Always up for a challenge, I accepted the call to make a strong strawberry flavored cupcake… So, at my friend’s special request, here it is!
After trying a few but not being satisfied with the weak strawberry flavor, my friend challenged me to find a yummy strawberry cupcake recipe that she can use. After a few failed batches and lots of internet searching, I finally settled on doing my own conglomerate using one of my favorite vanilla cupcakes as a base and modifying from there. To send the strawberry flavor over the top, I made a rich strawberry frosting to swirl over each cupcake.
The secret ingredient? Freeze-dried strawberries! All the flavor, none of the watery strawberry goo that messes with the texture! If you’re not familiar with freeze-dried strawberries, you can usually find them at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
I’ve had my culinary lavender for a while. I’ve made lavender almonds, but that’s about as far as I’ve ventured with my lavender. I’ve been wanting to try something lavender honey for a while and it never seemed like the right time to do it. I tend to bake with the seasons, turning to the rich and spicy flavors in winter, and lighter fresher flavors in spring and summer. Lavender seems like more of a spring or summer flavor. And honey… Well, that can only be inspired by flowers. So, with the cherry blossoms in bloom right outside my house and a light spring drizzle coming down, it seemed like the perfect time to try my hand at some lavender honey cupcakes.
I was concerned at first that the flavors would be too light and hidden in the cupcake and frosting or that the lavender would overpower the honey. My concerns were gone as soon as I bit in. There is plenty of rich honey flavor in this moist cupcake and just the right amount of savory lavender in the frosting to balance out the sweetness. I’m in love. And the frosting texture turned out perfect. It might be my favorite cupcake to date. (and I have pretty high standards)
My sister is having a baby. Yay. You know what that means… A party…. And Cupcakes! And I received the honor of making those cupcakes for her baby shower. That’s a job I won’t pass up!
It was an ‘eco’ or ‘green’ themed shower with lots of earthy tones, earthy foods, etc. So, I couldn’t think of a better cupcake to make than a whole wheat carrot. Whole wheat? Healthy! Carrots? Healthy! A healthy cupcake! (ehem)
After a few attempts, I finally found recipe that was perfection. It’s from the King Flour Whole Grain Baking book. My all-time favorite book – but you know that – I talk about it all the time… It’s a lightly spiced, not too sweet but just sweet enough carrot cake. It’s super moist and light. The texture was amazing. And then of course I had to take it up to more gourmet and ‘healthier’ heights (wink, wink) by filling it with caramel and orange scented cream cheese. Once assembled, the carrot cake was the perfect flavor to mesh with the caramely, cream cheesy filling goodness.
Along with the green theme, I decided to make them like little grassy pots with an abstract flower and leaf on the top. I used all natural baking cups and a grass tip for the frosting and I colored and cut Satin Ice Fondant for my toppers. The flowers were two rounds stacked and glued with a drop of royal icing. How did I make the leaves curve, you ask? Press them down over a couple of parallel chopsticks!
Oh, and she’s having a girl. Thus the name… “Sugar & Spice and Carrotly Nice Cupcakes”. Enjoy!
Well, I can’t take credit for these at all. I can, however, give credit to my sister and Martha Stewart. Martha invented the recipe and my sis made it. We tweaked it a bit, of course (when do we NOT?), and this is what we ended up with:
My sis made the cupcakes, then we filled them each with about a tablespoon of store bought lemon curd and another tablespoon – or two – or three – of whipped cream, lightly sweetened and flavored with limoncello (double lemon!). A side of strawberries and… voi la! Happy Mother’s Day, mom!
They’re light, tasty and completely a mess to try to eat. But worth every single crumb.
I admit. I’d never had a s’mores in my life. Partly because marshmallows (i.e, gelatin) was never included in my diet and vegetarian marshmallows are hard to come by (you can read more about my marshmallow woes here and here). And partly because we were never much of a ‘camping’ type family, thus rendering no opportunities to cook up some s’mores. But when I was getting ready to go on a girl weekend getaway, I decided this might be the time to attempt a new recipe – s’mores cupcakes!
So, here is my take on a s’mores – in a cup. It was delicious to say the least. And the girls ate them up. Quickly. Some even stated they were the best they’ve ever had of my cupcakes. They all agreed it tasted like a s’mores. I’ll be keeping this recipe around for a while. I can’t wait to try it again.
Since then, I’ve been mooning over the utopian flavors of s’mores and wishing I could have a ‘real’ one. So, I treated myself to some veg marshmallows, toasted them on some grahams on broil and devoured them with some rich dark chocolate (72%, cuz that’s how I roll). Goooooood stuff. I now feel redeemed. I’ve righted the wrong of never having a s’mores.
So, if you’re looking for that tasty treat in a cup form… Look no further. You’ve arrived.
And because I’m having entirely too much fun with Adobe Lightroom’s presets and because my sister happened to be there to capture me in action, here is a random montage of me making the s’mores cupcakes. Enjoy. Or ignore. Whatever you please. I thought they were fun enough to make a new blog design and title photo with them. Kind of fun.
