Friends, there’s no easy way to tell you this, but... I’ve been holding out on you.
We’ve talked about the joys of Italian buttercream, and we’ve oohed and ahhed over its silkiness and just general other worldly tastiness, but what I haven’t told you is: IT. GETS. BETTER.
That’s right. There’s something out there that’s better than Italian Buttercream.
But before I tell you what it is, I want to share another little something that I’m super excited about and hope that you are, too.
Since 🎃 spooky season 👻 has officially started (actually there's nothing official about it. It's just what I've chosen to call October to add some flair to this suckfest we're calling 2020.), I have decided that all my blog posts this month will be Harry Potter themed!
I know I certainly am!
First up on this month’s HP themed treats bonanza are… cupcakes. Whomp whomp.
Yeah, I know, I wasn’t super excited about cupcakes either because cupcakes really aren’t my thing. This treat was intended as a surprise baby shower cake for my man candy’s colleague on her last day before maternity leave. My plan was to make a cake in the shape of the Hogwarts Express thanks to the brilliant ideas that came from a brainstorm session with my Nola Girlfriends™.
I was so excited about this cake! I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I was ready! I started looking up photos from the movies, getting sketch designs together in my head, planning dimensions, ALL THE THINGS! But then my man candy chatted with me after work one day, about a week before the cake was due. Apparently there was some concern about social distancing while serving cake. #ThankYouCOVID Of course I didn’t want to do anything that would make people uncomfortable in this day and age, so I quickly switched the plan to cupcakes and wondered how on earth I was going to decorate them.
First things first, I baked the cupcakes.
Since it’s the start of spooky season, I wanted to have a dark base (Dead Velvet, anyone?) and something decadent to go on top. So this is the big reveal. What could I possibly top these cupcakes with that is better than Italian Buttercream, you ask??
(Ok, that probably didn’t have as big of a dramatic reveal in your head as it did in mine, but just trust me on this one.)
You know how I’m in love with Italian buttercream because it’s so silky and creamy and smooth?
And buttery. So, so buttery. After last week’s post you should know that I have no problem with butter overload. Well imagine all of that deliciousness but this time, add some decadence to it. Oooh yeah. French buttercream is richer than Italian buttercream for one reason: egg yolks.
You see, to make Italian buttercream, you make an Italian meringue (whip egg whites and pour boiling simple syrup over the whites as they whip) then beat in butter cubes until they mix together. But to make a French buttercream, you beat egg yolks while pouring boiling simple syrup over them and then add butter. Those egg yolks make a world of difference. Bring it over the top. Take it to the next level. You get it - it’s awesome.
I had some French buttercream leftover from a baking project from the week before, and while I would have happily sat around the house eating spoonfuls of this stuff until it was all gone, I decided to put it to good use instead. So on top of the cupcakes it went.
#Me but I would have had a happier face about it.
Next I decided to create some Harry Potter themed toppers to go on the cupcakes. I was tempted to keep with the Hogwarts Express theme but that would require that the cupcakes line up and/or snake around a large board (that in my opinion should also be decorated) and I didn’t have the time or equipment for that.
Eventually I chose three symbols from the series that I felt would translate well into edible decorations:
1) The Golden Snitch: a small golden ball that is one of 4 that are used in the popular game Quidditch. This ball is very fast because of its silver wings.
2) The Deathly Hallows symbol - used to represent the resurrection stone, the elder wand, and the invisibility cloak.
3) The number of the platform that Harry boards the Hogwarts Express each year: Platform 9¾.
I sketched out the Deathly Hallows symbol on my trusty sketch pad, then covered it with a sheet of parchment paper so I could trace the symbol with my piping bag full of melted white chocolate. After the symbols dried, I painted them with a mix of luster dust and edible gold paint.
Next I piped several different wing patterns for the Golden Snitch and chose one that was hearty enough to withstand the transfer off the parchment paper even though I preferred the wispier, angel feather type wings I piped. After that I took several pieces of fondant and rolled them into spheres before submerging them in the golden paint/luster dust concoction that I made. I left these out to dry overnight.
Last, I sketched out the platform number while eyeballing Harry Potter fonts online. I think they came out pretty true to form. I wasn’t really sure how to trace this onto the fondant rounds that I cut. First I tried the transfer method, but the edible ink didn't transfer well from the parchment paper to the fondant, so I actually ended up free-handing the 9¾ on each of the fondant rounds. Talk about time consuming!
The designs came out well as a set, and I’m glad for the opportunity to make them because after my unintentional several months hiatus from all things baking, I feel that my decorating skills have gotten pretty little rusty. Guess I need to practice, practice, practice! (My new neighbors should be thrilled about this since they’re the ones I give my creations to whenever I get the chance!)
I have my Harry Potter treats planned out for every weekend this month, but I am still open to suggestions, so please send me your HP requests!
Happy eating, y’all!
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