Halloween Things Part II: Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Owls

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Happy Halloween! It is October 31st and I have a very special recipe to share with you today.  It’s a combination of some of my favourite things (cupcakes, chocolate, pumpkin, Oreos and owls).  First I thought I would start the post off with some of my Halloween top tens.

My Top 10 Favourite Horror Movies

Many of these are likely not on the top 10 best horror movies of all time list, but they are absolutely on mine.  My favourite kind of horror movie is one that involves some sort of possession or an evil spirit or demon.  I’m not a fan of anything too gory and I find slasher movies have been overdone (I’m sure they’re about to release to 100th Freddy or Jason movie any time now, and Scream 5 anybody?).  I love a movie that is going to make me jump out of my seat, not one that’s going to make me throw up (I’ve given up on the Saw franchise) or roll my eyes (one more blonde bimbo who trips and falls in the woods while running from a masked murderer with a knife and I will kill myself).  So, my fave movie picks this year are:

  1. The Conjuring (2013) – I LOVED this movie, and it’s probably one of the best “newer horror movie” I’ve seen in a very long time.
  2. Amityville Horror (2005) – I’m sorry none of the originals are on here.  This movie has been redone so many times I just decided to watch the newest one, and can you blame me? Two words: Ryan Reynolds.
  3. Darkness Falls (2003) – The twisted story about a pissed off toothfairy might not be scary to you, but this movie is the reason I still slightly hop onto my bed at night so that whatever living under my bed can’t pull me under.
  4. The Ring (2002) – This movie freaked me right out and that’s all I have to say on the matter.
  5. The Gift (2000) – I was quite young when I saw this, but it’s one movie that actually made me scream out loud.
  6. The Exorcist (1973) – One of the first of it’s kind – This movie doesn’t scare me much anymore since I’ve seen it so many times, but the freaky stories that I’ve heard about the making of the movie really scare me.
  7. Insidious (2010) – The second one is coming out soon and I am so excited to see it.  I will admit that this movie almost made me pee.
  8. The Poltergeist (1982) – It’s a classic – my parents weren’t very good at keeping me from watching scary movies as a child.  I believe I saw this one when I was 10 and I have loved it ever since.
  9. Carrie (1976) – I loved this movie and I am seriously curious to see how the remake will live up to the original.

Top 10 Halloween DIYs I’ve Seen This Year

I love crafts and love DIYs.  You should see my list for Christmas this years it’s out of control.  Anyway, thanks to Pinterest, I have found a whack or really neat Halloween DIYs this year.

  1. Halloween Wreath
  2. DIY Recycled Ghost and Pumpkin Lantern
  3. White Owl Pumpkins
  4. Halloween Tree
  5. Incredibles Costumes
  6. Minion Costume Tutorial
  7. Pumpkin Door Decoration
  8. DIY Harry Potter Potions
  9. Mummy Halloween Treat Bucket 
  10. DIY Creepy Mason Jars

Top 10 Halloween Bakes

My absolute favourite recipes I found this year were both from the Domestic Rebel and will be on my list for next year: Creepy Crawly CUpcakes and Butterbeer Cupcakes (the Butterbeer cupcakes because of my unhealthy Harry Potter obsession).  You can find my other faves below.

  1. Creepy Crawly Cupcakes 
  2. Butterbeer Cupcakes 
  3. Halloween Mummy Spinach Dip 
  4. Candy Corn White Chocolate Chip Cookies 
  5. Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Owl Cupcakes  (Today’s recipe!!!!)
  6. Chocolate Spider Web Cupcakes
  7. Gooey Monster Eye Cookies
  8. Halloween Cookies n’ Cream Bars 
  9. Creepy Crawly Brownie Bite Spiders
  10. Kiss of Death Cupcakes

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So let’s talk cupcakes.  I of course had to add a little pumpkin to today’s recipe, so I decided on pumpkin spice cupcakes and a dark chocolate frosting with a cinnamon spice.  I really wanted to take this cupcake a step further, I didn’t want to just do pumpkin, I needed something more.  More Halloween.  And that’s when I stumbled upon this fantastic recipe, and I of course had to try it.  I of course also had to make this, because they are cupcakes in the shape of owls, and I love owls, like alot, and so does my boyfriend (they’re his favourite animal).  So when he saw these he begged me to make it, and I of course obliged.

