Like eleventy billion other people this weekend, I am super psyched up about the upcoming Breaking Bad finale. We are going to have a small viewing party over at my brother’s place on Sunday night and I thought I would make something special to bring along. Unfortunately I have been on a two week plan to not eat processed sugar for 14 days… and Sunday is the 14th day. There is no way I would ever show up with food that I didn’t taste first (strictly for quality control purposes of course!), so I ate a mere one quarter of a cupcake. It was certainly one of the most intense exercises in willpower that I’ve ever experienced! Those couple of bites were worth it too. Vanilla is a very simple flavor and these cupcakes are vanilla through and through, but with a couple of fun elements to set them apart. They are baked on top of a sugar cookie crust, the pale batter is flecked with bits of blue, and there is a hint of amaretto in the fluffy buttercream frosting. But of course the real show stopper is definitely the “blue meth” sugar glass on top.
First off you’ll want to make the sugar glass because it needs some time to chill. To make these cupcakes a lot simpler you could always use a box mix and prepared frosting, but the blue meth crystals are pretty iconic and will make your cupcakes unique. And you don’t have to do blue! Halloween is coming up and maybe you want to stab clear glass shards into your cake with red sauce oozing out of the middle. Heat resistant silicone molds could probably give you a lot of interesting ideas as well – pretty crystalline flowers, leaves, or butterflies. Making the glass is actually quite simple, but hot sugar is very dangerous to work with so take care when doing so. It’s not the sort of thing you want to be working on if you have little ones tugging on your pants near the stove.
The process is pretty straight forward. Combine all of the ingredients (except the coloring) to your pot, whisk until the sugar dissolves, attach a candy thermometer, and wait for two different temperature points. At 250F-260F you will add in your coloring but you won’t stir it; the boiling process will mix it for you. At 300F it should be ready to come off the heat. Test the sugar by putting a drop in a bowl of ice water. If it hardens and crackles a bit then you should be good to go. Pop the sugar off the heat and let it sit to release as many bubbles as possible before slowly pouring into a foil-lined pan lubed up with a little cooking spray. It will chill in the fridge for about an hour before you can take it out and SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!
I made two batches because I was overly cautious when adding color the first time around. You can be somewhat generous with the color you choose. The way it looks in the pot is much darker than it will be when it’s spread out on the foil, which is a little bit darker than it appears once broken up into tiny pieces. The first time I dipped a toothpick into my color to swirl through the sugar, and I ended up with glass that was significantly more transparent and slightly aquamarine in hue. The slight greenish cast actually seems to be more accurate when compared to what you see in the show, but I was also trying to match the blue that I used within the cupcakes themselves. So the second time I dipped the end of a butter knife into the gel and put a tiny knob into the sugar. I immediately worried that I had gone too far but once everything was broken apart it looked excellent. I think Heisenberg would be cool with it.
While the glass chills you can get to work on your cupcakes. Since these have a sugar cookie base you will want to prep the sugar dough, press it into the cupcake liners, and par-bake them before filling them with your cake batter. I used about a tablespoon of dough in each cup, compressing it with the flat end of a 1/4 measuring cup. There is enough crust for a dozen cupcakes and because the cookie takes up a portion of the space in each cup, you will end up with a little cake batter leftover. I had enough to bake 4 more cupcakes without cookie bottoms.
I wanted to continue the blue theme throughout the cupcake so I picked up a package of Wilton’s Colourburst Batter Bits to fold into the batter. While this step is entirely optional it sure looks pretty in the end. I think the only thing left to say now is, “JESSE, WE HAVE TO COOK!”
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- Food coloring (I used about an 8th of a teaspoon of Wilton icing gel in Sky Blue to get the color shown)
- Line a baking pan (one with an edge so no syrup spills over the side) with foil and spritz with a little cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in saucepan over medium heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add candy thermometer to your pot and bring the sugar to a boil without stirring. When it reaches 260F add your coloring, but again do not stir.
- Let the syrup continue to cook until it reaches 300F. I found this process to take anywhere from 30-45 minutes and that I didn’t need to stand watch over it constantly.
- When a drop of the syrup hardens and pops in a bowl of ice water you know it’s ready. Remove from heat and allow it to rest a few minutes while the remaining air bubbles work their way out.
- Slowly (and carefully!) pour the syrup into your prepared pan and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
- Once completely cooled and hardened you can pull the entire sheet out of the pan by the edges of the foil and move it to a durable surface. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the top and whack it with a hammer a few times. Make the shards as big or as small as you like.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light. Beat in flour, salt, milk and vanilla, until mixture is moist and crumbly (it should clump together if you press it between your fingers).
- Drop a rounded tablespoon of the prepared dough into each liner. Gently press the dough down with the bottom of a glass or a 1/4 measuring cup as I’ve done. Your fingers could do the trick as well.
- Bake for about 10 minutes until just set but not yet browning on the edges.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Ener-g egg replacer dissolved in 1/4 cup water (or 2 eggs)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In stand mixer combine sugar, flour, starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add in butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg replacer, sour cream, oil, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add this mixture to the flour and beat until just combined.
- Fold in a a few tablespoons of your colored batter bits if you decide to use them.
- Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and immediately transfer to cooking racks.
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-3 teaspoons almond liqueur (I used an almond hazelnut blend called Pisa) , optional
- 1-2 tablespoons whipping cream
- In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
- Add vanilla, liqueur and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.