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).

Advertisements

The Easiest Pumpkin Cake in the Universe.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to bake a pumpkin cake, because I can. so I did. It was a pumpkin-shaped pumpkin cake, to be precise. It ended up looking like this:

Pumpkin shape; pumpkin cake.

Pumpkin shape; pumpkin cake.

It started off looking like this:

It's a cake in a box.

It’s a cake in a box.

Yes, that’s a boxed carrot cake mix. I told you this was easy. You open the box, pour the mix into a bowl, and blend in the three ingredients on the back of the box:

Mix as directed.

Mix as directed.

In addition to these, all you need is 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, so add that in, too, and mix well. Pour the batter into two greased 8″ pans, and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. While the cakes are cooling, make the pumpkin frosting, which is also super easy:

2# conf sugar

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup pumkpin puree

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tblsp water

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, until smooth and creamy. The frosting will be the perfect orange color as is.

When icing the cake, keep the layers rounded, and keep the rounder one on top.

waiting to turn into a pumpkin.

waiting to turn into a pumpkin.

Add your decorations (stem, leaves, whatever you desire) and there you have it. A pumpkin-shaped pumpkin cake.

Easy and delicious.

Easy, festive, and delicious.

I love fall baking. So much pumpkin, so little time…

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?

Recipe: Pumpkin Pumpkin Cake.

pumpkin small

I really wanted to use the rest of the can of pumpkin that I opened for the Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies before it went bad, so I just had to make another pumpkin dessert, stat. Also, while on the hunt for pumpkin cider, we stumbled across this, and I had to make it mine:

have your pumpkin and drink it, too.

have your pumpkin and drink it, too.

As if these weren’t signs enough, the universe was truly speaking to me, when I came across this perfect pan:

perfect pumpkin pan.

perfect pumpkin pan.

Now that all the pumpkin planets were aligned, I went to work. First, I started brainstorming (while drinking Pumpkin Cider for inspiration) until I came up with a new pumpkin cake recipe that pleased me. (Note: the cider is NOT in the recipe, but does make an enjoyable accompanying refreshment).

Pumpkin Cider not included.

Pumpkin Cider not included.

Next, I baked the cake. I was concerned that due to the shape of the pan, the cake would stick, so I really really greased it. (Like REALLY greased it).

greased up.

greased up.

The over-greasing worked, and the cake popped out perfectly – no breaks, no uneven parts. I then went ahead whipped up some pumpkin buttercream using the liqueur, and proceeded to create some art.

still life with pumpkin.

still life with pumpkin.

I shared it with friends, and it was a big hit! And you can make it, too! Here’s how.

Pumpkin Shaped Pumpkin Cake.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 tblsp canola oil

1 tblsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup pumpkin liqueur

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, egg, and oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Add the liqueur and pumpkin puree, and mix until smooth. Pour into a very well greased pumpkin shaped pan. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Pumpkin Liqueur Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup shortening

1 lb confectioners sugar

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 tblsp pumpkin liqueur

What you’ll do:

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening sugar and pumpkin puree. Add the liqueur, a little at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

The ice your cake and decorate it as you see fit! The icing will already be orange from the pumpkin puree, so there’s that. 🙂

 

Recipe: Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies.

pumpkin cookies3

I love pumpkin. I love the fact that everything has a seasonal “pumpkin” or “pumpkin spice” flavor. I want to buy it all and hoard it for the rest of year. But I fear that if I do, I will be poor and hungry, since I’d grow sick of eating nothing but pumpkin. So for now, I’ll just continue to love it in the fall.

Because it’s such a small window of time, I try and take full advantage, making as many pumpkin desserts as I possibly can. This will be number 2 so far this season. Since the last thing I made was a Pumpkin Almond Spice Cake, I wanted to do cookies for this next round. I thought I’d made pumpkin cookies before, but I found no record of such a thing in my binder, so I started from scratch and began a search for a recipe to use as a foundation. I found this one, and it sounded like a perfect platform from which to jump right in and create.

there's something pumpkin going on.

there’s something pumpkin going on.

I mixed up the recipe, pretty much as it was written, but I didn’t like the glaze idea, so I decided instead to add two cups of one of my absolute favorite baking accoutrements, Cinnamon Chips.

it's beginning to look a lot like pumpkin.

it’s beginning to look a lot like pumpkin.

I used my trusty mini ice cream scoop, which is perfectly cookie-sized, and scooped them out onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.

here's the scoop.

here’s the scoop.

I baked them at 350 for about 15 minutes, and they were perfect. Seriously. They were not burned, yet were cooked all the way through, and remained soft and chewy and delicious throughout their entire lifespan.

soft. chewy. cinnamon chip-y.

soft. chewy. cinnamon chip-y.

The recipe made a lot of them, too. I had baked 3 trays of 15 cookies each, and had to stop because someone was nagging me about using the oven. In his defense, it was dinner time. So I wrapped the rest of the dough and put it in the fridge and plan to bake it off this week!

