Posts tagged ‘cupcakes’

October 9, 2012

Tropical Sunrise Cupcakes

It is the time of year when we are thinking about pumpkins, apples, cinnamon, and hot chocolate.  I’m definitely ready to dive into the flavors of fall and transform them into great cupcakes…I have the candy corn in the cupboard to prove it.  But, this weekend it got uncharacteristically cold and somehow, instead of making apple pie or hot chocolate cupcakes, I went in the exact opposite direction and ended up making a tropical inspired cupcake!

You know by now I love a good semi-homemade recipe so I found this one that called for replacing the water for pineapple juice in a vanilla cake mix.  I went a step further and used a white cake mix instead.  I like how white cake mixes allow an added flavor to come through a little bit more.  I used coconut oil instead of canola oil too.

When it came to the frosting, I was going to try a new flour based frosting named “the best frosting ever” until I realized too late I didn’t have any milk in the house.  I shuddered at the thought of another boring butter cream, and then again realized milk was still a problem.  Until I realized I could substitute pineapple juice for the milk and it worked perfectly.  There was just enough of a difference in the frosting to make you go “hmmm…what’s different about this”.

The inspiration pin for this cupcake was gorgeous and had a toasted coconut rim, but I just did not have my act together enough to go the extra mile.  I also know that coconut is a polarizing flavor.  People love it or hate it, so I decided to make different toppings with combinations of sweetened, shredded coconut, and pineapple chunks.   That way people could choose one without it if they didn’t like it.

Cupcake Recipe

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with liners.  Mix all ingredients until combined.  Fill wells 2/3 full and bake for 20-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Frosting Recipe

  • 3 sticks of softened butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3-5 tablespoons pineapple juice

Combine butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined.  Add vanilla, then add pineapple juice 1 tablespoon at a time mixing until you get the desired consistency.  Pipe onto cupcakes and top with shredded coconut, maraschino cherries, and pineapple chunks.

The Results…

I didn’t feel confident serving these at first.  The were light, moist and had the perfect hint of tropical vibe.  I warned the first taster not to get too excited, but her face was priceless after the first bite, and she immediately declared it was in the top three of all time.

October 2, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes

When I first started working in student affairs, I liked to bake chocolate chip cookies for students on their birthdays.  I felt a special tie to this particular cookie because it was invented by a woman who graduated from the same University that I did.  Along the way, and mostly by accident, I had perfected my recipe by insisting on only using real butter, a specific baking pan, and a timing technique that made them perfect.  It was easy to make a batch, bake up a dozen, and freeze the rest of the dough for another time.

This whole cupcake baking happened by accident.  I baked some one day because I felt like it, and realized I couldn’t go off and eat a whole 12 cupcakes. So, I brought them to work in hopes that people in the office would eat them.  I posted them on Facebook in hopes that my newest team of students would be lured into my office even if it was just to get one and leave.  And they came.  And the cupcakes went.  I was excited to try new flavors and test them out.  I liked seeing a bag of candy for a perfect topper and more and more I wanted to make really fabulous looking and tasting cupcakes.

Last week, I found a recipe for cookie dough frosting on Pinterest that was actually eggless cookie dough and another pin about adding cookie dough to the center of cupcakes.  With two cookie dough themes in one week I knew it was finally time to combine my first baking specialty with my new baking obsession!

After reading the cookie dough inside the cupcake post, I realized I’d need to find a vanilla cupcake recipe that worked with the ingredients I had on hand.  I’m not going to share it here and you’ll find out why shortly.  If you need a cookie dough recipe, look no further than the back of the bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips.  Oh, and use real butter.

While making the cookie dough for cookies and frosting seems like a lot of work, I just mixed the butter and dry ingredients together, then split the mixture in half and added egg to one and heavy cream to the other.  Freezing the cookie dough before you bake it in the cupcakes will ensure it stays in shape while baked.  I loved how mine created little cracks through the cupcake tops!

