Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Snow Angel Cupcakes

Yesterday was my mother-in-law's birthday. She has done so many things for our family but what is freshest on my mind right now is the gift of her amazing cake making skills. She has treated each of our kids with some of the most intricately detailed birthday cakes, representing whatever it is they happen to be most passionate about that year. We've had 2 ducky cakes, a butterfly cake, a Cheerio box cake, a camera cake, a Winnie the Pooh cake, a princess fairy cake, a Stellaluna the bat cake, and most recently, a bus cake. I don't have a clue how long it takes for her to create one of these masterpieces but they truly are works of art. Our kids' glee can hardly be contained when she arrives with cake in arms and I have been found guilty at times of photographing the cake more than the kids. My middle child said it so well the other day when she exclaimed "Grandma is great Caker!"

This past Saturday of course was no exception. We were celebrating my son's 2nd birthday and opted to invite immediate family only to keep the party to a more "intimate" group of 18. Of course it never occurred to me to let my mother-in-law know that we would be smaller in number than in past parties so she went all out and made the most amazing yellow school bus cake that seemed nearly life-size in scale. Needless to say, my bus-obsessed son was THRILLED and, mistaking it for a toy, immediately began patting it and trying to play with it. The cake was as epic as it was delicious and it is still being very much enjoyed. Right as I type this post, in fact.

There is nothing like a party-packed weekend and this past one was certainly one of them! After celebrating like 2 year olds on Saturday, on Sunday, the spotlight shifted and we focused our attention on my mother-in-law. Imagine my fear and trepidation at the thought of making her, the queen of cakes, a birthday cake!! Especially after that bus cake! But even the cake-maker, maybe especially the cake-maker, needs a birthday cake. And so I sent off a text to my father-in-law, asking what her preferred cake might be. I was envisioning some of my favorites that were sure to impress: Salted Caramel Six Layer Chocolate Cake or maybe Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting. Both of these were always crowd-pleasers! So when my father-in-law responded with a simple "angel food cake," that nervous knot in my stomach twisted even further. How could one possibly make an angel food cake special? Isn't a boxed mix required to make it? Yes, the queen of make-it-from-scratch literally asked herself that very question. There's just some sort of magical magicalness about angel food cake that makes it seem only possible to create in a factory, am I right?

I logged onto my friendly Pinterest account, hoping to find some sort of inspiration for the task ahead. Well, in case inquiring minds want to know, as it turns out, my "research" proved that, with a dozen room temperature egg whites, some cream of tartar and a couple other ingredients, you can make angel food cake from scratch. :) My search also revealed that I could make it in the form of cupcakes which sounded exciting and special AND also solved the age-old issue: I suck at frosting cakes. SOLD! The soft peaks of freshly whipped cream in lieu of frosting were sure to look super elegant and cloud-like atop the angel food cupcakes. Then I would finish them off with a few fresh raspberries as garnish, ensuring the birthday girl got the berries she favors on her cakes.

Who knows? Maybe making angel food cake from scratch is a temperamental process. But in this first-time experience, it couldn't have been easier. The hardest part was sifting the flour (mostly because I don't own a sifter and was using a colander instead) and folding the flour mixture into the egg whites. And that wasn't even hard, just a tad annoying. I even managed to whip these up on Sunday morning BEFORE church when I was flying on solo kid duty. The end result was awesome, if I do say so myself. And I'm the queen of go-big-or-go-home dense and rich desserts and so angel food cake isn't usually my thing. These cupcakes were as light as air (which made it totally permissible for the guests to have seconds). Mr. Crozier declared them the best angel food he'd ever had and the birthday girl seemed pleased as well. The recipe made 2 dozen easy and I had enough batter left over to potentially fill a third muffin tin (if I had one).

Snow Angel Cupcakes
(from thecakeblog.com)

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
12 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse sugar until it is superfine. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with flour and sift together four times. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer filled with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tarter until medium firm peaks. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups sugar over egg whites with mixer running. Mix until thick and shiny. Add lemon zest and mix for several additional minutes until very thick. Remove bowl from stand mixer.

Sprinkle 1/4 of flour mixture into bowl and gently fold into egg whites using a clean rubber spatula. Repeat until all flour has been added. Spoon batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake wrappers. Fill each wrapper to the very top. Smooth top.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from muffin tin to cool completely.

16 ounces heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar
Fresh Raspberries
Confectioners Sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk cream and 4 tablespoons sugar until you have soft peaks. When ready to serve, spoon a dollop of whipped cream on top of each cupcake. Top with a fresh raspberry and a sprinkle of confectioners sugar, if desired.

Makes 24+

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posted by kelsie