Brain Cupcakes

Total Time:
1 hr 45 min
55 min
30 min
20 min

12 cupcakes

  • Cupcakes:
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Filling and Decoration:
  • Pink candy goo (or cherry or strawberry jam), for filling
  • 1 recipe American Buttercream, recipe follows
  • Red, yellow and black food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons red piping gel
  • American Buttercream:
  • 4 sticks (1 pound) butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or any other flavor you want), optional
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
Filling and Decoration:
  • For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the egg white, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Add the vanilla and beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute.

  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the flour mixture and the milk into the egg mixture in three partsflour-milk-flour, taking care to scrape down the sides as you go, and incorporating each addition well. Mix until smooth.

  • Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups using an ice-cream scoop--the batter should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 16 minutes.

  • Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Then remove from the pan to the rack to cool completely.

  • For the filling and decoration: Use a cupcake corer to hollow out the center of the cupcakes, saving the tops; then fill with a couple tablespoons of candy goo. Slice the top off of the plug you removed from the cupcake and place back in the hole to seal in the filling. Use a couple of drops of red food coloring and the smallest amount of yellow and black to color your frosting. Frost the tops of cupcakes with a thin layer of buttercream. Place the remaining buttercream into a pastry bag fitting with a medium round tip. Pipe squiggles around the top of the cupcakes, creating two hemispheres of the brain. Thin the red piping gel with a teaspoon of water and use a spoon to drizzle over top of the brain to get into crevices.

American Buttercream:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine all the ingredients. Whip the mixture on low speed for a while. When the sugar is incorporated, turn the mixer speed up and whip until the buttercream is smooth and looks right to you. If it's too cold, persuade it with a blowtorch if you have one. If it's too wet, add a bit more powdered sugar. If it's too stiff, add a bit more butter. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is combined.

  • Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 24 hours or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Rewhip cold buttercream before using it.

  • Yield: about 4 1/2 cups

  • Special equipment: a cupcake corer; a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip

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