Royal Icing

Nightmare Before Christmas Cupcakes!

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Hey friends! So sorry this post is a little late. These guys took some time in the kitchen!

So Dylan & I just renewed our Disneyland passes, and got to go see the park all decked out for Halloween. Oh my gosh, my favorite!

And every year we go on the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion, it is amazing what a transformation that ride gets for the holidays! Impresses me every time. Needless to say, that is where my inspiration for the week’s cupcake came from!

What did I make? I did a white cake with a dash of cinnamon, baked with a Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kiss inside, topped with cider caramel buttercream!

These cupcakes have multiple, time sensitive steps to them, so I’ll go through them in the order that I worked in!

The first thing I did, a couple days before: I made the cider caramel.
What is cider caramel? Apple juice, reduced down to a think cider, then caramelized and mixed with butter & cream to make a cider caramel sauce! And its delicious and caramely with a hint of apple cider. A new fall favorite, for sure.

Here’s how I did it, in a little more detail.

Cider Caramel Sauce
-makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 container of apple juice (yes a whole container!)
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy cream, depending on how thick you want your sauce

1. Pour container of apple juice into a large pot, simmer on medium-high heat until reduced by about 75%. (This took me almost 2 hours. I had it on medium heat while I worked on the decorations)
2. Once all the water has evaporated from the apple juice, it will become a sticky, thicker liquid. Keep going. At this point you will want to stop what you’re doing and watch it closely. Since it is a caramel, it can go from almost there to burnt very quickly! Also, be careful friends, especially with children in the kitchen. Hot caramel is dangerous and can burn you!
3. You will see it start getting darker, once its a medium amber color, remove from heat, add butter & cream. It will bubble, watch out!
4. Stir until combined, if sauce is too thick, add more cream. When hot it will seem very liquid, but once it cools it’ll set up. To test, dip a spoon in caramel & set in fridge for 5 minutes. Will keep for 7-10 days, refrigerated.

What it looked like when it started to get sticky.

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Have your butter & cream ready. Missing 1 stick of butter in the picture though! I was kind of winging it, didn’t know how much I was going to use.

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What it looks like when its caramelized and ready for the cream & butter!

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Meanwhile......

I was working on the Nightmare decorations, using stencils Dylan made for me!

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And here they are for your piping pleasure! Minus the mummy eyeball guy, I didn’t end up liking him!

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First I piped the outlines for each, like in the above picture. Then I flooded them with the royal icing.

Never used royal icing? Well its pretty easy to make, and perfect for frosting sugar cookies with. (Think decorated Xmas sugar cookies! Yep that’s royal icing.)

Or also perfect for piping out decorations onto parchment! Once they dry(mine dried in about a day and a half) they peel of nice & easy.

Here is a recipe for you guys.

Royal Icing (Wilton’s Recipe)

3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

Tips:
For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.


Now time for the cupcakes! I used this recipe by Martha Stewart, but the only things I added to it was cinnamon and Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses!

Cinna-White Cupcakes
-makes about 24

3 cups cake flour, (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
8 large egg whites
24 Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

4. In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold 1/3 of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.

5. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each with 2/3 cup batter. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.


Found these kisses at Target, yum!

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Look at the pumpkin cream inside!

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Anyways, back to the cupcakes...

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I used clear Vanilla Extract to make sure the cupcakes would be nice and white!

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Look at that beautiful white batter.

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Kisses in the cupcakes.

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Baked and ready to be frosted!

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Time for some frosting with that caramel we made earlier!

Cider Caramel Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
12 tablespoons shortening
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cider caramel
3-5 drops orange food coloring (optional)

1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter and shortening until smooth.
2. Sift powdered sugar, add 1/2 cup at a time to taste.
3. Add caramel and food coloring, beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost cupcakes as desired!

Caramel, yummy!

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Ready to frost?!

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I used a plain star tip to frost my cupcakes, then placed the royal icing decorations on top with a little glitter.

Hello fabulous Nightmare Before Christmas Cupcakes!!

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Jack & Sally<3

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Pumpkin Monster & Oogy Boogie

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Happy Halloween Everyone!!

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