Oh, the cookie dough frosting.  How disturbingly delicious (and safe to eat).   I used the recipe from Cupcake Project as my basis, but found that my dough wasn’t coming together without more liquid and I kept going back to the directions to see if I missed a step.  Finally, I decided to apply typical frosting making methods and add some heavy cream.  It’s what I would do to thin a recipe of butter cream frosting and it was perfect.  I probably used 1/3 cup of cream total in my frosting, but I didn’t measure.  I just added a little at a time until it was piping consistency.

The Results…

Welp, the reason I don’t want to share the vanilla cupcake recipe is because it was terrible.  It made dense, unflavored cupcakes.  This seemed to work in my favor in two ways though.  First, it was so dense that the cookie dough didn’t drop to the bottom making it look great after the first bite.  Second, not carrying much flavor allowed for the cookie dough ball and frosting flavors to really shine.

As the baker, I tend to be more critical than my eating audience.  Only one person (my best critic) also noticed the poor quality of the cake itself.  Everyone else loved it and many people came back for another.  That is my universal sign that it was good to others taste buds.  Maybe the best compliment was the student who asked if I could make the cupcakes again for Family Weekend on Saturday.  Saturday is not Monday and I don’t duplicate my cupcakes, so thanks for the compliment, but no.  Lol.

September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes w/ Maple Buttercream and Pumpkin Truffles

This week’s cupcake continues to take inspiration from the same wedding, a gorgeous Fall weekend in New Hampshire, the wedding favor and the final arrival of decent fall temps in Hotlanta.

Adorable little glass juglets of pure maple syrup were the favor at the Hollywood couple’s wedding and as soon I as received my little treat, I knew instantly that the contents were not destined for a sole stack of pancakes, but for cupcakes!  Duh.  To welcome the cooling weather that at least comes in the evening and early mornings, I felt pumpkin would be an appropriate cake for the maple butter cream I planned.   And, as it happened I had just come across a cake recipe that only called for a can of pumpkin and a yellow cake mix.

While I was still home, I also came across an easy recipe for pumpkin truffles that seemed like perfect toppers and enough of a challenge to add to an otherwise simple recipe.  I forgot to copy the recipe before leaving though and had to look for a manageable one on the internet.  This one seemed to do, but I replaced the gingersnaps with vanilla wafers and added a pinch of ginger.  As you’ll see from the results, I’m not so good with the chocolate covered part, but I don’t mind when things look imperfect as these did.

Recipe for Cupcakes (if you can really call it that!)

  • One yellow cake mix – I used the Butter Recipe type
  • One can of pumpkin

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tin with liners.  Mix the two ingredients together.

The batter will be much stiffer than a typical cupcake batter.  It will eventually spread and rise up in the pans, so if you want nice even tops, you might want to smooth it out a little bit first.  I did not and my cupcakes came out like little rocky mountains.  The frosting will cover it up though!

For the frosting, I used this recipe.  (Gorgeous site, btw!) The flavor was very subtle, but delicious.  If you want a stronger maple flavor you might search for a recipe that calls for maple extract instead.

For the pumpkin truffles, I followed this recipe, but would probably recommend following it exactly and using the gingersnaps.  What I loved is that it didn’t make a huge batch because I only wanted enough to top the cupcakes.

The Results…

Overall, this was a decent cupcake.  It got good reviews from everyone who ate one, so it was hard to accept praise as I don’t think it was an all-time best.  The cake had more of a muffin texture and I worried that it was a little “gummy”, but no one seemed to comment as much.  It was super sweet and the butter flavor from the mix was evident in a good way.

I loved the subtle flavor of the maple butter cream.  It had just a hint of maple.  I think it would have been worth the effort to get gingersnaps for the truffles because they needed a little more kick, but I think the overall they look great!

