St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

Can I say that I find any opportunity to bake?

St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to make a batch of cupcakes!  Chocolate cupcakes are one of H’s favorites.  I felt like I should make Guinness chocolate cake, or at least buttercream flavored with Irish Cream.  Honestly, I had none of those in my pantry, and these had to be kid-friendly, so I went with my standard tried and true chocolate cake recipe.  If you do have Irish Cream on hand, feel free to swap out the milk or whipping cream for it!  I really must add a bottle to my shopping list!

These cupcakes are everything you would expect: intense chocolate flavor, fudgy, moist and perfectly sweet.

While we dislike sugary-sweet frostings, chocolate cupcakes need a regular buttercream.  The intense bittersweet chocolate paired with this type of buttercream is perfect.

I thought about tinting the buttercream green, but I personally didn’t think they would look appetizing.  I try not to use too much food coloring, and I would hate to confuse anyone who might think they were mint flavored.  We are obviously not fans of mint!

The vanilla buttercream is my standard recipe.  It has the perfect ratio of 1:3 (butter:icing sugar).  Duff Goldman also uses the same measurements.

Enjoy; you will not be able to stop at eating just one!

My Favorite Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from foodnetwork.com
Makes 28-30 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see kitchen notes)
  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee or 1 cup boiling water mixed with 1 tsp espresso powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in your cupcake/muffin pans.
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
  4. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
  6. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  7. Fill each liner 2/3 full.
  8. Bake 22-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  Insert a toothpick randomly, it should come out clean.

Kitchen notes:

  • I find it helpful to pour the batter (it will be thin) into a large measuring cup.
  • Make sure each cupcake liner has the same amount of batter, otherwise you will end up with some cupcakes that are baked, and some that are not.
  • If you do not have buttermilk on hand (I never do), fill a measuring cup with 1 tbsp vinegar or fresh lemon juice.  Add milk to equal 1 cup, stir and let sit for a few minutes.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream

Adapted from foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or whipping cream (or Irish Cream)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together butter and icing sugar on low speed until well blended.  I tend to rock the switch on my mixer between off and number 1, back and forth to avoid splattering the icing sugar everywhere.
  2. When the icing sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium and beat for another few minutes.
  3. Add vanilla extract and milk or cream and continue to beat on medium speed for a few more minutes.
  4. Add additional milk or cream if needed (in very small amounts), to your desired spreading consistency.

Note:

  • If your kitchen is warm or the butter is too soft, place it back in the fridge for a bit.  Don’t worry, when you whip the butter, it will come together.

 

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National Cupcake Day 2018

Every day is cupcake day for me, but a National Cupcake day?  Yes!

This year’s date is February 26, 2018, and it’s not too late!  You can help animals in need by hosting a cupcake party or making a donation.  For more information visit National Cupcake Day!

Disclaimer: 
This is not a paid advertisement.  I am a supporter of Ontario SPCA and hope you will join me.

Cheers!
Ruby

 

 

Dark Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes

These may not be the scariest looking cupcakes, but they sure are delicious!

I used my standard chocolate cake recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  The recipe makes approximately 26-30 cupcakes, depending on the size of cupcake liners used.  This is an oil-based recipe, which results in an incredibly moist texture, with a deep, dark chocolate flavor.  The buttercream frosting from Foodnetwork.com is a must!

Have a safe and sweet Halloween!

Kitchen notes:
I doubled the frosting recipe and used a food processor instead of my KitchenAid mixer.  It’s less messy.  I also used more whipping cream, a little at a time, until the texture was fluffier, along with 1/4 tsp espresso powder.

Disclaimer: 
I’m not embarrassed to say I ate two for breakfast!

Birthday Cake!

This cake is pure decadence!

It’s a vanilla sponge cake perfumed with strawberries and raspberries. The filling is a light and refreshing strawberry Bavarian cream, with a luscious layer of vanilla whipped cream.  The finishing touches are macarons, meringues, fresh berries, candied orange peel and fresh basil.

Truly a cake lover’s dream!

Birthday Cake 2014

 

Birthday Cake 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding – Pure Decadence!

Sticky Toffee Pudding is one of the most decadent and delicious desserts on this planet … okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but the first time I tried this dessert, I was hooked!

Who knew that a cake made with dates could taste so scrumptious??? H couldn’t even detect the taste of dates.

I’ve tried so many recipes, but the one I keep coming back to is from the Barefoot Contessa. Her recipe makes 2 cakes, but I easily cut it in half. H loves the toffee sauce so much that I make extra and freeze it (it is simply amazing on vanilla ice cream with toasted pecans!)

Please don’t try to serve this extremely moist cake (I don’t know why it’s called a pudding?) without the toffee sauce; it will taste really, really bland. And yes, the fresh whipped cream is a must!! Or, even a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a very filling dessert so I like to serve it after a light lunch or dinner. Oh heck, I’ve even eaten it several times for breakfast and any time in between!!

The cakes can be made in any size (round, square or muffin tins). I used my jumbo cupcake pans because one small muffin size is NOT enough! The cakes and sauce freeze really well – just thaw and heat in the microwave for a minute or two. There have been times when I craved the toffee sauce for another dessert, and I just scooped it straight out of the container from the freezer (use a very strong and sturdy spoon) and microwaved it!