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I did make a small adjustment to the recipe.  Instead of using junior mints for the pupils, I used Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons.  They are essentially little dairy milk discs, and are pretty well meant for the exact purpose in which I used them.  I used these for two reasons: 1. I could not find any junior mints at the grocery store; and 2. I am one of those people who just don’t think mint and chocolate belong together.  Mint reminds me of toothpaste, and that’ just doesn’t belong in my dessert.  Everything tastes awful if you eat it right after you brush your teeth… do you really want your cupcake to taste awful? I didn’t think so.  Mint means toothpaste and toothpaste means dentist.  Since my last visit to the dentist involved a pair of pliers and a very unhappy wisdom tooth, I have to say that I don’t want to think about a dentist while I’m eating a cupcake, or ever really, but especially not when I’m eating a cupcake.

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Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Owls

makes 12 to 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

for the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

for the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s Dark Chocolate cocoa (I used regular cocoa and added a little bit of black food colouring gel to darking the frosting)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1lb powdered sugar, sifted (approx 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

for the Owls

  • 16 Oreos, split in half
  • 16 orange Reese’s Pieces Candy
  • 32 Cadbury Milk Chocolate Buttons (or junior mints)

Baking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt the butter in your microwave.
  3. Whisk in the sugars, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin puree.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients onto the pumpkin mixture and whisk until just combined. It will still be lumpy at this point.
  5. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. NOTE: Don’t be afraid to fill these liners full! These cupcakes do better with more batter in the cups and puff up nicely!
  7. Bake 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (I baked mine for about 20)
  8. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Make the frosting: cream together the butter, cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla.  One cup at a time, add the sugar and beat on high until smooth.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the heavy cream until you reach your desired consistency.  Mix on high for 4-5 minutes or until fluffy.
  10. Make the owls: split the Oreos in half by separating one side from the other.  I did this by slowly turning each side in the opposite direction until it came apart.  Not every Oreo split perfectly, so I had to go through a bit more than the 16 before I got what I wanted.  Place the chocolate button in middle of the eye, slightly off center so that it looks like cross eyes.  Separate out the orange Reese’s Pieces candies and set aside.  Using the spatula or knife, frost cupcake creating a flat surface.  At the top of the cupcake, make two little points with the frosting for the owl ears.  Place two eyes on the cupcake, making sure to leave room for the beak and not to cover the ears.  Place an orange candy under and between the eyes for the beak.

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The cupcakes are literally the cutest things I have ever make, and the pumpkin spice and cinnamon dark chocolate frosting are an amazing combination!  This recipe is a must try.  These cupcakes were so cute I almost couldn’t eat one! Thankfully I love chocolate so I couldn’t resist. Happy Baking!!

Cupcakes, Cake, and more Cupcakes!

So I have a confession.  A couple actually. My first, I have been SERIOUSLY missing cupcakes. Like a lot.  Confession number two: I think I’m officially going out of the cake decorating business.  Aside from a few here in there for VERY close friends, I won’t be making them anymore.  I’ve lost that passion.  I’m sticking to baking treats and cooking all my meals from scratch at home.  And, confession number 3: when I make large batches of cupcakes for an event or am just focusing on cupcake decorations….I used boxed cake mix for the cakes. Gah! I know… cardinal sin. But…it’s so much easier. And faster. And…ok. I won’t make any excuses for it. But anyway. Since I’ve developed my “cook and prepare anything and everything at home where possible”thought process, I’ve eliminated the option to use boxed or prepackaged foods. So… when I began coordinating a retirement event at my office, I of course offered to provide cupcakes for the “Tea Party” theme we so creatively came up with.  And therein lies the reasoning for my cupcake creations this week.  All made from scratch, I promise.  I’m going to say this right now. Cupcakes from the box and cupcakes from scratch are not the same.  They are not. I used to think basic flavours, like chocolate, vanilla and red velvet were typically the same in comparing boxed to scratch, so when I made these basic flavours, I always used box.  Boy was I wrong.  I am not even kidding you.  This is not by any means an exaggeration.  The vanilla from scratch cupcakes I made yesterday, are the best. frigging. cupcakes. that I have ever tasted.  Ever. Of all time.  Seriously.  When I bit in t one of the tiny cakes of fantasticness, I felt as though I died and went to heaven. It was that good.

