Tag Archives: cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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Can I tell you something? I have enjoyed cooking and baking since I was a little kid. Most often for other folks, as in that was the sole purpose I baked things or spent my allowance on extra candy I’d stow in my backpack on the way to school. I gave these baked things or candy things to girlfriends. More often I gave them to the current boys I had embarrassing middle school crushes on. Mind you, I was not good at making things (thus the eventual candy-buying instead of treat-making). There were fall-apart things, raw-in-the-middle-things. But I was a shy, quiet, introverted girl and if the only way I was going to make friends was to bribe them with food, heck yes let’s get on that.

When bake sales came up at school, I was always ready to volunteer some kind of treats… cookies that miraculously turned out edible and cookie-looking, brownies from store bought mixes that I dusted with powdered sugar because that was going to make them look homemade and decadent. These days, I am not in school. But I’ve got stepchildren who are and when bake sales or class parties come up, they don’t exactly hesitate on volunteering some food contribution. But guess who exactly is volunteered?

Silas’s school had a bake sale a few weeks ago wherein the third graders were doing a “cupcake walk” instead of the typical cake walk and they requested cupcake donations. I wanted to make a frosted cupcake that was both stable at room temperature and also wouldn’t immediately melt despite the warm temperatures. Swiss meringue seemed like the smartest frosting option, although I hadn’t ever made it in my life prior. Initially I wanted to make a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting, but realized anything with peanuts probably wasn’t the ideal option in an elementary school that tries to be aware of peanut allergies in kids. Almond butter is generally received well around here so that was the substitution in this frosting. These cupcakes are airy and not overwhelmingly sweet, while the frosting is also decadent, rich, but light in consistency.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond Butter Swiss Meringue

Yields approximately five dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
2½ cups packed brown sugar
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp. boiling water

For the swiss meringue:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (the no-stir required type)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Lightly grease or line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream to your butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until well combined. The batter will be semi-thick at this point.

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Stir the boiling water into the chocolate mixture. This will thin out the batter quite a bit. It’s all okay!

Fill each cupcake well about two-thirds full of batter then bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester (i.e. toothpick!) inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely before frosting.

Prepare the swiss meringue and frost the cupcakes: 

Place the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of just-simmering water (not boiling!), being careful that no water gets into the egg whites. Whisk, continuously, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture looks opaque and the egg whites reach a core temperature of 160 degrees F.

Remove the bowl from the heat, add the vanilla, and whip on high speed until cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form (10-12 straight minutes of whipping should do the trick).

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Add in the butter, a tablespoon at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture might appear clumpy and almost curdled looking at first—this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again.

After all of the butter has been mixed into the frosting, add in the peanut butter, whipping until completely combined.

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Generously spread the frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe the frosting onto your completely cooled cupcakes. Store the cupcakes covered at room temperature and enjoy within two days of preparing them.

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Not Your Grandmama’s Red Velvet (Cup)cake(s) with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Sometimes a recipe poses obstacles. For instance, when a certain little boy tells me he’d like red velvet cupcakes for his birthday party, I need to wrestle with the idea of using food coloring I’d typically prefer not adding to food. It’s not that I think you or you should refrain from such things as well, I simply prefer keeping my own recipes free from artificial ingredients. True, beets can impart a gorgeous red hue, but I’ve had little luck with incorporating them without also adding root-vegetable flavor to whatever I’m baking. Well, except for these brownies and these muffins. But I wasn’t planning on making brownies. Or muffins.

Can we also simply talk about red velvet cake for a minute? It’s an American Southern thing – and these days, it seems to be everywhere. While once upon a time red velvet cake is believed to have gotten its name from the chemical reaction between the buttermilk, vinegar, and unsweetened cocoa often present in this cake batter, that isn’t often the case these days. For one, cocoa used to be less alkaline than what we find today, which created a noticeable reaction within the ingredients. Today, the majority of red velvet recipes rely on artificial red food coloring to impart the desired color. Oh, and that velvet in the name – that has to do with the soft, velvety crumb of the cake, not the smoothness of the color. WHAT!

As with most things I approach in life – I think moderation is key. I don’t give myself shit for adding a little food coloring to cupcakes I plan to make once a year, if even that often. Plus these cupcakes were a big hit. They’re moist, chocolate-y without being too sweet. The frosting isn’t overly sweet either, which I like in desserts. Oh, but then there’s the other thing – red velvet cake is typically considered a buttermilk cake, not a chocolate cake… This recipe isn’t one of those. It is a chocolate cake recipe. One of my favorites, actually… slightly tweaked to make this work as a red velvet cake. There’s no buttermilk, no vinegar… but the sour cream and brown sugar create a moist, soft cake regardless. The cream cheese frosting is easy and stable even at room temperature. Feel free to leave it white, rather than adding more color.

