Bring on the Warm Weather with these Orangesicle Cupcakes

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I mentioned in my last review, that it had been a long time since I had done any real cupcaking because of my crazy grad-school schedule. It’s been even longer, however, since I made my own cupcakes. But I’m happy to report that my work-load has lightened up some (at least until I start my summer class), and I was finally able to bake again.

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What really inspired me to get back into the kitchen, was Pillsbury’s Orangesicle cake mix, which I spotted on a recent trip to the grocery store. I also had a coupon for a free Duncan Hines’ Frosting Creations flavor mix, so these cupcakes were fated to be made and devoured.

I baked the cake mix according to the directions on the box, but since I had to put my own homemade twist on them, I made a marshmallow fluff filling (just marshmallow fluff and confectioners sugar) and added the Orange Créme flavor mix to my homemade madagascar bourbon vanilla bean buttercream frosting.

OrangeCreamsicleCupcakes2(Making my own frosting and filling meant that I finally had the opportunity to use my fancy new measuring cups and sifter.)

After adding the flavor mix to the frosting, I wish I had gotten two packets. With the amount of frosting I made (and with all the vanilla bean paste I used), one packet just didn’t cut it. Luckily, I had some orange extract, so I added about 2 teaspoons and that gave it the orange flavor I was hoping for.

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These cupcakes came out moist and refreshing, perfect for the warm weather months. Crusader Elisa said that because of the marshmallow filling they reminded her of Hostess’ Orange Cupcakes, which she grew up eating and sadly can’t get anymore.

Crusader Jenn was my kitchen assistant while baking these cupcakes, and since we weren’t making them for a specific event, we decided to have fun with frosting. Normally we try to make them all consistent, but this time we just experimented. First we tried to add a swirl of glitter gel frosting:

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But that didn’t end up giving the effect we were going for, so we tried our hand at giving the cupcakes a Crumbs Bake Shop vibe, which we actually really liked:

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I’m so glad I had a chance to finally bake again. I’ve really missed it, and it was even more fun because Jenn was there to help and there was no pressure to make them perfect for an event. There was also the added bonus of being able to surprise friends, family, and co-workers with cupcakes they weren’t expecting to get. Eating tasty cupcakes is usually reason enough to get in the kitchen and bake, but putting smiles on loved-ones faces is even better.

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

A Baking Adventure: Mini Salted Chocolate Caramel FUN da-Middles Cupcakes

I don’t know if I’ve told you all this before, but I’m an avid coupon clipper. Crusader Stacy is responsible for getting me started after she subscribed to the weekend newspaper a couple of years ago. Now I’m a subscriber myself and enjoy sitting down on the weekends to browse through the circulars. It’s always an exciting clipping day when I come across baking coupons. I found myself on a trip to the grocery store with two, one for Betty Crocker FUN da-Middles and another for Duncan Hines Frosting Creations.

Since the Baltimore Cupcake Picnic was fast approaching, I decided I would put these two things together in mini cupcake form (please don’t think less of me for mixing brands).

Betty Crocker FUN da-Middles have a chocolate (or vanilla) center that you bake in the cupcake, which saves you time later having to fill them. It still amazes me how the chocolate center stays smooth and creamy. I may have overstuffed my mini cupcakes, but the frosting hid most of the bursts.

I decided to pair the vanilla-chocolate FUN da-Middles with Duncan Hines Caramel Frosting Creations. You can never go wrong with chocolate and caramel, right? I had to add confectioners’ sugar to the frosting because it was too runny to pipe.

I lined all my minis up to frost and add caramel and chocolate ganache drizzles.

I made my own chocolate ganache and used Smucker’s Caramel Sundae Syrup. I put each into a small bag and cut a tiny opening for more control over the drizzle.

Just to take the flavor to the next level, I sprinkled half of the cupcakes with course sea salt. The Crusaders all agreed that the salted cupcakes were our favorite of the two. The difference was mild, but it really rounded out the sweetness and gave it that little something extra to make the cupcakes special.

My overall thought on working with Betty Crocker FUN da-Middles is that they are pretty neat. My grocery store is no longer carrying the product line and it seems like a few other places I shop at occasionally don’t have them either. I guess it hasn’t been a popular item, but I’ve seen recipes I would like to try where I could modify the filling flavor, so I’ll have to be on the lookout for more. If you’ve tried FUN da-Middles before, let us know what you thought and if you changed up the mix.

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

A Baking Adventure: Mocha Brownie Cupcakes

Up until the week before our DC Cupcake Picnic I still didn’t know what I should make. There would be other bakers there, so the idea of baking from scratch had me nervous but then again, could I make a box mix impress? While at the grocery store, I planned to redeem my coupon for Duncan Hines Frosting Creations and decided on their Mocha flavor. Perusing the isle, I also found some brownie mix on sale: Mocha flavored! The wheels in my head started turning…if I did a brownie instead of a cake, maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about too much scrutiny from the pros. And I always know how brownie mix turns out. Rich, fudgy, delicious.

