Strawberry Cupcakes and a Surprise 70th Birthday Party

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The month of May has always been busy for my family — completely filled with TONS of birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.

This May in particular marked a milestone for our family as our parents turned 70! And although our mom is no longer with us we wanted to be sure to have a big celebration for our dad.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This past weekend, my siblings and I successfully threw a surprise birthday party for our dad filled with tons of family, delish food, and good times. Needless to say, Dad was pretty darn surprised when he opened the door to what he thought was going to be a small birthday dinner at my sister’s place. It took him a few minutes to realize that the house filled with people were there to celebrate his birthday!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

As one of the desserts for the night, I decided to bake Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Cupcakes. They have been on my “must try” list for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity to give them a roll.

Truth be told, the cupcake itself was just “ok”. But the frosting was TO DIE FOR!!!!!!!! As in OH….MY….GAWD!

It was the first time I had made a true Swiss meringue buttercream and was a bit thrown off at how long it took to make—at least 30 minutes!!! But my patience truly paid off because after one taste, I was in heaven. The texture was so beautifully smooth and silky and it literally tasted like a Strawberry Shake!!! Not the least bit overly sweet and absolutely delicious. All night long I kept on saying, “It tastes like an In-N-Out Strawberry Shake!” Clearly, the cupcake is just a vessel for this amazing buttercream.

If you do decide to give this buttercream a whirl, be sure to take your time with it. Some reviewers say that their buttercream looked curdled or didn’t come together. Luckily I didn’t have this issue but I believe you’ve just got to be patient and definitely use room temperature butter. When all else fails—keep on whipping it!

And on another note, I would be scolded if I didn’t disclose that my sister was the one who added the strawberries on top! :)

As for Dad, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. After so many years of taking care of his family, it was nice to have a shindig just for him. In fact, he told everyone he cannot wait to see what we do for his 71st birthday!!!! :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!


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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
From Martha Stewart
Makes 34 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish

Buttercream:
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1¼  cups sugar
1½ cups unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1½ cups fresh strawberries, pureed

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a spatula. Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about ¾-full.  Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While 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. Fill a piping bag with a fitted tip. Pipe on the buttercream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices.

 Note: For these cuppies, I used an open-star Wilton 4B Tip to pipe the buttercream. I also chose to use a slightly larger than standard cupcake liner for a fuller look. As a result I increased the baking time by 2-3 minutes.

“Tagalong” Cupcakes….Peanut Butter and Chocolate Perfection!

"Tagalong" Cupcakes

Not one year goes by when I don’t jump at the chance to pick up my favorite Girl Scouts Cookies…..Tagalongs®! And how can you blame me? Peanut Butter…. Chocolate….a Buttery Cookie. It just doesn’t get any better!

"Tagalong" Cupcakes

I’ve seen so many cupcakes inspired by Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Oreos and even Thin Mints—that is was high time I paid homage to Tagalongs®. I used one of my basic chocolate cake batters and paired it with a lightly salted, peanut butter frosting. But the surprise ingredient was a whole Tagalong® cookie at the bottom!

"Tagalong" Cupcakes

I was SOOOOO happy with the end results! The peanut butter frosting and chocolate cake mimicked the flavors of the cookie so well. And the Tagalong® held up beautifully in the baking process and acted like a “crust” for the cupcake.  So Yummy!

"Tagalong" Cupcakes

Needless to say, these little cuppies had me doing my “happy dance” from the very first bite.  And if you love the peanut butter and chocolate combo like I do, you absolutely MUST snag a box of Tagalongs® and make these!

On that note—-Have a wonderful Easter Weekend, Friends!

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“Tagalong” Cupcakes
Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
¼ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cups All Purpose Flour
¾ Teaspoons Baking Soda
¼ Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cups Granulated Sugar
2½ Ounces Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
½ Cup Buttermilk
½ Cup Strong Brewed Hot Coffee
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
12 Tagalong® Cookies (or other peanut butter & chocolate cookies), additional for garnish

Frosting:
1 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons Lowfat Milk
2 Cups Confections Sugar
1-2 Pinches Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin pans and put one cookie on the bottom.

