Tag Archives: cupcake

Blue Moon Cupcakes

A good friend and I went for a hike today, even though the trail is completely covered with snow and we had to balance along the part that had already been packed down by previous hikers. We, the city of Anchorage, did break out record for snowfall in one season this year. Did I mention that? We broke the record by just over an inch, which our local paper headlined as “In By An Inch”. Hehe, dirty. Anyway, back to the hike.

View during our hike - taken via cellphone

I have been friends with this lovely lady since high school and after a few years spending time working towards an art degree (she’s an amazing drawer, absolutely fantastic) she has decided her heart lies is in writing. So, naturally, us two writers struck up a conversation along the trail about our craft. She’s been big into writing fan fiction of some of her favorite stories while working on her own plot lines and characters for school work, but she mentioned having a hard time recently with coming up with her own ideas. I knew exactly what she meant: drawing blanks on what to write about is an issue I often have as well.

One of the great things about the writing classes I took in college was the prompts I walked away with to write about after each class. Now that I don’t even have a small writing group to work with (planning on changing that in the future…) and share prompts with, coming up with my own stories has proven difficult. Luckily I stumbled upon a great tool the other day. The group behind NaNoWriMo has another writing challenge called Script Frenzy, where you are challenged to write a 100 script in the month of April. I decided not to participate this year, as scripts are not my thing yet, but maybe in the future I will take up the challenge. What I did find great, though, was a small thing on the homepage called the Plot Machine. It creates, wacky, fun, and all together silly yet inspiring plots to get you going with writing.

I mentioned this wonderful machine to a few writing friends of mine, including the one I went on a hike with today, and am eager to try my hand at a few of the random plots I find. Up first: After suffering a heart attack, the entire cast of Riverdance goes on to try out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders team.

Let the writing begin!

To keep me going along the process I find it important to have a few things, including baked goods and good drinks. Ever since seeing Blue Moon Cupcakes on Pinterest, I knew I had to try my hand at them. They are delicious, velvety cupcakes with a hint of orange and wheat. The original recipe calls for a light meringue frosting, which I would love to try, but since my batch of cupcakes wouldn’t have been eaten up entirely in a few hours, I opted for a longer lasting orange cream cheese frosting. So get on up and make yourself a batch, they are worth it. And you’ll even get a little bit of leftover beer to enjoy while the cupcakes are baking!

Blue Moon Cupcakes

3/4 cup (a stick and 1/2) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 drops red food coloring*
10 drops yellow food coloring*
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 cup Blue Moon beer
1/4 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 24 cupcake trays with liners. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar a little bit at a time, beating well. Once it’s all added beat for 2 more minutes.

Add eggs, beating after each.

Add vanilla, food coloring and orange zest and beat.

Mix beer and milk in a measuring cup. Alternatively add beer / milk mixture and flour mixture to butter mixture in the large bowl, beating after each. End on the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 18 minutes until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Once cool, frost each cupcake with a generous amount of frosting. Just before serving, garnish each with a small orange slice.
Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tsp. orange zest
juice of 1 orange
5 cups powdered sugar (plus more, if needed)

Beat the cream cheese in mixer until fluffy. Add in whipping cream and continue to beat on medium speed until cream in mixed in fully and has gotten slightly fluffed.

Add in orange zest and juice, continuing to beat on medium speed.

Slow mixer speed and add in powdered sugar a cup at a time, making sure sugar is incorporated fully before adding next cup. If you want your frosting stiffer add more powdered sugar, if you want your frosting thinner add more whipped cream.

Frost on top of cooled cupcakes.

*Instead of using liquid food coloring drops, I used a bit of orange gel food coloring.

Recipe adapted from: Miss Make

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Chocolate-Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Ever find yourself with the last banana of the bunch that has just become over ripe? Well we did earlier this week. My family, my dad and brother in particular, really love us some bananas. There is usually a bunch that is just beginning to turn ripe in our fruit bowl next to a smaller bunch (usually just 2-4) that are nice and perfectly yellow. Which makes it so we always have a banana ready to be eaten and we never run out of bananas, because by the time both bunches are gone it’s time to go food shopping anyway.

There are times, like this past week, when our banana craze gets away from us and suddenly we find ourselves with over ripe bananas. The kind that are perfect for banana bread. If things get really out of hand, we have been known to freeze a few of these perfect baking bananas to use at a later time, but that wasn’t necessary this week. Instead, this week we only had one banana ready for the loaf pan.

This was a problem. When we make banana bread we use at least two bananas, not one. Which also means that when we freeze bananas we tend to freeze them in pairs, because we’ll just end up using two anyway, right?  Suddenly I found myself with a challenge: Bake something with this banana without having to thaw out any others.

I took to the internet looking for recipes (as I often do). Luckily I didn’t have to search too far before I found a great recipe for chocolate-banana cupcakes that used just one banana!

