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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Cupcakes

Still looking for an idea for your Christmas cupcakes? Don't have a lot of time to do fabulous things like these Christmas tree cupcakes from Martha Stewart? Here is my super-quick, super-easy, no fail cute Christmas tree cupcakes. When it's the day before Christmas eve and you still have Christmas shopping to do, you need a fast, simple, adorable idea... like this!

Simple, no fuss, but still pretty cute. Just frost cupcakes with two toned green frosting (on one side of the piping bag add green frosting, and on the other half, add lighter green frosting... pipe as usual). Top it with a gummy star, and red decorations like these circular sprinkles (or anything else that might look like a mini ornament) and you're done!

The tag reads "Moist Yellow Vanilla Cake, Topped with Creamy Vanilla Buttercream and Festive Holiday decorations designed to get even the Grinchiest Grinch into the Holiday Spirit" :)

These other cupcakes are just red velvet cupcakes, topped with Green-tinted Cream Cheese frosting, sprinkled with holly berry-ish looking decorations:

So, if I don't get another chance to post before the Holidays (though I'm sure, I'll be baking something), me and the dog would like to wish you all a Very Very Happy Holiday Season!

(I couldn't pick just one of these pictures!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Easy Key Lime White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies almost a week ago, but haven't posted them yet. Like always, I've been a busy girl. Last Thursday afternoon, my father and sister arrived in FL to go to my graduation and honors banquet. Every day they were here we had a busy schedule, including the banquet where I received my honors medallion, going to Downtown Disney, dinner with the whole fam, my graduation ceremony, doing art projects with my sister, etc etc. It was a lot of fun having them here in FL!

So now I am a college graduate. I've been sending my resume out left and right trying to find a job, which is quite nerve wracking. I hope hope hope something will come my way soon. All I can do is keep trying and wait and see. For now, here is one of our favorite recipes. It is one of my few 'cheaty' recipes, where I do not make them entirely from scratch. Instead of flour, baking soda or powder, etc, the recipe calls for Bisquik... which makes the preparation part go nice and quick. The recipe is everywhere on the internet and I use the standard one, with the only changes being an increased amount of lime zest, the addition of 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lime juice, and substituting white chocolate chips for the chopped white chocolate bar. Also, my recipe made only ~23 - 26 cookies per batch with a tablespoon sized cookie scoop. It is an easy, reliable recipe that always turns out super soft, flavorful cookies.

Key Lime White Chocolate Chip Cookies from Betty Crocker
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C Packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 1/3 C Original Bisquik
6 oz white chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon lime zest (but I would up this to 1 1/2 or even 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Preheat to 350ºF. Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and egg with electric mixer until well mixed. Stir in Bisquick mix. Stir in lime juice, white chocolate chunks and lime peel.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set but not brown. Cool 1 minute; slide parchment from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Salted Peanut Cookies

Ahh, cookies. I've been craving peanuts and peanut butter lately, so my craving inspired me to make this recipe. It came in a Martha Stewart Cookie of the Day email, and I've been staring at it in my inbox since November 24th. Finally, I gave in and made up half a batch, with some changes. They came out soft and chewy, and just as I was hoping they would. The cookie itself had a kind of caramellish-brown sugary taste. That together with the crunchy salty peanuts... good combination. Below is the recipe after my alterations.

Peanut Cookies adapted from Martha Stewart's Peanut Crisps
1/2 C + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons salted butter, soft
1 tablespoon peanut butter (not organic/natural)
1/2 + 1/8 C packed light brown sugar
half an egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 C salted peanuts

Preheat to 350. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda with a whisk and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the softened butter, peanut butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Mix in half an egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, gradually add flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the peanuts.
Drop tablespoon amounts of dough on to silicone mat lined cookie sheet. Bake until golden, ~14 - 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Best Blondies!

It has been a while since I blogged last, eh? In fact, I made these blondies on Thanksgiving and I am only getting around to posting it now. Life has been busy! Yesterday was my last day of undergraduate classes ever. Scary. All I have is one day of "finals" (even though all I have to do is a 1 minute presentation and hand in a paper) and then walk across that stage in my cap and gown. It's happy and terrifying at the same time. I have been thrust into the real world! Ahh, all will fall into place (right??).