Place finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot coffee over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for a few minutes. Remove plastic and stir until smooth. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In a mixing stand, beat egg for a few minutes until it becomes pale yellow. Beat in oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add the chocolate. Slowly add 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 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

Prepare the frosting. In a standing mixer, whip the butter and peanut butter for several minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until incorporated. Drizzle in milk and add the rest of the sugar (spoonfuls at a time). Add sea salt and mix until combined.

Fill a pastry bag and pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with ½ a cookie or other adornments.

“Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Mimi is one of my oldest and dearest friends that I’ve known for almost 25 years. We’ve shared so many milestones, made so many memories……..needless to say, I love me some Mimi :)

So you can imagine my utter glee when I found out that she was expecting twins!!! In fact, the twins were such eager little ones that they arrived almost two months early. We were excited to welcome Baby Christopher and Baby Abigail at the end of February—and both are getting stronger with each day!

Mimi and Jinhyeong had their baby shower this past weekend and the theme was perfect—–Two Peas in a Pod. The color scheme was green and yellow and with that, I just knew what I wanted to bring to the baby shower.

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Lemon Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting—-and topped with fondant sculpted peas! Aren’t the peas darling?

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

I must admit, I spent more time making these little fondant toppers than I did making the cupcakes—-but they were so much fun! I used premade fondant and dyed them with food color gels to get the right hue for the peas and shells. I also painted on some eyelashes and rosy cheeks for the “Baby Abigail peas” to delineate them from her big brother Christopher.

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Fondant is pretty fun and easy to work with—quite reminiscent of sculpting with Play-Doh! I also learned from my cake pops to nix the food color markers and painted the faces with food color gels and toothpicks. MUCH more effective don’t you think?

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the greatest fan of the flavor fondant. But it’s the perfect medium to sculpt things with. Just be sure to use a tad of water when you adhere the pieces together or cornstarch when you want to prevent the fondant from sticking.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t give full credit to my nieces Nina and Maya for rolling out all the little peas while I shaped the shells. They were such troopers! :)

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Over all, I think the new Mama, Papa and their guests enjoyed the “Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes. They were whimsical treats to accompany the oober cute decor that the hostesses prepared. :)

Just my small contribution to Welcome Baby Christopher and Baby Abigail!!!!!!!! xoxo!

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“Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes
From Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 28-30 Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
4 tablespoons limoncello
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup lemon juice
Zest of two lemons

For the lemon curd:
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks

For the cream cheese limoncello frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoon limoncello
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 drops yellow food color

1. Prepare the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an additional minute. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

2. Prepare the lemon curd. In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.

3. Prepare the cream cheese limoncello frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

4. Assemble the cupcakes. Cut a hole into each cupcake with the large end of a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag with the cream cheese limoncello frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. Top with fondant peas.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream…..Slainte!!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream

 

It’s that time of the year again. When you see tons of postings in honor of St. Paddy’s Day.

Green colored beer and desserts, shamrocks galore, corn beef recipes, Guinness braised meats, and more! As for me, I went all out last year with our Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with a Baileys Ganache.

 

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream

 

I kind of went overboard with them. They literally SCREAMED St. Paddy’s Day with a decadent Guinness Beer cupcake, filled with a chocolate truffle, with spirals of green Baileys buttercream, topped with shamrock sprinkles and wrapped up in a bright green striped cupcake liner. PHEW! Now that is St. Paddy’s!

 

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream

 

Those cuppies were decadently delicious and I wanted to bring them back for this year’s St. Paddy’s Daybut a little more “understated”.

I went for the same moist, stout beer cupcakes and Irish cream flavored buttercream—-however, this time around I opted out of the truffle centers and put away my green food coloring. No need….their yumminess speaks for itself.

 

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream

 

I chose a simple large round tip to pipe the frosting this time– a Wilton 1A. But as “understated” as I was trying to keep things, I could not resist breaking out the shamrock sprinkles. After all, I don’t get to use them very often — and who couldn’t use a little more luck?

