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Martha Stewart's cupcakes a recipe for delish

Cupcakes are little palmfuls of joy. I don't think their appeal can be overstated.

A staple of classroom parties, cupcakes have jumped the divide from child's fancy to adult's guilty pleasure. Or maybe they have always had cachet as the treat that makes us feel 10 again. Cupcake-only stores and stories of wedding towers made of cupcakes are simply fueling our nostalgic fascination.

A new book by Martha Stewart will cement your love affair with the minicake. Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (Clarkson Potter, 2009) includes 175 recipes and ideas for the cutest darn cupcakes you'll ever see. Some are well-suited for a Labor Day picnic in the back yard or at beach, especially the Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes that accompany this story.

Flip through the book and you'll be inspired to try many of them but daunted by others. Piped shells and pearls? Nesting baby bluebirds? Pastry certificate needed here.

But there are plenty of others, with gorgeous photos, that we mere domestic mortals can accomplish. I tested Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes, which are easy enough for novice bakers and young children, and Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes, which get their crumbly, cookie goodness from Oreos.

The surprise in the middle of the brownie cupcakes comes courtesy of a York Peppermint Patty. Clever girl, our Martha. A bit of batter goes into the paper-lined well and the unwrapped mint candy is pushed down, then covered with more batter. No icing needed, but a powdered sugar dusting would dress them up. Let cool completely or you may have trouble getting them off the paper.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes make use of a convenience product also. A whole Oreo is plopped into the bottom of the paper-lined muffin well and topped with cheesecake batter laced with crushed cookies. Give yourself some time for these adult cupcakes. They need to set up in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Here's a confession: I misread the recipe in my haste and instead of 2 pounds of cream cheese, I only mixed in two 8-ounce blocks (just 1 pound). It wasn't until a day later when I reread the recipe that I figured out why I only got 24 cupcakes instead of 30. Still, even with my goof, the cupcakes were delightful. I didn't really want 30 of them anyway. If a couple dozen is enough for you too, remember to halve the cream cheese.

There are still others I want to try such as tres leches and tiramisu cupcakes. Maybe I'll get brave and try my hand at delicate piped shells or the tiny birds next.

That Martha, she makes us believe we can do it all.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>EASY

Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

¾ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

12 small chocolate-covered peppermint patties, such as York

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners. Place chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until just melted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Whisk in the sugar and salt until mixture is smooth; whisk in eggs to combine. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa just until smooth.

Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each lined cup. Place 1 peppermint patty on top, gently pressing into batter. Top with 2 tablespoons batter, covering patty completely. Bake, rotating tin halfway through, until a cake tester inserted halfway into centers (above mint patty) comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Makes 30.

Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (Potter, 2009)

>>MODERATE

Martha Stewart's Cookies and

Cream Cheesecakes

42 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1 cup sour cream

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line three standard muffin tins with a total of 30 paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

Makes 30.

Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (Potter, 2009)

Martha Stewart's cupcakes a recipe for delish 08/31/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 31, 2009 7:35pm]

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