Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Just the other day, I realized that Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away. I feel like I was forking out the pumpkin cans way too early last week, and burning fall candles in the 100 degree weather fairly recently. How am I already planning out things to cook for Thanksgiving?

I’m also Christmas shopping like crazy, just so I can avoid the mall once Black Friday hits. I used to thrive on Black Friday shopping, but I think I prefer the rush of online shopping more anyway. :-) Cyber Monday rocks (even though I’m sure the UPS guy doesn’t agree with me on this one…).

We’re totally in holiday season, and I love it. Halloween…Thanksgiving….Christmas….New Years! It’s a great time of the year!

For Halloween, my work had a pot-luck type of party, and they held a pumpkin baking contest. Of course I had to try…even my coworkers were asking me from day 1 what I was bringing. I guess they know that I keep Libby’s (pumpkin) in business this time of the year with the treats that I bring to the office. :-)

I decided to finally try my hand at a cheesecake cake. I saw this idea on Erin’s blog a few years ago, and always thought that I should make it happen. I just never did, because I was intimidated. Two desserts in one? (Yeesh!) However, it’s totally manageable to do. While it seemed daunting, I broke it up into two days (which is explained in the directions). Basically, day one = cheesecake making/freezing and day two = cake making/assembling. I followed Erin’s tips, and it came out perfectly!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Buttercream

So, y’all. If you have a couple of days to make this, oh man….it doesn’t even have to be pumpkin. Just make a cheesecake cake. It’s amazing!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how the contest went, I won! However, it was definitely a close contest! The judges were split between all of the delicious desserts…my coworkers are SO talented in the kitchen. :-)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake

Recipes:

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray, and line the bottom of the springform pan with a 9-inch piece of parchment paper.
  2. Pour filling into the springform pan, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set and measures 140 to 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 50 to 60 minutes.
  3. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove the ring of the springform pan (not the bottom yet), and wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap. Then wrap the plastic-wrapped cheesecake in heavy duty foil. Freeze the cheesecake overnight.
  4. The next evening, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two round cake pans with parchment paper, and split the cupcake/cake batter amongst the two pans. Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  5. To assemble the cheesecake cake, take the cheesecake out of the freezer to thaw for about 10 minutes. Remove the bottom of the springform pan from the cheesecake (the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan should help with this step). Level the pumpkin cake layers, and if necessary, level the cheesecake as well. Assemble the cake with one layer of cake, the cheesecake layer on top of the cake and then the remaining layer of cake on top of the cheesecake layer. You won’t need frosting between the layers. If you only had 8-inch round cake pans (like me) and a 9-inch springform pan (like me), you’ll need to carefully shave the cheesecake edges to the edge of the 8-inch cake layers.
  6. Ice the cheesecake cake with the spiced cream cheese frosting, and if you’d like, add sprinkles! Enjoy!

Layered Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Layered Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I know I have been fairly infrequent in my posting lately, which kind of stinks. Life has really been happening (all good things), but none of it has to do with this blog. So, of course, it has suffered a little bit. However, I’m pretty excited that my favorite baking months are ahead, so there will be more recipes for me to share. I tend to get more inspiration in the kitchen during the cooler months, so I’m pretty excited to share recipes more frequently again. :-)

This past week was my coworker’s birthday. At my current job, I’ve sort of become one of the unofficial birthday cake makers. When I asked my coworker what she would like for her birthday, she asked for the New York Times cookies that I posted about a while back. I was originally thinking of decorating the cookies with buttercream and just passing those out, but then I thought that a cookie cake would be especially fun.  I love the look of the un-iced cakes lately, so I went for that look with this cookie cake.

This post isn’t really a recipe, because the recipe for the cookies and buttercream have already been posted. However, I did want to share how I went about making this recipe, which is meant for individual cookies, into a layered cookie cake.

