Thursday 24 May 2012

Fireworks Cupcakes: Sweet, Spicy, and Unexpected!

Besides working full-time as a charity fundraiser, I help out seasonally at a fireworks shop called Kaboom! Let me tell you, it is super-fun answering the phone and saying, "KABOOM! How can I help you?"

But maybe that's just me.

In any case, I had been batting a new flavor idea around in my head for a while and being called back to the shop for Victoria Day weekend gave me the nudge I needed to put it into action!

So I whipped up my favorite yellow cake - Bonnie Butter Cake, recipe below - and as a control batch, made 12 plain cupcakes in plain white wrappers.

Then it was time to experiment!

That, my friends, is crushed red chili flakes, which I crushed myself in my mortar and pestle. I knew I bought that thing for a reason.

Next, to be sure there'd be no confusion as to which cakes were regular and which were extra spicy, I chose bright red wrappers for the spicy half.

Then I filled the cups and baked like usual. Well, except that when I usually bake cupcakes, I don't get a faint whiff of chili from the oven, but I suppose that's to be expected.

Next I invented a very simple, Thai-flavours-inspired frosting consisting chiefly of peanut butter, icing sugar and coconut milk. My brother, Duck, happened to be assisting, and asked how I made the frosting.

"Oh, it's really easy," I said, "You just throw it all together in a bowl and -"

"... Okay, not that easy, jeez."

Actually, measure out a 1/2 cup of peanut butter and, using a hand mixer, slowly add 3 cups of icing sugar while mixing until the peanut butter is pretty evenly distributed.

Then add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of coconut milk at a time, mixing on medium in between additions until a smooth frosting forms, like so:

Because of the amount of peanut butter, the frosting will have a somewhat goopy consistency. If it gets too soft to pipe, simply add a bit more icing sugar to firm it up.

The plain cupcakes were topped with pretty swirls of peanut butter coconut frosting. Of those who tried the plain cupcakes, I heard both that the coconut flavor was too strong, and that it wasn't strong enough, so I suppose you can adjust the level of coconut milk depending on your liking. Simply replace the coconut milk with regular milk when you feel you have enough coconut flavor.

The spicy cupcakes got a swirl of icing, too, but I wasn't stopping there, oh no. I mixed up a simple icing glaze.

Then I made it less simple and more sensational! Add as much sriracha sauce as you think you can handle.

Then add a little more.

Then a little more than that.

Seriously. I thought I had made mine too hot until I put it on the cupcakes and tried it. The frosting's richness really brings the heat level down, so feel free to go a little nuts with the hot sauce!

You could stop here, but I felt the glaze looked kind of pale-orange-beige and I really wanted it to visually scream: WARNING! SPICINESS AHEAD! So I threw in a bit of red food colour, with a smidge of brown to try to approximate the colour of the sriracha sauce.

Now that says hot! I dipped a spoon into the glaze and simply drizzled it over the top of the cupcake, like so:

Feel free to adjust the amount of the glaze to your own liking. Heat levels are a very subjective thing... 'not hot enough' to me might be equivalent to 'oh god my eyeballs are melting!' to you, so be sure to keep that in mind.

So I packed up the spicy Fireworks and took them to the fireworks store. I also brought the plainer ones in case of non-spice fans. And you know what?

Most of the staff was afraid to try them!

Seriously, guys? Seriously? You're okay to work in a building full of explosives, but a little hot sauce on your cupcake freaks you out? Come on.

The manager was brave enough to try one. Then he was brave enough to try a second, so I'll take that as a good review. Hubby devoured a couple himself and I certainly had my share!

Hubby took what was left to his workplace the next night, and they pretty much disappeared, all reviews were positive - unless hubby just didn't want to hurt my feelings - but seeing as the trays returned very nearly empty, I'm inclined to believe the overnight staff at the fast food restaurant truly did enjoy these!

Of course, these are the same guys who sneak bacon into their ice cream treats, so... take that as you will.
On another note, these cupcakes were featured on My Food Looks Funny (and before you get upset about the caption, know that I wrote it, poking fun at my own creation!) so definitely go check out the other funky treats and oddities over there.

Want to make your own? Here's all the required recipes:

Bonnie Butter Cake
Another one adapted out of the ol' Betty Crocker book

2/3 Cups Butter, salted
1 3/4 Cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 3/4 Cups Cake or Pastry Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 1/4 Cups Milk
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes, crushed (if making fireworks cupcakes, optional. Add more if you're a real heat fan!)

Mix butter, sugar eggs and vanilla until fluffy.  Beat 5 minutes on high speed with hand- (or stand-) mixer, scraping sides down occasionally. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, chili flakes (if using) and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients bit by bit, alternating with milk, until well combined.

Pour into lined cupcake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.


Peanut Butter & Coconut Frosting
From my brain, where I get most of my ideas.

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Cups Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
5-6 tablespoons Coconut Milk (not coconut water or beverage!)

Cream peanut butter with hand mixer on low, slowly add icing sugar until peanut butter is distributed throughout. Add vanilla, and first tablespoon of coconut milk. Be sure your bowl and mixer are very secure, due to the thickness of the frosting at this point, the bowl can try to get away from you!

The next thing you know, the mixer's out of control and spraying frosting everywhere! Not that it would ever happen to me.

Get that photo out of here!

In any case, add a tablespoon of coconut milk at a time until the frosting reaches a spreadable (but yes, it will be kind of goopy) consistency.


Sriracha Glaze
Only the brave need apply.

1 Cup Icing Sugar
1 tblsp Coconut Milk (or regular milk)
1 tblsp  Water
Sriracha sauce to taste. Then a bit more than that.

Food Colouring, optional

With a fork or small whisk, combine icing sugar, coconut milk, and water. Add sriracha sauce a bit at a time until desired heat level is reached. Add food colouring, if using, until desired shade is achieved.


So, feeling adventurous, my friends? Give these suckers a try. If you dare!

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. My eyeballs are melting from just reading this post. I'm sure they were delicious, but I'm afraid they might be a little more than my delicate little Irish taste-buds can handle. I shall admire them from afar...with a fire-extinguisher at the ready, just in case.