Halloween Piñata Cupcakes

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A friend approached me about helping with a church bake sale, the weekend before Halloween. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring a little holiday-seasonal flare to the fundraiser. After passing by the White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms, inspiration struck. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make piñata cupcakes, so what could be better for a holiday focused around candy, than candy exploding out of a cupcake?

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I kept it simple by using box mixes for the cake (I struggle over doing this when it comes to bake sales, but I just can’t seem to get that light, fluffy texture from anything else…yet). I made the holes a little larger than I would for a filling, to accommodate the larger candy. For the frosting you can use your favorite vanilla or chocolate buttercream recipe.

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I thought an appropriate (or maybe just obvious) topper for cupcakes filled with Candy Corn M&Ms would be…Candy Corn!

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While I was shopping for my candy fillings and toppers, I passed the mini M&Ms. I was hoping to find chocolate M&Ms that were Halloween/Autumn colors, but failed. However, I figured that if the larger Candy Corn M&Ms didn’t work out I couldn’t go wrong with these tiny ones. Having the white chocolate and milk chocolate also offered up a nice variety for the sale.

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When I was considering what other candy could top the chocolate M&M cupcakes, I wanted to keep it nostalgic. After seeing the mini Hershey bars, I was sold. They’ve always been a favorite of mine and, just like with the candy corn on the other cupcakes, it seemed to make perfect sense.

The chocolate M&M cupcakes are the ones that SOLD OUT. I would have liked to get my hands on one, but I sacrificed for the greater good.

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In addition to the piñata cupcakes, I also made a bunch of simple, but festive, mini cupcakes with various combinations and toppers. Minis are always popular at bake sales because you can sell them a lower price and they are great for kids.

But I’m sure you are wondering, “So what did the piñata cupcakes look like on the inside? How did they work?”

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Well, they faired pretty well! I was a little concerned about the moisture from the cake affecting the candies. It did a little on the Candy Corn M&Ms, but not enough to make much of a difference. And I heard through the grapevine that the cupcakes with mini M&Ms were great!

But most importantly, the bake sale was successful and I was even asked to make more cupcakes for another fundraising event this weekend!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, 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.

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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)

Passionately Pink Bake Sale Success!


(Crusader Stacy and myself at our bake sale table. Look at all that pink!)

For Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Cupcake Crusaders wanted to do something to help the cause. You may have noticed that we decided to “Go Pink” on our Facebook and Twitter pages, but that’s not all we wanted to do. On October 28th, we held a bake sale at Horizon Church in Reisterstown, MD, to raise money for Susan G. Komen’s Passionately Pink, which encourages fun ways to get the community involved.


(Full view of our table with all our baked goodies.)

After our last bake sale to raise money for No Kid Hungry, there was a lot of excitement to have the Crusaders back, which made us feel really good. There was a nice variety of treats, including cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and Rice Krispie treats.


(Some of our bake sale items included: brownies – some with M&Ms, pecans, and peanut butter chips; mini chocolate cupcakes with pink vanilla buttercream frosting; and pumpkin spice cookies with white chocolate chips.)

Jackie from La Casa de Sweets was kind enough to donate 2 dozen chewy chocolate chip cookies, and they were some of the best cookies I’ve ever had! Our mom also made 4 dozen brownies!


(Cookies from La Casa de Sweets, which sold out!)

Crusader Stacy made her (now famous) Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes, and dressed them up with pink wrappers and sugar crystals for the occasion.


(Crusader Stacy’s Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes.)

I tested out a new recipe, Sprinkle’s Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream, which we’ll be posting a full review of soon.


(My Strawberry cupcakes with naturally pink cake and frosting.)

The bake sale was a huge success and we nearly sold out of everything. We raised much more then we anticipated: $132 in sales and $65 in donations, for a total of $197.00! We would like to give a big thanks to our Horizon friends and family who were so generous in their support. In total, we raised $254 dollars thanks to donations to our Passionately Pink page! If you’d like to help out, it’s still not too late to donate. Check out our Passionately Pink fundraising page…every little bit helps.

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

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Crusaders Go Pink for a Cure!

You may have seen that the Crusaders have “Gone Pink” on our Facebook and Twitter pages to help support Breast Cancer Awareness for the month of October. We wanted to do more than just that, so we’ve created a team, “Cupcake Crusaders for a Cure,” on Susan G. Komen’s Passionately Pink website. For the remainder of the month we will be raising money for the cause.

Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink for the Cure® supports life-saving research, education, screenings and treatment programs in the fight to end breast cancer forever. It encourages creative, fun ways to raise money, including wearing pink for a day to promote awareness. Their website provides some ideas for community, workplace, and family fundraisers, but being Cupcake Crusaders there’s only one thing for us to do here…a bake sale!

