Saturday, 17 August 2013

Thomas the Tank Engine Birthday

It was my friend’s nephew’s third birthday and he was having a Thomas the Tank Engine themed birthday. Three year olds really like Thomas – evidence here!  They wanted vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and a small cake to put candles on.  Since there were going to be a lot of adults at the party, I thought I’d class up the cupcakes a bit by stuffing them with a raspberry frosting and topping them with Swiss meringue buttercream instead of the American buttercream that I normally use.  We made cupcake toppers with Thomas the Tank Engine stickers and since I’m really into bunting right now, I included one for the cake.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Chocolate cupcakes and cake layer
I used this go-to recipe and made 12 cupcakes and a 5 inch cake layer. 
Fill the cups 2/3 full and bake or 12-14 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
For the cake, cut out a parchment round for the bottom of the cake pan and grease and flour the sides.  Fill 2/3 full and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla cupcakes and cake layer
I made 1.5 times this recipe to make 12 cupcakes and a 5 inch cake layer.  The only addition I made was the addition of a ½ up for whipping cream whipped to a stiff peak and folded into the batter at the end.
For the cake, cut out a parchment round for the bottom of the cake pan and grease and flour the sides.  Fill 2/3 full and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Recipe from here times 1.75

262g (about 9) egg whites
437g (2 cups + 3 Tablespoons) sugar
795g (3.5 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a standmixer.  Place bowl over simmering water while slowly but constantly stirring by hand with a whisk.
2. When the mixture reaches 140 degrees F., place in the standmixer with the whisk attachment and whip until stiff glossy peaks form and the meringue is cool.
3. Switch to a paddle attachment and mix on medium while dropping cubes of butter one a time.  The mixture will curdle, but mix on high and it will become smooth eventually.
4. Add vanilla and salt and mix.
5. Take out 1 cup for the raspberry filling (below), 1.5 cups to colour green, and divide the remaining amount in half for blue and yellow.  Add gel food colouring and whisk until blended.
Meringue ready for butter.
Buttercream ready for food colouring.

Raspberry filling
Mix 1 cup of Swiss meringue buttercream with ½ cup of fresh raspberries with the whisk attachment until smooth.
To fill cupcakes, fill pastry bag with an elongated tip such as Tip #18. Insert the tip into the middle of the cupcake and squeeze until the cupcake expands a bit.  There should be enough to fill the 5 inch cake.

5 inch Chocolate and Vanilla Cake
Use the chocolate and vanilla cake layers for the bottom and top of layers of the cake.  Fill with remaining raspberry frosting.
Frost the bottom half with remaining blue frosting and top half with green.  Check out a tutorial here.
Use Tip #233 for the grass.

Verdict: These cupcakes were absolutely delicious and were a huge hit at the party! The cupcakes and cake were really moist (because I made the ahead of time and froze them) and the filling was a surprising burst of flavour.  The thing that made them, though, was the Swiss meringue buttercream.  I got so many complements on the frosting and its marshmallow creaminess.  I had made Swiss meringue buttercream before but wasn’t a fan, until now! I don’t know what’s changed in me, but it’s exactly what I’m looking for in a frosting – not too sweet, doesn’t crust, is silky, melts in your mouth, and doesn’t overwhelm the cupcake/cake.  A super successful adult cupcake that the kids also liked! Yay!

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