Tag Archives: Cupcakes

Martha Stewart’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes Reworked + Peppermint Buttercream

23 Dec

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I’m not sure whether or not it makes me feel better, but I certainly wasn’t the only Christmas shopping procrastinator bustling around out in the world today!  Without fail, I end up being way too busy to shop early, and I end up with a full list of family members to shop for in minimal time.  Luckily, I expected the challenge, this being the last weekend before Christmas,  so I bundled up in a warm coat, loaded my ipod with holiday favorites, and ventured out with the attitude that I’d make do with whatever happened!  Rain was pouring down, the stores were hopping, and I actually made some really great progress despite the never ending lines.  I owe it all to adrenaline and caffeine!

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Martha Stewart’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Baking this time of year is especially magical since there are so many awesome, festive flavor combos!  These chocolate mint cupcakes are no exception.  I followed Martha Stewart’s cupcake recipe pretty closely (the frosting is a different story altogether), except that I subbed in milk + vinegar for the buttermilk since I didn’t have any on hand, and left out the peppermint extract completely.  I really wanted the chocolate flavor to shine so I could save the peppermint for the frosting.  At first, the batter seemed WAY too runny…as in, I felt like I was pouring chocolate milk into the cupcake tins, but everything worked out and they baked up beautifully!  A yummy addition to any Christmas dessert tray 🙂

Ingredients:

* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

* 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder)

* 1 1/2 cups sugar

* 1 1/2 tsps baking soda

* 3/4 tsp baking powder

* 3/4 tsp salt

* 2 large eggs

* 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 cup milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar)

* 3/4 cup warm water

* 3 Tbsps vegetable oil

* 1 tsp pure peppermint extract (I left this out!)

* 1 candy cane, or several mini candy canes, crushed for topping (optional) But these make them super cute!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Line a 12-cupcake tin with cupcake papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and sugar, and mix until combined.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing between additions until smooth.  Add buttermilk, extract (if adding to make peppermint chocolate cupcakes), buttermilk (or milk + vinegar), and water.  Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Slowly add dry mixture to the wet mixture, beating on low in between additions.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups.  The recipe says to fill only 2/3 fully, but I filled them a touch fuller than that since I like tall cupcakes.  (If you end up with extra batter, bake as a second batch after the first is done.  I think this recipe would have made a few more than 12 cupcakes except that I fill the cups really full.)

Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin before removing cupcakes and allowing them to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Frost once completely cool and top with a sprinkle of crushed candy cane.

 

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

The frosting suggested in the book for these cupcakes was mint buttercream, but instead of using Martha’s version, I topped my little cakes with a frosting of my own creation.  This peppermint buttercream is a spin off of my classic go-to buttercream recipe.  Peppermint extract adds a kick!  No chocolate leaves here, my cupcakes are adorned with pretty candy cane crumbles!

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

* 3 cups powdered sugar

* 1-2 Tbsp milk, or milk alternative

* 3 drops-1/4 tsp peppermint extract, to taste

Directions:

Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix until crumbly.  Add in 3 drops peppermint extract and 1 Tbsp milk.  Mix again until combined.  Add remaining 2 cups powdered sugar.  Assess consistency, and add more peppermint if desired.  If too thick, add remaining 1 Tbsp milk.  If too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.  Whip for a minute, or until well combined, and smooth with no lumps remaining.  Refrigerate if not using immediately.

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I’ve also made Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes from the same book with great success!  Check them out here.

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Of course I can’t wind down this post without including my favorite outfits from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show this year!  All Access Here.  I love, love, love the lacey number Candice Swanepoel floated down the glittery runway in during the “Angels in Bloom” section of the show – pretty, sweet, and accompanied by a set of flowery wings!

