merry christmas y’all… better late than never!

I know… I’m late. I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas as we all get ready to pull out the bubbly and celebrate the New Year! I meant to upload some recipes over the course of the month… as inspiration for your own holiday baking… obviously, I didn’t really succeed. I baked. A lot. So I’d like you to accept my apology and imagine me slaving behind my kitchenaid and oven preparing my goodies in order to gift them to my loved ones.

My papa called me early on in the month and we confirmed that I would be responsible for our Christmas desserts. I was also informed me that my step-mother, Marielle, wouldn’t be baking sweets; that I would be the sole provider of goodies for several days of holiday celebrations. Talk about pressure! (btw, Marielle did bake – and made probably the best tortière I’ve ever tasted – everything was wonderful)

So amongst the mayhem of my kitchen I pulled out my camera, tried some new recipes and am ready to upload them and share them with all of you. They aren’t all necessarily simply Christmas baking … these cupcakes I’d call winter cupcakes – a beautiful white cupcake iced with a white chocolate cream cheese butter cream… sounds just about perfect for a cold January day :0)

Winter White Cupcakes
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped and seeds removed
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
3/4 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. white sugar
3 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Depending on how big you want your cupcakes, you can line muffins tins with cupcake liners for either 12 or 24 cupcakes (I was able to make 24 regular sized cupcakes… not too big, just the perfect size to enjoy after indulging in copious amounts of food).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla seeds together in a medium sized bowl. In a smaller bowl, combing the buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts together. Set both bowls aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar – start at a lower speed, increasing the speed to get that fluffy texture and lightness in colour (about 3 minutes).

On low speed (Stir) and in 3 additions, add the flour and milk mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 flour, 2 milk). Mix until the flour is just incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Set aside.

In a large glass bowl and with clean beaters (I used my electric hand-mixer for this part), beat the egg whites until foamy (medium speed). Increase the speed to high and continue beating until the egg whites look shiny and smooth; the egg whites will cling to your beaters when you lift them.

Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. Once incorporated (do this quickly so that the egg whites don’t loose volume), grab your rubber spatula and fold the remaining egg whites into the batter. Just blended.

I used my mini ice-cream scooper to fill my paper liners – about 2 scoops per liner (that will make 24 cupcakes – 1/3 c. of batter would fill 12 liners).

Bake for about 20 minutes (the toothpick will come out clean when tested in the centre of the cupcake), remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from the wire rack and allow to cool completely before icing.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
3 ounces of white chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
4 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 vanilla bean, scraped and seeds removed (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 – 2 tbsp milk, half & half or cream… whatever you have on hand.

In a double boiler melt the white chocolate to smooth (heatproof glass bowl over a pot of 1 inch simmering water). Use your wire whisk to stir the chocolate smooth. Transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer.

Add the butter, cream cheese and vanilla (either the seeds or the extract) and, using your paddle attachment, beat to smooth (1 minute or so). Add the powdered sugar, mixing until the frosting is smooth. This is when I add the half & half (or milk or cream)… it loosens up the frosting just a bit; incorporate a tsp at a time.

Use a small spatula or a butter knife to spread about a tbsp or so of frosting on every cupcake. If you want to make these really decadent, top with white chocolate curls.

A prefect blend of butter cream and cream cheese frosting… not too heavy, and the white chocolate surprises people too. This frosting went really well with my white chocolate almond mini bundt cakes (January 2009 entry) too… you have to love multi-purpose baking recipes!

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