These cupcakes are wonderful: they are fairly light, very moist, and very chococlatey with just a hint of banana. The recipe didn’t make too many (my batch only made 11), but for a small family with some to give away, it happened to be the right amount. I decided to top these beauties with a peanut butter frosting, mostly because I liked the idea, but also because the frosting from the cupcake recipe I found used another banana. That would ruin the challenge, although I will have to try it some time soon. The frosting was soooooo good. One batch of frosting was more than I needed to cover all the cupcakes, so we had a bit left over to spread on other things, like apple slices.

The cupcakes were a hit with the whole banana loving family (well, except for brother as he’s on the other side of the country, but nevertheless) and were perfectly moist and delicious. I hope we have just one banana get nice and over ripe again soon so we can have some more cupcakes. Oh, did I mention they’re also vegan? Well, the cupcakes, not the frosting.

Notice the cute Snoopy and Woodstock cupcake liners? Thanks craft store!

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup ripe banana (about 1 banana)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1/4 cup ripe banana (about 1/2 banana)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Whisk in the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. Mixture will still be a little lumpy because of the nature of the banana, but whisk out as many large lumps as you can. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in banana mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).

Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

For the frosting:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed

To prepare the frosting cream together the butter and peanut butter until well combined.  Add in the powdered sugar and half the milk and mix until smooth, fluffy and your desired piping consistency. (I actually used some milk and some heavy whipping cream to lighten it up a bit, plus it was in the fridge)

Cupcake Recipe adapted from: Love and Olive Oil
Frosting Recipe adapted from: evilshenanigans

 

When Life Hands You Lemons…

I don’t know about you, but usually the advice I get from the rest of that phrase varies between things like “make lemonade”, “throw them back”, or “find someone else who life handed vodka and have a party. Still, no matter what amount of seriousness or humor is thrown in, I still find I can’t stand that phrase.

So why have it as the title for this post? Because I have run out of ideas. Plus today’s recipe has lemons in it.

My best friend and I met up yesterday and over lunch we got to talking about our work. She is a writer/editor who was doing amazing work at the school where she too recently graduated from. We got to talking about writing groups, and how we need to form one along with how to actually go about it, what sort of people, what sort of writing, etc. I thought back to what had been going on in my work-shopping classes at school. We all tended to use the same technique in those classes, which I like to refer to as the ‘Compliment Sandwich’. This occurs when someone is giving their opinion on someone’s work and says “I liked this…..There were some issues in this part….But I really enjoyed this other part here”. Basically it goes Compliment – Constructive Criticism – Compliment. Although this may not get every issue with a piece out in the open right away, it does allow the writer to feel encouraged to continue working on the piece.

That brings us to today’s topic: Motivation and Encouragement.

We all need it in our lives, from friends, from family, from co-workers, from classmates, about our work, our relationships, our choices, our hair color. Outside encouragement helps spur our own motivation and it is something we should remember when people are asking for our advice, our help. If someone comes to you in a time of need, tell them the truth and give them what they need to hear, but don’t discourage them either. Instead, push them to keep going while giving them pointers along the way. It’s a difficult thing to do and I am in no way an example of how to do it but from three years of the ‘Compliment Sandwich’ and the lack of it, I have learned how it can affect people for the better.

For our last class of Poetry Workshop (I am not a poet by any means either, but it is good to expand your horizons. Plus they didn’t offer Advanced Fiction Workshop) we had a little celebration of what we had achieved over the past semester. We celebrated how far each of us had come, how those of us who didn’t write poetry gave it our best effort, how those of us who were seasoned poets learned new techniques, and how we had given each other the criticism that was necessary while also encouraging each other to keep working on every individual piece.

What would a celebration be without cupcakes?! Vanilla Lemon Curd filled cupcakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting, to be exact. That’s my ending to the key phrase, “When life hands you lemons….bake with them.”

Vanilla Cupcakes (These are the best ones I have ever made, recipe is certainly a keeper!):

3 eggs
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tray with paper liners. Then, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In another bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale. Takes about 5 minutes.
Add in the flour mixture and mix well.
Place the butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil.
Then pour the mixture into the batter and beat well. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before filling and frosting.

For the Lemon Curd:

I had a lack of time and used store bought which was a huge mistake! Make your own! Use the recipe I used for lime curd here, but use lemon instead.

To fill: with a paring knife or apple corer, take out the middle section of each cupcake. If curd is a consistency that you can use it in a pastry bag, scoop it into a bag and fill the cupcakes that way. If not, just use a spoon to spoon the filling in. If able, replace the topping of the center of the cupcake. Frost when done.

For the Strawberry Frosting:

Typical cream cheese frosting with some fresh strawberries added in. To make the frosting lighter add some whipped cream to it and it will fluff up wonderfully.

