Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

IMG_1337

 

At 12:36pm tomorrow, I will have completed my first year as a high school biology teacher.  This is crazy to me.  I started this blog the night before my first day of school in September, because what first year teacher doesn’t want to add additional commitments to an already overwhelming amount of work?  Every week, no matter how much lesson planning I felt I needed to do, I found time to bake something and write about it.

Looking back, this routine probably helped me out a lot this year.  For some reason, I seem to do better when I have a lot on my plate at once.  So a big thank you to my followers for giving me someone to bake for every week.  And look forward to some big projects, and big changes (good, I hope), this summer!

Anyways, since I am leaving New Jersey for the summer tomorrow, I didn’t really want to buy a bunch of ingredients this weekend.  So instead, I’m giving you the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes I promised here, that you got a preview of in this picture:

IMG_1346

You’ll notice I also did vanilla on chocolate and chocolate on vanilla.  Gotta try to please as many people as possible.

Also important to note: I halved this recipe as well, making 12 cupcakes instead of 24.  Double it if you want more.

First, melt the chocolate in the microwave, 15 seconds at a time at 50% power, stirring after each interval.  Magnolia’s insisted on using a double boiler, but that is not something I’ve felt necessary to have in my apartment.  Let the chocolate cool for 5-10 minutes until lukewarm before using.

 

 

IMG_1295

IMG_1296

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.

IMG_1297

In a large bowl, cream the butter using a hand mixer at medium speed.

IMG_1298

Add the sugar and light brown sugar (I still love the little sandcastles), and beat on medium speed until fluffy, which should take around 3 minutes.

IMG_1299

IMG_1300

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

IMG_1301

IMG_1302

Add the chocolate and mix until well combined.

IMG_1303

IMG_1304

Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla.  Beat until just mixed after each addition, being careful not to overbeat.  Combining the vanilla and buttermilk in your measuring cup before starting will make this easier.

IMG_1305

IMG_1306

IMG_1307

IMG_1308

Spoon the batter evenly into 12 lined cupcake tins.  Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool 15 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_1309

IMG_1323

Meanwhile, you can prepare the buttercream.  This frosting can also be stored at room temperature for about 3 days before using.  It held up significantly better than the vanilla buttercream, but I think that’s because I didn’t add enough sugar to the vanilla.

Again, melt the chocolate using the microwave technique and allow to cool until lukewarm.

IMG_1319

IMG_1324

In a large bowl, beat the butter for 3 minutes until creamy using a hand mixer at medium speed.

IMG_1325

Add the milk and beat until smooth.

IMG_1326

Add the chocolate and beat for about 2 more minutes.

IMG_1327

Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.  There’s a lot of adding one ingredient and beating for what feels like too long in this.

IMG_1328

IMG_1329

Finally, add the sugar gradually while beating at low speed until you get the consistency you’re looking for.

IMG_1330

IMG_1331

I stored it at room temperature in Tupperware for a day or two, but you can use it right away if the cupcakes are being served same day.

IMG_1332

Decorate your cupcakes as desired.  Mix it up and do some vanilla with chocolate frosting as well.  Reviews from the teachers that tried these said they preferred the contrasting ones, but I think that’s because they may not be quite as devoted to chocolate as I am.

IMG_1340

For once, I already know what I’m posting next weekend, and you’re not going to want to miss it, I promise.

Enjoy!

IMG_1336

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second intervals at 50% power, stirring after each interval.  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes to lukewarm.
  2. Whisk together flour and baking soda in a small bowl.
  3. Beat butter until smooth in a large bowl using a hand mixer on medium speed.
  4. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat 3 minutes until fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  6. Add the chocolate and beat until well-combined.
  7. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the vanilla and buttermilk, beating until just combined after each addition.
  8. Spoon batter evenly into 12 lined cupcake tins and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool 15 minutes in tin before transferring to wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/8 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in microwave in 15 second intervals at 50% power, stirring after each interval.  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes to lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter for 3 minutes until creamy using a hand mixer at medium speed.
  3. Add milk and beat until smooth.
  4. Add melted chocolate and beat 2 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and beat 3 minutes.
  6. Add sugar gradually and beat on low speed until desired consistency.
  7. Decorate your cupcakes!
Advertisements

Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes

IMG_1342

 

Before I get into this post, I just want to say Happy Father’s Day to my amazing dad.  I had grand designs to use my post this week to share one of his secret recipes, but, realistically, I shouldn’t make an entire batch of pancakes just for myself.  So instead I hope he’s ok with a shout out.