For Thanksgiving, I made blondies... A nice alternative to brownies which surprisingly few people have had the pleasure of enjoying. All I have to say is that this recipe was a huge hit, and may even be my new go-to blondie recipe... surpassing the last blondie recipe I made which I declared "the end all be all of blondies" at the time. I guess I lied! I made only slight changes to this recipe, below is my version. I used regular ol' brown sugars instead of the expensive muscovado, I omitted the toffee chips, only added un-toasted almonds to the top (which then toasted a bit in the oven) rather than in to the batter, and upped the baking time.

Best Blondies from Throwdown with Bobby Flay
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C light brown sugar
1/2 C dark brown sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp madagascar vanilla
1 C Semi-Sweet chocolate Chips
~ 1/8 C slivered almonds
~ 1/8 Tsp cinnamon sugar

Preheat over to 350 F. Non-stick spray a 9 x 9 pan, line with a parchment sling, and non-stick spray the parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When melted completely, add the sugars and whisk until the sugar is fully melted (about 3 - 5 minutes). Transfer this butter mixture to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Then, whisk in the eggs and then the vanilla just until incorporated. Add flour, mix until just incorporated, don't overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips (if your mixture is too hot at this point, the chips will melt and you'll have too-chocolatey blondies, rather than blondies with chocolate chips in it!). Transfer this mixture into the preprared 9 x 9. Sprinkle enough of the slivered almonds to the top of the batter to cover as much as you like... I only covered half of the blondies with almonds, as I was not sure if everyone liked almonds. Sprinkle a small bit of cinnamon sugar over the top of the batter for a subtle bit of extra yum.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes (Mine took 33 minutes) or when a toothpick inserted comes out with only moist crumbs, no raw batter. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Cut after cool.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Mm..fall. More pumpkin recipes! I had half a can of Pure Pumpkin left from the Pumpkin Cupcakes, so I decided to use it! Turns out to have been a good decision, because these cookies are delicious.

The recipe came from's Iced Pumpkin Cookies but I chose not to do the accompanying icing, but rather a different one which I will post below. I scaled the recipe down to use half of the pumpkin puree I had left (I have glorious things planned for the remaining portion).

Pumpkin Cookies adapted from
1 stick butter, soft
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C Pure Pumpkin
1/2 an egg (I know, I'm so annoying)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 C A.P. Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir this in to the butter mixture.
Drop by tablespoons on to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Bake about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Icing for Pumpkin Cookies
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter (does not have to be softened)
2 Tablespoons of milk
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
5/8 Tsp pure vanilla (one quarter + one eighth)
1/2 C of confectioner's sugar

In a small saucepan, melt the butter together with the brown sugar and milk on medium heat. Stir until it is thoroughly combined and dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes to let it cool. Add the confectioner's sugar and milk and stir until combined. Fill a small bowl with the icing, and take cooled Pumpkin Cookies, and dip them up side down into the icing. Set on to parchment and allow to set (though it is just as delicious while the icing is still wet!! :)

Happy delicious Pumpkinny Autumn, everyone!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ahh, Blogging

Hello kind readers,
If you are like me, and if you are reading this you probably are, you enjoy blogging. You get joy out of updating, seeing people comment, and reading and commenting on other blogs. You do it for fun. For the joy of doing it. If there is one thing for sure, you don't do it for the money. But what if you COULD?

Well... I can't. And most people cannot either. But my sister has the opportunity to be able to do so. She has been deemed a finalist in a student blogging contest worth $10,000! If you enjoy medieval things, funny things, and sisterly things, then please, visit my sister's blog: Per Omnia Saecula. She is a PhD student in Medieval things, and blogs for the pure joy of it. If you think her blog is worth 10,000 please click here to vote for her.

Thank you! And happy weekend. :)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Honey-Caramel Buttercream Frosting

It's Fall! Though it doesn't feel like it so much here in Florida, judging from all the Thanksgiving (and Christmas) decorations that adorn the stores, it must be fall. Oh and plus, it's my birthday on Sunday, so its gotta be that time of year :) I am still enjoying the lull in my thesis work, so I had time to make a batch of Cupcake-of-the-Weeks. And this week.. mmboy. These are the best I've made in a while. Even Daniel was quite taken aback by these absolutely delicious fall-ish Pumpkin Cupcakes with Honey-Caramel Frosting. The pumpkin cupcakes were very moist, with subtle spices, and the frosting was abbbbsolutely gorgeous. Sweet, slightly caramelly & honey-y, with flecks of caramel streaked throughout. I know, you're jealous.

