilla Marshmallow Cake

Cosmic Frosting with Pop Rock Kapow!

Custom Candy Spaceship

 

If a cupcake is going to embody the first Jacob Wonderbar novel, it must be kid friendly, tasty, and all fun!  Because the story begins on Earth and then launches into a galaxy of surprises, I modeled the cake after pictures of Earth from space by marbling blue and green tinted batter.  Marshmallows provide extra sweetness and a yummy caramelized taste.

 

I added some space age fun to the cupcake’s exterior by using silver cupcake liners and purple and black “cosmic” vanilla buttercream.  The Pop Rocks are perfect for adding a touch of kapow! to each bite.  The popping will surprise anyone who isn’t expecting it!

 

Finally, I garnished the cupcake with a simple candy model of the spaceship that launched Jacob and his friends Sarah and Dexter into space.

 

If you are looking for a fun book (with excellent vocabulary) to give the child in your life, wrap up a copy of Jacob Wonderbar and bring along a tray of these cupcakes to make up for last year’s fruit cake debacle!

 

What You’ll Need

For the Cake

  • 24 silver cupcake liners
  • 1 18.25 oz. white cake mix (not one with pudding added)
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows
  • .25 oz. vials of green and neon green food coloring
  • .25 oz. vial blue food coloring

 

For the Frosting

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3+ cups powered sugar (more may be needed for consistency)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk (optional)
  • .25 oz. vials black and neon purple food coloring
  • 1 gallon zip sealed bag

 

For the Garnish

*These are my candy recommendations to recreate 24 spaceships like the one in the above pictures.  If you purchase multicolored candy assortments, I encourage you to experiment with the other flavors to save money, avoid waste, and have fun!

 

Directions

(If working with a child, remember to supervise and help with each step of the baking and decorating process!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° or 325° for dark or nonstick pans.
  2. Line two 12 cup cupcake pans with liners.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients for the cake except the marshmallows in a medium bowl.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and finish beating the mix on medium speed for two minutes.  Fold in the mini marshmallows.
  4. Transfer about half of the batter into a medium bowl.
  5. Use blue food coloring to tint one bowl of batter “ocean” blue.  Try about 30 drops of color to get started.
  6. Use the ratio 2:1 drops of neon green:green food coloring in the other bowl of batter.  Play around with the color until you are satisfied.  I preferred keeping the colors bright and neon for maximum contrast.
  7. Fill each cupcake liner a little more than 1/3 full of blue batter.  I used a half scoop from an ice cream scoop like this one to evenly distribute the batter.
  8.  Add a half scoop of green batter on top of the blue.  The cupcake liners should be about 3/4 full when you are finished.
  9. Take a butter knife or spoon and swirl the blue and green batter in each cupcake holder.  Press from the top of the batter down to the wrapper several times to push the green batter down and the blue up.
  10. Bake cupcakes for 13-18 minutes until cake springs to your touch.
  11. When cupcakes are finished baking, let them cool until they are safe to touch, and transfer them to a plate.
  12. While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.  Beat the powered sugar, butter, and extract on medium speed for about a minute and then finish on high speed for another minute.  Check the consistency and add more powdered sugar if needed.  You want the frosting to be soft enough to pipe on the cupcakes and firm enough to hold its shape.  A tablespoon of milk will help if the frosting is too stiff.
  13. Separate a third of the frosting and place it in a small bowl.  Tint this frosting by adding one drop of black food coloring and 3+ drops of neon purple.
  14. Tint the remaining 2/3 frosting black.  Begin with 5 drops of color and add more if necessary.
  15. Take the zip sealed bag and spoon the purple frosting into the left side of the bag.  Then transfer the black frosting to the right side of the bag.  Push the air out and seal the bag.
  16. Push the frosting to one bottom corner of the bag.  Cut the corner off the bag, making a dime sized hole.
  17. Starting at the edge of the cupcake and working toward the middle, pipe on the frosting in a circular motion.  Enjoy the purple and black swirl!  Each cupcake will look a little different.
  18. Sprinkle the Pop Rocks on top of the frosting.
  19. Serve immediately after decorating or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 

Creating Candy Spaceships

  1. Begin by shaping a triangle base for the ship.  I took two licorice bears, cut off their faces, arms, and feet with a knife, and sandwiched the sticky, cut sides together.  I then used my hands to press the candy into a triangle.
  2. The dome is the top half of a white spice drop centered on the triangle.  The sticky, cut end of the spice drop will adhere it to the spaceship.
  3. I took a purple spice drop and used kitchen scissors to cut tiny, thin, strips.  Each strip made 3 squares.  I put these purple square windows on both sides of the ship.  The cut sides will make them stick.
  4. 1/4 inch slices of the filled Twizzlers made the engine.  I fit two Twizzler slices side by side.  The filling will allow them to adhere.
  5. One coated sunflower seed will fit into each Twizzler engine to look like flames.
  6. When you are satisfied with your spaceship, place on the left hand side of the cupcake to make it look like it is traveling forward.
  7. Make one ship for each cupcake.

