Double Irish Cheer ~ Stout and Whiskey Cupcakes

What’s even more Irish than chocolate Guinness cupcakes? Chocolate Guinness cupcakes topped with Irish whiskey frosting! I wanted to make one more round of cupcakes for the day. 🙂 These cupcakes celebrate two of the most famous flavors of Ireland – stout and whiskey.

I love how versatile the frosting I made in the last blog entry can be. It is a classic 7-minute frosting, which is fluffy and meringue-like. Unlike most frosting, this one is quite a bit lighter with no butter or cream. It is wonderful to work with and pipes beautifully. It doesn’t hold as well over time as a buttercream, so make it shortly before you need it, but it stays together for a few hours. I was so interested and excited about this frosting that I played with the recipe by making small batches in different flavors that I thought may pair well with the chocolate Guinness cupcakes. I made a sparkling wine frosting, a Harp beer frosting, and even an IPA beer frosting! But I settled on this Irish whiskey frosting to top one more batch of cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day. This flavor was my pot of gold at the end of a rainbow of flavors. 😉

Stout and Whiskey Cupcakes

Makes about 24 standard-sized cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 cup Guinness stout

1/2 cup light olive oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the frosting:

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup water

4 egg whites

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the stout, oil, milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until everything is very well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, and baking soda.

Add the wet mixture in the medium bowl to the dry mixture in the large bowl, and whisk until just combined.

Divide the batter between the muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Find a big pot in which the bowl of a stand mixer can fit inside without touching the bottom. Fill the pot with about 2 inches of water. (Take care that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.) Bring the water to a simmer.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the sugar and cream of tartar. In the bowl of the stand mixer, add all of the frosting ingredients except for the whiskey, and whisk until combined.

Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl. Whisking often, let the mixture come up to 160 F. It will look a little frothy.

Once the mixture is at 160 F, remove the bowl from the pot and place it on the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Whisk on high speed for about 7 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy, cool, and very stiff. Add the whiskey, and whisk until just combined.

Pipe or spoon the frosting onto your cupcakes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day ~ Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Even though I am not even a wee bit Irish, I still love this festive holiday. 🙂 I wore green all day, enjoyed an Irish cozy mystery, and made these chocolate Guinness cupcakes to celebrate!

For the cupcakes, I was inspired by a recipe from Nigella Lawson, and a recipe by Yolanda Gampp inspired the frosting.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Makes about 24 standard-sized cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 cup Guinness stout

1/2 cup light olive oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the frosting:

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup Guinness stout

4 egg whites

Pinch of salt

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the stout, oil, milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until everything is very well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, and baking soda.

Add the wet mixture in the medium bowl to the dry mixture in the large bowl, and whisk until just combined.

Divide the batter between the muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Find a big pot in which the bowl of a stand mixer can fit inside without touching the bottom. Fill the pot with about 2 inches of water. (Take care that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.) Bring the water to a simmer.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the sugar and cream of tartar. In the bowl of the stand mixer, add all of the frosting ingredients, and whisk until combined.

Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl. Whisking often, let the mixture come up to 160 F. It will look a little frothy.

Once the mixture is at 160 F, remove the bowl from the pot and place it on the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Whisk on high speed for about 7 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy, cool, and very stiff.

Pipe or spoon the frosting onto your cupcakes for a nice fluffy head on your Guinness!

National Wine Day ~ Chocolate Cabernet Cupcakes

Chocolate Cabernet CupcakesToday is National Wine Day! I think that is definitely a reason to celebrate. 😉 I love to make interesting, unexpected, and fresh dishes to celebrate special days, and I couldn’t think of anything more festive for this occasion than these chocolate cabernet cupcakes. 🙂

These little cupcakes have a good amount of wine in the batter, and the wine pairs well with the cocoa powder and chocolate chips. The cabernet flavor is prominent when they are warm, but subtler when they cool. They are perfect for an evening snack, paired with a glass of cabernet of course. 😉

Chocolate Cabernet Cupcakes

Makes 6

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cabernet sauvignon (I used 14 Hands)

2 tablespoons light olive oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

½ cup ivory whole-wheat flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a muffin tin with 6 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients (through the egg) until well combined. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (minus the chocolate chips) until well combined. Then add the chocolate chips to the dry ingredients, and toss until coated in the floury mixture. Merge the ingredients from both bowls, and whisk until just combined, being careful not to over mix.

Fill the muffin liners evenly with the batter. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Cheers!