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Not Your Grandmama’s Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields 3 dozen regular-sized cupcakes.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
2½ cups light brown sugar, packed
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. red gel food coloring *
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp. boiling water

* The gel-version of food color offers a nicely intense coloring. More than any liquid food coloring I’ve ever found. Plus, the weird red coloring taste isn’t noticeable. I like Americolor Gel Pastes.

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 tsp. vanilla powder
4-6 cups powdered sugar
coloring of your choice, if desired

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with liners, or grease each cupcake cup. Set aside until needed.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar over medium-high speed, using the paddle attachment, until lightly colored and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next.

Increase the speed to high, whipping the mixture until it’s fluffy and light (3-4 minutes).

In a bowl, combine the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

Reduce the speed on your mixer to low, then alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream to the butter mixture in thirds, starting with the flour. Add your food coloring to the batter, blending until completely incorporated.

Slowly pour in the boiling water, making sure to scrape down the sides of your mixer. Blend together on low, for 1-2 minutes.

Fill each cupcake cup about 2/3-full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of your cupcakes comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and shortening together in a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment at medium speed. Blend until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to low, then add the vanilla powder and two cups of the powdered sugar. Blend until completely combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

If you’re adding color, do so now, one drop at a time, blending completely until you create your desired color. Frost the completely cooled cupcakes.

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Silas Henry’s Chocolate Cake and Buttercream Amazingness

I am a master at making sunken-middle floppy homemade cakes. Fortunately, the following cake came out not just rich, moist, and fluffy… It looked like it was supposed to!

I hadn’t made buttercream frosting prior to this recipe. Honestly, most of my experiences with the stuff has come from over-frosted store-bought cakes that I don’t enjoy eating. This recipe, however, was phenomenally good… I altered the original recipe just slightly, not wanting to buy Ovaltine simply for one batch of frosting.

Rich Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

2½ cups packed brown sugar
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. butter, softened
3 eggs
1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp. boiling water

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans then dust lightly with flour. * Note

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the creamed butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sifting the dry ingredients is sometimes recommended, but I’m a busy girl and sometimes I just don’t feel like taking the time. For this particular cake, it didn’t seem to matter!

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream to your butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until well combined. The batter will be semi-thick at this point.

Stir the boiling water into the other mixture. This will thin out the batter quite a bit. While I was worried at first, this actually turned out deliciously okay!

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick poked into the center of the cake comes out clean or with minimal crumbs attached.

Cool completely before frosting.

* Note: This is actually enough batter for two 9-inch round cakes, or two 8-inch round cakes and at least 6 regular sized cupcakes.

The World’s Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Recipe originally taken from Joy the Baker.

Ingredients:
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + ½ cup dutch cocoa powder (unsweetened)
¾ tsp. sea salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Cream together the butter, 1-cup of the cocoa powder, and salt. The mixture will be quite thick.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the powdered sugar about ½ a cup at a time. Turn your mixer down to low speed and alternately add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.

As the sugar becomes incorporated into the butter, increase the speed of your mixer to high and beat the frosting until smooth.

In another small bowl, stir together the heavy cream and remaining ½ cup of cocoa powder.

Turn the mixer down to medium speed and pour the cream into your frosting, slowly and steadily, until the frosting reaches your preferred consistency. You may not need all of the cream mixture.

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes

It’s June?! How did this happen? Summer vacation starts tomorrow. Tomorrow I am officially closer to 30 than 20. The last few weeks have been spent in and out of town, running around like a madwoman, readying myself for the sunshine-laden summer. I’m ready. I’m hoping that the next few months are full of new cooking projects, more kid-friendly and involved recipes. We’ll see.

In the meantime, here’s a recipe for some lemon cupcakes that started on a whim, ended up delicious, and a new go-to staple. They’re easy. You can skip the topping entirely and consider them a muffin :) I didn’t include step-by-step photos this time… mostly because I don’t have them. Like I said, this started on a whim. I had no idea how they’d come out. Try them. They’re easy. Lemony. Summery. Vanilla-y.

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes approximately 6 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2½ tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Grease 6 muffin cups or line with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, mixing until the ingredients are creamy.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, lemon zest, baking powder and sea salt. Mix thoroughly.

Add the vanilla extract to the lemon juice. Turn the mixer on low and alternate adding the dry ingredients and wet ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture until everything is well combined.

Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake should be clean or have a few dry crumbs stuck on it.