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So what did I make? Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting (from Sally’s Baking Addiction, you can find the recipe here) and Vanilla Cupcakes, from Brown Eyed Baker (find it here), with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting (my own creation).  I also made a teapot cake, and you can find a full tutorial here.  The cake wasn’t easy, but it turned out okay.  Not as nice as the one in the tutorial, but I’m satisfied with it.  I really do love decorating cakes, it’s just the baking, trimming, stacking, crumb coating, and fondant covering that I’m not a fan of.  Making the flowers, the cake board, and all the other little additions like the ball border and the teapot lid.  I love that part.

I have one last confession: I. really. LOVE. sprinkles.  Chocolate sprinkles, peanut butter sprinkles, coloured sprinkles, shiny sprinkles, round sprinkles, square sprinkles, tiny sprinkles, large sprinkles… you name it.  Any shape, colour or size.  I love it.  I do not discriminate against sprinkles.  For my birthday, someone very special to me, my future aunty in law you can call her, bought me 25 different types of sprinkles in amazing glass canisters with metal tops.  They are fantastic… see below for my reaction.  A girlfriend of mine, who also understands my love for sprinkles, also bought me glittery, sparkly sprinkles, as well as a huge container with an assortment of fall coloured sprinkles. So. Many. Sprinkles!!!

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How could you not love sprinkles? They make everything looks so much happier, and tastier, and, and… just better.

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So let’s talk about these delicious and fantastic cupcakes… I’m sure you’re tired of all the adjective I’m using in this post, so I’ll just get to it.  Let’s start with the vanilla cupcakes.  When I’m baking for a large group, I usually like to make a chocolate based cupcake and a vanilla based cupcake.  This way, there’s another flavour for those crazy people who don’t like chocolate.  I have never been that big a fan of vanilla cupcakes, what’s the point of having vanilla when you can have chocolate? I’m so glad I made these, because these cupcakes have change my perspective when it comes to vanilla cake.  The original recipe had just basic vanilla buttercream frosting, but I have really been wanting to make an Irish cream frosting, and since I had some left over Bailey’s in my fridge from my holidays, I couldn’t resist.  Essentially, I made the icing like I would usually make buttercream.  That is, I added 1 cup of butter to my stand mixer, with 3 cups of icing sugar (I usually add 2 – 4 cups, depending on how thick i want it.).  I also added 1/4 cup of flour to thicken the icing without making it sweeter.  I mixed it on medium speed until the icing sugar, flour, and butter were well combined.  Then, instead of adding heavy cream and vanilla to the mix, I added 4 tbsp of Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Annnnd presto. There’s Irish Cream Frosting. Yummy.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting

makes 12-15 cupcakes.

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks , room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Irish Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream

Baking Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven rack to middle position.  Line a muffin pan with paper or tin cupcake liners.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add butter, sour cream, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

3. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin.  Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes.  Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

4. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting.  Using the wire whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip butter until it is smooth.  Add icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, whisking on low to medium speed between each added cup.  Add the flour and Irish Cream, and whisk until combined, scrapping down the sides as necessary.

I piped the icing through my Wilton 1M attachment, which is perfect fro your basic cupcake swirl design.  I topped the cupcakes with orange and brown sprinkles.

On to the next creation.  So this was all Sally.  I have every intention of ordering her new cookbook.  You can get it here.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love fall.  It is my FAVOURITE season.  It’s the perfect amount of hot and cold, the perfect amount of sun and cloud, the perfect amount of pumpkin and cinnamon and spice.  I love fall food.  So, for this tea party themed party, I knew that I had to make a pumpkin spice something.  I settled on chocolate fudge brownie cupcakes (the base cupcake is more like a brownie and less like a cake) with pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting.  Are you hooked yet?  I sure am.  I have never made pumpkin anything.  This is my first fall baking anything… or cooking anything worth talking about… Thanksgiving should be interesting.  Did I mention i volunteered to make a turkey dinner?  I topped this cupcake with mini white chocolate chip sprinkles.  They really did something for the taste.