After making my purchases I gave more thought to my creation. I decided to use brewed coffee instead of water in the brownie mix, just to be sure the coffee flavor really came through, make a dark chocolate ganache filling, and top with shaved dark chocolate.

One of the tricky things about baking brownies in cupcakes sheets is the bake time. I didn’t want to over cook them, so I put it on 18 minutes to start and added 2-3 minutes as needed until they were done. They ended up coming out perfectly, though!

As with most of my other baking experiments (like these Lemon Raspberry cupcakes) I cut holes in the center for the filling. Then, using a small pot and glass bowl (my homemade double boiler), I made the dark chocolate ganache with dark chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream (I learned to do this with my Orange White Chocolate cupcakes and assumed the whipping cream would work in the same way with dark chocolate as it did with white chocolate). I didn’t measure anything out, just eyeballed it. After filling the cupcakes, I decided to also spread the ganache on top so that you could see some of it after frosting the cupcakes.

After mixing up the Duncan Hines Frosting Creation I tasted it and was pleasantly surprised! The base is really sweet, but the flavor add-in toned it down and created good coffee kick. I piped the frosting on top of the brownies and sprinkled the shaved dark chocolate on top. I made regular size cupcakes and minis, thinking that the minis might be nice with a lot of cupcake tasting going on at the picnic.

The brownie bites and cupcakes ended up being a big hit at the picnic! No one seemed to think a brownie was out of place and they were so easy to make. And, since the Mocha Frosting Creation worked well, I’m curious to try some of the other flavors!

Do you think baking a brownie in a cupcake liner makes it a cupcake? What unique recipes have you turned into a cupcake?

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

Birthday Celebration with Duncan Hines Frosting Creations: Cinnamon Pecan Cupcakes

I have a confession to make. My husband and I are crazy dog parents. Not quite as bad as this (tangent: if you haven’t seen the mockumentary, Best in Show, you really should, it’s hilarious), but still, we have our moments. Our most recent moment was for our puppy, Lana’s, first birthday.


(Yes, that is our adorable puppy, wearing a birthday crown, and posing for a picture. I told you we have our moments… Photo by Kenneth Adam)

We decided to have a “puppy party” with some good friends and encouraged them to bring their own fur babies. I haven’t ventured into the world of baking dog treats yet, but decided that since this was a birthday, and a gathering of mainly humans, I would finally use my Duncan Hines Frosting Creations to make cupcakes for the occasion.

A few weeks ago I purchased the Frosting Starter, the Cinnamon Roll flavor packet, and decided on a spice cake mix. I knew I had some time to decide how I wanted to modify this box mix and frosting, so after mulling over a couple ideas I went with Cinnamon Pecan Cupcakes.


(Mmmmm…. the final results were definitely tasty, but it wasn’t exactly what I had initially planned.)

Lately I’ve been modifying box mixes by adding a box of instant pudding, but with the spice cake, I knew that wouldn’t work. Instead, I Googled some easy modifications and replaced the oil with melted butter and the water with skim milk. I also added chopped pecans to the cake mix to give it that extra pecan flavor and added texture.

While the cupcakes were baking, I moved onto the pecan and brown sugar crumble I wanted to put on top. At first, I wanted this to be a nice gooey mixture, like a typical pecan cinnamon roll, but instead I got a crumbly mix. I’m not sure if I didn’t use enough butter or if I cooked the ingredients too long on the stove, but either way, since it still tasted great, I decided to go for it!


(Pecan and Brown Sugar Crumble.)

Once the pecan crumble and cupcakes were cooling I mixed up the Duncan Hines Frosting Creation. This was definitely the easiest part of this whole baking experience! While I don’t think it was any better than a cinnamon cream cheese frosting I made from scratch once before, it was still worth using since I had to focus a lot of my attention on the pecan crumble.

I didn’t want the pecan crumble to make the cake soggy, but I knew that I needed it to be placed in a frosting “ditch” to hold it in place, so I smeared a little frosting on the cake first to act as a barrier:

Once that was done, I filled my piping bag with the remaining mixture and added a ring of frosting around the edge, leaving a perfect space for the pecan crumble to sit:


(Luckily you don’t have to be too neat about this process since the crumble will cover up any extra frosting that ends up in the center.)

To scoop the pecan mixture on to the top of the cupcake, I used my Pampered Chef Small Scoop. It placed the perfect size dollop in the center of the cupcake.

Final results? A flavorful cupcake perfect for all occasions, especially breakfast!

If you want some ideas on modifying the Frosting Creations, you can visit Duncan Hines website here. Love from the Oven has also been doing lots of experiments that you can browse through here.

Have you tried Duncan Hines Frosting Creations yet? Did you modify it or just use as it was intended? What were your thoughts?

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