a cupcake almost-fiasco



I feel like I should shove these photos in someone’s face threateningly.  “Those cupcakes sure look nice, don’t they?  You better appreciate those cupcakes.  You almost didn’t get those cupcakes at all!”  (Side note: I wonder if anything threatening has ever actually been done with cupcakes?)

The confusing part is that these were actually fantastic until the frosting came into play.  “What?” you say.  I know.  The frosting is the best part, especially this cream cheese frosting I whipped up (previously seen on this red velvet cake and probably some other things I haven’t told you about), which was declared “the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever tasted” by my good friend Courtney and of which there is a massive tub in my fridge that I am trying desperately not to devour with a spoon, perhaps a ladle.  Oh, bikini season.


Overconfidence was my downfall.  Sure, I can make Hello Kitty cupcakes for your five-year-old’s birthday party.  No, I don’t need fondant.  Thirty smiling cream cheese feline visages on thirty chocolate and vanilla cupcakes coming up.  Made sturdily from frosting and optimism.

I’ll leave it at this: My thirty chocolate and vanilla cupcakes decorated cheerily with flowers and little polka-dot borders looked lovely.


Despite my decorating failures, however, these cupcakes were still great.  With a soft but defined crumb and perfect little domed tops, I somehow managed to pick two winning recipes.  I suggest you make at least one of these…but please, no Hello Kitty.

not too bad, when all was said and done.


Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from Deb

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, slightly softened

1 1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

½ cup sour cream

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour

1/6 cup cornstarch

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add sour cream and vanilla; stir until smooth.

In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients, then slowly add to butter mixture until just combined.  Fill cupcake liners to 2/3 full.  Bake 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.


Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Epicurious

1 ¾ cups flour

¾ cup cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cups sugar

¾ cup/1 ½ sticks butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup hot water

1 ¼ cups chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line standard muffin pans with paper liners.  Stir together dry ingredients.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly incorporated.

Beat in vanilla, half of flour mixture, and hot water.  Stir in remaining flour mixture until just combined.  Let batter stand until cooled and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter among muffin cups.  Bake 22-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out with a few crumbs attached.  Cool completely in pans.


mini christmas cupcakes, plus easy peppermint bark


Yeah, I know.  These are cupcakes with snowflakes and Christmas trees on them, and it’s not Christmas anymore.  In fact, it’s not even the same year as Christmas anymore.  Really, what am I thinking?

just out of the oven

Ahead is what I’m thinking, at least if you choose to believe my perhaps feeble excuses for the fact that I still haven’t finished posting all of the things I made for the holidays.  I blame this partly on the fact that I made far more food than a single Jewish girl has any business churning out for ChristmasLinzer cookies, brown sugar shortbread, banana bread, carrot cake, gluten-free brownies, cinnamon rolls (coming soon), and of course, these cupcakes.

waiting for the pretty stuff

Although they’ve got cute little Christmas piping with wintery-colored frosting, you can do anything with these, which makes them appropriate for any time of year.  And, while I’m including a recipe, you can really use your favorite chocolate (or white/yellow) cake recipe for these.  The decoration is really what makes it.

no one cares that white chocolate isn't really chocolate, do they? I'm calling it chocolate.


And while you’re waiting for these to come out of the oven, make some really, really easy peppermint/anything else, really bark to eat while you’re frosting the cupcakes bring to whatever gatherings you’re heading off to in the new year.  Because this is certainly not a holiday recipe I’m posting on January 8th, oh no.  It is Non-Denominational and Versatile and you should make it with your next free half hour.

this is the good stuff

Chocolate Mini Cupcakes

Adapted from Epicurious

3 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (or water)

3 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3 large eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Any buttercream or cream cheese frosting

White and dark chocolates, for decorating

Preheat oven to 300°F and line mini muffin tins with liners.

Finely chop chocolate.  In a bowl combine, with hot coffee or water. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored.  Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture; beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter into cups and bake until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean, about 30 minutes (start testing at 20 to be sure).  Cool completely in pans before frosting.

Frost with prepared frosting (and by “prepared” I mean that you’ve prepared it ;)).  Melt chocolate and/or white chocolate chips gently; pipe designs on cupcakes using piping bags or Ziploc bags with a hole snipped in the corner.


Peppermint Bark

Chocolate and white chocolate (chips or chopped bars), as much as you think you’ll need (I used about 1 ½ cups of each)

Candy canes, crushed (or any other topping), as much as you think you’ll need (I used about 6 large candy canes and 20 small)

Arrange half of candy canes on wax paper (one sheet per type of chocolate, unless you want them to mix).  Gently heat chocolates separately in the microwave until just melted.  Pour over crushed candy canes and spread to uniform thickness (about ¼ inch).  Sprinkle with remaining candy canes.  Let harden.

When fully hardened, break into bite-sized pieces and go make some new friends.