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Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 12 – 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

Brownie Cupcakes

  • 4 ounces unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 – 2.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour

Baking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set aside
  2. Using a double boiler or a heat safe bowl atop a pot, melt the chopped chocolate and sliced butter together.  Ensure that the water is not touching the bowl, you don’t want to burn the chocolate.  Stir constantly and continue until chocolate is melted.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Stir in sugar, then vanilla.  Add in eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in the flour and salt.
  3. Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center will have moist crumbs.  Be careful not to overbake the cupcakes.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling in the pan, make the pumpkin frosting.  Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin, and spices on medium speed until creamy.  Add the 2-2.5 cups of sifted powdered sugar depending how sweet you’d like it.  If frosting is much too thin, add in the flour to thicken it.  Add salt to cut the sweetness, if you prefer. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

I again, used a 1M Wilton attachment for my swirl.  These were very good, and I was happy with the turnout of my first ever pumpkin dessert.

photo 3 (1)Okay one last confession… I promise.  I love the idea of a tea party.  So, when we decided to have a tea party themed retirement party for our tea loving co-worker, I was in heaven.

“So you mean to tell me, not only do I get to co-ordinate and plan the entire event, but I have an excuse to bake? Count me in.”

We had co-workers donate their vintage tea cups, tea pots, and plug in kettles.  Some people brought in baking, we purchased scones from a local bakery, and we provided countless types of herbal tea.  We had so much fun!  I have only drank out of a tea cup a handful of times, so it felt kind of fun to use something other than a giant coffee cup, and try a new assortment of teas.

So on to my cake.  It was a lot of work covering this cake. I had to recover it like 5 times before I finally got it right, and even then, there were some seriously visible imperfections.  I hid them well, and in the end I got the cake to look pretty close to what I had imagined.  Many said it looked like Mrs. Pots from Beauty and the Beast.  I have to agree. It is an adorable cake. No one wanted to eat it!  We sent it home with the guest of honour who seemed to be quite happy with it.

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My cake was a hit, my cupcakes an even bigger hit. I am so happy that I finally got to make a pumpkin flavoured dessert.  Maybe I’ll make another over the weekend…I have a lot of leftover pumpkin purée!  Hope you enjoyed.  Happy Baking!photo 2 (7)

World AIDS Orphan Day: Baking for a Cause

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Last week I made a huge batch of cupcakes to raise money for the Golder Trust for Orphans, a charity that the company I work for created.  My office will often have events or sell things within our office in an effort to raise money for the Trust.  May 7th was World AIDS Orphan Day, and I made… get this.. 72 cupcakes.. yikes! It took a lot of work.  A lot of baking and cooling really.  But I managed, and came out with 72 cupcakes, decorated with fondant and gum paste blossoms and daisies, sugar pearls and chocolate chips.  The cupcakes were red velvet, vanilla and chocolate, and were topped with swirls of green and orange buttercream.  They turned out great.  Thanks to everyone in the office, we raised $315.00!!!!  I’ve posted all the pictures below.  If you are interested in contributing to the Golder Trust for Orphans, please visit their website at http://goldertrust.org/donate/

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On another note, I hope everyone enjoyed their mother’s day weekend! I have some cakes coming up after the long weekend that I am so super excited to share, including another baby cake and an angry birds cake.  I found a fantastic tutorial that demonstrated how to make fondant baby shoes, and I will post it with my comments after I have made the cake.  Happy Baking!!

Gum Paste and Fondant Flowers

So this week, instead of my usual “cupcake flavour of the week”, I decided to put some of the skills I’ve developed from my cake decorating course to use and created some amazing flowers to top some basic chocolate cupcakes.  This took a lot of time and effort over the weekend, but in the end I was able to create eight cupcakes with daisy toppers, eight cupcakes with rose toppers, and eight cupcakes with fondant blossom and sugar pearl toppers.  The daisies and blossoms were simple enough, but the roses took a lot of time, about 10-15 minutes per rose, plus some preparing the day before.  Can you say dedicated? Eek. Anyways, I had tons of fun putting these together, and so far they’ve been a hit.  At risk of this post being the longest post ever with all of the details I’d have to divulge regarding each flower, I decided to create a new section on my blog labeled “TUTORIALS”.  This page will be the designated how to page, and I will refer to it from now on for all of my future tutorials.  On another note, this week is my last cake decorating class! Yes, I am quite sad about this…I just want it to go on forever! However on the plus side I will be completing my master cake this Thursday, and will be giving it to my Aunt for her 50th birthday.  I’m planning a zebra print cake, yes, you heard it right, zebra print, with a hot pink bow.  It will be centered on a fondant covered, decorated cake board that I already prepared in last weeks class. Hopefully this doesn’t blow up in my face, zebra print looks complicated.  Wish me luck! I will update with my progress on Friday.