Layered Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Source: inspired by un-iced cakes, which are all over the Internet lately

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Divide the cookie dough into four pieces (Just to note: As you can see, this cookie cake has three layers. I only used three of the pieces for this recipe, and baked the rest of the dough into individual cookies). Press one piece evenly into the bottom of the 8-inch cake pan. Repeat with another piece of cookie dough into the other pan.
  3. Bake the two layers in the oven for 18-22 minutes, until the top of the cookie layers are golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven, and allow the cookie pans to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. The pans will still be hot after this, so carefully flip the pans over onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and allow them to finish cooling on the rack.
  4. When one of the pans is fully cooled, line the pan with parchment paper and press another piece of cookie dough evenly into the pan. Bake the last layer for 18-22 minutes, and allow it to cool the same way as the other two layers.
  5. Once all of the layers are cooled, place a small dollop of buttercream frosting on the cake serving plate, and place the first layer over the frosting. The dollop of frosting will help the cake adhere to the plate. If you’d like, you can dye the buttercream whatever color(s) you’d like. Set aside about 1 cup frosting for decorating the top/sides of the cake for after you’re done assembling the cookie cake.
  6. With the buttercream that you didn’t set aside, evenly spread half of the buttercream on top of the first cookie layer. Place the second cookie layer directly over the frosted first cookie layer. Then, evenly spread the rest of the buttercream (not including the cup you set aside) on top of the second cookie layer. Finally, place the third cookie layer on top of the second cookie layer.
  7. With the remaining cup of buttercream, I added a few piped swirls on top and piped some buttercream along the sides of the cake, to make things look cleaner. Add sprinkles, if you’d like! Slice like a normal cake and enjoy!

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

applecupcakes

You guys may remember how rough of a year 2013 was. Every time something would happen, I’d think…well, it really can’t get worse. Well, I feel like God really tested us last year, because oh man…it just kept getting worse. It was just a rotten year all around. :-\

2014 is proving to be so much better. I got some good news…like REALLY GOOD NEWS. You may have noticed lately that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on social media….

…well….

I got a new job!

I don’t want to give specifics, but let’s just say I’m in the same field and I’m pretty darn happy here. While the job is still very new to me, I feel like I can honestly look forward to work every day. I have to admit, I had some new job jitters. What if I wasn’t smart enough for it? What if I didn’t make friends?

I had my doubts, because I held my previous job for almost 5 years. It’s what I knew, and this new job is a pretty big change for me. However, so far I’m loving it. LOVING it. Everyone I’ve met at my new job is very friendly, and it’s just a different, yet refreshing dynamic. It reminds me a lot of my first job out of college, which I loved (I had to resign from my first job, since I moved to a new city).

I’ve been in such a cheerful mood because of this change (amongst other things), and you guys probably know that “Happy” song by Pharrell? Well, yeah…that’s my theme song right now. In fact, I caught myself humming this in Target the other day…haha!

Also, another reason to be happy is that my birthday is coming up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating cake all weekend, so it’s fitting to share this recipe for cupcakes. :-) I made these for the Opal Apple dessert party, and they were SO good! I love mini cupcakes, because I can enjoy one and feel like I had dessert, or like some others who had these, enjoy 5 or 6 of these without too many judge-y stares. :-P

This made about 40 mini cupcakes for me, so it’s more than enough to go around for a party. :-)

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction & frosting is an original 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Opal Apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 batch spiced cream cheese frosting
  • Optional: 1 batch caramel sauce (for drizzle)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a mini cupcake pan by lining each cup with a mini cupcake liner and set the pan aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl, until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time (beating for 30 seconds with each addition), until smooth. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract to the batter, whisking until everything is combined.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring the batter gently until just combined. Fold in the finely chopped apples.
  4. Fill the mini cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with cupcake batter (using either a small scoop or a piping bag, to make it easier). Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove the mini cupcakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before frosting.
  5. Once cooled, generously swirl on the frosting, and if you’d like, drizzle the cupcakes with a simple caramel sauce. If you’re not serving these immediately, refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake

Oh man. This week has been crazy. It’s the first real week that I’ve been back into calorie counting, and I just started a new strength training program as well. It hurts to reach to brush my hair, sneeze, walk, and pretty much exist. It’s a great sore feeling, because I like knowing that there’s actual muscle somewhere in there, but oh man, it’s aggravating! :-P

While the exercise is going well, I’m finding it much more difficult to stay within my calorie counts. Since I ate with no guilt for a few months, I can’t explain how hard it is to knock down the cravings. I’ve had a few good victories this week, though. Example: I went to a training seminar at work, and the instructor brought two large king cakes for the class to enjoy. Oh my gosh…the king cake smelled so good, and my coworkers totally dug in. I kept thinking…what’s one piece? One small piece won’t do anything, right? But then I told myself that I’ve stayed within my calories this whole week, and ruining it over king cake isn’t worth it. I had a granola bar in my purse for a snack (thank goodness), and had that instead.

