Saturday, May 30, 2015

Confetti Cupcake Bites

My recipe makes half-size cupcakes, using nonpareils and jimmies in two half batches during one baking session. Contrast the results of the sprinkle types, and decide on your own single or duo sprinkle-type morsels. I've been dancing around using both kinds of sprinkles for cake mix cookies in a couple of previous recipe articles. This time, I'm talking about using cake mix for actual cake.

In case you're unfamiliar with differences between nonpareils and jimmies, "Sprinkles, Demystified: An Explanation of All Types" explains a main difference as shape—round for nonpareils and cylindrical for jimmies.
Round Sprinkles: These can more specifically be referred to as nonpareils. These are those teeny-tiny round balls that can come in a single color or in rainbow.

Cylinder Sprinkles: Sprinkles with a cylinder shape are made by mixing up a paste ...a little slower to “bleed” color than the nonpareil type of sprinkle. ....In some parts of the United States, particularly Pennsylvania and the Northeast, this type of sprinkle (the chocolate type in particular, it seems) are referred to as “Jimmies”.
Caution: Nonpareils "bleed" rather readily in moisture, even more so with cake batter than with cooky dough as in my "Rainbow Nonpareil Cake Mix Cookies" recipe. Thus, minimize time and effort when stirring nonpareils into batter.

My pixstrip shows the following image areas:
  1. Implements
  2. Ingredients
  3. Mixed cake mix batter
  4. Batter divided into two Pyrex bowls—with nonpareils in the left bowl and jimmies in the right bowl
  5. Each batter type in separate cupcake pans
  6. Baked cupcakes
  7. Cut sample cupcakes for visual contrast
  8. Some cupcake bites arranged in a tin
Implements
  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer
  • Cup for eggs
  • Measuring cup(s) for dispensing batter
  • Tablespoon measuring spoon for measuring sprinkles
  • Spatula for scraping batter
  • Same-size bowls if making separate batches of nonpareil and jimmies batter (If making only one kind of cupcake, skip using these two bowls.)
  • Cupcake pans
Ingredients
  • 1 box cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla.)
  • Eggs (as listed on box)
  • Cooking oil (as listed on box)
  • Water (as listed on box)
  • Sprinkles as follows (option a, b, or c—pixtrip shows option "a".):
    1. 2 T nonpareils for 1/2 recipe, 4 T jimmies for the other 1/2 recipe
    2. 4 T nonpareils for a whole recipe
    3. 8 T jimmies for a whole recipe
  • Spray oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Spray pans with oil.
  3. Follow box instructions for mixing powder, eggs, oil, and water together.
  4. If making separate nonpareil and jimmies recipes, divide the cake batter equally into two bowls. (I used two Pyrex bowls and evened out the weights.) If making a batch with only one type of sprinkles, skip this step.
  5. Add the sprinkles.
    • When using nonpareils, measure and very lightly stir them into the batter to minimize color "bleed".
    • When using jimmies, measure and stir them into the batter, but don't worry about color "bleed".
  6. Scoop the batter into the pan wells, each about 3/4 full. (For more crunch in the nonpareil version, sprinkle an additional pinchful over each well after dispensing the batter.)
  7. Bake for about 17-20 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
  8. Remove the baked cupcakes. Tilt them in the wells or place them onto a cooling rack to cool.
  9. Frost if desired. Beware of extra effort required and added calories in gilding the lily.
Post-Recipe Thoughts
Interestingly, the heat seemed to cause the jimmies to diffuse. That is, after baking, the jimmies looked wavy instead of retaining their rod shapes. But the jimmies morsels didn't bleed and change the cake color like the nonpareil morsels did.

When working with nonpareils, remember that they're itty bitty spheres. When I first opened the jar, I tilted it. Out came several orbs, rolling freely on the table, a challenge to easily stop their willy-nilly, runaway movements.