This weeks cupcakes were a “floral themed” bunch.  Here are some pictures of the scrumptious awesomeness that were my cupcakes. Follow the links to see the tutorial for each flower.  If anything is unclear comment and I will get back to you ASAP.

Gum Paste Roses

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Gum Paste Daisies

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Fondant Flower Blossoms with Sugar Pearls

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RED WINE CUPCAKES

When I first stumbled across this recipe I nearly fainted.  Chocolate cupcakes, with red wine in the batter….AND in the frosting. Oh my gosh have I died and gone to heaven?  So this was very exciting and of course I had to create this magnificent combination of flavours.  I borrowed the original recipe from here.  Her pictures are much better than the ones my iPhone is capable of taking. Poo. But no matter.  For my cupcakes I’m sure turned out just as wonderful!

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Chocolate and Red Wine Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Chocolate batter…

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate (72%), broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 3\4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used a merlot, but the author from delacasa has used a shiraz as well and said it has turned out just as well)

1. Preheat over to 350˚F.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cocoa powder and chocolate pieces.  Whisk in the boiling water until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is thoroughly combined.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Add the chocolate mixture and wine, and mix until batter is smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring there are no flour streaks and the batter is well mixed.

4. Divide batter among cupcakes liners, filling them approximately halfway.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the red wine frosting…

  • 1 cup wine plus 4 tablespoons, divided
  • 1/4 cup granular sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened but still cold
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Small seedless grapes for garnish

1. Place the wine and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved, and simmer until mixture is reduced to scant 1/3 cup.  This…I did not find simple.  How do you know when the mixture is reduced? Uhg I kept having to take it out of the pan and toss it in a measuring cup, and then putting it back in to allow it to simmer more.  So confusing! But at last, I succeeded.  I feel like it was about 10 minutes, so I’m going to say, let it simmer for approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the softened butter and confectioners sugar.  Mix on low speed at first, and then on high until mixer is fluffy.  I suggest adding 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl between each added cup, as it will better blend with the butter.  With the mixer running, add the cooled wine and sugar reduction.  Add the salt and beat until well combines.

3.  With the mixer running, gradually pour the the 4 tablespoons of wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thoroughly mixed.  I found the frosting a little runnier than I would have liked, so at the very end I added another 3/4 cup of confectioners sugar, adding 1/4 cup at a time, until it was the consistency I wanted.  Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with the tip of your choice (I used a Wilton 1M attachment), and frost your cupcakes.  Garnish with a red grape.

So there you have it, chocolate red wine cupcakes.  Very tasty.  They were however, not my favourite, as they were a teensy bit too sweet for my liking.  I think it was most likely because of the amount of sugar in the frosting.  That obviously didn’t stop me from eating three out of this batch so clearly I did something right.  Happy baking!

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CINNAMON ROLL CUPCAKES

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Okay people, cinnamon rolls.  I love love love cinnamon rolls.  So the other day I was sitting at work, trying to figure out what kind of cupcake I should make this week, and I suddenly got a hankering for a cinnamon roll.  They’re so good, with their gooey icing of awesomeness, I just have to have one.  And that’s when I thought, hmmmmm how about a cinnamon roll cupcake? Brilliant! Is this possible? So I googled, and yes, a cinnamon bun cupcake is very possible.  I found a great recipe for one, you can find the original here.  Now let me tell you, I had some serious issue making these tiny mouthfuls of awesome.  The recipe and instructions were clear and easy to follow, so I followed them 100% and…well the cakes taste good but they don’t quite look as pretty as the pictures from the author’s website.  The consistency of my batter was a lot different (mine was much thicker, even though I followed the recipe down to the exact 1/2 tsp), and the icing from the original recipe didn’t quite do it for me, so I changed it, and it actually didn’t blow up in my face so hurray! This cupcake is a cinnamon roll cupcake, with a coffee flavoured icing and a cream cheese frosting. MMMMmmmmm cinnamon rolls.

INGREDIENTS

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For the cinnamon swirl:

  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cupcake batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coffee icing:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (*I used three*)
  • 1 cup  confectioner’s sugar (*plus three to four more tablespoons*)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (*I used four*)

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon heavy whipping cream

*makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.

First make the cinnamon swirl filling.  Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set the mixture aside until it is ready to use.

