Friday, February 29, 2008

Cupcake Round Up (Weekly); All Things Cupcake

Hi friends! I was excited to share with you my Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Kissed Buttercream Frosting were featured on the Weekly Cupcake Collection on All Things Cupcake this week!


Each week "All Things Cupcake" rounds up their favorite cupcakes for the week from all the blogs and then a favorite is picked from their luscious pantry of selections. I am tickled to among the chosen this week! Take a peek, just be careful because they all look so delicious you are going to get very hungry!

Best!

Bake Off Cupcake: Chocolate Fudge Jelly Filled Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting


Hi friends! I was asked to enter a cupcake recipe into a Bake Off Contest, which happens to have landed on Leap Year! I wanted to do something cute and fun with a Lily Pad and a Frog, but when I think of college (since I live on a University Campus) I kept coming back to the good ol' trusty PB&J!

Eventhough peanut butter and jelly is not a very sophisticated flavor combination, it sure is comforting! There was a real challenge for me in this cupcake to narrow down exactly which cupcake I would make. Lately, I cannot stop thinking about cupcakes! Everything is cucpakes! Cupcakes! Cupcakes! But I think this recipe is a very delicious combination. The frosting is FAB-UUUU-LOUS!!!!! Seriously, I was pleasantly surprised by just how light and flavorful it is. The peanut butter does not dominate the other flavors. It is truly a light, airy and just maybe the best part of this cupcake.

Hmmmmm.... as I think about my last statement, I must say the cupcake is delicious in its own right. I was thinking the frosting could even double as a filling. But this time around I piped Smuckers Red Raspberry, Strawberry and Grape Jelly into the center of these luscious chocolate fudge cupcakes. I am telling you, this is comfort food with a grown up twist! I hope you enjoy them.

Best!

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 eggs, separated and at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 pkg. Nestle mini morsel semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F degrees. Line baking pan with liners and set aside.

2. Combine 1-3/4 cups sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

3. Add oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla; beat until smooth.

4. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in extra-large bowl until soft peaks form.

5. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

6. Pour chocolate batter over beaten egg whites, folding with rubber spatula just until blended.

7. Spoon into prepared cupcake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly.

8. VERY IMPORTANT to allow cupcakes to cool completely before removing from cupcake pan.

9. Once cupcakes have cooled pipe in your favorite flavor jams & jellies*, then frost with Peanut Butter Frosting (below).
*I used Smuckers Strawberry, Grape and Raspberry

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Beat the butter, peanut butter, salt and cream cheese on medium speed with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar and continue to mix until the frosting is smooth.

3. Mix in the milk and vanilla, continue to mix until frosting reaches a good spreading consistency.

4. Pipe onto completely cooled cupckaes with large star tip.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Week 9: Taste the Caribbean; Cinnamon Rum Soaked Raisin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


Hi friends! I have been pondering what to make for Master Baker for several weeks and I think I finally narrowed down the entries! Well, even if I do not decide to go with this recipe, hopefully you will like this week's yummy contestant! It is a winning recipe in my cupcake challenge!! I want to share with you how I came up with this entry; My family background is Scottish/Irish but, I was born and raised in the Caribbean. As I have gotten older I learned to fully appreciate the seductive, sultry and sophisticated flavors I grew up with while living in the islands. I find I am often incorporating these rich flavors into my cooking; especially dessert! The Spanish, the Dutch, the French, the English, and the Indian, to name a few, are among the cultures which have influenced the flavors I love so much.

In my life, I have lived and traveled in many, many countries. Ultimately searching out the local cuisine and experimenting with it versus not trying it at all. Among my passions in life, traveling and exploring different cultures; particularly food, rates very high! Trust me when I tell you I am adventurous when it comes to culinary experimentation!

An early food related memory of mine is when I was about 6-years old, and going with my second grade class to the Bacardi factory! A Rum field trip! It is part of the islands history and heritage, and we were taught young! Can you just imagine!? Strange but true! Anyone from the islands will tell you pure cane sugar, rice and beans, bananas and their rum are an extremely important part of the culture!! It is something I remember tourists would come to the island to specifically buy in mass quantities. Now that I am older, I understand why!

