Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

chocolatepbfrosting

If you put a bag of Reese’s in front of me, consider it gone almost immediately. It’s one of my vices, and I know I can’t keep that kind of stuff in my house. When my husband and I went shopping at Sam’s Club a few weeks ago, however, I saw Reese’s minis…in bulk. Ugh. I totally bought it, justifying that I would bake with them. Haha. Yeah…

Well, 1 bag mysteriously disappeared :-P, but then I was asked to bake up a simple cake for my work’s birthday club. Every month, they have a cake to celebrate birthdays for those in the office who had a birthday that month. Previously, they would just buy a sheet cake from a grocery store, but since my coworkers know I love to bake, they asked me to do it from now on. Um…how could I say no to that?!

I figured a Reese’s cake would be a tasty one, so I made chocolate cake with a chocolate peanut butter frosting, and then topped it with chopped Reese’s minis. The cake may not be the prettiest (ugh…my cake totally stuck to the pan in the corners so I used frosting to glue it back together), but darnit…it was GOOD! I had to pour dish soap on the leftover frosting or I seriously would have eaten the rest with a spoon. So good!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
Source: cake from Ina Garten, frosting adapted from this post

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 5 tbsp. heavy cream
  • optional: Reese’s minis (chopped), for decoration

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 9×13 inch cake pan by lining the inside with baking spray or butter/flour
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until combined. In another large bowl, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla together. Turn the mixer on low speed again, and slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, and then slowly add the coffee and mix until everything is just combined.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the prepared 9×13 inch pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, and then turn it out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Place the two sticks of butter in a clean bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment and cream it on medium-high for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt until well-mixed. Scrape the bowl down, and then, add the vanilla extract, peanut butter and heavy cream and mix on low for 30 seconds to incorporate the ingredients. Turn the speed up to medium and whip up the frosting for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.
  5. Once the cake is completely cool, frost your cake and if preferred, add the chopped Reese’s on top for decoration.

Raspberry Swirl Mini Cheesecakes

minicheesecakes

Isn’t it a shame how quickly the weekends fly by? I feel like the ultra-productive ones leave me longing for another weekend. This past weekend was one of those weekends. I swear, I took 3 trips to Lowes and Home Depot to get more flowers or plants, only to think that the garden definitely needed something more. The third time, I went on Saturday. You would have thought they were practically giving away flowers or something. It was packed…like Black Friday packed. Everyone got the Spring itch at the same time, I guess.

After all of that work outside, I spent most of Sunday doing some Spring cleaning. Junk mail stinks y’all….I wish I actually kept up with it, but nope. I usually regret sifting through a huge pile a few weeks later. Once that was done, I definitely was in the mood to bake. I had a good bit of cream cheese in the fridge that as about to expire, and I’ve had this recipe starred on Google Reader for quite some time (as usual). It did take a little bit longer to throw together the three components (crust, cheesecake filling, raspberry topping), and since you’re making about 3 dozen little cheesecakes vs. one large one, it can be a little tedious. However, I found it completely worth it. These desserts are adorable (I mean, who doesn’t like mini desserts?), and they taste great! I think they would be perfect for a Spring party or for Easter.

Raspberry Swirl Mini Cheesecakes
Source: Annie’s Eats, originally found in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  •  1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp. sugar

For the raspberry swirl:

  • 6 oz. fresh raspberries
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

For the cheesecake filling:

  • 2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a small bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Stir everything together until everything is well mixed and the dry ingredients are moistened. Measure 1 tbsp. of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner, and press down (I used a 1/4 cup flat measuring cup.). Bake the crusts for about 5 minutes, until set, and transfer them to a cooling rack.
  2. While the crusts are cooling, make the raspberry puree by blending the raspberries and sugar together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.
  3. To make the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add in the sugar and mix until smooth. Then, mix in the salt and vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. To prepare the cheesecakes, add 3 tbsp. of the cheesecake filling on top of the crusts. Then, dab 1/2 tsp. of the raspberry puree in small dots over the filling. Use a toothpick to swirl the raspberry puree in for a marbled effect.
  5. Bake the cheesecakes for about 22 minutes (until the filling is set), rotating the pans halfway through the baking process. Transfer the cheesecakes to a cooling rack and allow them to cool to room temperature. Then chill the cheesecakes in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

