Fauxstess Cupcakes

Sometimes you just need a break.  Right Izzy?  A break from life on the first floor to explore the carpeted realm of the stairs and beyond.  Until she peed in Luke’s office.  Twice.  In one night.  I think someone was upset that her mom forgot to give her fresh hay in a reasonable timeframe.  What a fresh bunny we have.

But I’m talking about a different kind of break.  Yes, August is peach month and I’m sure you’ve seen enough posts about what to do with your 80 pounds of peaches you just couldn’t resist getting at the farmer’s market.

Well, there won’t be any of that here today.  I need a break.  A break from peaches and stone fruit, a break from zucchini and squash, because honestly, I can only eat so much of it before I’m thankful their season is over.

So let’s make something unseasonal.  Or rather, something that’s always in season.  Chocolate’s popularity never waxes and wanes; its versatility manifested in its ability to lend its flavors to other dishes while still remaining distinct.

I thought about a chocolate peach dessert.  I thought about it long and hard, but in the end decided I just wanted chocolate.  And marshmallow fluff.  Because that never goes out of style either, right?

Fauxstess Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 24-26 cupcakes

For the cake:
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp cake flour
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup canola oil
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
6 Tbsp water

For the filling and frosting swirl:
2 cups marshmallow fluff
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
½ tsp cream or milk

For the chocolate glaze:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, canola oil, 1½ cups of the sugar and the water.  Whisk to blend well.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy.  Continue beating, gradually adding in the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar, until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Add a quarter of the egg white mixture to the bowl with the batter to lighten.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until the batter is smooth and no streaks remain.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed, about 16-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the marshmallow fluff and butter in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar and salt and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes more.  Transfer the majority of the filling mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip (about ½” wide), reserving ½ cup in the mixing bowl.  Blend in the cream to the reserved filling mixture to make it smooth for piping the swirl on top of the cupcake.  Transfer this to another pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (like the kind you’d use to write words with). Chill until ready to use.

Fill the cupcakes by inserting the pastry tip directly into the center of each cupcake and squeezing in a dollop of the marshmallow mixture.  If excess filling comes out of the top, just scrape it off with a knife so the top of the cupcake is essentially smooth.

Make the chocolate glaze by placing the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or the microwave.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.  Take the cupcakes one at a time and invert them, dipping the top into the chocolate glaze.  Transfer them to a wire rack or baking sheet and let the glaze set.  (You can speed this process up by chilling in the refrigerator.)  Once the glaze is set, use the reserved portion of marshmallow frosting to pipe a uniform swirl across the top of each cupcake.  Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Bottomed Vanilla Cupcakes

It’s Monday.  I think that calls for cupcakes, don’t you?

While we’re at it, let’s make cookies too.  There’s nothing like a good sugar rush to make us forget the daily grind.  What?  You don’t want to bust out all the different pans it’ll take to make cookies and cupcakes?  Well I can’t blame you.

So let’s combine them into one fantastic dessert.  You heard me, chocolate chip cookie bottomed vanilla cupcakes.  It’s quite a mouthful, hah.

I made these for Luke’s brother’s birthday, and when I was deciding whether to make them or not, I was worried they might be too much.  Would the layers be distinct?  How would the textures of cookie and cupcake fit together?

All my worries about these cupcakes melted away as I took my first bite.  The cookie layer was firmer than the cupcake layer, and my taste buds could definitely discern the chocolate chip cookie from the vanilla cupcake.  My expectations for these cupcakes were easily surpassed.   I can’t wait to try this concept again swapping out different cookie doughs and cupcakes flavors.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bottomed Cupcakes

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Makes 20 or so cupcakes

For the cookie layer:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

¾ cup brown sugar, loosely packed

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

For the cupcake layer:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup milk

For the vanilla buttercream frosting:

 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp milk

First make the cookie dough.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Line two muffin tin with liners and give each a quick spritz of non-stick spray. Using a spoon also sprayed with non-stick spray, press about 1-2 tablespoons of cookie dough into the bottom of each liner.

