Take Me Out To the Cupcakes

Mmmm cupcakes...

I like making/eating/decorating cupcakes. But what I really like, truly, is designing cupcakes--coming up with a unique blend of flavors and techniques that make the cupcake less a cupcake and more an experience. Witness: shotglass cupcakes, delicious in their own right, amazing because they are cupcakes hollowed out and filled with booze.

So I jumped at the opportunity again to create some unique cupcakes for the third annual Cupcake Project/Scoopalicious Ice Cream Cupcake Contest!

My little beauties (bum ba bum...)

Pretzel Cupcakes with Sour Frozen Yogurt!

I am so excited for these--they are absolutely amazing! Google tells me they are the first pretzel cupcakes of their kind, which was fun, and I made my first foray into homemade frozen yogurt, with delicious results. I started with a very sweet and buttery pretzel recipe, which I invented by blending recipes for pretzels, butter cake, and sweet rolls. Dipping the unbaked pretzels in baking soda gave them their characteristic pretzelly flavor, and a crisp crust of salt added the right flavor. To offset the saltyness and butteryness of the pretzel, I used a recipe for a tangy, smooth frozen yogurt, which provided the perfect clean contrast to the flavorful pretzel. Amazingness, indeed. And because cupcakes should have frosting of some kind, I topped the whole thing with a very thin, very sweet sugary glaze (another frosting I considered was a lemony or strawberry topping. But, I don't like fruit in desserts, and these are my cupcakes, so straightforward sugar was all I needed).

The results were terrific--even more delicious than I was hoping--and got raves from my guinea pig tester. And because for some reason I was feeling the whole summer/baseball/soft pretzel vibe (and because I am a diehard, 24-years-and-counting Yankees fan), I gave them a baseball name: Take Me Out to the Cupcake.

On to the tips and tricks
Make sure the cupcakes are cool before putting on the ice cream--you want them just warm enough to still have that rich, bready taste, but not too warm so they melt the ice cream. I made my frozen yogurt without an ice cream machine, and it turned out pretty well, if a little gloopy. To give my fro-yo the characteristic Pinkberry swirl, I stuck it inside my Wilton Dessert Decorator Pro. This thing is awesome, and I was stoked for the opportunity to use it. Dave was stoked for other reasons...

I should also note, he was an excellent helper, hardly batting an eye when I told him I wanted to take fancy pictures. "With props!" So I pulled out my beloved old-school Yankees gear and my little plastic Yankees cap and set about taking fancy food pictures. It did not go well.

And so my career as a food stylist ends not with a bang, but with a t-shirt covered in fro-yo.

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and butter.
Add in yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until browned.

*Adapted from AllRecipes

3 cups plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved
Freeze in a large, shallow container for one hour
Whisk until all the ice crystals are broken up, refreeze
Repeat freezing and mixing for 4-6 hours, or until it's reached desired texture

2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon honey
vanilla extract (optional)

Blend all ingredients together

1 comment:

  1. You always come up with such creative ideas! Love the idea of a sweet pretzel cupcake! I also just tried making sour frozen yogurt for the first time. I used a similar recipe. I thought it was really good, but icier than the kind I've purchased at fro-yo shops. I'm wondering if you had that problem. Thanks for entering!