Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mini "Doodle" Cupcakes

 These cupcakes had a couple different sources of inspiration.  The first was the fact I was making them for "snack" at my curriculum project.  But since snack is served from 8am to 1pm, I wanted something that was in a style similar to a coffee cake.   I had been dying to try out the snickerdoodle cupcakes for years, so I thought this was a great chance.

The second source of inspiration came from my very own Doodle.   And that would be my cat, Yaz.    Yes, the source of inspiration for my cupcakes came from my cat.  Yes, I do realize that is weird and makes me sound like a crazy cat lady.  But if you met Yaz, you'd understand why.  She was a very unique cat.   The day I got her, there were about 15 kittens sleeping peacefully in the shelter and one cat screaming. I of course was immediately drawn to her. Maureen (who was my roommate at the time) suggested that  I get her peacefully sleeping brother.   Twenty-four hours later I walked out of the shelter with "the screamer", who became my Yaz.  While she definitely took some getting used to and was extremely high maintenance, I don't think I ever met anyone who didn't fall in love with her.  For some reason, when I got Yaz I started calling her "Yazmadoodle".  Thanks to my friends that quickly became shortened to just Doodle, which stuck.   She was an amazing cat who I unfortunately lost to kidney disease at the beginning of the summer.  Since the whole point of this adventure is to use the inspiration around me, I knew I wanted a cupcake to remember my Doodle and couldn't think of a better way to do so.

And she LOVED to help me bake (until the counter became the spot she got her medicine every day)

 So that's where these cupcakes started from....where they ended up is a story unto itself!  I decided to make mini cupcakes since its a lot easier for large groups... and because people wouldn't feel guilty for eating more than one!   The cupcakes were fairly easy to make and came out somewhat perfect. 

Warren, his asst and me at a Yelp event
But then there was the icing.  The icing I chose to make was an Italian Meringue Buttercream.  I really wanted a "less sweet" icing (aka non-powdered sugar based) icing.  Italian Meringue Butter Cream is actually also very special to me.   It was the first butter cream I ever made and I will say that every time I make an Italian Meringue Buttercream I am reminded of why I love baking.   My whole cupcake obsession started with a cupcake class taught by Warren Brown.  Warren owns the Washington DC cupcake chain called Cake Love.   He has some unique views on cupcakes and how they should be served, so some people are annoyed that you have to wait 30 minutes for your cupcake to come back to room temperature.   I think its worth the wait!  Plus with how tempermental IMBC can be, the last thing you want is for it to fall apart because it was left out too long!  Especially after all that work!

If you've ever made an Italian Meringue BC you will understand that its quite a process.  And while I've made it many times.... I STILL make mistakes.  There was one incident where I was making a brown sugar based meringue bc and it took me 3 tries (and over a dozen eggs) before I gave up and made my tried and true butter cream.   This may or may not have been due to 5 beers during the Hokie game.  Still, there are some tips I have for making a Meringue buttercream
  1. Buy extra supplies.   Be prepared that you may not get it right on the first try
  2. Don't put yourself under a time constraint.   If you rush through it you may not get it right.  Take your time!
  3. Get ready! Have all your supplies and tools ready to rock!
  4. Don't stress.  Sometimes I swear my mixer can tell when I'm stressed out and it doesn't want to work right.  Relax, have a glass of wine (not 5!) and it will work out
  5. Don't try to multitask.  I'm totally guilty of trying to do laundry and watch tv and check email and etc.  All the mistakes I made were a result of getting distracted and letting the sugar overheat or harden before pouring into the egg whites.   
  6. Unless you are serving immediately, once you've iced the cupcakes, store them in the fridge.  Then allow 20-30 minutes for them to return to room temperature before serving.  It really helps.
  7. Don't pour the sugar on your hand.... you will get a burn.  Or three 
  8. Its not over til it's over!  Don't worry if your icing looks disgusting after adding in the butter.... just let it keep whipping and I promise it will work out!
  9. Don't give up!   It took me 3 batches of sugar syrup and 11 eggs to get it right.   Even "pros" like me need to be patient :)
 I think the cupcakes were a success!  The cake was exactly what I was going for, a sweet and cinnamony (yes thats a word) cupcake with a much less sweet icing.  However, I don't think that you have to use the IMBC.  You can use your favorite regular butter cream (Martha Stewart recommends her Seven Minute Frosting). And while I didn't get a whole lot of direct feedback, all 47 mini cupcakes I brought it were gone when I left.   I think that says something!

Finished Product


Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  5. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. 
  6. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
  7. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. I use a mini ice cream scoop/ cookie scoop
  8. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  9. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
Italian Meringue Butter Cream
  • 5 eggs (large)
  • 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) extra-fine granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft

  1. Set out the ingredients and equipment.
  2. Separate the eggs and place the whites in the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment. Reserve the yolks for another use.
  3. Measure 1 cup of the sugar into a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Gently stir to combine; 
  4. Measure the 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.
  6. Begin making the sugar syrup. Place the saucepan with the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water -- this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals separating from the syrup.
  7. Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan, numbers facing down to balance the thermometer.
  8. Begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peak in a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment set to high speed. When the whites are at stiff peak you have a meringue. 
  9. Keep the mixer running and pour the 1/4 cup of sugar into the meringue.
  10. Raise the heat to bring the syrup to 245 degrees if it is not there already. When the syrup is at 245 degrees, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue.
  11. When pouring, keep your eye on the bowl. Aim for the space between the mixer bowl and the revolving wire whip. To maintain the same rate of pouring, pour slowly and raise the saucepan from your shoulder.
  12. After 1 to 2 minutes reduce the speed to medium for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the meringue is cooled. You can check this by placing your hands against the mixing bowl.
  13. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high for 3-4 minutes to fully combine the butter with the meringue.  Dont worry if it takes more time!


After piping or spreading the icing on the cupcakes, combine 1tsp cinnamon with 2 Tbsp sugar into a sieve will small a small opening.  I used this.  Lightly sprinkle the cupcakes with the mixture and enjoy :)
Cupcakes that did my doodle proud :)

Cupcakes from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Icing from Cake Love by Warren Brown


  1. Doodle would be proud! -Maureen