Dad – you’ve taught me that if I want to do something, the only person that can stand in my way is myself.  You’ve taught me to go after what I want and what will make me happy (like this blog!).  You’ve taught me what it means to have someone you can always count on, no matter what.  These lessons have served me well and will continue to serve me well in the future.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and I love you morer than the mostest!

Have all of you called your dad yet today?

Anyways, back to baking.  This week I made cupcakes for a potluck with some other teachers.  Full disclosure, I did make vanilla AND chocolate, but I’m saving the chocolate recipe for a weekend when I don’t have time to bake.  Sorry.  Here’s a preview in case you can’t wait:

IMG_1346

But this weekend I’m focusing just on the vanilla.  You really can’t go wrong with a vanilla cupcake.  It’s like vanilla ice cream: no one is going to say, “eww, vanilla!”  So I turned to my Magnolia’s Bakery cookbook, first featured here, and went with their recipe.  They are, after all, famous for their vanilla cupcakes.

First, combine the flours in a small bowl and set aside.  I halved the recipe since I was making both chocolate and vanilla.  So this is kinda small batch baking, in that it’s 12 cupcakes instead of 24.

 

IMG_1281

In a large bowl, cream the butter with a hand mixer until smooth.

IMG_1282

IMG_1283

Add the sugar in a couple additions and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  That will feel like a long time with a hand mixer.  Trust me, you want this to be light and fluffy.

IMG_1284

IMG_1286

 

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

IMG_1287

IMG_1288

Measure out the milk into a measuring cup and add the vanilla extract to the cup.

IMG_1289

 

Add the dry ingredients in 3 separate additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  Beat after each addition until incorporated but no more.  The end result will be light and airy.

IMG_1290

IMG_1291

IMG_1292

Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.  I found some awesome ones that are tinfoil on the inside and paper on the outside so that the design stays bright.  Distribute the batter evenly between the cups.  If you have handy-dandy cupcake measuring spoons, keeping this even is easy.

IMG_1293

IMG_1294

Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool 15 minutes in tin before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.  I took a lot of gratuitous pictures of this.

IMG_1310

IMG_1311

IMG_1312

Meanwhile, make the vanilla buttercream.  Note: this is a DIFFERENT recipe than the one I have used in previous posts.  Magnolia’s claims that you can leave it at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  I left it overnight, but I would recommend using it as soon as you’ve made it.  Mine ended up a little too thin when it came time to decorate.

First, put the butter, 2 cups of sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

IMG_1314

Beat with a hand mixer at medium speed for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Frosting should be smooth and creamy.

IMG_1315

Add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition until it’s the consistency you want.  This is where I messed up, so make sure you know how thick you want it!

IMG_1316

IMG_1317

Again, you could store it at room temperature, but I would recommend against.

IMG_1318

When you’re ready, frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired!

Enjoy!

IMG_1341

Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine flours in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat butter on medium speed until smooth.
  3. Add sugar gradually and beat for an additional 3 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  5. Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with milk and vanilla, and beating until incorporated after each addition.
  6. Distribute evenly among 12 lined muffin tins and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in tins for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place butter, 2 cups of sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat 3-5 minutes with a hand mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add sugar by the 1/2 cup, beating after each addition, until frosting is desired consistency.
  3. Decorate your cupcakes!

S’mores Cupcakes

IMG_1275

 

My family came to visit me this weekend and we spent the time cramming the entire month of June’s festivities into two days.  On Saturday, we celebrated my birthday, which is actually this coming Wednesday, and today we celebrated Father’s Day, which is actually next weekend.  It was the first time we’ve all been together in awhile (maybe since Easter?), so it was awesome to get to spend time with them.  Also, I consider birthdays weeklong events, despite my dad’s insistence otherwise, so really it also served as the kick-off to my birthday week.

For the rest of my birthday week, I have a lot of baking to do.  Today, I started by making treats for my students.  Whenever I set out to make something for them, I usually have to pick relatively quick and easy recipes, since making 125 of anything complicated is just way more time consuming than I want when its 80 degrees and my pool is open.  So I decided to make S’mores cupcakes, which require all of 5 ingredients and very little active time per batch.  For the post, I cut the recipe back down to 24 cupcakes.  I figure most of you aren’t baking for 5 classes of biology students.

Now, s’mores are my favorite summer dessert (behind ice cream, of course).  And even though I’m usually a purist, this variation gets my seal of approval.

