For this baby girl baby shower, I made mini chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with blackberry cassis buttercream, decorated with royal icing booties. If you plan to decorate with booties, you'll need to make them at least 3 days ahead, as they need to dry and harden completely before using them.
To make royal icing booties, start with royal icing mix (from Michael's or a cake decorating store), or make your own using pasteurized egg whites.
3 large pasteurized egg whites
3-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar + 1/4 cup, divided
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon flavoring of choice (vanilla, etc)
Reserve 1/4 cup sugar and mix together all other ingredients. Beat for 7-10 minutes until the icing holds a strong peak. Add more powdered sugar if necessary. Beat in color of choice ( I use a toothpick to add color so I have control and don't add too much). Keep the frosting covered with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out.
Prepare a pastry bag with a coupler and a #12 round tip (the coupler allows you to change tips without emptying the bag).
If you want to, you can mark a piece of partchment paper with rounds so that you have a bit of guidance in how big to make the bookies. Always mark on one side, turn the paper over and then pipe on the backside so that you don't contaminate the frosting with the marker. Hold the bag at a 45-degree angle and pipe from the toe towards the heel, releasing the pressure as you get to the heel.
For the heel you can either hold the bag straight up-and-down- or you can angle the bag slightly towards the toe and then pipe upwards. Dip a dowel in powdered sugar and then press into the top of the bootie. Don't worry about excess powdered sugar - when the booties are dry you can brush away the excess with a small paint brush (food-safe).
Switch to a #2 tip and pipe "lace" at the top of the bootie (you'll have to experiment with this to see what looks good - I sort of made loops while raising the tip up). These booties are quite small, so it is hard to add a bow to the front. Instead, I made laces at the front of the bootie using the #2 tip. I used the same color, but you could do contrasting color if you like.
Don't put the booties on the cupcakes until just before serving, as the royal icing could get soft when exposed to the buttercream. These cupcakes are very small, so you might want to just use one on each (the opening photo has chocolate cupcakes with 2 booties and the vanilla with just one, for comparison).
For the Cupcakes
Before offering the recipes, I wanted to tell you about the new muffin pan that I just bought at Sur La Table. It makes 24 mini-muffins, but the best part is that the cups are shallower and wider than regular mini-muffin tins. The result is that the paper liners go in easier with no pleating and they come out of the pan much easier too.
|Old style pan on left|
I'd never actually made vanilla cupcakes, always opting for chocolate, but I had a baby shower to do and the mom-to-be didn't like chocolate, so it provided a good opportunity for me to work on my vanilla baking. I started with my all around sheetcake recipe from my book, cutting it down to the appropriate size, but the results were not really what I wanted - they were too sweet, two vanilla tasting and the texture wasn't quite right for a piece of cake that gets eaten out of hand. Fortunately, the fix was easy and I didn't have to rebake them more than once. I simply cut down on the sugar and vanilla and added more milk.
187 grams all-purpose flour -- measured by fluffing, scooping and leveling
1 -1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces unsalted butter
1 cups sugar
1 -1 /2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon oil
3/4 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack in the lower third of the oven (use a hotter oven if you want cupcakes that crest higher). Place baking cups in each muffin space.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Place the butter and sugar into a large mixer bowl, and beat for a full 5-7 minutes until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and then beat for a minute to blend everything. Beat in the oil.
By hand, stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter. Stir in 1/2 of the milk. Repeat until all of the flour and milk has been added. The batter will be very thick, as you'll see in the photo.