Blue Velvet Cupcakes for a Bridal Shower

Have you ever made red velvet cake?  I have, twice, and from two different recipes no less.  You always here that velvet cake can be a little tricky (or maybe that’s just me?), and indeed, my first attempt was mediocre.  It had a decent flavor, but the texture was all off, and it was quite dry.  So the second time I tried a different recipe and unfortunately fared little better.  You see, red velvet cake is kind of a thing in the south.  We’re known for our cakes down here, and you’d be hard put to find a cake that is more decadent and steeped in tradition than this one.  Everyone’s grandmother has her recipe, and each one is better than the last – and bless your heart if it’s dry or flavorless.  So when I was told that the favorite cupcake flavor of the guest of honor at the bridal shower I was co-hosting was red velvet, I was a little nervous.

The future bride sharing a secret with her maid of honor.

I have a confession to make here:  I love to host things.  I love to entertain, to have guests over, and to see people enjoying something I’ve baked or prepared just makes my day.  It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it, and I really want everything to be just perfect.  Because I had had two previous red velvet duds, I was worried that these might turn out the same.  And to make things a little more interesting, I had decided to make them “Blue Velvet Cupcakes” to go along with the bride’s colors, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get just the right color blue.  I ended up following a recipe from Sprinkle Bakes that had “Finding the perfect hue” in the title.  I’ve had good luck with Sprinkle’s recipes before, so I ran with it, and what do you know?  Perfect cupcake, perfect color. I will probably use this recipe for velvet cake in the future, and just change the color as I please (Orange velvet cake anyone??).

At least one of our guests could’ve cared less about my cupcakes. Those club crackers sure are a crowd pleaser!

Following Sprinkle’s instructions, I purchased Wilton gel food coloring and used a combination of blue and violet to get that deep navy blue.  I used just the tiniest bit of green in the frosting (another of the bride’s colors), and I was really happy with how they looked.  My crafty co-host made those cake stands you see above, as well as most of the other decor, and I think everything came together really well to make this a very special day for the future bride.

Isn’t that sign to die for? My friend Kelly made that with her Cricut, which I’ve heard is one of the coolest things ever.

Our third co-host (that’s her adorable son up there enjoying the crackers) provided the entertainment, and since she’s something of a game guru, that of course turned out perfectly.  She has this great game where she passes out paper bags with small kitchen items in them and you have to guess what the item is by feeling it through the bag – no peeking!  It sounds easy, but some things are really hard to tell without looking.

Bridal shower guest trying to guess what’s in the bag…It’s harder than it sounds!

To sum up:  cupcakes – decadently delicious, decor – visually stunning, games – wildly entertaining.  In short, we spent a lovely afternoon showering the bride-to-be with love and gifts, and everything turned out perfectly.

 

Blue Velvet Cupcakes

This is an adapted Paula Deen recipe. The food-coloring portion has been modified to create (what I consider) the perfect shade of blue for Blue Velvet Cupcakes. The frosting is also not original to the recipe.

12-14 servings

Cake:

2 cups sugar

1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, at room temp

2 eggs

1tbsp cocoa powder (I used Dutch Cocoa)

1tbsp Wilton royal blue gel food coloring

1 small dab Wilton violet gel food coloring

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp vinegar

Frosting:

1 lb cream cheese, softened

1/2 lb butter (softened)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pan(s) with paper liners.

Cake:
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food colorings together to form a paste, and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Pour batter into cupcake papers. Batter will be thick! Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip. Embellish as desired.

 

A few notes:

I got 24 cupcakes out of this.  There’s no way I was only going to get 14.  I actually could have gotten 26, but I may have, um, sampled the batter.

This stuff is blue.  Really blue.  Don’t wear your favorite apron, and don’t use your cute decorative hand towels. 

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I’ve been away for a while, but I have been doing quite a bit of baking in my absence, and I have lots to show you!  I chose these to start with since anything my husband declares “…are the best cookies I’ve ever eaten” must be shared. He just doesn’t do desserts, and he really doesn’t like raisins, so I figured these must be the mother of all oatmeal raisin cookies to get that sort of reaction from him.  This is the simplest recipe, but the results are the sort of cookie that makes you want to curl up in your comfy spot with a good book or a marathon of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (that last may just be me though…).  These are rustic, homey, not very pretty cookies – sort of lumpy and not-very-impressive-looking – but no one is going to notice how they look when they’re shoving them into their mouths as fast as possible.

I got this recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook (one of my favorites that I picked up at TJ Maxx for like $15…Who loves that store?!).  They were listed as Oatmeal cookies with the  note to add raisins or chocolate chips if desired, but really I don’t think they’d be nearly as good if they were just oatmeal – I think that would be too much “healthy” for me. I’ve also made them with both raisins and chocolate chips and let me tell you, that takes them to a whole new level (really, what doesn’t chocolate improve?).

These really are the easiest cookies to make: you just cream the butter and sugar (really well!  Light and fluffy is the goal here!), add the egg and a little vanilla, then dump in all your dry ingredients.  I used a medium cookie scoop – it’s 1 1/2 tbsp – and that made just the right size cookie for me.

So, in conclusion, you should all rush home and make these immediately.  You won’t regret it.  You might even want to do it when no one else is home so that you don’t have to share, but that’s your call – I won’t tell if you do though.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook

makes aprox 2 dozen cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  •  3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1 1/2 cups raisins, or chocolate chips, or both – to taste; I like lots so I use more like 1 1/2 cups of raisins, and if I use both I do about 3/4 cups of each.
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Mix first 5 ingredients, plus the raisins or chocolate chips, in a bowl.
  3. Cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy – several minutes. Add the egg and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Add oat mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Drop heaping tablespoons (my 1 1/2 tbsp scoop was perfect) of dough about 2 inches apart onto the lined baking sheets. Gently flatten the dough drops with slightly moistened fingers – this helps them not mound up in the center.
  6. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just golden for chewy cookies.  You can let them crisp up for another minute or two if you like them that way, but beware of the bottoms getting too brown.
Enjoy!