Baking Adventure: Bourbon Black Forest Cupcakes

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I’m not usually a big fan of Black Forest cake. I like fresh cherries, but can’t seem to get into anything else that has cherries in it, or a cherry flavor. That was until Guest Crusader Beth, from Sweetness Follows, gave me a jar of her Bourbon Cherry Jam. As soon as I tried it, I knew I wanted to use it in a cupcake (you may remember we used her Raspberry Chambord Jam in Chocolate Raspberry Chambord cupcakes).

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(Sweetness Follows jams are available on Etsy in seasonal flavors.)

I had un-frosted chocolate cupcakes in my freezer, waiting to be turned into something good. After thawing, I filled them with the delicious jam. Since I didn’t have to bake or cook anything, the first two steps made these the easiest cupcakes I’ve ever made.

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The first two steps being so simple, I decided that I needed to do something to challenge myself…this is called a “Baking Adventure” after all. So, instead of picking up a tub of Cool Whip or can of whipped topping, I decided to make my own.

I’ll be honest, I was scared. I watch Food Network, I know making whipped cream can make or break a dessert (I’ve seen it happen on Chopped). The cream may never set properly or you can over whip it. There’s such a fine balance to making it successful.

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Well my fear was for nothing, because my whipped topping was PERFECT. I found a recipe on AllRecipes.com for Black Forest Cake, which included the frosting. I only made a half batch, so I used 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, but instead of the small amount of confectioner’s sugar, I slowly added in about 1/2 cup so that it would be stiffer (hoping I wouldn’t mess it up!). The recipe didn’t tell me how long to whip it with an mixer, only to do it until it formed stiff peaks. I opted to pull out my hand mixer, thinking that I might over whip it with my standing mixer.

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In the end I was really please with how the frosting piped, yet was still super airy (just like what you’d expect from the aerosol can stuff). The cupcakes were pretty good and not overly sweet, thanks to the liquor infused jam and light frosting. What I really loved was how simple they were and I learned not to be afraid of making my own whipped cream! I need to get my hands on more Sweetness Follows jams, since they are so good in cupcakes!

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

Quick, Easy, and Seriously Delicious: Chocolate Rasberry Chambord Cupcakes

A couple weeks ago I was tasked with baking cupcakes at home, with only a few days notice, for the Baltimore Eats Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour. Initially I thought I would buy cupcakes and bring them, but after discovering that Tiffany, from Baltimore Eats, was going to make her cupcakes I thought, “I can do that too!” (and save some money in the process…).

With only a few days until the event I decided I was going to use what I had on hand instead of making an unnecessary trip to the grocery store. The only cake mix I had was something I picked up on a whim at a dollar store a month or so ago.

I had never seen Mrs. Fields cake mix, so I was instantly intrigued and figured I’d use it eventually, and I was right. I also had a handy can of pre-made chocolate frosting that I had picked up during a sale at the grocery store at some point. Normally after finding those two items one would think I was all set to go, but I’m a Cupcake Crusader, I can’t bring cupcakes that are from a box and tub to a happy hour that would be filled with food bloggers! So, I continued looking for inspiration and came across some Dove Dark Chocolate Raspberry candies and a recent gift of Raspberry Chambord Jam from my friend and Guest Crusader, Beth Lacey (AKA: Jam Making Goddess for Sweetness Follows and all around awesome person).

I knew that the jam would blow everyone away and really take these simple cupcakes to the next level, but I wasn’t quite convinced that the canned pre-made frosting was going to go over quite as well. I also knew it would not hold up to being piped out on top of the cupcakes, so I turned to Google to help me modify that and make it better. Luckily I came across this article from Bukisa.com. It said to make canned frosting taste a little more homemade, and to make it stretch even further, just add some powdered sugar to it. For the chocolate frosting it also mentioned adding in some cocoa powder if you wanted to keep it tasting rich and dark. After reading this, I got super excited becuase I realized I had the perfect thing waiting to be used:

After our bake sale for No Kid Hungry, I received a huge package of goodies from Scharffen Berger which Jackie from La Casa de Sweets had set up as a thank you gift for the teammate that raise the most money (other than herself). Now I finally had a reason to use it.