First, crush 7 graham crackers into a fine powder.  You can put them in a bag and smash them, like this:

IMG_1251

IMG_1252

Or you can use a mini chop and really save a lot of time.  I forgot I had mine until I was about halfway through smashing my graham crackers, but the mini chop is definitely the way to go.

IMG_1255

IMG_1254

If you want to save even more time, buy a box of pre-crushed graham crackers and use 1 cup.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar in a bowl.

IMG_1258

Melt the butter over low heat and add it to the mixture.

IMG_1256

IMG_1257

IMG_1259

Combine with a fork until mixture is thoroughly wetted.  Spread the mixture evenly between 24 mini muffin tins.

IMG_1260

IMG_1261

Press the mixture into the bottom of the tins, keeping a small indent in the middle like a cup.

IMG_1262

Bake at 350°F for about 5 minutes, until the edges are bubbling.  Remove from oven.

IMG_1263

Side note: You know you’re a baker when you have not one, but two mini muffin tins.  And maybe a whole set of silicon containers as well. (Thanks, Mimi!)

IMG_1267

Anyways, break apart a Hershey’s bar and put one little piece in each cup.  If you want a more grown-up version of this, use dark chocolate.  Since I was baking for high school freshmen, I stuck with the traditional milk chocolate.

IMG_1264

Using kitchen shears dipped in cold water, cut marshmallows in half and put one half, cut side down, in each cup.

IMG_1265

Bake for an additional 2 minutes to soften the marshmallows.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin.

IMG_1266

After 15 minutes, remove cupcakes from the muffin tin to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.  If you want to speed up the process, feel free to put them in the fridge.

IMG_1269

 

Now, I think you could probably serve them at this point, but the recipe here requires an additional step: adding more chocolate.

So I transferred the cupcakes to the platter I was planning on bringing to school.

IMG_1271

Then, I broke up the remaining chocolate bars and melted them in the microwave at 50% power, 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval until smooth.

IMG_1272

IMG_1273

Using a spoon, I drizzled a small dollop of chocolate on top of each cupcake.  You could also dip them directly into the chocolate, but if you’re doing that, you probably want to make sure the chocolate from before has already hardened.  Otherwise they’ll fall apart.  Trust me.

IMG_1274

Allow to harden for 40 to 60 minutes before serving.  Again, refrigeration will accelerate this process.  Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to a week.

Enjoy!

IMG_1276

 

S’mores Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 7 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 Hershey bars, divided
  • 12 marshmallows, cut in half

Directions:

  1. Crush the graham crackers in a plastic bag or mini chop.  Combine with confectioner’s sugar and melted butter in a bowl until moistened.
  2. Press mixture into 24 mini muffin cups, putting an indent in the center of each.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes or until edges are bubbling.  Remove from oven.
  4. Place one piece of chocolate in the center of each cup.  Put half of a marshmallow, cut side down, in each cup.
  5. Bake for an additional 2 minutes to soften the marshmallow.
  6. Allow to cool in tin for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Melt the remaining chocolate and either dip cupcakes or drop a small dollop onto the top of each.  Allow to cool 40 to 60 minutes to harden chocolate before serving.

Mini Almond House Cakes

IMG_0518

 

And you thought I was done for the weekend.  Time at home + no school tomorrow = wayyyy more time to bake.  Up next: my gingerbread house needed a little town to go with it!

So the recipe on the cake pan was for orange cakes, but I don’t know what it is about orange that it really just isn’t a flavor I’m ever craving.  So instead I went with almond cakes.

To start, I used that wondrous Pam baking spray on my little house cake pan too.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  This shocked me a little bit.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a recipe tell me to mix the sugar with the flour to start.  But it really just further confirmed for me that the order of mixing things in recipes is arbitrary and I shouldn’t be concerned with it.

 

IMG_0483

IMG_0484

Next, in a large bowl, beat together the yogurt, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and almond extracts.

IMG_0487

IMG_0489

 

When I’m at my apartment, I always melt butter in the microwave.  It’s easy and consistent.  However, when I’m home, I use the method I far prefer: stovetop with our special butter melting cup.  I don’t know why this cup is a butter melting cup, but that’s what I’ve always used it for and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it used for anything else.  So I put the butter, sliced, in the cup and put it on top of a griddle over low heat, stirring until melted.  You probably don’t want to know this, but the butter in the picture is only half of the butter that was used – I had to do this twice.

IMG_0485

 

IMG_0486

IMG_0488

 

I feel like this somehow melts butter better than a microwave.  I have no idea if that’s true, but it’s my favorite way to do it and I need to find my own butter melting cup at some point.

