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.

Happy Halloween!

 CupcakeHappy Halloween to all!  I didn’t get a chance to carve pumpkins this year but the picture above is from a friend’s pumpkin carving contest last year.  Can you guess which one is mine??  I’m sure it’s pretty obvious.  And I won the contest!

I’m not making any cupcakes this year for Halloween but came across these cute ones from Bakerella:

cupcakes_halloween_02

Maybe next year I’ll have to try out some of these decorations.  The pumpkins and spider webs are particularly cute!

I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween!

Pear Spice Cupcakes with Honey Mascarpone Frosting

FallFall is the best time of year.  It’s finally cool and no longer humid, boot wearing weather!  Plus it’s leaf peeping time!  Looking at the beautiful colors of the fall is one of the few times that I love the weather in New England.  

Pear

Going apple picking is one of my favorite fall activities.  If you spend any time on Pinterest you know that apples and pumpkins get all the credit in the fall recipe arena.  The apple and pumpkin definitely dominate most of the recipes you see at this time of the year.  But everyone forgets that fall is also pear season!  I love pear picking just as much as apple picking.  Plus pear recipes at this time of year seem so much more unique than an apple or pumpkin recipe.

For Cupcakes

[Inspired by Annie Eats]

Makes 16 cupcakesPear spice

  • 3 medium pears peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of ginger
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 2 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla bean paste (found on Amazon)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the pears, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mixture until the pears are fork tender, about 7-8 minutes.  Set pear mixture aside.
  3.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light in color.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  6. Add in half of the flour mixture into the sugar, butter, and egg mixture and mix to combine.  Add in half of the milk.  Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk until all ingredients are combined.
  7. Fold in cooked pears until well combined in the batter.
  8. Divide batter among the cupcake pans and cook the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For FrostingPear spice

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (as necessary)
  1. Cream together butter and mascarpone cheese until combined.  Add in honey.
  2. Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time until well combined.
  3. If the mixture is too thick, add in a little bit of milk at a time until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Frost cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste like a bite of fall!  The pears make it so these cupcakes almost can’t dry out.  I had one when they were fresh and one from the freezer a week later and they tasted just as good as the first day.  The honey mascarpone frosting is pretty sweet but the actual cupcake isn’t super sugary so it balances out when you eat them together.  I brought these cupcakes into work and someone told me the cupcakes reminded her of her childhood.  She couldn’t quite pin point why but I’m going to assume that is a good thing!

Pumpkin Bourbon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bourbon Frosting

I’m a little late here trying to play catch up with my cupcakes but this is just in time for Thanksgiving!  My work has this awesome thing called Pumpkinfest where everyone brings in some kind of pumpkin food.  It can be sweet or savory and lots of people get to try all of the pumpkin deliciousness.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to show off my cupcake skills but I knew it couldn’t just be a regular pumpkin cupcake.  So I decided to take a standard pumpkin cupcake recipe and give it a little zing!  There’s just enough bourbon in these mini cupcakes to give it that something extra.

The unfortunate thing was that I completely forgot the cupcakes at home that morning so I didn’t get to take part in Pumpkinfest.  So sad!  I did bring them in the next day though for all to enjoy.

[Inspired by Martha Stewart]

Makes about 75 mini cupcakes

For Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 2 Tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 Tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp. allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 sticks butter (melted and cooled)
  • 4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1- 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 nip  bourbon of your choice (I used Red Stag honey bourbon)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar , granulated sugar , butter, eggs, and bourbon
  4. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth.
  5. Fold in pumpkin puree
  6. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway.  It’s easiest to do this with the mini cupcakes if fill up a ziplock bag with the batter, cut off a corner, and use it to fill the cupcakes
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean

For Frosting

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 5 egg whites
  • 4 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • Bourbon to taste (I used about 3 Tbsp. of Red Stag cinnamon spice bourbon)
  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla and bourbon, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes.

My pictures are a little blurry because I was trying to be all artsy putting the little cupcakes on a pumpkin.  But these little cupcakes were a hit.  They had just enough bourbon taste to give it a little something extra and the frosting was different than the typical cream cheese frosting that’s usually on a pumpkin cupcake.  And the best part about them is that since they’re mini, it gives you an excuse to eat at least 4 cupcakes to make up for the fact that they’re so small!

