Monday, November 2, 2009

Z is for Zebra cupcakes

Vanilla and chocolate striped cake topped with vanilla and chocolate swiss meringue buttercream

First of all I just have to ask - how could you not want fruity cocktail cupcakes? Especially when they are named zombie? I mean, come on, it was Halloween and everything! As you can probably tell I was really hoping the zombie cupcakes would win the poll last week, however, it was not meant to be, because Zebra cake won the poll in a landslide.

So what is a zebra cake you might be asking? Well it is simply a cake that has stripes of chocolate and vanilla - hence looking like a stripy zebra. The great thing about these cupcakes is that they are super easy to make and they have a great visual impact. Here is how you make them...

Zebra Cupcakes (adapted from Baking Bites)
Makes 20 cupcakes

4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract (I just added extra vanilla extract instead)
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until mixture is light and creamy and the sugar has mostly been dissolved.
  3. Stir in the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  5. Measure out just over two cups of vanilla batter and place it back in the medium bowl. Sift cocoa powder over the bowl and whisk until fully incorporated.
  6. Put 1 tsp of vanilla batter into the center of each cupcake liner and let it spread slightly on its own. Put 1 tsp of chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla. It will push out the other batter and, as it sits for a moment, will also spread itself. Alternating spoonfuls of the two batters, repeat the technique until you fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 to 3/4 full (for me this was about 6 tsps).
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are light gold and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire racks.

Now to finish off these zebra cupcakes I thought I would get a bit smart and swirl some chocolate and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream together, and this is how you do it...

Vanilla and Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 egg whites
270g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, melted
  1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk over a saucepan of simmering water until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is as hot as you can get it without the egg whites cooking. To test rub the mixture between your fingers and if you can't feel any sugar granules then it is ready.
  2. With the whisk attachment on your mixer whisk the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed until a stiff meringue is formed and the mix has cooled down to room temperature. This should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Now put the paddle attachment on your mixer and with the mixer on a low speed add a tablespoon of butter at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until the mixture is light and fluffy again. This should take about 4-6 minutes. A tip: for the first time ever my SMBC would not firm up! So I put the runny mixture into the fridge for 10 minutes and then beat it and it was fine. I have now learnt that SMBC does not like hot weather!
  4. Now put half of the mixture into a separate bowl. In the mixer bowl add the vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until the extract is combined and you have a good piping texture.
  5. Put the other half of the mixture into the mixer bowl and add the melted dark chocolate, mix on medium speed until the chocolate is combined and you have a good piping texture.
  6. Now Grab two piping bags and put some vanilla SMBC into one bag and some chocolate SMBC in the other bag.
  7. Then snip off the ends of the two piping bags and pop them in another piping bag.
  8. Swirl your SMBC onto each cupcake.

Two bags of frosting...

Both bags of frosting together, ready to pipe with...

And finally the frosted cupcakes...

Now after all that hard work, time to taste the goods - first strip off your cupcake (how rude!) and admire the stripes...

I cut mine in half to fully admire the zebra stripes, so pretty...

The ratings?

Me - 10/10 - absolutely perfect, the cake is nice and moist, not too sweet and just perfect really. The SMBC was so nice and creamy - great!
Mat - 9/10 - a great way to finish off the A..B..Cupcakes project - a great tasting cake.

I'll post up a wrap up of the A..B..Cupcakes project tomorrow - until then have a lovely day!


Jamie said...

That looks amazing Alicia.
Clever way to do the icing, did you invent that yourself???


Anonymous said...

Christy - I'm sure others would have thought of it before - but yeah I had been planning to use this technique for a while.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Love the zebra cake, Alica! Masterfully piped frosting, as usual ;).

Chatterbox said...

I simply love the vanilla and chocolate combination. Great cross section. This is on my must-bake-soon list for sure.

You make art come alive in foods.

Keep up the wonderful work Alicia.


Paris Pastry said...

Wow! Those stripes in the naked cupcakes look so cool! I love how the frosting in the first picture seems to almost melt! Yum!