Small victories. That’s what weight loss is all about, right? One meal at a time…one day at a time.

I got hit with the baking bug this week, too. I figured this would be a big test for my willpower, so I decided to bake with some Opal Apples that I just received in the mail. Usually, I go to town on snacking on these because it’s just an easy way to get fruit in (not to mention, they’re especially killer with a little chocolate spread or peanut butter). :-P However, I decided to give these a try with baking, and they worked wonderfully! As far as the recipe goes, this very simple to throw together (the peeling of the apples took the longest), and the resulting cake reminded me a lot of a rum cake from around the holidays with a ton of apples thrown in….just awesome! I had a small sliver, and it was worth every darn calorie. :-) I have to admit, I was proud of myself for not cutting a large slice and just going to town….it was just delicious!

Disclosure: I was sent a shipment of Opal Apples at no cost to me as a brand ambassador for Opal Apples. 

French Apple Cake
Source: Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. dark rum
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter an 8-9″ springform pan, and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set this aside.
  3. Peel the apples, and core them. Cut the apples into 1-2 inch chunks.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs well for a minute or so until they’re foamy. Add in the sugar, and whisk the mixture for another minute, being sure everything is mixed well. Whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Then, whisk in half of the flour, and once that’s just mixed, add half of the melted butter. Repeat this one more time, stirring gently after each addition, ensuring that the batter is smooth. Add the apples to the batter, and fold them in gently with a spatula or spoon, making sure that all of the fruit is coated with the batter.
  5. Add the batter/apples to the greased springform pan, and gently move it around with a spatula to get the cake to an even height. Place the baking sheet/springform pan in the oven, and bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on the top and when the knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
  6. Gently run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake, and open the springform pan to expose the cake. Pull the cake out of the springform, and place it on the cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature. The cake with keep for about 2 days, very loosely covered at room temperature.

Tree & Wreath Cupcakes

christmascupcakes

This weekend is the grand bake-palooza in our house. I have the bags of pre-scooped cookie dough ready, and went on one last Target run for necessary ingredients for Mom’s fudge, Elf’s Mix & a few other recipes that I’ll be sharing on here soon. :-) I just love making these gifts every year…edible gifts are always a winner, and it’s fun to package them up. I’m a sucker for treat boxes, cellophane and a ton of curling ribbon. :-)

This week, I was just itching to throw some cupcakes together. Sometimes, I just have to take those old Wilton tips out and go crazy with buttercream. I actually first attempted these with a grass tip, and they just looked so messy. However, a star tip (#21) did the trick.

I didn’t take pictures of every step with these cupcakes, because they’re pretty simple to pipe out, and you can easily see where I piped the stars.

I started off by thinly frosting (completely cooled) cupcakes with a layer of un-dyed vanilla buttercream (I used this recipe for the buttercream). To make the trees, I started with 5 stars on the bottom, then a row of 4 (between each star in the 5 row), and then 3, 2, 1. For the wreaths, I piped two stars next to each other, and continued in a circle around the whole cupcake. To make the bows, I just used a small round tip (#5) and piped a sideways “8”, and added the edges. The ornaments were made using the same tip, in small, random dots in the gaps of the piped stars. The tree trunks were piped with the same round tip in brown frosting.

I think these cupcakes would be especially festive with a confetti cupcake recipe, using holiday colored jimmies!

