Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Whipped Cream

Raspberry Cupcakes

Man, old, man…..There’s a Baby Epidemic going around!

Yep. In less than 8 weeks, I’ve attended 5 baby showers. Now that’s a lot of baby games!

Raspberry Cupcakes

And not to brag, but I’m kind of a pro now when it comes to guessing how many jelly beans there are in a baby bottle…..or gauging the diameter of momma’s tummy using a roll of toilet paper….or everyone’s favorite–identifying the type of candy bar that has been melted/schmeared into a little diaper. Yep, y’all don’t stand a chance!

For the most recent shower I attended, I decided to bring some cuppies to the party. My friend, who is the momma-to-be, doesn’t really enjoy overly sweet desserts so I wanted to make something light but that would still satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

Raspberry Cupcakes

I ended up making these fluffy Raspberry Cupcakes that were flavored with fresh raspberry puree. And instead of your standard buttercreams, I topped them with rosette swirls of raspberry flavored whipped cream.

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Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Whipped Cream
Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:
2¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
½ tablespoon almond extract
½ cup raspberry puree*

Raspberry Whipped Cream:
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup raspberry puree*

Garnish:
fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in another bowl.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the almond extract and then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Gently fold in the raspberry puree until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Slowly add in the raspberry puree and whip until combined.

Fit a piping bag with a fitted tip. Fill the bag with the Raspberry Whipped Cream and pipe decorative swirls on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with fresh berries.

**To make Raspberry Puree, add 2 pints of fresh raspberries with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender. Puree the berries until smooth. Pour the raspberry mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Depending on how sweet the raspberries are, you can also add a few teaspoons of sugar while you puree them.

We just turned F-O-U-R + Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

It’s our B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y!!!!!

That’s right Friends, The Culinary Chronicles turns four this week and we’re all grown up now!

Um, ok…kind of.

Not really, but you get my drift.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

This past year has been filled with tons of incredible milestones for the site from new partnerships with fantastic brands, recognition from respected media and of course, the release of my cookbook this past summer.

Phew!

What a ride!!!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

A huge— GINORMOUS THANKS to you all for the continued support and readership. I know I can be quite random and silly at times. So….

Mahalo!

Grazie!

Merci!

Cảm ơn!

Hannad! …………That’s elvish btw. #LOTRnerd

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

If I could, I’d send each of y’all a big slice of birthday cake to celebrate our blogiversary. But until I can figure out the logistics behind all of that, I’d like to virtually share with you these Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

A vanilla chiffon cake filled with a slightly tart, fresh strawberry compote and topped with mounds and mounds of strawberry swiss meringue buttercream.

They’re light, flirty, and just Pretty in Pink.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

And with that folks, I can’t wait to see what crazy and delicious Foodventures this upcoming year has in store for us. Here’s to many, MANY more to come!

Cheers!

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Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 cups fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 pinches of salt

Batter:
2¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (from Martha Stewart):
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1¼  cups sugar
1½ cups unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1½ cups fresh strawberries, pureed

Garnish:fresh strawberry slices
sprinkles, nonpareils, etc.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Prepare the filling. Place the strawberries and sugar in a small pot and cook over medium low heat until the juices begin to release. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, water and lemon juice. Add the mixture to the strawberries and stir in to combine. Continue cooking and stirring the strawberries until it’s thickened to the consistency of a jam. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool completely.

In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in another bowl. Put the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for five minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream.  Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition. Switch to a paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add strawberry puree, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

Begin assembling the cupcakes. Using a pairing knife, piping tip, apple corer, or very small round cookie cutter (I used a small biscuit ring), cut out a small cavity in the cupcake. Take a pairing knife to help pop out the center. Fill each of the cupcakes with a heaping teaspoonful of the strawberry compote. Replace the small piece of cake to cover the filled centers.

Fit a piping bag with a decorative tip and fill with the buttercream. Top each of the cupcakes with large swirls of buttercream and adorn with berry slices, sprinkles or other decorative pieces.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

Chocolate is a beautiful thing—don’t you think? The Mayans and Aztecs sure thought so.

Rich, deep….just bliss.

Whipped Ganache

So how can you possibly make it even better?