Pumpkin Cupcakes adapted from Makes 12 cupcakes.
1 stick butter
1 cup Cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground gingers
Heaping pinch (if that even exists) of Nutmeg
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 C light brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
about 7 - 7.5 ounces canned Pure Pumpkin
1/2 tsp maple syrup

Preheat to 350. Put paper liners in 12 wells of a cupcake pan.

In a small pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once it has all melted, slowly raise the temperature up to medium, stirring occasionally. Cook until it turns brown (for more instructions on that, see this site and this site). Make sure to keep an eye on it, because it takes a little bit of time... but it goes from yellowy to brown real quick! I followed that second instructional site on how to brown butter... and when it reached the desired color, I took my pot off the store and shoved it in to cold water to stop the cooking immediately:

Set melted brown butter aside and let it cool.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices together. Whisk to combine.
In another bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Whisk in the two sugars and the cooled butter. Add the dry ingredients and whisk/fold it in...Do not overmix! Whisk in pumpkin and maple syrup.

Bake about 20 minutes, when a toothpick inserted into the cakes should come out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan on wire rack, then remove cakes and set directly on wire rack to cool.

Honey-Caramel Buttercream Frosting enough to frost 12 cupcakes nicely.
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 Tblspn honey
2 Tblspn melted Kraft Caramel bits, or whatever caramel you have on hand
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer slowly at first to incorporate all ingredients. Then, increase speed to high to get light and fluffy. Beat for 3 - 5 minutes.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day Brooklyn Brownies

I BAKED! Its been a while, but I got back in the kitchen. At least once. The first complete draft of my thesis has been sent off to my committee professors. All I can do now is wait until they respond with suggestions for revisions, or until my defense on Nov. 17th - whichever happens first. ...and do the rest of my school work (an italian paper, italian articles, prepare my defense presentation...). But on Tuesday after a full day of school, interning, and voting, and having dinner at Dan's parents, Daniel requested I make a small batch of brownies to go with our peanut butter ice cream. A delicious dessert to enjoy while watching the states on the map fill in red and blue!


For the brownies, I went with a new recipe I've been wanting to try out. I saw these brownies from Brooklyn's "Baked" Bakery on a favorite blog, Cookie Madness and wanted to give them a go.
This page has the recipe in full but I halved it and changed the chocolate proportion a teeny bit. Below is mine:

"Baked" Brownies, modified from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
.625 C (1/2 C + 1/8 C) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblspn cocoa powder
3.5 oz dark chocolate (I used Dove 71% cacao)
1.5 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick buter
1/2 tsp espresso powder
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
2.5 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat to 350. Non-stick spray a glass pyrex dish approx 10 x 8 (it doesn't have the dimensions on it.. it is 10 x 8 if you measure the top, or 6.5 x 8 if you measure at the bottom of the dish... its about half the size of a 9 x 13)

Whisk flour, salt, and cocoa powder together in a small bowl and set aside.
Put the chocolates, butter and espresso powder in a dish set on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until it is completely melted. Turn off the heat, but keep the dish over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. Let the mixture cool a bit before going to the next step.
Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture, and whisk to combine, but to not overmix. Add vanilla and stir until incorporated.
Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour into the chocolate until it is mostly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake in the center of the oven for 22 - 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.

These came out quite good. Less sweet than my other brownies, but absolutely delicious. In between fudgy and cakey. Would make again! I hope these goodies last until my most-chaotic-stressful-semester-ever is over! 40 Days left until graduation (not that i'm counting).

Isn't this the most dramatic picture of a brownie you've ever seen?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Piping Pretty Cupcakes!