Are any of y’all baking this weekend for the holidays? I’d love to hear about what’s baking in your kitchen. :-) I’m sure I’ll be tweeting about the flour/confectioner’s sugar clouds in my kitchen.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a random problem. I am a gift card hoarder. I realized when I was switching purses that I have quite a nice stack of gift cards, most of them being from last Christmas. I can spend my own money fairly easily, but for some reason, I want a gift card to end up resulting in a purchase that’s truly a gift. :-) This past weekend, I combined a couple of Macy’s gift cards (from Christmas last year), and purchased myself a big girl food processor. No more making salsa in batches in the small 3-4 cup food processor….no more shredding cheese by hand…this gal is very excited! I think that’s a good gift, no? It’s crazy how excited I am about this new kitchen toy.

I also hoard other random things…usually pretty things, like certain skeins of yarn, fabrics and well, as silly as it sounds, these cupcake liners. I purchased these from Pick Your Plum months ago, and I just thought they were so pretty…I couldn’t just use them on just any cupcake. So, they’ve been sitting in a drawer for months. I decided that I just had to bake with these at some point, and with Halloween around the corner, the orange polka dot ones would be perfect.

I got the idea to make double chocolate cupcakes from a local shopping expo yesterday. A bakery was giving out samples of chocolate-chocolate chip cake, and I thought that would be an excellent cupcake for Halloween. Dark chocolate in orange liners….festive, right? These cupcakes are delightful…I added chocolate chips in there to give it a deeper chocolate flavor, and then topped them with a classic chocolate buttercream that I featured on here before, which is always a winner. :-)

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: cupcakes slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, frosting from Savory Sweet Life

**makes 24 cupcakes**

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks)  unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the buttercream:

Directions:

  1. Prehead the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside for later.
  2. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together, microwaving in 30 second increments (stirring after each time). In another medium sized bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well-combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together until smooth. With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour/cocoa mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat again until everything is added. Add in the mini chocolate chips, and mix until just combined (being mindful not to overmix).
  4. Add batter to the cupcake liners (1/2-2/3 of the way full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting according to the directions (linked above) as the cupcakes are cooling. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bundt Cake

cinnswirlbundt

I think the baking bug has hit me. I’m all about baking lately. We had a slight “cold” front this past weekend that made me think that the Fall weather is almost here. It made me run to Home Depot and immediately purchase mums, as well as prep the gardens for pretty cool weather annuals. It’s been hard to hold back on adding a bunch of color to the garden, but horticulturist momma told me I need to wait until the beginning of October. ::sigh:: (I think I may buy annuals this weekend…don’t read this blog, Mom! October is close enough, right?) :-P

Right after I finished the gardens (and scrubbed all the dirt off, of course), I had an itch to bake something pumpkin-y. I immediately went online, and found this recipe for pumpkin bundt cake. I thought…eh, I’ve done pumpkin bundt cake before…I need to add something else to it. Then, I thought to add in a simple cinnamon swirl (because who doesn’t like a little extra spice in their pumpkin baked goodies?), as well as a pumpkin spice glaze instead of the buttermilk one this original recipe calls for. Let’s just say our kitchen smelled like heaven. Delicious, spicy, weather needs to cool down any minute now — heaven. ::hint HINT Louisiana!::

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Source: adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of clove
  • 3 tbsp. milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and put an oven rack in the middle position. Prepare your bundt pan by spraying the inside generously with baking spray or butter/flouring the inside (being sure to get every nook and cranny).
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, allspice and salt in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl (or the measuring cup you have the buttermilk in), whisk the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla extract together.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar for about 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula, add in the eggs, and beat the mixture for one minute. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add 1/4 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture, repeating until all is used up (making sure to begin and end with the flour mixture), mixing everything until the batter is just smooth.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the 1 tbsp. of cinnamon.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Then, liberally sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the batter already in the pan. Then, spoon the other half of the batter on top of the cinnamon sugar, and spread the top evenly with a spatula.
  6. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tested inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Place the cake pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, allowing it to cool for 10 more minutes.
  7. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Place the confectioners sugar and spices in a large bowl, and whisk together until well-mixed. Add in the milk, and whisk until the glaze is smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cake, and then allow the cake to finish cooling completely.

