Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tipsy Irish Cupcakes

I'm a complete teetotaller.

Actually, I lied. I'm not completely. I am known to have an occasional mixer or alcopop if I'm out for a girls night, hen night, or wedding.

Problem is, I nurse it all night that the alcohol pretty much evaporates before I hit the bottom of the glass. Other than that, I'm a total tea girl. Iced, hot, or chai. In fact, you buy me a venti nonfat Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks and I am all yours.

However, if cupcakes were alcohol, there wouldn't be time for a cup of tea.

I would be drunk. ALL. THE. TIME.

Mark my words.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup Guinness Stout Beer - or any stout beer will do
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
cup buttermilk - original recipe calls for the use sour cream. I just prefer buttermilk.

Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate - I used semi-sweet chocolate chips
cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter, room temperature
3 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting:
4½ cups confections sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
6-8 tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur - like Bailey's

Cocoa powder for dusting - optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. 

Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to blend. Beat in eggs and buttermilk. Add stout-chocolate mixture to mixture and beat just to combine.

Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way.

Bake for 17-19 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Mine took 18 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Add chocolate (or chips if using), to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it comes to a good simmer and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped into cupcakes.

Using the back of a large decorating tip or apple corer, cut the centers out of cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for about's of the way. Put ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.


Whip the butter in the bowl with a hand or stand mixer for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar in ½ cup increments, alternating with the Bailey's by 2 Tablespoons each time. Mix until everything has been completely incorporated. 

Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. 

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Happy Baking!

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Neapolitan Crispy Rice Treats

...Just because it's Wednesday. Enjoy.

Instructions adapted and modified from Taste of Home

Chocolate Layer:
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Tablespoons milk
4 cups Cocoa Krispies (as in Cocoa Krispies)
4 cups crispy rice cereal - I used Rice Krispies
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder (ONLY add cocoa powder if you can't find Cocoa Krispies!)

Vanilla Layer:
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups crispy rice cereal

Strawberry Layer:
3 Tablespoons butter
2 cups strawberry flavored marshmallows - I used Jet Puffed Strawberry Mallows**
2 Tablespoons milk
4 cups cups crispy rice cereal

**If you can't find strawberry flavored marshmallows, add ¼ cup strawberry jam and a drop or two of red food coloring as marshmallows are melting to give it the pink color needed to complete the Neapolitan look. Do try to get a jam without bits in it.

Line a 9×5 inch metal loaf pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil. I just buttered the heck out of my pan, but I do recommend foil or parchment paper for easier removal.

Melt butter and marshmallows in a large saucepan; stir until melted and smooth. This process will be used for each layer.

For chocolate layer, add cocoa cereal (or if using the crispy rice cereal and cocoa powder, mix together first, then add) into marshmallow mixture. Stir to coat. Empty into loaf pan and press down well.

Rinse out pan and repeat melting procedure with vanilla layer – add vanilla extract once marshmallows have melted, then cereal. Stir to coat. Empty onto chocolate layer and press down as neatly as possible.

Repeat melting procedure with strawberry layer. Add jam and food coloring (if using) to marshmallow mixture, then cereal, Stir to coat. Layer on top of vanilla portion. Press flat. At this point, your bars should be at the very top of the loaf pan.

Let sit for at least 1 hour. Lift from pan and use a serrated knife to cut into slices for best results. 

Happy Baking!

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Shoofly Cupcakes

I have been seriously craving food from home for the past week or so. I get like this even more so when my brother posts his lunch choices on Facebook. He's such a brat and does this quite often. 

He posted that he was going to the orchard for some fruit and Shoofly Pie. SHOOFLY PIE? Ah, man! Super jealous. There is nothing like it. The awesome pie itself is native to the Pennsylvania Dutch. It has a unique flavor and demands to be partnered with an ice cold glass of milk. My most favorite version of this delight is the wet-bottomed Shoofly Pie. 

If you haven't had it before or have a hankering for something different, you should definitely try it. It's not for everyone, but when one has grown up with it from a young age, it becomes imbedded into the veins and is very hard to remove.

I decided to make a cupcake version since they're fast, super easy, and will curb the niggling I have. For now anyway.

It won't be completely appeased until I give my brother a super big wedgie and make him scream, "UNCLE!" for being such an troublemaker.

Being a big sister definitely has its advantages. Good times.