For the topping:

Lemony Ricemellow Topping

Ingredients:

¾ tsp. egg replacer + 1 tbsp. water OR one egg white
¾ cup ricemellow fluff (marshmallow crème if you prefer)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (I prefer meyer lemons to anything else)
¼ tsp. cream of tartar

Directions:

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg replacer and water or your egg white until stiff peaks form. Beat in the ricemallow fluff and lemon juice at high power, until the mixture is white and glossy looking (1 – 2 minutes).

Add in the confectioner’s sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes on high power. Add in the cream of tartar and beat on high until stiff peaks appear. This will take anywhere from 10 – 15 minutes. You can’t really over-mix and it’s better to mix it too long than not long enough.

Once the cupcakes are completely cool (not even slightly warm!) use a pastry bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped to pipe the ricemellow onto the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

Chocolate High Top Cupcakes

My sister recently told me she was glad my cooking skills got better, reminding me of a time I tried to cook a whole egg in the microwave, shell included. I don’t remember this particular event, although thinking about even attempting such a ridiculous idea, I’m not sure how I could forget. Therefore I conclude she’s making it up. Or she did it herself. This is the same sister, after all, who continuously told me I wasn’t really part of the family: my parents had found me in an egg, somewhere in the local garbage dump, and brought me home to hatch. Sisters aren’t the most reliable source for accurate memories regarding embarrassing experiences. : ) Haha

For as long as I can remember, baking has always been more of a challenge for me than any other cooking technique. My cooking skills have improved over the last few years. A lot. My baking skills… they’ve taken more time. I finally figured out how to bake a cupcake that looks like a cupcake is supposed to. Gasp! I am good at over-baking the outsides of things and leaving the centers raw.

Not only did these cupcakes turn out cupcake-LOOKING, they were moist and tender inside, the chocolate was tasty but not overbearing, the top was fun and messy to eat. While they did take more time than I planned on (mostly because I had an epic FAIL that will be noted further in this post), they’re more than worth the effort.

Kid and adult tested and approved, test subjects ranging from age 5 to 68. : )

Chocolate High Top Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
6 tbsp. butter, brought to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Dagoba baking cacao)
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the “High Top”:
1½ tsp. egg replacer (powdered “egg”) + 2 tbsp. water — OR 1 egg white
1½ cups ricemellow fluff (marshmallow creme can be used if you’re into that)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. cream of tartar

For the Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk, or dark depending on your preference)
1 tbsp. organic shortening

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Either grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper liners, and set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until well incorporated and the mixture is creamy and light.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Mix well.
Alternate the dry ingredients and milk into the butter/sugar mixture, until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

Fill the muffin liners about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for about 25 minutes. (I check ‘em at 20 minutes, just in case.) A toothpick inserted into the middle of each cupcake should come out clean or with a few dry crumbs on it. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before proceeding.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the high top mixture.

In the bowl of your mixer (clean and wiped free of any moisture), beat the egg replacer and water or egg white until stiff white peaks form. Beat in the ricemellow fluff and vanilla extract on high power, until the mixture is white and glossy looking (about 1-2 minutes).

Next, add in the confectioner’s sugar about half a cup at a time, making sure each new addition is well mixed in. Add in the cream of tartar and beat the mixture on HIGH until stiff peaks appear. This will take about 10 – 15 minutes of beating on high power. The mixture should be able to stick to a wooden spoon like this, without moving:

That is where my epic fail happened. I thought the ricemallow mixture was good to go when it started looking thick, as if when applied to the cupcakes with a pastry bag, nice high tops would be easy to make. I had beat the mixture for about 2 minutes. This was the result:

Each pretty fluffy layer I made simply disintegrated into itself, turning into a thick, sticky, puddle. Don’t worry, I fixed it, by sticking the puddle-top cakes into the fridge to set (about 5-10 minutes) while I re-beat the remaining ‘mallow mixture to full stiff-peakness.

Fill the fully-ready ricemallow mixture into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with one corner snipped off, and pipe the “hats” onto each cupcake, trying to get them anywhere from 3 to 4 inches tall.

Allow the high topped cupcakes to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

While the ricemallow top is setting, prepare the chocolate glaze. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a double broiler, stirring consistently until the mixture is completely smooth. Allow the chocolate to cool completely. If you try to glaze the cupcakes while the chocolate’s still warm or hot, the ricemallow top will simply melt off.

Once the cupcakes are set and the chocolate’s cool, dunk each cupcake top. (This works well if you pour the chocolate into a drinking glass that’s wide enough to dunk the whole cupcake top.)
You can add sprinkles, coconut flakes, etc. for decoration while the chocolate is still wet.

Place the chocolate-dipped cupcakes in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to set.

Makes approximately 12 cupcakes.

* *There is no way to gracefully or neatly eat these. Get messy. It’s part of the fun.