26 January 2012

roo's lamingtons

When I got an email from one of the world class hotels here in Vail regarding "Lamingtons," I wasn't sure how to react.  Do I make them?  Definitely not.  Was I willing to make them for the Australian hotel guests for the upcoming Australia Day? Absolutely.  Give me a task that involves cake and frosting, and I will do it, and do it well.
After googling lamingtons, I discovered that they are a traditional Aussie dessert usually found in bakeries, coffee shops, cafes and especially at school bake sales.  There are even such things as "lamington drives" to raise money for community causes.  There are all sorts of Lamingtons.  The classic lamington is vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate frosting, rolled in dessicated coconut.  The more elevated lamington involves a strawberry jam and lemon cream filling.  There are even blood orange lamingtons, found in New Zealand.  As I started out on my lamington adventure, I found that the average lamington cake recipe is very similar to the batter cupcakes vanilla cupcake recipe.  By starting off with one element that was familiar, the whole process seemed less intimidating. 

the order was for 3 dozen lamingtons, so I made enough cake batter for 3 dozen cupcakes

after cooking the cake batter in a medium sized sheet pan for about 25 minutes, it was cooked all the way through to the middle

letting the cake cool for at least 15 minutes, I ensured that the cake wouldn't stick to the pan upon release

I measured the squares to be approx. 2"x2" with a measuring tape, and then cut the squares with a pizza cutter.  I was first going to cut 36 squares from the cake, but then realized that the pan was too shallow, so I needed to double up on the layers.  Instead, I measured the cake to yield 72 squares instead so each lamington would have 2 layers. 

the classic lamington recipe calls for chocolate frosting, but my version of frosting on a cupcake is way different than a lamington frosting.  The ratio of butter to sugar to cocoa was boldly different - almost a glaze.  During research I found that some were reminded of a chocolate glazed donut when eating a lamington. I can now see why.  The powdered sugar found in the frosting makes the lamington what it is.

classic lamingtons call for dessicated coconut, or unsweetened.  I had a hard time finding unsweetened coconut shavings in our little mountain town, so I settled for sweetened coconut shavings.

I placed the cake squares on top of a cooling rack, with a pan underneath because the process was messy and gooey.  I couldn't drop the cake squares directly into the pot of chocolate because the cake would flake off into the chocolate.  I slowly coated each piece of cake, on all 6 sides, then rolled the chocolatey cake in the coconut.

The final step was transferring the lamington to a traditional cupcake wrapper!  Easy to serve for the hotel, and reminiscent of my namesake!

this little nugget looks like the flatiron building to me

Roo and his Lamington
Happy Australia Day! 

22 January 2012

David Archuleta's cupcakes

A fresh and exciting cupcake order over the holidays involved hundreds of mini cupcakes and David Archuleta.  Interested?  He has over 2 million fans on Facebook, and almost 1 million fans on Twitter.  For the last show of his 2011 Tour, he came to little old Beaver Creek for his last performance of the year. 
A group of his SuperFans from all over the country traveled to Beaver Creek's Vilar Center to see Archuleta perform, but to also host an impromptu, surprise 21st Birthday Party for him.  And they called Batter Cupcakes to provide the goods!  We prepared mini cupcakes in many different flavors, and added holiday bling for a little something extra.  Here's hoping that he loved them!

Cupcake Candy Cabin

The big project over the holidays was a gingerbread house submission to benefit CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, of the Continental Divide.  Every year they host a gingerbread house contest at The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, and this year, they asked me to compete in the Professional Category.  We had a long list of rules and regulations, so I was hesitant at first, but then I thought, why not a gingerbread house?  If I can make cupcakes, I can make anything!  So I committed to the event, and was also crossing my fingers for the $1000 Grand Prize.  Making a gingerbread house is way more intricate and complicated than I ever thought, and I'm glad I now have a better appreciation for the art.  I missed out on the big Win this year, but now I know that my competitors started in August so more motivation to transition from summer to winter with gingerbread!

smash the gingerbread dough

roll out the dough, and add the house frame

cut out all windows and doors from house frame

bake all 4 walls and roof pieces

once you assemble frame of house on sturdy cake base, start adding accents like the peppermint pillow chimney, window treatments, gingerbread tree and peppermint stick corner supports

this addition made the house heavy, but milk duds seemed like the perfect roof shingles

milk chocolate pieces on the opposite side of the house added variety and the peppermint kisses made out to be the perfect lawn stylings

"CCC" on the front door stands for Candy Cupcake Cabin!

adding m&m roof, snow-dusted tree, powder covered front lawn, and Santa's Cupcake Hot Tub made things feel more finished

Santa relaxing with his Men

mini cupcakes sliced in half adorned he roof, where tiny gingerbread men watched guard over the house

adding extra royal icing to the edges of the roof added significant weight, but was necessary for that chilly, "it just-snowed" feel

red and green M&Ms were a tedious addition to the roof, but worth the time

I think I got docked points for having an inedible Santa and presents on the chimney, but they were too cute to pass up

and the final touch...ice skating penguin on the front walk! TaDa!

Below are a few photos of the competitors houses because you can really see Batter's whimsical Style, compared to the rest!

can you tell this house was the winner?!?  this team started in August, a good 5 months before the event

2nd Place

I'm not sure which house won 3rd place, but if I had to guess, it would be the old woman in the snowboard boot

In addition to being a participant, I was also asked to be a judge for the Amateur division.  Some of the "amateur" houses were better than my own gingerbread house!  I also really like the LightHouse from the kids division.    

kids division

amateur division 2nd place

amateur division 1st place

my favorite amateur house

until next year...