Cake mixes that already contain jimmies are available. When I made the jimmies version of cake mix cookies, using Betty Crocker's Party Rainbow Chip mix, I didn't think to sift it to measure the amount of jimmies. Maybe some day I'll break down and buy another box, remembering to check out the amount of jimmies before baking something.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rainbow Nonpareil Cake Mix Cookies

Multicolor sprinkle decorations for packaged cookies, cakes, and cake mixes tend to more often be jimmies than nonpareils. These cookies vary from the ones I made when I used the Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake mix. Instead of using cake mix that already includes multicolor jimmies, I used basic cake mix and added rainbow nonpareils. (Wilton's product name is Rainbow Nonpareils.)

"Sprinkles, Demystified: An Explanation of All Types" explains a main difference as shape—round for nonpareils and cylindrical for jimmies.
Round Sprinkles: These can more specifically be referred to as nonpareils. These are those teeny-tiny round balls that can come in a single color or in rainbow.

Cylinder Sprinkles: Sprinkles with a cylinder shape are made by mixing up a paste ...a little slower to “bleed” color than the nonpareil type of sprinkle. ....In some parts of the United States, particularly Pennsylvania and the Northeast, this type of sprinkle (the chocolate type in particular, it seems) are referred to as “Jimmies”.
My pixstrip shows the following image areas:
  1. Implements
  2. Ingredients
  3. Stirred cake mix and nonpareils (dry ingredients)
  4. Stirred eggs and oil (wet ingredients)
  5. Blended dry and wet ingredients in the larger bowl
  6. Raw dough in pan
  7. Baked cookies in pan
  8. Cookies on a cooling rack (some flipped back to right side up)
Implements
  • Cooky pan(s)
  • Pastry blender
  • Mixing bowls (one medium-large, one small)
  • Measuring cup (optional for cracking eggs individually before pouring them into bowl)
  • Tablespoon for measuring out cooky dough
  • Spatula for scraping dough onto pan
  • Cooky spatula for lifting and transferring baked cookies
  • Cooling rack for baked cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 box vanilla cake mix (I used Betty Crocker French Vanilla.)
  • 4 Tablespoons Wilton Rainbow Nonpareils
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Use the pastry blender to stir the cake mix powder and nonpareils together in a medium-large bowl.
  3. Use the pastry blender to stir the eggs and oil together in a small bowl.
  4. Pour the eggs and oil mixture into the larger bowl and combine the ingredients.
  5. Use a round tablespoon to scoop the dough. Shape to rounded, level, or concave height.
  6. Drop the spoon's dough onto the cooky sheet, using the rubber spatula to ease out each lump.
  7. Bake for about 9 to 11 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
  8. Use the cooky spatula to lift and transfer the done cookies onto cooling rack.
The batch made 38 cookies, ~65 calories each.

Post-Recipe Thoughts
Those nonpareils in these cookies "bled" slightly into the dough during mixing, turning the dough a light bluish gray. Interestingly, enough of the nonpareils' texture remained so that after baking, the cookies still had some crunchiness within the soft texture. Eh, at some time, I should try another cooky batch with jimmies in an egg-oil-powder dough to see if the jimmies bleed.

A few months ago, I actually did bake a jimmies version, using Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake mix, but I used butter instead of oil. Looking at pix I had taken of the process for "EZ Buttery Confetti Cake Mix Cookies", the jimmies did not bleed and tint the egg-oil-powder dough.

The nonpareils came free with a supermarket promotion. Normal price would run about $1.75 for the 3-ounce jar. The four tablespoons amounted to over half the jar, thus, about a dollar's worth. Cake mix tends to run slightly more than a dollar for a 15.25-ounce box. The oil cost about 30¢, and the eggs cost about 34¢.

If I calculate the cookies as having free nonpareils, each cooky comes to a little over 4¢. If I include nonpareil price, each cooky comes to about 9¢. Sure, a big price difference. OTOH, you make them fresh instead of buying them from a store or bakery. Yum—freshness and lower cost!

For a quick reference to price of eggs and oil, scroll to the bottom table at "Whataburger Pancakes, Mix, or Scratch". (I calculated costs of scratch pancake ingredients, an egg and oil being two of the items.)
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