I just know you’ll fall in love with Sticky Toffee Pudding … we have!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Makes two 9” cakes or 20 muffin sized cakes
Adapted from barefootcontessa.com

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3¼ tbsp baking powder

Toffee Sauce

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream (35%)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Butter and flour two 9” round cake pans or 20 muffin tins
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt and set aside
  4. Place the dates in a large saucepan with 3 ½ cups cold water. Bring to a boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Watch carefully as it can boil over. Simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (this will cause the mixture to bubble up) so stir carefully but quickly. Set aside
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand or electric mixer until creamy
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and middle of the mixing bowl after each addition
  7. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour mixture and mix briefly, the batter will be lumpy
  8. Add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides and middle of the bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery (this is normal)
  9. Add the baking powder (this will bubble up also)
  10. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans or muffin tins
  11. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes for cake pans and about 20 minutes for muffin tins. Test if they are cooked with a small toothpick, it should come out clean when cakes are done

Toffee Sauce

Combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan
Bring to a boil and whisk gently, then reduce to simmer for a minute or two until thickened and well mixed. Be careful as this mixture will become very hot (use caution when whisking).

Optional:

When the cakes are done, poke little holes all over with toothpick, this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the toffee sauce over cakes while both are still warm and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out upside-down onto serving plates.  Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Note:

I like to serve the cakes with the toffee sauce poured over the cakes, but it’s entirely up to you :)

Kitchen note:

  • I cut this recipe in half and it makes 1 round or square cake, or 8 jumbo cupcakes

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

Sprinkles

Sprinkles can elevate your cupcakes from plain to awesome! It’s the easiest way to decorate, and the choices are overwhelming! A trip to my local Bulk Barn store resulted in bags and bags full of colorful confetti sequins, jimmies, nonpareils, pearl dragees, and decorating sugar in so many colors ….

I came home and didn’t know what to do with them! Although I personally don’t like sprinkles (I can’t get past the crunch), the world would be pretty boring without some sparkle and color!

When I bake treats for my friends and their kids, I bring out my sprinkles and go crazy.

Here are a few of what I think you’d crave!

Kitchen note:
Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, decorated with Wilton 1M tip.

Cupcakes and Sprinkles

DSC_0432-PM-001

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

 

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

 

 

 

 

 

German Chocolate Cupcakes – So Decadent!

I remember eating German Chocolate cake while on our honeymoon in Maui, and falling in love (yes with H, but also with the cake).

It’s been ages since I’ve made it, and while it can be labour-intensive, it’s so worth the time. If you toast the nuts and make the frosting first, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Getting back to the German Chocolate cake … H thought it was from Germany, but it was originally made with dark chocolate by an American chocolate maker named Sam German. So, it’s more of an American cake.

The frosting, which is made from coconut and pecans, is quite the icing on the cake! If you’re not a fan of nuts or coconut, then this cake is not for you though :(

I was watching Barefoot Contessa a few days ago (I love her show), and she made German Chocolate Cupcakes with a twist. There was no German chocolate in her recipe, and she added almonds with a touch of almond extract. I had to make them!

Thankfully, I read the reviews from other bakers on her recipe, so I knew I wanted to cut the recipe in half. 14 jumbo cupcakes are way too many, even for a cake lover! With a bit of math, I ended up with 11 regular-sized cupcakes. I also cut the frosting in half, and it was just enough. I would not recommend using the full amount of almond extract; it’s too overpowering.

I could hardly wait to bite into the cupcakes, so I chilled the frosting since it was still a bit warm.  Do you see the wooden spoon?  After I scooped the mixture into a bowl to cool, I intentionally left a good amount on my spoon …  mmm!  A delicious taste test!

The cupcakes were so chocolaty, but not too sweet. I’m so glad because it would have been over the top with such a decadent frosting.

The cupcakes were so chocolaty, but not too sweet. I’m glad because it would have been over the top with such a decadent frosting.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 14 jumbo cupcakes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs (or 3 large eggs), at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp freshly brewed coffee
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1- ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Coconut Frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks (I just used regular sized egg yolks)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line jumbo cupcake pans with 14 or 15 paper liners or 2 regular cupcake pans with 22 – 24 paper liners
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl
  3. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add extracts and mix well
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee
  5. In a third bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt
  6. With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Don’t over mix!
  7. Fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to be sure all ingredients are combined (I still had butter on the bottom of my bowl!)
  8. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners using an ice cream scooper
  9. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting

Coconut Frosting

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  2. Whisk in the evaporated milk, brown sugar, and egg yolks and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  3. Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. If the mixture looks a bit curdled, beat it vigorously with a whisk
  4. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut, almonds, pecans, and salt
  5. Allow to cool for about an hour
  6. Frost the cupcakes with a knife or small metal spatula

Kitchen notes:

  • I cut the recipe in half and came out with 11 regular-sized cupcakes.  Bake time was approximately 16 – 18 minutes.  To cut the 2 extra-large eggs in half, I used 1 large egg and for the 2nd egg, just break into a bowl, mix with a fork and eyeball half of it.  I have no patience to convert butter into tablespoons when my butter comes in cup sizes, so I just used ½ cup butter.  12 tablespoons equals the amount in the recipe, but if you cut the recipe in half, 6 tablespoons equals ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons, so I just used ½ cup.  The recipe came out great!
  • I would not suggest using the full amount of almond extract indicated in the “original” recipe, it will be too overpowering.  If making the full recipe, use ¼ tsp.  If making half the recipe, like I did, use 1/8 tsp, or omit all together
  • I did not have 2 tablespoons of cooled coffee on hand, nor would it have been fresh!  I just added 1 teaspoon of instant espresso powder to the dry ingredients
  • My range is quite new so I didn’t have to simmer the frosting for the full 15 minutes.  I cooked it for about 8 minutes, until the back of a spoon is coated.  Don’t use high heat
  • If the frosting hasn’t cooled after 1 hour, place it in the fridge for a bit