Red Velvet Cupcakes (Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting)

Friday, 13 June 2014

I've always wondered about the hype surrounding Red Velvet bakes. Seriously - aren't they just chocolate cakes with red colouring? Why then, are so many people intrigued by them?

When I first baked a red velvet cupcake, it turned out mediocre, at best, and I trashed the recipe I obtained online because it really wasn't even worth taking up space in my recipe file. My file is probably one of the things I'd grab in the event of a fire or any emergency situation, because it contained the results of hours and hours of sourcing and trying out recipes. The recipes in there are those which I've tried, tweaked and tested, and they yield bakes which will make me a strong contender for baker of the year (or the world's best baking Mum!) award. Not because I bake well - but because they simply work. For everyone, regardless whether you can bake, or the only thing which ever came out of your oven is (burnt) toast.

Then I came across this book.

...and stared at this picture for a long long time.

Image from book: One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti
Why not? I thought. It's a one bowl bake, and I happened to have some buttermilk which I needed to use before it expires. One bowl. I would be sold just on that promise alone. Cos we all love to bake, right? Cleaning batter off bowls - not so much.

Well then - I've made this 3x (yes, THREE times) since I made the first batch last Friday. I doubled the frosting amount the second time I baked it, because I now know what makes a Red Velvet cake a crowd pleaser. It's all in the frosting - and this vanilla cream cheese one is slightly tart with a hint of sweetness. There is no sugar overload or gritty aftertaste in this frosting... just be careful not to eat it by the spoonful before it goes on top of those cupcakes!

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and salt until well combined.

Whisk in oil, egg, egg yolk, buttermilk and food colouring. Mix well.

Add the flour, baking soda and cocoa to the bowl, and mix gently until combined. Do not overmix the batter. Sift the cocoa in should it be overly lumpy.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners, about 2 tbs each. I used a large size ice cream scoop per cup.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C till just firm, for about 18 - 20 minutes, depending on your oven.
Cupcakes are done when the top lightly springs back to the touch.

Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, whisk cream cheese, butter and icing sugar till combined.

Add in vanilla extract and whisk on high speed, till frosting turns light and fluffy, about 30 sec.

Frost generously.

Moist, velvety and light. These babies are so simple to make, but they're guaranteed to take your breath away from the very first bite. You will never buy another red velvet cupcake again, because those store bought ones, will never come close to this.

Printable recipe - click on image, right click to save.


Transformers: Age of Extinction (giveaway!)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

In case you didn't already know, the boy is crazy over Transformers action figures. Well - make that the boyS, if you include the husband. Secretly, so am I.

I grew up watching the Transformers animated TV series back in the 80s. I didn't care much about the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, because I was more fascinated with the process of transformation (remember the sound effects?) of the robots to vehicles, Dinobots, Insecticons and other objects.  And for those who came from the same era (okay, I'm old, now stop counting back!) can you really forget the catchy show tune? 

It all looks so ancient now. Two-dimensional, non gleaming metal, and almost devoid of expression. It was a significant part of my childhood though. Sunday mornings in front of the TV, watching one cartoon after another, because that was the only time we are able to. No cable tv, no internet, no iPads or tablets. 

Now they are sleek, shiny and transform with an almost dancer's grace. They show emotions, often mirrored through their eyes. Almost three decades later, The giant bots are still fighting one another, and they still have a seriously awesome following. Many of whom now have kids of their own who share their parents' love.

Three years after Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a new range of Autobots are rolled out. Hasbro has kindly extended a media invite of the Transformers: Age of Extinction action figures launch to us, and we were privileged to be the first few to acquaint ourselves with the new robots from the movie.

Held at Toys R' Us @ Forum the Shopping Mall on the 16th of May, the new range of robots were introduced to the public at 10pm sharp. The highly anticipated event drew crowds, and a queue was said to have been formed since early afternoon. When we arrived at the mall at close to ten, the husband remarked that we were indeed fortunate to have media passes since the line stretched all the way down to the basement!

Ahead of the crowds, the boys and I were able to take a look at the newly created bots of the Age of Extinction.

The new range of Transformers Generations figures from Hasbro will still feature the 'one-step changers and flip-to-change action' synonymous with past releases, but they have been categorised to suit different age groups. Designed to suit all ages, the different autobots and dinobots can transform in either 8 steps or 18 steps.

Do be careful when making your purchase, though - the ones marked for 4 years and up are huge (and very much cheaper), but they do not transform. Caden is 3.5 years old, but he would absolutely hate having a Transformer which er... doesn't transform, so I'm not sure which age category he should be in.

The non transforming Transformers, standing 12-inch tall
And then, there were these.

When the velvet rope was lifted amidst much fanfare at 10pm sharp, the excited (adult) crowd swarmed in. They rushed in, and even I was amazed at their fervour. They walked through the aisles, and discussed the figures' specifications with those who were looking at the same item. Strangers became friends, all united in their love for these autobots.

They didn't only browse the aisles. They grabbed their coveted figures off the shelves, and the staff were kept busy replenishing items.

Of course, Caden made his choices very early on, before the crowds were allowed in, so lest he be caught in the mini stampede, I herded him off to another part of the store, where he had a wonderful time playing with Xander, The Blogfather's and Mother of Xander's - son (just in case you didn't know), while their daddies were made to queue to pay for their purchases.

They were very happy to be at the Girls' section, amongst the purples, pinks, and glittery stuff.
Which they did. Gladly, it seems.

The boys also went home with a nice little surprise each, from the very nice ladies at Hasbro. First edition Optimus Prime... which Caden was absolutely thrilled with, but had a slight difficulty holding on to because the box was pretty big and bulky!

Optimus Prime not only transforms and fights the Decepticons, he is actually useful for other things, too.

The husband and I have told Caden repeatedly how fortunate he is to have 'earned' so many action figures (each was a reward for good behaviour for at least a fortnight), and now that he understands the concept of sharing, he wants to share the love with 2 of his Mummy's readers!

Yes, we have not one, but TWO Transformers Bumblebee Action Figures to give away!

These are not sponsored items. Caden has purchased these out of his own pocket money (with Mummy and Daddy chipping in) to give away, as a gesture of appreciation to our readers. For always taking the time to leave a comment either via email or on blog, and for indirectly making this media invite (and other blogging opportunities) possible. We thank you.

The Bumblebee transforms into an orange Camaro in 8 steps, and is much easier for younger kids to handle. The High Octane Bumblebee transforms into a Black Camaro, and is suitable for ages 8+. It transforms in 18 steps, and has small parts.

These Bumblebees are from Caden to his young friends on blog, so kindly participate only if you have a child or a young relative who would be very happy to receive one. This giveaway is open only to readers residing in Singapore, and ends on Monday, 9th June, at midnight.

To take part in this giveaway, please leave a comment in this blog post indicating your name, email, child's age and which Autobot you would prefer to win (Bumblebee | Bumblebee High Octane). Remember to click on the Rafflecopter widget to indicate that you have commented and you can follow the rest of the options to increase your chances of winning.

Autobots, Roll Out!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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