Next, make the cupcakes.  Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined, then add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Using a large spoon, drop the batter on top of cookie dough mixture. Fill the liners until about 2/3 of the way up.  Bake cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, or until they spring back when touched.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Finally make the frosting.  Cream the butter in a large bowl until completely smooth and creamy.  Add in powdered sugar slowly and mix carefully to combine.  Add vanilla, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add milk 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.  If it’s too thin, add sugar gradually until it thickens.  Frost the cupcakes as desired and top with chocolate sprinkles.


Peaches n’ Cream Cupcakes & A Move

Well, it was a process, but we made it.  Sorry for my absence from this blog, but moving was quite tiring.  The movers came in at 8am Saturday morning, and left the new house at noon.  My dad came up that day to bring me some goodies and help us move things around, install air conditioners, etc.  Then we went out to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant that I wanted to try.  I’m always looking to seek out authentic restaurants that either disregard the Chinese American food staples, or combine the authentic with the American.  I had scallion pancakes, steamed dumplings and tea smoked duck with steamed buns.  Amazing.  I can’t wait until I have an iPhone and can take pictures of restaurant food.  Ugh.

Anyway, before I continue, I wanted to share some pics of the new house with you all.  Check out this kitchen.  There’s so much space, and I love it.  I’m incredibly excited to start baking, and figuring out the best place for taking food photos.

Check out that pot rack and sweet storage table the previous owners left us.

And there’s an island.

Did I mention the gas stove?

Dining room into the living room where Luke is relaxing

Also, we think we have successfully converted Izzy into a true-r version of a house bunny.  When we first moved in, we had to keep her in her pen in different parts of the house.

First on the porch…

Then in the dining room…

But now, we have the dining and living rooms sectioned off via baby gates, and Izzy has access to the foyer and kitchen.  I have a kitchen buddy!  And she’s adorable!!!

OMG House bunny!!

Relaxing in the foyer.

I think that’s enough about the new house for now, and I know you’re all pardoning my excitement.  I am pretty excited about these cupcakes though.

I made a pledge to myself back at the apartment to make more cupcakes.  They’re just so great and I don’t make enough of them.  I opened a 29oz can of peaches to make these pancakes, so I had to find other ways to use them.

And so, when I saw these cupcakes, well, it was a done deal.

A light vanilla cupcake with peach pieces baked inside, covered with vanilla buttercream and milk crumbs.  Yeah, it has summer written all over it.  I’d love to make these again with fresh peaches, and if any of you try, please let me know how it goes.

Now excuse me, I have a kitchen to cover in flour and sugar!

Peaches n’ Cream Cupcakes

Adapted from Hummingbird on High

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup whole milk

1 egg, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 oz fresh (or canned) peaches, sliced

For the vanilla buttercream frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 Tbsp whole milk

¼ tsp vanilla extract

For the milk crumb topping:

(makes more than you’ll need, feel free to halve)

¾ cup milk powder

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3 oz white chocolate, melted

Preheat oven 325 F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. Put flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and beat on slow speed with a hand mixer until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.  You could also use a wooden spoon or your fingers.  Your choice.  Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk egg, vanilla, and remaining milk together in a separate small bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated.

Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the batter is smooth, but do not overmix.

Divide the sliced peaches between the lined muffin cups so that the base of each is covered. Spoon the cupcake batter on top until two-thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Next, make the frosting.  Beat together the powdered sugar and butter in a large bowl until the mixture comes together.  Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl. Then, add the milk-vanilla mixture to the powdered sugar-butter mixture a couple of teaspoons at a time, stirring carefully.  Once all the milk has been incorporated, continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.  Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost as desired.

Lastly, make the milk crumb topping.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Divide your milk powder into two portions — one ½ cup portion, and one ¼ cup portion.  Combine the first ½ cup portion of milk powder with the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together until combined.  Add the melted butter and toss, using a rubber spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should be sandy at that point, and your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. Cool the crumbs completely.

Crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than 1/2 inch in diameter, and put the crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the second ¼ cup portion of milk crumbs and whisk together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Pour the 3 oz melted white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed. Continue tossing every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.  Top the frosted cupcakes with milk crumbs and enjoy!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

I have always been interested by Boston cream pie, as it is actually a cake.  Yet it’s called a pie.  According to Wikipedia, the dessert was first made in a hotel in Boston in 1896 by an Armenian-French chef.