Enjoy!

 

This recipe is inspired by The Cake Mix Doctor.

Check out her book for delicious and simple cake ideas!

The products I suggest are the ones I use in my kitchen.

A Fang Banger’s Delight!

By , July 18, 2011 12:02 am

True Blood fever has us again wishing for fang marks and shifter romps.  Whether you prefer Harris’s books or HBO’s leave-nothing-to-the-imagination episodes, here is a recipe to sop up your drool the next time you’re indulging in your favorite supernatural crush.

 

Craving Eric Northman?

If you’ve read Dead to the World, you know that Season 4 of True Blood will give special attention to Eric Northman, the thousand+ year old, Viking vampire.  For this recipe, forget about cliché red fruit fillings and “bleeding” frosting vampire bites.  The Exception to the Rule relied on Eric’s confidence and aggression to inspire a cupcake that will satisfy your craving for this vampire-Adonis.

 

Photo by R. T. Jae

 

 

Chocolate-Cardamom Cake

 

Semisweet Chocolate-Cardamom Frosting

 

Fondant and “Fanged Mouth” Sugar Paper Garnish

 

 

 

 

 Surprise!  They Glow-in-the-Dark!

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate-Cardamom Cake

Semisweet Chocolate-Cardamom Frosting

A cupcake that embodies a thousand years of vampiric experience needs to bring a contemporary twist to an eternal favorite.  Semisweet chocolate adds density and decadence to the cake, while cardamom delivers its delicious aroma and adult flavor.  The combination is bold and just as complex as Mr. Northman.  Plus black food coloring gives the cake an extra touch of midnight delight.

 

Fondant and “Fanged Mouth” Sugar Paper Garnish

The décor of this cupcake brings in Eric’s mainstream “American business owner” side with the sexiness and club atmosphere of Fangtasia: clean lines, lots of black, and plenty of glow.  I cut silhouettes of vampire mouths out of black sugar paper, and soda water painted on the fondant causes it to glow-in-the dark under a black light.  So if you’re feeling ready to invite the supernatural into your home, whip up this recipe, set your mood lighting, and let this cupcake take a bite out of you!

 

What You’ll Need

For the Cake

  • Red or black cupcake liners
  • 1 18.25 oz. devil’s food cake mix (not one with pudding added)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 5.75 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (Buy an 11.5 oz. bag to account for the frosting.)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ oz. black food coloring

 

For the Frosting

  • 5.75 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

 

For the Fondant and Garnish

I used this recipe from allrecipes.com for inspiration, and kneaded marshmallow fluff and powdered sugar until it was no longer sticky.

 

Cut the mouth silhouettes from purchased black sugar paper.  Small scissors work best.

 

The glow in the dark glaze is clear piping gel and tonic water.  Try mixing ¼ cup of untinted piping gel with one tablespoon of tonic water at a time until the mixture is smooth and gelatinous enough so it will not drip or run when painted on the fondant.  Test glaze under a black light to make sure the glow is satisfactory.

 

Directions

  1. Prepare your sugar paper “fanged mouth” garnish.  (This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.)
  2. Preheat your oven to 350° or 325° for dark or nonstick pans.
  3. Line two 12 cup cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
  4. Melt the butter and the chocolate on low heat until combined.  Stir constantly to avoid burning the mixture.
  5. Combine all of the ingredients for the cake in a medium bowl.  (Be careful when handling the black food coloring to avoid stains on your skin, clothing, countertops, etc.)  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and finish beating the mix on medium speed for two minutes.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop like this one to evenly scoop batter into the cupcake holders.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cake springs to your touch.
  8. When cupcakes are finished baking, let them cool until they are safe to touch, and transfer them to a plate.
  9. While cupcakes cool, prepare the fondant.
  10. Roll out the fondant so that it is ¼ inch thick, and cut out twenty-four 2 ½ inch circles.
  11. Prepare the chocolate frosting by melting the remaining chocolate chips on low heat.  Stir the chocolate until it is smooth, and then mix in the cardamom.  Remove from heat.
  12. Use a butter knife to paint a 2 ¼ inch circle of chocolate frosting on the middle of a cupcake.  Center a circle of fondant on the cupcake, and press gently to make sure that it sticks to the cake.  You won’t want the chocolate to show.  Move on to the next cupcake and repeat.  Reheat the chocolate if it becomes too stiff to spread.
  13. Use the back of a spoon to paint the glow-in-the-dark glaze on the fondant.
  14. Press the sugar paper garnish onto the fondant.  Avoid getting glaze on the sugar paper.
  15. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

 

Photo by R. T. Jae

 

This recipe is inspired by The Cake Mix Doctor.

Check out her book for delicious and simple cake ideas!

The glow-in-the-dark fondant was inspired by the girls at Georgetown Cupcake.

The products I suggest are the ones I use in my kitchen.

Carrie White “eats shit,” but you don’t have to!