So, a few readers have asked how I get my cute little frosting tops. This is the frosting recipe I use. The consistency always comes out perfect for piping on to cupcakes. I put it in a piping bag fit with the Large Coupler, and I'm not sure the exact number tip I use...I'm not near it right now...but it is one pretty close in size to the the 1M from Wilton. Other recommendations I have is to make enough or more than enough frosting to cover the cupcakes. You'll want to pile the frosting high to get that swirly-tower-of-frosting look. And you'll also want to start on the edge of the cupcake, spiraling inward... its hard to describe in words, so just watch! :)

Here is a video of Daniel piping some frosting on to our Turtle Brownie Cupcakes:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cupcakes for a Cause

WHEW! Life is moving very quickly. My thesis writing is thoroughly under-way (thus the absence of posts). The rough drafts of my first two body sections are done, and the first half of the very detailed outline for my next section is done. I have to finish the rest of that outline, actually write the section, do the same for the last body section, write an intro and conclusion, format it to UCF and the binding company's specifications, make a notice of defense to be signed by my committee members, write a proposal and get that signed by my committee members, have an initial format review, a final format review, a proposal review and a slew of other requirements... All before early - mid November. Ah hah hah! It's ok, I'm surviving. At the end, I will have a nice little bound book, written by yours truly, with its own call number for the library and everything. So it's worth it... I think. :)
Anyways, so that is why you haven't been seeing many posts lately. It's sad. But as soon as this is over, I'll be back in the kitchen, whipping up some goodies to try to make my boyfriend fat again.

For now, I'll show you what I have been doing in the kitchen. No new recipes, though. Mi dispiace, not yet.
Last week, I had to do 25 cupcakes for birthday parties (woohoo!!). Luckily, all three parties wanted to same color combination, so it went rather swimmingly. All three little girls wanted pink and purple, so I started by making these cupcakes a little extra-special by putting pink heart shaped sprinkles right in to the batter:

I figured all kiddies like surprises, and little girls would definitely like being surprised by seeing little pink hearts when they bite into their cupcakes :)

Then, I made two different color frostings: pink and purple, and I put them side by side in the piping bag:
It only takes a tiny bit more time, and it makes them look much much cuter. Topped 'em with some pinky-purply butterfly sprinkles, and you've got the quintessential cupcake for a little girl's birthday party.

Since I had to have 25 cupcakes for the parties, and my recipe makes 15 each, I had a few extra. With one of can never have too much frosting, right?

Haha, WRONG. No one ate that one. Daniel claims, "I don't know how to eat it." But you can really see the side-by-side colors in that one.

The other baking thing I did this week was the "Cupcake of the Week!" This week's flavor? Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream! Nope, no fancy flavors this week! Because this week at the mall is Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. So, I made Pink themed cupcakes to go along with this event, and with each cupcake sold, 50% of the money goes to Breast Cancer.

After the walk, the participants will probably be hungry and want a perfectly pink cupcake, right? Hopefully, they'll all be purchased up, and I can make a donation to making strides.

While I was making and baking those bad boys up, I figured I'd take some pictures to give a few simple little cupcakes tips to all you cupcake bakers out there. These are some no-brainer tips that you may or may not know already, but once I figured out these little methods, it made cupcake baking a little bit easier.

Tip #1: How to get evenly sized cupcakes
I like to put all my batter into a big zippy bag fitted with a piping tip. This way, I can squeeze the batter into the liners in the pan, and it won't be all lumpy. When piped in rather than scooped in to the pan, you can easily see if they are all equally filled up or not. It also makes for MUCH LESS MESSY cupcake batter distribution. No dripping from the measuring cup or spoon, you just squeeze out the batter, stop squeezing when you're done, and then move to the next liner... No drips on the pan between the wells.
BUTTT, if you're alone and baking cupcakes, How do you get that batter in a bag? YOU ONLY HAVE TWO HANDS, RIGHT?
What I like to do is fit my ziplock bag with the tip, take the tip and fold it upwards (positioned so that no batter will drip out of the tip due to gravity...stupid gravity), and lay the bag in a bowl:
really terrible picture warning:

You can either spread the opening of the bag over the rim of the bowl, or just hold the bag open with one hand. Then, pour your batter in easily! :)

really really bad picture warning

Then you just pipe your batter into your liners. See how much easier it is to tell if they're equally filled? It's nicely even and not lumpy.

Tip #2: How to get the cupcakes out of the pan easily
I usually let my cupcakes cool in the pan for just 1 - 5 minutes. This way, I don't scorch my fingerprints off, but I also don't allow the cupcakes to continue baking in the pan for that long. As soon as they get out of the oven, however, I take a toothpick and run it around the edges of the cupcake: releasing that top little blub of cupcake that may be stuck to the pan.

Then I let it cool for a tiny bit longer, and pop 'em out. Its much easier to get this cupcake rim un-stuck when they are still fresh out of the oven... no ripping or breaking. And then they literally just fall out of the pan. VOILA!