And it was made the “official dessert” of Massachusetts in 1996.  I did not know that states could have an official dessert.  Massachusetts cheats a bit though.  We have a state dessert and a state cookie.  Which is chocolate chip by the way.  Missouri’s state dessert is the ice cream cone.  Ok, I need to get off Wikipedia now.  But not before I tell you that both Ohio and Oklahoma have multiple “state meals”…how does that work?  Oh and, the state “snack food” of Utah is jell-o, ok I’m done, I swear.

Sooo, back to Boston cream cake, I mean pie.  I remember the first time I attempted to make a full sized one with my friend Diego.  We used a cookbook with British measurements (by weight, not volume) without a kitchen scale in his mom’s kitchen.  His mom and I did all the work, and the cake-pie came out…well…edible.

My next attempt was last year for my stepfather’s birthday.  Much more success was achieved, and everyone was pleased. Which brings me to these cupcakes, made for my stepdad’s b-day again.  I guess he really likes Boston cream cake-pie.  I’ll have to think of another iteration for next year.  I’m thinking whoopie pies are a good way to go.

But for this year I made cupcakes.  Tasty vanilla cupcakes filled with pastry cream and topped with ganache.  Perfect for those of you who like your Boston cream pie-cake handheld and adorable.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Adapted from She Who Bakes

Makes 12-14 cupcakes

For the pastry cream:

2 large egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

2 Tbsp plus ½ tsp cornstarch

¼ tsp salt

1 cup 2% or whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:

3 large eggs

 1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ cup milk

For the ganache:

6 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

First make the pastry cream. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl until smooth.  Meanwhile, heat the sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Once the thickened mixture starts to bubble, remove the saucepan from heat.  Pour 1/3 of the thickened mixture into the yolks and whisk until smooth.  Return the yolk mixture back to the saucepan and place it back over heat. Add in the vanilla extract and stir it for another 4 mins.  Pour the cream into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Chill for at least 4 hours.

For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tray with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale, about 5 minutes.  Add in the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Place the butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, pour the mixture into the batter and beat well. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract. Scoop the batter into muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 15 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool.

Once the pastry cream has chilled, remove it from the fridge and beat it until it’s smooth. Set it aside while you make the ganache.

Put the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan.  Once it boils, pour it over the chocolate. Let it stand for 3 mins, then whisk until smooth.  Set aside to let it cool.

For the assembly: using a paring knife, cut out a cone the top of the cupcakes and set them aside.  Fill the holes with pastry cream.  Cut the bottoms off the cones so only the top remains, and place the tops over the pastry cream, pressing down.  Using a spoon or an offset spatula, spread about a tablespoon of the chocolate ganache over the tops of the cupcakes.  Let the ganache set for 15 mins (putting the cupcakes in the fridge will expedite the process) and serve!

Chocolate Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yesterday I had an idea.  In an earlier post this week, I semi-vented, semi-complained about the very different tastes Luke and I possess, and how I find ways to deal with it.  I do most of my meal planning on two virtual post-it notes on my Mac dashboard, which means Luke has no idea what I’m making unless I announce it, or he arrives home and it’s sitting on a plate for him.

If it’s the former situation, he often forgets what I tell him I’m going to make.  So I came up with a solution.  Yesterday we bought a white board calendar where I now write down what I plan to make on each day.  This way he doesn’t have to keep asking, and we’ve even decided to let him make requests…twice a month.

I think I like this new system, especially since I’m a pretty compulsive planner.

I made these cupcakes for my friend Kelly’s birthday.  I remembered her telling me that she likes red velvet cake, and this recipe immediately came to mind.

I’m normally not a huge fan of red velvet cake, (it’s a dumbed-down chocolate cake with red food coloring…what’s so amazing about that?) but the addition of the little ganache balls in the center of each cupcake was quite enticing.

I used the leftover ganache to glaze the tops of the cupcakes as well, making the treat a little bit more decadent, since the original recipe called for a topping of raspberry jam.  I’m not a fan of raspberries and all their little seeds that get caught in my teeth, so I went the extra-chocolate route.  Whichever route you chose, I’m sure you will like these cupcakes.