The sweet little chalkboard wine decorations are from Yesterday on Tuesday. The set was actually created for Valentine’s Day, but I thought they were perfect for my cupcakes. I think the designs are so adorable I might use them again in February!Chocolate Cabernet Cupcakes

To Top Off Valentine’s Day ~ Chocolate Frosting

Hidden heart cupcake with chocolate frostingI was on a Valentine baking streak! 😉 I made one more batch of hidden heart cupcakes, and I decorated them a little differently for some variety. I don’t typically frost my cupcakes, but I figured everyone needs a little chocolate on Valentine’s Day, no? 😉Hidden heart cupcake with chocolate frostingIf I’m completely honest, I didn’t fill my second batch of cupcakes full enough of yellow cake batter, so the hearts weren’t completely hidden after I baked them. That led me to figure out a frosting solution. Sometimes unexpected and good ideas come out of mistakes! I thought that was a good Valentine cupcake lesson for the day. 😉Hidden heart cupcake with chocolate frostingChocolate Frosting

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (or more if you would like it sweeter)

4 tablespoons skim milk

Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. (That’s it!)Hidden heart cupcake with chocolate frostingI used a few of my tiny heart-shaped sugar cookies to top these cupcakes. I made sure to place them along the middle so I knew where to cut the cupcakes to reveal the heart inside.Hidden heart cupcake with chocolate frosting

One More Valentine Sweet! ~ Hidden Heart Cupcakes

Hidden Heart CupcakesI made one more Valentine sweet for my sweet. 🙂 These hidden heart cupcakes are another idea inspired by Cupcake Jemma that I just couldn’t resist trying! I think they are so adorable. 🙂

I made mine with a beet whole-wheat red velvet cake in the middle and a simple whole-wheat yellow cake for the outside. The yellow cake was from a recipe I made before, but the red velvet cake was new for me. I think the red velvet would also be delicious on its own, so you might see more red velvet cakes in the future!Hidden Heart CupcakesHidden Heart Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cake:

3/4 cup packed beet pulp

1/4 cup light olive oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Yellow Cake:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup light olive oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the red velvet cake:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with oil. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Steam the beet pulp until it is tender. Purée in a food processor. When the beets are puréed, add the oil and sugar, and process until smooth. Add the egg, and process until incorporated. Then add the milk and vanilla, and process until smooth.

In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Whisk until well combined. Then add the beet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.

Fill the prepared cake tin, and bake for about 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool.

Once the cake is cool, invert it onto a cutting board. With a small heart-shaped cookie cutter (approximately 1-inch high), punch hearts out of the cake. Squeeze the cake in the cookie cutter with your fingers so it is compact. Gently work the cake hearts out of the cookie cutters and set aside. The hearts can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

For the yellow cake:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a standard sized muffin tin with baking liners.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until well incorporated. Add half of the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined. Then add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

To assemble:

Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the yellow cake batter into the bottom of each lined muffin cup. Bake for about 5 minutes, until slightly set, but not completely baked. Place a heart, tip side down, into each muffin cup. The semi-baked batter should hold it upright. Fill the cups with the remaining batter until they are about 4/5 full. The top of the heart will still be visible.

Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the yellow cake comes out clean.Hidden Heart CupcakesDecorate with powdered sugar or chocolate frosting. (Recipe for the frosting to follow!) For this batch I used my set of Valentine cupcake stencils for the top. A simple dusting of powdered sugar was all they needed. I made sure to keep all of my cakes in alignment and dusted the designs in the same direction so I knew which way to cut into the cakes to reveal the heart.Hidden Heart Cupcakes

British Wedding Anniversary Dinner ~ Dessert ~ Lemon Syllabub Trifle

Lemon Syllabub TrifleThe grand finale to our British anniversary dinner was a lemon syllabub trifle. I couldn’t make up my mind as to which dessert I wanted to make, so I combined three classic British sweets into one – Lemon drizzle cupcakes, lemon syllabub, and a trifle. 🙂

The lemon drizzle cupcakes were based on a recipe from BBC Good Food. I replaced half of the butter with coconut oil and the other half with nonfat Greek yogurt. I cut the sugar in half, and I replaced the self-rising flour with a combination of whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. (I put the leftovers in the freezer, and after thawing in the microwave for 30 seconds, they make a nice little treat with afternoon tea. 🙂 )

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

For the cakes:

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup caster or fine sugar

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

4 eggs

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

For the drizzle:

Juice of 2 lemons

Powdered sugar, to taste (Maybe start with 2 tablespoons and add from there if you like it sweeter)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake papers. Whisk together the coconut oil, yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest until well blended. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix until well combined, being careful not to over mix. Spoon the mixture into the lined muffin tin.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooling, make the glaze drizzle. Whisk together the lemon juice and enough powdered sugar to your liking. Prick the warm cakes in several places with a skewer, and then pour the drizzle over the top. Let cool completely.Lemon Syllabub TrifleFor the syllabub, I started with one more recipe from BBC Good Food. I replaced half of the heavy cream with nonfat Greek yogurt, and I cut back on the sugar. It was a delicious, creamy dessert on its own with a lovely little tang from the yogurt, wine, and lemon.

