Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Miracles happen.

I’m back to blogging, and you’re going to hate me.  I made cupcakes.

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I know cupcakes are so 2008.

Since I’ve been wedding planning, (Side note: we’re 4 months away. Where did time go? We have a wedding website.  This means it’s happening) I’ve become acutely aware of wedding trends.  Cupcakes are no longer cool.  Layer cakes are in (which I’ve loved probably since 2008).

BUT cupcakes are so handy for outdoor events.  The weather up here in the Bay Area has been hit or miss recently, but today we’re heading outdoors for a bubble soccer birthday celebration.  I’m always the person who volunteers to bring a cake, but sometimes don’t you just want a dang cupcake?

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They’re cute. They’re simple. They’re delicious.

Eat a cupcake.  Feel free to listen to the Buena Vista Social Club station on Pandora while you make and eat them.  That’s what I’m doing and it’s amazing.

These cupcakes have become by go to recipe. They’re a crowdpleaser and the frosting isn’t sickeningly sweet.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

cupcakes from Hershey’s, Buttercream from Me?

For cupcakes:

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup  Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used almond milk and it was a-okay!)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For Vanilla Buttercream:

3 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
3 sticks of butter (I know… seriously 3), softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Make your cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Lastly beat in boiling water.  The batter is really runny but trust me, it’s delicious.

Line cupcake pan with liners of choice (the cuter the better).  Fill each liner with 1/4 cup of batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test (note: 15 minutes is the perfect amount for me).  Repeat until all batter is gone.  I usually get 24-26 cupcakes out of this recipe.

Allow to cool completely.  Then make frosting.

Whisk together egg whites and sugar in your stand mixer bowl.  Place over a pot of boiling water (make sure water isn’t touching the bowl), stir it every so often until the egg whites become hot and you can no longer feel the sugar granules.  There’s probably an appropriate temperature that it needs to reach but I have no idea what that is.  I just touch it.

Transfer to the mixer and whip using the whisk attachment until they’ve formed stiff peaks.

Remove the whisk attachment and change to the paddle attachment for your mixer.  Add vanilla. Then start to beat in butter until the butter is incorporated and it’s smooth.  If you want here you can add any flavoring.

I’ve done peanut butter, dulce de leche, caramel, strawberry  jam.  They’re all magic.  Or you can just stick with vanilla and be a happy camper.

I like to chill my frosting a little bit before frosting because I find it easier to work with. Just about 10 minutes.  Give it a try.

Frost your cupcakes and decorate as you like. Sprinkles are encouraged.

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Take them to a party and feed them to your friends.

Happy Sunday! Hope you’re enjoying the day Game of Thrones returns! (<—- ok read

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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting

I’ve been a little bit out of control with my sugar intake this week.  But that’s totally ok.  Monday will start a new week and we’ll be good to go with some more clean eating.  But before that, let’s talk cupcakes.

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A few weeks ago, Nocciolata sent me some samples of their tasty chocolate hazelnut spread to try. It’s seriously amazing and is certified organic, which cool! I really like that this has actual recognizable ingredients in it. Now, you might remember that I loooooove chocolate hazelnut spread (aka I went crazy with Nutella when I lived in Rome and gained 15lbs, no joke) and my favorite combo by far is chocolate/hazelnut + banana.

So with these samples sitting in my house, I tested out a few recipes for chocolate hazelnut frosting.  I failed 3 times and finally went back to the basics: buttercream.  Buttercream is delicious and always pleasing.  And I knew that the frosting I created would go perfectly with banana cupcakes.  So that brings us to these guys:

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Lately, the world has gotten ridiculous on the cupcake frosting front (myself included), but sometimes you just want to have a cupcake that looks homemade.  You know, like spread with a knife.  No fancy piping bags necessary.

Something familiar, comforting and tasty (like chocolate hazelnut spread).  Let’s concentrate on flavor, not on looks, because that’s really what this spread is all about: Great Taste.

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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting

For Cupcakes:
1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup sugar, heaping
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Make cupcakes.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.  In a bowl combine flour, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).  Add egg and beat for another minute. Add mashed bananas and beat for another minute.  Add remaining wet ingredients then start to add dry ingredients.  Beat until combined.

Fill lined cupcake pan with 1/4 cup of batter each (or until each cupcake slot is about 3/4 the way full).  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely. This recipe will yield about 13-14 cupcakes.

Next make the frosting.  Beat together butter and chocolate hazelnut spread.  Gradually add powered sugar until it gets a thick spreadable consistency.  If it’s too thick, thin out with a bit of milk.  Spread frosting on cupcakes.  Top with sprinkles if you like, then serve!  (P.S. You can totally add more Chocolate Hazelnut spread to this frosting have it be even more flavorful, you just might have to adjust the powdered sugar amount.  I would have added more but I ran out of samples with my many fails).