We will be hosting a bake sale at the end of the month at our community church. If you’d like to join our team, let us know! You can host your own local bake sale and donate the proceeds, or even start your own team! What’s important is getting involved and keeping in mind that no amount is too little and every bit helps. If you would like to donate to our team, visit our Passionately Pink page. Thanks for helping with our latest crusade!

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

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Snickers Cupcakes: As good as they sound!

Luckily, after all the struggles I had making the cake pops for the Great American Bake Sale, the cupcakes I decided to make were a piece of cake. (Please excuse the cheesy pun, but they really were SO easy – and tasty!)

When each of us were planning the desserts we wanted make for the bake sale, I knew right away what I would bake. A while back my big sister, Alissa, emailed me a recipe for Snickers cupcakes from Parents.com saying, “These look super yummy!!!” Knowing that she would be attending the bake sale and that these would be a huge hit, it was an easy decision.

The ingredient list was simple. For the cake: 1 box of devil’s food cake mix, 1 box of instant chocolate pudding mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, water, vanilla extract, and 24 miniature Snickers. The frosting was even easier: a tub of buttercream frosting, caramel sauce, and sea salt. Obviously, this was the perfect recipe for me.

I did have a temporary freak out moment, when I realized that the box mix in the recipe was 18oz and mine was only 15oz, and that it called for a 3.9oz box of pudding mix and I only had a 1.9oz box. Even though I was excited to try a new modification to a box mix, I decided to scrap it this time and just add the pudding mix to the cake mix and follow the rest of the directions from the back of the box. I have done this minor modification before (see here), knew it would work, and didn’t want to take any chances. I did decide to add chocolate chips to the batter though, after learning that my mother-in-law does this with her chocolate cake (and it’s amazing!).

Once the batter was mixed, it was time to add in the Snickers. The recipe requested that they be frozen, but cutting frozen miniature Snickers bars is not an easy task. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Instead, I would suggest cutting the Snickers in advance and then putting the halves in the freezer.

After those two small inconveniences, I was ready to mix the frosting. With only 3 ingredients, there was no way I couldn’t mess this up.

Despite using frosting from a tub, this is probably one of the best I’ve ever made. Normally tub frosting is overly sweet, but the caramel flavor blended really nicely with the butteriness of the frosting and the addition of the sea salt created a nice balance.

Once the cupcakes were cooled, I was able to pipe the frosting, add a caramel drizzle, and top with crushed Snickers. Easy Peasy.

Don’t you wish you could dive into your monitor and eat one of these? I wish I could. I only had a chance to try part of one while baking to make sure the cake and frosting worked well together, but since they sold out at the bake sale, that small taste was all I got. I know for a fact that I’ll be baking these again! They are a cinch to make and too delicious not too!

Do you have a favorite recipe you love that is almost too easy? If so, let us know! We are always looking for new cupcakes to try!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusaders, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

We are working to help end childhood hunger!
Together we can make a difference!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

A Baking Adventure: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

I’ve never really participated in a bake sale before. I’m sure that’s hard to believe since I’m such a sweets lover. My participation is limited to purchasing bake sale items for my own enjoyment. I have no idea about what the “rules” are. But when we Crusaders decided to host our own bake sale to raise money for Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, I thought, “How hard can it be?” Then I happened to watch the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It. Sarah Jessica Parker’s character has to take something to her daughter’s school bake sale and, for fear of looking like a failure to the highly domestic moms, she doctors up (or destroys, depending on how you look at it) a store bought pie, hoping to pass it off as homemade. This put fear in me. Do bake sale items HAVE to be homemade? And if so, what qualifies as homemade? Does it have to be from scratch? And what if it turns into a TOTAL disaster?!

Deciding that as a stay at home mom I should have the time to do a recipe from scratch, I searched the internet for the perfect bake sale cupcakes. Stacy would be doing chocolate, so I wanted to something that would be more of an opposite, but still fun and seasonal. With these thoughts in mind, I came up with Lemon Raspberry cupcakes with a raspberry filling and a lemon cream cheese frosting. The problem with being a new baker and at the mercy of the internet for recipes is that if you haven’t tried it, you don’t really know if it’s going to be good. So, when I found LemonCupcakes.net, claiming that the recipe on The Little Red House blog was the best, I decided to trust them. The recipe is for Lemon Coconut, but the cake is purely lemon.

Lemon Cupcakes:
As soon as I saw that the recipe included using more than one bowl, I panicked. Anything using more than one bowl for a cake is bound to be complicated and I only had 40 minutes, if I was lucky! My goal was to get the cake batter done and in the oven before my daughter woke up from her morning nap. Well, that didn’t happen.


(Prep time included zesting 2 lemons, squeezing fresh lemon juice, and separating eggs.)


(One of the more unique steps: rub the sugar and lemon zest together in a bowl until the sugar takes on a yellow hue and becomes fragrant.)

