Tag Archives: cupcakes

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

Happy First Blogiversary!

That’s right! Today’s the day!

It’s officially the one year anniversary of my blog!

I’ve been posting about food, art, writing, and whatever else pops into my head for an entire year now. What better way to celebrate than with cupcakes?!

I brought these to my staff who promptly devoured them with gusto. I used a recipe from a cookbook I got as a Christmas present: Favorite Brand Name’s 100 Best Cupcake Recipes, but for a twist I added the popular idea of putting half an Oreo on the bottom of the cupcake! Unfortunately for me, the Oreo half stuck to the paper of the cupcake liner. Someone suggested putting a bit of cooking spray in the liners to allow everything to release easily, but part of me wonders if they where simply in the oven a bit too long. I guess this means I’ll just have to make them again!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Cupcakes:
24 Oreo halves with cream attached
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 egg whites
1 cup crushed Oreo cookies (about 10) plus additional for garnish

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
Powdered Sugar (until reach wanted consistency)
Chocolate sprinkles or Oreo crumbs (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 24 standard muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.
2. Put half an Oreo cookie with cream centers attached in each muffin cup.
3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into large bowl; stir in sugar. Add milk, butter and vanilla; beat with electric mixer at low speed 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup crushed cookies. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
5. Put cream cheese and butter in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add powdered sugar and mix (carefully!), add more powdered sugar to create thicker frosting if wanted. When at desired consistency, add sprinkles or Oreo crumbs and mix in.
6. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, top with left over Oreo crumbs, enjoy!

Adapted from: Favorite Brand Name’s 100 Best Cupcake Recipes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Since I was out of the country for St. Patrick’s Day this year, celebrating was down to a minimum. From what I recall it consisted of a bottle of wine and some friends in our hotel room, instead of finding a place among the winding streets and canals of Venice. A few of my trip-mates did find an Irish Pub, and from what I heard it was a success for about one drink before they headed back to the hotel.

Over the summer I showed Smidget the recipe from Annie’s Eats for Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and we knew they had to be made. Now, I’d like to think it was a bit of planning ahead, but really we just wanted to try them out.

These cupcakes are amazing, they are moist, rich, and full of great Guinness flavor with just a touch of sweetness from the Bailey’s ganache and frosting. We ended up having so many, and since it was mid-summer everyone was off on vacation, we had no one to share them with! We ended up putting most of them in a large Tupperware container, which also helped them keep their wonderful moisture. The best part, aside from eating them of course, was the smell that came from the container when I went in for a cupcake. Pure chocolatey-Guinness bliss. Just thinking about these cupcakes has me wanting to make them again, and it’s never too late to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, right? 😉

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients:
For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
1 cup stout (Guinness)
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey’s ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

Directions:
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.  Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds).  Add the butter and Bailey’s and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped.  (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)  Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (a small paring knife works best for this).  Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated.  Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth.  Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading.  Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Adapted From Annie’s Eats.

Birthday Blunders…

I have recently been made aware of a terrible situation that is occurring throughout elementary (and even middle, junior high, and high) schools throughout the land. Yes, that’s right, the land.  And this tragic topic is:

Summer Birthday Shunning.

As a summer birthday girl, I personally can relate to the issue at hand. All throughout elementary, middle, and high school there were parties, celebrations, goodies, whathaveyou for the people who had birthdays in their respective months. AKA September babies had a party in September, October babies in October, etc.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating birthdays, nothing at all, they are a reason to let loose and have a bit of fun, but there is just one problem. The summer’s are always overlooked.

Those born in May/June/July are never celebrated within the school year. It sucks. Our lockers are never decorated, our teachers never say “Happy Birthday!”, we never get a little celebration in class, no cake, no candles, nothing. We get to sit on our couches (or at our jobs once we’re old enough) all summer long and celebrate only with those close friends, and our family.

Every fall we get to school and our teachers go “oh, we’ll celebrate our summer birthdays now since we missed them!” and then they don’t. So they say “oops, we’ll celebrate in the spring!” but they forget, and we don’t. And then comes “well we’ll just do it next fall, ok?” but it doesn’t happen. Ever. Not ok.

And so, over this past summer as our staff this year got to talking I realized we have quite a few (aka 3 or 4) summer birthdays on staff. So I mentioned to another of these summer birthdays that we should have a little party! This idea was really enforced when the main office we work for had an August/September birthday party. It had to happen. And so, at our past staff meeting, it did.

And I made cupcakes, naturally.

Fall themed cupcakes for summer birthdays? Why not. It’s almost equinox anyway! Plus who doesn’t LOVE fall?! Absolute favorite season ever.

Now, as per usual in this kitchen and at this school, it’s a box mix for the cakes. Spice cake to be specific.

But the frosting, that I made up. In the kitchen. On the spot. So it was something like 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, two capfulls of lemon extract, some melted butter, and enough powdered sugar to get that consistency you want. So if it’s too thick, more butter, too thin, more sugar. Oh, and orange food coloring. Well, red and yellow to make orange, but you get the point.

It was great, everyone on staff loved them and raved about the frosting. So, hurrah for made up cream cheese frosting! I would suggest making it for any sort of work, or even family, function, it will be the hit of the night! Enjoy!

Also, the little sugar guys are Betty Crocker, I got them from Wal-Mart who is already hitting the fall/Halloween season!

The little Owl is soooooo cute!

Who? Me? Really?

Gaming Goodies…

This past week a good friend of mine decided what better way to ring in the new school year, and reduce some of the stress these first few weeks have caused, then by  getting together a bunch of friends and killing some zombies? Via Xbox of course.

So he got everything together and mentioned to me that on such and such a day, aka last Wednesday, our friends were going be coming over and playing some Left 4 Dead. My first thought? Zombie Cupcakes. And thus, these were born.

Now these aren’t your ordinary everyday cupcakes. Aside from the chocolate ones. Those are just chocolate with chocolate frosting. Plus some crumbled chocolate graham crackers on top and the fantastic cupcake toppers I found at Bake it Pretty.

But those yellow cakes with the green slime frosting? Guess what they are.

Mountain Dew Cupcakes.

That’s right, cupcakes made with Mountain Dew soda, perfect for any gamer. Plus thanks to Halloween being right around the corner, I was able to find these fantastic body part gummies which included a few brains.

Wanna know how to make them? Simple. Box mix of yellow cake (DON’T make the cake according to box directions, no eggs, no oil, no water, trust me on this, I tried, too much liquid) and a 12 oz can of Mountain Dew. Stir. Put in wrappers in cupcake pan. Bake until done (about 15-20 min).

The frosting was just as simple, although I followed the recipe I found just to be safe:

Mountain Dew Frosting:
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup Mountain Dew
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
7 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, the combine softened butter, Mountain Dew, and extracts. Beat on medium low-speed until well blended. Add powdered sugar and beat on low-speed until combined. Increase speed to medium high and beat for about 2 minutes. If frosting is not thick enough, add powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency.

Using gel food coloring, color half the frosting yellow and half green. Place in a piping bag side by side and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

* Taken/Adapted from Confessions of  a Cookbook Queen

The frosting I ended up having was A: Super sweet and B: a little less stiff because it was so sweet and in order to thicken it, it needs more sugar. But it’s perfect, looks a bit like slime!

They were a hit! I’ve told my friend many more zombie gaming parties need to happen so I can make even more fantastic zombie related desserts. But until then, time to drink the rest of the Mountain Dew that’s in my fridge, it should help me stay up and write those papers that are due.