Saturday, August 25, 2012

Snickers Cupcakes

Difficulty level: easy
time consuming: eh, kinda.

I made these Snickers cupcakes as a Bid 'n' Buy item for my church festival.  I was really excited when they sold for more than the estimated value.  Did you know that "gourmet" cupcakes sell for around $3 a cupcake?!? Crazy, right!

These cupcakes are a chocolate cake, filled with milk chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate buttercream and chopped up Snickers candies.  They are deeeee-licious.  Although this isn't my favorite chocolate cake recipe, it does produce a nice, light, moist cake.  But in the future I'll probably stick to the Bakerella one I love.

 Recipe: Snickers Cupcakes
yields 24 cupcakes or so


1 box Devils Food Cake Mix
1 small box Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Mousse Filling
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
4-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
3-5 tablespoons milk
2 bags mini Snickers


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners.

2.  Make the cupcakes:  In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk, sour cream, and vanilla.  Beat, starting out slow until all the ingredients look "wet," then increase speed until well combined.

3.  Place batter into cupcake tin about half to 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating your pans if your oven heats unevenly halfway through baking.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Remove from tin and let cool. (**Note: if you decide to bake mini cupcakes, bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes)

4.  While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the mousse filling.  Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl (30 seconds at 50% power, stir, repeat until smooth).  Set aside to cool (but not re-harden).

5.  Place whipping cream in the (cleaned) bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attached, and  whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks for and it looks like whipped cream.  Don't overwhip at this point, or else you will start on the path of making homemade butter.

6.  Spoon the cooled, melted chocolate over the whipped cream and fold to combine.  Place mixture into a piping bag.

7.  Once the cupcakes have cooled, fill the cupcakes.  Using a paring knife, apple corer, or cupcake plunger, remove the middles of your cupcakes.  Fill the cupcakes with mousse.  (Or be like the original recipe and just shove your piping bag tip into the cupcake and squeeze!)

8.  Set filled cupcakes aside and prepare the frosting.  In the bowl of the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream butter until it's smooth, about 5 minutes on speed 6.

9.  While that's going, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a separate bowl.  Slowly add this to the creamed butter.  Increase speed to high (speed 8) and continue to whip until it has increased in volume and is nice and light.  Add vanilla, and beat for another minute.

10.  At this time, check out the consistency of the frosting.  If you like it, pipe it on your cupcakes.  If it's too thick, add some milk, a tablespoon or two at a time, continue to whip, and add more until you reach the consistency you like.

10.  Place icing into a piping bag and top the cupcakes!  Chop up the snickers into small, bite sized pieces and top the cupcakes with the candy.  Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Kevin & Amanda.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Espresso Buttercream

Difficulty level: easy
time consuming: nope

I.  Love.  Frosting.  My mom and I have been known to keep extra in the freezer, pull out spoons, and snack on it like ice cream.  Healthy, I know.  So when I made macarons the other day (my second attempt ever), I filled half with Nutella, and I asked my husband what flavor filling he wanted for the other half.  He said, "Coffee, but only because I can't think of any other flavors right now."  I perused my go-to baking blogs and came across this frosting recipe before he could change his mind.  After whipping up a batch, I brought him a spoonful to see if it met his expectations.  He told me it tasted "flour-y."  Which I guess was his way of saying he didn't care for the texture of the powdered sugar (but he's also been spoiled by the Italian buttercream I like to make on special occasions when I have the time).  I thought it was perfect though.  I filled my macarons and topped some mini cupcakes for friends that were coming over later that night.

The response from friends was unanimously positive, and I will definitely use this frosting in the future.  The coffee flavor was pleasant and not overwhelming or bitter, like I had worried about.  The vanilla in it rounds out the flavor nicely, too.  This pairs well with chocolate desserts but also was delicious in macarons (where the only other flavor to pair with was almond).  I can already imagine a cake layered with this frosting and ganache....

I used the espresso frosting to top chocolate cupcakes and garnished with a chocolate covered coffee bean and dusted with cocoa powder.

I filled my macarons with the espresso butter cream.  Some also got a schmear of Nutella or caramel sauce to compliment the coffee flavor.

Keep reading below for the recipe and directions!

So today is the last day of my first (and probably only) ever work free summer since I was 16.  Man it flew by fast.  Hubby and I stayed very busy; we went to Sanibel Island for a week, Cleveland for weddings and to visit with family for 2 separate weeks, I started coaching cheerleading, I read a ton of books, we played golf (FYI if you're not very good at golf but like to try, only count half of your strokes so you don't get frustrated when your group is kicking your butt), went to Kings Island and Soak City, visited with his family from out of town, celebrated a few birthdays, volunteered at our church festival, redecorated some rooms in our house, and of course baked.  I hope you've enjoyed the recipes I shared this summer, I think I did a pretty okay job keeping up with posting.  I plan to continue to post a few times a month or more during the school year so keep checking back for more delicious tried-and-true recipes!

