Testing, testing, one two bee!
Cupcake Camp Seattle was great: good cause, good food, big crowd. But my favorite thing was being able to meet some really great people who are totally into cupcakes. One of these folks is Jennifer White, an amateur baker who entered her Baklava Honeybee Cupcakes into the “most unique ingredient” category. In this case, amateur just means she doesn’t run her own bakery – those Baklava Honeybees were totally pro level.
The final Cupcake Camp product
Jennifer says that she came about this recipe especially for cupcake camp – when a friend of hers told her about the event, she knew she’d have to come up with something super cute and super tasty. The inspiration for the bee theme came from the Bright Ideas beehive cupcake that was taken to the next level by actual honey, even cuter bees and Jennifer’s love of Greek food.
After a test run at an office birthday party which ended with an empty cupcake box and rave reviews from co-workers, the Baklava Bee cupcakes were ready for Cupcake Camp, which is where I got a chance to taste test them. Being a fan of the deeper sweetness of honey, good baklava and cute little bees, it was love at first bite.
If you want to try out Baklava Bees for yourself, Jennifer’s recipe and instructions are below :
Favorite yellow cake recipe, enough for 24 cakes: I like Martha Stewart’s basic yellow cake and if pressed for time, I have the best results with Duncan Hines “Butter Recipe Golden” boxed mix.
For the nut and honey mixture: 1/3 cup each of the following chopped nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans. Combine the cup of mixed nuts with about 3 heaping tablespoons of clover honey.
Note: I also like Tupelo honey, but not everyone likes the distinctive taste of Tupelo honey. Other types of honey might also work well, but I’d caution that some may be overpowering, for example Orange Blossom honey is probably just a little too pungent.
For the crusts: About 4-5 tablespoons of melted butter, but you might end up using a whole stick depending on how generous your buttering is. 1 box of frozen Phyllo Dough, though you won’t come anywhere close to using the whole thing. For 24 cupcakes, you’ll need 96 squares cut about an inch or so larger than your cupcake cup base, but you’ll want to cut about 110 squares (some will tear and break, so don’t fret if you lose a few). I used a sharp knife to cut the squares. Keep a slightly damp napkin or towel on top of the squares you aren’t working with so they don’t dry out too much. Also, make sure you’ve defrosted your dough well beforehand. Defrosting usually takes a minimum of 5 hours.
Honey Buttercream Frosting: 1 cup unsalted butter, 1/3 cup honey plus two tablespoons, 2 level tablespoons meringue powder, 4-5 cups powdered sugar, gold food coloring (optional). Cream the butter, honey, and meringue powder for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar. Start on low speed, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition until the icing is thick enough to be of good piping consistency. You want it to be stiff enough to hold a shape but don’t add so much sugar that it loses its creaminess.
For the cute little bees: Next I needed to perfect those cute little bees. I decided that I needed a yellow shiny candy and black frosting that would dry hard. For the test batch for the birthday party, I tried out multi-colored pastel Jordan Almonds. The problem was these really only come out around Easter time and are terribly expensive. I decided for the Cupcake Camp that the pastel Easter peanut M&Ms were a more reasonable choice, and personally I prefer the taste of them to Jordan Almonds.
I decided to use the black gel icing that comes in a little white tube, ready-made and store-bought, to paint three black stripes on the bees. You could use black royal icing, you just want to make sure you know how the bee is going to sit once you’re done icing it and have set it down to dry. Many bees want to roll over onto the icing; I leaned them against the edge of my cake carrier to dry. You have to make sure you prepare the bees the night before so that the icing is completely dry before you add them to the cakes. As with the Bright Ideas honey bees, I used almond slivers for the wings.