Lemon Syllabub

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons caster or fine sugar

2/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons dry white wine

Zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Whip the cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Stir in the yogurt, and blend well. Add the wine, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice. Mix until everything is evenly incorporated.

Trifle

Lemon syllabub

Small berries, such as raspberries or blueberries

Lemon drizzle cupcakes, cut into small cubes

Zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated

For ease, place the syllabub into a piping bag. In the base of a tall glass, pipe a shallow layer of syllabub in the bottom. Top with a few berries and then a few cubes of cake. Repeat until you finish at the top with the syllabub. Sprinkle with lemon zest on top.

That is the last stop on our virtual culinary getaway to the UK. 🙂 Cheerio for now!Lemon Syllabub Trifle

Makeover for Noon Café ~ Cappuccino Cupcakes

Cappuccino CupcakeWelcome to the brand new look for Noon Café! It got a complete makeover this weekend to keep up with the times. I hope you enjoy the new website as much as I enjoyed putting it together. 🙂

To celebrate the new look and the new cappuccino logo, I thought I would bake a batch of cappuccino cupcakes! I based my cupcakes on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I made three notable changes to the original recipe…I reduced the sugar, replaced the butter with light olive oil, and replaced the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. Then I dressed them up a bit. (After all, this recipe is about makeovers!) Instead of making the espresso syrup in the original recipe, I made a Greek yogurt frosting with a little espresso mixed in. This transformed these coffee cupcakes into cappuccino cupcakes. I also made little coffee cup handles out of chocolate for the side of the cakes. They are cute little cupcakes that are perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or even for breakfast. (And I promise I won’t tell anyone if you decide to have a cupcake for breakfast! 😉 )

Cappuccino Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine

2 tablespoons boiling water

4 teaspoons instant espresso granules

1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 tablespoons light olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

12 baking liners

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cupcakes, combine boiling water and espresso granules, stirring until espresso dissolves. Stir in buttermilk.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.

Place granulated sugar, oil, and vanilla extract in a large bowl; whisk until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan.Cappuccino CupcakeEspresso Frosting

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

¼ cup Neufchatel cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons powdered sugar, (or more if you prefer a sweeter frosting)

¼ teaspoon instant espresso granules, (or more if you would like the frosting to have a more pronounced coffee flavor)

In a food processor, mix all of the ingredients until the espresso is incorporated and no longer grainy. Chill until ready to use.Cappuccino CupcakeCoffee Cup Handles

8 ounces dark chocolate (approximately)

Piping bag or zip lock bag

Small piping tip (optional)

Waxed paper

Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at 30 second increments, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth. Place piping tip (if using) in a corner of the piping bag or zip top bag. Fill the bag with the melted chocolate. Snip a small hole in the corner of the bag. Pipe the “handles” onto the waxed paper and freeze until hardened. (About 10 minutes.) Place one chocolate handle on the side of each cupcake.Cappuccino Cupcake

Easter Treats ~ Simnel Cupcakes

Simnel CupcakesHappy Easter!

To celebrate the holiday this year, I made a batch of simnel cupcakes. 🙂

Simnel cake is a British confection eaten around Easter time. It is a type of fruit cake with some warm holiday spices mixed in, but I think the most interesting part about this dish is the decoration. These cakes are decorated with a ring of 11 small balls of marzipan symbolizing 11 Apostles, with the exception of Judas. I love dishes such as this one that combine culture, history, and deliciousness! 😉

Simnel CupcakesI only decorated a few of the cupcakes, and I froze the rest of them without any decoration to keep them fresh for later. (By the way, microwave one frozen cupcake for 30 seconds, and it tastes like it came right out of the oven. I like to eat them plain as a snack.) I ended up using one small 150 gram package of marzipan because I only decorated a few of the cakes. This amount will be enough to decorate about 8 cupcakes, depending on how thin you roll it. If you would like to decorate the whole batch, you will probably need three packages to be on the safe side. Marzipan keeps well in the refrigerator for later if you don’t use all of it. I also only used about ¼ cup of apricot jam. Again, if you plan to decorate all of your cupcakes, you will probably need more.