Xoxo,

~CurlyCupcake

Apples Part Two

**This post is dedicated to a Miss Nip Glit who told me to get my butt posting**

The weather is changing and fall is coming upon us, so that means fall flavored cupcakes!  I debated over pumpkin, apple, and wait for it…sweet potato and decided to go with the the pumpkin cupcakes.  Super excited to do pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, I headed to the store to pick up a few ingredients.  Well, there was no pumpkin anywhere to be found!  So sad!  After some research I found out that there’s another pumpkin shortage this year (last year the crop got flooded out) because so many pumpkins were destroyed by Irene.  First that biotch ruined my Sunday dinner when we lost electricity and now she’s messing up my cupcakes!

On to plan B…apple cupcakes!  Last year it was the caramel apple cupcakes and this year I went with apple pie a la mode.  When I was looking for the canned pumpkin, I saw some apple pie filling and decided to just go with it.  A spiced apple cake with apple pie filling and vanilla bean frosting?  Yes please!

I looked at tons of recipes to try to put this one together but there wasn’t a great spiced cake recipe to go off of so I pretty much had to work on the fly while I was making them and just make up the recipe.  It worked surprisingly well and I’d use it again for the base of another spiced cupcake.

I have to admit that I didn’t actually try the finished product but I did try the cake part and it was light, moist, and delicious.  And considering they were topped with my favorite frosting, how bad could they be??  

 Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 can apple pie filling (divided in half and chopped into small pieces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 liners.
  2. Beat butter until smooth and add sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy and mix in vanilla extract.
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time.  In a separate bowl, whisk together all remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Add in half of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixing until incorporated, then add in half of the water.
  5. Mix in remaining flour mixture and then water until just incorporated.
  6. Fold in half of the apple pie filling to the batter and fill 12 cupcake liners evenly.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Once the cupcakes cooled, I cut out the centers and filled them with the remaining apple pie filling.  They were frosted with my favorite swiss meringue buttercream.  Even though I didn’t try the final cupcake put together, I’m going to go out a limb and say they were pretty good because well that’s what they tell me and I like to believe it.  Plus, the actual cake part that I did try was pretty damn good, so I can only imagine that the whole thing together was good.  Plus, my Boy Cupcake stole three from the party I brought them to, so they had to be pretty good I guess.
xoxo,
~CurlyCupcake

Carrramel Apples!

Back in the beginning of fall when the weather was good, our little group decided to take a family trip to participate in fun fall festivities.  What could be more fun on a fall day than a jumping pillow, hay ride, apple cannon, and of course a trip through a corn maze (which we pretty much cheated our way through then ended up walking out the entrance instead of the exit)? And yes, things like what is happening on the left actually happen when we have a family fun day.  What can I say?  We love jumping photos, so any excuse to make a photo into a jumping photo will work, even if it’s Susical being attacked by a giant hay spider.

Sadly, our first farm didn’t have any apple picking there.  You’d think a place that lets you shoot apples out of a compressed air cannon would have some trees, but no so my friends.  We had to make our way over to the next town to find a place to go apple picking because I of course had to make some kind of apple cupcakes.

These weren’t going to just be any cupcakes, they were going to be the perfect combination of fall flavors, like a bite of apple pie a la mode all wrapped up in the perfect little cupcake package.  So how about caramel apple cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting?  Sounded pretty good to me, so we got to work picking the perfect apples for the cupcakes (and at $15 a bag, they should be some perfect apples).

These cupcakes were amazingly similar to the base of the farmer’s market zucchini cupcakes because I wanted a really good spiced cake base for them and let’s face it, I’m not creative enough to completely come up with something myself out of the blue (well okay, I’ve done it a few times but I swear it’s a lot harder than it sounds).

Ingredients

Makes 18 cupcakes

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. crystalized ginger chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped apples
  • 1/4 light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 18 caramel candies (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 18 cupcake tins with liners.
  2. Melt butter in a medium-sized pan over medium heat.  Once melted add 2 cups of chopped apples and brown sugar.  Cook until apples are just starting to get soft (you still want them to be firm though because they will continue to cook when you bake them in the cupcakes).  Take pan off heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat eggs and add in oil, vanilla and zucchini.  Mix only until combined.
  4. Whisk together all dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, pie spice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl.
  5. With the mixer on medium low add in the flour mixture in three batches making sure to completely mix everything in after each addition.
  6. Fold in apple mixture to the batter until just combined and spoon in a bit of batter into each tin (until it it just almost half way filled).  Place caramel candy in the center of the tin and cover each with the remaining batter.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

So I know what you’re thinking, these sound pretty amazing, huh?  How could they possibly even need frosting?  Oh, but they do!  And nothing was going to go better on these puppies than a vanilla bean buttercream frosting.  Yes, you’ve heard right…I’m breaking out the bulk bourbon vanilla beans used to make the vanilla extract for this frosting.

