Monday, June 18, 2012

Hydrangea Cupcakes

Last night I dreamed I found a miniature dinosaur in the suitcase I unpacked from my recent trip to Italy. (I'll return to sharing more posts and recipes from that trip shortly.) Anyhow, so this was a real dinosaur in my dream - kind of like a tyranosaurus rex, but cute like that little gecko on those tv insurance commercials. Relieved that it just miniature, and unsure what to do, I locked it in a room and went back to sleep. The next morning, I opened the door and the dinosaur had grown tenfold, and it wasn't so cute anymore. I slammed the door shut and called animal control. Then I woke up and had a cupcake with Miranda by the hydrangea bushes. 

You know Miranda, don't you? I use as my email address for this blog not because I have a real daughter named Miranda. No, my real daughter's name is Christina, and while it's a lovely name, I've had a twinge of regret over the years in not naming her Miranda, linking it with the Shakespearean connotation in my last name (you'll have to figure that one out.) So when we put in a fountain a few years ago, I seized the opportunity to call her Miranda.

OK, so back to the cupcakes. I don't normally eat cupcakes for breakfast, but this dinosaur business was an emergency that called for a little sugar catharsis. My friend Dede got the ball rolling a few days ago by giving me some lovely pink and lilac hydrangeas that I arranged in a vase with my own blue flowers. That was all the impetus I needed to make the cupcakes I saw on the blog Glorious Treats a while back. One baking and I had enough for guests Friday night, Saturday night and Father's Day too.

After you've baked your favorite cupcake recipe, make the frosting. I used a basic buttercream frosting and colored it using liquid supermarket food coloring. If you want more color choice (and less dilution of the frosting), buy the paste food dyes available from cake decorating shops. I was too impatient to make the extra trip to the store.

Use a pastry bag and place two colors inside. Then with a number 2D decorating tip, squeeze the little florets all over the top of the cupcake.

You'll end up with something like this if you use the two tones of color:

Or you can opt for a single color like this. I added the pink to a bag that wasn't quite empty, so I got a few edges that were a slight lilac color too.

Try it while hydrangeas are in season and set a pretty dessert table. 

More Italy posts coming soon!

This recipe for chocolate cupcakes is an old tried-and-true recipe from Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and makes a great layer cake too.

Chocolate Cupcakes (24 cupcakes)

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup boiling water

Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Heat oven to 350*F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for one minute.

Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don’t worry, this is right).

Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.  (I usually put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout, and then pour the batter into the liners.)

Bake cupcakes for aproximately 22-24 minutes.

Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting (for 24 cupcakes)

4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk or light cream

Assorted food colors 

Using a No. 2D decorating tip, place two colors of frosting inside a pastry bag, and pipe "flowers" all over the top of the cupcake.

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  1. So pretty! I love the decorations. Those are some of my favorite flowers.



  2. I love hydrangeas, as you know, so what a nice surprise to wake up to these cupcakes and Miranda Fountain!

  3. Oh Linda....these cupcakes are so delicate and beautiful to seem real flowers and the color is so did a great job. This week will be the first hot week of this summer arrived too late. Finally. Today is 36°C so you can imagine. But we needed sun after such a long rainy period. When will you come to Italy again? It would be nice to meet you. Ciao bella, Pat

  4. They are such pretty looking cupcakes, Linda! i actually prefer the light pastel hues. I always wondered about your e-mail name, now I know! I'm not too sure what would be giving you dreams about dinosaurs?

    My hydrangea bush grew to enormous proportions this summer, probably because of all the rain we've been having. It took over my entire front yard!

  5. I am in awe of you Linda, these are knockouts, especially with the two colors! How I miss the long row of brilliant blue hydrangeas that ran the length of a swimming pool where I used to live. Hope the cupcakes chased away any further scary dreams, Faith

  6. Very pretty!

    And I love Miranda, too…

  7. These are just gorgeous! My favorite chocolate cake recipe as son's favorite birthday cake. I adore hydrangeas ...gotta try these cupcakes!
    L xo

  8. They are so pretty.... and yummy as well, I'm sure!

  9. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. I've been thinking of making these. The two tone colors are really pretty.

  10. I love hydrangea, but we can only grow the white ones here not enough of something in our soil. The 2 tones on your cup cakes look perfect, you're so good at decorating cakes, I still remember that spaghetti cake, your beautiful strawberry tiramisu, and that flower cake with petals just to name a few. Creative you are my friend!

  11. I really like your inspiration from flower to desserts :-))

  12. These are beautiful! How nice for the summertime.

  13. Oh, those cupcakes are absolutely darling! As is the mini-dinosaur, too bad he had to grow up.

  14. These cupcakes are so gorgeous! Thank you for the tutorial too! Are you in Italy or the States now? My daughter is staying on the Almafi coast in October sometime. Wish I could go to, but work calls! Be well Linda!

  15. I tried to name Kirsten "Miranda." I was stopped by all these people (including my husband) who said it evoked "The Miranda Rights." Sigh. Nobody "got" The Tempest. So I named her a version of your daughter's name! The cupcakes are just stunning. There is no way, no how, I could pipe anything so lovely. They are indeed hydrangea cupcakes - and both are some of the loveliest pleasures of summer.