Chocolate Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, February 2012

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup chocolate morsels (I used semisweet)

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp red food coloring

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup buttermilk

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp vinegar

First make the chocolate filling.  Put the chocolate pieces in a small, heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan heat the cream until it just starts to simmer.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes, then stir to combine the two together.  Cover and freeze for 1 hour, until it has the consistency of fudge.  Scoop out 12 small portions, roll them quickly into balls, place on a plate lined with wax paper and return to the freezer.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter until it is creamy.  Gradually add the sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, food coloring and vanilla extract.  Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, beating until just combined after each addition.  In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar (so cool) and stir into batter.

Divide half the batter among the prepared cups.  Place a ball of the chocolate filling in each, then spoon the remaining batter on top.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.  If you have extra chocolate from the filling, microwave it for 10 seconds, give it a stir, then dip the tops of each cupcake in it.  Top with sprinkles and enjoy!


Fruit Filled Lemon Cupcakes

Crudmuffins! (worst breakfast ever) I can’t believe I forgot about Hop Day with Izzy.  Many apologies to all you bunny fans out there.  Look at her straining so hard for her hay…do rabbits have lips?  Kinda looks like she does in this photo.

When I arrived home yesterday afternoon, I was unpleasantly surprised to find the little bun outside of her pen and hopping around the living room.  Somehow she had pried the pen away from her cage and gotten free, though thankfully she didn’t run under the couch when I went to pick her up. Bunny crisis averted.

Yesterday was also my good friend’s birthday.  So let’s dedicate these cupcakes to her, though hopefully when I finally see her to celebrate, I’ll make her something even more awesome.  Don’t be fooled though, I’m gonna have to really outdo myself because these cupcakes were pretty awesome to begin with.

I’m kind of obsessed with filled cupcakes, so you’ll probably be seeing more of them around here.  I mean, they’re amazing little desserts packed with the most creative combinations.

This combo of a lemon, coconut cupcake stuffed with a homemade jam, topped with lemon frosting is a great choice for spring baking.  I made these for Easter dinner at Luke’s parent’s house, and they were well enjoyed.  I can’t wait to make another recipe like this soon!

Fruit Filled Lemon Cupcakes

Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup oil
1 cup full fat coconut milk
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice

For the fruit preserves:
1 pint fruit (strawberries, blackberries, or other berry)
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 – 1/4 cup lemon juice, to taste
1 tsp lemon zest

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make fruit preserves, add the berries to a medium heavy saucepan along with sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Lightly mash berries and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until preserves coat the back of a spoon. They will seem a bit runny. Remove from heat, transfer to a heat-safe container, and allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Move to refrigerator and chill for 1 hour or until set.

For frosting, cream butter with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice and zest and mix until combined. Add creamer and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).

To assemble, cut a cone-shaped piece out of the tops of cooled cupcakes, approximately 3/4″ in diameter and set aside. Fill cavities with chilled preserves, and replace tops of cupcakes. Pipe on frosting, being sure to cover the seams, and serve!

Revisited: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a big deal, if the name didn’t tip you off.  I’ve posted about these before, but they’re so good, I can’t help but talk about them again.  I think I took better pictures this time around too.

When I first made these cupcakes, I was in college.  Luke had invited me to attend the physics department potluck dinner (my department never had potlucks…) and I wanted to make a dessert.

My obsession with food blogs was still in its infancy, but luckily I had already discovered this recipe.  Once I saw it I knew I had to make them.  And I am so glad I did.  I actually received applause from a neighboring table for them.  People seriously clapped for these cupcakes.

I made them again in the fall of 2011 to bring to some friends.  Their reaction was quite similar, eyes bugging out, staring at the cupcake with wonder.  When these friends later visited our apartment, they left me a note on my fridge telling me I should make them again soon.

What I’m trying to say is, these cupcakes are awesome.   What could be better than a rich, vanilla cupcake baked with a frozen ball of eggless cookie dough in the center, and topped with cookie dough frosting.  I made them again to bring into Luke’s office as part of his birthday goodies, and I already can’t wait to make them again.  Click here to view the recipe.