Simnel CupcakesSimnel Cupcakes

Makes 20

¾ cup light olive oil

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt

6 tablespoons skim milk

½ cup fine or caster sugar

3 eggs

2 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 ¼ teaspoons mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 ½ cups mixed dry fruit (finely chopped apricots, currants, etc.)

Marzipan (one 150 g package will cover and decorate about 8 cupcakes)

Powdered sugar, for dusting work surface

Apricot jam (¼ cup will be enough for about 8 cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cupcake tins with 20 paper liners.

Combine oil, yogurt, milk, sugar, and eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined. Add the fruit, and mix until evenly distributed.

Fill each baking cup about ½ full. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

In the meantime heat jam until it is more viscous, and sieve it through a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the smooth portion of the jam, and discard the solids.

On a clean and smooth surface, sprinkle some powdered sugar to keep the marzipan from sticking. Roll out the marzipan with a rolling pin until it is very thin. Cut out rounds with a round cookie cutter that is approximately the size of the top of a cupcake. With remaining bits of marzipan, make small, evenly sized balls.

When the cupcakes are cooked and cooled, brush a small amount of the jam over the top of each one that you would like to decorate. Place a round of marzipan over the jam, and press gently to adhere to the cake. Lightly brush the top of the marzipan with jam, and also lightly coat 11 little balls with jam. Stick the balls in a circle on top of each cupcake.

Simnel Cupcakes

Christmas Baking ~ Gingerbread Cupcakes

Gingerbread CupcakesI baked a batch of gingerbread cupcakes to go with my gingerbread caramels. (Sensing a gingerbread theme this month?? I figured Santa might like choices! 😉 )

I based the recipe on Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Snacking Cake. It is such a flavorful recipe with the addition of fresh ginger, but I wanted individual cupcakes instead of one big sheet cake. I replaced the butter with light olive oil, and I replaced the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. The bold flavors of the cake stand up the whole grains beautifully. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try! I will definitely keep these cupcakes in my holiday recipe collection. 🙂 Yum!

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from MarthaStewart.com

½ cup light olive oil

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1 cup unsulfured molasses

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix oil and brown sugar. Beat in molasses and grated ginger, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in eggs.

Pour batter into a muffin pan lined with paper liners, filling each about ½ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Merry Christmas!!

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Halloween Treats ~ Devil’s Food Cupcakes, Updated

Devil's Food CupcakesHalloween is right around the corner!

For the past few years, I have made devil’s food cupcakes to celebrate the season. This year I tried them with whole-wheat pastry flour, and it worked out beautifully! The hearty chocolate flavor stands up to the whole grain, and they are still moist and delicious. I think this will be my new and improved recipe from now on!

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup light olive oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with 14 cupcake papers. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Sift in cocoa and baking soda. Stir to combine. Add flour, and mix until just combined. (Be careful not to mix too much at this point.) Fill each cupcake about ¾ full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Devil's Food CupcakesI found the little Halloween printables at CatchMyParty.com. They are super cute, and free!

Devil's Food CupcakesCatchMyParty.com also has many other choices for Halloween if you’d rather have a different design. I had a hard time choosing my favorite. 🙂

Devil's Food Cupcakes

Happy Easter ~ Simple Yellow Cupcakes

Happy Easter!

I made a batch of simple yellow cupcakes to celebrate the season. These cakes would be great with any kind of frosting or decoration on top. For example, here’s an idea to try for next year! Ha! They are a good base cupcake, and then you can get creative from there. 🙂 I used a super cute cupcake kit from Meri Meri. I love their products. 🙂 They dress up any ordinary cupcakes and make them ready for a special occasion!

I started with Martha Stewart’s recipe for yellow cupcakes. I replaced the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. I added a little bit more milk (skim rather than whole) since whole-wheat flour can require more liquid for a moist cake. I also replaced all of the butter with light olive oil.