Over the holidays, my sis had this brilliant (and slightly insane) idea of making the 12 days of Christmas into sugar cookies to give as family gifts to our cousins, aunts and uncles. She labored over each and every design and came up with a creative representation of each day.
She made patterns for each shape out of parchment paper and hand cut with a paring knife each and every cookie. She, my mom and I made 12 batches of 12 days. If I remember my basic multiplication tables correct, that is a total of 144 cookies, folks! We dipped, sprinkled, piped, dabbed, until we though our arms and backs would fall off. I think we enjoyed making them more than the people enjoyed receiving and eating them.
We had quite an assembly line going. It looked somewhere between Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and an explosion at C&H Sugar company. And I was afraid my puppy was going to go into a sugar coma from all the ‘licks’ at the floor. ha!
I can’t even tell you how many times we sang the song through as we were hand cutting. You just kind of can’t help it. When you see the pics you’ll want to sing it too – just to make sure we got them all and in the right order.
And as a random photo for your enjoyment. Here are some mini vanilla/vanilla cupcakes I made for the holidays. My sis gave me some nonpareils for Christmas and I wanted to see how they’d look if I dipped the cupcakes into them and made little rounded tops. They were cute. And tasted good. A little different texture than the standard buttercream swirls my cupcakes usually get. Fun stuff.
It’s late to be talking about the 4th of July, I know, but I had some pics archived that I’ve been meaning to post for a long time. So, sorry for the delay, but here they are nonetheless. Maybe we can just consider this very early planning for 2010 celebrations, right? Hope you enjoy the pics and recipes!
I promised my mom to make some cupcakes for her for Mother’s Day. My sister was hostessing the party for our mom, her Mother In Law, and my Mother In Law. Thankfully, they all get along fabulously and we were able to all celebrate together. I wanted to make something light and fruity to celebrate spring. I selected this fabulous recipe from Shelly Kaldenski’s Cupcakes book.
I usually make traditional buttercream (butter, milk, powdered sugar) for my cupcakes, but this one used a traditional swiss buttercream (lightly cooked, whipped egg whites, granulated sugar, butter). I wasn’t a huge fan of the swiss buttercream. It had a bit too much of a butter flavor and not enough sweet for my personal tastes, but my sister prefers swiss. So, I guess everyone has their own favorites. I think next time I might try to mix traditional buttercream with swiss buttercream and see if I can satisfy everone.
My sister’s mother and father in law are not sweet eaters and usually they won’t take seconds because the frosting is two sweet. This one hit the spot for them and her mother in law asked to take 4 home to share with the family and one to eat on the road! I was so proud.
And they must have been good because I came with a bunch of cupcakes and left with 0. Every single one was either devoured or wrapped up to take home with them.
(Thanks, sis, for the pictures – I wanted to take some, but every single cupcake was consumed before I was able to, so I’m sure glad you got some pics that I could use!)
My mom turned 60 a few days ago and requested lime meringue cupcakes from me. They were scrumptous! The vanilla cake was dense, just sweet enough, and with a nice warm vanilla flavor. The lime curd was delicious. I absolutely love lime curd anyway, so you won’t find me complaining when the curd is in a cupcake. And last, but not least, the meringue frosting was fabulous. It was a dense meringue – not too airy, but just fluffy enough. And it wasn’t overly sweet.
The best part about this recipe is that the curd used egg yolks, the meringue used the whites and I didn’t have any random whites or yolks leftover leaving me wondering what in the world I was going to do with them! Major kudos to whomever thought up this recipe and figured out how to not waste egg parts!
Speaking of kudos… I got the recipes from “Cupcakes” by Shelly Kaldunksi
My friend’s favorite cupcakes are chocolate with cream cheese. For her birthday, she requested this flavor. Knowing she loves caramel and how much she enjoyed Starbuck’s holiday salted caramel hot chocolate, I decided to add some caramel in the mix.
I made mini chocolate cupcakes with caramel sauce spread over the top, then frosted it with a caramel flavored cream cheese frosting, more drizzled caramel and a dash of kosher salt over the whole thing. It was a delicious!
As a side note: The caramel sauce is amazing and I’m planning to make more of it to go over homemade ice cream.
The first batch of caramel I made didn’t come out (boo!). The recipe calls for 2 Tbsp for a number of ingredients and I was just going down the “2 Tbsp” train and put 2 Tbsps of lemon juice in instead of 1/2 teaspoon! That’s a big difference. I knew it was wrong as soon as I put it in. So, I started over. But now I have this highly acidic and lemony tasting caramel that has actually separated. Any ideas of what to do with it? ha!
Also, a word to the wise… I started frosting the cupcakes before the caramel was entirely cooled/set and the frosting started sliding off – like this. Oops! I highly recommend letting the caramel fully cool after putting a bit on each cupcake before putting on the frosting. ha!