Recipe adapted from Amish Country Cookbook
4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar, packed - I used 1 cup light and 1 cup dark
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold and cubed
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups boiling water
1 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare two 12-cup muffin tins with papers.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup for topping.

Add baking soda to remaining crumb mixture. Stir in water and molasses. 

Fill cups about two-thirds of the way. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. I baked mine for exactly 20 minutes as I like it to be denser. You may need more time.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool. 

Yields: 24 cupcakes. 

Happy Baking!

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Alfajores...Sort of

I have a confession.

These aren't proper Alfajores. The sort that South Americans pride themselves upon. I know, I know, but let me tell you about my journey with these annoying little buggers before you judge.

When I visited Peru many, many moons ago, street food was a very popular marketplace. Alfajores were sold on many a corner. They are the perfect sweet treat after a savory bite. I was dying to try the tamales, but my Aunt told me that I shouldn't eat any of the food sold on the street due to contamination that my "fragile American body" wasn't able to handle.

Seriously? Please. She clearly hadn't eaten Aunt Susie's Chicken Pot Pie lately. That dish is enough to make anyone develop a stomach of steel. Little did she know, I would ask to go to the market, post office, anywhere I could get away so I could buy and try the delights the city had to offer. On my way back home, I had my first Alfajor. 

Ah, Alfajores. Did you hear the harps? These are wonderful. A shortbread-like sandwich cookie filled with decadent dulce du leche, jam, and/or coconut.

I completely forgot about them until several months ago. I was flipping through a travel magazine and low and behold, they there were.

To make a long story short, I made these FOUR TIMES using three different recipes, including the one in the magazine. And failed. I just could not figure out where I kept going wrong. I just chalked it up to the fact that these were never going to happen for me. However, if you know me, that's just not okay in my books. When it comes to baking, I always win.

I decided to give it one last go and use a very basic cookie recipe I have that would pair up very nicely with my favorite varitey of the Alfajor - dulce de leche and coconut. Why didn't I think of this before? I'm so glad I didn't lose complete faith and was so not disappointed with the outcome.

Like I said, I always win.



½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice or lemon
2½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

1 jar homemade or store bought Dulce de Leche.

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Confectioner's sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture.

Drop tablespoons of the 2 inches apart on prepared sheet. I used a large retractable ice cream scoop.

Bake until edges begin to brown; checking at 8 minutes. Due to size, mine took about 11 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Don't worry if you get any wonky cookies. The dulce de leche and coconut will cover any imperfections.

Spread a generous amount of dulce de leche onto underside of cookie.

Sandwich with another cookie, and run some more dulce over the gap. Roll in coconut.

Store in airtight container. Best eaten within a day or two.

Yields: About 12 Alfajores.

Happy Baking!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

I have always been a big fan of the citrus family - lemons, limes, clementines, the grapefruit league, but none more so than the beloved orange.

I am a total lover of creamsicles as well, but I only seem to eat them when the nice weather rolls along. The moment my teeth sink into that first bite of that slightly crunchy outer orange tart shell and straight into the sweet, creamy vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day...oh, Mama. Ecstasy with a captial Yum. My pulse races a bit faster just thinking about it.

I naturally wondered if I could harness that same reaction into a cupcake.

You can bet your next paycheck I did.

With interest. And same day financing.


Recipe adapted and slightly modified from The Joy of Baking

3 egg whites
1 ¾ cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, unsalted and at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup milk

For instructions, see my Boston Cream Cupcakes

1½ cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup sugar
4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract


1 cup butter
3¼ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
6-8 Tablespoons heavy cream
Orange food coloring, optional 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture slowly and alternate with milk until everything is incorporated.

In a clean bowl, using a whisk or hand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Beat a bit more until stiff peaks begin to form. Gently fold into cake batter until just combined.

Fill cups about 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Mine took 18 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, hollow out cupcakes and fill with orange custard. Follow this technique to fill.

Pipe or spread frosting on top. I divided the frosting into 2 parts; kept one part white and added a dab of orange food coloring to the other half. I wanted the final product to look like a soft serve ice cream cone, but my frosting married big time in the piping bag, so it came out looking completely orange. Oh well.

Yields: 12 creamsicle cupcakes.

Happy Baking!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Cookie Pie

I was given a challenge. 

Our friend, Neil, approached me and asked, "What can you make with a ½ pound Reese's Peanut Butter Cup?" Um, a world record by devouring it in 10.6 seconds perhaps? Just to clarify, he actually spoke in fractions. Haha....I kid.

