All my life, I have looked at ice cream cakes and ice cream cupcakes with envy. I'm lactose intolerant and allergic to whey, and ice cream shops don't make their cakes and cupcakes with sorbet -- or at least none of them in the town where I grew up did. So not only did I never get to have an ice cream cake for my birthday, I never got to even try a piece ever.
Recently, I had the thought: I know how to bake. I can make my own sorbet cupcakes, and they will be even better than all the stupid ones I couldn't eat at birthday parties when I was a kid and no I'm not bitter at all. And then I had the thought: I should share this with other people, so they can make their own sorbet (or ice cream) cupcakes, as well.
There are a number of steps that go into assembling these wonderful desserts, and most of them don't have to be done on the day the cupcakes are assembled. If you can, spreading out the steps over a few days makes the whole thing less of an ordeal.
Step 1: What You'll Need
You can go pretty complex on this project if you want to, or you can go simple. I decided to mix some crumbled Oreos into my sorbet, because you people who can eat ice cream have NO IDEA how boring plain sorbet gets after a while, but I'm a big slacker, so that was as fancy as I went. Obviously, those of you who are more fancy than me are free to fancy things up with your own cupcake and sorbet recipes. If you do something like that, please post a comment about it. I plan to do these again, and I'd love fresh ideas.
Things You Will Need:
Cupcake mix (or ingredients)
Sorbet (or ice cream)
Candy melts (or chocolate, if you're really hardcore)
A cupcake pan
Icing (not pictured)
Oreos (or something else to mix in)
A big ol' slab of marble (not pictured)
Step 2: The Cupcake Part
Okay. About this step.
Part of doing new things means making really stupid mistakes, and my handling of the cupcake part of this whole assembly was probably the hardest way to do it, and with the worst results. I'm going to tell you how I did it, because that's what I took the pictures of, but I'm also going to tell you how I'm going to do it next time.
How I did it:
I mixed up the batter as per the instructions on the box, and poured it into a cupcake pan, making sure to fill it only about a quarter of the way, since I wanted to make room for sorbet. Then, when they were baked and cooled, I cut them down to size to fit in the fake-chocolate shells I made.
My only excuse is that I was really high on allergy medicine when I decided that this whole process was a good idea.
What I should have done:
I should have mixed up the cake mix and baked it in a sheet pan, then crumbled it up with some icing, as per the cake pops that are all over the place right now. Then the cake would have been easy to cram into the shells. Learn from my mistakes. Make the cupcake part like cake pops. Also, don't try to assemble something this complex when you've just taken a bunch of allergy medicine.
If you don't know how to make cake pops, then I am doing you the biggest favor of your life right now by linking you to an excellent Instructable on the subject:
Step 3: The Sorbet Part
There are a few ways you could tackle this part of the cupcakes. The easy way is to buy whatever flavor of sorbet (or ice cream) that you want and just use that straight out of the can. The really hard way is to make your own with the organic berries you grew in your garden.
I'm going to show you the only sorta hard way.
The rise of ice cream parlors with flavors you can 'mix in' changed the whole experience of going out for ice cream for me. Like the old school ice cream places, they usually only carry one flavor of sorbet, but then I can add anything I want, so that's like a ton of flavors. The only problem comes when the only flavor they're carrying is lemon, and I really want raspberries and chocolate. What's a girl to do?
Enter my husband, and the huge slab of marble he found in his wood shop.
If you can get your hands on a slab of marble, this is a nifty thing to do to jazz up a sorbet. Yes, I just wrote 'jazz up'. And 'nifty'. Yes, I am old.
Stick the marble slab in the freezer for a while, and when it's nice and cold all the way through, pull it out and mix your sorbet with whatever delights you want to add. I used crushed Oreos.
Once your custom flavor is good and mixed, pack it into a tupperware and stick it back into the freezer.
As you can see in the pictures, my slab of marble is rather awkwardly wrapped in tin foil. This is because I couldn't get all the wood shop gunk off of it with a sponge and soap, and I wasn't really in the mood to bust out the sander.
Step 4: The "Chocolate" Shell
So we've got cake. We've got sorbet. We could probably shove these into a sturdy wrapper, freeze them, and hope for the best, but I'm incapable of doing anything the straightforward way. I think it's a disease.
Which means that the next step is to make chocolate shells for the cupcakes that look like cupcake wrappers.
You can do this step with real chocolate, if you want to mess around with tempering it. I didn't, so I used the chocolate-flavored candy melts that you can buy in most craft stores.
First, you'll have to melt your candy melts. Pour them into a bowl and put them in the microwave. Nuke the candy melts at about 30 second intervals, stirring in between. There's a sweet spot between 'not melted' and 'burned and gross' that you want to hit, and that sweet spot is smaller than you'd expect. So keep an eye on it.
Once you've got your 'melted' but 'not burned and gross' chocolate, it's time for the next step.
Step 5: Chocolate Shells, the Hard Way
Before I begin explaining this step, I want to tell you that I'm positive that there has got to be an easier way to make the shells than the way I picked, but I don't have enough experience with melting chocolate into molds to know what it is. So if you, unlike me, know what you're doing, please feel free to use your way. And maybe post a comment to tell me what it is.
Once you've got your melted chocolate, put a cupcake wrapper in your cupcake tin, and dump a glob of the chocolate on the cupcake wrapper.
Next, using a small spatula or some other, similar instrument (not your fingers -- the chocolate is hot), spread the chocolate along the sides of the cupcake wrapper. As you can see, I did a pretty messy job at this. I blame allergy medicine. However, it's comforting to know that even if you're super messy about this part of making the cupcakes, they will still turn out awesome.
Once you've made as many chocolate shells as you want for cupcakes, let them set up until you're ready to assemble the cupcakes.
Take the hardened shells out of the pan and peel the wrapper away. As you can see, it comes off without much trouble, and what you're left with is what I wanted: A chocolate shell that looks like a cupcake wrapper.
Step 6: Assembling the Cupcake
Once you've got all the pieces ready, it's time to assemble this beast!
Before you begin, take the sorbet out of the freezer to soften a bit, so it's easier to work with.
First, either put your awkward circles of chocolate cake into the bottom of the cups, or get out your awesome cake pop 'batter' and cram some of that in. (Again, please don't do this the way I did. It was way too hard.)
Next, cover the cake with some of your softened sorbet, and pop it back into the freezer to harden a bit.
When you're ready to serve the cupcakes, break out the frosting and frost them just before serving. The reason you want to wait until you're ready to serve them is because if you frost them with a standard buttercream and put them back into the freezer, you'll end up with frozen, hard icing.
So there you have it. Go forth and make cupcakes!