Recipe: Espresso Buttercream

2 sticks (aka 1 cup) of unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (you can find it by the instant coffees at the the grocery store)

1.  Measure the instant espresso in a small bowl then add the vanilla.  Mix to dissolve the espresso.  Set aside.
2.  Sift your powdered sugar into a bowl if it isn't already sifted.  Set aside.
3.  Using an electric mixer or your Kitchen Aid mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the butter (Kitchen aid speed 6 for about 5 minutes).  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
4.  Slowly add powdered sugar to butter.  I did scant 1/2 cup at a time, turning off my mixer to add and scraping down the bowl between additions.
5.  Once all the sugar has been added, whip on speed 8 for a few minutes until the mixture has grown in volume and become light and fluffy.
6.  Add the vanilla/espresso mixture and whip on high until it is incorporated.
7.  Use with cupcakes, cookies, cakes, or eat it out of the bowl.  Yum!

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, directions were adapted.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Banana Bread with a Twist

Difficulty: only a little
Time consuming? only a little

So I went to fix breakfast this morning and I saw this staring at me from the counter:

Ugh.  I hate wasting food, and my over-ripe bananas always end up in the freezer.  It's like they multiply like rabbits in there.  Not wanting to add to the disaster that is in my freezer, I decided to make banana bread.  I did a little searching around some of my favorite baking blogs and came across a recipe for bananas foster banana bread.  Sold, I had my recipe.  But then I remembered the Baking: Illustrated book I still have from the library (and have probably renewed 6 times), so I went to that for further reference.  The recipe I'm sharing below is a delicious combination from the two sources.  This bakes for about an hour or so depending on your oven in a 9"x5" loaf pan.

Oh, and I know I recently promised some cupcakes and bread pudding, but, well, things happen and I made this first.


Banana Bread:
2 cups AP flour, sifted, plus a little extra to dust the pan
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3-4 very ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups worth when mashed) (if your bananas come from the freezer, make sure they are room temperature)
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 T melted and cooled butter
1 t vanilla extract

Streusel Topping:
1 1/2 c chopped walnuts (I bought a bag of "chopped" walnuts and wished I would've chopped them a little more before using)
1/3 c AP flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
4 t butter, room temperature

Rum Glaze:
1/4 c butter
2 T water
1/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 c rum


1.  With the oven rack set to the lower middle position, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan.  Set aside.

2. Whisk to combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, prepare the streusel topping  by combining all ingredients (by hand works best).  Set aside.

4.  In a medium bowl (excited to do dishes yet?), mash to combine the bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla (I used a potato masher).  Gently fold the banana mixture into the dry mixture with a rubber spatula, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  The batter should be thick and chunky but without streaks of unincorporated flour.

5.  Spread into the loaf pan and crumble the streusel topping over the batter evenly.  Bake for 55 minutes rotating once if your oven bakes unevenly, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan on cooling rack for 5 minutes.

6.  While the banana bread is baking, prepare the rum glaze.  Combine all ingredients except rum in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add rum. Cover to keep warm.  **If you want the alcohol to cook off, add it while the mixture is still simmering.

7.  After the banana bread has cooled for 5 minutes (but is still in the pan), poke holes in the top using a skewer.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of glaze over the bread.  Wait another 5 minutes, then slowly spoon the remaining glaze over the bread.

8.  Let cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into slices.  Yum!!

Banana bread recipe slightly adapted from Baking: Illustrated, page 24.
Streusel topping and rum glaze recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Some DIYing

So I have to admit, I haven't baked recently.  Crazy, I know.  We were in Cleveland for a wedding last week, and when we came home on Sunday, I had this crazy urge to craft.  Like, craft EVERYTHING.  I made some bracelets using a chain I bough at a flea market and some cording from Jo Anns and made my own screen printed t-shirts to support the beer league volleyball team our friends play on (pictures coming soon).

I've also decided that since the husband and I aren't moving this year, we should make our rented duplex a little more home-y.  I get the urge to decorate about every August, and it probably has something to do with moving and redecorating almost every August since I was 18.  I gave myself a $150 budget to update and decorate our entry way on the first floor and the landing on the second floor.  I will post pictures when the updates are complete.  So far I'm within my budget but still short a table....I guess I'll have to keep scoping out garage sales, Good Will, and Salvation Army.

Anywho, on the baking front, I've really wanted to make bread pudding since my Aunt Kathy mentioned it on my too-short visit with her in Georgia on our drive back from our vacay in June.  Also coming soon will be decadent Snickers cupcakes that I donated to my church's festival for a bid-and-buy item.  I have so many other things that I want to bake I'm almost looking forward to school starting again so I can bake for the special ed meetings.

So come back soon for updates of my foyer and landing remodel as well as some tasty recipes :)