Yellow Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup light olive oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a standard sized muffin tin with baking liners.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until well incorporated. Add half of the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined. Then add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter evenly in the prepared muffin tin.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Happy Spring! ~ Parsley Cupcakes

Spring is finally here! To celebrate the new season, I made a recipe for parsley cupcakes. It is one of the most interesting recipes I’ve come across in a long time, and I’m glad I tried it. 🙂  They have a unique herb flavor, and they are intensely green without the use of any food coloring. The original recipe was posted on Food52.com for St. Patrick’s Day. If you haven’t visited that website, I’d recommend it! They have a collection of very unique and delicious recipes to spice up (or in this case, herb up!) your kitchen. 🙂

I substituted the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour, and I reduced the amount of salt and sugar a bit. I also made this recipe into individual cupcakes rather than a large cake.

Parsley Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Food52.com

4 cups tightly packed parsley leaves, from about 5 bunches

1 cup tightly packed mint leaves, from 2 bunches

3/4 cup good olive oil

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 plus 3/4 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 340°F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. (The recipe makes about 17 cupcakes.)

To make the herb-oil mixture, put a fourth of the parsley and mint in a strong blender or food processor, and blend it on low speed. Use a blender stick to help crush the herbs while the blade is spinning (or stop the machine from time to time to push the herbs back down toward the blade). Slowly increase the speed to medium (or a steady puree, in a food processor) and continue adding the rest of the herbs until you have added all of them.

In a steady stream, add half of the olive oil. Mix on medium-low speed (or pulsing, if using a food processor) until all is combined. Add the remaining olive oil and blend for no longer than 10 seconds. The mixture will look loose and stringy. Scrape out the blender to get all of the parsley mixture, transfer it to a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use.

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

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the eggs for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on high speed until the mixture is very thick and turns a pale yellow color, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the herb-oil mixture.

With the machine still running, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ full with the batter.

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. When a cake tester inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean, they are done. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan.

Happy Halloween ~ Ghostly Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!

We made devil’s food cupcakes again this year since we enjoyed them so much last year. We tried decorating in a fun and different way this time around, however. My mom gave me some cute little ghost cupcake papers this year, which is what inspired me to make little ghosts on the top. We just used store bought fondant, and don’t plan to eat it ;-). It’s like Play-Doh for adults! We had a really fun evening playing with it. Just roll it out, cut it into circles, and place on top of the cupcakes. Secret: We used a sake glass on top of the cake to keep our little ghost suspended. Wet the end of 2 mini chocolate chips, and stick them on for eyes. So cute!

Here is the recipe for the cakes once again ~

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with 14 cupcake papers. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Sift in flour, cocoa and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fill each cupcake about ¾ full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Have a fun and spooky Halloween!

May Day is Lei Day ~ Coconut Cupcakes

May 1st is Lei Day in Hawaii, so I thought the month of May would be a good time to bake some Hawaiian inspired coconut cupcakes! Coconut is one of my very favorite flavors, so I will take any excuse to make something with it. And Hawaii is one of my very favorite places, so I love to make anything that brings to mind that beautiful state :-).

I started with a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, for her coconut cupcakes. I changed the recipe quite a bit to make them a lot healthier, however. I omitted the butter and instead used coconut oil. I increased the amount of buttermilk to reduce the higher fat ingredients. I used 100% whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. And I also reduced the amount of sugar.

Coconut Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 cups buttermilk
7 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the coconut oil and sugar on high speed, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in the coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

You can top the cupcakes with a glaze of confectioner’s sugar and water, and a sprinkling of toasted sweetened coconut on top. Or they are good for breakfast without any topping :-).

Aloha!

Happy Valentine’s Day! ~ Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Hearts

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I found some adorable Valentine cupcake recipes on MarthaStewart.com. I combined a few of my favorites, since there were so many cute ideas that I couldn’t decide on just one. 🙂 These are inspired by a combination of Martha’s recipes for Raspberry Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream and Lacy Chocolate Hearts as well as her Frosted Chocolate-Buttermilk Cupcakes.

For the cake recipe, I replaced the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour, I reduced the sugar slightly and I replaced the butter with coconut oil. Now they are a little more heart-healthy for heart day!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from MarthaStewart.com

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, (spooned and leveled)

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process

3 tablespoons coconut oil

6 tablespoons buttermilk

1 large egg

1 large egg white

Light Cream-Cheese Icing (recipe follows)

Chocolate Hearts decorations (recipe follows)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard 12-cup muffin tin (or two 6-cup muffin tins) with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine cocoa and 3 tablespoons hot water until a thick paste forms. Add coconut oil, buttermilk, egg, and egg white; beat until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth.

Scoop (or spoon) batter into prepared tin(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread icing over tops. Decorate as desired.

