Friday, February 28, 2014

Mini-cupcake Offload: Pan Type & Prep, Batter Amt

In case the blog article title seems oddly abbreviated, my intent is to minimize the number of characters but still convey the topic, related to my previous article about offloading fudge. For that experiment, I contrasted spray oil vs. spray oil and powdered sugar for offloading fudge, using mini-cupcake silicon and aluminum pans. That dessert requires no baking, thus, use of powdered sugar for prepping some of the pan cavities.

Initially, my experimentation idea this time was using liner papers for mini-cupcakes after baking them. The first time I tried a mini-cupcake recipe and used a silicone pan, I poured the batter into paper-lined cavities. The paper boundaries, nearly vertical, were more challenging for avoiding spills at edges. The baked cakes were instantly and easily removable. Unfortunately, some cake tend to stick to the papers, lessening the edible amount.

So, this time around, was going to only contrast spray oil vs. spray oil and flour in baking Choco Cherry Choco Chip mini-cupcakes. But then, I also wanted to see how well mini-cupcake paper liners fit the baked cakes if I varied the amount of batter—underfill (level tablespoonful) and common fill (rounded tablespoonful).

I had intended on using only silicone pans, After prepping and one of them and putting it in the oven, it occurred to me that the baking process was going to take a lot longer if I switch out several pans' worth. So, I pulled out the aluminum pans and prepped and filled them also. The second oven batch took aa bit of arranging and rearranging, with the second silicone pan and three aluminum pans. I balanced one metal pan on an oven rack ledge and another pan's edge.

The original recipe I modified for the mini-cupcakes is Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake. Lucky Leaf pushed its canned pie filling.

A more elaborate recipe that uses chocolate cake mix is Chocolate Cherry Cake, but the baker uses the chocolate chips for the frosting and none in the cake itself.

An extremely elaborate recipe is from SugarWinzy—Cherry Chocolate Chip Layer Cake. Her one-off recipe for cupcakes is Chocolate Chip Cherry Cupcakes. My eyes glazed over from the number of ingredients and artistry.

The simplest recipe would have been using only one flavor of cake mix, but I wanted my batch to be more like milk chocolate cake. Ingredients from the Lucky Leaf recipe and my deviations:
1 16.25-ounce box white cake mix (I used 1/2 box *each* of chocolate and white cake mixes.)
3 eggs
1 21-ounce can LUCKY LEAF Regular or Premium Cherry Pie Filling (I used a different brand.)
1 cup mini chocolate chips (I used regular size chips.)
Instead of using either a bundt cake or oblong pan, I used the silicone and aluminum mini-cupcake pans, baking at 350 for only about 16 minutes each batch. I also skipped the icing part of the recipe. I considered the cakes (yield of 84) to be sweet enough naked, with less work, fewer ingredients, fewer calories.

The spray-oil only method of prepping the pans resulted in fewer instances of cakes sticking to pans than using both spray oil and flour. Originally, I wondered if the papers might be undersized with the bigger post-baked cakes. I was happy to see that the papers hugged well. Maybe the pleats of the sides help accommodate mini-cupcakes for perimeter and volume. The baking session yielded 84 mini-cupcakes.

Try the "Lemon Poppyseed Mini-cupcakes" recipe. Besides putting in a pixstrip for step-by-step instructions, I also talked about muffin vs. cupcake. Also visit Square Mini and Whoopie Muffin Experiment, the recipe where I contrast square mini-muffins and whoopie muffins for shape.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fudge Offload: Silicone Vs. Aluminum Pans

In December, I spotted a post about fudge in The Blog Promoter LinkedIn group called Mama's Fudge Recipe, by Emily Powell. Fudge! Had to visit the site, as I myself make EZ minimal-ingredients fudge, such as "A Convenient Fudge" and "4-ingredient Raspberry Chocolate Fudge". Minimal ingredients are meltable candy, marshmallows, and frosting.

Emily's recipe contrasted with my recipes for list of ingredients and process. One of her pan preparation instructions that caught my eye was her use of Pam and flour, typically for a dessert to be baked. I asked her about it. She confirmed that the flour was raw. I am adverse to eating or serving raw flour, and wondered about dusting with powdered sugar instead of flour.for something that didn't need baking.

For my latest batch of EZ fudge, I tried spray oil and powdered sugar for two kinds of pans—a silicon rubber pan (24 square cavities) and aluminum pan (12 round cavities). Each square holds 5 teaspoons of filling; Each round (cup shape) holds 4 teaspoons. Natch, if you use these pans for cakes or muffins, pour only about a rounded tablespoon of batter to allow for expansion during the baking process. Some baking pans info:
The pixstrip shows ingredients and pans, fudge mixture squeegeed into pans, ejected fudge pieces, and fudge pieces in paper liners in a box.

After I poured the fudge mixture into the prepared pans and cooling it in the refrigerator, I didn't get around to ejecting them until about four hours later. (Cooling time should have been about an hour or so.) The 3rd-panel pixstrip shows easy-out results with using the silicone pan, not so much with the aluminum pan. The plateful also shows nice shapes from the squares, but lots of misshapes and broken pieces from the rounds. Extraction from the silicone pan was not bad. I turned the pan upside down and pressed from the back. As for the aluminum pan, using the butter knife blade sometimes popped the shapes out ok, but most, not.

In the past, I've poured the fudge mixture into a spray-oiled 8 x 8 glass pan. After a couple of hours, I'd used a paring knife to cut it into 64 pieces. That task took some patience, as the mixture became dense. I'm not great at cutting consistent cubes, either.

I've concluded that using silicone pans for fudge—after prepping with spray oil and powdered sugar—provides good results. BTW, the fudge batch makes about 1 1/2 silicon pans worth (36 squares). The shapes fit very nicely into mini-cupcake paper liners for neatness, as the pixstrip shows in the last pixstrip panel.

Because the fudge squares fit so well in mini-cupcake papers, a future experiment will be baking mini-cupcakes in silicon pans that I prep with only spray oil instead of lining with papers, then seeing how well they fit each other after baking. I might need to underfill the squares with batter so the baked shapes don't bulge and fit the papers badly. (Typical mini-cupcake recipe calls for a rounded teaspoonful of batter.)

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