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Lindsay Ellingson paraded down the runway in a black-hot cut-out corset type top during “Silver Screen Angels,” but my favorite part of the whole ensemble is the giant, feathery wings!  You can’t be an angel without wings 😉

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I wish you all happy, magical holidays!

xoxo

Mocha Banana Bread Muffin Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting {Dairy-Free}

17 Aug

I’m not one of those people who are heavily into the semantics of muffins vs. cupcakes and the like.  I mean, I’ve heard some swear you can’t have a muffin with a cupcake paper, and others that you can’t have a cupcake without.  Sure, cupcakes are well, to state the very overly obvious, CAKE…clearly not to be eaten for breakfast…right?

But then what about the chocolatey, cakey-sweet, sugar crumb topping-smattered “cupcakes” parading around under the guise of the muffin moniker?  I know better.  We ALL know better.  So can we please just call the portable, little cupcake/muffins whatever we dang well want once we pop them out of those cupcake/muffin tins, wrappered, frosted, dessert or breakfast bound?  I’m sure there are other specifics involved, like texture, crackly vs. smooth top, etc., but when it comes down to it, I’ll call it a cupcake if I plan to frost it.  I’ll call it a muffin if I plan to eat it for breakfast, especially if it has “mocha” in its description – that’s definitely breakfast.  Maybe I’d skip the frosting in that case, and then call it a cupcake when I pile on the lightly banana-y buttercream frosting.

Life is so much more versatile when you let a muffin be a cupcake every now and then or bake a cupcake without the paper, right!

Mocha Banana Bread Cupcake Recipe

More chocolatey than coffee flavored, these little gems are more muffin-like in the way the tops puff and crack slightly, but more cupcake-esque in texture.  I highly recommend frosting, but you absolutely don’t HAVE to.  But you should!

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup non-dairy margarine

1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium-sized)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp instant coffee granules

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease or line wells of a standard size muffin tin.

Cream together the margarine and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.   Add in the vanilla extract and the eggs, beating between additions.  Beat in the bananas until mixed well.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, mixing between additions.  Add in the coffee granules and mix until incorporated.

Scoop batter into muffin tins until almost full.  Bake about 15-18 minutes depending on your oven, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool before frosting.  While cooling, make the frosting.

Hint-of-Banana Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

2 sticks non-dairy margarine (1 cup)

1 yellow banana, pureed

5 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixture until smooth and fluffy.

Add in the pureed banana and vanilla and beat again until smooth.  Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until you reach desired thickness.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

I’m not trying to steal any mocha banana bread cupcake thunder here, but keep an eye out for what might very well be the most amazing carrot cake recipe ever.  It’s also vegan.  And gluten free.  No biggie.  It’s coming up soon!

Enjoy your weekend!  I have some Santa Monica beach time to look forward to! <3

 

 

Zucchini Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

11 Mar

First of all, happy Sunday!

I hope daylight savings isn’t kicking your butt as much as I know it’s going to kick mine once my better senses kick in and realize I’ve lost a sweet, sweet, precious hour of sleep! Hoping this gorgeous, sunny, blue sky weather we’ve been having lasts and helps me through this…with a teeny bit of help from the most giant mug of coffee of all time! =)

Anyway, if this post doesn’t do it, I’d like to make it clear that I’ve taken it upon myself to use March as an excuse for baking with more green foods!  It’s a Leprechaun’s world and I’m just living in it, St. Patty’s Day style.

When you hear “green foods,” there’s a good chance your mind immediately snaps to thoughts and images of leafy greens, herbs, green peppers, and zucchini – rarely ingredients that you’d see featured in dessert foods – but stay with me here.  My biggest concern here was keeping things yummy, somewhat healthy, green-colored, and yet FREE from ARTIFICIAL COLORING!  So the wheels started turning…

At the risk of blog readership plummeting big time, I ruled out spinach brownies (though I’ve heard those are good!), avoided celery ice cream, and didn’t even let my mind wander to a place where I’m 100% sure I’d be spending my entire post trying to convince you to try green onion pie.  You’re welcome.  Also, there’s no possible way I could even convince myself of that, so I’ve also spared myself the guilt of lying my way through an entire post.  I’m welcome?  Nevermind.

Anyway, I did, however, wrap my head around the prospects of zucchini and avocado, and found the idea to be promising!  Afterall, I’ve featured zucchini prominently in several recipe posts like this  and this, waxing rather poetic about the versatility and ease with which it blends into sweet treats.  Avocados hold a special place in my heart, too, and though featured here  as a savory Super Bowl snack, it’s still a fruit, dangit!

Zucchini bread and coffee cake inspired zucchini cupcakes seemed like the perfect choice!  Avocado could have been more challenging, but thankfully its creamy smooth texture practically begs to be made into frosting.  Ideal.  I wouldn’t recommend the frosting if you don’t like avocados, but then again if that’s the case I’d recommend you start liking avocados because they’re super delish and healthy!

 

And so, zucchini spice cupcakes with avocado buttercream frosting were born – TA DA!

Somewhat healthy?  Let’s be real, these are still cupcakes, but made with nutrient-packed plant-based ingredients.

Since we’re talking avocados, I think it’s important to note just a few of the awesome health benefits these powerful little green guys boast.  Not only are they high in vitamins and minerals such as folate (for heart health and prevention of birth defects), B-6, and potassium (helps to regulate blood pressure), they are also host to nutrients that combat oxidative damage, cholesterol levels, inflammation, and even cancer.

So again, healthy?  Ya, check!

Green color without any artificial coloring?  Yessir – Check.

Yummy?  Duh.  I mean, check.

I’ll be the first to admit these aren’t the sexiest little cupcakes – they’re sorta more like the homey looking little sweethearts that have a great personality, ha!  No, really.  Love them!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream (Vegan)

(Makes 6)

 Lightly spiced, zucchini-laced cupcakes with a super tender crumb – you’d never guess they were vegan if I didn’t blatantly tell you – really!  Perfectly accompanied by an unexpectedly smooth, delicious buttercream frosting packed with healthy omega-3’s and vitamins.  Double the recipe if you want to make a dozen.

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 Ingredients:

*7/8 cup all-purpose flour

*½ tsp baking powder

*½ tsp baking soda

*½ tsp ground cinnamon

*½ tsp ground nutmeg

*¼ tsp salt

*¼ cup granulated sugar

*¼ cup brown sugar

*½ cup non-dairy milk of your choice

*¼ cup canola oil

*1 Tbsp vanilla extract

*½ Tbsp white vinegar

*½ cup grated zucchini

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a cupcake pan with 6 cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and canola oil.

In another bowl or cup, stir together the non-dairy milk, vinegar, and vanilla.

Pour the milk, vinegar, and vanilla mixture into the sugar and oil mixture.  Add grated zucchini and mix.  Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just combined.  You don’t want to over mix.

Fill lined cupcake wells to just about full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pan half way through, until tops slightly spring back when pressed on.  Remove pan from oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before removing cupcakes and placing on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.  Allow to cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

Frosting-

This frosting is thinner than a typical buttercream frosting because of the softer texture of avocados compared to margarine or butter, but has just the lightest, yummiest hint of avocado vanilla flavor!

Ingredients:

*2 small avocados

*½ stick non-dairy margarine

*3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

*1 tsp vanilla

*Dash of salt, to taste

Directions:

Peel avocados and remove pits.  Cream together the avocado and non-dairy margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add vanilla extract.  Slowly add confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time until consistency is as desired.  Add salt to taste.   Frost your little heart out!  Go to it =)

Happy Spring!

Happy March!  Happy St. Patty’s month!

 

 

Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes and the Frosting that Changed my Life

4 Feb

Over the past few years especially, coconut, and namely the type of fat it contains, has become overwhelmingly controversial in terms of health and nutritional value.  There is no disputing the impressive vitamin (most notably folate), and even more so, mineral (very high in manganese, with a good amount of copper and selenium) and amino acid profile of these fruits, known as “drupes,” hailing from the palm family, but the fact that they are comprised of a generous ratio of saturated fat to carbohydrate and protein is what concerns some health conscious individuals and experts.

True, saturated fat has been touted as the “evil” fat said to raise levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body known as LDL cholesterol, and contribute to obesity, and for the most part, that is accurate.  However, what is rarely mentioned is the presence of different types of saturated fats, which vary greatly based upon their size.  Saturated fatty acids, or triglycerides, appear in foods as short chain, medium chain, or long chain fatty acid chains.  The problem with the typical American diet is that it contains way too many long chain saturated fatty acids, found in meats, dairy, and even some plant sources of fat, which are tough for the body to break down and convert to energy.  Coconut, on the other hand, as well as palm kernel oil, contains medium chain saturated fatty acids, which are thought to be used by the body much differently.  According to some research, medium chain fatty acids are more easily oxidized by the liver to produce energy, causing less of the fat to be stored long term in the body.

The bottom line here is not that the saturated fat in coconut would be recommended over unsaturated fatty acids like those found in foods like avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, and various seeds which raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in the body, but that it serves as a better replacement for other saturated fats that are already in the diet.  So, don’t feel like you have to steer clear of coconut because of the fat content in order to feel “healthy”!  Some fat in the diet is absolutely necessary for a healthfully functioning body, and the satiety factor we need to feel full and nourished.

Make some healthy substitutions every once in awhile, like for instance, drink coconut milk occasionally instead of your usual 2% dairy milk, or bake with coconut milk rather than butter, and you could be doing yourself a favor with a little health boost!  Go ahead and make a batch of these coconut cupcakes and enjoy (*cough* Super Bowl Party!! *cough*)…I’m not claiming these cupcakes are health food by any stretch, but let’s face it, coconut tastes awesome, too – just don’t go overboard!

Or, if you prefer freshy, citrusy lemon, you might enjoy Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes instead!

Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

These are dense, hearty little cupcakes.  My favorite part of the recipe is that it includes ground coconut in the batter, and can easily be made dairy-free!  Ok, that’s one of my favorite parts, the other is the frosting.   The cupcake recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, but the frosting is all my own… it changed my life…it’s THAT good! 🙂  Sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut flakes, or just leave them as is!  I used sweetened shredded coconut since that’s what I had on hand, but I gazed longingly at the photo of Martha’s version with its large, glorious, luxurious-looking flakes, and wished I could have used those instead!  I urge you to do so, if you get the chance…and then send me photos!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, or dairy-free butter spread like Earth Balance
* 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
* 2 large eggs + 2 egg whites
* 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, from either a can or carton
* Coconut Buttercream Frosting (below)
* Sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes for topping

Frosting:
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or dairy-free butter spread
* 1/4 cup Coconut butter (the thick portion at the top of the coconut milk can, or pre-made coconut butter in a jar)
* About 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
* Dash of salt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2 tsp coconut extract

Directions:

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350*, and line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Grind sweetened coconut shreds in a coffee grinder or food processor until finely ground, and stir into flour mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, cream butter or dairy-free butter spread and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the whole eggs, egg whites, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture, alternating with additions of coconut milk until everything is combined. Don’t overmix!

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each just about full. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through cooking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Cream together the butter or dairy-free butter spread and coconut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add in the dash of salt and confectioner’s sugar by the spoonful until course, crumbly mixture forms. Add in the vanilla extract and coconut extract. Beat frosting until smooth, adding more confectioner’s sugar if the frosting is too thin, and more vanilla extract, coconut extract, or splash of milk of choice if it’s too thick.

Slather with frosting, and top with coconut shreds or flakes at your own discretion….

…I’m still finding coconut shreds in places I didn’t know existed, so fair warning – Coconut bombs are a very real situation!

Disclaimer:

I am NOT a licensed or certified nutritionist or registered dietician.  I am NOT currently, but am on my way to becoming, a certified personal trainer.  I do, however, hold a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with an emphasis in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior, as well as a strong interest in holistic and medical nutrition, especially as it applies to the prevention of disease, but PLEASE consult your doctor or a registered dietician for more comprehensive and tailored diet, fitness, and health information if you have health concerns or questions regarding any of the topics I discuss.  I am simply expressing my knowledge and opinions based upon my own research, reading, and education within the health, fitness, and science fields.

That being said, I hope you enjoy what I write and maybe learn something interesting along the way.  Thank you!

Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

14 Jan

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year.  So far in January:

San Francisco.

Roadtrip – Sacramento –> LA.   LA –> Sacramento.

Engagement photoshoot for my brother & his fiancee in Santa Monica, CA.

Began a fitness certification course (more on that later!)

Was reunited with the most awesome lab group of all time.

Back on board the half-marathon training plan + gym routine.

Jumped on the winter citrus train & made these cupcakes!

Lemon cupcakes, to be exact!  They come from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, a book that was gifted to me by a friend who truly understands just how much I love little cakes with pretty frosting ( a lot!).  The photos in this book are incredible – bright, vibrant, beautiful – everything I aspire to achieve when embarking on my own food photo endeavors.  Love you, Martha!

I’ll be the first to admit my cupcakes don’t look a thing like hers…mostly because she has awesome pro photographers – I mean, check out that photo!! – while I’m a photo rookie, but also because I topped mine with lemon pudding and lemon buttercream frosting rather than the lemon curd and meringue frosting in the recipe.

I know, I know.  Lemon meringue cupcakes without the meringue are like…..lemon cupcakes.  Mmhmm.  Profound!

I went for a more simple approach, but don’t hold that against these lemony little gems!  Lemons, limes, grapefruit & oranges are definitely in full-swing right now.  I love how bright and sunny these little cakes are, perfect for those of you who are talking about snow & freezing temps where you’re at!

PS: I feel for you, because even though it’s been uncharacteristically warm & sunny for January here in Nor Cal, I still find myself piling on the blankets, guzzling hot coffee, and dreaming of summer weather!

Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes (with Lemon pudding & Buttercream)

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

* 3 Cups All-purpose flour
* 1 Tbsp Baking powder
* 1/2 tsp Salt
* 1 Cup (2 Sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 Cups Sugar
* 4 Large eggs, room temperature
* Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (3 Tbsp)
* 2 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
* 1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
* 1 Cup Buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used plain milk)

Pudding:

* 1 Small Box Lemon flavored Jell-o Pudding
* 2 Cups Cold milk

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

(I don’t have a set recipe for this, I adjust as I go – so here’s my best account of what I used!)
* 1 Stick Butter
* 3 Cups Confectioner’s sugar
* 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
* Dash of Salt
* 1-2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
* 1-2 Tbsp Milk

Topping: 1 Tbsp lemon zest + clear sugar sprinkles

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate between each. Beat in zest and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk and lemon juice, beating until just combined after each addition.
Just about fill each lined cup with batter. Bake until slightly golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. I slightly overbaked mine (not on purpose!) So don’t do that.
As soon as possible, remove cupcakes from tin and allow to cool on a cooling rack completely before frosting.

Once cool, core the cupcakes and fill with pudding if you wish.  I simple piled it on top and piped on the frosting.  Top with fresh lemon zest & sparkly sugar sprinkles.

For the Pudding:

Follow the directions on the box, stir pudding mix into cold milk, continuing to stir for about 5 minutes until set up.

For the Frosting:

Beat room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar a few Tbsp at a time to allow everything to combine. Add the dash of salt and vanilla extract. Continue adding confectioner’s sugar, alternating with additions of the milk and lemon juice until frosting comes together. Add more milk if you like thinner frosting, and less if you like thicker frosting. Simple!

Currently reading: The February 2012 issue of InStyle Magazine

Currently listening to: The Pretty Reckless – “Just Tonight”  Obsessed!  Anyone else??

Currently snacking on: Hazelnuts!

Currently cuddling with:  This little guy!

Eventually: A sunny jog =)

Happy Saturday!