Top chocolate with chocolate.

Now we’re talking!

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

These cuppies are decadently rich with the deep flavor of cocoa. Due to the tangy sour cream, it’s not only incredibly moist but perfectly balanced. As for the frosting, what better than an uber chocolatey whipped ganache? So simple, so much chocolate.

A chocoholic’s dream.

Swoon……

But be warned—come equipped with a tall glass of milk.

And with that Friends– Happy 1st Day of Summer & National Flip Flop Day!!!

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Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache
Makes approximately 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, room temperature
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, optional
sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in cupcake pans.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.

In a mixing stand with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar for 2-3 minutes until they become a pale yellow. Add the oil, sour cream, coffee, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fill each of the cups ¾ the way up.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the ganache frosting.

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove and pour the scalded cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly into the bowl of the chopped chocolate. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 4-5 minutes. Gently whisk the mixture until the ganache is smooth and glossy. Whisk in coffee liqueur, optional. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until the ganache has slightly chilled.

Transfer the ganache to the bowl of a mixing stand. With the whisk attachment, whisk until the ganache becomes light and fluffy. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe on top of the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles.

Lucas’ Galatic Star Wars Birthday Party

Lucas' 4th Birthday

It was my Lucas’ 4th birthday the other week. And as his auntie/godmama, I’ve affectionately nicknamed him Lucasaurus.

Don’t let his charming smile, bright wit and adorable face fool ya. He can be a downright rascal—– a veloci-rascal!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But I just adore the kid to pieces.

So last year, when I mentioned to my seester (pictured above with her super photogenic fam) that we should throw him a Star Wars themed birthday party–she was all for it.

And that’s where I was in trouble. Now some of you all may have witnessed my tendencies to go overboard with certain things and that my OCD habits can get me in a tough spot. Well–then you have not met my seesters…..and in particular, my over-the-top party planning sister, T.

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Nearly 5 months before Lucas’ birthday, she started sending me texts about deals she found on party favors, decorating ideas she found on Pinterest, signage she had created, etc. The next thing I knew it, we were headed warp speed into Star Wars mania.

As for me, I just went along for the ride hoping my desserts would get the stamp of approval by the party planning Jedi.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But look at this little guy? How could we not get carried away?!

…Wrapped around his finger, he has us….

So then this happened.

Star Wars Dessert Tablescape

A bountiful Star Wars tablescape with desserts and goodies galore. But as much as I wish I could take the credit for all the galactic-goodness, I was only in charge of the desserts.

Seester did all the decor (that she started putting up 2 weeks before the party), cute signs, overflowing swag bags, and all the adorable touches that would have made the Jedi Council proud.

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Of course a regular Star Wars themed party wouldn’t cut it, so they upped the ante and arranged a Jedi Training Camp in order for all the padawans to prepare for their path to Jedi Knighthood.

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Lightsabers and Jedi Robes were a must, including cadet boxes to store all their goodies.

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To quench our thirst on the beautiful day, we sipped fresh Millennium Margaritas (for Jedi Masters 21+), Yoda Soda and Vader-Ade. Special props to my brother-in-law for hand squeezing the 25+ limes I needed to make the margaritas.

Trust me, we will never scoff again at those who own electric citrus juicers–DOH!

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And to fuel our Force, we summoned the Taco Master all the way from Orange County– I mean Tatooine. :)

Mouthwatering Carne Asada, Carnitas, Fish, Nachos….ideal nourishment to battle the Empire.

Taco Master from Tattoine

Back at our tablescape, Seester put together these cute Star Wars themed candies. Yoda Treats, Han’s Rolo, Edible Ewoks, & Thermal Detonators.

Star Wars-001

And poor Han.

All he wanted to do was to come wish Lucas a Happy Birthday but then he got himself frozen in carbonite again.

Star Wars3-001

Seester got to employ her knife skills by carving a watermelon Death Star. Lord Vader would have been pleased.

Watermelon Death Star

Lucky for us, Chewbacca was kind enough to guard the goodies from any other Sith Lords.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Speaking of Sith Lords, I started off my dessert contributions by molding Stormtrooper and Darth Vader chocolates to place on top of the cupcakes. They later received a bit of edible disco dust for a bit of sheen….they are from outer space after all.

