I’ve recently become enamored with mini cupcakes. There’s something great about a cupcake so small, you can eat two of them and still feel like you’ve got room for more. And the icing-to-cupcake ratio is basically perfect (on some of these cupcakes, there might even be more icing than batter…). I think more people will eat a mini cupcake when it’s offered out of the blue, because it hardly seems like a full dessert, and yet it can be so decadent and so delicious.
You can see I’ve really got a thing for these cupcakes.
It started with some mini cupcakes I made for our dance exams back in November. I tried a few flavours here: vanilla bean with vanilla icing, chocolate with chocolate icing, chocolate with chocolate icing and raspberry filling, and chocolate with cookie dough icing.
The cookie dough, especially, were a big hit. I’ve been told I should never make any other icing ever again (though to be honest, I’m actually quite partial to vanilla, so I’m unlikely to jump entirely on the cookie dough bandwagon just yet). The cookie dough icing was really quite easy to make; I added about 100g of icing sugar with 15g of brown sugar to 50g of butter, beating as for my usual vanilla buttercream. I added splash of cream (about half a tablespoon) and a little vanilla, then mixed until smooth. Finally, I stirred in (by hand) some finely chopped semi-sweet bakers chocolate. I used an ice cream scoop for this icing because it tends not to pipe as well; the chocolate chunks can get stuck coming out of a piping bag and it really just ends up making a messy cupcake.
In December, I moved on to some speculaas cupcakes (I talk about my speculaas cookies in this post). When I made my batch of holiday speculaas, I also made some speculaas cookie butter following this recipe (there are three recipes given, but the measurements are all the same so I just subbed in my freshly baked speculaas for the cookies).
For the cupcake, I took a simple vanilla cupcake recipe but I added in my speculaas spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, white pepper) to make speculaas cupcakes. I added just a small amount of these spices because I didn’t want to overpower the cupcake. I topped with a simple vanilla buttercream. On half of the cupcakes, I used a round tip, then topped with some cookie butter and speculaas crumbs. On the other half, I used a closed star tip to make a ruffle, then topped with a tiny speculaas cookie. I really like the plain vanilla icing with this cupcake, because the spices in the cupcake and cookie/cookie butter are pretty strong. The vanilla has a nice, plain sweetness to it to compliment the spicy cookie and cupcake.
I made more mini cupcakes in December as part of some thank-you packages. I don’t own a car right now, so several people at my dance studio drive me home on different days of the week. I like to give out some little packs of baked goods at the end of each term to say thank you to these people, because they save me a lot of walking. And in the cold of an Ottawa winter, that’s a pretty big deal. If I can avoid walking home at 9pm when it’s -20 with windchill, I’m pretty happy.
I had some fun with this batch of cupcakes as well. I recently made some nanaimo bars for my boyfriend’s family, so I thought it would be fun to try a nanaimo bar cupcake. I took a plain chocolate cupcake and mixed in some dried coconut before baking. For the icing, I took my base for a vanilla frosting, but added in some vanilla pudding mix instead of vanilla extract. I had to add a little extra cream to get the consistency right, but this came out as a slightly thick icing, somewhere between a buttercream and a nanaimo bar custard. Now, a nanaimo bar wouldn’t be complete without a chocolate topping, so I melted some chocolate with a little coconut oil and dipped my cupcakes in to top. Check out that shiny coating:
It should be noted that these cupcakes went into the fridge before dipping, just until the buttercream was set up, so it wouldn’t melt or lose its shape when dipped into the warm chocolate.
Because chocolate and cookie dough was such a winning combination among my dance peers, I included a few cookie dough cupcakes. I added in a few plain vanilla cupcakes for anyone whose preference I was unsure of, since that’s always a safe flavour.
Just for fun, I added a little raspberry pie filling to some of the vanilla cupcakes, and topped with a meringue. The colours don’t show up very well in the image above, but I made these ahead of time with some red and green streaks in them, just to give a Christmassy theme.
I love mini cupcakes because they let you try out so many things. It’s like a little dessert tasting platter. I don’t think I’d ever want to do so many options for full-sized cupcakes, because it would take up so much icing and so many toppings, but with mini cupcakes I can make a little batch of icing (around 1/4 of my usual recipe) and just go wild. It’s great to have the opportunity to experiment and see what flavour combinations work well before moving on to a cake or full batch of cupcakes, and it’s so easy to get taste-testers; I don’t think anyone I know will turn down a mini cupcake when it’s offered.