Anyways, the next step is to add the dry ingredients and blend on the lowest speed (to avoid splatter) until combined.  Then you can blend on medium speed for another minute to get it nice and smooth.  Another under-appreciated thing to note: my mom’s hand mixer has various speeds other than high and higher.  That’s a luxury I didn’t realize I missed.

IMG_0490

IMG_0491

Spoon about half the batter into the cake pan and spread up the sides, just like with the gingerbread house.

IMG_0495

 

Put it on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan before flipping onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining batter to make six more little houses.

I used the same Wilton icing from the Gingerbread Bundt Cake to decorate the little houses, but this time I used a #3 tip because it was a little smaller.  The coconut choice was actually made because of the almond cakes, I just figured it would work with gingerbread as well.

 

IMG_0512

The beauty of shaped pans is that they have all of the details lined out for you – all you have to do is trace them to end up with an adorable little village.

IMG_0513

 

IMG_0514

 

Then, once I had them all decorated, I obviously had to create my village.  My mom and I had a debate as we searched for a platter to fit all of my houses.  Should they all fit on one?  Should I have little subdivisions for my town?  Should I just cover a cookie sheet in tinfoil and call it a tray?

In the end, we settled on little subdivisions with the big house in the middle.  I used stained glass candy (shout out to Ann Mullins!) to make a road and shredded coconut as snow.  And then I arranged them all near each other and took pictures before I let anyone eat them.

IMG_0517

 

Here’s a close-up of the big gingerbread house that didn’t make it on the previous post:

IMG_0519

Anyways, unless you also happen to have awesome house-shaped bakeware for Christmas, these are probably going to be more difficult for you to make.  However, the gingerbread cake and almond cakes can be made into regular cakes/cupcakes as well, and I’m sure the coconut frosting can be used and adapted into a variety of different things.  So these posts were more for me to show off rather than for you all to try at home, but enjoy them anyways!

Merry Christmas!

IMG_0515

Mini Almond House Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Wilton Coconut Icing

Directions:

  1. Spray pan with baking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in medium bowl.
  3. In large bowl, beat together yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract until well blended.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined and then at medium speed for an additional minute until smooth.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into tins about 3/4 full and spread up sides.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan and then completely on wire rack.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter.
  9. Decorate with icing and create your own village!

 

 

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

IMG_0434

 

It was 60° on Friday.  It’s December.  It’s really hard to get into the Christmas spirit when the weather feels like we’ve skipped about 5 months.  Fortunately, I planned Christmas activities for the weekend anyways.  And now it’s snowing!  It all works out.

Anyways, today I had some friends from college over for a Christmas brunch.  This involved lots of baking last night, and lots of real cooking this morning.  But with my forest of paper trees and Straight No Chaser to get me through it, it was impossible not to feel Christmas-y.  Side note: if you haven’t listened to their Christmas album, you’re missing out.  It has some of the classics, but without trying to make them sound like the originals.  Wicked awesome.

So as I browsed through recipes and websites to find a good crowning dessert to my brunch, I was stuck.  I was serving a lot of stuff with cinnamon and nutmeg and those sorts of spices, but I didn’t particularly want that to carry into the dessert as well.  I also wanted to make something a little more pretty than cookies.  So in my website hunt, I came across another blog, The Pastry Affair, and it had the perfect solution: Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes.  They were chocolate, which is always good, and mint, which finishes most meals well.  And they are really cool looking.  An all-around win.

First up, you have to actually make the chocolate cupcakes.  They recommended just using a box mix, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that if I was going to post to the blog.  So I used another chocolate cupcake recipe from their blog, which has now possibly become my favorite.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.

 

IMG_0416

IMG_0417

Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to the same bowl and beat until well mixed.  This recipe is one-bowl baking at its finest.  No pretending that it matters if you add flour to liquid or anything like that.  It cuts right to the chase.

IMG_0418

 

IMG_0419

Another side note: I just used coffee from my Keurig.  I have a mini Keurig, and when I made the cup, I then started second guessing whether it actually made a full cup (as in 8 oz), so I measured it.  I now know that my Keurig is not cheating me – it makes an 8 oz cup.  That was a satisfying discovery that I felt I needed to share.

The coffee also gives the finished cupcake a much more complex flavor than your run-of-the-mill box mix, which was pretty cool.  I was a fan.

Anyways, the batter will be very liquidy, which makes the scooping-into-cupcake-tins action very challenging.  I used a ladle to start, but eventually just settled on a spoon.  It was messy, but I had no better method.  Fill the lined cups about 2/3 full.

