Audrey Hepburn Cupcakes

Audrey Hepburn Cupcakes

“When I get… (the mean reds)… the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

How Holly Golightly (or should I say Audrey Hepburn, since in my private opinion she has become more synonymous with Breakfast at Tiffany’s than Holly) felt about Tiffany’s is how I feel about the kitchen. It is a safe haven, a refuge from the sometimes mean, bad world out there. Nothing calms me down more than cooking (unless it’s cooking for a crowd on a deadline, in which case everyone knows to stay out of my way). I can get mesmerized by the sight of onions turning translucent, then golden, or the bright jewel-like redness of raspberries. And don’t even get me started on the magical transformation of liquid egg-whites into a shiny cloud by the simple process of whipping them – my guess is that this sight was one of the first things that triggered my love affair with cooking.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - joy at finding an untainted, used copy

When it comes to a choice between cooking and baking, like all good parents I’ll tell you that I love them both equally. But I secretly know in my heart that I’m partial to the latter. The sight of a cake rising in the oven, the aroma of freshly baked bread, the flakiness of a perfectly golden crust – I don’t think diamonds, girl’s best friend though they may be (personally, I prefer sapphires), could make me smile as much as these.

Sprinkles - Joy

And is there anything to come out of the oven that can be (forgive me for using the word) cuter than a cupcake? How can anyone not smile when offered the delicious gift of one? They are the perfect treat – big enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and small enough that you don’t have to share if you don’t want to (and I usually never do).

The inspiration for these cupcakes came from that delightfully wonderful book Hello, Cupcake! which is one of the most fabulously playful and inventive cookbooks I have on my bookshelf. They are called Black and White Party Cupcakes in the book, but a recent acquisition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the book* not the movie) inspired me to make and rename them. Not only are these cupcakes a joy to eat, they manage to cross over from the usual confines of cute, and are chic and elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. (Oh, just for the record, there was no party; I just really wanted cupcakes.)

Cupcake solves everything?

For the actual cupcakes, I used the recipe for Devil’s Food Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s site, a delicious almond cream cheese frosting from Epicurious and a chocolate ganache I’ve been making for so long I don’t need a written recipe for it. The cakes are not difficult to make, and come out with a domed, cracked top (I happen to like this, but this might also be because I used regular cocoa instead of the Dutch-process the recipe called for) and a wonderfully moist and dark interior. The frosting would be a snap, unless like me you forget to take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator until the very last minute. Microwaving it for a few short seconds is an easy solution to this problem. And the ganache – well, let me just say that if you can put on the stove and chop chocolate, you can make ganache.

Chocolate Cupcakes - warm and moist from the oven

The variations on the icing designs for these are only as limited as your imagination. Feel free to let that inner artist I know you have inside you to run amok. Sprinkles, candy, chocolate, marshmallows – use what you have or what you fancy. If there is any advice I could give you, it would be to remember that less is more. You can’t go wrong – and even if you do, you’re offering people chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache and cream cheese frosting – what do they have to complain about?

Inspired from 'Hello Cupcake'

As I iced and decorated these cupcakes, I could feel that familiar calm descend upon me. They looked fabulous all lined on a tray, as if they were all ready and dressed to go to some fancy party. I’m sure Audrey – and Holly – would have approved.

Elegant in Black and White

*I bought the book from a used bookstore and found the following inscription within. Everyone who reads it has the same response “Aww! She sold it.” I think it is because we all secretly hope for happy endings, even if it is clichéd. The inscription makes me sad. And curious. What was their story? Did he give her the book because she loved the movie? Did they part mutually or was it heartbreak on one side? Or are they still together and she accidentally gave the book away? Is she still looking for it? Whatever their story is, together or apart, I hope they are happy, wherever they are. And eating cupcakes…

I found this inscription inside :(

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Devil Food Cupcakes

1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I didn’t have Dutch-process, so I used regular)
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C). Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. (I got 12 large cupcakes with this recipe.)
2. Whisk together the cocoa and hot water in a bowl. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until combined. Remove from heat and whisk for 4-5 mins with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until cool to touch.
4.Whisk in the eggs, one by one, beating until incorporated before adding another.
5. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, beating only till combined.
6. Switch the mixer to low speed and add half the flour followed by half the sour cream, beating only till combined. Fold in the remaining flour and sour cream.
7. Divide batter evenly among the lined cups, and baked until a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 mins.
8. Cool the cupcakes completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

2 cups confectioners sugar (add another 1/2 cup if you would like it sweeter)
4 oz (120 gm) cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional; you can also use vanilla)
1 tablespoon whole milk

1. Make sure the cream cheese is softened before starting. If like me, you have forgotten to take it out of the refrigerator until the very last minute, cut it into cubes and microwave it for 10 seconds.)
2. Sift the sugar over the cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 mins). Beat in the almond extract and milk just until incorporated.

Chocolate Ganache
(Recipe in my head as equal parts chocolate and cream; corn/table syrup if frosting and if on hand)

5 oz (150 gm) dark (not unsweetened) chocolate
5 oz (150 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup or table syrup (I skip this if I don’t have it)

1. Chop and place chocolate in a bowl.
2. Heat the cream with the syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.
4. Stir the chocolate into the cream until smooth and shiny (I can never resist licking off the spoon after this part).
5. The ganache will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate it, stirring after every 10 mins until it has a soft spreading consistency.
(If ganache is too thick, reheat over a double boiler. If too thin, cool further.)

