I thought I'd start out with a brief look into my baking past...
This photo is from last fall when I baked cupcakes for the Cast and Crew of our schools' Fall Musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown!" These cupcakes were plain vanilla, topped with yellow buttercream frosting and Charlie Brown's signature zig-zag stripe. As a side note, I had quite some trouble getting the frosting dark enough. It's supposed to be black, so I kept adding food coloring, but the darkest I got to was a navy blue color. So I added some Cocoa Powder, and voila! Er...well, it wasn't black exactly. But it was a dark brown! So I called it "good enough!" And everyone loved them!
Next, we've got a vegan chocolate cupcake, filled with chocolate mousse, and topped with mint-flavored buttercream frosting. For decorations, I used some edible pearl type-things that are basically like sprinkles but more...fancy? Anyway, I brought them to my family's Christmas party, and they were a hit! For the mousse, I just used some Cool Whip and added pudding mix. I didn't actually make real mousse, but this was a quick, easy, and delicious simplified recipe. (Recipes: "Moist Chocolate Cupcakes" from Cooks.com, and "Easy Chocolate Mousse" from Allrecipes.com)
This next cupcake is called "Choco-nana Cupcakes," and it came from a book called Cupcake Heaven. It's just a simple banana cupcake filled with chocolate chips. The frosting is a plain cream cheese frosting, and it's topped with a freshly sliced banana. My 4-year-old cousin ate these and loved them. I have to say, the combination of chocolate, cream cheese, and banana was perfection. The only thing I did not care for was how the banana slice didn't quite stay fresh after a day or two. It got chewy, and well...you know how bananas get after sitting out. So, if you want to use bananas on a cupcake, make sure they will get eaten up within a day.
First layer spread with ganache
This cake was...well, interesting to say the least. It was delicious, it was just a whole lot of work to get the layers just right. I made this two-layered cake a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I had ever constructed a two-layer cake. The cake itself is a chocolate cake, the middle layer is ganache, and for the frosting, I went with the classic vanilla buttercream. Then on top, I drizzled some more ganache, and decorated it with a couple little blackberries.
The problem I had was that I didn't wait long enough for my ganache to firm up, so I ended up spreading still runny ganache as the middle layer. When I plopped the second layer on, it kept sliding about. To make matters worse, a piece of one cake decided to stick to the pan, so it ripped off when I went to take the cake out. So I had to try to hold that together with frosting, all the meanwhile, keep the second layer from sliding off completely. In the end, the construction of the cake was a mess, but it turned out somewhat decent looking (to an amateur), and it tasted absolutely fabulous! The chocolate cake was rich, but it was complimented perfectly by the light, fluffy, and not-so-sweet vanilla buttercream frosting. And the layer of ganache in the middle? Well, once it finally firmed up, it was absolutely divine! Like a layer of fudge! I highly recommend these recipes to anyone. Even if you've never made a two layer cake before...well, this just goes to show that even if some things go horribly wrong, sometimes what matters in the end is just how it tastes. (Recipes: "Extreme Chocolate Cake" from Allrecipes.com, and "Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (from Sprinkles cupcakes)" from Food.com)
So, that's my story so far. There have been other cupcakes...if I find the pictures I'll post them...but for now, this is a pretty good summary.
(Oh, and as a side note, I don't have a fancy camera like many other baking/cooking blogs do. Bummer, I know. But I try my best with my little digital camera and Droid camera. So, in short, I'm sorry for poor camera quality. I'm sure there's more to come!)