It’s a Cupcake Graveyard.

I love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday. Anyone who knows me, wouldn’t have a hard time figuring that out – I love dressing up and I love candy. But I also love Halloween-themed desserts. For me, they are the most fun to make. I’ve already started this year, with my first batch of sweet Halloween fun, in the form of Graveyard Cupcakes.

Rest in delicious peace.

Rest in delicious peace.

I used a chocolate cake for the cupcakes themselves, and made my soon-to-be-famous cookies and cream buttercream (a girl can dream.) I piped large uneven dollops of the icing on top of the cupcakes, making the perfect base for a cookie grave.

Soon.

Soon.

Then, I wrote on the cookie tombstones, and put them into place on the tops of the cupcakes.

Death by Chocolate?

Death by Chocolate?

The result was a Halloween treat to die for.

————————————————————————————————

Jeanine’s Soon-To-Be-Famous Cookies and Cream Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter

5 oz shortening

1 lb 4oz confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tblsp water

8 crushed oreos (or faux-reos)

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and shortening. Add the sugar, vanilla, water, and crushed cookies. Beat until smooth, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

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Mummies and Spiders and Eyes, Oh My!

DSC_0609

I made some Halloween cupcakes today, for no real reason or purpose, other than it’s almost Halloween and I felt like being creative. I baked up two dozen apple caramel cupcakes, which, although quite tasty, kinda reminded me of that apple cinnamon oatmeal from the pouch I used to eat as a kid. In this case, the cupcakes were to serve more as a canvas anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned, and besides, I liked that oatmeal. I decided to do four different Halloween-ish designs.

Design #1: Pumpkin.

the obvious choice.

the obvious choice.

I had recently made these same cupcakes for a wedding, and I still had some of the candy corn pumpkins left over, and I wanted to put them to some good use. So I did.

Design #2: Mummies.

mummy is so yummy.

mummy is so yummy.

A friend had posted a pic of similar cupcake mummies to my facebook page, and I thought they were just so darn cute, I had to try them myself.

Design #3: Spiders.

is that a spider on your cupcake?

is that a spider on your cupcake?

I had done these a few years ago, but with mini Oreos. All I had were a bunch of regular Oreos in the cabinet, so I opted to try these using those this time, instead. Plus, I had a tub of cookies and cream frosting leftover from that same wedding a couple weeks ago (I made Oreo cupcakes for it as well), so I busted it out,slathered it on, and slapped a giant killer Oreo Spider on top.

Design #4: Eyeballs.

Eat with your eyes...

eat with your eyes…

I was thinking of these the other day when I was telling a friend I made eyeball cupcakes like 6 years ago, using a green lifesaver for the retina. I had no lifesavers, but I did have a ton of light purple icing…so that happened.

All in all, I think they turned out pretty cute, and I think I’ll bring them in to work to share with my coworkers on Halloween. Let’s just hope they all liked that cinnamon oatmeal in the pouch as much as I did growing up….

taste like...oatmeal?

tastes like…oatmeal?

The Cupcakes of Summer.

I love summer. I always have. It’s my favorite season. Knowing this, I’m not sure why I remain in the Northeast, where there’s that season-that-shall-not-be-named, full of snow, ice and misery. I believe my love of summer stems from my love of being outdoors. So for the majority of summer, I’m out there more than in here. Thus the reason I have posted anything in over a month.

biker chic.

biker chic.

I have, however been doing a lot of baking recently. so I figured the time has come to share it with the universe. Last week, I made two different kinds of cupcakes for a post-wedding celebration. The first of the two was Cookies and Cream. I made up the batter and mixed in crushed fake oreos (faux-reos).

batter up.

batter up.

Next, I baked them (obviously).

coolin'.

coolin’.

Then, I decorated them with cookies and cream frosting, and half a faux-reo on top.

topped off.

topped off.

The other type of cupcake was Chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I baked those as well (duh). They rose rather nicely.

on the rise.

on the rise.

Next, I topped them with a large dollop of cream cheese frosting.

like snow capped cupcake mountains.

like snow capped cupcake mountains.

Finally, I sprinkled them with shaved chocolate.

after shave.

after shave.

I took super close up shots of them both, because I’m obsessed with super close up shots of food.

cookies and cream super close up.

cookies and cream super close up.

and…

Chocolate and Cream Cheese super close up.

chocolate and cream cheese super close up.

It was fun making these. It made me want to make more cupcakes again. So I think I just might. But first, an oreo coffee cheesecake for National Cheesecake Day. It’s cooling RIGHT NOW!  Stay tuned for more details…. 🙂

 

Cupcake Decorating Teacher for Hire!

cupcake class flyer

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.

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.

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.

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.

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). 😉

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.