The original icing recipe was already a lightened version of a cream cheese frosting. I decided to make it a little more special and festive for the holiday by adding some raspberry puree, which made it pink! 🙂 It’s more natural than red food coloring, and I love the raspberry flavor paired with the chocolate. I used a little less sugar than the recipe called for. Just taste as you go, and add as much or as little sugar and raspberry puree as you desire.

Light Cream Cheese Icing

Based on a recipe from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients

3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 bag of frozen raspberries

Directions

Thaw raspberries, and blend until pureed in a food processor. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and as much of the confectioners’ sugar and raspberry puree as you desire. (To make without a mixer, sift sugar before stirring into cream cheese.)

I made free form chocolate hearts to go on top of the cakes. However, if you’d like more perfect and uniform shapes, below is Martha’s technique :).

Chocolate Hearts

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Filigree Hearts

Ingredients

Dark or milk chocolate

Directions

Trace the inside of a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter (surlatable.com) onto parchment 30 times using a pencil.

Flip parchment, and transfer to a baking sheet.

Melt 4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a parchment cone (or resealable plastic bag). Snip a tip to make a small hole.

Pipe chocolate into hearts, following outlines and filling in with squiggles (be sure squiggles are at least 1/4 inch thick so hearts won’t break when removed).

Freeze hearts until set, about 15 minutes. Remove hearts using an offset spatula. Makes 30.

 

Boo! ~ Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!

I was in the mood for something sweet, something chocolately, and something a bit spooky today ;-). Devil’s food cupcakes!

I followed a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, but omitted the frosting. I like them plain or with a little powdered sugar on top. I also made them cupcakes instead of full cakes since I wanted to use the cute little Halloween spider cupcake papers I had :).

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with 14 cupcake papers. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Sift in flour, cocoa and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fill each cupcake about ¾ full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

They really couldn’t be easier, so this will definitely be a go-to recipe when I am craving chocolate cake! They would be great for birthdays or showers or whenever :).

I also found a website with really cute Halloween labels for everything from wine bottles to beer bottles to water bottles. They can be found at this link from Centsational Girl’s blog. I picked my favorite, printed it on regular printer paper, and stuck it to a bottle of our house wine with two sided tape. So cute!

I hope you have a fun Halloween evening! Now it’s time for the trick or treating to begin!

Our favorite recipe for birthdays or any special occasion ~ Whole Wheat Carrot Cupcakes

One dessert that I make over and over again for special occasions is my favorite carrot cupcake recipe. Most recently, I made a batch for my mom’s birthday this month! (Pictured) They have a surprising amount of carrots, and you really can’t tell you are sneaking in a whole grain with your dessert either. I hope you like them as much as we do!

Whole Wheat Carrot Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups of light olive oil and water mixture (3/4 cup light olive oil, and then top it off with water)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

Pinch of salt

3 cups grated carrots

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat the sugar, oil/water mixture, and vanilla with an electric mixer or a whisk. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Then incorporate half of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the grated carrots into the remaining flour, and add it all to the batter. Mix until combined.

Line your muffin pans with paper liners. (About 20). Scoop the batter into the muffin cups a little over 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes more, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Check after 25 minutes or so, since ovens can vary.

You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar if you desire, or they are great plain.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I made a batch of festive chocolate Guinness cupcakes to celebrate one of my favorite holidays. I started with a recipe from the Food Network, and I switched it up a bit to make it a little healthier. These make a lot of cupcakes, but this recipe also divides in half nicely. Then you’ll just have half a bottle of beer to finish while you bake. 🙂 (If you decide to go this route, use a full egg and one egg white.) Or, the cupcakes also freeze well, so you can keep them for quite a while if you decide to make the full batch. These have actually become a favorite at our house even when it isn’t anywhere close to St. Patrick’s Day. I hope you like them as much as we do!

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

3/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

2 cups sugar

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 bottle or can of Guinness

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

3/4 cup non-fat sour cream

Before you begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour and baking soda in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, blend the Guinness, oil and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and blend until incorporated. Then mix in the sour cream. Gradually mix the dry blend into the wet blend. Spray 24 muffin tins with cooking spray and divide the batter equally. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for another 12 minutes. They should have a nice little dome and be set in the middle.

Sprinkle with a fine dusting of powdered sugar if you wish.

These go very well with a glass of green sparkling wine. 🙂 Again, we chose what has become our sparkling wine of the year, Sofia Blanc de Blancs. It is so fun to be able to pick up just one or two little individual cans at the store when we are having a festive moment. Sláinte!