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Recipe: Almond Butter Cupcakes with Almond Butter Buttercream.

almond butter cupcake

I am a super huge peanut butter fanatic. However, there is one thing better than peanut butter – almond butter. If you have never had almond butter, I suggest you run out right now and get yourself some (unless you’re allergic to nuts – then DO NOT DO THAT). But if you like peanut butter, and you like almonds, then you’ll love almond butter. And what’s the one thing that’s even better than almond butter? Dessert made with almond butter, of course!

I had purchased a jar of it recently, and was sitting around daydreaming about what to bake next, when images of said jar floated into my mind…and I decided to try baking almond butter cupcakes with almond butter buttercream. I started with a recipe for a regular cake made with brown sugar, and carefully adjusted the ingredients based on the addition of the almond butter. The batter looked (and tasted) pretty fab. So far, so good.

almond butter makes batter better.

almond butter makes batter better.

I baked the cupcakes, and while I waited for them to cool, I made almond butter buttercream to top them. If you’re gonna do it, you might as well go all out.

cooling time.

cooling time.

I just did a simple spiral top with a large round tip. They looked like so:

all almond, all the time.

all almond, all the time.

Because it was right before Halloween, I even used orange and black baking cups. I put them in a box, and sent them out into the world to be enjoyed (but kept three for myself and my boyfriend as he LOVES almonds even more than I).

what's in the box?!

what’s in the box?!

People went nuts over them. (See what I did there?). Anyway, here’s the recipe…Enjoy!

Almond Butter Cupcakes.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup flour

1/2 cup fat free milk

1/4 cup almond butter

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, egg, oil, and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, and add to the first bowl, along with the milk, and beat together until just combined. Add the almond butter, and beat until smooth. Line a muffin tin with paper liners, and fill each about halfway. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about a dozen cupcakes.

Almond Butter Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup almond butter

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

4 tablespoons heavy cream

What you’ll do:

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and almond butter. Add the almond extract, and the sugar – one cup at a time, beating well between each cup. Add the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time – you may want to add more or less than 4 tablespoons, depending on your desired consistency. I found 4 to be perfect.

 

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Recipe: Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

pumpkin cookies

I hate when things go to waste. I had this partial can of pumpkin leftover from the pumpkin fudge I just made, and I really wanted to put it to good use. But I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to use it for. I wanted to make cookies, so I started looking up pumpkin cookie recipes, but nothing really tickled my fancy. So, I decided to make up my own pumpkin cookie recipe. I started with my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I added oatmeal and pumpkin.

orange you glad i added pumpkin to the batter?

orange you glad i added pumpkin to the batter?

I also used mini chocolate chips instead of the regular sized ones. I’d like to say this was a conscious decision, but in reality, the mini chips were all I had in the house, and I didn’t feel like running out last minute and picking up a bag of the bigger ones. Thankfully, it seemed to all turn out ok.

mini chips to the rescue.

mini chips to the rescue.

They turned out soft, chewy, and not at all flat. So, the experiment was a success, and the leftover pumpkin definitely did not go to waste. All is right in the kitchen. :)

happiness is a pumpkin cookie.

happiness is a pumpkin cookie.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

What you’ll need:

5 oz.   shortening

8 oz.   sugar

.25 oz.  salt

3 oz. (about 2)  eggs

.25 oz.  vanilla

12 oz.  flour

.25 oz.  baking soda

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup cinnamon flavored oatmeal (about 2 of the pouches)

6 oz. mini chocolate chips

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs and the vanilla, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, and slowly add it to the wet ingredients. Add the pumpkin and the oatmeal, and mix well. Fold in the mini chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop dough into rounded tablespoon sized balls, at least an inch apart onto the sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

 

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Oh, (Pumpkin) Fudge.

pumpkin fudge

I mean this both literally, and figuratively.

I made fudge the other day – pumpkin fudge, to be specific. I was excited – I found the recipe on allrecipes.com, and it sounded amazing and looked pretty easy, especially with my pastry school background. Well, one can never be too confident.