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In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Once combined add the baking powder.  Add the butter, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth, scrapping the bowl periodically to ensure there are no streaks of flour.

Place one tablespoon of batter in each of the paper liners in the prepared muffin pan. Make a small well in the middle of each cup of batter with a toothpick. Stir the filling to make sure the butter is combined, then spoon a scant 1 teaspoon of the filling into each cup. Use a toothpick to swirl the filling and batter together. (ps for those who don’t know scant means slightly less…don’t feel bad I had to google this today hehe).  Add another tablespoon of batter to each cup and repeat the filling/swirling process.

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Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.

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The next step is to make the coffee frosting.  I used 3 tbsp of butter over the recommended 2 because I wasn’t able to combine all the ingredients to make a icing-like mixture.  My mixture was almost completely dry, even after I added the 1 tbsp of coffee recommended by the author.  In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then, stir in the vanilla until combined. Add the coffee until desired consistency is reached. Even after adding the second tbsp of coffee, I didn’t find the icing actually tasted like coffee.  It just tasted like regular icing.  Which is why I added so much more coffee to the recipe.  Because of the extra 2 tbsp I added, I needed to include more icing sugar so the consistency of the icing wouldn’t be completely out of whack (mind you it was a little thinner than I would have liked but it really acted like more of a glaze, and it actually tasted like coffee, which is great).  Ice the cooled cupcakes with the coffee icing. Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then top with cream cheese frosting.

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In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely combined. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat the mixture well, until light and fluffy, adding in the whipping cream.

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I piped my frosting onto the cakes using a Wilton 1M attachment and a piping bag.  I just can’t not pipe my frosting on, it looks so much more like an actual cupcake that way!  The author of this recipe didn’t pipe the frosting on, and it looks great like that too, so try whichever way you prefer.  And there you have it! Cinnamon roll cupcakes.  The taste was amazing! They were a lot of work for the yield I got though, so I’m not sure if these will be something I’d make on a regular basis.  I’d also like to understand why my batter was so much thicker than the authors.  Her’s looked so fabulous and mine, well, didn’t.  I found my batter looked more like a cinnamon roll and her’s looked more like a cupcake, which is what I was going for.  Maybe I over mixed it? I don’t feel like I did… anyways, I’m sure I will recreate these at another point in time to see if I can perfect them.  Speaking of things I love…red wine.  Ever heard of red wine cupcakes? Ya those exist.  Guess what’s on my list for next week’s batch.

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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

Peanut butter and chocolate…my favourite combination.  There is nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter together.  I want them to get married and have babies, that’s how much I love them.  So clearly, making chocolate peanut butter cupcakes is a necessity to my cupcake endeavors.  The cupcakes turned out amazing! I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcake batter, a peanut butter cream frosting, and topped it with a Reese’s mini peanut butter cup half.

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THE FROSTING

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  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl and with a mixer on medium-low speed mix until creamy.  Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

DECORATING THE CAKES 

Add the peanut butter cream frosting into a decorating bag, and using a Wilton 1M attachment create a swirl to cover the top of the cupcake.  For best results pipe the frosting holding the bag about 1/4 inch above the cake at a 90 degree angle.  Always make sure you have given the cupcakes the chance to cool before frosting them!

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Once the frosting has been added, add the Reese`s mini halves to the tops.  Freeze the peanut butter cups before cutting them into halves as they will be less likely to crack or crumble.

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WINTER SNOWFLAKE CUPCAKES

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday! Ken and I went up to his camp on New Year’s Eve and spent a few days relaxing and enjoying our time off.  I start my new job on Monday and am totally stoked! 009

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Cupcakes, Cupcakes, CUPCAKES!  So for the past few weeks I have been obsessing about cupcakes.  Seriously, a few glasses of wine and a Cupcake Wars marathon and I am one cup of icing sugar away from developing a serious case of cupcake brain! I have already started planning out my valentines day cupcakes, and am looking for any excuse to make some! (For real, if you live in my area and have an upcoming event I am so in on making some of my cupcakes for you! )  My Birthday Cupcakes were a total success and a major hit for everyone who tried one, but since I missed out on making Christmas cupcakes, I thought I would make some terribly appropriate Winter Cupcakes!! I love Winter, mostly because of Christmas, but in general, I just love snow, love winter wear, and love love love the first major snowfall of the year.  So, I thought I would make a cupcake celebrating snowflakes!  So the first thing I tried to think about was, what colours remind me of winter? And not Christmas, WINTER.  I decided on white and blue.  So my Winter Cupcakes are a white cake based cupcake, with a two tone buttercream frosting, a fondant snowflake, and clear glitter to top it off!