At some point during my process of measuring dry ingredients and whisking the eggs and buttermilk, Leah woke up from her nap, only adding to my level of stress. How was I going to finish this complicated recipe (okay, complicated for ME) with a curious, mobile, and awake 9 month old? I prepped an area in the family room next to me, removing the dog’s water bowl, so that Leah could freely, and safely, roam around while I finished up the batter and kept an eye on her. Of course this would be the day that she learned how to turn the tv on and off…but the batter was much more important than the tv at this point!

After combining all the ingredients with a hand mixer, and having the spatula shoot straight through the mixing attachments twice, it was finally done and ready to go into the cupcake pans! A couple of adjustments I made to the recipe: I choose to use real lemon juice instead of lemon extract. Knowing that extract is more concentrated, I used at least 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Also, I didn’t realize the recipe called for cake flour, not all-purpose flour. Instead of going to the store, I looked up how to use all-purpose flour as a substitute (who knew there was a specific cake flour?!). After baking, I was surprised by how little the cupcakes rose. I thought, “Oh no! Something went wrong! I should have just followed the recipe exactly!”


(I filled the liners 2/3 full, like you are usually suppose to do, but it hardly rose while baking.)


(I did like that you could see flecks of yellow from the lemon zest.)

I cut out a part of the cupcake center, since I’d be filling them later anyway, to taste it. The cake was dense, but so moist! Relief set in. Only two more items left to make!

Raspberry Filling:
I found a recipe for raspberry cake filling on Food.com. It looked so simple and it was! I think it also helped that I waited until the next day, when someone else was home to keep an eye on Leah, so that I could put all my focus on making the perfect filling.


(Only 4 ingredients needed for this recipe! So easy!)


(The filling had an amazing color!)

Just as I’ve done before, I cut out the centers of the cupcakes so they’d be ready to spoon in the filling. One day I’ll experiment with my filling injector, but now was not the time to risk failure, especially after making it this far.


(I used a grapefruit knife this time, and it worked perfectly!)


(As I mentioned in my last baking experiment, baby spoons work perfectly for dropping in the filling. My favorite is The First Years’ Take and Toss spoons.)

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
When it came time for the frosting, I decided not to go with the option on The Red House’s recipe. I was worried that it wouldn’t be lemony enough. Instead I used a recipe from Annie’s Eats for their Blueberry Lemon cupcakes, which uses lemon juice and zest.


(Always be sure to have extra confectioners’ sugar, in case you need to stiffen up the frosting to get the texture you are looking for.)

After using the 3 cups of sugar the recipe calls for, I thought the frosting was the consistency that I wanted. However, when I got around to piping, it was very runny. So, I dumped the frosting out of my stainless steel piper and added another 1-2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. That seemed to help a little, but it still wasn’t the exact consistency I wanted. I went with it anyway, knowing that since it was warm in the house getting the consistency just right would be difficult and that the frosting would set up better as soon as I moved them to a cooler location.


(I added some yellow sprinkles, but felt it was still missing the splash of red to represent the raspberry.)


(I went to the store later that night for fresh raspberries. I think it really helped the look!)


(I like how the filling soaked into the cake.)

The lemon and raspberry came together in a perfect balance. I was worried that the filling wouldn’t bring enough raspberry flavor, but it was perfect. Despite all the hard work, I will definitely make these again! They were a huge hit at the bake sale and that’s what really matters!

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

We are working to help end childhood hunger!
Together we can make a difference!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Bake Sale Success!

Yesterday, Crusaders Jenn, Elisa and I held our very first bake sale at Horizon Church in Owings Mills, MD. Our goal was to raise money for Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale to support the No Kid Hungry Campaign, and thanks to the Horizon family, we did just that!

It was amazing to see how happy all the sweet treats made everyone and to witness the generosity of those who donated without asking for anything in return. We started with 2 dozen Chocolate Chocolate cake pops (which the kids LOVED!), 2 dozen Snickers cupcakes, 2 dozen Lemon Raspberry cupcakes, and 2 different kinds of blondies. By the end we couldn’t believe we had sold almost everything!

Even though we did really well and raised about $140, we still haven’t reached our target of raising $300 dollars for this wonderful cause. If you aren’t familiar with the Great American Bake Sale and the No Kid Hungry campaign, you can read more here or see our interview with La Casa de Sweets, a charity baker that is committed to raising money and awareness for hungry kids in America.

We are raising money until April 30th, so if you are interested, please consider donating! Even if you can only give $1, every little bit helps!

Throughout the week we will feature our recipe reviews for the Chocolate Chocolate cake pops, the Lemon Raspberry cupcakes, and the Snickers cupcakes. If you decide at any time that you would like to donate, you can find a link in the right column on our home page or at the bottom of all of our posts.

Thanks again to everyone at Horizon Church, and thank you to all our readers for your support!

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

We are working to help end childhood hunger!
Together we can make a difference!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!