Rhianne said...

yup, these looks delicious! Wow!

What are you going to do now you've reached Z?

Anonymous said...

Rhianne - You'll just have to wait and find out :P

Chantel said...

Wow Alicia, they look so awesome! I loved that you stripped the cupcake - Ha! I especially loved how you did the buttercream

Congratulations on finishing the ABC cupcakes!!

Looking forward to the next lot of fabulous stuff you come up with :)

And I hope you had a lovely day too x

Gala said...

Great way to make these popular flavors really pop at a party.
I once made a zebra cake and totally forgot to take a picture so I couldn't post about it!
This post makes me want to make it again!

Fiesta Saurus Rex said...

I'll have you know I totally voted for Zombie!

But I appreciate these Zebra's - expecially after I learned how to pipe the double frosting!

You should still do some zombie cupcakes.... just for fun.

Katie Elizabeth said...

they look amazing! my mouths actually watering.
can i ask a question? can you point me in the direction of some good icing nozzles to buy online? i dont know whether its the nozzles i have or the icing i make. but it never swirls like it should. it comes out in a blob! and its upsetting me! i want nice swirls!

cookies and cups said...

That icing thing is awesome!! Where did you get it? I have never seen anything like it

Elissa said...

They look great, thanks for the tip with the icing, that is a great idea. I'm so sad the A.B Cupcakes project has come to an end, but I am looking forward to seeing what is next!

Anonymous said...

Katie - I generally use a Wilton 1M tip to get my frosting swirls, but I'm not sure of which online shop you should use for the UK - I would just google cake decorating shop and you should come up with some options.

cookies and cups - All the icing thing was 3 disposable piping bags, a large coupler and a 1M piping tip. I got them all from an online cake decorating shop here in Australia.

Miss Dot said...

I think the A.B Cupcakes project was such a neat idea! Plus I LOVE learning how you piped the two icings. I never would have known how to do that! Goodness you learn something new every day :)

Jelli Bean said...

What an ingenious way to make swirled frosting. I would have never thought of that. Very pretty cuppies!

Susan said...

I am definitely making this cupcake :O) It's gorgeous!

I have used that frosting idea to make perfectly swirled cake batter. It really works once you get going. The first cupcake is sort of a mess, but the rest... oh the rest of them!

I, stupidly, had no idea you were doing the ABC's of cupcakes. (I'm a tad slow. I just like to look at the food, ha ha ha) All the while I thought you were just asking for our y and z choices just for the fun of it. DUH!!!

Amanda said...

Zebra cakes are fun to make AND eat. And I'm so glad to see you ended on a 9-10 cupcake. Well done in both respects!

Patricia Scarpin said...

They'd already won my heart, with that beautiful two-toned frosting, but after seeing them cut I was even more in love!

chriesi said...


Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, amazing cupcakes! I love the tip for making the two-toned frosting. Terrific job!

Gem said...

These look completely amazing!! I have to try them! I was just wondering what make your piping bag and nozzles are - they look really good and I'm starting to bake cupcakes for money so want to invest in some good ones! Thanks x

Anonymous said...

Gem - I am not sure what make the piping bags are, I just get them from an online cake decorating shop and they are disposable (as I can't be bothered cleaning piping bags). The tip is a wilton 1M tip - the very best tip for cupcakes in my opinion. Good luck with your venture :)

Sue said...

These look amazing!!! I have a question...could you possible do a little video on hoe to ice the cupcakes so they look so beautiful? I have a hard time getting mine looking so very pretty like yours? Do you start in the middle and work out or what?
Thanks for any help!
PLUS...thank you for showing how you did the two colour icing...another cupcake dilemma solved for me! LOL

Anonymous said...

Sue - I'll see what I can do about a video, but in the meantime you start at the edge and work your way in. Taking care to overlap the starting position. Thanks for stopping by the blog :)

Sue said...

Thanks Alicia!
Thansk for stopping by my blog. I am going to make one of your cupcakes on Tuesday to take to dinner at out sons...snickers are winning I think :-)
Thanks for the tips and I'll look forward to a video when you can :-)