As for the end results……they were delicious! The dark stout beer adds such a subtle nuttiness to the chocolate cupcakes while the Irish Cream buttercream perfectly rounds out the flavors. And if done correctly, the buttercream is so smooth and rich— a dream to pipe out :)

So whether you want to go BIG with the GREEN theme or be a little more subtle, Chocolate Stout Cupcakes are definitely the way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

And with that dear Friends, SLAINTE!!!

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Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
1 Cup Stout Beer
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
¾ Cup Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1½  Teaspoons Baking Soda
¾ Teaspoon Salt
2 Large Eggs
⅔ Cup Sour Cream

Irish Cream Buttercream:
4 to 5 Cups Confections Sugar
2 Cups Unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 to 5 Tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake cups with paper liners.

Prepare the cupcakes: Put the butter with the stout beer in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs and the sour cream together. Add the beer/butter/cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly just to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined, making sure to incorporate little pockets of flour on the bottom so that the batter is of equal consistency everywhere.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way if you want flatter cupcakes and 3/4 if you want domed. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature.

Prepare the frosting: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until incorporated. Slowly drizzle the Irish Cream and whip until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until your desired consistency has been achieved.

Assemble: Fill a pastry bag and pipe buttercream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles or other adornments. Enjoy!

Note: This makes a lot of buttercream so that you can pipe large mounds on the cupcakes. If you prefer less on your cuppies, halve the amounts.

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream topped with Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

 

It’s rare for to bake/cook something these days without sharing with you all my Foodventures.

Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when an old neighbor contacted me looking for my Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes. She blames me for getting her hooked on fresh baked goods and then leaving her without her weekly sugar fixes :)  After apologizing profusely, I began referring her to the site when I realized I never posted a recipe for them. DOH!

So without any other further delay—Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream. Extremely moist cuppies with light accents of espresso flavor. I paired these with a Mocha Buttercream and since its on the sweeter side, I suggest piping minimal amounts of frosting on these cupcakes.

Top these bad boys with chocolate covered espresso beans and a dust of cocoa powder and you won’t be in need for any extra caffeine for the day!

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Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream
Makes approximately 24-26 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
2¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
1½ Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2½ Cups Granulated Sugar
1¼ Teaspoon Baking Powder
2½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Whole Eggs
1¼ Cups Buttermilk
2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Freshly Brewed Strong Coffee
1 Tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder

Mocha Buttercream:
10 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Espresso, at room temperature
½ Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
3-4 Cups Confectioner Sugar (varies due to preferred frosting consistency)

Garnish:
Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper cups.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Dissolve the espresso powder in the coffee. In a mixing stand, add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well combined. Add the coffee/espresso liquid and beat for an additional minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until all items are incorporated.

Fill paper cups 2/3 full. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave cupcakes in pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and continue whipping until combined. Slowly add the espresso. It may look a bit curdled but don’t worry as it will come together once the sugar is added. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar to desire consistency. (I typically lean towards the full 4 cups for a firmer consistency to pipe the frosting). Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before use.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled and frosting is ready, pipe/frost cupcakes. Top with each with a chocolate covered espresso bean and dust with cocoa powder.

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

 

It’s been a minute since I’ve baked Cupcakes. In fact, I gave up baking for the entire month of January. The holidays just wiped me out and I needed some reprieve.

But lately when I open up my cabinets, I see my little muffin/cupcake pans looking at me sadly. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the “why have you abandoned us” kind of look.

These little pans have been good and loyal….. and they were in need of some TLC.

So when I made plans to reconnect with some old friends the other day, I thought it was high time to whip them out, blow off the dust, and get Cupcakin‘!

 

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I managed to pull together a rich chocolate cupcake, filled them with a raspberry sauce, and topped them off with a whipped chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries.

Easy, simple, and pretty.

Perfect to get my Cupcake Baking Love going again. :)

Note: I used a Wilton 4B Tip to pipe the ganache.