So those are my cuppity-cake tips. They're common sense, but it took me quite a few batches to figure them out. Maybe they can save you a little bit of time and aggravation in the kitchen. Happy Baking!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Halloween Cupcakes... I've lost it!

What's with all the candy wrappers? Is Stephanie having a meltdown? Is she doing some emotional bingeing?...No, not yet. The Reese's Wrappers are from my latest cupcake creation... or should I say my latest cupcake disaster?? It seems I've lost it! Last week's banana fluffernutter cupcakes were a little on the funny-lookin' side and this weeks? Well... you can see for yourself. The IDEA was to do something that combined these two ideas I found on the web...


I was going to make little hershey kiss + cookie Witch hats, and put them on top of Green Witchy-Face frosting. I thought that maybe the Kiss + Cookie hat would be too heavy, so I added a Reese's Cup under the frosting for some structural support...

But, this is what Cupcakes turn out like when you are in a rush, and you've been running around various parts of the state since you woke up...

NNNNNNNNNNo. Not exactly what I was going for. My frosting was a little too stiff, and spirals was DEFINITELY not the way to go. Not to mention my "Witch Hats" look more like Sombrero's. ::Sigh::

Oh well... when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, right?

I took the little hats off and put them aside. They just were not gonna work. I took the frosting + hidden reese's cup and put them in my kitchenaid mixer. I mushed it with a fork, then blended it with the wire whisk. Result? A perfect creamy Peanut Butter cup filling!! And the Icky green color is perfectly ghoulish for halloween!!

Yeah I know... really gross.

And luckily I had made some extra frosting, so I tinted it fluorescent orange, and VOILA. The Creepy Icky Green Halloweeny filling is perfectly until you bite into it. They're not exactly unique looking, but its better than throwing away an entire batch of ugly cupcakes! Plus, they taste pretty darn good.

"Spooky Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes, Topped with Vanilla Buttercream and... Surprise! There's a Treat inside! Ghoulish Green Peanut Butter Cup Cream Filling!" :)

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes enough for a small batch of 7 regular sized cupcakes
from Billy's Reece's Chocolate Cupcake Recipe (I can't find it online anywhere, but this is him)
• 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted in double boiler and let to cool for 15 minutes
• 1/2 cup cake flour
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• Optional black food coloring

Preheat to 350. Cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg and mix. Add the cooled melted chocolate and mix. Combine the flour with the baking soda in one small bowl, and combine the buttermilk and vanilla in another small bowl. Add this flour mixture to the wet mix alternately with the buttermilk mixture. Stir just until combined. If making black cupcakes like I did, add to the batter at the end. I needed about 1/4 ounce of black gel food coloring to achieve this color.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 17-20 minutes. Let cool in cupcake tins for about 5 minutes, then remove to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Cup Cream Filling

about 1/2 C - 3/4 C of the following buttercream frosting recipe
7 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Green and black food coloring

Mix it all up with a fork and/or a electric mixer, and fill middle of cupcakes.

Alternate Buttercream Recipe (this is not my usual buttercream recipe... its a little stiffer)
1/2 c solid veg. shortening
1/2 c butter, soft
1 tsp vanilla extract (clear, if possible)
4 c sifted confectioner's sugar (~1lb)
Food coloring, if desired

*Cream shortening and butter.
*Add vanilla, mix well.
*Add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on medium speed. Scrape down side of bowl often.
*Add milk, beating at medium speed until icing is light and fluffy. Add coloring if desired.
Keep if refrigerator and rewhip before using (if not used immediately).
Makes 3 Cups.

More Halloween cupcakes to come...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes and Mini-Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

I'm back from my trip, and back in the blogosphere! The trip was beautiful. Venice, Bari, Olympia, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, Croatia, and home. We had wonderful weather, tremendously enjoyable excursions, and outrageously good food. And now, we're back in the land of dollars instead of Euros, homework instead of guided tours, and peanut butter sandwiches instead of 6 course european meals. Ehh... its...good.. to be home? I'm joking. It was a great trip, but it is nice to be back in our house with our beloved puppy. Unfortunately, life is still chaotic and busy. Thesis deadlines are rapidly approaching and I need to continue doing some serious intensive work on it for the next few weeks. But, I still found time to make cupcakes.

