Thursday, November 6, 2008

What do a brain, a heart, and an eye have in common?

They can be made into cupcakes of course! JAM saw a halloween cupcake contest posted on one of our favorite blogs, How To Eat A Cupcake. With thoughts of halloween candy, ghosts, and goblins running through our heads, we knew we had to enter. Because Jenny lives just a little too far away to collaborate, we decided we would all make our own spooky cupcake and enter them together. But, we needed a cohesive theme. Inspired by a recipe from Epicurious, Ariel knew she would make "Bleeding Hearts". Seeing this recipe, Jenny decided that JAM would make body-part themed cupcakes! Jenny chose the brain. (Unfortunately Malia didn't have time to make her eye cupcakes.) We were in for some creepy cupcake making!

Ariel's "Bleeding Heart" Cupcakes

Dissecting the heart...

The original "Bleeding Hearts" cupcake recipe called for a white batter and vanilla frosting. I wanted the inside of the cupcake to look more like the color of a heart, so I chose a red velvet cake batter. I found the recipe on Washington Post writer/blogger, Kim O'Donnel's website. The frosting would obviously be cream cheese, dyed two shades of red (one for the heart and arteries) and one shade of blue (for the veins).

Oh you cut me open and I keep bleeding, I keep keep bleeding...

I liked the idea of the "bleeding hearts" and so I decided I would fill them with strawberry jam. The batter was fairly simple to make. I simply followed the directions.

Adding the buttermilk, which gives the red velvet its distinct flavor.

Fresh out of the oven. The cocoa smell is divine.

I poured the batter into the cupcake tins. Before putting the cups into the oven, I placed balls of tinfoil in with the cupcake liners to make indents in the cupcakes. This gave them their "heart" shape.

I "heart" red velvet.

Beginning the "blood" transfusion...

Once the cupcakes have cooled, you can begin filling them. Using a sharp knife, insert at an angle and cut out a cone-shaped piece of the cake. Fill the hole with strawberry jam (JAM Note: Welch's Strawberry jam). Cut off the tip of the cone, and place the piece of cake back into the hole, covering the jam. The cupcakes are now ready to be frosted.

My bloody valentine...

Inserting the arteries...

I used a cream cheese frosting to decorate these babies. I reserved two spoonfuls for the arteries and two spoonfuls for the veins. I added approximately 45 drops of red food coloring to the remaining batch of frosting. (JAM Note: Be careful when frosting these not to mix crumbs into the cream cheese.) Place a large dollop of frosting over the middle, and carefully pull the frosting to the edges as to not mix crumbs into it. Once the light red frosting has been applied, use the remaining spoonfuls to create a dark blue and dark red frosting. (JAM Note: Approximately 15-20 drops of blue and red food coloring). Spoon the frosting into ziplock bags and cut a tiny piece of plastic from the corner. Pipe lines of blue and red frosting to create "veins" (blue) and "arteries" (red). I always remember that Arteries bring blood Away from the heart to the rest of the body and veins bring blood to the heart from the rest of the body (the opposite). Arteries are red because they contain oxygenated blood. Veins are blue because they contain de-oxygenated blood. (Just a little biology lesson for ya!)

"My 'heart' is yours to fill or burst to break or bury"...or EAT!

Jenny's "Oozing Brain" Cupcakes

As soon as Ariel brought up the idea of making Halloween cupcakes, I KNEW I wanted to make brains to go with Ariel's hearts (especially since eyes creep me out).

I took a regular cupcake recipe for white cake and added a bit of pink food coloring to imitate brains (I use food coloring gels as the colors are stronger and require less than liquid food coloring) and almond extract for flavor.

I then cut out the centers, much like Ariel, and added melted raspberry jam (not preserves as they have seeds and jam does not) to the centers for a bloody effect. I also wanted a consistent raspberry almond flavoring in all components so the jam insides matched my buttercream I planned to put on top.

Next I made raspberry butter cream frosting, based off of a strawberry buttercream frosting (JAM note: I pureed the raspberries and strained them before adding to the buttercream base) I made recently for a friend's birthday, and added a bit of black food coloring to create a "grey matter" effect! The small bits of raspberry left from pureeing the fruit looked like bits of blood, making my cupcakes even more like a biology dissection.

I then piped on the frosting, using a piping bag, in large squiggly designs, clearly trying to create two hemispheres in the process. As you can see from my various brains below I was at times more successful than others in creating two clear hemispheres of similiar size....

But the real magic was once you dissected my lovely craniums, resulting in a slow bloody ooze...

Despite the creepy look of my treats, they were pronounced delicious though very sweet by all those who ate them. Definitely something you'd want to eat with a tall glass of milk or tea or coffee, but all in all a fun Halloween treat!!

Happy Halloween!


Ariel said...

I love how you went for the gray matter effect! I will have to try out a buttercream frosting recipe sometime! They look delicious.

Gastronomer said...

The brain cupcake RULES. Job well done!

Anonymous said...

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