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Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
Makes approximately 24 Cupcakes (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:

½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
5 Ounces Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Strong Brewed Hot Coffee
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs
2 Teaspoons Raspberry Extract

Chocolate Ganache:
12 Ounces Quality Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Framboise Liqueur

Raspberry Filling:
2 Cups Frozen Raspberries
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Framboise Liqueur
1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Zest

Prepare Cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper cup liners in cupcake pans. Place finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot coffee over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for a few minutes. Remove plastic and stir until smooth. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In a mixing stand, beat eggs for a few minutes until they become a pale yellow. Beat in oil, buttermilk, and raspberry extract .  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add the chocolate. Slowly add 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 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

Prepare Raspberry Filling: Place all raspberry sauce ingredients in a medium sized, heavy saucepan. Simmer on medium-low until berries have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Approximately 10-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. *If you don’t want seeds in your filling, puree the raspberries in a blender and strain before cooking.

Prepare Chocolate Ganache: Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for a few minutes. Remove plastic and add framboisestir until smooth and glossy. Allow ganache to cool completely before frosting. *If you wish a fluffier “whipped” frosting, allow ganache to cool completely before transferring to a stand mixer. On medium-high speed, whip until you reach the desired consistency.

Assemble Cupcakes: Once all items have been prepared, fill a piping bag with a small round tip with the raspberry filling. Fill another piping bag with the ganache. Taking one cupcake, place the tip of the raspberry filled bag into the cake and squeeze in a few teaspoons of the filling. Be careful not to “inject” too much or your cupcakes will implode :) Finally with the piping bag filled with ganache, pipe/decorate swirls on top of the cupcake. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Molasses Frosting

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Molasses Frosting

I think one of my biggest challenges if I ever became a professional cook would be consistency. One day I’ll make something and it’ll turn out quite yummy. But to my disappointment, the next time I make the exact same thing, it’s a flop. Same conditions, no additions, no edits……just different results. Bummer, right?

Unfortunately that was the case when I made these Gingerbread Cupcakes. Last year I made them for the holidays and I was smitten! They had a wonderful flavor and were super fluffy—-I just couldn’t wait to whip some out for this winter season.

I happily volunteered to make these cupcakes for a holiday party my sister recently hosted. I was true to the cupcake recipe and didn’t change a thing. But I did however take some liberties and switched the Cardamom Frosting for my take on a Spiced Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting.

As they were baking, the cuppies emitted a spicy, rich aroma and I just knew the frosting would be a wonderful match for them. Needless to say, expectations were high. But alas, this batch just fell short. The cake did have a great flavor–just as I remembered it but the texture was quite dry and dense. Yeah….I was bummed. The good news is the saving grace was the new frosting—slightly tangy from the cream cheese and deeply fragrant from the spices and molasses.

Golden cuppies before getting their frosting swirls…

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Molasses FrostingDid you happen to catch the cute little gingerbread men sprinkles on top?? Courtesy of Barbara of Pauline’s Cake Decorating Supplies in San Jose, CA

This rendition of Gingerbread Cupcakes is definitely worth a “Do-Over“—especially since I know that they can be deliciously moist. But if for some strange reason I get the same “dry” results, I’ll just turn them into Gingerbread Cake Pops. Shhh! It’ll be our little secret. :)

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Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Molasses Frosting
Makes 12 Cupcakes

Gingerbread Cupcakes (from The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices)
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
½ Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
½ Cup Molasses
1 Egg
½ Teaspoon Vanilla
½ Cup Boiling Water
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 Teaspoon Dried Lemon Zest
¼ Teaspoon Salt

Spiced Molasses Frosting
10 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
¼ Cup Molasses
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3-4 Cups Confectioner Sugar, sifted

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

Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, egg, and vanilla. In a small bowl, stir together the boiling water and baking soda until dissolved. Stir the baking soda water into the molasses mixture.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, lemon zest, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until the batter is combined.

Spoon the gingerbread batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of one or two of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Place the gingerbread cupcakes on a rack to cool for 30 minutes.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Mix in molasses, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar to desire consistency. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of the cupcakes.

