Since everyone in my hubby’s family is a big fan of oreos, I thought it would be great to do a cookies and cream cupcake! I debated between using chocolate or vanilla cupcakes and adding crushed cookies to the batter or not. The winner, clearly, was the chocolate, and I added crushed graham crackers to the base. Next time I will try adding the oreo cookies to the batter, but I didn’t want to mess around too much!
Beat 1 cup of butter until soft.
As I’ve learned the hard way, if the butter is too hard, it won’t blend properly. And if the butter is too soft or melted, it will change the density of your cupcakes. So if you don’t have room temp butter, it is better to wait (DON’T MICROWAVE IT!). The other option is to beat it to death so it blends with the sugar.
Add 2 1/2 cups of sugar and beat 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
The amount of time here is important. You want the sugar to cut up the butter and mix really well so you don’t end up with pools of melted butter in your batter later. Make sure you scrape down the bowl a few times during the 3 minutes.
Add 4 large eggs, one at a time, beating well between each.
Again, make sure they are ROOM TEMPERATURE. For cupcakes, all ingredients do best room temp or even warmed. If your eggs are cold from the fridge, have no fear! Place them in a bowl of hot water for 15-25 minutes, and presto! You’re ready to go!
Whisk together 1 3/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
I hardly ever sift these ingredients – it is messy, time consuming, and just generally a pain. Instead, use a sieve or simply a wire whisk!
As for the all purpose vs. cake and past flour debate…. Here in Canada our all purpose flour has a little bit more gluten than US flours. Which means you can get pretty good cupcakes without having to use cake and pastry flour. However, if you want some super spectacular cupcakes, I would highly recommend using cake and pastry flour. And now this opens up another can of worms. Which kind is best?!?! Well, I’ve used the No Frills version of c&p flour and the bulk barn c&p flour, and I must say, my results with BB were MUCH better than NF. But, you still get a really good cupcake either way. Oh and don’t even get me started on the cocoa! You can buy dutch processed cocoa, or something less expensive from the grocery store, but my FAVOURITE has been ruddy red from the bulk barn. There are very few ingredients I will buy from there, but c&p flour and the cocoa are two I will not compromise on. But that’s just my opinion :0)
Now where in the world was I?!?!
Measure out 1 cup whole milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
(sorry, no picture, I must have gotten a bit carried away? Like that’s unusual…. :D)
WARM THE MILK! It doesn’t need to be hot, just warm to the touch. This is important because milk enhances the development of gluten in the flour and it is a structural enhancer. IE making your cupcakes moist and fluffy!
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and wet ingredients, mixing to incorporate between batches.
This may very well be the part that either makes or breaks your cupcakes. You know those boxes of cake mix that tell you to beat the batter with the liquid? Yeah, you should NOT beat your flour into cupcakes, or really any baking recipe for that matter. Once you start beating the flour the gluten activates and if you over-beat it, you end up with tough cupcakes. Blegh.
So the technique here is to add about 1/3 of the dry, 1/2 the wet, another 1/3 of the dry, the last half of the wet, and end with the final third of dry ingredients. And FOLD them together. This will take a little more time, but it will be worth it in the end :0)
OPTIONAL: 6 graham cracker boards (full size) or 1/2 – 3/4 cup crushed oreo cookies (minus the cream) 2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar.
If you want to have the cookie theme carried out into the base, then crush the cookies and mix with butter and sugar, placing in the base of your cupcake liner. BEWARE – your cupcakes will NOT rise very high or dome by using this idea, but they still taste really good :D
Scoop batter into cupcake liners 1/2 full – ice cream scoops are the perfect size for this!
Every recipe is different, and it is generally a good idea to follow the directions for that specific recipe. It usually means that others have been attempted and have failed :D For example, I’ve tried filling these 1/3 full, and ended up with flat tops. I’ve tried filling them 3/4 full and ended up with over-flowed, crispy cupcakes. At the 1/2 point, they dome up like cute little gnome hats and are the perfect amount of done.
Bake for 18-25 minutes at 350F or until cake tested (IE toothpick :D) comes out clean.
Sigh. Every oven is different. Thus everyone’s baking time will be completely different. As a general rule, put those babies into the oven for 10-12 minutes and let them be. Don’t even open the door! After 10-12 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven to ensure even baking is happening. Bake for another 8 minutes, testing every couple of minutes after that point. You don’t want to overbake them, so as soon as you get a clean test, pull them out!
Let cool for 2 minutes in the pan, then remove to a cooling rack.
If you leave the cupcakes in the pan for too long, they will sweat and the cupcake liners will start to pull away from the sides of the cupcakes. Sometimes this happens anyway, depending on your liners and the amount of humidity in the room, but to ensure they stick better, don’t leave them too long in the pan.
Once they are cooled, ice with the following:
OREO CREAM CHEESE ICING
8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature (again, the room temp thing! :D)
1/4 cup butter, room temp (you’re getting the picture)
3-4 cups icing sugar – use more or less depending on how stiff you want your frosting to be (if you forgot to get some but have plenty of sugar on hand, use your coffee grinder or food processor to make your own!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 of a vanilla bean)
3/4 cup crushed oreos (it worked out to about 1 1/2 rows in the large size bag) – use either a food processor or a plastic bag and a meat mallet. Keep in mind that if you’re piping it through a narrow tip, you’ll need crumbs and not chunks, or you’ll be spending a majority of the time clearing cookies out of our tip.
Whip cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
Mix in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
Stir in crushed oreos.
And presto chango – cookies and cream cupcakes! Tim’s idea was to add a mini oreo in the center of the cupcakes and ice around it. Great idea babe!