As I moved through the stages of the recipe, things seemed to be going fine – although each step took forever – I wondered if maybe I was doing something wrong – but I came to learn later that was actually the one thing I was doing right. The mixture finally reached 232 degrees, and I stirred in the spices. And here, is where I dropped the hubcap full of lug nuts –  instead of patiently waiting for the mixture to cool on its own to 110 (which seemed to be taking an ETERNITY, especially after already having waited and waited and waited for it to finally become hot enough), I decided to place the bowl over an ice bath. BIG MISTAKE. It sure did speed up the cooling process, but it made the end result more like pumpkin caramel than fudge.

soft and chewy pumpkin... caramel?

soft and chewy pumpkin… caramel?

So, in the end, it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. At the same time, it was still pretty good – good enough where I’d intentionally do this again to yield the same result. It tasted like concentrated pumpkin pie squares.

pumpkin pie bites.

pumpkin pie bites.

And seriously, who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? I’ll just have to keep the fact that it was supposed to be fudge a secret. ;)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 16, 2013 in candy, confections, holidays, Indulgences

 

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Long Time, No Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins (with cream cheese filling).

chocolate pumpkin muffins

I haven’t posted much recently. Honestly, I really just haven’t had much to say. So, I decided to wait until I did have something to say, and that something was also post-worthy. And finally, that day has come. Rejoice!

I’m probably the most happy about this, as I was getting a little worried I’d never have anything to say again. But patience is a virtue, and good things do come to those who wait (and bake). Being that Fall happened, I got the itch to make something pumpkin flavored. I was tired of the same old thing I make every year, and I started trying to come up with something new. Chocolate pumpkin! That sounded new and delicious, but of course, when I did a search, I found many recipes for this very thing. So turns out, this was only new to me. But that’s ok, I still wanted to give it a whirl. I found a recipe from Country Living for  Chocolate Pumpkin Cake/Cupcakes which sounded the most like what I had in mind. I went ahead and altered the recipe slightly, and began creating that wonderful chemical reaction known as batter. And boy, what a batter it was. I briefly considered not baking it at all. But I didn’t think I could really offer cups of chocolate pumpkin batter to anyone and they be as excited about it as I was. Plus, it really would be a giant mess to transport.

hey, batter, batter, batter...sa-wing batter!

hey, batter, batter, batter…sa-wing batter!

So, I decided to bake them. But the muffins alone just weren’t enough. I still wanted more. So, I decided to add a new twist to it – I added a cream cheese filling.

a cup of heaven.

a cup of heaven.

I baked them, and they really turned out pretty fantastic. My only complaint – I used a little too much filling (although some may say that’s downright inconceivable).

an overflow of awesome.

an overflow of awesome.

Anyway, here’s my take on these. Experiment, Eat, and Enjoy!

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins.

what you’ll need:

2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp flour

1 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar

1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 eggs

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk + vinegar, pumpkin, and vanilla. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients, one-third at a time, alternating between the two, until everything is mixed into one homogeneous batter.

Line muffin tins with paper liners, and drop two tablespoons of batter into each cup (you may need to spread it around so it fills the bottom of the cup up entirely). Drop in one tablespoon of cream cheese filling*, and then cover it with an additional tablespoon of batter. bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*Cream Cheese Filling:

In a large bowl, mix together 2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened), 3.5 oz of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until smooth.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 25, 2013 in cupcakes, Indulgences, muffins, recipes

 

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Symphony in Cinnamon Maple.

My friend’s birthday was the other day, and I wanted to make a cinnamon maple cake with maple buttercream, since he was a big fan of the last one I made. That one included banana and was in cupcake form, and this time I wanted to try it minus the banana, and as a small cake — 6″, to be exact. I also got to thinking that I really hadn’t done much in the realm of cake decorating over the past few months, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to bring something fancy to the table. I always wanted to try my hand at a rosette cake, so I went for it.

a white icing waltz.

a white icing waltz.

Not only did this cake wind up looking rather pretty, but it tasted pretty darn good, based on the feedback I received from those who dared to sample it, in all it’s rich, billowy, sweetness.

a maple concerto.

a maple concerto.

Something about this cake reminded me of music – classical music, to be exact. Possibly the way each rosette just flowed seamlessly into the next, like a melody or a symphony by Strauss. Maybe it was the way the cake and icing complimented each other so well, like an operatic soloist who sings with the music, yet creates a unique and beautiful melody in her/his own right. So yeah, this cake was kinda like that. :)

 

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A Double Shot of Lemon (with whipped cream).