IMG_0420

Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, such that a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  I have a single cupcake tin with only 6 spots, so this baking took a very long time for me.  But I did end up with more than 2 dozen cupcakes, which was pretty good.  Let them cool completely on a wire rack.

IMG_0422

For once, I was patient and did let the cupcakes cool completely.  This was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t finish baking them until around 10pm and you really shouldn’t frost cupcakes a day in advance if you want them to look good.  Fast forward to this morning: time to make the frosting.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth.  If you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend you use that.  My hand mixer has two speeds: high and higher.  I also wasn’t totally sure it was going to survive the stress of beating two sticks of butter, but we got through it.

IMG_0423

IMG_0424

Then, add vanilla extract, salt, and peppermint extract and continue beating.  This may be the first time I’ve used salt on my blog – I usually leave it out, but I figured that with the other extracts being added to the frosting, it might counteract the intensity a little bit, so I kept it in.

IMG_0425

IMG_0426

Next, add the confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream little by little, mixing after each addition.  I did this by adding about a quarter of the box of sugar and one tablespoon of heavy cream at a time.

IMG_0427

If you’re afraid of spray, you can also do the towel trick to make sure you don’t have a kitchen that looks like it was snowed in:

IMG_0428

IMG_0429

You may have to add a little extra heavy cream to get the consistency right – the frosting should be stiff but pliable, if that makes any sense.

Now comes the fun (and extremely innovative) part: striped frosting!  I loved this for so many reasons.  The cupcakes look awesome, I got to play with my cake decorating stuff, and it kind of looks like blood for awhile, which is morbid but funny when you’re by yourself icing cupcakes to give to your friends later.

So what you do is dip a toothpick in red food coloring gel (has to be gel, not liquid – you don’t want to mess with the ratios and consistency of the frosting) and draw three lines up the inside of a pastry bag.  It should look something like this:

IMG_0430

Then, use a spatula to add the frosting to the pastry bag, making sure not to scrape the sides.  You also shouldn’t try to fit all of the frosting in at one time.  I made that mistake, and was oozing frosting out of the top into my hand the whole time, which really just resulted in me eating far more frosting than I was intending since I had to keep cleaning off my hand.

This is the part where it looks bloody:

IMG_0431

 

I used a 2D tip and just swirled the frosting on top of each cupcake to cover.  I was going to use my cupcake pedestal, but that seemed like too much effort and I had a quiche in the oven.  They looked pretty awesome at this point in the process, even without the final step.

IMG_0432

But, I continued on anyways, and crushed 4 candy canes in a bag.  Not going to lie, it sounded like I was doing construction in my apartment as I beat the bag with my measuring cup, but it worked.

IMG_0433

Finally, sprinkle the pieces onto the top of the cupcakes.  When you get lazy/if you aren’t photographing them for a website, it’s just as easy to put the candy cane pieces on a plate and smush the cupcake upside down in the pieces to coat.  But that doesn’t look quite as nice as this.

Enjoy!

IMG_0436

 

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 box confectioner’s sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • red gel food coloring
  • 4 crushed candy canes

Directions

For the cupcakes:

  1. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.  Beat until well mixed.
  3. Spoon into lined muffin tins to fill 2/3 of the way.  Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

For the icing:

  1. Beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla extract, salt, and peppermint extract, beating until well combined.
  3. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream a little at a time until smooth.  Add more sugar or cream as necessary to reach the consistency of stiff yet pliable.
  4. Use a toothpick to paint three lines of red food gel up the inside of a pastry bag with a 2D tip.  Add the frosting to the bag using a spatula and being careful not to scrape the sides of the bag.
  5. Pipe icing onto cupcakes in a spiral to fill the top.  Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Swirl Frost Close

So I had no intention of making carrot cake cupcakes today.  Tomorrow is the first day of school (Yay!) and I wanted to make something quick, but when I was looking through ingredients, I dropped my carton of eggs and three cracked.  This recipe called for three eggs, so I put on Mamma Mia and went for it (Side note: the Mamma Mia soundtrack is hands down the best baking music I’ve ever found).

This is another recipe from my mom’s recipe box, adapted for my own purposes.  The recipe is for a full cake, but since I’m bringing them in for my fellow teachers tomorrow, I thought cupcakes would work out better.  Easy cake-to-cupcake conversion: bake at the same temperature for about 1/3 to 1/2 the time of the cake.

