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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Frosting for the Cause

January 2013 Update
Frosting for the Cause website has been removed due to funding,
 so I'm posting this on BIWB.
We appreciate all the support since its inception in 2011. 
Keep up the fight! 

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November 2011
I'm baking in honor of my friend and all my friends' mothers who have fought their own personal battles with breast cancer and other forms of cancer.  And, especially, I am dedicating this baking post to one woman who holds a very special place in my heart, Mrs. Evelyn Finch. 

Mrs. Finch came into my life when I was a very young teenager and she is the mother of two very dear friends from my teenage and college years, Carol and Betsy.  I knew almost from the first meeting that Mrs. Finch welcomed me as another daughter, and the years and years of caring and support by both Mr. and Mrs. Finch have always made me feel safe and loved.  And, even when I wasn't able to see them often.  It can be an uneasy world sometimes, but knowing that they always loved me even when they didn't have to love me has made me a much better person in this life.  Without them, I have no idea how I would have survived some very difficult years.  They were always there, always welcoming, fully supporting me, and never judging me. 

Mr. and Mrs. Finch
So, on to Mrs. Finch's story.   She's battled two bouts of breast cancer with lumpectomies on both breasts and also was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  She's am amazing survivor on many levels.  Always kind-hearted and generous.  A bit of a temper when pushed too hard, but that's the fighter in her.  I'm amazed when she describes her diagnoses and treatments...Almost like they are just something in life you "make do" with and move beyond.  She's had some other health challenges in her life, and seems pretty pragmatic.  I'm a wimp when it comes to medical issues, so she's teaching me to stay steady and work hard to get better. 

I recently visited the Finches whom had moved to Ohio last year.  I hadn't seen them for too long, entirely my fault.  And, what an amazing visit and time with them.!!  I cooked for them and did a few errands, but it was so great to just see them and be in their presence.  Grounding and solid. 

She's often asked me to call her, Evelyn, but I just can't.  She'll always Mrs. Finch to me and I will always love her for keeping me a part of her family.

So, I've made Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream, adapted from a recipe in Intoxicated Cupcakes.  I have shared with Mrs. Finch and her family many a champagne cake created by Nugget Market in Davis, California.  I'm sharing my baked goodies with a local breast cancer group, Bosom Buddies, and they have asked that I speak about Frosting for the Cause.  My other donation will be to the Placer Breast Cancer Endowment which funds cancer research at the U.C. Davis Medical Center.
Mrs. Evelyn Finch
January 2013: I'm also sharing this link over at Cake of the Week's Baking with Spirit!

Recipe follows...

Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
Adapted from Intoxicated Cupcakes by Kate Legere, Makes about 20

For the Cupcakes
6 large egg whites (save 3 yolks)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 egg yolks (optional)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 2/3  cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup Pink Champagne (I used Cinzano Rose or Sophia)
4 drops red food coloring (optional, but it does make it pink)

For the filling
1 - 1.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix (try the white chocolate for a whiter center)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Pink Champagne

For the buttercream
1 cup salted butter, at 68 degrees (you don't want this too cold or too hot)
2-3 tbsp strawberry puree (could probably use crushed fresh strawberries or some jam)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1-2 tbsp Pink Champagne
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Corn syrup in 1 tbsp increments, as needed for spreading/piping consistency

1. Preheat oven at 350, line cupcake pan, set aside
2. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks, then slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar.  Beat until glossy stiff peaks, but not dry.  Set aside.
3.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks (optional), vanilla bean paste and red food coloring and beat well.  Sift the dry ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the Pink Champagne, mixing well after each addition. 
4. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the batter.  Fold in the remaining egg whites carefully not to deflate the egg whites. 
5. Use an ice cream scoop to fill the prepared cups.  You want them about 3/4 full.  Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  They should not be brown on the top.  Springy.  Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely before filling.
6. Combine the filling ingredients together and whisk for about a minute until smooth.  Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.  Place in a piping bag or a zip-top bag.
7. Remove a core of each cupcake (I use a cupcake corer), about 2/3 of the way down into the cupcake.  Fill each hole with some cream filling, and replace the cored piece, gently pressing down.
8. For the buttercream, in a bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter, strawberry puree and vanilla.  Mix on low speed, scraping every minute until you have an emulsion (with a little bit of liquid in the bottom).  About 3 minutes.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.
9. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar slowly on low speed.  Beat for 1 minute, scrape the sides, and slowly increase the speed to medium.
10.  Check for consistency and add 1 tbsp corn syrup and beating for 30 seconds on medium after each addition, until you get the spreading or piping consistency that you like.  Once you get that, increase speed to medium high and beat for a minute until fluffy. 
11.  Spread or pipe on cupcakes and add your favorite pretty sprinkles.
The Finished Cupcake...Sweet, light, and all pretty in pink!
The step-by-step photos.