This past weekend, I was having company over, and I realized I didn’t have much time to make dessert. Knowing that my reputation was at stake, I had to come up with something unique, delicious….and quick.

I had just recently made a batch of lemon whipped cream (to use as a topping for a cocktail – which is another post unto itself), and I had a lot of it leftover. Great – I had the topping, but now what do I put it on? I could make another Key Lime Pie… I had all the ingredients for it still on-hand…but I wanted something else. Something light and lovely. Lemon Sponge Cake. In cupcake form. Genius.

all lemon, all the time.

all lemon, all the time.

Now ultimately, I would have loved to dust the top with the zest of a real lemon, however I only had fresh limes. So in keeping with the them, I decided to use the next best thing – yellow sanding sugar.

just like lemon.

just like lemon.

Anyway, I have to say, the lemon whipped cream was really the superstar of this dessert. So, here’s the recipe – it’s the perfect addition to summer cakes and cocktails alike – it goes wonderfully atop an orange soda spiked with whipped cream vodka, in case you were wondering. :)

Lemon Whipped Cream.

What you need:

8 oz heavy cream (chilled)

1.25 oz confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp lemon extract

What you’ll do:

First of all, put the mixing bowl you are going to use in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cream whips better in a cold bowl. Using the whip attachment, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and the lemon extract, and whip until stiff peaks are formed. Do NOT over-whip, or you’ll wind up with lemon butter. Which might actually not be that bad, but you certainly can’t top cupcakes with it.

 
 

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It’s a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink cupcake.

My favorite word is “serendipity.” Mainly because I like the way it rolls off of the tongue, but the meaning of word itself appeals to me as well – “a fortunate accident.” The movie of the same name with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale also happens to be one of my favorites, but that’s another story.

These cupcakes I recently made are a perfect example of serendipitous-ness.

serendipitous sparkling.

serendipitous sparkling.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been asked to make cupcakes for my friend’s daughter to bring to school. Well, truth be told, I made the cupcakes twice. The second batch was what my friend received. The first batch, upon first glance, did not meet my standards. First of all, they were rather small. I’m thinking that was due to two factors – 1. the baking cups were not filled enough, and 2. the batter was not whipped enough so there was not enough air in it so they didn’t puff as much as I would have liked. I ate one, and then forced my boyfriend to eat one too (ok, so there was no real “forcing” involved here). We both thought they tasted great. But I just couldn’t get past the look. They were like runts of a cupcake litter. And if my standards are not met, they shall not pass into the hands of others.

the big pink.

the not-so-big pink.

Or so I thought.

Because I refuse to ever throw perfectly good cake away, I packed them up and put them in the fridge, hoping to find a good use for them. I settled on bringing them in to my office as a random surprise treat. I wanted to make a batch of lemon buttercream as I’d been daydreaming about it all week, so this was the perfect excuse. I also felt like making them pretty. So I colored the icing pink, and threw on some sparkles to give them that extra something fabulous.

glitter on the cupcake.

glitter on the cupcake.

As I was decorating them, I started thinking “heck, these ain’t so bad after all.” Sure, they’re small, but maybe that’s just fine. Once they were iced and sprinkled, I figured I’d better eat another one, you know, just to make sure they were ok. And they were. A little more than ok, as a matter of fact.

The funny thing – everyone loved them. Some even went as far commenting on how these were the perfect sized cupcake. I guess maybe I’m on the right track with this “Small Indulgences” thing. It’s really NOT the size that counts, after all.

 
 

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A Cupcake for the Teacher.

A friend of mine with a young daughter who was just about to finish school, asked me if I’d be interested in making some cupcakes for her daughter to take to school for a few of her teachers. Sounds like your standard-run-of-the-mill request right? Almost. These particular cupcakes were to be personalized according to the specialty of the teacher – music notes for the music teacher, etc. They were to be packed in boxes of 4, according to their various designs. The cake itself was the same for all of them – vanilla. The icing was the same, too – buttercream. The only thing separating these cupcakes were how they looked.

There were Stars for the Principal….

the stars are bright, and big at night.

the stars are bright, and big at night.

….Music Notes for the Music Teacher….

cupcakes rock.

cupcakes rock.

….and Keys for the Night Custodian (who helped them out of a jam on many more than one occasion).

the key to sweet, sweet happiness.

the key to sweet, sweet happiness.

