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Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Every year I get excited when I see strawberries in the grocery store.  I’m not really big on fruit desserts, but I do love strawberry shortcake, cupcakes, and ice cream.  I saw these cupcakes at the perfect time and decided to make them to celebrate this beautiful warmer weather that we’ve been blessed with!  These cupcakes were a pretty standard white cupcake with lemon flavoring, but it was the frosting that made them stand out.  This frosting was simply incredible!  I like pretty much any frosting, but a Swiss buttercream works great in sweets because it’s not overly sweet.  It’s more about the creamy,  buttery texture.  I added an entire carton of strawberries for extra flavor, which was just right for me.  David said that this is pretty much his favorite cupcake and he wants me to find even more excuses to make that frosting again!  These would be a great dessert to make for a spring cookout or for Mother’s Day- the perfect way to celebrate spring!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Martha Stewart

3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 Tbsp lemon zest (from 3 lemons)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1-1.5 lemons)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Strawberry Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare muffin tin by either spraying with baking spray or lining with paper liners (my preferred method).

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar on a high until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next one. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Turn mixer to the low, and add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated.

Fill each muffin cup ~3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pans at the halfway point. Allow cupcakes to cool completely in the pans before removing.

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
2 cups sugar
8 egg whites
3 sticks butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pint strawberries, pureed
1 tsp vanilla

Place the stand mixer bowl over a simmering pot of water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk the sugar and egg whites until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture registers 160 degrees with a candy thermometer.

Place bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until the mixture is cool and holds stiff, glossy peaks (approximately 10 minutes). Change to the paddle attachment and beat in one tablespoon of butter at a time on medium. The mixture might appear curdled but keep going, it will pull back together. Add lemon juice, strawberry puree, and vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat until the frosting reincorporates and is smooth and fluffy (this will take about 10 minutes).

Yields: Frosting for 24 cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Snickerdoodles are such a fun cookie, so I couldn’t resist making them in cupcake form.  I love cinnamon, and these cupcakes make it the central flavor.  These cupcakes were easy to make- basically your standard cupcake recipe, and their simplicity made the cinnamon stand out as the star ingredient.  They taste a lot like the cookie: sweet and simple.  Martha’s book states that snickerdoodles are thought to have a German origin, and that their name is likely a mispronunciation of schneckennudeln (crinkly noodles).  It makes sense, though, because cinnamon seems to have a huge role in traditional baked goods.  The recipe calls for a seven-minute frosting, but I thought a cinnamon buttercream would be better.  I used my favorite buttercream frosting recipe and simply added cinnamon until I got the desired flavor.  Snickerdoodles are a popular cookie, and everyone got really excited about enjoying them in cupcake form!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart Cupcakes, also found on marthastewart.com

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Frosting Note: I made half the recipe for cupcakes and this full recipe of frosting and had some left over.  For a full batch of cupcakes, I would at least multiply this recipe by 1.5, if not double to be on the safe side.  If it’s too much, that’s okay, who doesn’t love leftover frosting? 🙂

Cinnamon Frosting
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated April 2007

20 tablespoons (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups Confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
1/8 tablespoons table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons cinnamon (or to taste)

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla, cinnamon, and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.


Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

I’ve never been a coffee drinker.  When I was in college I discovered that I loved coffee flavored desserts, but I’ve just never been able to drink a cup of coffee.  It’s funny, because my mom is a big coffee drinker but hates coffee in everything else!  Anyway, I was responsible for bringing dessert to a meeting recently and when I was going over the possibilities in my head, I kept going back to mocha flavors.  I love cupcakes because they’re perfect for individual servings, which suited the meeting well.  I looked at several recipes before settling on this one.  What really drew me in was the buttercream.  I’ve made similar Swiss buttercreams before (in Dorie’s famous Perfect Party Cake and again with this raspberry buttercream).  The thought of coffee-flavored Swiss buttercream sounded really good to me.

These cupcakes were really delicious!  They had the perfect mix of chocolate and coffee.  When I tasted the batter, I didn’t think the coffee flavor stood out enough, so I added 2 teaspoons of ground coffee.  I was really pleased with the way the mocha flavor came out in the cupcakes, and the frosting brought out the flavor even more.  I really loved the way this frosting came out.  It was rich and buttery and was the perfect match to the cupcakes.  This was all in all a wonderful cupcake!

Mocha Cupcakes
Source: slightly adapted from How to Eat a Cupcake, originally from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

Makes 12-16 (I got 15)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 teaspoons ground coffee
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and brewed coffee. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about ½ to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 16-20 minutes (book says 22-24 minutes, mine were done at 16). Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 tbsp hot water
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee

Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee into 1 tbsp hot water until dissolved, then put it in the refrigerator or freezer until it comes down to room temperature. Reduce mixer speed to low and add coffee mixture. Continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.