Darth Vader & Storm Trooper Chocolates

They perched atop rich Chocolate Cupcakes topped with big swirls of Vanilla Bean-Swiss Meringue Buttercream and sprinkles. Some of the cuppies were also topped with vanilla whipped cream.

Darth Vader & Storm Trooper Cupcakes

I paid additional homage to Darth Vader with these Chocolate Shortbread Cookies made with Valrhona cocoa powder.

Chocolate Darth Vader Cookies

How would it be a party without Master Yoda? These were Citrus Scented Sandwich Cookies filled with a Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Delicious, he was.

Yoda Sandwich Cookies

And to keep Darth Vader company, I made an army of Stormtrooper Sugar Cookies that were decorated with Royal Icing.

They were super fun to make and all of the cutters can be purchased from Williams Sonoma.

Storm Trooper Sugar Cookies

There were also pops for all to enjoy…..

Princess Leia Cake Pops & Death Star Rice Krispy Pops

“That’s no moon-it’s a Space Station!”

Not quite Master Obi-Wan but you’re close. They’re Rice Krispy Pops shaped as Death Stars. Not only a superweapon but super-yummy.

Death Star Rice Krispy Pops

And Princess Leia Cake Pops. Lucas really enjoyed these.

Princess Leia Cake Pops

And what’s a birthday party without a birthday cake?

I just had to make a little cake for our Jedi in training although Seester called it a “gentleman’s cake”. This was a 6 inch, 3-layer chocolate cake frosted with Vanilla Bean-Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I decorated the little cake with a fondant Stormtrooper accented with royal icing, fondant lightsabers, fondant Star Wars banner, Darth Vader molded chocolates, fondant stars and a star sparkler.

Star Wars Birthday Cake

At Jedi Training Camp, there was a Space Pod and stations for the padawans to bottle their own galaxies.

Lucas' Birthday

And then it was time to don their robes because…

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Duh, duh, duh, dum, da-dah, dum, da-dah………..

Darth Vader appeared! He was powerful, all-knowing, and—

Lucas' 4th Birthday

He liked parachutes. Yup, parachutes.

Lord Vader thought it was an integral training tool for the young padawans and can be seen here strategizing with the younglings.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Heck–Vader even cleaned up after the parachute exercises!

There may still be good in him.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Then he showed the padawans how to properly yield their sabers and spar.

I’m think that Lucas is saying– “You look a lot bigger on TV but I still pity the foo’ who messes with me!”

Oh yes, that was a Star Wars–Mr. T crossover moment.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Cake Time!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But that sneaky Vader used The Force to make the candles relight after Lucas blew them out.

He’s quite a trickser—when he’s not serving the Emperor and upholding the Dark Side.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Lucas and Vader. They’re BFFs now.

The Lucasaurus always wins over the Dark Side.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

It was an action packed and exhausting day but the little guy had a blast.

And of course, we prevailed by restoring balance to the Force.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

The Force is strong with this one and I look forward to watching him grow into Jedi greatness.

Until our next Jedi Episode (hopefully for my other nephew, Leonidas’ birthday)— MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Samoa Cupcakes…and those savvy Girl Scouts

Samoa Cupcakes

When it comes to cookies, I’ve always believed that the Girl Scouts could hustle. I mean, c’mon now. Adorable little girls, pleading for some philanthropic cause while slinging delicious cookies. A no brainer!

And every year, you could always count me in for at least a box or two of those delectable bites. But alas, two years ago, my fate was sealed.

Yup. My niece, Maya, had joined the Scouts. I was in trouble.

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Look at that face! Who could say “no“?

Although, more accurately, I think she started as a “Daisy”—a neophyte Girl Scout, I think. Thus my 1-2 boxes of cookies has now grown to 6, 7, 8….. Ugh–you get my drift.

Samoa Cupcakes

But how can you really blame me? I’m a sucker for my little buggers and when they’ve got cookies, I’ve got no chance.

The cookies are delicious on their own and even frozen. But every so now and then, I try to rework the beloved Girl Scout cookie into a cupcake like my Tagalong Cupcakes (a cookie on the bottom and top), Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes (cookies in the batter and on top), and finally these Samoa Cupcakes.