Sift the dry ingredients.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks, then slowly add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks and glossy. 
Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg  yolks, vanilla bean paste, and red food color.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the champagne.  Mix well...Pretty in Pink.  Fold in 1/3 of your egg whites. 
Fold in the rest until you get a smooth batter.  Be gentle so you don't deflate the egg whites. 
Bake for 16-18 minutes.  I only baked one pan at a time.  My beauties just out of the oven.  Nice. 
Mix up your filling and place in a piping bag.  This is how I fill a piping bag. 
Remove a core of the cupcake, however you can.  I use a nifty cupcake corer that I got at Sur la Table. 
Fill the cupcakes with the cream filling and gently replace the cupcake plugs.  I cut a bit off the bottom for a better fit.   
Make your frosting and look at this bowl full o' strawberry frosting!  Hard to not eat the leftovers...YUMMO
And some final shots of one of these lovelies: Pretty in Pink and All Dressed up in Pink Ribbons!   

My love to you all as you keep up the fight! 

Since writing this for Frosting for the Cause, both Mr. and Mrs. Finch passed away in 2012.  It is a sadness that's difficult for me to express.  It was an honor to know them and I will forever feel their kindness and support.  I loved them so much.

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  1. What luscious looking cupcakes and the story of Mrs. Finch touches my heart, deeply. These would make a lovely addition to a Valentine's dessert table...hmmmmmm! Love you, XOXO

    1. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Susan. :) Mrs. Finch was a force of nature and always so very kind to me. I miss them both. Lv, me

  2. What a lovely and heartfelt story. So many people pass through our few make an impression, but the ones that do...we never forget. My mother passed away on my 16th birthday after losing her battle with Breast Cancer, over 40 years ago. She was only 47. I would have loved to have had a Mrs. Finch in my life, to mentor me through my difficult years:) I will make these cupcakes on Valentines Day in honor of my mom Aggie, who celebrated her birthday on Valentine's Day.

    1. Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your mom's story. So young...I hope your cupcakes turned out and that you had happy memories of your mom while making and sharing them. And, yes, Mrs. Finch was a mentor in a way. Always supportive of me and my life decisions. That meant a lot to me, especially during the tougher life decision times. Thanks for stopping by, Lynn. :)

  3. I was wondering what happened to the site! I got a warning it was blacklisted by google and I had to remove all my links. It's such a good cause, and I was so glad to be a part of it. Love these cupcakes!

  4. Thanks, Dorothy. I found FFC through your website all those many moons ago. It doesn't seem that long ago that I made these and visited with the breast cancer survivor group. What a great experience...

  5. Today I finished my last chemo! I started 5 months ago, but I can honestly say I have been very fortunate with very little side affects. I still have 6 weeks of radiation, but I will be fine. I was wanting to line up a little gift for my work place. They have been so supportive with donations of vacation time, an extremely patient schedule to make my treatments about an hour away, sneaky little treats left at my desk, and all the encouragement! I thought about sheet cakes, but then I thought cupcakes would work better. I think I will make 3 different kinds: my son's favorite mocha with whipped mocha frosting, wedding white with creamy buttercream, and pink champagne for a delicious pop of color and fun. I lost my recipe and thought I would search for one and found your site on the first click! I think it was destiny. Take care!!

    1. That's so wonderful!! Congratulations on your recovery. How nice of you to bring your coworkers a sweet surprise. Wishing you joy and all the best moving forward! <3 Jacqueline and Ellen


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