 

Pumpkin Almond Chocolate Covered Cake Balls (or “How a Cheap Box Cake Became Something Totally Amazing”).

cake balls closeSo, the weekend after Halloween, I was browsing the cheap residual tricks and treats left on the shelves of the store, seeing if there was anything worth spending 92 cents on, when I came across a super discounted pumpkin box cake Yes, folks, a box cake. And guess what? That’s right, I bought it. It was the right price, and truth be told, box cakes do make pretty good cakes. Do I feel like I’m cheating when I make them? A little. But I told myself that this would be completely acceptable in this case, as long as I found something creative to do with it. And, by jove, I think I did.

I decided to bake the cake into two 8″ rounds. I froze one, and crumbled up the other one in a large mixing bowl. Remember that almond butter buttercream I made for the almond cupcakes? I still had about half of that left, so I threw that into the bowl, and rolled the mix into cake balls.

pumpkin + almond = TLF

pumpkin + almond = TLF

Next, I put them in the fridge for a bit, so they solidified a little and became “dippable.” (that might not be a word). Next, I dipped them in melted white chocolate.

the base coat.

the base coat.

I let them sit until the chocolate hardened. Then, I melted some dark chocolate, and drizzled it on top.

the finishing touch.

the finishing touch.

I let the dark chocolate harden as well, then put them back into the fridge for a bit more, to be 100% sure they were good to go. I then removed them, packed them up, and brought them to a party. They truly made the perfect party dessert – easy to transport and easy to eat without a mess! From box cake to beyond!

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.

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.

Recipe Saturday: Storm Cakes.

What do you do when the thing you’ve feared more than anything since you were about 5 years old is finally about to happen in the form of a superfreak “frankenstorm” with a path that appears to have curved intentionally to slam dead smack into your house? Bake, of course.

Enter: The Storm Cake.

I figured maybe by making a cake in honor of the storm, it would ease the blow – you know, the old “offerings to the angry gods to keep them from unleashing their wrath” kinda thing. Anyway, I began thinking, what kind of cake could live up to such a great task? What goes into a “storm cake?”  More importanly, what doesn’t? I couldn’t just frivolously use up my storm-essentials like eggs and milk. Not at a time like this. No, this cake must be egg and milk-free. But what to add? Chocolate chips seemed like a good choice. And coconut. Oh, and oats. And how ’bout some crushed oreos? So far so good. But a storm has clouds, and lots of them. Marshmallows seemed like a good cloud-representation, however, I had absolutely zero marshmallows in the house, and I was not about to go to the supermarket in the midst of the storm-preparation frenzy for mere marshmallows. So, I improvised.

peep no more.

I mixed it all together, and the batter looked like a jumbled mess – which was rather storm-like.

the wrath of cake.

I opted for cupcakes, and baked them up. When I took them out of the oven, they were bumpy, with things sticking out here and there – yet they rose to life as any normal cupcake should. These were truly Frankencupcakes.

it’s alive!

I topped them with a swirling cloud of cinnamon whipped cream, of which I originally made as topping for the Pumpkin Rosemary Pie, but still had a ton left over.

here comes the twister.

I had to eat one, to see if they lived up to the hype. And unlike I hope the real storm does, they did. The Storm Cake of the Century, I’d say. Give it a try and see for yourself. And if you don’t have all the ingredients, that’s ok – use what you’ve got. No two storms are exactly alike.

———————————————————————————–

Storm Cakes.

What you’ll need:

2 cups warm water

3/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup coconut

1 cup oats

4 crushed oreos

3 ghost-shaped marshmallow peeps (cut up)

What you’ll do:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix until well combined and smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, oats, Oreos, and cut-up Peeps. Scoop into lined muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Should make about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. Cool, ice, and enjoy.

Save the Cake!!

I’m beginning to get a bit of a reputation among my baking friends and colleagues as a kind of “cake environmentalist,” in regards to my love of saving and reusing leftover cake scraps. In school, they nicknamed me “the leftover queen” because I couldn’t bear to throw anything away, and always wound up taking bags of dough, cake scraps, fillings, mousse, whatever – home with me. And truth be told, it rarely went to waste. Often times I was able to use it in another dessert concoction. Other times, I just ate it. At least it didn’t wind up in the trash.

Anyway, last week, a baking friend of mine (who, let me just say is the best cake sculptor I know – just check out her photos at Sweet Simplicity Cakes) was working on a wedding cake, and wound up with some leftover cake scraps. She texted me immediately and asked if I wanted them, to which I replied “Abso-freaking-lutely!” So she bagged the scraps and brought them to me. Granted, she did tell me there were a lot, but I was still not prepared for what I was presented with – the motherload of cake scraps. O joyous day!

bags of cake!

I carried the bag of bags home (it was not light, I tell ya), and I started thinking about what to do with them. A week went by, and I found that all I’d done was eat half of one of the bags, grabbing a scrap or two every time I opened the fridge. This was NOT going well. Something had to be done, ASAP. So tonight, I mixed one of the bags with some leftover cream cheese icing I had, and made cake balls.

balls of cake!

I dipped them in chocolate (milk and white) and sprinkled them with a little Halloween flair to keep things seasonal.

chocolate covered balls of cake! with sprinkles!

And then I ate two of them. So much for that 10 mile run today…