Cranberry Orange Cupcakes

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching…seriously, where did November go?  I wasn’t planning on necessarily making any Thanksgiving cupcakes but we were having a potluck at work so of course I was going to bring cupcakes.  Knowing that someone was already bringing a pumpkin dessert…pumpkin cheesecake which was amazing!…I started racking my brain for something that would be Thanksgivingish.  Cranberries!  And orange with cranberry is a match mead in heaven!

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For Cupcakes

Makes 24

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries tossed with 1 Tbsp. flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with 24 liners.
  2. Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add in sugar and mix until well incorporated and light yellow in color.
  3. Add in oil and make sure to mix until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add into the egg, sugar, and oil mixture and alternate with the milk until well combined.  Then add in orange juice and zest and mix well.
  5. Gently fold in fresh cranberries.
  6. Divide batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown and the tops are springy to the touch.

Cranberry orange

For Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Mix together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer
  2. Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed
  3. Mix in vanilla extract until smooth

Cranberry orange

The bitterness of the cranberries mostly cooks out but gives it enough flavor to pair nicely with the sweetness of the batter and the orange.  This cupcake pairs very nicely with the  mostly neutral flavor of the cream cheese frosting.  But I did consider making a spiced version of the frosting with cinnamon and a bit of ginger which would probably go well.  Whatever you choose for the frosting, these will make a great end to a Thanksgiving or holiday meal.

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Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

My mom is a big fan of key lime pie.  And I don’t blame her, a buttery graham cracker crust with a tart lime Key Limefilling, and soft whipped cream on top.  There’s a lot to like there if you make it right.  This year I wasn’t going to be able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom so I decided to drive down to Connecticut the weekend before for a surprise Mother’s Day celebration.  On a side note, you can see how overdue this post is since I’m talking about something that happened in May.  Since we weren’t going to be spending actual Mother’s Day together I wanted to make her some special key lime cupcakes based on one of her favorite desserts.

For Cupcakes

[Inspired by Annie Eats]

Makes about 18 cupcakes

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5  Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Zest and juice of 4 key limes
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Key Lime

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with 18 liners.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork.
  3. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom..
  4. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.
  5. For the cupcake batter , combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.  Add in the lime zest.
  8. Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  9. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
  10. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • Zest of 6-8 key limes
  • 4 tbsp.  unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  1. In a saucepan, combine the eggs and sugar.  Whisk together until well blended.
  2. Whisk in the key lime juice.
  3. Place the pan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed through.  Be careful not to heat the mixture too quickly to avoid curdling the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the butter a little bit at a time, stirring in each addition until completely incorporated before adding more.  Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and a spoon or spatula leaves a path when drawn through it.
  5. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
  6. Cut holes in the center of your cupcakes and spoon or pipe in filling until it reaches the top of the cupcake.

For FrostingKey Lime

  • 1 Tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tbsp.cold water
  • 1 cup cold heavy or whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small dish and let sit for a few minutes until the gelatin absorbs the water.
  2. Microwave the gelatin for about 30 seconds at high heat.  The gelatin will be clear and melted.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream until it gets thick and starts to form peaks.
  4. Gradually add in your sugar.
  5. Mix in the melted gelatin and water mixture into the whipped cream.
  6. Add in vanilla and mix well.
  7. Pipe a ring of whipped cream frosting around the outer edge of the key lime cupcake so that you can see the lime filling in the center of the cupcake.

Key LimeThese cupcakes taste almost exactly like a slice of key lime pie!  I had seen other recipes that were just key lime flavored but I think the graham cracker crust on the bottom of these really gives them the essence of the pie.  They are tart and sweet with a little bit of crunch from the crust on the bottom.  I think my mom was very happy with her special Mother’s Day cupcakes.

Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s no secret that bacon is popping up in just about every recipe lately.  Just take a look at Pinterest and you’ll see everything from bacon cookies, bacon corn bread, and bacon pancakes.  So it only seemed natural to follow the trend and put bacon in a cupcake.  Because everyone likes bacon, right?  And everyone likes chocolate!  They’re a prefect salty/sweet combination.Bacon

For Cupcakes

Makes about 18 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I’ve done them with plain skim milk and have been fine)
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 6-8 strips of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven o 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
  2. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, bacon grease, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed (it will be very liquidy but trust me, this is how it’s supposed to be).
  5. Fold in crumbled bacon, reserving about 2-3 tbsp. of bacon for sprinkling on top if desired.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  1. Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time scraping the sides of the bowl down as you go.
  3. Mix in milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy.  If it is too hard you can add in a bit more milk.
  4. Add in cocoa and mix to combine.

Bacon

I know they sound like a weird combination, especially with the bacon grease in the batter, but trust me, the bacon and the chocolate works!  It’s salty and sweet like a chocolate covered pretzel.  In fact, I feel like I could have added in a little more bacon to the batter to give it more of a salty taste.  They were definitely more of a novelty kind of cupcake that some people were a little nervous to try but if you can get people to try them it’s definitely worth it!  They’ll be impressed!

Nanaimo Bar Cupcakes: A Canadian Treat

Before trying to find the perfect cupcake for a birthday, I had never heard of nanaimo bars.  Apparently they are a Canadian treat and since our birthday girl is Canadian, it was suggested I try to make them into a cupcake.  According to Wikipedia, nanaimo bars  were voted “Canada’s favourite confection”.

After doing a little research on these, I found out they are a triple layered bar…kind of like seven layer bars…with a layer of chocolate, coconut, almonds, and graham cracker, a custard layer, and a top layer of chocolate ganache.  Sounded good enough to me.  The only problem is that the filling calls for custard powder.  What?!  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  Well apparently they don’t sell it in the U.S. so I had to improvise with vanilla pudding mix.  I have a feeling it’s not exactly the same but hopefully it was close enough.

[Inspired by C&C Cakery]

Makes 18 cupcakes

For Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers crushed (this was about 1 sleeve of graham crackers)
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cupcake tin with 18 liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham, cocoa powder, coconut, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they’re completely incorporated. Add and mix in the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the melted chocolate chips (make sure it is cooled to at least room temperature first).
  4. Add the flour mixture and the milk/yogurt mixture into your batter, alternating between the two. When your batter is just about mixed.
  5. Divide batter among cupcake liners and bake 20-25 minutes, or when your cake tester comes out clean.

For Filling

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp. vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 cups powered sugar
  1. Mix butter, pudding mix, and sugar together with an electric mixer
  2. Add in milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until it is fully incorporated
  3. Core holes into your cooled cupcakes, about an inch and a half around and at least half way in. Carefully spoon the custard filling into the holes and cover with the top of the cupcake that’s been cut out

For Ganache

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
  1. Place butter and chocolate in a microwavable bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals until melted, stirring between each interval
  2. Cool for at least 30 minutes before topping cupcakes and garnish with chopped almonds and coconut

These cupcakes definitely have a lot going on between all the stuff in the cake and the filling and chocolate on top but it’s a great combination.  The cake part was almost like an Almond Joy.

The birthday girl was really excited about it and had to tell everyone what nanaimo bars actually are…she even said the cupcakes were pretty close to the actual bars.  Yup, I’m brushing my shoulders off.  I can’t wait to actually try the real thing to see how they compare, especially since custard powder is nowhere to be found in the U.S.  I’m wondering if the pudding was a close substitute.  I guess we’ll see.

Until next time.

Xoxo,

~CurlyCupcake