Assembly
Adapted from Black and White Party Cupcakes in Hello, Cupcake!
(Use your imagination and whatever you have on hand or whatever catches your fancy in the store)

White and dark sprinkles
White and dark chocolate buttons/candy/mini chocolate chips
Marshmallows
Chocolate-covered coffee beans

1. Frost half the cupcakes with the chocolate ganache and the remaining with the cream cheese frosting. 2. Use a small offset spatula, if you have one (I just used a spoon), to spread the frosting, starting from the middle and working your way towards the edges.
3. Place the white and dark sprinkles in two separate bowls. Holding the cupcakes sideways by the paper-lined bottoms, roll the edges of some of the chocolate frosted cupcakes in the white sprinkles and those of the cream cheese cupcakes in the dark sprinkles.
4. Heat (or microwave) the ganache till it melts a little. Using an icing bag (or Ziploc) with a small round tip, trace concentric circles on the cream cheese cupcakes. Use a toothpick (or one prong of a fork) to drag out lines like the spokes of a wheel in the icing.
5. Decorate the cupcakes with the sprinkles or candy/buttons/choc chips with patterns of your choice.
6. Use the marshmallows and chocolate-covered coffee beans to top the dark and white cupcakes respectively.

P.S. These cupcakes are delicious even if you don’t want to go for the whole decorative icing effect. I wouldn’t say no to good ol’ cupcakes with plain ol’ frosting. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t say no to cupcakes even without any frosting.

Chocolate Cupcake with Almond-Cream Cheese Frosting

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35 Responses to Audrey Hepburn Cupcakes

  1. Jane Ko says:

    Yum, those look so delicious. Love your photos!

  2. These look wonderful. I have been looking for a from scratch chocolate cake recipe. Super cute! Thanks for sharing!

  3. tiffintales says:

    Thanks guys. They are definitely super-yum!

  4. Valerie says:

    Beautiful! And I love the story about the inscription inside the book. My imagination comes up with all kinds of scenarios that end with that book at the used book store.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Silvia says:

    Really nice story!

  6. Cherine says:

    Gorgeous cupcakes!

  7. Niya says:

    I had one of these, I think. If I’m not mistaken, because if I did it was before I crossed then ocean, then they were utterly divine! The fudgey density of the perfectly crumbed cake, the complexity the almond notes added to the sweet tart frosting that is so much better than cloying buttercream, and the pleasantly amusing crunch of chocolate sprinkles…oh my, how I enjoyed that cupcake :)

  8. jenniebites says:

    yum, yum, yum, and one of my favorite books!

  9. outsideoslo says:

    Those cupcakes are gorgeous–so stylish and elegant. Great work!

  10. Christina says:

    These are gorgeous! I love the name change, too!

  11. Jessica says:

    I love to buy used books. It’s really neat when you find one that has been signed by the author, but I like the one you found…it sparks your imagination, obviously, just as it did mine. A million stories could be derived from those few words…

    I love your cupcakes. They are definitely elegant. My crew, however, would merely take a quick glimpse at their beauty before making short order of them! LOL

  12. charliebanks says:

    cannot wait to make these. thank you!!

  13. tiffintales says:

    Thank you for all your great comments. It really makes my day!

  14. souffledays says:

    Your cupcakes look gorgeous and delicious, I love all the different patterns. The book inscription is wonderfully sad and cute at the same time. I love buying books used, knowing that someone had a story with them before me.
    -Heather

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  16. I very much enjoyed your post…your writing is so clear and honest. I found myself chuckling along the way at our personality similarities and reactions. That is too bad about the book inscription and it’s outcome. ;)
    Beautiful cupcakes…Audrey is my all-time fav. These gorgeously decorated cakelets reminds me of one of her dresses in “My Fair Lady”…the one she wears to the races.

    • tiffintales says:

      I remembered those same dresses too! I think she lit up the screen with her charm and personality and no one has been able to match that.
      Too bad about the inscription, right?

  17. So pretty :) Lovely post…

  18. Great post and I love the cupcakes! Breakfast at Tiffany’s – a classic!

  19. Kathy Gori says:

    Love the cupcake story and recipes. The book reminds me of the film Serendipity
    **Plot***While each grabbing for the last pair of black cashmere gloves at Bloomingdale’s in New York, Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager meet. Despite each being in a relationship with other people at the time, they spend an amazing afternoon together. Jonathan wants her contact information “just in case”, but Sara, a fatalist, plays games of fate with Jonathan to determine if they are indeed meant to be together now or in the future. At the end of the day, the two only have a few pieces of information about the other, which does not include the other’s last name or telephone number as they part company. One of Sara’s last games of fate that day has each leaving a identifier to the other (Jonathan and Sara scrawl their full name and telephone number on a $5 bill and a used book, respectively), which if each comes into the possession of the other by happenstance, Sara believes they are meant to be together.
    wonder what is the story of your book and perhaps the sight of cupcakes on a food blog will bring these two back together again!

    • tiffintales says:

      I love that movie too.. Ya, the thought that it would be so incredibly cool to have one of them read this story has crossed my my mind ;)

  20. You’re a fantastic writer! And your cupcakes look incredibly delicious, I love how each one is different. The pictures are wonderful too! :)

    • tiffintales says:

      Thank you so much! It’s such a joy to hear that. I checked out your apple tart – delicious! I’m in love with pear ones : )

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  23. Julie says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! When I bake (particularly at my parents’ house), I feel all my stresses melting away and my muscles relax as though I am being massaged at a spa. It’s heavenly :)

  24. Alisha says:

    LOOKS AMAZING, can’t wait to whip them up!

  25. Very elegant and pretty cupcakes, I like them a lot.I’ve featured this recipe on my blog, hoping that you don’t mind, but if you do, please contact me and I’ll remove it. All the best.

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