Present dad with a bunch of summer-themed cupcakes for something fun and unique.
Start with a theme you know he'll like such as sports or use his favorite cake flavor like lemon or chocolate. Make the cupcakes unique to dad by adding his favorite toppings.
For another another idea, try golf-themed cupcakes, complete with putting greens and sand traps, for dad's special day. The mini greens are adorned with colored sanding sugar, a candy golf ball, and a ribbon flag; graham-cracker crumbs stand in for sand. You could create an entire course by decorating eighteen cupcakes with different numbered flags, and the remaining six with sand traps.
Sanding sugar, sprinkles, candies and other cupcake embellishments can be found at baking-supply stores and at Macy's stores in the Martha Stewart Collection section.
Yellow buttermilk cupcakes
You will likely make these cupcakes again and again, varying the frosting and toppings.
Two types of flour contribute to the cupcakes' singular texture: Cake flour makes for a delicate crumb, while all-purpose flour keeps them from being too tender. Makes 36
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups all-purposeflour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
(2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
4. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and, if desired, decorate with sprinkles before serving.
Swiss meringue buttercream frosting
If there is one frosting recipe a home baker should always have on hand, this is it. This all-purpose buttercream has an ultra-silky, stable texture that spreads beautifully over cakes and cupcakes, and can be piped into perfect peaks and patterns.
Swiss meringue buttercream is also less sweet than other types of frosting, with a wonderful buttery taste. It can be varied with different extracts, juices, zests, and other flavoring agents, and tinted any shade. Don't worry if the mixture appears to separate, or "curdle," after you've added the butter; simply continue beating on medium-high speed, and it will become smooth again. Makes about 5 cups.
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla.
Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
(Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more.
Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.
Chocolate variation: Using a flexible spatula, fold 4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled, into buttercream mixture in step 3, along with the vanilla extract.
Golf-green Topping for 24 cupcakes
1 to 2 cups green sanding sugar
18 round white candies, such as candy-coated mint balls
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
(3 to 4 sheets finely ground in a food processor)
1. Using an offset spatula, spread each cupcake with a smooth layer of buttercream. Pour green sanding sugar into a small bowl. Dip tops of frosted cupcakes in the sugar, then sprinkle more on top to coat completely.
2. To create putting greens, make flags (you will need 18): Cut out lengths (3 to 4 inches) from white grosgrain ribbon. Fold each length around one end of a wooden skewer, and adhere folded sides together with hot glue or double-sided tape. Cut ribbon into a triangle shape, and plant the skewer into a cupcake. Place a small white candy "ball" near the flag.
3. To create sand traps, spoon about 1 teaspoon graham-cracker crumbs in the center of each of 6 cupcakes. With your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each pile of crumbs, shifting it to one side to form a steeper side or to form an irregularly shaped trap. Refrigerate 30 minutes to allow frosting to set.
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