He received a half pound Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - yes, that's right, I said a HALF POUND, from a friend of his. Reese's are my most favorite candy bar in the world, so resistance to open and eat it on its own proved to be a very big challenge in itself. For me.

I thought it over and decided to sleep on it, hoping the recipe fairy would visit me that night and leave something under my pillow. Turns out, I didn't need to wait that long. As I was almost in my REM sleep mode, several ideas popped into my head that could work. I quickly jotted them on a piece of paper.

Of course, I couldn't sleep after that. All I could think about was that damn peanut butter cup. 

This morning, I got right down to it. I decided to draw inspirations from 2 other of my most favorite treats - Pretzel M&Ms and chocolate chip cookies. 

I came up with this. It's decadent, rich, and full of chocolate.

It also has diabetes written ALL over it.


2 cups pretzels, crushed
1 cup butter, melted

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Just an FYI...this is the best recipe to use if you ever want or need to make one massive cookie. This is why I chose to use it in this post. I knew it will bake perfectly in a large quantity.

cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups chocolate chips

1 box brownie mix, plus ingredients to make brownies - I decided to use a box for this recipe as the outcome is a bit more predictable than if I were to go homemade.

Center and Topping:
20 snack size Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or 1 half pound and about 6 snack size peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lightly spraying with a non-stick cooking spray.

In a food processor, chop pretzels until small bits are left. Don't pulverize to dust. You want some crunch. In a bowl, add melted butter to pretzels and line bottom of springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

For cookies:
In bowl, mix flour, soda, and salt together; set aside. In another bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture into butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Add chocolate chips. Mix until combined.

Layer on top of pretzels. What I did to ensure I wouldn't upset the pretzel base too much is took a chunk of dough, smooshed it in my hand, then carefully layed in pan and evened out the seams.

Once cookie dough is in place, top with 12-14 snack size peanut butter cups. If you have a ½ pound peanut butter cup, place right in the middle of pan. You can also surround the big cup with several little ones if you'd like.

Prepare brownies according to box. Once mixed, pour over top, ensuring it is completely covered.

Chop about 6 peanut butter cups and sprinkle on top of brownie mixture.

Place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Cool COMPLETELY. If you cut too soon (like I did), you'll end up with chocolate spewing out of the cake from the peanut butter cups. It needs time to rest, settle, and cool.

Top with ice cream for a true cardiac arrest.

Happy Baking!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

It's Oreo's 100th Birthday this month. Happy Birthday you gorgeous cream filled cookie!

I grew up with Oreos, as many of us did. These were my first love and responsible for my cookie addiction to this day. It was one treat I never had to beg my Mom to buy - she always had them on her shopping list.

I specifically remember when Nabisco upped the ante and introduced the Oreo Big Stuff. I was still single digits and totally in love. I also remember the commercial for it. Funny enough, I watched it a few days ago and shook my head. The people in it looked way too old to be in high school. But that's the funny thing about the 80s. Even I looked older back then than I do now.

I decided to share in the celebrations of my fellow bloggers and make some cupcakes. It's probably the only way I would pulverize a perfectly good Oreo. Like classic movies Hollywood decide to remake (you will NEVER be Willy Wonka, Johnny Depp. NEVER!), Oreos are something that shouldn't be messed with. They are perfect as is.

But you cannot argue with cookies and chocolate. Together. In a cupcake.


Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Bakerella

1½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
½ cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
24 Oreos, plus more for crumbs

1 cup butter
3¼ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 -8 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 or more teaspoons Oreo cookie crumbs

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 12-cup baking tray with liners. Place one whole cookie in each cup.

Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.

Add the eggs, butter, vanilla and buttermilk. According to Bakerella's post, she added ¾ cups hot water and mix until combined. I didn't add it as she indicated her batter was really runny. It's your call. Mix until incorporated and chocolate looks like silk.

Add chopped cookies into batter and stir with a wooden spoon.

Transfer the batter into cups until they are about three quarters full.

Bake for 16-18 minutes. Mine took 17 minutes. Right in the middle.


Beat the butter in a mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Add the powdered sugar in three additions, scraping down the sides after each addition.

Add a Tablespoon of cream at a time and mix together until you achieve the consistency you desire.

Add the cookie crumbs and mix until completely combined. I took the advice of Bakerella and added only a couple Tablespoons. I also added some crumbs once they were frosted.

Top with mini Oreo if desired.

Yields: About 12 cupcakes.

Happy Baking!

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