Dirt Cupcakes

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I wanted to make one of my classes a treat for being so well-behaved.  In South Carolina, second year teachers have to go through an evaluation process to get our professional teaching license.  That means several unannounced observations throughout the year.  I had my first one recently, and my kids were so well behaved that I wanted to reward them with a treat.  (Luckily they are also well behaved all the time anyway!).  Since it was so close to Halloween, I wanted to make something appropriate for the occasion and something they would love (this is 7th grade).  I decided on dirt cupcakes.  It just came to me to make these, but since I’ve seen them before I can’t exactly take the credit- I think they’re a pretty commonly made kid treat.  They are very simple to make, and kids (and probably adults too!) will just love them!  My kids told me that I am their favorite teacher 🙂

Dirt Cupcakes

1 recipe chocolate cupcakes (I recommend these from Cook’s Illustrated or the Hershey’s one)
chocolate frosting
finely ground Oreo crumbs
gummy worms

Bake cupcakes as directed and cool.  Frost lightly with chocolate frosting.  Dip in Oreo crumbs, and then stick the gummy worm in the center of the cupcake.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

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These have been popular on blogs all over lately, and it was no surprise that they were chosen for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Cupcake Club.  They were very easy to make, and the cream cheese frosting was the perfect topping.  It was a typical mixing of wet and dry ingredients, and reminded me very much of carrot cake.  It had very similar spices, but with zucchini instead of carrot.  I had some zucchini from David’s grandfather’s garden.  They usually give us several bags of it so I can freeze it and save it for baking, which is so convenient.  These were great cupcakes- light and moist, with smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting.  A definite hit!

Tracey chose these cupcakes for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

DSC_1973

Recently, Betty of How To Eat A Cupcake asked me if I’d be interested in a baking group for Martha Stewart’s new cupcake book.  Since I already had the book, I knew I would be making plenty of cupcake from it, and it is a monthly baking group, so I felt comfortable taking this on.  The first cupcake chosen was a Salted Caramel Cupcake, which is one I was hoping to make soon anyway.  I love chocolate, and caramel is close behind, so the two together is pretty much hard to beat.  The cupcake portion of this recipe is very simple and straightforward.  They had a strong chocolate flavor, and would be great on their own.  After letting the cupcakes cool, you cut the center out to make room for the caramel.  After making several filled cupcakes, I’ve found that a grapefruit knife is helpful for this task, so if you have one, you will be pleased to know that it has more than one use!

DSC_1976

The caramel comes next.  I love caramel, and was happy that this made a little bit more than I needed 🙂  It was made using the wet method, which means that you heat sugar and water until it reaches the caramel stage.  You need to be fairly quick when you fill the cupcake centers with the caramel, because it will harden.  Next, you make the cupcakes and frost them with a delicious, rich, chocolate frosting.  It doesn’t get much better!  I really liked these cupcakes, although I thought the caramel flavor would come through a bit more.  It did make for a moist, gooey center.  The recipe calls for making mini cupcakes, but I decided to make mine regular size.  I halved the recipe and got 8 cupcakes, which was perfect for the size crowd I served them to.  I am looking forward to making more wonderful cupcakes in the upcoming months!

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cupcakes

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I go running every morning, and often I think of things I want to bake while I’m running (what a great way to stay motivated!).  During a recent run, I thought about raspberry buttercream and how it would be perfect with chocolate cupcakes.  When I got home, I did some searching on the internet, and remembered that Peabody made these yummy cupcakes last summer.  I decided that these were just what I was looking for.

I made these for David’s office.  He works for a small company, and I dropped by one day during lunch to meet everyone (I am a teacher, so I have the summer off to do things like this!).  They loved these cupcakes.  These cupcakes were delicious.  With so much Dutch-process cocoa, they were very rich and chocolaty, and they were nice and moist.  The raspberry buttercream was incredible!  It was perfectly sweet with a nice raspberry flavor- prominent, but not too strong.  The raspberries on top were a great additional touch.  I used a pastry bag to pipe the ganache into them.  It was tedious, but a great detail that didn’t go unnoticed.  I had some ganache left over, but it will be great for drizzling over ice cream or brownies.  I also had some buttercream left over, so I think that next time I would pipe some into the cupcakes for some extra raspberry flavor.  They made a great first impression on David’s office and definitely lived up to my expectations!

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Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Jam Buttercream and Raspberry Truffle
Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Devil’s Food Cake
Raspberry Jam Buttercream
Raspberry Truffles

Deeply Dark Devil’s Food Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups warm water

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour mini cupcake pans.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix to incorporate.
Beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat on high speed for about 3 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the warm water in two additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix at low speed for 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake cupcakes for 13-15 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes in pan and remove cupcakes from pan. Let cool on wire rack. When cool, frost with Raspberry Jam Buttercream.

Raspberry Jam Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
6-8 cups powdered sugar
½ cup seedless raspberry jam

Place butter and jam in a mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream butter and jam until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until you reach desired consistency. If frosting gets too thick you can add a little milk to thin it out.

Raspberry Truffles

2 pints fresh raspberries, cleaned and dried
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup seedless raspberry jam

Place chocolate and raspberry jam in a heat proof bowl.
Bring cream to a boil.
Pour cream over chocolate and jam and let sit for about 3 minutes.
Whisk together chocolate mixture. If it is still a little lumpy, put in microwave for a few seconds and whisk again.
Put ganache into a piping bag fitted or even an plastic bag(with a tiny hole cut out). Pipe chocolate ganache into fresh raspberries.
Let sit in fridge for about 15 minutes. Top frosted cupcakes with raspberry truffle. Eat any extras…they are good.