First, mix the dry ingredients.  Yes, that includes the chopped nuts (I used black walnuts because that’s what A&P had, but pecans are especially good) and coconut in addition to the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Again, leaving salt out is totally fine; they still taste delicious, I promise.

 Dry IngredientsMixed Dry Ingredients

Pro Tip from My Mom: coconut flakes are an ingredient that should be packed like brown sugar.  Yes, this means that the 2 and 3/4 cup bag of coconut is actually more like 1 cup, but trust me, if you’re a coconut fiend its totally worth it.

Packing Coconut

Next, add the wet ingredients: grated carrots, wesson oil, vanilla, eggs, and undrained pineapple.  The juice is what makes it so moist – don’t get rid of it!

Add Wet Ingredients

Pro Tip from Me: Apparently I’m feeling very professional tonight.  But if you, like me, usually grate carrots by hand on a grater and generally cut your fingers to shreds in the process, invest in a mini chopper.  It’s better than the wheel.

It turns this:

Mini Chopper

Into this:

Chopped Carrots

In like no time at all.  It’s brilliant.  Everyone should have one.

Anyways, mix until it looks like a cake batter, somewhat liquidy with no dry ingredients left in sight.  Scrape around the bottom with a bowl – sometimes flour pockets like to hide out down there.

Batter

Carrot cake batter is supremely underrated in terms of bowls you want to lick when you’re done.  Make sure you try it.  Then, pour it into lined muffin tins, filling them halfway if you want them to be flat across the top, three-quarters if you want them to be rounded on top.

Mix in Tins

As you can see, I only have a 6 spot muffin tin.  This is an extremely inefficient way of baking lots of cupcakes, and this recipe makes lots of cupcakes.  I’ll be buying a 12 spot tin immediately.  Anyways, bake the cupcakes for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.  Let cool on wire rack COMPLETELY before frosting.  See my reasoning in Lil Elephant Sugar Cookies if you don’t believe me.

Unfrosted and Baked

I had a long internal debate on whether or not I wanted to frost these.  I’m planning on giving them out as breakfast, when normal people don’t want frosting, but I felt that it was inherently wrong to have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting.  So I went for it.

To make cream cheese frosting, simply combine the butter, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar in a bowl and follow the highly scientific procedure of mixing until it looks like frosting.

Frosting Pre-MixMixed Frosting

What you do next is up to you.  I wanted to play with my cake decorating toys, so I put the frosting into a pastry bag with a 1M tip and frosted the cupcakes.

Frosting Point 1M

Swirl Frost From Above

Now I know what you’re thinking: how did she possibly make them look all swirly and cool like that?  You can judge me as much as you want, but I use a cupcake pedestal (Wilton makes one) to swirl evenly.  They look like this:

Cupcake Pedestal

You twirl it in your fingers while squeezing frosting through the bag, and end up with cupcakes that look like this:

Swirl Frost - Single

A little closer:

Swirl Frost Close - Single

Yea, they are as good as they look.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, the batch of frosting that you make will not frost 30 cupcakes to look this good.  I got it to frost 10 like this.  Normally, when I’m not making cupcakes for all the internet to see, I just frost them like this:

Regular Frosting - Single     Regular Frosting - Group

And let’s be real, this is all most of us have time to do anyways.  If you are content with these cupcakes, there is plenty of frosting in the batch you made.  Any extra can be frozen.  If you’re going the cake route, you’ll have plenty of frosting for that too.  The swirly frosting just requires way more than one cupcake’s worth of frosting.  So it’s really just an excuse for me to eat lots of cream cheese frosting.

Swirl Frost Group

If you are not serving the cupcakes the same day, store them, unfrosted, in an airtight container in the fridge.  Storing them frosted will just result in hard frosting that tastes more sugary than cream cheesy.  You can freeze them long term as well.  Let them come to room temperature before frosting, and make sure the frosting is room temperature as well – it will spread better.

Because they’re carrots, I can justify the unfrosted variety as breakfast.  But you do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Hope you enjoy your cupcakes!

Swirl Frost Close

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups wesson oil (canola oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 8oz can crushed pineapple, undrained

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients: flour, sugar, chopped nuts, coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add carrots, oil, vanilla, eggs, and pineapple.  Mix until completely wet.
  3. Line muffin tins with wrappers or grease.  Pour batter into each tin, about 3/4 full.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool completely on wire rack before decorating.

Makes 24-30 cupcakes.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.
  2. Mix with hand mixer until combined and of frosting consistency.
  3. Frost, refrigerate covered, or freeze.