P.S. The cupcake wrappers were from the dollar section in Target and they stayed bright after baking!  I like how they match the flavor and season of the cupcakes.

September 17, 2012

Here comes the…cupcake!

Notice a missing cupcake post last week?  I was on what I call vacation- home to visit my parents and attend my favorite cousin’s wedding! My mother made the wedding cake, and I contributed by making the roses for the decorations.  It was pretty cool because I don’t really work with fondant that much, but helping out with the cake got me into it.

We called it the Red Carpet Cake for the Hollywood couple getting married.

I, probably like most people, don’t like to actually eat fondant.  Some people think it tastes gross and some people think it’s tasteless.  However, my mom made fondant from scratch and it was delicious.  I kept sneak eating the scraps from my roses!  She made way more than she needed and insisted I take some home which was sort of terrifying because the white blob wrapped in cling wrap looked like a warped brick of cocaine and I couldn’t decide if I should try to take it in my carry-on or stow it in my checked bag.  I ended up with enough room and dropped it in my suitcase right before checking it.  Then, my heart skipped a beat when three TSA agents came roaming around my gate.  I imagined them hauling me away and questioning me about my “cake” supplies.  In the end, I and the fondant made it back without incident.

She also gave me all her extra store bought fondant and other supplies and I got totally inspired to play around with everything and see if I could make some pretty little cakes with the fondant.  I’ve been stowing this “wedding cake flavor” cupcake from Recipe Girl on my Pinterest inspiration board for quite a while, so it seemed like the perfect recipe paired with simple butter cream frosting.

Then came the fun with fondant.  The first time I ever made fondant flowers was for the first wedding cake my mom ever made.  I didn’t take a class or watch a video.  I just made freehand petals and stuck them together.  They came out great, and this time my mom insisted on “stylized” ribbon roses from her inspiration cake.  I didn’t mind the simplicity of making the roses this way, but I like the petals to look a little more “real” so when I had creative license, I used the same technique, but I just pinched out the petals so they had a more natural look…well, as natural as you can get with neon fondant!

I added some candy pearls to make little buds in the center of each flower.  They didn’t all come out looking anything like a real flower would, but I liked them anyhow and everyone looked super impressed when they came into the office today.  I had to tell everyone that the flower was just for decoration though because the fondant was so terrible.  Some of them braved a little taste, but they all made the same face once it hit there tongue.  Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty!

The Results…

Looks aside, as pretty as they did turn out, this was an outstanding cupcake and butter cream frosting!  I do believe these are the best cupcakes I’ve made yet.  I followed the recipe to a T, and the cake is just gorgeous.  I have no problem with a semi-homemade recipe and anytime I need a white cake recipe, this will be my go to.

The butter cream was also the smoothest, best tasting I’ve made also.  I think this is because of a few things.  The butter and frosting ratios are different than my typical base recipe.  Also, I used heavy cream instead of half-and-half or milk and I really let the butter soften up on the counter before combining all the ingredients together- please don’t ask what I usually do insted!  While I will probably still use my base recipe for flavored frostings, when I need a plain butter cream this will also be my standard.

Stay tuned for a ribbon rose tutorial coming later this week!

September 3, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Cupcakes

Since my tasting audience is 99.9% students, I often ask what kind of cupcakes they’d like to see on Monday. Sometimes I may ask someone whose birthday is coming up or if I want to connect with someone. There are times when I just have so many choices I don’t want to be the one to decide! If we’re near a computer or iPad, I’ll hand over my Cupcake/Monday Pinterest board for them to scroll. If not, I ask for a flavor profile. The latter is how this week’s cupcakes came to be.

I’ve found several different variations of blueberry lemon cupcakes around the web, and at first I found one I was going to use. But, then when I was in the store to pick up a white cake mix that the recipe called for I saw a lemon cake mix and thought I’d make up my own cupcakes this week.