“Chocolate Malt” Cupcakes

"Chocolate Malt" Cupcakes

 

Growing up I used to love going to Thrifty’s Drugstore (now known as Rite Aid in California) to get ice cream. At 35 cents a scoop you couldn’t beat the price and it was darn good! I usually rotated between two flavors, either Mint Chocolate Chip or their infamous Chocolate Malted Crunch. And yes, to this day I have been known to pick up a 1/2 gallon of it or so. You really can’t blame me—chocolate flecks with little malt balls enrobed in malt ice cream…..Who can resist??? My sibs also love Chocolate Malted Milk Shakes–YUM!

Thus was my inspiration to give these “Chocolate Malt” cuppies a try. I turned to Martha Stewart’s recipe and was happy to find that my sister had a jar of Horlicks Malt Powder on hand. I did make two minor tweaks to her recipe as I read that folks found that the cake didn’t have enough malt flavor. As a result, I increased the malt powder amount by an additional 1/4 cup and folded in a 1/2 cup of chocolate covered malt balls into the batter. As for the recipe, it was quite easy to follow–pretty much a one bowl situation. And when I pulled the cuppies out of the oven, I was pleased to see beautiful even domes on the tops.

The Chocolate Malt Buttercream was a great pairing for the cuppies, too–giving it that extra oompf of malt flavor. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I topped them each with chocolate covered malt balls. Hey, I never said this was low-calorie :)

 

"Chocolate Malt" Cupcakes


Chocolate Malt Cupcakes…..same great flavors as a Chocolate Malted Milk Shake without the potential brain freezes :)

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“Chocolate Malt” Cupcakes
Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Buttercream adapted from Oh My! Sugar High
Makes approximately 28 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
2¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
¾ Cup Unsweetened Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Milk
1½ Cups Malted Milk Powder
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
1 Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Chocolate Covered Malt Balls, chopped

Chocolate Malt Buttercream:
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening, at room temperature
½ Cup Malted Milk Powder
2-4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
2 Teaspoons Instant Espresso Powder
3 Tablespoons Milk
4 Cups Confectioner Sugar, sifted
*Chocolate Covered Malt Balls and Straws to garnish (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat flour mixture, milk mixture and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat just until combined. Fold in crushed chocolate covered malt balls.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter and shorting for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Sprinkle in malted milk powder, espresso powder and cocoa powder. Whip for 1 minute. Slowly add the powdered sugar a few spoonful at a time, letting it incorporate until the frosting becomes thicker and stiff. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time and whip until combined.

Fill bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cupcakes. Top with candies and straw garnish.

Enjoy!

**Note: I was able to make these cuppies extra special by using the wonderfully decadent Valrhona Cocoa Powder for both the cake and the buttercream. Valrhona is quite arguably one of the best chocolates/cocoa to bake with and adds a lovely intense/pure flavor. With that said, I was able to get away with only using 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in the buttercream where I may have needed more had I used another brand.**

"Chocolate Malt" Cupcakes

“Mango-licious” Mango Cupcakes

"Mango-licious" Mango Cupcakes

Mangoes are my favorite fruit.

And when you get one that’s perfectly ripe, nothing can beat a bite of that fragrant, sweet, juicy, and downright luscious goodness. In fact, I have so many memories of my grandma slicing up ripened mangoes and handing me the seed to gnaw on—my favorite part. We even used to snack on green mangoes dipped in a little salt with chili—mmm!

With that said, I have had some difficulties translating my favorite fruit into cupcake form. Too often the end product came out too “bread-like” with only faint traces of mango flavor. When I came across the Cupcake Project’s Mango Cupcakes post, I found that she too had the same challenges but had good results when using pure mango extract. I took a try at her recipe with a few tweaks and am happy to report that this was my best attempt yet—though I think there’s still room for some improvement. Although the cake itself yielded MUCH more of the mango flavor than I was able to achieve before, it still didn’t have as much as I wanted. (Even though I used fresh mango puree, mango extract, AND mango yogurt in the batter.) So to heighten the flavor, I went for mango overkill by topping the cuppies with a mango buttercream, mango coulis and fresh mango slices.