This week's cupcake of the week, the Banana Fluffernutter Cupcake, is... really ugly. In my head, they looked quite adorable. Once executed, however, the cupcakes appearance proved to be less than cute. But oh well, they still taste good. I just don't know how well they will sell. This week's flavor combo was inspired by that amazing Fluffernutter sandwich from childhood, (or adulthood if you're a child at heart like me and still eat them) made from Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Fluff spread on bread. With the addition of banana, the flavor combo is a total winner. Banana cupcakes, topped with peanut butter frosting, and then some homemade marshmallow cream and crunchies for a garnish (an attempt to make them look a little less ugly... didn't help.)

Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes
The Banana Cupcake recipe was the same one I used as my Hound-dog Heaven cupcakes, and the Peanut Butter Frosting is the same one I used here in the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (except this time I made the mistake of skipping the step of food processing the Peanut Butter... so it is much clumpier and MUCH drier...NOT cute). For the Marshmallow Cream frosting, I used this Epicurious Recipe scaled down.

Marshmallow Cream Frosting
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
1 Lg egg white
1/8 teaspoon Cream of tartar
2 tablespoons Water
1/2 teaspoon clear Vanilla extract
Tiny dash of salt

In large metal bowl, whisk together water, sugar, egg white, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl over pan of barely simmering water and mix with handheld electric mixer at low speed. Gradually increase speed to high, beating until mixture holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.

Transfer bowl from pan to folded kitchen towel on counter and continue beating until mixture is cool and billowy, about 2 minutes more. Beat in vanilla. Cool piped frosting on to cupcakes.

Ehh, I told you they were ugly. The marshmallow frosting was pretty easy to do, and had a great consistency for piping. Very much like marshmallow fluff. I will definitely use this recipe for frosting again.

BUT THATS NOT ALL. That's right! There's a bonus recipe this week! Tonight, I have a little get-together with the girls from my Italy abroad trip. For the occasion, I whipped up some mini-vanilla cupcakes topped with nutella frosting, in honor of the delicious hazelnut spread we ate daily during our time abroad there. The cupcake recipe is my usual one, scaled down to 1/4 of the original, so that it only makes 24 mini-cupcakes (approximately 7 or 8 regular sized cupcakes). But its the frosting thats the star of these cupcakes.

Nutella Frosting
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons nutella
1 1/2 cups of sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Little sprinkling of salt
4 teaspoons milk

In a small bowl, In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter, nutella and vanilla until well mixed. In a small bowl, mix sugar, salt and cocoa powder until its thoroughly mixed. Gradually, add this dry mixture to the butter mixture, adding milk as needed to get a creamy frosting-like consistency.
I got JUSTTTT enough out of this to pipe frosting on to 24 mini-cupcakes. It is very, very good if you like nutella.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Yes, its that time again. Today, me, Dan, and the dog are off to NY. And on Saturday, me and Daniel leave for Europe. Ahhhhh, bellissima. So posting will have to be put on hold while I cruise through a cruise leisurely through the Mediterranean, making stops in Italy, Croatia and the Greek Isles. Mi dispiace. Mi mancherai! I shall be back in a little over a week. I leave you with this:
Wine served in glasses made of chocolate?

Fino ad allora,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly: Cupcakery Review

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Until recently, I think I had been a bit ahead of the cupcake-game in the Central Florida area. In New York and LA, every turn you make you are met with another sweet shop, filling their cases with various cakelets topped with towering mounds of fluffy frosting. But here, not the case. For the most part, you can only find cupcakes mass-made at your local Publix... until recently, that is. On July 3rd, 2008 Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly, cupcakery and frozen yogurtery, celebrated their opening in the Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando, right down the block from UCF. Since you get a free cupcake when you sign up for their mailing list, I had no excuse not to go check it out and do some "research".
Well, its an adorable little place. A minimalist, happy, cheerful interior. I walked up to the counter to check out what they had. They have "Breakfast Cupcakes," (muffins... cute.) "Original" cupcakes for $3, and slightly smaller "Classic" cupcakes for $2.50. They have a menu of certain cupcakes they feature every day, and other flavors that rotate daily. The friendly cupcake dude at the counter handed me my free Original Cookies and Cream cupcake and I went home to do the real experimentation... Eating it!