Samoa Cupcakes

These cuppies are my tribute to the Samoa Cookie (and Maya)—a chocolate cupcake topped with a caramel cream cheese frosting, rolled in toasted coconut flakes, topped with a chocolate drizzle and half a Samoa cookie. Yup…I went there.

So friends, as long as Maya is a Scout, you can count on an annual Girl Scout themed cuppie. With that said, anyone else having flashbacks of Shelley Long in Troop Beverly Hills?

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Samoa Cupcakes
Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter
5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup strongly brewed hot coffee
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 heaping tablespoons caramel sauce
4-5 cups sifted confectioner sugar (varies due to preferred frosting consistency)

Toppings
1½ cups toasted coconut flakes
¼ cup melted chocolate
12 Samoa® Cookies, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin pans.

Place finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot coffee over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Remove plastic and stir until smooth.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs until it becomes pale yellow. Beat in oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly incorporate the melted chocolate. In increments, add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Pour batter into the lined cups–about 3/4 way. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add caramel sauce and then gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, ¼ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar until desire consistency.

Fill a pastry bag and pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes. Roll the tops of the cupcakes in the toasted coconut flakes. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the tops and then garnish with ½ a Samoa® cookie. Enjoy!

Sweet Treats from 2012 and Happy New Year!!

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

With just a few hours left in 2012, I wanted to wish you and your loved ones Happiness, Joy, Endless Laughter and epic Foodventures! May 2013 be everything you wish it to be and more.

I also wanted to show some sweet treats that I pulled together in 2012 but didn’t get a chance to share with you before.

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

Alice in Wonderland  themed cupcakes for my niece’s Birthday Tea Party. Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Vanilla Buttercream with toppers that were molded from fondant and edible markers

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecake

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecakes

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chiffon Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Soccer Themed Chocolate Cupcakes for my nephew’s 3rd birthday

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Toppers made with fondant and painted with gel food colors, royal icing and edible markers

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream topped with handmade White Chocolate Shell Candies for a Beach Themed Bridal Shower

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Lemon Curd & Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 layer Vanilla Bean Wedding Cake filled with Lemon Curd and frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a “ribbon” pattern

Vanilla Cake Pops

Vanilla Cake Pops for a Bridal Shower

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

3 layer rich Chocolate Cake filled with Raspberry Coulis and frosted with Chocolate Buttercream in a “petal” pattern for my niece’s birthday party

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

Creating a “petal” pattern with Chocolate Buttercream

And with that, I’m off to the countdown with friends and bubbly. Here’s to a delicious 2012 and Cheers to all of the wonderful things to come in 2013! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes + Nambé Winner!

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

Is it just me or is time FLYING by?!

I feel like I was just wondering what my Halloween costume was going to be and within a blink of an eye, Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we’re barreling towards the Winter Holidays. YIKES!

But with the Winter Holidays comes all the flavors that I adore —- and gingerbread probably tops the lot.

These gingerbread cuppies are wonderfully spiced, deeply flavored with molasses & fresh ginger and are quite moist. I added in some pears for an additional level of flavor and texture and think they paired well with the spiced frosting. However, if you feel like cutting out some sweetness, simply serve the cupcakes inverted as the pears will act as a wonderful “topping”. Either way, your guests will adore you for them.

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

And now for the winner of our Nambe platter! Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Ryan M. who said he would use this platter to feature local cheeses and jams he has made this year. MMMmmm!! Ryan, please check your email for instructions.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And a big THANKS to our friends at Nambe!!!!

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Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes approximately 24-28 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup molasses
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup chopped pears

Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon molasses
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 cups confectioner sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with paper cups.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and dried spices. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, sugar and molasses until combined. Stir in the vegetable oil. Allow the liquids to cool slightly. Mix in the dried ingredients and then the eggs, vanilla extract and fresh ginger. Once the batter has been combined, carefully fold in the pears.

Fill the paper cups three-quarters full and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans on a wire rack 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Whip in molasses, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually whip in the confectioner sugar, ½ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of the cooled cupcakes.