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I’m definitely a fan of the chocolate-hazelnut + banana combo!  What’s your favorite thing to combine with chocolate-hazelnut spread? 

Thanks to Nocciolata for the samples!  Be sure to check them out.

Lemon Cupcakes with Berry Whipped Cream Icing

I’m starting to realize I have a tendency toward repetitiveness.  I do things over and over again without really getting tired of it.

Example #1: Today I listened to the same song over and over again from about 10am until 4pm. I literally kept hitting repeat on YouTube.

Example #2: Every so often, when I have nothing to do, I like to watch Pride and Prejudice alone in my bed and cry my eyes out when Elizabeth is telling her father how much she loves Mr. Darcy.  It gets me every time.

Example #3: I make lemon cupcakes for any number of occasions.  I never get tired of experimenting in my quest to make the perfect lemon cupcakes/cake.

I think this is the jackpot though.  Oh wait, do I claim that every time?  Who knows… let’s go with it.

Lemon Cupcakes with Berry Whipped Cream Icing

adapted from Epicurious Moist Yellow Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
5 eggs
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4- 1 cup milk*
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powered sugar
3-4 tbsp berry jam (i.e. strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, etc)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Combine lemon juice and milk.  You want enough to make 1 1/4 cup of the mixture.  So squeeze the lemon juice into a measuring cup and fill until you get 1 1/4 cups.  Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat 3-5 minutes until fluffy.  Add lemon zest, vanilla and one egg at a time, beating 30 seconds between each egg.   Add flour mixture 1/2 cup (ish) at a time and milk mixture, alternating add each one.  Lastly, mix in the instant pudding mix.

Pour batter into line cupcake pan.  Bake 15-20 minutes depending on the strength of your oven, or until golden brown and cooked through.  Makes about 30 cupcakes.

Allow to cool completely and make the icing.  Beat heavy cream to soft peaks.  Add powdered sugar and jam, a bit at a time.  Keep beating until stiff.  Put icing in a piping bag and top off cupcakes (or spread with a knife).

Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until about an hour before serving.

This is definitely something I’d like to repeat, not just because I like making cupcakes but because they were delicious. I think this is going to replace any other lemon cupcake recipe I thought was best.  These are better.  Trust me.  Give it a try, then repeat.

I’d also like to repeat the shrimp tacos I made for dinner last night that I’m kicking myself for not photographing.  Oh well.  For the sake of repetition, here’s one more photo…  Is that okay?

It’s past midnight.  I can’t sleep.  I’m listening to the same song I listened to all day and am tempted to go into my kitchen to make these again.  Or maybe I should break my repetitive streak and make something new.  What do you think?

Coconut Cupcakes

On Saturday mornings, my boyfriend sometimes takes me on a hot date… to the swap meet.  What can I say, we’re classy like that.  Clearly by “hot” I mean it’s literally warm out.

He likes to get an enormous tejuino.

I like to get an enormous cup of mixed fruit, which I proceed to douse in lime and chili.   In my mixed fruit cup, there’s always cucumber, pineapple, watermelon and fresh coconut.  The only reason I get the mixed fruit and not the delicious mango covered in chili and lime is that I absolutely love coconut.

I pretty much like anything that’s coconut flavored but you can’t beat the taste of real, fresh coconut.  So next time you feel the need for a coconut treat I recommend going to the swap meet at OCC (if you live in Orange County), but if not, make these:

No extracts.  Just the real stuff.

Coconut Cupcakes

adapted from Epicurious

For Reduced Coconut Milk:

2 cans coconut milk (to be reduced)

For Cupcakes:

2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (3/4 cup)
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk

For Frosting:

1 Stick of Butter, Room Temperature
4 oz cream cheese
3 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp reduced Coconut milk

In a deep saucepan, bring 2 cans of coconut to a boil.  Simmer about 30-40 minutes until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups liquid.  Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Then blend in vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients, beat until just combined.  Beat in coconut milk.  Pour batter into 18-20 lined cupcake pan.  Bake 18-20 mins (depending on your oven this will vary).  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Next make the frosting. Beat together all the frosting ingredients.  Gradually add in coconut milk until you get the right consistency.

Frost and garnish with extra flaked coconut.

Serve and enjoy!

The coconut flavor is light and delicate, but most definitely there.  So when you need your coconut fix, give these a whirl.

They’re probably easier to make than cracking open a coconut or searching for a swap meet… just sayin’.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Mousse Filling and Peanut Butter Butter Cream

I think this title has the record for the number of times “butter” is in a blog title.  I’m totally cool with that.