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Its a pretty decent sized cupcake - more than enough for me and the boy to split. We cut it into 4 slices and prepared our very critical, cupcake-expert tastebuds. It was a very tasty cupcake - the cake part itself was very good. Moist, but not too moist, and held together very well. And the frosting? Also very good, but me and Daniel both agreed it tasted rather commercial, like it came out of a Betty Crocker can... which of course is delicious, but not what we were expecting. It even had the same thick-ish, dry, sturdier texture of frosting from a can. Not as wet and squishy as home-made frosting. (How DOES one achieve frosting with that kind of consistency with home-made frosting? If anyone knows of a recipe, let me know! I think stiffening my frosting consistency will be my next baking quest, so that they are better suited for transport home in a little take-out box. I'd love to achieve that texture frosting but with the taste of my home-made frosting.) Though, theirs is probably closer to the flavor of frosting people grew up knowing, as most parents probably didn't send cupcakes with home-made buttercream frosting to elementary school with their kids for their birthday. It just wasn't as "Gourmet" as we expected it to be.

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Not until the cupcake was 3/4 gone, did we realize that there was an ooey-gooey cookie-ish filling:

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I apologize for the less than appetizing picture, but thats as good as I could get in a hurry (we wanted to finish eating it). So, overall it was a very good cupcake. Though Dan said he didn't really get a "cookies and cream" flavor from it. But I think I'll have to do some more "research" of the other flavors before I reach a final conclusion. :) That key lime cupcake did look quite good...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cupcakes


It is absolutely amazing how fast the week flies by when you are trying to accomplish 9,000,000 things every day. Another week has gone by, and I feel like I have accomplished none of the work I planned on getting started on. ::sigh:: I can only hope that I'll actually be able to get it all done by the due dates. I'm getting quite nervous. And next Friday I leave for Europe for a week... oy vey. I thought your senior year, last semester was supposed to be easy??

Anyway, in between making my Italian presentation on Restaurazione D'Arte in Italia for Tuesday and NOT getting any more work done on my thesis, I was able to whip up this batch of Cupcakes of the Week. I must say, I'm more than happy with the results. A few days ago... well maybe it was more like weeks ago... I'm not sure... but I saw a little blog snippet of Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies. How amazing does THAT sound? Combining the amazing-ness of Cinnamon Sugar with Chocolate?! Count me IN. I decided to try to make the Cupcake version of that.

For the Chocolate Cake, I went with this recipe for Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Epicurious. It had a good number of good reviews, and I really wanted a rich, deep, chocolatey, moist cake to be my base. I scaled it down and played with it as such:

don't they look soo dark and chocolatey?

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes adapted from Epicurious
Makes 17 cupcakes

1 1/2 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 C Hot brewed Coffee
**EDIT: 1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 C Flour
3/4 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (not Dutch Process)
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 Eggs (I know, I'm so annoying!)
1/4 + 1/8 C Oil (I used olive oil, its fiiiinneee)
3/4 C Buttermilk
1/4 + 1/8 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

Preheat to 300, and line your cupcake pans with 17 liners.
Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup, and the hot brewed coffee in another glass, microwave safe measuring cup. If your coffee is not super hot, I recommend making it so with the help of your trusty microwave. Pour the hot coffee over the chocolate and let it melt. Give it a stir every couple of minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they are slightly thickened and a light, opaque yellow color.
Slowly add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla to the eggs. Then add the melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well.
Next, add the sugar mixture and beat on medium until combined well.
Pour batter into cupcake liners until they are about 3/4 full. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Place cupcake pans on cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, take a knife and gently separate any cupcake-tops that may have grown and stuck to the pan. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.


Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioners sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until light, fluffy and creamy. Then, add the vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon. Then, add slowly to the butter mixture. Beat on high for about 5 minutes, until it reaches desired consistency.


I would definitely use this chocolate cake recipe again, it was easy, and came out very moist and chocolatey. And the cinnamon buttercream... great. In both the cake and the frosting, the cinnamon was noticeable but not overpowering. It had a good balance of rich, intense chocolatey-ness, and spice from the cinnamon.


And before I go, I would like to share two things with you. One is silly and one is exciting. Ok, the exciting one first:

LOOK, I got on Cupcakes Take the Cake! I was so excited! Theirs is one of my favorite blogs, so getting on there was a very cool thing for me :)

Ok, here's the silly thing:

How cute is Ernie taking pictures of his chocolate cuppycakes? He'd be a good foodie blogger.


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