Honestly, I think my friend was on to something here. These could easily be altered to suit any teacher –  equations for the Math Teacher…a test tube for the Science Teacher….a paint brush for the Art Teacher…or even a gym sock for the Gym Teacher…(an icing gym sock, not a real one, of course). ;)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 25, 2013 in cake, cupcakes, decorations, Indulgences

 

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Recipe: Cinnamon Banana Maple Cupcakes.

“I even picked all of the chocolate chips off of the paper after I finished the cupcake. There may have been a bit of paper stuck to some of them. Oh well!” 

That’s the sign of a good cupcake – if you’re willing to risk eating the paper. And these cupcakes apparently were paper-eating-worthy.

maple cupcake open

worth the risk.

I made them because a friend suggested it – she wanted a banana maple cake, and thought I could make a pretty good one. I was flattered, and of course, accepted the challenge with open arms (and oven).

“The cupcake was piquant, thanks.”  

No, thank YOU for eating. There was other feedback  along these lines, but most with some unsuitable for posting expletives used to stress the deliciousness experienced….

pretty and piquant.

pretty and piquant.

I modified an existing coffee cake recipe of mine, including the addition of maple syrup and a packet of banana flavored oatmeal. I substituted the eggs with white vinegar (my new favorite baking trick) and topped it with a maple buttercream, based on my Signature Buttercream, but, like the cake, with the addition of maple syrup.

“The icing is amazzzzzzzzzing.”

I guess it worked. :)

fabulously frosted.

fabulously frosted.

Anyway, because they were such a hit with the masses, I’m going to share the recipe with you now, so you, too, can win friends and influence people with delectable desserts and captivating cupcakes.

“These are really friggin’ good.”

Heck yeah, they are. Now go wash my car and fold my laundry, and maybe you can have another… ;)

two for the road.

two for the road.

Of course I’m kidding. But I’m not kidding about how good they are – see for yourself!

Cinnamon Banana Maple Cupcakes.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tblsp white vinegar

3 tsp canola oil

1 cup flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 packet banana oatmeal

1/2 cup half and half

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup cinnamon chips

What You’ll Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, white vinegar, and canola oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and oatmeal, and add to the sugar/vinegar/oil. Mix until just combined, and add the milk and maple syrup. Mix well. Fold in the cinnamon chips. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners, and fill each about halfway. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about a dozen cupcakes.

 Maple Buttercream Frosting. (*this recipe is measured all in weight,except for the maple syrup)

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter (softened)

4 oz shortening

1 lb 4 oz confectioners sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

What you’ll do:

Cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add maple syrup. If you’d like a thinner frosting, add water, a very little bit at a time until desired consistency is reached.

 

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Ye Olde Beer and Cake.

So, I have this thing with combining baking and alcoholic beverages. For a while, I was into making cupcakes that represented various cocktails, such as the mojito, or the piña colada. When I discovered an old prohibition-era recipe for bourbon cookies, I got into making said cookies with other hard liquors (see Honey Whiskey Balls). But now I have a brand new idea, that actually stemmed from a pretty old one. I decided that I was going to make chocolate beer cupcakes this weekend for a Memorial Day Party I was attending. I made similar cupcakes once before, but this time I used a different beer (Harpoon Chocolate Stout) and my standard chocolate cake recipe.

the not-so-secret ingredient.

the not-so-secret ingredient.

The cupcakes turned out great – just as I had envisioned. The beer toned down the sweetness, and the cream cheese glaze icing gave it that little something fabulous. Together, they made the perfect combination.

beer + cake = tlf.

beer + cake = tlf.

However, this is merely the beginning. The success of these cupcakes spawned a discussion – it would appear that beer and cake seem to go together. They’re like, MFEO. And at that moment, I realized what I needed to do: open up a tavern/bakery that features the pairing of the two. And I shall call it: Ye Olde Beer and Cake.

let them eat cake (and drink beer).

let them eat cake (and drink beer).

Now this tavern/bakery (tavernakery?) would specialize in selecting beers and cakes that are the perfect match – flavors and styles that go together like bread and butter.  It’d be like…heaven.

heaven is a cake on earth.

heaven is a cake on earth.

So anyway, there you have it. Keep an eye out for Ye Olde Beer and Cake, coming soon to a town near you. And just think, you can say you knew me when…

 
 

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