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Martha Stewart’s Spice Cupcakes with Molasses Buttercream

24 Dec

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 Merry Christmas Eve!

Can you believe it’s already here, because I’m having a tough time wrapping my brain around 2012 coming to an end.  You know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun…so I must have been having A LOT of fun this year!

Christmas Eve is the anniversary of my parents’ engagement.  My dad proposed at a Mexican restaurant long ago, and as far back as I can remember, they have either gone out for Mexican food or we have made lots of yummy Mexican food at home to share every year.  Without fail, everyone is scurrying to finish shopping and wrapping last minute gifts, and then things wind down around midnight when we all gather to hear ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, followed by the Grinch who Stole Christmas – the original, cartoon version of course!  I love these little things that are all our own.  I can count on so much every year with my family it makes the holidays feel extra special.

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Mrs. Kostyra’s Spice Cupcakes (From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

These spice cupcakes are not traditional for me, nor are they something I had attempted to bake before this first time, but I’m working my way through Martha’s book and these seemed festive enough for this time of year.  The original frosting suggested for this recipe is an orange glaze, but I had high hopes for a molasses frosting I had floating around in my head.  Seems like everything worked out, and these little guys baked up perfectly sky high due to all the leavening!  Try them out. 🙂

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

* 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

* 4 large eggs

* 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature

* 4 cups cake flour, sifted (I used regular, all purpose flour)

* 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder

* 1/2 tsp salt

* 2 tsps ground cinnamon

* 1 tsp ground allspice

* 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

* 1/2 tsp ground mace (I used plain old ground black pepper)

* Pinch of ground cloves

* 18-24 pecan halves, depending on how many cupcakes you end up with, for topping (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour or line a standard muffin tin with cupcake papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter,  and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing between additions until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. (Martha’s recipe says to do this 3 times, but I just sifted everything once!)  Reduce mixer speed to low and alternate additions of the flour mixture and the milk until batter comes together.

Divide batter evenly amongst cupcake wells, filling 3/4 full, or slightly more.  (The recipe states that it makes 24 cupcakes, but I fill my tins pretty full and only got about 18).  Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, just until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool about 10 minutes in the pan before removing and allowing to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Molasses Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter

* 3 cups powdered sugar

* 1-2 Tbsps molasses

* 1-2 Tbsps milk

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter.  Add a cup of powdered sugar and mix until crumbly.  Add 1 Tbsp molasses, and mix again until combined.  Add in remaining 2 cups powdered sugar.  Add in the additional Tbsp molasses to taste, or if you like a lighter flavor, add 1 Tbsp milk instead.  Whip until smooth.  If too thick, add in the other Tbsp milk.  If too thin, add in a bit more powdered sugar.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Spice-Cupcakes6I’m always curious as to what everyone else’s Christmas and holiday traditions are…whatever you have planned, I hope you’re surrounded by family & friends, love, lots of smiles, and lots of sweet treats!

…And don’t forget to leave some out for good ol’ St. Nick & the reindeer! 🙂

Eggnog Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream

4 Dec

Happy Holidays!

Right now I’m looking forward to nothing more than tuning in to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show!  I am not ashamed to admit I look forward to it every single year.  You also better believe I’m the girl who dreams about walking down that runway.  With those gorgeous angel wings.  And of course abs of steel!  One day, one day 😉  Expect a full recap from me after the show!

Ok, ok, off the fantasy for now, and on to my day.  It was a busy one, and I’m glad to be home.  I work as an NMD Assistant at a small clinic for the two most amazing Doctors anyone could ever hope to meet.  They just got back from a vacation/honeymoon in Hawaii after tying the knot there over Thanksgiving.  Congrats to them both!  I have no idea how that transitions in to talking about cupcakes, but I feel like cupcakes really need no segue anyway…they pretty much fit in with anything and everything.

These eggnog cupcakes with eggnog buttercream were a HUGE hit around here, and by that I mean, comments like “Those are my favorite so far.  Of anything you’ve made… recently” were made. (He knows who he is, so I don’t feel the need to name names!)  Nevermind the fact that I have no idea what the timescale was on “recently,” and how it could just as easily have meant within the last 2 days as within the last 2 years.  Details.    What I’m trying to say is this:  Either I haven’t made anything good lately, or these really are awesome.  At the risk of opening myself up to comments from certain people, I think I can honestly say it’s the latter.  Or at least hope.  Actually, you should make them and then let me know, just to be sure!

Eggnog Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 egg

1 1/8 cups eggnog

1/4 cup canola oil

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350*F and line a 12 well cupcake pan with paper liners.

Add canola oil, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined.  Add in the eggnog, egg, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar, and mix again until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.

Add dry flour mixture to the wet mixture, turning mixer on low between additions.  Mix until batter forms.

