35 Weeks of “Pinteresting” Baking: Week 1 – Caramel Pecan Carrot Cupcakes

 Since the very first moment I was sucked into Pinterest, or shall I say suckered, I have been “pinning” (well now it is “saving”) my heart away.  I don’t remember exactly when I started, but I do remember how.  A friend just mentioned, “You can use it to promote your blog” and I was sold.  I have more than 10 “Boards” and more pins than I care to mention, but the one thing I don’t have is justification.  What was the point of finding these things online and tagging them to then show up online in another form?  Why was I not doing anything with the Pinteresting findings (oh yes, I plan to wear that word out).  Well after months and months and months of saying I was going to do it, I decided to really make an effort to actually put my pins to use and, of course, without a doubt, my favorite board is Baked Goods That Inspire.  To be fair, though, I have made use of quite a few of my pins, but I barely scratched the surface.  So here is the challenge I set for myself:   for every week for the remainder of 2017, 35 weeks to be exact, I will attempt to bake one item from my board.  From the easiest pins to the items that I am pretty sure I pinned for visual inspiration aka something I knew I could never ever bake (this should be fun).  I plan to go through the ups, the downs, and anything learned along the way.  I hope you will join me on this adventure with all the laughing, crying, and eating that will inevitably ensue this ambitious undertaking.

For my first week (please note I got sick so I am a week behind posting but I promise I made these last Saturday), I started with Caramel Pecan Carrot Cupcakes.  Oh yes, start drooling now.  You will likely note that most of my 35 are cupcakes, but I am really trying to be daring.  Cupcakes are so perfect, they are the new black.  I mean, they have been upgraded from kids parties to an elegant display at weddings.  And what, I say what, could be better than a carrot cake in cupcake form?

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The image above that was capture via my pin made it all the more appealing.  The timing of my first week was perfect, because it coincided with my friend, Tana’s birthday.  I followed the recipe exactly except I have always refused to use premade caramel and after you make your own, you will as well.  It is so easy.  Here are a couple of recipes I like to use:

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/caramel_sauce/

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/caramel-sauce-105889

This time I was so tired and in a hurry, as usual, I just threw ingredients into a pot.  Now let’s get into the tips I used and the few things I learned doing research as I am so trying to improve on my cupcake.   They often end up dense. You know, how it stays in your throat a tad bit longer than you’d like forcing you to need liquid to go with it.

  1.  Remember to bring your ingredients (incl. egg and butter) to room temperature for even bakingIMG_7566
  2. I use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop up the batter to get even cupcakes.  Everyone has their own ideas from cookie scoop to weighing on a scale (I roll my eyes at that one)
  3. When using batters with fruit or additions that have water in them, add them last when you are ready to go right into the tin.  If it sits, you’ll add water to the batter.IMG_7561
  4. Spray the surface of the pan with non-stick spray for those pesky muffin tops that may spill outside of the cupcake paper.
  5. I only partially used this one, for batters with a lot of filling, fill all cups half way and then go back and fill the rest.  The is designed to eliminate the fact that by the time you get to the last cupcakes, all the good stuff is gone.IMG_7569
  6. Don’t leave the area – I like to try to do too much and ended up over-roasting aka burning the first batch of pecans.  Yes, I threw away a million dollars.  That may be an exaggeration, but nuts are expensive!  (Costco does have the best pricing).IMG_7560
  7. For frosting, put your bag into the tallest cup/vase you can find and insert the bag into the vase.  Fold the ends of the bag over the edges of the cup/vase and you have a quick and mess free way of filling your bag.IMG_7574
  8. For the whirly style frost I did hear, I used Wilton #1M and you put heavy pressure while squeezing and swirling around the top and slowly pull up.  Yeah, that makes sense.  Don’t worry, you can youtube it.IMG_7576IMG_7578

I had also read that you have to find the right recipe.  I initially scoffed at that one thinking, “if you are a good baker/cook, you should be able to make anything”, but after making this recipe I see.  I think maybe some recipes are not designed correctly.  Oh yes, the internet tricks us (gasp!).  I have followed recipes and have been like ew, but this one turned out amazing!

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I followed the recipe and didn’t deviate beyond the caramel and it was heavenly.  Oh and I used dried dates instead of raisins because raisins look like grapes that have gone bad and been poisoned.  I hate raisins! Sorry, I just am not a raisin kind of girl.  The texture, the flavor, everything was fantastic!  You have got to try this one!  I would definitely say my first week ended with a success and a very happy birthday girl.

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