Friday, January 7, 2011

Cupcake Training

photo by Anthony Palatta

Nick Malgieri is something of a dessert legend at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York, and I've always wanted to take one of his usually sold-out classes. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to take a cupcake class with him. On the menu, cupcakes in the following flavors:  Lemon Vanilla Bean, Gingerbread, Brownie Chip, Spiced Apple, Devil's Food, and Almond, in addition to various frostings.

Here are a few tips I took away from the experience:

1.  A kitchen timer is just a reminder that you've got something in the oven.  To test if a cupcake is done, you've got to stick a toothpick or paring knife into the cupcake, and if it comes out mostly clean, you're done.

2.  Follow the recipe's directions, and if it says "makes 12," you should use all the batter to end up with 12 cupcakes, not 10, not 14.

3.  When using almond paste, always buy the canned kind which have more flavor, not from a tube. Try Solo or Lov 'n' Bake brands.

4.  Many cupcake batters can be mixed entirely by hand.

5.  To make a successful meringue buttercream, you need to take a good long time, much more than you may think.  You'll end up with a lighter yet richer frosting than a typical buttercream frosting.

6.  The secret to delicious buttercream frosting?  Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of orange juice instead of milk.

7.  Cupcakes are best served the day they're made.

8.  Using an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners with batter helps ensure that you'll get an equal amount in each liner.

Click here for Nick Malgieri's easy meringue buttercream frosting recipe.  Enjoy!

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