Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting for Patriotic Red Velvet Cupcakes on Election Day

Happy Election Day!!!  I hope everyone had the opportunity to get out and VOTE!  As part of this Election Day, I received a request to provide 250 cupcakes for an Election Night Party.  Whew!  That's a tall order and a lot of cupcakes!!

I thought this would be a good subject for my blog.  A little insight into what it takes to bake, decorate and deliver 250 cupcakes from a home kitchen.  First I planned what the finished cupcakes would look like.  My old standby Red Velvet Cupcake would be the perfect color and a flavor that is universally liked.  

Now to decide on the cupcake liners.  Reynolds has come out with a great line of baking liners called Baked for You-StayBrite Baking Cups.  They are brightly patterned on the outside and foil on the inside.  They hold up extremely well and the color of the cupcake doesn't bleed through.  My local Smith's Grocery store had them in a Patriotic pattern.  An all American blue with red and white fireworks.  Perfect!  They come 36 liners in a pack so I had to hit a couple of Smith's stores to find enough to bake 250 cupcakes.

Now my friend wanted the cupcakes to have a custom topper reflecting her political leanings - a Republican Elephant.  I thought about fondant but really didn't have time to cut 250 elephants out of fondant.  So I contacted one of my favorite Etsy Sellers - Anders Ruff Custom Designs to see if they would modify their Patriotic design I had purchased this past Fourth of July.  Check out their Etsy shop here.  They have amazing designs of all kinds of wonderful Party Goods from Invitations to Custom Banners.  They created an adorable DIY cupcake topper.  I just needed to print them off and put them together.  I punched them out using a 2" Fiskars scallop punch and glued them to a wooden hors d'oeuvres pick.  I did this over two nights of TV watching.
My "Fourth of July" Red Velvet Cupcakes with the Custom Toppers from Anders Ruff
I also had to decide how was I going to deliver 250 cupcakes?  Boxes were in order.  I usually gift my cupcakes in boxes that hold one dozen cupcakes but I didn't want to deliver 25 boxes of cupcakes.  I went to my favorite mail order box company - BRPBoxShop - you can access their website here.  You can order 10 boxes at a time or 100 boxes and shipping is free within the lower 48 states.  I ordered 10 of the Kraft Cupcake Boxes with Inserts that hold 2 dozen cupcakes.  They arrived in less than a week and were perfect!

Next came the math.  My Red Velvet Cupcake recipe (you can find it here) makes between 30-33 regular sized cupcakes. I figured I would need to make nine batches of batter (270-297 cupcakes) to make sure I had enough.  I then took the recipe and multiplied the ingredients by nine.  Once I had the calculations of how many total ingredients I needed I divided each ingredient into the size of that item I normally purchase (10 pounds of sugar, 1 dozen eggs, etc.) to put together my grocery list.  Saturday was shopping day and a quick trip to Costco and Walmart and I had all my supplies.

Sunday was baking day.  I kind of had it in my mind how long it was going to take to bake the nine batches of cupcakes but to be safe I started early.  I began baking at 6:45 AM and baked straight through until 12:45 PM.  The secret?  Commercial size cupcake pans that bake two dozen cupcakes at a time.  I own three of them so I could keep the cupcakes coming every 20 minutes as they baked in the oven.  I also have the large cooling racks that accommodate this size of pan.  Having the right equipment really makes things easier.  I set up measuring stations for each of the ingredients in the recipe with dedicated measuring cups/spoons.  This made quick work of measuring my mis en place for each batch of batter.

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled I placed them in the boxes for safe keeping until I frosted them.  This allowed me to stack the boxes and keep all the cupcakes under control.  I mean really, who has a kitchen large enough to accommodate 250 (or more) cupcakes out on their counter tops.  Not me, I live in a small Condo with no counter space at all.  I used my small Kitchen table and an additional card table placed in my living room.
There are two dozen cupcakes in each of the boxes under the card table
Next came Monday night, time to frost and decorate all the cupcakes.  I began making the Cream Cheese Frosting at 6:00 PM.  I loaded my pastry bag with an Ateco 885 tip and started piping.  I decided to frost the cupcakes right in the boxes.  I figured the less I handled the cupcakes the better.  I piped on the frosting, sprinkled them with red, white and blue star shaped quins and inserted the custom toppers.  I finished the frosting and decorating at 8:15 PM. The best thing I discovered while frosting is the perfect recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.  A Cream Cheese Frosting that will hold it's shape when piped.  Here it is:

Decorator Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8 oz. packages of Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip the butter and cream cheese for 3 minutes. Set a timer, do not under beat. Add the meringue powder and salt and beat for another minute.  Add the Vanilla.  Gradually add the powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Mix until combined and light and fluffy. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes using a decorative tip.  The meringue powder helps the frosting hold its shape and set up.

Once the cupcakes were frosted and decorated I closed up the boxes, stacked them for safe keeping, ready to put in my car in the morning for delivery to the location of the party on Election Day.  I was up early on Election Day to load up the car and carefully drive on the freeway 20 minutes to deliver the cupcakes safe and sound for the party before heading off to work.
It was a tall order - 250 cupcakes.  But I did it.  All by myself.  And I actually had fun!  So don't be afraid of big jobs.  With a little forethought and planning you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Enhanced by Zemanta