Add 1/4 cup-fulls of batter to each well of the pan.  Bake about 20 minutes, rotating the pan in the oven half-way through.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing cupcakes and setting on a cooling rack.  Do not frost until completely cool!

Eggnog Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 stick margarine

3 Tbsp eggnog

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Cream the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until crumbles form.  Add in salt and eggnog, and mix again.  Add in remaining 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and then the vanilla extract.  Whip on high until smooth.  If buttercream seems too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar – if the opposite is true, add a little more eggnog.  Add in the nutmeg and whip again.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use!

Salted Caramel Apple Bread & Apple Hill, CA

9 Oct

Man oh man, I’ve been busy lately!  Not only am I slowly working through molecular formulas and hours worth of organic chemistry labs, I’ve also got my share of to-the-grind work hours and a new internship that I’m super in love with taking lots of my time and energy!  A lot has changed for me in the past several weeks, and while I won’t delve into it that much, I can definitively say it’s really not much of a “loss” to “lose” someone who is unappreciative of who you are and not supportive of life ambitions and endeavors.  It’s so tough to be your true self with someone like that, and life is too short not to be your own, genuine, self with someone who really deserves it.  I believe that you can’t lose the ones who are worth the fight, because they’re the ones who never want to be lost.  Surround yourself with GOOD people, and the others will just sort of filter themselves right on out.  Done and done! 🙂

Now on to what’s REALLY important!  It’s THAT time!…it’s THAT season!…APPLE SEASON!!  I wait patiently for this all year long.  Be still my heart, apple season *flutter, flutter* <3

I know you can pretty much get an apple any time of year these days, but you have to admit, you can’t really GET an apple.  Maybe a mealy, lac-luster, whatever kind of apple, but not a good one.  Good apples can only be found this time of year, kissed gently by just enough cool air as it graces leaf-dusted hillsides.  Lucky for me, I happen to live just a hop, skip, and a jump away from just such a hillside-studded place – a veritable apple mecca…a town actually named after the delicious, crisp, refreshing apple; a charmingly sweet town that’s ready and willing to let everyone know just what time of year it is by offering up warm apple cider, hand-crafted pies, and of course, fresh apples.  It’s unmistakable.  Unapologetic.  Amazing.

Apple Hill is this wondrous, wondrous, magical place (especially if you’re into popcorn or kettle corn, but don’t even get me started on that!) in Northern California where fall has officially taken root.  It’s the town you read about in books because places like it are all but extinct.  If any place in the world could actually give you a hug and grab you by your sensibilities at the same time, it’d be Apple Hill!  Boxes, and crates, and bins of apples, as far as the eye can see, every size, every color, about a million different varieties and names I’d never even heard of!  An apple for every personality, every mood, every thought…every baking endeavor, and then some. (more…)

Lemon Poppy Seed Coffee Cake with Almond Crumb Topping

3 Sep

This is one of those days I promised you would happen…one of the days where I’m reminiscing yet again about summer vacation and hot weather, and sunshine; beaches, good food, and how I want none of those things to fade away with the end of the season!  I may be back at work, and school, and piling on more and more responsibilities, activities, and overflowing my to-do list (which I can’t complain about at all because I’m actually loving every one of those things!), but Labor Day weekend has been a nice little throw-back to summer freedom.

The day I left Los Angeles (my LAST day before re-entering reality, *TEAR!*), I went on a major citrus fruit harvesting spree in attempts to fill the trunk of my car with at least something that would bring me back to my days of lemonade sipping & lounging even just for a moment.  Bright lemons and tangy grapefruit are pretty much my favorite citrus fruits of all time, so it’s lucky for me that’s what I had access to.  The more the merrier, and I’ve been putting them to good use!

I Love Lemons! XOXO (more…)

Banana Bread Cake with Coconut Frosting

1 Sep

Oh, August, please don’t go so soon!

You’re a month to be reckoned with – a whirlwind of summer, and back to school time, and all the fuzzy, anxious times in between.  You took me all the way from Sacramento to Los Angeles,  down to Orange County and San Diego, and now you’re about to bring me home again with your wily ways.  I know it may not be something you set out to do, but you’ve been one of the greatest months so far this year, 2nd only to July.

I hope you forgive my resistance to fulfill all your plans for me at this time, but I think you can understand given my penchant for the ocean, Cafe Gratitude, and the freedoms that don’t often accompany a typical school or work schedule.  Just this once, I wish you’d bend the rules a little and bump any of my immediately upcoming obligations out to September instead.  No?  Fine.

So, school and work, it is, I guess.  I think I can forgive you, August, I know it’s not your fault.  Cake!  Coconut!  Coconut always makes things better!

I know coconut is pretty summery and tropical, but the banana is full-on fall, right?  I’ll work on it.  I’m still getting the hang of this September thing!

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