And that did the trick. “Mango-liciousness” achieved. :)

Taking a big bite of the cuppie with all of its components put a smile on this gal’s face. The buttercream offered the fragrant mango profile that I was looking for while the coulis added the concentrated mango flavor. I had originally considered using dried mangoes to top the cuppies but settled on fresh mango slices as it gave a wonderful texture contrast.

Overall, I was pretty happy but if you’re going to give this one a try, you’ve GOT to have mango extract (BIG thanks to my sis who ordered mine for me online). I also suggest using fresh mango puree as opposed to mango nectar as it offers a deeper flavor.

With some minor tweaks, this little number could be a keeper!


"Mango-licious" Mango Cupcakes
Mango Extract was REALLY hard to find. My advise, order it online!


"Mango-licious" Mango Cupcakes
Mango Cupcake platter for my niece Maya’s art class.

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“Mango-licious” Mango Cupcakes
Adapted from Cupcake Project
Makes approximately 16 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Mango Cupcakes
2 Cups Cake Flour
2½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2/3 Cups Mango Yogurt
2 Teaspoons Pure Mango Extract
1 Cup Fresh Mango Puree

Mango Buttercream Frosting
2 to 3 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1½ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/3 Cup Fresh Mango Puree
1 Teaspoon Pure Mango Extract
1-2 Tablespoons Sour Cream (can substitute with milk)

Mango Coulis
1½ Cups Fresh Mango, cubed
1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Water
½ Cup Sugar

Mango Coulis: In a saucepot, combine the chopped mango, lemon juice, water and sugar together. Bring the mixture up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the fruit is very tender. Pour the mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Mango Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in yogurt and mango extract. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with mango puree and beginning and ending with flour. Be careful to not over mix. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting.

Mango Buttercream: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Add mango puree and mango extract. Whip until combined. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until the frosting becomes thicker and stiff. Add sour cream and whip until desired piping consistency.

Fill piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cooled cupcakes. Drizzle mango coulis over the cupcakes and top with fresh slices of mangoes.

“Mango-licious” Mango Cupcakes

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

Alas dear Friends, life has had its way with me. And as much as I’ve wanted to, I haven’t had much time for many “foodventures”–let alone write about them. But I’ve missed “this space” and like all great relationships, we’ve got to make the time :)

So allow me to share my last cupcake adventure that happened just a few week’s ago when the bf’s family made a spontaneous and fun-filled visit. It also happened to be right around his mom’s birthday—so sweet treats were a must! (Happy Bday, Mrs. M!)

I knew I wanted to use a Nutella Cream Cheese frosting that I had played around with earlier this year but couldn’t decide what the cake base should be. With “decadence” in mind, I came across “My Baking Addiction’s” version of the Chocolate Chip Cupcake—BINGO!

Fairly simple to make, I pulled together the cuppies, put a quick swirl of frosting on top, and sprinkled them with crushed hazelnuts.

How did they turn out? SUPER RICH! Borderline, too rich (if that’s possible!). The cuppies were quite yummy—moist and full of chocolate flavor. The frosting was rich with accents of hazelnut. Great on their own but it may have been a tad too much combined. My suggestion if you do make these cuppies—pair them with a tall glass of cold milk. :)

And although the photos I snapped, weren’t my fav (BOO on lighting and exposure issues!), I was quite happy to have made them. You never know unless you try, right? After all, experimenting is half the fun!

Until next Friends!

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Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes approximately 14 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (From My Baking Addiction)
¾ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Sour Cream
¾ Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
3 to 4 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
¾ Cups Cream Cheese, room temperature
½ Nutella
1-2 Tablespoons Sour Cream (can substitute with milk)
½ Cup Crushed Hazelnuts to top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Add Nutella and whip until combined. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until the frosting becomes thicker and stiff. Add sour cream and whip until desired piping consistency.

Fill piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cupcakes. Sprinkle crushed hazelnuts on top. Enjoy!