I also got a new cupcake pan for making mini cupcakes. When making a purchase for kitchen equipment, I hate to admit but my strategy is always to go with the cheapest over the highest quality. This time I made an exception though. While in Home Goods, I found a couple of different mini muffin tin options. At first glance they were mostly the same, but then I found this one that was a little larger than the others and the wells were wider, but more shallow. The wells were really unique and although the pan was $5 more than the others, I really liked it. Standard mini cupcake liners are too small for the wells, but I just put the cupcakes in the papers after baking as you’ll see.

The Recipe

Lemon Cake Mix (plus ingredients called for on the box)
Zest of one lemon
One bag frozen blueberries
2 oz. water
1 tbs. sugar
4 c. powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or line with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, add half the bag of blueberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until blueberries can be mashed easily and a thick sauce that coats a spoon forms.

While blueberries are cooking, prepare cake batter according to package directions and add zest of one lemon. Pour batter into muffin tins. Place about three blueberries per cupcake in the middle of the batter. You should still have blueberries left over for garnish.

Bake cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. My mini cupcakes took 14 minutes, my larger versions (I had a ton of leftover batter) took 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

For the frosting, start by pureeing the blueberries in a food processor – the mixture will have texture, and not be completely smooth. Place mixture in a bowl and add butter and sifted powdered sugar and beat with electric mixture until well combined. This will not be a smooth frosting since blueberry bits will be speckling the mixture, beautifully so.

Frost cupcakes with the tip of your choice and top each peak with a blueberry. It is wise to pick out the best of the blueberries for this before using them for the other parts of the cupcakes.

The Results…

Visually, these cupcakes are stunning! The color of the frosting is a gorgeous purple and the dark blueberry looks like a black pearl perched on top!

I first tried the larger version of the cupcakes and was a little disappointed because the blueberry flavor in the frosting felt too subtle. Since the regular size cupcakes were an afterthought, I didn’t have any blueberries to put in the batter or on the frosting. A few leftover swirls of the cooked mixture went into the batter, but only added visual appeal not flavor. It also let me know another stick of butter was necessary, but I only had one left so there was no immediate remedy to be had.

I wondered then about the flavor mini versions with each one hiding three blueberries inside plus the one on top. This time, I was really pleased because they really popped with the right amount of blueberry flavor and the combination of the two flavors was perfectly balanced. The frosting is the perfect hit of sweetness against the tart blueberries. Once I loaded them in the carrier I was so happy to find that two didn’t fit so I just had to eat them instead!

August 29, 2012

ATL Cupcake Tour

Cloud 9 Cupcakes – Lenox Square Mall

There are cupcake storefront shops.  There are cupcakes hidden among treats at bakeries around the country.  There are even a bunch of cupcake food trucks out there as I discovered on Twitter this morning.  We even have one of those in Atlanta.  And then there is this little gem – a cupcakery in a mall food court! Cloud 9 Cupcakes opened in Lenox Square Mall sometime during the months when winter jackets are actually required here.  I don’t know the exact month, but I do know we were dining in the Food Court when I first noticed it and I remember having my winter jacket on.

I intended for the first stop on the Atlanta Cupcake Tour to be Little Cake, but when I was already at the mall on Friday night to buy my shiny new iPad 2 I figured it would be a smart idea to kill two birds with one stone.  After grabbing some dinner from Which ‘Wich, I stepped up to the cupcake counter.

I can already see this cupcake tour thing could pose a problem.  I was only planning to buy three little cakes at each place, but then I just couldn’t decide between the flavors.

There has to be a constant by which to judge all cupcakes.  Everyone makes a Red Velvet, so that will always be on the plate.  I’ll also be looking for a signature cupcake, if there is one.  This place had a Cloud 9 Cupcake, so that was definitely in.

Then the choice was between Chocolate with Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Cup, and Chocolate Covered Raspberry.  I got nervous that all places wouldn’t have a standard Red Velvet, so I thought I should throw in a Birthday Cake just in case my second stop needed a comparison cake.  Since the cupcakes were priced by the singled or buy the 1/2 dozen, if I was going to buy 4, six was actually cheaper.