Armed with new knowledge, fancy cocoa powder, sublime jam, left over candies, dollar store box mix, and on sale frosting, I was all set.

As always, I added a box of instant pudding to my cake mix and threw in a bunch of semi sweet chocolate chips for extra measure, then baked the cupcakes as directed. I followed the instructions from Bukisa.com for the frosting and was really happy with the results. Once the cupcakes cooled, I carved out the center with a grapefruit knife (after I did this my husband gave me my new cake plunger gadget which I still haven’t used) and then filled the cupcakes with Beth’s amazing Raspberry Chambord Jam. After adding a swirl of chocolate frosting in my favorite rose-like fashion, I topped each cupcake with half of a Dove Dark Chocolate candy. I may or may not have eaten some of the candies sans cupcakes too…


(I think I should make this my life’s motto…)

The final results? Dark, rich, tart delightfulness. These cupcakes that were thought up in a pinch might be some of the best cupcakes EVER (well, at least the best cupcakes I’ve ever made). Of course I have to give all the credit to Ms. Beth Lacey because her jam really paired perfectly with the luscious chocolate. It’s amazing what you can create with ingredients you have sitting on the shelves.

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

Beth Lacey’s “Jam” in Birthday Cupcakes

When our good friend Beth Lacey told us she wanted to have cupcakes filled with her homemade jams at her upcoming birthday party, I jumped at the chance to offer my baking services. Beth Lacey makes amazing homemade jams, jellies, and preserves – you can even buy them at her Etsy shop: Sweetness Follows. I’ve had the pleasure of helping her make some of them and the best part is trying all of her new and interesting recipes. (I highly recommend the Salted Caramel Pear Butter – YUM!) While we all know I am not an accomplished or professional baker in any way, I saw this as an opportunity to spread my baking wings and help my very good friend make her birthday wish come true.

After talking to Beth Lacey about what kind of jams we would be using to fill her birthday cupcakes we pow-wowed about what flavor of cake and frosting would work best. Below is what we decided upon and the delicious results.

Raspberry Chambord Jam filling, Basil cake, Buttercream frosting

Using a recently successful Basil Cake recipe, and my own buttercream frosting recipe, I created a savory cake with sweetness locked inside.

I used one of my mini spoons – a gift from a friend – to help fill these cupcakes. WOW, did they look good, and I had trouble not eating the jam right off the spoon.

To finish them off, I used some red sugar sprinkles to add a little color and decoration. Simple, but classic, and I loved the star piping tip – it’s quickly becoming my favorite.

Wild Blueberry with Mint Jam, Grand Marnier White cake, Grand Marnier Buttercream frosting

This recipe made me nervous because it was my first experience with it, but following my “always follow the recipe” rule, I prayed it would turn out – luckily it did! The cake didn’t have as much “GM” flavor as I was hoping for, but it was moist, light, had a fantastic bit of crunch to the top, and tasted delicious.

The Wild Blueberry and Mint jam worked perfectly with the more subdued cake. Success! For the frosting, I added some Grand Marnier to my buttercream recipe and added a bit more confectioners sugar to help keep it from being runny. Then, to add a bit of decoration, I used food coloring to create a mint green frosting and I used a piping tip to create a little “mint” leaf on top.

Even though I had eaten all the components and thought the cake, frosting, and jam worked well together, I was still nervous to have Beth Lacey and her party goers eat them.

When I got to Beth Lacey’s house we immediately cut into one of the Raspberry Chambord Jam and Basil cupcakes to try. Her reaction could not have been better even if it had been scripted by an Academy Award winning writer, “Wow that is really good, I knew they would be good, but wow, that is really good.” Everyone seemed to enjoy the cupcakes, but most importantly Beth Lacey enjoyed her birthday and celebrated in style, homemade jam filled cupcakes and all! (A special thanks to her for trusting me with this very important task and for believing in my humble baking abilities.)

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