 

 

 

 

 

Fireworks Cupcakes

fireworks_final_text

Back when I graduated from college, I moved back in with my family. Being the oldest of 4 kids, I knew that coming back home would mean that I needed to help around the house as much as I could. So, since I got off of work the earliest, there were evenings where I’d try to cook for my family. Most of the first meals were disasters…I’m sure my family just ate them to make me feel better, but I learned very quickly the fundamentals of cooking. I’ll never forget the one night when I tried to make a simple chicken dish with gravy, and my Mom came home to find me essentially boiling chicken. I tried…I think we had pizza that night.

It took me quite a few months to get the hang of things, but after watching numerous cooking shows and sneaking in some reading time of my Mom’s beloved Better Homes & Gardens magazines, I decided to start a food blog. My first post pictures were nothing extraordinary, but those recipes were pretty darn good! I was proud of myself. :-)

After I got comfortable cooking, I got the itch to make pretty cakes. I took three Wilton classes, and my coworkers (who got a fresh, decorated cake every week) quickly became my best friends. I learned a lot in those classes, and accumulated a TON of icing tips in the process. Nowadays, I don’t put my Wilton classes to practice much, and I really only use about 10 of the same tips over and over again (for cookie and cupcake decorating).

However, when I went to Food Blog Forum, I saw these adorable Monsters, Inc. cupcakes (scroll down in Julie’s post), which were decorated using what is commonly called the grass tip. I thought that was so adorable and creative! I definitely wanted to try something like that at home. A couple of weeks later, I found these fireworks cupcakes while I was in a Pinterest wormhole (You know…when you check out the popular pins, then find a random pinner and look through all of their boards? No? Just me?). Sadly, it was just a picture with no tutorial, but I had a feeling I could replicate these cupcakes.

All you need for these cupcakes are a double batch of frosting, piping bags, couplers, a large cupcake tip (I used 1M) & a grass tip (Wilton 233).

First, simply frost your cupcakes, using 1/2 of the frosting and a large cupcake tip. Basically pipe a flat swirl (no height is needed…you’ll get height in the later steps), leaving the edges of the cupcake without frosting.

fireworks_step1

Then, divide the remaining frosting into thirds, dying one third blue, leaving one third white and the other third, red.

Put your first color in a piping bag, fitted with a coupler and the grass tip. Pipe the frosting going from the outside in, towards the center (making sure none of the original white icing shows through). You can leave the center of the cupcakes without this frosting, though, since there will be plenty of frosting added to the cupcakes in later steps. Here’s a picture to show what I mean…just keep in mind, I’m a geography major…never took an art class. :-P

Fireworks

Here’s how they come out.

fireworks_step2

Next, add the second color to a fresh piping bag, fitted with a (clean) coupler and grass tip. Start piping from the outside going in, but this time, leave a little bit of the red icing showing around the edges.

fireworks_step3

For the final step, add the last color in a fresh piping bag, fitted with a (clean) coupler and grass tip, and pipe from the outside in, leaving the first two colors showing.

fireworks_step4

Then, for an optional last step, you can add sprinkles to the very center of the cupcakes. :-)

This may seem time-consuming, but once you find your groove, the piping goes by pretty darn quickly. I’m already thinking up some fun, new ways to use the grass tip again on cupcakes. I really should fork out the Wilton tips more often. :-)

Whipped Chocolate Pudding Frosting

puddingfrosting

When I was a kid, my Mom used to make the infamous Wilton cakes. I’d watch in awe as she made gorgeous roses out of something as simple as Crisco and sugar, meticulously turning a simple cake into a work of art. For our birthdays, she’d spend hours working on the infamous bear cake (or other character pans), and after all of that work, within 20 minutes, the cake was gone. My siblings and I used to stand by the mixer and wait for the batter bowl. It was the best! Or even better…when Mom would level her cakes, she’d give us the extra cake pieces. Such a treat! To me, the cake was the best part. :-)

However, when it came to the icing…blech. That nasty decorative icing…I was never a fan of it. However, in Louisiana…you kind of need the Crisco if you want things to remain in their decorated state. :-P This made birthday cake eating a task for me…I always ate around the icing. ALWAYS. To this day, decorative buttercream is disgusting to me. I really don’t like it. To note: I can deal with buttercream (made with real butter), but I can’t eat a lot of it…I usually find it too sweet. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my jam.