I’m also cool with this

Peanut Butter and Chocolate is pretty much one of the most amazing combinations on the planet.  My mother would disagree, but I think 90% of America would think these cupcakes are amazing.  Fact.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Mousse Filling and Peanut Butter Butter Cream

using Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup  Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used almond milk and it was a-okay!)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
2 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 + 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Once it’s just about combine, stir in cup of boiling water.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into about each lined cupcake pan (makes about 30).  Bake 15-18 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes from cupcake pan immediately and place to cool on a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely.

Make mousse filling.  Using a hand (or stand) mixer, whip heavy cream.  Gradually add in 1/4 cup powdered sugar as it starts to form soft peaks.  Beat until stiff, careful not to overwhip.  In another bowl, beat together cream cheese and 1/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth.  Fold in whipped cream.  Chill for about half an hour (you can put it in the freezer to speed this up).

Next make peanut butter butter cream.  Beat together peanut butter and butter.  Add in powdered sugar (and some vanilla if you’d like) until it reaches a thick enough consistency for frosting, add milk if necessary.  If you’d like you can also add some cream cheese to the frosting.  It turns out great!

Using a sharp pointed knife, cut out a small circle from each cupcake.  Transfer mousse to a ziploc bag and cut off an end to make a sort of piping bag (or put it in a piping bag if you’re fancy pants like that).  Pipe some mousse into each cupcake.  Next frost as desired (pipe or spread).

Keep them in the fridge until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate is a sure-fire crowd please-r.   I took them to an office party.  They were a hit.  Who doesn’t love a delicious chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter surprise?

Fall Cupcakes: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Caramel Filling and Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Frosting

You all remember the Fall Cake, right?

Inspired by my time spent working at a bakery… One layer of pumpkin cheesecake, another layer of gingerbread cake, caramel pecans in between and on top, then covered in vanilla buttercream.

That was it a little too intense for me to make that often.  So if you’re looking for the perfect fall dessert, that isn’t super complicated but will likely impress people, this is it.

Okay so it requires a lot of steps, but I promise it’s not that complicated and super delicious in the end.

Fall Cupcakes

for Gingerbread Cupcakes (adapted from Food Network’s Gingerbread cake)

1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1/4-1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup boiling water

For Caramel Filling:

1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

For Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
4 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 lb powdered sugar (note you might need more depending on how sweet you like it)
dash of cinnamon
dash of ground ginger (or just use pumpkin pie spice)

Start my making the cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine the sugar, oil, molasses and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in crystallized ginger.  Add dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices), mix until almost combined.  Stir in boiling water.  Pour into cupcake pan lined with baking cups.  Fill only a little past half way.  This is sort of crucial.  If you over fill the pan, you get this:

Sad sunken in cupcake.  Not cute.

So fill them a little more than half way and bake them for about 15 minutes (mine took 14 mins) or until they pass the toothpick test.

Next make your caramel filling.  Heat sugar in a deep saucepan, until the sugar melts.  Once the sugar is a deep golden brown, take it off the heat and quickly stir in butter.  Once the butter is melted in there, add a pinch of salt and stream in the cream as you stir.  Keep stirring until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

At this point, your cupcakes and caramel need to cool completely.  In the meantime, go for a walk, rake some leaves (this really doesn’t apply to you if, like me, live in California…), call a friend, paint your nails, go to the gym, listen to Beyonce and dance a little bit, you get the idea…

Then come back and make the pumpkin-cream cheese icing.  It’s super easy, all you need is a hand or stand mixer.  Throw all the ingredients together and let the machine do the work.  Truth be told this frosting is delicious but not super stiff (that’s what she said).  You can add more powdered sugar if you’d like but I can only take so much sugar, it definitely hardens in the fridge but your piping might not be as beautiful as you’d like.  Oh well, it’s delicious.  Stick it in the fridge while you prep your cupcakes.

Now you can assemble!  Filling a cupcake with caramel is easy.  There are two ways to do it, but both ways involve putting your cooled caramel in a ziploc bag and cutting off the corner to create a make-shift piping bag.  Then you can either:

1. Take a knife and hole in the top and scoop some of the cupcake out.  Then take the “piping bag” and pipe some caramel into it.

2. Shove your finger into the top of each cupcake while they’re still warm.  Same effect.  It creates a hole.  I sorta like this method… some people might have an issue with it.  Obviously, please wash your hands before doing this 🙂 Then pipe in the caramel.

Once you’ve filled all your cupcakes with caramel.

Frost them as you’d like, either with a piping bag and tip or just a knife.  Both look lovely.  Either way garnish with some slices of crystallized ginger.

I swear these taste better the next day.  I don’t know what it is, but true story.  Would I lie to you?  Either way, we’re well into October and speeding into November.

That probably means you should give these cupcakes a try.