At first I was embarrassed to admit I’m a bit of a klutz in the kitchen, but then I realized that just because a thriller author writes about a serial killer, that doesn’t mean he’s a practicing, well, killer. Hopefully. I’ve written stories focusing on con-artists, body guards, jungle explorers, and time-travelers. I’m not a practicing, experienced expert in any of those fields, but I think I wrote some pretty convincing stories…. Via research. And that’s exactly what I do regarding anything related to cupcakes and baking!
In addition to utilizing book and on-line resources, I rely on the expertise of friends and readers who are crazy-awesome cupcake bakers. They supply me with tips and guidance and sometimes recipes! Some of these recipes are featured in the back every Cupcake Lover novel. Some easy. Some complicated. All delicious! Did I mention I get to sample these cupcakes? All part of the research, folks!
In ANYTHING BUT LOVE, my latest release in the CL series, my friend, JoAnne Schailey (who’s also an avid reader!) submitted two incredible cupcake recipes. And I mean in-cre-di-ble! Both are highlighted in the back of the novel, but because this is release week—Yay!—I’m going to share one of them here with you. Along with photos of the end result.
Bake, eat, and enjoy! I know I do. (Well, the eat and enjoy part anyway.)
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split along the length and scrape out the seeds
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup sifted cornstarch
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean pods and seeds and whisk mixture constantly over medium heat until it gently boils. Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch about two minutes. Slowly add ½ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly until smooth. (Slowly stream the hot milk into the eggs to prevent the eggs from cooking). Add the egg yolk mixture to the pan of hot milk and whisk to combine. Return to medium heat and cook. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. (The pastry cream may need to cook between 3 and 7 minutes to thicken.)
Remove from the heat and strain into a clean container, scraping the bottom of the strainer with a spoon. (If the pastry cream is too thick to go through the strainer, return the contents of the strainer to the pot and whisk to remove any lumps. Strain the remainder of the pastry cream.) Discard the vanilla bean. Specks of the vanilla seeds will be visible in the cream.
Press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, approximately three hours. Vanilla bean pastry cream can be made the day ahead. Extra pastry cream can be kept for 2 days.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
1 package of Red Velvet Cake mix (moist) and the ingredients required to make the cupcakes
Preheat oven according to the package directions.
Line the cupcake pans with paper liners or use heart shape cupcake pans.
Blend the cake mix according to the package directions.
Bake according to the suggested cupcake baking times.
Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes before filling.
Filling the cupcakes
Use an apple corer or small knife to cut a plug about 2/3 depth of the cupcake. Remove the plug and trim off the excess cupcake to 1/8 inch, keeping the top of the cupcake plug intact. Put the pastry cream into one end of a plastic bag, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag, and squeeze the cream into the opening in the cupcakes to fill. Return top of plug to the cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of butter
Mix all ingredients and frost the cupcakes.
Grate chocolate over the cupcakes. Serve. Refrigerate remaining cupcakes.
Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed “fun and sexy” by Publishers Weekly, Beth specializes in writing romantic fiction sprinkled with adventure and is published in contemporary, historical, steampunk, and paranormal romantic fiction.
Beth lives in NJ with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing. To learn more about her colorful life, visit her website at www.bethciotta.com.