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THE CUPCAKE BATTER

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I decided to make a white cake batter (I know, I’m diverting from chocolate it’s craziness!)

Ingredients:

1 package of white cake mix

3 eggs

8 oz sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

I love making big cupcakes, so this wasn’t quite enough batter to make 2 dozen cupcakes.  Next time I may add an extra egg and some oil, kind of like my chocolate cake mix, in order to make a few more.

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I also added some blue batter bits to a few of the cupcakes to add some colour!

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THE ICING

For the icing I used a basic buuttercream frosting recipe.  I made two batches, using clear vanilla extract for the first to create a whiter buttercream, and the second I added some blue gel based colouring to dye the frosting blue.

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TWO TONED ICING
I wanted to create a two toned frosting effect with the blue and white buttercream icing I made.  Of course, the novice baker in me is completely oblivious to how to accomplish this.  Thanks google! You can find a very informative video here.  Using a disposable piping bag and a 1M tip from Wilton, I added the blue and white icing to the bag.  Add the blue to the piping bag first, squish it so the buttercream is top to bottom in the bag, and then reopen it and add the white.  It may take a few swirls for both tones to appear.  I practiced a few swirls so I could find the two tone.  Note to self: get bigger piping bags.

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FROSTING THE CUPCAKES

Frosting the cupcakes was a lot less intimidating than I thought it would be! I only messed up a few but I was able to fix them with more icing…there is no such thing as too much icing!  A few cupcakes turned out more blue than others.  I kept having to refill the piping bags so it got messy, and a little hard to refill the blue, then the white, but overall the colours were consistent.

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FONDANT SNOWFLAKES

Roll out your white fondant and use snowflake cookie or fondant cutters to make the snowflakes – easy as pie. Wait until they harden before placing them on the cupcakes.  If they’re too soft they may bend or break!

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THE CUPCAKES

The last step was to add the clear glitter and the fondant snowflakes.  The glitter should have been added to freshly frosted cupcakes, but I waited a little too long and the frosting hardened a little too much.  The glitter still stuck but not as well as I would have hoped.

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BIRTHDAY CUPCAKES

On top of his birthday cake, I decided to make my boyfriend some birthday cup cakes! They turned out very well considering I’ve never made cup cakes before.  I figured they couldn’t be too hard, the same as cake just smaller, hence the name “cup cakes”, hehe.  Anyway, here they are!

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Don’t they just look scrumptious?  They are chocolate cup cakes with a chocolate buttercream topping.  I used coloured fondant to make the starts and the swirly decorations, and also used fondant for the birthday candle in the birthday boy’s cupcake.  I used the same cake batter that I did for my other two chocolate cakes, which can be found here, and for the chocolate buttercream I used the same recipe I used for my chocolate fudge brownies, which can be found here.  I did add a few more tablespoons on cream in the icing to make it a little thinner.

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I used an ice cream scoop to place the batter into the cup cake holders.  I found the first batch came out a little bigger than I had wanted.  The holders should be filled 1/2 way to 2/3 up, but my ice cream scoop was a little on the large side to they came out a little on the large side.  The second batch I made came out smaller, as I didn’t fill my scoop up all the way.

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While the cakes were baking I created the fondant designs.  The stars were made by dying white fondant to blue and yellow, and then using some fondant cut outs from Wilton to shape them.  I used lollipop sticks to create the swirly decorations; using small strips of fondant i wrapped them around the sticks, and slowly pulled them off once they were dried.  This worked relatively well.  A few strips that I made were a little on the thicker side, so I they didn’t dry as quickly and therefore stuck to the sticks.  The thinner ones came off without a hitch so made sure you roll out your fondant into a relatively thin strip before wrapping it around a stick or straw.

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The cupcakes turned out well aside from a few that were slightly caved in (I assume because of their larger size).  The smaller ones I made turned out perfectly.  Because of the extra moist batter, I cooked them for 2 minutes longer than the recommended minimum time and that seemed to keep them from being too gooey.

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The last thing I did was create the fondant candle.  I molded the orange fondant into a small tube like shape, and then the yellow fondant in the shape of a flame.  I attached them using a toothpick.

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