Thursday, April 23, 2009

Iron Cupcake April: Soda POP!

Okay, I'm warning you now. I went a little nuts this month. There's just something about soda pop in a cupcake that gets me all giddy. I think I finally figured out that fizzy soda pop drinks remind me of how much fun I had as a kid and cupcakes do that same thing for me now, so put together, it's a very deadly combination. I had about seven different flavor combinations in mind, but finally settled on three. In fact, they were the first three I thought of when the ingredient was announced and so I went with my gut. I know they aren't super original flavors, but to me, they are the epitome of soda pop as a kid.

The very first one I thought of was a Shirley Temple cupcake. I KNEW I had to do this one.

For those of you who don't know what a Shirley Temple is (and I can't imagine there are very many of you) it's a virgin cocktail made with Seven Up, grenadine and maraschino cherries. I loved them as a child and always felt so special when I got to order one when we went out to eat. The fizzy pink drink and cherries with stems seriously just makes me happy. I've passed on my love of this drink to Sydney. She couldn't wait to taste these cupcakes! I give you fair warning: much like the kiddie cocktail it's fashioned after, these cupcakes are SWEET! However, I think its just right. When I bit into one, a wave of childhood memories came flooding back.

Shirley Temple Cupcake
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
About 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. lemon lime soda (left out so it will get flat)
1/4 c. grenadine
30 maraschino cherries

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift flour and baking soda. Add to mixture alternately with lemon lime soda and grenadine. Add vanilla. Pour into cupcake liners. Place one maraschino cherry in the middle of each cupcake on top of the batter. and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cherry will sink down during baking and be a nice little surprise at the bottom of each cupcake.

I topped the cupcake off with a maraschino cherry buttercream.

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pureed maraschino cherries
2 TBS maraschino cherry juice

Whip butter. Add powdered sugar and cherry juice alternately. Mix in pureed cherries. Whip for 3 minutes and pipe onto cupcakes. Garnish with a maraschino cherry with stem.

Next to make it's soda cupcake debut in the Contessa kitchen was the Orange Creme Cupcake. I didn't really plan to do this one, but I just couldn't let it go. Finally, I just decided to go for it. Oh man, I'm so glad I did. These cupcakes are smooth and refreshing and light and taste just like a bottle of orange creme soda. These were by far the favorite of the Evil Genius.

Orange Creme Soda Cupcakes

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
About 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 bottle of Boylan's Orange soda (my favorite)
1 TBS fresh orange zest

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift flour and baking soda. Add to mixture alternately with orange soda. Add vanilla. Pour into cupcake liners. and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cool completely.

Now, at this point I was going to fill the cupcake with whipped cream and make a fancy glaze and all kinds of super neat-o cupcake magic. But, after tasting the cupcake at this point, I knew it would be a shame. It tasted so close to the soda, I wanted to keep it simple, so I made a very simple orange buttercream and topped the little masterpiece off with an orange candy slice.

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 TBS orange zest
1 tsp vanilla

Whip butter. Add powdered sugar and orange juice alternately. Add zest and vanilla. Whip for 3 minutes and pipe onto cupcakes. Garnish with an orange candy.

These were by far, Vivie's favorite, particuarly the frosting....

Whatcha doin' there Vivie?

Finally, to round out this Soda Pop trifecta of awesomeness, I absolutely had to do a root beer float cupcake. My husband would never have forgiven me if i hadn't. I had a really hard time with this one. Mainly because I couldn't find root beer extract anywhere to save my life! Of course I waited too long to order in online and I had to come up with a new way to concentrate the root beer flavor down. I ended up deciding to just reduce a root beer down on the stove in a saucepan. This worked surprisingly well HOWEVER you need to use a root beer made with pure cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. I made that mistake buying my favorite root beer flavor, only to realize it just wasn't going to reduce down well. I ended up finding a terrific tasting and inexpensive root beer that's perfect for the recipe. Check out Hansen's Natural Creamy Root Beer. Next, I didn't want the topping to be heavy, I wanted it to be light and foamy like the top of a real float. I finally decided that the best way to achieve this for what I wanted was to make a whipped cream topping. I wanted it to have a nice smooth flavor, so I added a scraped vanilla bean to it. To give the cupcake an extra gooey root beer punch, I concocted a root beer pudding for the middle. I think this recipe will be even better if you add a tsp of root beer concentrate to the batter.

So, here's my take on the root beer float.

Root Beer Float Cupcake

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
About 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of reduced root beer**

**To make the reduced root beer, empty about 5 or 6 cans of a cane juice based root beer into a sauce pan and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer root beer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the liquid is reduced by about 3/4.

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift flour and baking soda. Add to mixture alternately with reduced root beer. Pour into cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cool completely.

