An introduction by friends in a bar on St. Patrick’s Day, laughs at a comedy show, and a tour of his artwork began our courtship. This year will mark the 21st anniversary of the night The Artist and I met! It seems like it has only been a few years and yet a lifetime ago. And in just a few months we will have our 18th wedding anniversary. Time seems to rush ahead faster than ever when you look back at milestones like these.
To celebrate the festivities of my Irish heritage and the day that changed my life forever, I have made you luscious vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with chocolate chips inside, covered in sweet buttercream frosting. The snap of the chocolate is the perfect counterpoint to the tender cake and creamy frosting. Plus it adds a fun surprise when you take your first bite.
Cupcakes are always fun to make and a hit with kids. They are custom designed for little hands!
To make them easy to fill without much spillage, use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop. You will have the cups filled in no time and little ones can help you scoop and drop the batter. I loved helping, not realizing it usually made more work for my mom, LOL.
I only had one tray of regular size muffin tins, so I used a jumbo muffin pan to hold the green cupcake liners. As they baked, they spread, pushing the points of the liners into the batter, creating almost 4-leaf clover cupcakes. Can you see the shape?
Buttercream is the frosting of choice for many. Thick and creamy, luxurious and indulgent, it is definitely for special occasions. You may have seen recipes that use vegetable shortening in lieu of butter or in combination with it – this helps the frosting stay firm at room temperature, keeping your treats fresh looking. I personally would rather eat real butter in smaller quantities. And I like to use imported butter when making buttercream, to me it is worth the splurge. A brand like Kerrygold is easy to find in many stores and is very high quality. And for these St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes, butter from Irish cows is the obvious choice, LOL. If you can find them, French and New Zealand butters are also great choices.
Some kids are especially sensitive to food colorings, so it is optional for the frosting. I prefer using Americolor paste colors. You can also use powders. Because it is dry, it doesn’t change the liquid ratio in delicately balanced foods (like gluten-free baking) and it is extremely concentrated so you need only a small amount for rich colors.
If you want, you can color only half the frosting and lightly sprinkle sanding sugar (extremely finely ground colored sugar) over the plain ones. You still get a festive look with a lot less coloring. And of course if there is a strong reaction to any colorings, leave them out and buy festive cupcake liners. With jolly shamrocks and other green decorations scattered around the table, the beautiful white frosting will stand out as if they are lit with a spotlight.
I hope you all have a fun and spirited St. Paddy’s Day this Thursday. May the luck of the Irish be with you all year long!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Use a toothpick dipped in the paste colorings to transfer just a little at a time. It is easy to use too much because they are so concentrated. Start with a tiny amount and add more if needed. If you gets it too dark, mix in some more of the white frosting to lighten it.
If you have buttered all the cups in a muffin pan and don’t have enough batter to fill all the cups, pour a couple tablespoons of water in the bottom of the empty cups. This will help you clean off the butter or vegetable spray more easily after the tray has baked.
I normally use the gluten-free flour blend I keep on my counter to make these cupcakes. Because I use Authentic Foods Superfine flours to make my blends, I never get any grittiness in my baked goods. Another fantastic option, also from Authentic Foods, is their Steve’s Cake Flour Blend. This is a proprietary blend for use in cakes, cookies, muffins, waffles, pancakes, pastry dough, and more. It behaves like regular wheat flours with gluten-free ingredients and without the addition of xanthan or guar gums. If you are sensitive to gums, this is the flour blend for you!
Kitchen Tips: Adding Eggs One at a Time
This sounds like a real pain, but it is actually simple. Crack your eggs into a cup with a spout and slowly pour them in so that one yolk and some whites go into the mixer. If two go by mistake, don’t worry, it won’t ruin your batter!
- 1-1/2 cups self-rising* flour or gluten-free flour blend converted to self-rising flour (see directions below)
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum - only if you are using GF flour
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips or mint chocolate chips
- Buttercream Frosting
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
- 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
- About 6 tbsp milk, or as needed
- Food coloring, preferably paste or gel, optional
- Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Place cupcake liners in two 12-cup muffin tins.
- Make the Cupcakes: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours and salt. Whisk until thoroughly blended (this takes the place of sifting). Set beside your mixer.
- Combine the milk, buttermilk, and vanilla in a 1-cup measuring cup with a spout. Set next to the flour blend.
- In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth. With the motor on low, slowly add the sugar and beat until fluffy and lightened in color, about 1 to 2 minutes (this is called creaming). Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Scrape the bowl and beater. Add the dry ingredients, 1/3 at a time, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. After each addition beat only until the ingredients are incorporated, then add the next one. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Fill the lined cups about 2/3 full using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop - it is fast, easy, and clean. Place the muffin tins on baking sheets to insulate the bottoms. Place in the hot oven.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, remove from the oven and place the muffin pans on a cooling rack. Leave cupcakes in the pan about 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.
- Make the Frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition until all the sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture gets too dry, add 1 tbsp milk after adding the first or second cup of sugar. Stop the motor, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl. Slowly increase the mixer to medium-high speed and beat until light and fluffy. If you want a thinner consistency add a little more milk. Add food coloring if using, beating until it is fully incorporated and no streaks remain. Scrape the bowl and beater, and beat for another 30 seconds if needed to blend in any unincorporated ingredients. If you are making multiple colors, divide the frosting into individual bowls and add the colors to each bowl.
- Frost the cupcakes: You don't have to be fancy, people love cupcakes no matter how they are decorated. Spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula and sprinkle sanding sugars over the tops or use a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip. (I didn't have the right tip, yours will be much prettier!) For a detailed description of piping techniques, pop over to Amy's Healthy Baking written by my friend Amy Atherton. Her directions are toward the bottom of the page, but you will love her entire post. While you're there be sure to check out all of her amazing recipes!
- If the frosting is too soft to pipe you can chill it or add more powdered sugar to stiffen it just enough to hold the beautiful forms that piping gives you. You can use a plain round, star, or other tip depending on the look you like. If you make a mistake, scrape off the frosting and start again - that's how you learn!
- Yield: 24 cupcakes
- * To Make Self-Rising Flour for this recipe: Place 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (or GF blend) in a large mixing bowl. Add 2-1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt. Whisk thoroughly until completely blended.
Create a New Tradition Today!
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