Friday, October 19, 2012

Vanilla Bean & Dark Chocolate

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Hershey Special Dark Buttercream Frosting

Sometimes simple is perfect! Especially when its 9:30PM the night before your potluck at work! I almost forgot to make these, and for a split second I considered just buying cupcakes to bring..... don't worry! It was a short split second and I came to my senses!

So my Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are probably my most requested cupcake ever. Its got high quality madagascar bourbon vanilla and vanilla bean paste (that's what makes them so much better than all the other vanilla cupcakes!)

The cupcake recipe originally came from the Cupcake Project, but I have posted it several times in this blog.

Here it is again:

Vanilla Cupcakes (from Cupcake Project)
Yield: 16 cupcakes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste 
  • 1 3/4 cake flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil 
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 2/3 cup whole milk 
1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and vanilla bean paste

3. Mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the vanilla sugar and mix until well combined.

5. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.

6. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.

7. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.

8. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.

9. Fill cupcake liners 1/4 of the way up. Place a mini-cupcake on top, cover with additional batter.

10. Bake for 14 minutes

11. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins.

Mmmm fresh out of the oven!
And here is the Chocolate frosting. Sean really wanted them to have this frosting (it is his favorite of all time!)

It originally came from Martha Stewart, but I have tweaked it some.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
This makes enough to frost about 25-30 cupcakes depending on how much you use on each cupcake.... I put the left-over frosting in the fridge so I can use it again this weekend.... maybe I will try and send Ben some more cupcakes!

  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder
  2. Add the butter, milk, and vanilla
  3. Beat until Smooth
  4. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin.
  5. Pipe onto dipped cupcakes (I used my Wilton #1M tip)

And of course I have to test one.... or three... to make sure they are good!

The best part about these was it only took about 45 mins from start to finish...including cool-down time! Fast, Easy, Simple.... and still Delicious!

Friday, October 12, 2012

How to Ship Cupcakes?....Attempt #3

Gosh, this is my 3rd time trying this and I just can't see to get it right! I'm starting to get frustrated with this.

Here's a quick re-cap:

Attempt #1 - Complete and Utter disaster

Attempt #2 - Very close, but the container came open during shipment

Attempt #3 - Failed again. But I came closer... read below.

So this time around, since my cupcake container popped open during shipment and created a bit of a mess for Ben, I decided I was going to make certain that it could NOT come open this time around.

So I taped it up real good. Ben's exact words: "You really made this thing hard to open"

LOL. I guess I did.

But did the case come open? Nope! However, I had a different problem:

The heat got to them and they MELTED!

Yikes. But at least the cupcake part of them was still in-tact. (And Ben still ate them!)

So, I may have sent them regular mail (1st mistake)... And I may have mailed them on a Saturday, leaving a dead time day on Sunday (2nd mistake).... And that Saturday happened to be the Saturday before Columbus Day, leaving 2 dead time days where my cupcakes were sitting at the post office waiting to be mailed (3rd mistake).


So, Of course I already have a new plan devised:

1. Do not ship on a Saturday.
2. Do not send by regular mail. Instead send overnight.
3. Do not send right before a holiday.
4. Send in a climate control box/cooler with ice packs to keep them from melting.

I'm gonna remember the pretty before picture again:

And I haven't given up yet! I'll post again on my next attempt, and hopefully they will make it all the way to Texas un-harmed. (this task is not as easy as I thought when I first declared I would figure it out!)

Chocolate PB Cupcakes!

A Rich Chocolate Cupcake with Delicious Peanut Butter Frosting

I made these cupcakes last weekend, and they got rave reviews. The peanut butter frosting is rich and creamy without being too sweet. The chocolate cupcake was light and fluffy. An overall winner!

Well, these would be the subject of my next attempt to ship cupcakes to my brother, Ben in Texas. More to come on that story later. 

The recipe is from How Sweet Eats, a blog that I am obsessed with!

Now, I didn't stuff the cupcakes with the PB frosting, I think that might have been too much. And I probably should have added a bit more cream to the frosting, it was very thick....but it ended up working!

Chocolate Cupcakes:
made about 16 cupcakes for me
  • 1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup homemade fudge sauce (recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. 
  3. Add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. 
  4. Stir in sour cream. 
  5. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. 
  6. Mix until batter is smooth, then swirl in fudge sauce.
  7. Line a muffin tin with liners and using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to each cup. 
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool before frosting.
Mmm... fresh out of the oven!
Fudge Sauce
This made way more than enough! Next time I would halve this recipe.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup boiling water or scalding milk
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  1. Combine sugar, cocoa, salt, and flour in a bowl over a double boiler. 
  2. Bring water or milk to a boil. 
  3. Gradually add hot liquid to sugar mixture. Stir constantly until mixture thickens.
  4. Once it has reached the desired thickness, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. 
Peanut Butter Buttercream
So simple and easy to make!
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  1. Cream butter and peanut butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer. 
  2. Add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla extract. 
  3. Mix until frosting is smooth. If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar. Frost cupcakes as desired.
And as I finish up this post, I really wish I had more of these!

Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Tart

OK, so I know I don't have the prettiest picture of these, but they were delicious nonetheless.

My dad's birthday was last week, so I decided to try out a new sugar-free recipe, since he has already tried my sugar-free chocolate cupcakes.

This one turned out AMAZING. Nobody could tell that they were sugar-free!

The recipe is adapted from the Nourishing Gourmet.

This is the first time I have ever worked with Coconut Oil. Which is surprisingly NOT what I expected. Here's a pic:

Its more like shortening than oil. Actually, its nothing like oil. It was interesting to work with.

So here's the recipe:


Grease a spring-form pan with coconut oil, and set aside.
  • 2 cups of almonds
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup of coconut oil softened 
  • 1/4 cup of DiabetiSweet (you can get it here)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place almonds in a food processor, and process until a coarse flour. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it forms a uniform dough. 
  4. Press down into the greased pan and bake for 8-12 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.
  5. Take out of the oven and cool. 
  6. Once the crust is cool, making the filling.
  • 8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup of Diabeti-sweet 
  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut cream (I could not find coconut cream, so I used heavy cream and added a few drops of coconut extract, which I happened to have in my pantry).
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (I used chocolate flavored coffee)
  1. Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a medium size, heatproof bowl. 
  2. Add the coconut oil and the sugar, mix it into the chopped chocolate a little.
  3. Heat the coconut cream (or heavy cream) on the stove until very hot. 
  4. Pour over the chocolate. Let this sit for about one minute to start melting the chocolate. 
  5. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir together until it is all uniformly mixed in.
  6. Add the coffee and stir until incorporated. 
  7. Pour this over the crust and carefully place it in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.
MMM, yummy filling!

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