Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Mini-cupcakes

My recipe calls for following the instructions for boxed lemon cake mix and adding two tablespoons of poppy seeds. Box mixes usually omit information about mini-cupcakes, which are about 1/3 the volume of regular cupcakes (2 1/2 x 1 1/4). The mini-cupcake size is 1 3/4 x 1. This article includes also includes mini-cupcake baking times, yields, and paper liner vs. oil vs. oil/flour methods.

Regular cupcake vs. mini-cupcake

Cake mix boxes usually indicate the yield to be 24 cupcakes. I have encountered recipes that hedge and claim 24 to 30 cupcakes. I have seen recipes claim that a box cake mix should yield 60 mini-cupcakes. My yield was 77, using the recommendation of slightly rounded tablespoon of batter for each pan well. Suggested baking times for regular cupcakes had a range of 15 to 20 minutes for the low end, and 22 to 27 minutes for the high end. If baking mini-cupcakes, use the regular cupcake baking time, but reduce it by maybe 25%. My batches came out fine at 13 to 14 minutes. As for oven temperature, from gleaning various recipes, 350° seems to be common.

Note: For a serving size between regular cupcake and mini-cupcake, cut each cupcake in half. Hypothetical yields per box cake mix batch can be 24 (regular cupcakes), 48 (regular cupcakes cut in half), and 60 (mini-cupcakes).

Paper liner vs. spray-on oil vs. oil/flour spray

In past experiences of using paper liners, it seemed like the paper did not cleanly separate from baked cupcakes without maybe 10% of the cake sticking to the paper. I don't know if the detachment problems were because of the cupcakes being regular size, or because of the cake mix formulation being from pre-pudding eras.

I was pleased that the paper peeled away from the mini-cupcake neatly. The method that yielded the least satisfying results was using spray oil with flour in it. The dispensing was not as easy as with using spray oil. The oil and flour spray method left a thin layer of baked cake inside the wells, and more than with using spray oil.

My pixstrip shows four sections:

  1. Implements
  2. Ingredients
  3. Paper liners, oil spray, oil/flour spray
  4. Baked mini-cupcakes

Implements

  • mixer
  • medium-large mixing bowl
  • rubber spatula(s)
  • measuring spoon
  • measuring cup(s)
  • mini-muffin pans (Use different size pans if desired, following baking time suggestions on the cake mix box.)
  • cooling rack for done mini-cupcakes
  • paper liners, spray oil, or spray oil/flour (Using paper liners yielded the best results for me.)
    Note: Greasing the bottoms of the wells is another batter lining method.

Batter ingredients

  • 1 box lemon cake mix (~18 oz.)
  • eggs, number as listed on cake mix box
  • oil, amount as listed on cake mix box
  • water, amount as listed on cake mix box
  • 2 T poppy seeds

General instructions for all cake pan sizes (Have the cake mix box handy!)

  1. Prepare the cake batter according to cake mix box instructions.
  2. Fold in the poppy seeds.
  3. Prepare baking pans by using paper liners, spray oil, or spray oil/flour.
  4. Pour batter into the baking pan(s) of your choice.
  5. Bake as recommended; however, if baking mini-muffins, reduce time by 25%. (Mine came out fine between 13 and 14 minutes.)
  6. Test cake for doneness. If done, remove pan(s) from the oven.
  7. Transfer cakes (or mini-muffins) onto cooling rack.

Calories and additional information

Total calories for the ingredients I used, the cake mix brand and flavor being the biggest variable, the calories totaled 2900, give or take a few. Dividing the number by my yield of 77 mini-cupcakes comes out to ~38 calories each. YMMV, depending on cake mix brand, egg sizes, and recipe that you use. Also, adding icing or frosting will increase the calories.

Note: The container of the poppy seeds that I bought recommended yellow cake mix and 1 tablespoon of lemon extract for another version of lemon poppyseed cake. I myself advocate minimal ingredients—lemon cake mix instead of yellow cake mix and lemon extract. If someone wants to try the alternate recipe, I would be interested in the contrast results.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cake Mix Macaroon Cookies

How about a macaroon cooky that tastes a lot better than a gluey coconut clump? How about a cooky that chews like a softish cooky and has dominant coconut texture and flavor? Use a cake mix for the dry-ingredient base.

Most of my recipes are about minimal process and few ingredients. Most recipes I read lose me if I see more than six ingredients or multiple steps or time investment, or a combination of those conditions. Some of my ingredients at home drive my baking choices. One item I had was a bag of coconut I got free with a purchase of something else. I also had a box of white cake mix that I wanted to use up.

I based my recipe mostly on the ExclusivelyRecipes.com French vanilla macaroon bars recipe. A main deviation was mixing 1/3 C cooking oil into the wet ingredients instead of cutting in 1/3 C butter into the cake mix powder. I decided to try making individual cookies instead of shaping the dough into a pan and cutting it into bars after baking. I omitted the chocolate to keep the recipe simple.

Another recipe I consulted was the Chocolate Chip-Coconut Macaroons from the Betty Crocker Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook. I deviated from the recipe as follows: I used only 2 T water instead of 1 C, used half as much coconut, used 1 egg instead of 3 egg whites, and omitted the chocolate. The recipe is online except that they omitted the quantities for the ingredients, which they want readers to request by email. Smart cookies will be able to infer the quantities, based on this paragraph and my list of ingredients. :-)

My pixstrip shows three images:

  1. Implements
  2. Ingredients, dry and wet
  3. Baked cookies

Implements

  • cooky pan(s)
  • pastry blender
  • medium-large mixing bowl
  • small mixing bowl or large cup or jar
  • fork or similar item for mixing wet ingredients
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • cooky spatula to lift and transfer baked cookies
  • cooling rack for done cookies

Ingredients, dry

  • 1 1/2 C flaked coconut
  • 1 18ish oz. white cake mix

ingredients, wet

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 C cooking oil (Replace 1 T with sesame oil if desired for flavor twist.)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 T water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the coconut into a medium-large mixing bowl, breaking up the lumps.
  3. Pour the cake mix powder into the coconut, using the pastry blender to blend together.
  4. In a bowl or large cup, combine the oil, egg, vanilla, and water. For a more aromatic flavor, exchange 1 T of the oil with 1 T sesame oil.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl and use a pastry blender to stir the ingredients together.
  6. Use a round tablespoon to scoop the dough. Shape to rounded, level, or concave height.
  7. Drop the spoon's dough onto the cooky sheet.
  8. Bake for about 12+ minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
  9. Use the cooky spatula to lift and transfer the done cookies onto cooling rack.

Shaping the dough slightly concave yielded 45 cookies, calculated to about 80 calories each. YMMV.

Additional Past Cooky Recipes

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