Cuckoo for cupcakes

4 county bakeries get into the mix for the miniature gateaux

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

 
photoDivine Bites baker Jonette Molyneux typically offers between 12 and 15 varieties of cupcakes a day. What sets them apart, she says, are the fillings. Pictured, clockwise from left, are Chocolate Chick Mint, Coconut Coconut, Marshmallow Elegance, Peanut Butter Dream and Red Velvet.

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photoRed velvet cupcakes are a favorite of Roger Gomez, owner of The Candy Buffet.

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Cupcakes are all the rage right now, and the trend is sweeping Clark County. The newest arrival on the local cupcake scene, The Sugar Mama’s Cupcakery, opened at the beginning of the year in Battle Ground Village and celebrated its grand opening Feb. 5-6.

The Sugar Mama’s Cupcakery (360-723-5420, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Sugar-Mamas-Cupcakery/119574151426303?sk=wall) offers a rotating menu of 10 to 12 cupcake varieties daily. Two of the most popular were inspired by Battle Ground Mayor Mike Ciraulo and his wife, Gilda.

The Sugar Mama’s Cupcakery created The Mayor based on ingredients Ciraulo likes. It’s a chocolate cupcake with chocolate chips and walnuts. Gilda’s cupcake, The First Lady, contains vanilla bean with dulce de leche, or caramel, filling and frosting.

Other best-sellers are the Oh My Gooey, a chocolate cupcake with caramel filling and chocolate frosting drizzled with more caramel; and the Chocolate Razz, a chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting topped with a fresh raspberry, said Lisa Hinton, who owns The Sugar Mama’s Cupcakery with her sister and brother-in-law, Michelle and Chris Duenas.

For another fresh take on homemade cupcakes, Divine Bites, a project of the nonprofit Gifts for Our Community, opened in downtown Vancouver in October 2009 (360-695-6443, http://www.divineconsignfurniture.org/db). Baker Jonette Molyneux offers 12 to 15 varieties daily.

What sets Divine Bites cupcakes apart are the fillings, said Molyneux, a Vancouver resident.

“It’s just kind of an extra little surprise inside the cupcake.”

Molyneux also incorporates candies such as crushed Butterfinger bars or Lemonheads into many of her cupcakes.

Molyneux said her favorite is a coconut cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and topped with coconut.

“I love the cake,” Molyneux said. “It’s moist, and it’s got a little bit of almond flavor to it.”

Coconut Coconut is also the favorite flavor of Gifts for Our Community volunteer Crystal Johnson, who makes most of the frostings for Divine Bites.

The most popular with customers, however, is the Red Velvet cupcake, with a vanilla-cream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting.

Cupcakes are a great dessert because they’re easy to eat, and people can sample a variety of flavors, Molyneux said. She even made cupcakes last summer for her son’s wedding. They had 13 or 14 options, including the Root Beer Float cupcake.

“The possibilities are endless,” Molyneux said.

Another local baker dreaming up creative cupcakes is Stephanie McNees, owner of Treat in the Vancouver Marketplace (360-750-0811, http://www.treatvancouver.com).

McNees, a Vancouver resident, offers five standard flavors and three specials every day. The staples are Red Velvet, Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, chocolate with vanilla frosting and vanilla with chocolate frosting. Daily specials run the gamut from coconut to Snickerdoodle to Chocolate Chip Mint.

McNees said she likes incorporating seasonal flavors into her cupcakes. February offerings include Cherry Chip and Strawberry. For March, McNees said she plans to make Baileys Irish Cream cupcakes as well as Mint.

“We’re paying tribute to my favorite Girl Scout cookie.”

One of the keys to making a great cupcake is using high-quality ingredients, McNees said. She favors European butter and the Cacao Barry, Valrhona and Callabaut brands of chocolate. She also sells many of these products at Treat.

Also helping spread the cupcake gospel in Clark County is Roger Gomez of The Candy Buffet (360-521-6938, http://www.thecandyanddessertbuffet.com). Gomez and his wife, Elizabeth, do not have a storefront yet, but cupcakes can be ordered by phone or online.

The Candy Buffet, which launched in December 2008 in Portland, moved with the Gomezes last July to Vancouver.

Gomez’s parents owned a bakery in Colombia, so he grew up baking, he said, but cupcakes have yet to take hold in Latin America.

“When I came here to the States, I said, ‘Wow, cupcakes are everywhere here,’” he recalled.

One of Gomez’s favorites is the Red Velvet. He uses beets instead of artificial food coloring to get the red hue. He also incorporates balsamic vinegar into the recipe, which, he said, helps bring out the cupcake’s other flavors.

Gomez also likes the tres leches, or three milks, cupcake.

“It’s really, really moist, and it tastes amazing,” he said.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 18-20 minutes. Yield: 24 cupcakes.

From Stephanie McNees of Treat.

¾ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

2¾ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 24 cups of two standard muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.

Combine buttermilk, salt and vanilla, and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda, and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time to butter-sugar mixture and blend until just combined.

Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cups. Bake until tops are firm and spring back when touched, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Serve simply frosted with your favorite vanilla or chocolate frosting. Other ideas include adding espresso powder, citrus zests and lemon extract, peppermint extract or rainbow sprinkles.

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Vanilliam Cream Filling

Prep time: About an hour. Cook time: About 20 minutes. Yield: About 24 cupcakes.

From Jonette Molyneux of Divine Bites.

FOR THE CUPCAKES:

1½ cups vegetable oil

2½ cups sugar

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

xx water

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring

3¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

FOR THE VANILLA CREAM FILLING:

1 cup half and half

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla (Molyneux likes vanilla bean paste)

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

½ cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

5½ cups powdered sugar

For the cupcakes: In a mixing bowl, cream together oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.

In another bowl, mix together buttermilk, water and vinegar.

In a third bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.

Add the liquid and dry ingredients a little at a time to the oil and sugar mixture. Beat until mixed well.

Fill lined cupcake pans 2/3 full and bake at 375 F for about 20 minutes, until the cake springs back to the touch.

For the filling: Mix half and half with the flour. Heat in top of double boiler until thick, stirring constantly. Pour through strainer into bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add cooled half and half mixture, and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, beat all ingredients until well combined.

After completely cooling the cupcakes, cut a hole in center of each and fill with vanilla-cream filling. Frost with cream-cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Balsamic Vinegar for a Flare

Prep time: About 25 minutes. Cook time: 15-20 minutes.

Yield: 24 mini cupcakes or 18 regular-sized cupcakes.

By Roger Gomez of The Candy Buffet.

FOR THE CUPCAKES:

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 large eggs

½ cup buttermilk

⅓ cup vegetable oil

1½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup finely minced beets

1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE FROSTING:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick butter, room temperature

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to

350 F.

Line cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, mix vinegar, eggs, buttermilk, oil and brown sugar.

Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients, then fold in minced beets.

Fill cupcake liners with batter and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting.

For the frosting: Using a mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until blended, smooth and airy.

Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, and beat slowly until combined. Continue to beat until desired consistency.

Frost cupcakes and garnish with cake crumbs or sprinkles.