Cupcake recipe adapted from: http://shewhobakes.blogspot.com/2010/02/boston-cream-pie-cupcakes.html

One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor!

While still back in New York for graduation, my dad mentioned to me that we have a bag of powdered sugar here at home that has a hole in it. He said this with a slight smile and mischievous look in his eye as he followed with “we probably should use it up”.

I told him not to worry, that I had a plan up my sleeve, and boy did I. My family has celebrated with margaritas since, well, at least since I was in college if not before. Finally this summer I was able to join my parents in enjoying the celebration outside home when I turned 21. But so far, nothing beats a homemade margarita done by dad. Then again, there are always more to try! If you have a favorite margarita place, let me know!

Upon arriving back at home for a much-needed (and after four years of studying – well deserved) break, I checked out a recipe I had found on FoodGawker for, you guessed it, margarita cupcakes.

We usually use Jose Cuervo for the margaritas, but last summer our bottle ran dry with a batch in the blender, so we decided it was time to break out the big guns. My parents had a bottle of Patron stashed away in the food pantry, so we brought it out of hiding.

Since these cupcakes were in part celebration of graduation, I decided why not use the good stuff? Feel free to use any other kind of tequila if you don’t have an insanely expensive bottle of stuff stashed away that, as I can recall, was given to you as a gift. Be warned, though, that after the first bite of one Smidget’s reaction was “I’m drunk already!” (she was only kinda kidding, the tequila comes through for sure, but not that strongly).

Margarita Cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 minutes | Bake Time: 25 minutes

For the Cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1½ limes
2 tablespoons tequila
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

To Brush the Cupcakes:
1 to 2 tablespoons tequila

For the Tequila-Lime Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¾ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
Pinch of coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together, power on!)
6. Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.
7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point.
8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.
9. To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, and an additional sprinkling of salt.
*Note: If you would prefer to not use liquor in these cupcakes, you can absolutely omit it from both the cupcakes and the frosting with no problem. If you do omit it, I would add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to the frosting
(Recipe adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride) Taken from Brown Eyed Baker

Sidenote: I had a bit of an issue with frosting these guys, hence the large glob of frosting. I couldn’t find the disposable frosting bags and the nice one I found wasn’t cut right for the tip I tried to use. So I tried to MacGyver a plastic bag, but the tip itself was too small, so I just ended up pulling it out. This resulted in a large corner of the bag being cut off, so I just frosted them as I could. Still tasty!

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…

Happy Easter!

Or for those of you, like  myself, who don’t celebrate Easter, Happy Weekend!

I may be a few days late, but there’s  a good reason for it. One of my staff members celebrated his birthday this Easter so in our staff meeting on Monday we celebrated with cupcakes! I had asked him prior what he preferred and all he said was “Chocolate”. I took that and ran, which not only made me out of breath, but also apparently brought confused looks to my staff member’s faces. Kidding, of course, they totally expected it.

I tried the same book again (what can I say, it’s time to start the search for the perfect recipes and ya gotta start somewhere) that I used for the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. They had a simple recipe for chocolate cupcakes, which unfortunately burned on the bottom a bit. I think it may have resulted from a mixture of a long baking time (25-30 minutes? really?!) and a poorly functioning oven. However, the cupcakes were still the most moist ones I’ve made from scratch. I topped them off with a chocolate buttercream and little chocolate birds nests with Cadbury chocolate eggs.

I put out 16 for a 12 person staff and after an hour they were all gone, which I think bodes well! Try them out and tell me what you think!


Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Bird’s Nests
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
11.5 oz chocolate chips (one bag) melted and cooled slightly

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper baking cups.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla; beat with electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling three-fourths full.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes (I found I needed less than 22 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
As much chocolate as you want, melted and cooled

1.  Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy.
3. Reduce speed to low.
4. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Beat in the cocoa mixture.
6. Let sit at room temperature while the cupcakes cool.
7. Pipe as desired onto cupcakes (I simply spread the frosting on the cupcakes so it worked with the topper).

For the Birds Nest Topper
1 11.5 oz bag of chocolate chips
1 5 oz can of chow mein noodles
1 bag of Cadbury’s Chocolate Mini Eggs

1. Melt chocolate, add chow mein noodles, stir until all noodles are covered in chocolate.
2. Form small birds nests with chocolate chow mein noodles on wax paper or silicone mats.
3. Top with Cadbury Chocolate Mini Eggs.
4. Put in cool place (even the freezer) to set.
5. Remove from wax paper or silicone mats and place on frosted cupcakes.

Cupcakes Adapted from: Favorite Brand Name’s 100 Best Cupcake Recipes; Frosting Adapted from: The Curvy Carrot; Birds Nests adapted from old Girl Scout activity

Also, as a side note, there is now a page on Facebook for From Tundra to Times Square! Like it to be notified about updates and other fun!