At this point, time to make the filling. This is a very jelly like pudding and can easily be skipped. I just wanted to give it another texture and add a bit more root beer flavor.

Root Beer Pudding (I know it sounds weird, just go with it..)

2 cans root beer
3 TBS sugar
4 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup cream

Empty one can of root beer into small saucepan. Add sugar and boil together for about 10 minutes until liquid is reduced in half. Open other can of root beer. Use about 1/4 of it to mix with cornstarch in separate bowl. Reduce heat on saucepan and add butter. When butter is melted, pour in cornstarch/root beer mixture while wisking at the same time. Continue whisking. It will become very thick like taffy. Alternate adding cream and remaning root beer while whisking until a good piping consisitency is reached. Cool. Using a filler tip, pipe INTO cupcakes. In case you are wondering, THIS is what a filling tip looks like.

Now, I just want to stop really quick here and point something out. You may have noticed that every single one of my cupcakes for this month start with the same batter basics. It's a very simple vanilla cupcake recipe. They have just each been tweaked to accomodate the flavors I am trying to create. I just wanted to point this out because I have had a lot of friends ask how I come up with recipes. I usually just explain that it's all give and take. If you have a basic set of parameters, then you can experiment within those. For example, every cake needs to have certain properties, flour, sugar, eggs, butter, liquid, a rising agent... but within those I can try something new. In this instance, because we are dealing with soda pop, I have mainly substituted the liquids. Now, this doesn't work every time, but a lot of times it will. So, when you look at a recipe, start dicsecting it and figuring out what could possibly be exchanged. That's an easy way to start experimenting with baking and trying something new!

I digress... On to my topping.

Whipped Cream Vanilla Bean Frosting

1 c. Heavy Cream (the good stuff!)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 c. butter
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend cream, vanilla bean and cornstarch in small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened. Remove vanilla bean. Chill thoroughly. Cream butterand sugar in a chilled bowl. Beat in chilled paste and vanilla. Beat at high speed until mixture resembles whipped cream.

Top the cupcakes with a big dollop of whipped cream and you're set!

There you go, my three takes on the soda pop cupcake. I hope you like them. Once again, I would love if you voted for me. You can vote for up to three entries at a time, so vote for all three of mine, or if you're not a fan of all of them, vote for the one you like the best and then check out the other entries and share the love. The voting opens on April 29th and runs through May 4th. I'll make sure to remind you all when the voting opens!

Just a reminder, here's the awesome list of prizes I'm competing for:

Our April ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; TASTE OF HOME books,; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .

Don't forget, she REALLY wants mommy to win...


y0hmama said...

very clever - i can't decide which i'd like best, although like sydney, i'm leaning towards the shirley temples... or maybe rootbeer floats... geez, the creamsicles :)

Swede said...

They're all awesome! Great job!

Sara Walker said...

I'm going to have to taste all of them... You are incredible! You HAVE to win this month!!!

The Webb Family said...

I am changing my reservations to one of each please! I am going to TRY to come by tonight but it might not happen.


GOOOOOOO VANESSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Snooky doodle said...

wow gorgeous and decadent cupcakes. We have three votes eh? so I ll vote for all three. My favourite is the Shirly temple one. You really cracked me up with your daughter hidden in the bowl. So cute and evil :)
surely a winner cupcake here

Debbie said...

thanks for the yummy cupcake :)

amylouwho said...

why why why do I not live near you! I don't have time to make all of these - i just want to come over and sample. Like at costco!

Sarah said...

Oh, my. Oh, dear. I might have to go buy another cupcake tin. Or two. Joanna said you're good, but this is...

I have to tell you, I felt the same way about Shirley Temples when I was little, too. I thought I was a hot tomato on a stick whenever we'd go out to a restaurant and I'd get to order a Shirley Temple.

Good luck this month!! I'll go vote!!

Rhonda L. Thomas said...

My dear, sweet, evil cousin, you know how to make a girl weep. I voted for all three!

Solanaceae said...

The ST cupcakes are awesome sounding. How many does a batch of batter make?

Vanessa Contessa said...

Solanaceae-- It makes about 30 cupcakes! Enjoy!

Solanaceae said...

Thanks! This is one of the non-chocolate desserts I am planning on making for an upcoming party!

Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" said...

Hi, I just found your blog (through google, saw your pretty header photo)...These Shirley Temple cupcakes sound yummy and look so cute! Great blog, I hope you don't mind me following along! =)

Leigh said...

8/4/09. Hi Vanessa. I'm a reporter for the North County Times writing a story about the Village Blocksmith. Since you included him a past blog, I'd like a comment from you for the story...someone who bought or played with the blocks to enhance the article. Please e-mail me at Am attempting to finish the story by the end of tomorrow. Thanks!