These cupcakes brought back delicious memories of my childhood and I can almost feel the balmy breezes on my skin. There is such depth of flavor in the cucpake. From the first lucious rum soaked raisins bite, tasting the chunks of tangy pineapple, to the hint of cinnamon and allspice which lingers on your lips after your cupcake wrapper is history! This cupcake has a more "bread" like quality to it rather than a light airy "cakey" texture, but with the mixture of thick cream cheese frosting you will find this cupcake truly reverberates the soul of the islands. All the flavors coming together and the bite of rum and spices. Kick back, take a break and enjoy this little piece of paradise! You might feel like your toes are wiggling in the sand!

Best!

Cinnamon Rum Soaked Raisin Cupcakes

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup of juice from drained crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dark rum (Other option: Coconut Rum)
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup raisins
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup walnuts (optional)

*Prior to making this recipe it is best to soak raisins in a bowl of rum for 4 hours or overnight in the refridgerator. Ensure raisins are immersed in rum and covered with plastic wrap.*

(Golden Raisins soaking in Coconut Rum, after 4 hours, they will look plump!)

1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Line cupcake pan and set aside.

2. Drain crushed pineapple, pressing out 1 1/2 cups pineapple. Reserve 1/2 cup juice for cupcakes.

3. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until crumbly.

4. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract. Mixture will be fluffy

5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Whisk together to incorporate ingredients.

6. Beat in flour mixture to creamed mixture, alternating with pineapple liquid and rum.

7. Fold in crushed pineapple, rum soaked raisins, coconut and nuts (optional).

8. Divide into prepared liners. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9. VERY IMPORTANT to let cupcakes cool completely before frosting!


Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds.

2. Add the confectioners' sugar, blending with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated, about 1 minute.

3. Add the cinnamon, then increase the mixer speed to medium and blend the frosting until fluffy, about 1 minute more.

Some friends do not care for cream cheese frostings, so this light rum glaze is flavorful enough to add a distinctive charm to the cupcakes. You can sprinkle the glaze with shredded coconut or leave them plain.

Rum Glaze

3 tablespoons dark rum
3 tablespoons reserved pineapple liquid
2 tablespoons softened butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar

1. With an electric mixer, blend ingredients well.

2. Spoon over well cooled cupcakes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Week 8: Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Kissed Buttercream Frosting



Hi friends! Winter is still upon us here in the Northeast. It is icy, blustery and just plain cold! Nearly a foot of snow has fallen today; that is quite alright with me! More time to spend in the kitchen with my favorite little guy whipping up a batch of sunshine. I am looking forward to the days when my cashmere scarf and tweed coat are a memory and short sleeve shirts and flirty skirts are in order. I am longing for the warmth of spring.

For now, the best way to achieve the warmth of spring on a snowy winter day, is of course to bake a cupcake! When I think of spring, I think of bright yellow lemons and fluffy, white meringues and rich, creamy buttercreams. These tasty, moist lemon cupcakes I made today with the lightest lemon kissed buttercream frosting swirling on top of them is exactly what sunshine tastes like. And exactly what I needed to see today when the only swirling going on are the snowflakes falling from the sky and the only sunshine to be seen! I made the entire recipe in miniature cups(72) but I needed to double my frosting recipe. Below I have given you the adjusted frosting measurements. It is divine!

Best!


Lemon Cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 325° degrees.

2. Line cupcake pan with mini baking cups. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 4 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time until the mixture becomes creamy.

5. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt together. Whisk to combine.

6. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk until completely incorporated.

7. Add the lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Mix batter for an additional minute. Mixture should look light and fluffy.

8. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 17 to 23 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9. VERY IMPORTANT to allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Kissed Buttercream Frosting

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.

2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

5. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. Add Wilton gel "Yellow" in small amount to achieve desired pastel color.

6. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Gwen Stefani Cupcake: The Sweet Escape; Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chunks and Chocolate Ganache with a Buttercream Swirl


(Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape)

Hi friends! You might be wondering why I am dedicating a cupcake to Gwen Stefani; I have an explanation! Naturally, it all goes back to my little guy... he is 8 years old. Since he was about 3 years old, he has been a HUGE fan of Gwen Stefani. He loves her music (No Doubt and her current solo projects), he loves the way she looks, her style, he loves everything about her! He has even gone so far as to tell me he likes (and approves) of her husband Gavin Rossdale. It is so, so cute to watch him whenever there is anything "Gwen Stefani" related in the news, especially when she is shown with her own "little guy!" His little ears just perk right up!

With that as a preface, I thought it would be fun to surprise my little guy with a "Cupcake Tribute" to one of his favorite female singers since he has been bopping around the house with his iPod singing her songs all week (for months)! Is there such a thing as Harajuku Boy opening for the tour? If so, I know someone who would LOVE to apply for the position!

Okay. Moving on. As slender as our darling Gwen is, I am sure she does not indulge in sweets too often, and since she is expecting baby #2, maybe she will try a batch of "The Sweet Escape Cupcakes" when she is craving something yummy! I am sure there could be different variations, but this one seemed to me to be the best way to describe Gwen Stefani in a cupcake! (If that is at all possible!) THE SWEET ESCAPE CUPCAKE is a warm, luscious banana cupcake with rich, dark chocolate chunks, frosted with an ultra-decadent chocolate ganache and topped off with a creamy buttercream swirl. This cupcake is not complete without a signature crimson color, so I put a red M&M on top of the swirl. If you look really close you can see it says "U ROCK!". One word for this creation... YUM!

Best!


Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chunks

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 1/2 oz. good quality dark chocolate (Recommend Hershey's), roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees.

2. Line cupcake pan with baking cups or use large nut cups. Set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

4. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened; do not beat.

5. Stir in the banana, buttermilk and vanilla.
(The mixture looks like lumpy oatmeal, as pictured below!)

6. Fold in roughly chopped dark chocolate.

7. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 17 to 23 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

8. VERY IMPORTANT: allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting with Chocolate Ganache. (Recipe Below)

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips (Recommend Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1. In a double boiler over simmering water, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

2. Frost completely cooled cupcakes and allow ganache to cool. Decorate the top with Buttercream Swirl. (Recipe Below)

Buttercream Swirl Frosting

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.

2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

5. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. Add Wilton gel "Yellow" in small amount to achieve desired pastel color.

6. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.





Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Heart Cupcakes with Pink Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

(Photo from Cakespy, Cakespy)
My little guy decided the best thing to bring to his classroom Valentine's Day party today was (drumroll, please) cupcakes! I love it! I had all kinds of goodies for him to make the cupcakes with and we had so much fun making them together! I used a box cake mix but made the buttercream frosting from My Sweet & Saucy favorite buttercream frosting recipe; which is now MY favorite frosting recipe! Seriously, you have to try it. It is lovely! It calls for lemon juice which you do not usually expect in a buttercream frosting, but I must say, it is perfectly balanced and with just enough tang to balance the sweetness of the powdered sugar. I highly recommend this recipe and would love to hear what you think of it when you try it out.

My little guy was so proud this morning when he saw the "final" cupcakes wrapped up in pretty pink ribbons.

Happy Valentine's Day!
Best!


(Lots of cupcake goodies!)

Cupcakes
1. Follow the directions on any flavor box mix.

2. We used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Fudge Marble.

3. Reynolds Wrap came out with some really great "Fun Shape" Baking Cups. My little guy chose the heart shape... perfect for Valentine's Day!

4. Bake the cupcakes(24) for 17 minutes at 350° degrees.
(My little guy with a tray of marbled heart cupcakes)

(Marbled heart cupcakes up close)

Pink Buttercream Frosting

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter & salt for about 30 seconds.

2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

4. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. Add Wilton gel "Rose Petal Pink" in small amount to achieve pastel color.

5. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Week 7: Cupid's Pillow; Triple Chocolate Cupcake with Pink Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Sprinkles


Hi friends! Valentine's Day is nearly here! These cupcakes are very moist and easy to make! This dessert looks lovely on a plate, paper plate, napkin or even better... an empty cupcake liner! Cupid could not make a softer landing than on this delightful chocolate dessert!!

My little guy is taking a batch of "Cupid's Pillows" to his favorite crush ~ so kids, they are perfect for leaving as a secret admirer surprise! (Any idea what we are doing tomorrow?) Whatever your plans are this Valentine's Day or if you have no plans at all, these cupcakes are a delicious treat!

Best!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup best-quality cocoa (Recommend Hershey's)
1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp. good-quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
1 pkg. mini semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels
4 oz. dark chocolate (Recommend Ghiradelli), chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees.

2. Line cupcake pan with liners, set aside.

3. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl to combine.

4. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium beat the softened butter and add in the flour mixture until you have a creamy mixture.

5. In a seperate bowl whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs. Beat into your bowl of mixture.

6. Fold in mini-morsels and chopped dark chocolate into the batter.

7. Divide the batter among cupcake cups and bake approximately 17-24 minutes. Cupcakes are done when tester comes out clean.

8. VERY IMPORTANT to allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Cupid's Pillow Pink Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
6-7 cups confectioner's sugar
6-8 Tbsp. whole milk or half and half cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Cream butter with an electric mixer on medium until very fluffy. Add part of the sugar and salt and beat again.

2. Continue adding sugar and milk in small teaspoonfuls, alternately, continue beating until frosting becomes very fluffy.

3. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Add Wilton gel "Rose Petal Pink" in small amount to achieve pastel color and pipe onto cupcakes once completely cooled.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Broken Leg: Eat a Frangelico Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cupcake with Hazelnut Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting



Hi friends! I have been on a "coffee kick" lately ~ can you tell by my recipes? Like everyone else, I lead a very busy, sometimes overscheduled life. Last week, my 70 year old Uncle was skiing and had an unfortunate accident on the moguls and broke his femur! Yikes! Not one to be down for long, I am happy to report he is doing quite well. While I am certain he would prefer to be out conquering the trails and double black diamonds - for now he will have to stick to trail mix and the vertical drop on the height of my frosting!

I know my Uncle really likes hazelnuts, so I began taking stock of what was in my pantry! In an attempt to make him feel better, I came up with this recipe after tweaking a chocolate chip muffin recipe. I added some Frangelico and sour cream for a mouth watering combination and I think it really works! The cream cheese frosting added enough depth in flavor, you can really taste and appreciate each individual flavor seperately. The added crunch of the hazelnuts is a nice surprise and finally, the ooey-gooey chocolate chips are just like a chocolate chip cookie!!

Overall, the cupcake is delicious. It began as an experiment. I think I would make the recipe again! I did make a batch of "minis" as well as a batch in medium sized "nut cups" in case the cupcakes came out too rich, then it would not be too much of a commitment once the cream cheese frosting was added. This recipe might taste good with a buttercream frosting as well! I hope you enjoy it too!

Best!


Frangelico Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. instant espresso coffee
1 stick salted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup Frangelico (or other Hazelnut liqeuer)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees.

2. Line cupcake pans or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda and espresso powder to blend. Then add in the pieces of butter until you have small pea sized pieces and loose flour remains in the bowl.

4. Mix in the egg, vanilla and Frangelico (or other Hazelnut liqeuer). (Note the batter will still look bumpy.)

5. Mix in the sour cream and milk and blend until the batter looks very moist and lumpy. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate all the batter.

6. Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.



7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. The tops should spring back slightly to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

8. VERY IMPORTANT: Cool cupcakes completely before frosting!

Hazelnut Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. instant espresso
4 tsp. Frangelico (or other Hazelnut liqeuer)

1. In a medium bowl beat cream cheese and evaporated milk together until smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.


3. Fill icing bag and pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.