By , July 11, 2011 12:30 am

 

Graffiti scratched on a desk in Chamberlain Junior High School:

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, but Carrie White eats shit.

-Carrie, Stephen King

The Exception to the Rule debuts with a homage to my favorite author through this fiery, blood inspired cupcake recipe that will motivate you to pick up a copy of Carrie. Stephen King fans enjoy!


Carrie Cupcake

Photo by R.T. Jae

 

Red Velvet and Cayenne Pepper Cupcake

 

Vanilla Pudding Filling

 

Cream Cheese and Candied, Cayenne Pepper Bacon Frosting

 

Candied, Cayenne Pepper Bacon “Prom Dress” Garnish

 

(Click for larger image)

 

 

Red Velvet and Cayenne Pepper Cupcake

There isn’t anything sweet about the plot of Carrie. Even Sue Snell’s actions don’t leave the reader with a “we’re all in this together,” High School Musical feeling. So, I chose red velvet cake for its flavorful but not overly sweet taste and its obvious color bonus. A hint of cayenne pepper gives the cake a subtle kick of heat to lend it worthy of a prom on fire.

Vanilla Pudding Filling

To cool off your taste buds from the cayenne fire, I included a rich vanilla pudding filling. Not just because Carrie is a “big dumb pudding” for not knowing what her period is, but because we all saw that shine of normalcy in her that made us think that she really could be like everyone else if her circumstances changed. She tried so hard that she even bought a “special brassiere” for the prom, gosh darn it! Vanilla adds the touch of mainstream taste that this cupcake needs.

Cream Cheese and Candied, Cayenne Pepper Bacon Frosting

“Prom Dress” Garnish

I took a traditional cream cheese frosting and mixed it with bacon candied with light brown sugar and cayenne pepper. The sweet and spicy taste of the bacon complements the cream cheese and gives a nod to the book’s dark humor. After all, as Billy Nolan observes, “Pig blood for a pig.”

 

What You’ll Need

For the Cake

  • Red cupcake liners
  • 1 18.25 oz. plain white cake mix (not one with pudding added)
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use ¾ teaspoon if you are sensitive to hot pepper)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 oz. bottle red food coloring

 

For the Filling

  • 3 oz. vanilla cook and serve pudding mix
  • 2 cups whole milk

 

For the Candied Bacon “Prom Dress” Garnish

I followed this recipe for Cayenne-Candied Bacon from the Food Network with one pound of bacon.

Once the bacon is prepared and hot but safe to handle, use kitchen scissors to cut out a simple dress shape. Cooled bacon is too crumbly to cut and shape. Experiment with a one inch hourglass shape and snip in a v-neck.  You will need 24 bacon dresses.

The extra bacon and bits left over from the garnish will go into the frosting.

 

For the Frosting

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. brick cream cheese
  • 3 cups powered sugar (more if desired for consistency or sweetness)
  • 1-1 ½ cups of finely pulsed candied bacon (use all bacon and scraps left after making the garnish)

 

Directions

  1. Follow the directions for the candied bacon and make the garnish first.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350° or 325° for dark or nonstick pans.
  3. Line two 12 cup cupcake pans with red cupcake liners. (This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.)
  4. Combine all of the ingredients for the cake in a medium bowl. (Be careful when handling the red food coloring to avoid stains on your skin, clothing, countertops, etc.) Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and finish beating the mix on medium speed for two minutes.
  5. Use an ice cream scoop like this one to evenly scoop batter into the cupcake holders.
  6. Bake for 12-17 minutes or until cake springs to your touch.
  7. While cupcakes bake, follow the manufacturer’s directions for the pudding mix and set aside to cool. Make sure to use whole milk since reduced or fat free milk will make the pudding too thin and watery.
  8. When cupcakes are finished baking, let them cool until they are safe to touch, and transfer them to a firm surface. Use an apple corer like this to remove the middle of the cupcake. Center the corer on the surface of the cupcake and press straight down to the cupcake liner. Lift the corer out and discard the center. If the cake core does not come out, then reinsert the corer and gently twist back and forth before lifting.
  9. Use a piping bag or teaspoon to fill the cupcakes with warm or cooled pudding. It is ok if there is a little excess pudding at the top of the cupcake.
  10. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed to begin the frosting. Beat in the powdered sugar until frosting is smooth.
  11. Pulse the candied bacon in a food processor for 30 seconds to a minute or until bacon is finely ground.
  12. Mix the pulsed bacon into the cream cheese frosting. Transfer frosting into a piping bag, and starting at the outside edge of the cupcake, pipe in a circular motion toward the center. If you prefer, you may pipe the frosting using a plastic zip-seal bag. Spoon the frosting into the bag, press out any air, seal it, and cut one edge off the bag with kitchen scissors, so you can pipe through a nickel sized hole.
  13. Garnish each cupcake with a bacon “dress.”
  14. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

 

This recipe is inspired by The Cake Mix Doctor. Check out her book for delicious and simple cake ideas!

The products I suggest are the ones I use in my kitchen.

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