I brought home a pricey six pack with no one but myself to eat them.  Birthday Cake first, then Peanut Butter Cup.  Off the bat I was disappointed with the Peanut Butter Cup cupcake.  It had a cream cheese frosting that only had a mild hint of peanut butter. The best part of this cupcake was the tiny bit of actual Reese’s peanut butter cup dotting the top.  You’ll notice from the photo, it didn’t travel well either.

As the weekend progressed, I ate each and every last cupcake to utter dismay.  I spent a whole lot of calories on some pretty un-exciting cupcakes.  The ones I expected to blow me away lacked depth of flavor.

Chocolate Salted Caramel – where’s caramel? Or that soft hit of salt?

Chocolate Covered Raspberry – I see your little seeds in the frosting, but where’s your flavor?

The best cupcakes were the Cloud 9 Cupcake and Red Velvet.  I think I liked the signature so much because I had no expectations.  It was a soft, dense pound cake with a literal cloud of shockingly sweet frosting (just how I like it!)  The combination of the two was really heavenly.  Oh, ha! Get it? Cloud 9…heaven…I didn’t even realize until I typed it what I was saying.

The Red Velvet had the best in flavor of both cake and frosting so I’d consider this the all around winner.

The best part of Cloud 9 miniature cakes were the actual cakes themselves.  Each one was moist with the right amount of taste and texture. I didn’t come across a dry one which is one cupcake peeve I can’t stand!

But, they really need to ramp up the flavor factor on the frosting since it is the usually the part of the cake that sets it apart.  From what I sampled, none of the cupcakes are filled so there’s no opportunity for added flavor there so all that’s left is to really hit us with a great topping.

An average mall goer probably wouldn’t notice these things and really delight in a cupcake treat at the end of a food court meal.  Cupcake connoisseurs, however, won’t be taking special trips to the mall for these.

Ratings

  • Cake: 9
  • Frosting: 7
  • Flavor: 5
  • Value: 5
  • Overall Score:  6.5

Rating system is a scale of 1-10.  Overall score is the average of the scores for Cake, Frosting, Flavor, and Value.

The cupcakes reviewed in this blog post were purchased by the author.  No compensation or product was given to me as part of this review.

August 27, 2012

Biscoff Cupcakes

August 27, 2012

Chances are, if you’ve flown on a Delta flight, you’ve at least seen Biscoff cookies even if you didn’t actually eat them.  Chances are, if you’ve browsed Pinterest, you’ve seen all kinds of Biscoff inspired recipes.  If you’re like me, you never quite connected the two.  If you’re also like me, it took you a while to come around to this Biscoff craze.

What is Biscoff? Its a cookie.  Its a creamy spread.  Its a crunchy spread.  It’s like peanut butter or Nutella, and it takes like sweet graham crackers.  Its imported from Belgium.  Its pretty easy to get your hands on at the local grocery store.  I found a big display at Kroger with a $1 off coupon so I bought it on a whim still not knowing what it tasted like or making the Delta cookie connection.

I was a little apprehensive when I opened the container to try some, but once  I licked barely a taste off the spoon I was hooked.  As I perused Pinterest as per usual, I saw a recipe for Biscoff cupcakes knowing I had already won half of the ingredients battle.

I get paid once a month, so usually, the last Cupcake Monday before a pay-day I’m looking for a cupcake recipe that needs as little ingredients bought from the store as possible.

Knowing this, I clicked on the Biscoff cupcake recipe hoping I’d find a short ingredient list.  While it wasn’t exactly short,  miraculously, I had everything in the pantry and fridge for both the cupcake and the frosting except powdered sugar which I needed to stock up on anyway.  I didn’t have the cute cookie topper, but you know what they say about looking a gift horse in the mouth…

I followed the recipe nearly to a T, except I used skim milk instead of whole, margarine instead of butter (I don’t normally make such illegal baking moves) and of course, I left out the crushed cookies.

The cake batter alone was so amazing I had to fill the bowl with soapy water to keep from licking it clean.  Luckily, the frosting made just enough for my 12 cupcakes so that I couldn’t eat that by the spoonful either!

I tried a new frosting tip which I didn’t care for.  And, I had a little frosting mishap once I put the carrier tray in the holder.  Despite these issues when one of the students opened the cover she exclaimed “they look perfect!”  When I protested due to the cupcakes toppling over when I was putting them away, she told me to learn to take a compliment and if she says they’re perfect I am to just reply thank you.

Thank you!

The Results…

You know when you smell something delicious and it doesn’t quite taste the same?  That’s how I feel about the cake part of this recipe.  The batter was so Biscoff-y good, but the cake ended up tasting like a carrot cake with no carrots or raisins.  Still good, but not too sweet.  Which was perfect because the frosting was super sweet making for a perfect balance between the two.

 

July 11, 2012

Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes

Monday, August 20, 2012

As I begin to type my first blog post for Cupcake/Monday, banana cupcakes are on the cooling rack and whipped cream is chilling in the fridge.  I let one of my students pick this week’s flavor from my Pinterest cupcake board.

I rarely make the exact recipe I find from a Pinterest link, rather I use them for inspiration and Google the flavor until I find a recipe I like.  Sometimes it is based on ease of recipe or ingredients.  Sometimes I want a challenge and sometimes I want a shortcut.  Sometimes, I just don’t have extra money to buy ingredients so it comes down to what’s in the cabinet.  And, sometimes, I want to try a new product or technique.

I’ve been shunning one cupcake product for a long time – Betty Crocker’s Fun-da-middles.  Something about them just seemed so lame.  I’m not opposed to shortcuts or mixes.  You’ll find many of my cupcakes take a semi-homemade approach and these are a great example.

When I found that the Banana Cream Pie cupcakes inspiration post used the product, I said “okay, why not just give it a try?”  The recipe called for adding banana extract to the batter and using a cream cheese frosting.  I wanted to change it up a little bit and make it my own.  Along with the banana extract, I added one mashed banana to the batter.

Instead of cream cheese frosting, I decided on fresh whipped cream.  I wanted a fresh banana element, but I was afraid they would brown if I used them as a garnish, so I topped the cupcake with a slice and covered it with the whipped cream.

Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes

  • 1 box Fun-da-middles yellow cupcake mix (plus eggs, oil and water)
  • 2 bananas, one mashed, one sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. banana extract
  • 16 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 30 vanilla wafers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with liners.  Put one vanilla wafer in each well.

Mix cupcake mix according to package directions. Add banana extract and 1 mashed banana.

Fill wells with 2 tbs. batter covering the vanilla wafer.  Add cream from cupcake mix to the center of each cupcake.  Cover the cream with more batter until the well is about 2/3 full.

Bake the cupcakes for 24-29 minutes.  (I baked mine for 25 mins.)

While baking make the whipped cream. Freeze your beaters and mixing bowl for 10-15 minutes, then add heavy cream to the bowl and beat until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat just to combine.  Chill until cupcakes are cool enough to frost.

Before frosting, I placed a fresh banana slice on top of each cake, then piped on the whipped cream. To garnish, I added crushed vanilla wafers and 1 whole vanilla wafer each.

The Results…

This was delicious. Plain and simple.  It had great banana flavor and the whipped cream was the perfect topping. While it kept the whole thing from being too sweet,  the cream in the middle gave it a shot of sweetness without going overboard.  After taking a bite with every single component, I really tasted banana cream pie!  The cookie on top gave it crunch and texture and the cookie on the bottom gave it that authentic flavor.

Phew! The first cupcake for the blog was definitely a success.