Merry Christmas, everyone! I know that I'm a day late, but it was a busy holiday! And, considering all the snow we got over the last few days, it still feels like Christmas! In fact, it's snowing again...
Last weekend we hosted a Holiday Party, so leading up to the party I was in the kitchen, busy making cupcakes, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies and white chocolate party mix, along with all the salty snacks I made. Since I had lots to do in a limited amount of time, I used the same Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcake recipe that I wrote about in my last entry. This time I used a white cake mix rather than devil's food and changed up the decorating. The design on the cupcakes are holly leaves with berries. I used jelly belly sour cherries for the berries and spearmint gummies for the leaves. Spearmint wasn't the ideal flavor, but it was the only candy shaped like a leaf that I found.
For the Holly Berry Cupcakes I used the same frosting recipe that I used for the Christmas Cupcakes and the Thanksgiving Cupcakes. For the Christmas Cupcakes I used peppermint flavoring in the recipe (rather than almond), and for the Holly Berry Cupcakes I used the almond flavoring. You can also use creme bouquet flavoring rather than almond.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe:
2 lb bag of powdered sugar, sift for decorating
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, not margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup hi-ratio or icing shortening - not Crisco
1/2 cup milk (minus 2 Tbsp in the summer)
1 teaspoon clear vanilla
1/4 teaspoon creme bouquet or almond flavoring
1/8 teaspoon salt
*Cocoa for chocolate
Cream butter and shortening together until fluffy, with mixer on low, add the milk (-2 Tbsp), 1/2 the bag of sugar slowly, the flavorings and the salt. Mix until creamy, slowly add the remaining sugar. If the icing is too stiff, add remaining milk. In the summer leave out the extra 2 Tbsp.
Scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn mixer on high and beat for 6-10 min. until icing has doubled in volume. Keep covered while working. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks or freeze for 6 months. Thaw to room temperature and re-whip.
To make Chocolate Buttercream, make the regular buttercream as above. Add cocoa (start with 1/2-3/4 cup or more) and milk (1 Tbsp at a time) to thin. Add a pinch o salt to help bring out the flavor. This icing will thicken as it sits. It should be made ahead and rewhipped to the right consistency. More cocoa to make darker and richer and milk to keep from being too thick.
You can't find hi-ratio/icing shortening at a typical grocery store. I bought my shortening at The Baker's Rack in downtown Lenexa, KS, which is where this icing recipe came from. The reason for using hi-ratio/icing shortening rather than Crisco is because Crisco is heavy and is made for frying, so it will be greasy on the tongue. Hi-ratio/icing shortening is digestible and made for eating, and will whip up fluffy.
Buttercream Frosting in the making...
One thing to note is that this recipe makes a LOT of frosting... more than enough to frost two dozen cupcakes. It would likely be the perfect amount to frost a cake with. The next time I make this frosting, I'm going to try cutting the recipe in half... I'll let you know how that goes.
Just for fun, here are a few shots of my sugar cookies: