Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Boozy Blue Hawaii Cupcakes

It’s April, but feels more like February. Urgh. I am very ready for warmer weather, which must be why, when thinking about cupcakes to make for my next experiment, my mind wandered directly to tropical flavors. Coincidentally, I happen to have the Booze Cakes cookbook (which I have been eager to use) and found the perfect recipe to quench my tropical thirst: Blue Hawaii Pineapple Upside-down Cupcakes.

BoozCakesBook

I know… it’s not my own flavor combination, nor is it filled, but it was all I could think about making once I saw it. It was a complicated recipe, that included several challenges: homemade rum sauce and boozy whipped cream, dying and layering batter, and toasting coconut – all from scratch. After gathering all the ingredients, including a bottle of Blue Curaçao, I was ready to bake. I only hoped my cupcakes turned out as beautiful as the photo in the book.

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First things first, the Rum Pineapple topping. Butter, brown sugar, and rum makes the sauce, and I was so excited to use the Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum I brought back from a trip. (Side note: If you go to Jamaica, buy a large bottle of this rum, it is totally worth it.) The sauce gets spooned onto the pineapple rounds at the bottom of the cupcake pan. No liners for this baking experiment, the top was really going to be the bottom for this cupcake.

Pineapple-PineapplePan

Once the sauce and pineapple rounds were in place I moved on to making the batter. Having never dyed batter before, it was interesting dividing it out and adding the food coloring. It felt and looked more like I was mixing paint than making cake batter. Very fun! And I had no idea you had to cool the first layer before you add the second layer. (I’m now looking forward to the challenge of making more color layered cake recipes.)

Pineapple-BlueMix

The cake didn’t bake up the way that normal cupcakes do, instead it stayed very flat. But it looked that way in the pictures, so I tried not to worry too much and moved on to make the “spike whipped cream,” which was possibly the easiest and BEST recipe for really fantastic boozy whipped cream:
• 3 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, cold
• 5 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons liquor, wine or liqueur
• food coloring (if desired)

The Appleton Estate Rum made another appearance, and I couldn’t believe how much rum flavor came through in the whipped cream. Assemble and voila!

HawaiiBlueCupcake(Almost as pretty as the picture in the book!)

I managed to create my own little teleportation device in the form of a cupcake… all together the flavors whisked me away to a tropical beach! I literally closed my eyes and imagined laying on a beach while drinking a pineapple and rum cocktail. The cake turned out a bit on the dense side, but it was so moist and flavorful that it didn’t matter. Boozy for sure: you could definitely taste the rum and the blue curaçao in the cake, as well as the rum in the whipped cream. On a cold too-much-like-winter day in April, a little bit of the tropics is just what this Crusader ordered!

Moogie & Pap also made these cupcakes. To read about their results and to get the full recipe, click here.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

A Baking Adventure: Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

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I don’t think I need to explain the awesomeness of Cadbury Creme Eggs, right? There’s something about them that causes excitement for their return every spring. So it seems only natural for the cupcake-lover in us to desire a merge between these wonderful morsels and cupcakes.

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Because of this desire, there are A LOT of Cadbury Creme Egg cupcake recipes on the internet, but when I saw one from Pizzazzerie (one of my favorite blogs) it really stood out to me. I shared it with Guest Crusader Jen because teal is her favorite color and she loves Cadbury Creme Eggs more than anyone I know. She was visiting me the following weekend and quickly requested that we make them while she was here. So we did!

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After looking at Pizzazzerie’s recipe, Jen and I decided to make a few modifications. While I would have loved follow the chocolate cake (from scratch) recipe, we decided to use a boxed mix, adding in a pack of pudding for extra moisture. It turns out that this was a really smart choice because I managed to forget the eggs in our batter! Thirty seconds after placing the cupcakes in the oven, we had to pull them out, fish out the chocolates, dump the batter back into the bowl, just to mix in eggs and start all over again. Can you imagine how much I would have messed up a scratch recipe? It was not my night to bake!

Another small change we made was using mini Cadbury Creme Eggs instead of the full-size ones. The full-size chocolate eggs would have been better in the end, but it would definitely be more costly. The mini eggs sunk to the bottom and melted more than it seems the full-size do. One tip a friend gave me is to freeze the candy first and then it doesn’t melt as much during the baking process.

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I did make my own frosting, using Pizzazzerie’s recipe. Instead of almond extract I substituted pure orange extract, since Jen isn’t keen on almond flavor. I like almond, so I’m sure that would be an amazing complement to the Cadbury Creme Eggs, however the orange gave the frosting a hint of citrus flavor that went perfectly with the chocolate. I’ve only ever used fresh oranges for flavor, so I was concerned about overpowering the cupcake with citrus. For that reason, I only used 1/2 a tablespoon of extract. In the end, Pizzazzerie’s recipe yielded the perfect consistency for piping frosting (and also had a great flavor before adding the extract). It will now be my go-to buttercream recipe.

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Jen and I of course kept the teal color, since that was one of the elements that originally attracted us (and it matched the Easter cupcake liners perfectly). The piped frosting created a “nest-like” look around the chocolate egg, which I loved. Once done, I couldn’t help but think that these might be the prettiest cupcakes I’ve ever made! Well…maybe the teacup cupcakes were a close contender…

We hope you are able to indulge in some fun cupcakes this weekend. Have a Happy Easter!

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

Guest Recipe Review | Cherry Almond & Cherry Coke Cupcakes

Fellow blogger, Tiffany from Fizzy Party, loves planning parties and baking cupcakes as much as we do. Today, she is sharing two recipes she made for an office party that took place last month. Thanks Tiffany!

I’m so excited to have a guest post here on Cupcake Crusaders. Not only am I a HUGE fan, but, like the Crusaders, I too love cupcakes. I have so many recipes I want to try and, thank goodness, I have co-workers who enjoy tasting all the minis I bring to work.

For February, I had the opportunity to try two different recipes (Woo Hoo!) for a Valentine’s Day treat party at work, which the whole office building was invited to. I made Cherry Almond and Cherry Coke cupcakes. Here’s my assessment of the two:

Cherry Almond Cupcakes

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The Cherry Almond cupcake recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens. I made these full size since they had a cherry in the middle. I prefer making mini cupcakes because they’re the perfect bite sized afternoon pick me up, but if I had made minis the cherry would have taken up the whole middle! The cake on these was moist and the cherry added a little surprise, but the frosting was just okay. My co-workers who tried these also said they were just okay. I think they were a little bland. This is one recipe I’m glad I tried, but doubtful I’ll make again.

Cherry Coke Cupcakes

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The recipe for these Cherry Coke cupcakes is from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. When I went to take the mini cupcakes out of the pan I squished one. Oops! (But you know I had to taste it). Even with one cup of coke added to the batter, the cake tasted just like chocolate cake. I was disappointed. I continued on with the frosting hoping it would add to the cake. When I tried the frosting by itself it was super sweet and again, I was disappointed. It was already 9:00 p.m. the night before the party and my co-workers were counting on my bringing two kinds of cupcakes. So I frosted all the minis and quality controlled one. Oh MY! You take the disappointing just chocolate cake, add a little too sweet frosting and POW! The flavors burst onto your tongue. My co-workers raved about this flavor and even ate more than one. This recipe is a must make and a keeper.

- Review by Guest Crusader, Tiffany, from Fizzy Party

Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Savory Chocolate & Bacon Cupcakes

Bacon could be its own food group. (In my humble, bacon loving opinion.) My love of bacon is no joke. If there is bacon in the ingredient list, count me in. You’ll also find me at bacon related events like the recent Charm City Bacon & Bourbon Wars or the Mixology 101–The ABC’s: Alcohol, Bacon, Cocktails event a while back. This delicious cured pork product can be found in or on just about everything, even cupcakes. So you can see where my mind went when brainstorming my next savory cupcake idea. Why not bake with ingredients you love for Valentine’s day?

With bacon as the key ingredient, I knew chocolate was my next step and I found a great recipe for Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes on 52 Kitchen Adventures. Adapted from Joy of Baking’s chocolate cupcake recipe, this recipe intrigued me with its use of rendered bacon fat in place of some of the butter. After doing a bit more research I found out that you can easily substitute bacon fat for butter in ANY baking recipe as the sub ratio is 1:1. Who knew!

Now, one might think that in order to obtain rendered bacon fat for this recipe, you would have to cook the bacon for the recipe and then wait for that fat to cool. Not the case when you are a true bacon lover and always (and I mean always) have bacon fat in your fridge. Lucky for me I had just enough for this recipe and proceeded with making the batter while the pound of fried bacon strips cooled. Once the batter is mixed, you then add the crumbled bacon. No skimping on bacon flavor with this recipe, with both rendered bacon fat and real bacon crumbles right in the batter. I knew this cupcake was bound for greatness. (Side Note: I ran out of refined sugar and had to use 1tbsp of brown sugar to make up the difference, that substitution didn’t seem to matter, but I wanted to note it.)

With all that savory meat product in the cake, I wanted to make sure the filling and frosting had a sweet balance. So I decided to make the tried and true Chocolate Fudge filling I used in last years Chocolate Blackberry Syrah cupcake. This would add an extra punch of chocolate as well as a smooth texture. The frosting was inspired by the new Crown Royal Maple, because what kind of chocolate bacon cupcake would this be without a little whisky? Making buttercream frosting from scratch comes so naturally to me now that I just measure the butter and liquid (in this case the whisky) and add confectioners sugar until it is as sweet as I like.

Once everything came together, taking that first bite was nerve racking. I wanted so much for this cupcake to taste as fantastic as it looked…

ChocolateBaconCupcake

And success! My love of bacon (and chocolate, but mostly bacon) didn’t fail me. Not only did this cupcake taste like a delicious mix of cured pork and smooth chocolate, but it was moist, fluffy and full of flavor. The Crown Royal Maple frosting was subtle, but paired well with the cake and filling. The bits of bacon in the cake were great and didn’t end up being chewy like you might imagine. The crunchy bacon bits on top added the perfect fried bacon texture. My co-workers and friends all seemed to like it as well, noting that they couldn’t believe how much bacon flavor they tasted and they really loved the fudge filling (that filling is always a winner).

The only advice I would give about baking these cupcakes is be careful when baking the cake as the baking time is listed as 15-18 minutes, but mine were done right at 15- any longer and they would have been overdone. Otherwise, get out there, buy some bacon and have at it, I promise these will not disappoint any bacon lover.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Take a “Plug” out of it! Cupcake Tools put to the Test

Everyone has different tools and techniques to create a filled cupcake, and we Crusaders thought it might be fun to test different filling tools. Having baked and filled cupcakes for over a year now, you’d think I would have fancy tools to cut out the “plug” (aka the piece of the cupcake that you take out so you can fill it) but I don’t. A small curved pairing knife that my Nona gave me has always been my tool of choice, so this tool test gave me the perfect excuse to buy some fun new kitchen items. After reviewing suggestions from our Facebook page, Crusaders Jenn, Stacy, and I decided which tools we would test, and I set out to bake some cupcakes.

FillingTools
(The six tools of choice.)

I found the Betty Crocker box of the Hot Chocolate cupcakes (which Crusader Stacy had made and reviewed) for half price and decided to use them for my test cupcakes. Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled it was time to put my tools to the test.

Cupcake Plunger
CupcakePlungerPlug

While this really did a fantastic job of removing a perfect plug, I think the amount of cake it takes out is too large. It seemed as though there was so little cake left around the edges that it might not stay together when you pulled the wrapper down. If the diameter of the plunger were just a little smaller, this would be the perfect filling tool, especially because the push plunger makes removing the cake plug super easy.

Mini Scoop
MiniScoopPlug

I only just got the mini and large scoops for Christmas, so having a chance to use the mini for this tool test was exciting. Sadly, it didn’t work perfectly. You really have to use your fingers to hold the cake while you scoop and then the filling hole it creates is too shallow and wide, again diameter is an issue.

Melon Baller
MelonBallerPlug

Who would have thought, a melon baller?! The melon baller I purchased has two ends, one large, one small, so I used the small one as the test. Similar to the small scoop, I had to use my hand to hold the cake while scooping. This did create a smaller filling area, but still felt a bit too shallow for the perfect filling amount. Not a bad little tool to have though, and now I can make those cute little melon balls this summer.

Large Piping Tip
PipingTipPlug

This was an interesting suggestion, but one that worked pretty well. The larger tip easily pushed down into the cake and removed the plug, but getting the cake out of the tip was the harder part. Using a toothpick made it a little easier, but the plug still ended up breaking into two pieces. Not a total tragedy, but not the easiest tool when you have to have another implement to help you clean out the cake plug.

Apple Corer
AppleCorerPlug

I was very skeptical about this, but was also very excited to purchase this tool… and my excitement rose when I used the apple corer to create the filling hole. Not only does the corer cut right through the cake, but because it is has an opening you can push the plug right through the bottom. It creates a very uniform hole and you can also make it as deep as you’d like. This might create a hole that is a little smaller in diameter, but it works very well.

Tiny Pairing Knife
TinyKnifePlug

Having had lots of practice with this tool, it didn’t fail me in this tool test. What’s nice about cutting the plug out with a little knife is you have complete control over how wide and deep a plug you cut, creating the perfect amount of space for your filling. This might be the simplest tool, but it is still my favorite of the bunch.

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(The finished hot chocolate cupcake! Filled with marshmallow fluff, WOW were these good)

None of our tools were failures, they all made room for filling, but some did work better than others. The best tool really does depend on what size you would like the filling hole to be and how much filling you want in the cupcake. Or perhaps you are just set in your ways like me, and prefer using a trusted tool and technique. Either way, I’m looking forward to using all of these tools for other baking and cooking experiments. I’ve already thought of other ways to use the cupcake plunger (cookie cutter anyone?) and can’t wait to core some apples.

Next tools to test: what tool to use to put filling into that hole! I use a tiny spoon or a piping bag… but who knows what our readers and followers might suggest!

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Baking Adventure: Tea Party Cupcakes

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Our friend was putting together a tea party for her daughter’s 10th birthday, so when Crusader Stacy and I were asked if we wanted to help make cupcakes we immediately began brainstorming. We’ve been wanting to host an adult tea party of our own, but this event would have elegantly dressed tables, fun stations for nails, hair and dress-ups, and a photo booth, so we knew these cupcakes couldn’t be ordinary.

Stacy&Jenn
(Crusader Stacy and I also got to have a good time with the dress-ups and photo booth. Photo by Kenneth Adam, who donated his services for the day.)

Stacy suggested an idea she found, using chocolate or royal icing to create a “handle” on the cupcakes. After having experimented with royal icing in the past (and knowing how temperamental white chocolate can be), I choose that option. The birthday girl had one request, she wanted the cupcakes to have filling. Since she loved the Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes we’ve made before, I made those using a different raspberry filling and also made Vanilla Marshmallow cupcakes, a new flavor for me.

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The Vanilla Marshmallow cupcakes were very simple. I used yellow cake box mix, added in a packet of vanilla pudding mix, and then filled them with marshmallow fluff. For the frosting, I started with store-bought frosting and added in some extra butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract, until the taste and texture was where I wanted it. Then I divided the vanilla frosting into two parts, so that I could match the color to the party theme.

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I was really pleased with how the colors turned out. They matched perfectly! The cupcakes were very sweet, but for a bunch of 10-year-old girls, that was good. It turned out to be a very chic party and all the girls had a terrific time!

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I’ve never been to a better tea party. Even if I was there as “the staff” I had a great time and picked up some ideas for when Stacy and I do finally have our own party.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Savory Fig and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Learning and growing as a cupcake baker this past year has been really fun. I feel more confident in my cupcake-making abilities and achieved my goal of making from scratch cupcakes that were also filled. (Yay for keeping one resolution of 2012!) Finding a new challenge for 2013 was easy. The Crusaders have already tried our hands at savory cupcakes (read Crusader Jenn’s Pot Pie review) and I knew after talking it over with them that I wanted to challenge myself with filled savory cupcakes!

My first savory cupcake flavor combination was inspired by the fig and goat cheese cupcake that Fraiche had on their menu when we visited them this past October. Figs and goat cheese are favorite foods of mine, and I couldn’t imagine not liking a cupcake that included them both.

After my usual scouring of the internet for recipes, I ended up not finding anything that was perfect for my savory idea, so I came up with my own combination of walnut cake, fig compote filling, goat cheese frosting, balsamic reduction drizzle and fresh cracked black pepper. Modifying recipes used to scare me, but this time around I let my cooking sense take over and tweaked things where it felt necessary. For the cake, I added more walnuts to the batter, as well as adding clementine zest for a citrus balance. For the fig compote I added orange juice to replace the zest, added 1/2 cup of honey and a bit of flour to thicken it (note: you must be sure to cook it thoroughly or your filling will taste like flour). I only used 1/2 a cup of confectioners sugar in the frosting because I didn’t want it to be too sweet and I wanted the cheese to stand out.

After baking the cupcakes and making the filling, I let them both cool while I made the balsamic reduction and frosting. It was interesting making the reduction, as it is something that I have eaten out quite a bit and never realized was so easy to make. Once everything was ready and cooled I filled the cupcakes with the very yummy fig filling (with my very tiny spoon).

FigFilling

I drizzled the balsamic reduction, and tasted… but something was missing. Something spicy, or hot, or… peppery! I cracked some pepper onto one of the pieces and tasted it. Yes – that’s just what it was missing! I was shocked at how many flavors unfolded as I ate the rest of it.

FigGoatCheese

The next day I took them to work and had my co-workers (aka: my tasting team) give me their feedback. Other than the cake being a bit on the dense side, all of the feedback was positive. Even people who don’t usually like goat cheese found it impossible not to finish every bite. And they commented on how delicious the fig filling was and how smooth the frosting turned out. (I swear I don’t pay them to say these things.)

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This cupcake really was quite a success, from the not-sweet walnutty cake all the way to the cracked pepper sprinkles. It might not be a cupcake for everyone, but it is definitely my kind of savory!

Recipes modified from:
Cake: Bite Delite
Filling: Food Network
Frosting: Cupcake Project
Drizzle: YumSugar

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

Warming Up This Winter with Hot Beverage Cupcakes

As a graphic designer, you would hope that I would be impervious to products marketed specifically for the winter season. I know the tactics used to get shoppers to buy these products, so theoretically, this should keep me from purchasing them. Well cupcake lovers, this is not the case. I too fall subject to the snowflakes, fun type, and bold colorful photos. Exhibit A:

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When I saw this Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, I almost danced in the grocery aisle. I can’t help myself. Sure, I know that it’s really just a normal chocolate cake mix with some mini marshmallows tossed in and a sub-par frosting mixture added to the box, but while my head says “don’t succumb to the festive graphics,” everything else inside of me screams, “BUY IT!”

So that is exactly what I did.

It turned out to be a good thing that I purchased this box mix because I signed up to make 3 dozen cupcakes for a charity event and knew the kids would love these. To go along with the “hot beverage theme” I also decided to make two dozen Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes, which have been on my list for quite some time.

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(Coffee and Doughnuts and Hot Chocolate cupcakes ready to be eaten.)

Aren’t they pretty? I wish they all had turned out this well…

I decided not to modify the Hot Chocolate cupcake mix in order to provide you all with a review of exactly what I thought of Betty Crocker’s winter product. The directions say to beat the frosting while it cooks on the stove and that it will fluff up in the process. Unfortunately, I have no electrical outlet near my stove, so this proved to be a challenge—which I lost. The frosting ended up super runny and there didn’t appear to be enough for twelve cupcakes, so I added confectioners sugar until the consistency thickened and there looked to be enough for the dozen cupcakes I had cooling. This, however, made the frosting lose its marshmallow-like flavor and instead, just taste like sugar. Despite this, it went on the cupcake nicely and I figured the kids probably wouldn’t mind the sugary flavor.

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(I only have a few of these fancy teacup cupcake cups, so the majority of the cupcakes were baked in Christmas paper liners.)

I was really happy with the end result and added little marshmallows and a cookie roll to the top for the finishing touches. Sadly, when I woke the next day, the cupcakes looked like this:

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The frosting on about half of them had oozed and melted off the cupcakes, while the other half remained in place. I have no idea what happened. The cupcakes had completely cooled and (ignoring my usual “no fridge rule”) I left them in the fridge overnight, just to make sure the house didn’t get too warm with all the baking I was doing. In the end, I decided that these could not be taken to the event so only delivered six of these and two dozen of the coffee and doughnuts cupcakes, instead of the three dozen I initially promised.

The Coffee and Doughnuts cupcakes actually ended up being much easier to make than the Betty Crocker Hot Chocolate cupcakes. I used my typical chocolate cake modification for box mix (one box of instant chocolate pudding and mini chocolate chips). For the frosting, I made a simple buttercream recipe (3 sticks of butter and about 5 cups of confectioners sugar to taste) and then mixed one to two tablespoons of cream with about a tablespoon of instant decaf coffee and added it to the frosting. I just did everything to taste, so if you like a sweeter frosting you can use more sugar and if you prefer a more buttery frosting, just use less sugar. It’s really as easy as that.

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To make these cupcakes even easier, I bought pre-made doughnut holes and placed them on top before delivering them to the party. These cupcakes were a huge hit, and I have to admit, the coffee buttercream was some of the best frosting I’ve ever made.

Since there was some frosting leftover, I decided to freeze it to make cakepops at a later time. I also had some frozen chocolate cake leftover from removing the center of cupcakes for fillings, so all I had to do was thaw the cake pieces and frosting, mix those together, roll into balls, and freeze. For the chocolate coating, I didn’t want it to be too thick, so I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Love from the Oven. From there, I navigated my way to Simply Designing, which recommended to add a bit of vegetable oil to the chocolate while melting it.

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The cakepops dipped well into the melted chocolate and, as I had hoped, there was only a thin layer of coating. I was worried that some of my family wouldn’t like them because of the coffee flavor (they aren’t all addicted coffee drinkers like my sisters and I), but the chocolate ended up overpowering the coffee, so everyone loved them. Next time I will add some instant coffee granules to the cake/frosting mixture to bump that flavor up more, but for this occasion, I think it was perfect and that the coffee undertones actually helped to enhance the chocolate flavor.

Even though not all of these hot beverage cupcakes turned out as I had hoped, I still have many “beverage themed” cupcakes I would like to explore, like tea-infused and Dr. Pepper cupcakes. My advice, however, is this: skip Betty Crocker’s Hot Chocolate cupcake mix, and make your own version of a Hot Chocolate cupcake instead. You’ll thank me later.

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Vanilla Chai Holiday Cheer Cupcakes

Holiday flavors are a favorite of all three Crusaders. In fact, every year we can’t wait for our first pumpkin spice latte of the season, then again for the gingerbread spice or peppermint mocha. So when Crusader Stacy mentioned participating in the CAKEfyiHoliday Treat Party” I jumped at the chance to make a sweet treat that would challenge my baking skills and have a holiday flavor. Immediately I thought of vanilla chai, not only because I equate it with cold weather and twinkling Christmas lights, but because it is one of my favorite flavors.

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After quite a bit of research online I decided to create my own version of a vanilla chai cupcake, filled with white chocolate and vanilla bean fudge, topped with vanilla chai buttercream frosting. Choosing this recipe for both the cake and frosting, I adapted the chocolate fudge sauce recipe I used as the filling for the Chocolate Blackberry Syrah cupcakes I baked back in March.

First I had to make the “chai mix.” Easier said than done when all you have is cardamom “pods,” which you have to shell, and then the food processor won’t grind them. Thank goodness Crusader Stacy was helping me in the kitchen for this baking experiment, because she suggested a hammer. (Actually, her first suggestion was a mortar and pestle but I don’t have one of those, something I have to remedy in the near future!) After carefully hammering the cardamom into submission on my lovely granite counter top, I added the other spices and had my own chai mix. *On a side note, while you can get instant chai and use that instead, I didn’t find any that either weren’t missing some of the spices or had extra chemicals or ingredients that weren’t supposed to be in the mix, so even my chai mix is “from scratch.”

The kitchen already smelled amazing and I was only just getting started. The batter came together without any hiccups, then came making the filling. This was exciting at first because I got to use a Madagascar vanilla bean that had been sitting in my pantry begging to be used. I simmered it in the cream and then scraped all the tiny beans out of the pod and back into the hot cream. I then added the white chocolate chips, but after letting the mixture sit and whisking it together, it just didn’t thicken correctly. Crusader Stacy saved the day again because she immediately started researching what went wrong (not a high  enough chip to cream ratio) and found this solution from The Rescue Baker. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one who had made this mistake. Once the filling cooled in the fridge (we made the frosting while we waited) we put it back into the mixing bowl and whipped it – creating more of a whipped cream filling than fudge, but it tasted fantastic.

ChaiCupcakeCloseUp(Check out the holiday toppers I found. So cute and they add a nice holiday touch.)

Once everything came together it turned out to be one tasty cupcake! Crusader Stacy said it was the best I’ve made yet, and the other friends I shared them with also enjoyed the holiday flavor. Moist and spicy cake, yummy icing, and a whipped vanilla bean white chocolate filling (that turned out better than expected.) What a great holiday dessert to share! We hope you enjoy all the holiday treats that are a part of the CAKEfyi “Holiday Treat Party” and if you are looking for a chai cupcake recipe, look no further! Happy Holidays and Vanilla Chai Cheers to a New Year!

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)

A Baking Adventure: Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes

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When Crusader Stacy and I started brainstorming cupcakes ideas for our Passionately Pink Bake Sale, I knew I wanted a naturally pink frosting. That idea, paired with looking for an excuse to make Sprinkles Cupcakes’ strawberry cupcake recipe (featured on Oprah.com in June 2009), solidified my cupcake project.

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The recipe was easy to follow, although if I’d had my standing mixer at the time it would have been even easier! I wish I had noticed prior to getting started that the recipe only yields 12 cupcakes. Since I didn’t, I tried getting 24 cupcakes and ended up with 16-ish. For some reason the cake batter didn’t really rise either (I seem to have this problem with from-scratch recipes), so the cupcakes ended up being relatively small.

StrawberyCupcakes_3

The cake was dense and crumbly, and would have benefited from a strawberry filling. But, the frosting, oh the frosting! It was divine. It had the flavor of a strawberry milkshake and a perfectly smooth consistency. Although everyone seemed to like the cupcakes and said good things about them, I would recommend a different cake recipe. But definitely use Sprinkles’ frosting recipe!

- Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)