I used the best Swiss Merengue buttercream frosting recipe that I have and scraped out the little black flecks from the inside of a few beans to add in.  I even broke out the homemade vanilla extract for this one to make it extra special because if I haven’t mentioned, these were for a bachelorette party.  And God was this frosting good.  You know how I always mess up this recipe?  I don’t know what my problem is but it’s completely a hit or miss for me, but thankfully this day it was a hit.  The frosting was the prefect consistency of light, buttery, vanillaness.

I have to tell you a secret though.  I imagine that the frosting went really well with the cupcakes but in all honesty I can’t give you my opinion on it because I never actually got a chance to eat a cupcake.  I had some frosting, but never combined with any cake!  I’m going to go out on a limb though and say they came out okay because no one was complaining to me about them.  I think people also really liked biting into the cupcake to have a melty little caramel surprise inside.  Now I’m going to have to do a redux so I can actually try them the second time around.

xoxo,

~CurlyCupcake

Zucchini Fresh from the Farmer’s Market!

This is the line I kept repeating to my coworkers as they ate my newest adventure in cupcake…zucchini spice cupcakes.  I was inspired by a recipe for summer squash cake that I found on Foodgawker.  I had gone to Maine for the weekend with Lenny and Susical and we went to the farmer’s market and bought about five pounds of summer squash and zucchini for maybe $2.  I seriously thought the woman had the price wrong when she said it but everything in Maine costs a penny anyway (seriously, you can take $20 out of the ATM and have an awesome night out on the town and still find money leftover in your wallet the next morning).  Anyway, we ended up eating all of the summer squash on the grill that night but look home a huge zucchini that we had to do something with.  After I saw the recipe for squash cake, a light bulb went off in my head realizing that duh, I could do something like this with my farmer’s market zucchini!

I really liked the idea of the squash/zucchini cake recipe but I had to make some modifications, I mean a recipe with 2 cups of vegetable oil is just ridiculous in my opinion (and probably your’s too I’m guessing).  They actually turned out great with my additions/subtractions and stayed really moist from the zucchini, you won’t even miss all of that extra oil and such.  Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. crystalized ginger chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions

1. Set your oven to 350 degrees and line the cupcake pan with 18 liners…this will obviously take more than 1 pan if you only have the 12 cupcake pan like me.  I’ve found that since a lot of recipes make 18 cupcakes it’s handy to have a cupcake tin that bakes 6 so you don’t have to fill up two whole pans.

1. In a large bowl beat eggs and add in oil, vanilla and zucchini.  Mix only until combined.

2. Whisk together all dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, pie spice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl.

3. With the mixer on medium low add in the flour mixture in three batches making sure to completely mix everything in after each addition.

4. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 the way full and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

While the delicious spiced aroma fills your kitchen, it’s time to start working on the frosting.  This cupcake is pretty reminiscent of a carrot cake, and what goes better with spiced vegetable cake than cream cheese frosting?  On a side note, spiced vegetable cake sounds horrible, but I promise these cupcakes will be awesome.  Ok, moving on to the frosting which is easy peasy:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions

1. Mix together butter and cream cheese until well combined.

2. Add in sugar, mixing in one cup at a time

3. Add in vanilla extract until fully combined

All you have to do is top the cupcake with a whole mess of frosting and viola, people are raving about them.  I brought them into work and got tons of compliments on them.  People were eating them without even knowing what kind of cupcakes they were (those diabetes doctors will tend to do that, they go for all of the sugar).  I kept telling people “They’re zucchini spice cupcakes.  Made with zucchini fresh from the farmers market!”.  People love them even more when you say you made them with farmer’s market ingredients…people in the city are suckers for their farmer’s markets.  I think I’m going to have to look for more veggies in the farmer’s market to turn into cupcakes, it’s such an adventure!

xoxo,

~CurlyCupcake