Anyway…

I remember one year in high school, my Mom purchased a whipped icing cake for me for my birthday. I was eating around the icing as usual, but Mom told me to give this icing a try…it’s supposed to be lighter and fluffier. I was hooked! I’m sure what they use in the grocery store bakery is full of chemicals, so I just figured I could never replicate this icing…until now.

A while back, my coworker (who LOVES Pinterest just as much as me) found a frosting recipe featuring pudding mix. I didn’t know what this would do to the icing, but I was willing to give it a try. This was it. It had that light, fluffy texture…the not-too-sweet flavor…it was perfect! I got the recipe from her, and decided to try it with chocolate pudding mix. Yup…still perfect. I could eat this stuff out of the bowl…it’s that good! (I usually pour dish soap on the bowl and super hot water to avoid the temptation…I seriously could make a happy bowl ha!)

Note: If you make this, PLEASE pay close attention to mixing times. The pudding mix is sort of grainy, and you need to mix it adequately for everything to dissolve together. Also, just wanted to note that this buttercream is very butter-y in flavor.

Whipped Chocolate Pudding Frosting
Source: adapted from Cooking with Carrie

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Turn the speed on low, and add in the pudding mix and salt. Once it’s all mixed, add the cream slowly. Once those ingredients are fully incorporated, turn the speed on high and beat the frosting for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Turn the speed on low, and add 1/2 cup of the confectioners sugar. Once it’s mixed, give it a taste…if it’s not sweet enough (it was for me), add the extra 1/4 cup. Beat for another 5 minutes on high speed. Scrape down the bowl, and add the vanilla extract. Beat the frosting on low for a minute for the extract to be well-mixed in the frosting. Enjoy!

 

 

Confetti Cupcakes (for a baby shower)

Funfetti Cupcakes

Whenever there’s good news swirling around in my life, I get so excited. While I know I’ve never met many bloggers, I still consider a few of them that I “know” online as friends. When my friend, Krystal, announced her pregnancy, I was so happy for her. She already has the most adorable daughter (seriously…every time I see a baby picture on Instagram, I get a TEENY bit of baby fever), and I know she’s going to be such a great big sister. Krystal is sweetly referring to baby #2 as “cupcake”, so with that in mind, Eva of Eva Bakes had the idea to throw Krystal a cupcake virtual baby shower!

My contribution are a childhood favorite of mine: funfetti. My Mom used to make funfetti cupcakes all the time. I love the color bursts from the sprinkles, and the almond-y, butter-y flavor is just awesome! I found this recipe on Sweetapolita’s blog, and I think it’s even better than the boxed stuff. I never thought I’d say that, since I LOVE boxed mix funfetti (judge away), but oh gosh…this is a goodie.

Congratulations Krystal on your bundle of joy! I can’t wait to see pictures of the little one!

Check out the great cupcakes that other bloggers are sharing for her shower!

Funfetti Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Frosting
Source: Sweetapolita

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Jimmies

For the frosting:

  • 3 sticks + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • sprinkles for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two cupcake pans by lining them with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the eggs, 1/4 cup of the milk and the vanilla & almond extracts. Whisk the mixture well and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter cubes to the dry mixture, and mix on low speed for 30 more seconds. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of milk and mix everything on low speed until the mixture is just moistened. Then, turn the mixer up to medium speed, and mix everything for 1 1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then add 1/3 of the egg/milk mixture. Beat on medium speed for 20 seconds, and repeat with adding another 1/3 of the egg/milk mixture and mix for 20 seconds again, doing the same thing one last time with the remaining 1/3 of the mixture. Gently fold in the rainbow jimmies, until well incorporated throughout the batter.
  6. Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake pans (filling 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cupcakes.
  7. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  8. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix the butter for 8 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the confectioners sugar, milk, vanilla extract and salt, mixing on low speed for one minute. Then, turn the mixer up to medium, and fluff the mixture for 6 minutes.
  9. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost the cupcakes generously with the vanilla frosting, and add sprinkles for decorating.