Almond Scented White Cake

Almond Scented Cake

Not sure how time flew by this quickly, but tomorrow, I’ll be 29. One year away from 30. My birthday always seems to sneak up on me, because in my family, March is a busy birthday month (mine being the last March birthday). :-)

Every birthday, I look back on the year and try to think about something significant that happened that year. 2010′s birthday was really the last “big” year for me. It was the year that I got married & the year I became a home owner. Two big adult-like things. 2011 and 2012 were just dull in comparison, but this past year, something pretty significant has happened (which most of you know about). I’ve lost nearly 70 lbs. and my husband has lost 110 lbs. (hope he doesn’t mind me bragging about him here).

I shared a picture last night of the before/after. The before picture was in October 2011 at IFBC New Orleans. I thought that was a great picture, and I never thought that my face was “fat”. In fact, as I’m losing weight, people ask me if I really notice a difference, and I’ll be honest…I don’t until I fork out older pictures. It always shocks me. At IFBC, I was wearing a size 26. Today, I’m wearing a size 16. It’s a whole ‘nother side of the plus size store & I’m being introduced to regular sizes now for the first time in almost 15 years. It’s crazy…never thought I would be here. EVER. I also signed up for a half marathon next year…I regularly ask myself WHO AM I? when these thoughts cross my head. :-P

Of course I would write about weight loss/fitness in a cake post. Oops.

I’ll be honest…my sweet tooth is shifting. Cake/cookies/brownies…while they’re delicious, they’re starting to taste TOO sweet to me. :( I guess that’s a good thing…it discourages my urges to binge and eat the whole pan or something. While my eating habits are changing, I still wanted to make cake for my birthday…the whole process is just so fun to me. Whipping up the batter, dividing the cake into layers, whipping up frosting and assembling…all wonderful.

I chose this cake, because of the almond flavor in the recipe. I love wedding cake, and because of the almond, this cake reminds me a lot of wedding cake. The almond flavor is definitely there, and the raspberry just bumps up the cake a bit. I wasn’t sure about the frosting, but I really like that the cream cheese icing breaks up the sweetness. I’m used to 4-5 cups of powdered sugar in a recipe…this only calls for a little over a cup. The combination is perfect, and when I brought this cake to work, it was gone that day (which NEVER happens with cake around here).

Almond-Scented White Cake
Source: Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup raspberry preserves, melted

For the frosting:

  • 1 lb. (2 blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees & move the oven rack to the middle position. Prepare two 9″ round cake pans by butter/flouring (or using baking spray) the insides of the pans. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Place the egg whites in another bowl, and set aside. Wash your bowl to reuse for making the cake batter
  4. Using the same bowl (now cleaned), cream the butter on medium-high speed with the mixer until it’s light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually, beating until everything is well-blended. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts, and scrape the bowl down. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the dry mixture, then 1/3 of the milk, repeating until all ingredients are just combined.
  5. Fold in the egg whites gently into the batter until everything is just incorporated. Divide the batter equally between the cake pans and smooth the batter with a spatula.
  6. Bake the cakes on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Place the cake pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, to slightly cool, then invert the cakes onto the cooling rack to finish cooling.
  7. As the cakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter, until light and fluffy, for about two minutes. Reduce the mixer to low, and add the confectioners sugar, beating until everything is smooth. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts until everything is well-blended.
  8. To assemble the cake, using a long, serrated knife, cut each cake in half horizontally. Place a small bit of frosting in the middle of the plate (or cake board), then place your first layer over that (this helps the cake stick to the plate). Add 1/2 cup of frosting over the top of the cake and spread evenly, and then drizzle 1/4 cup of the melted preserves. Top this with another cake layer and repeat for the rest of the layers until you get to the last layer. With the last layer, you want to top the cake with the cut side down (to prevent crumbs for final frosting). Using an offset spatula, spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Serve immediately or cover the cake, refrigerate and serve the next day (being sure to bring the cake to room temperature before serving). Enjoy! 

 

 

Melting Chocolate Cake (for two)

Melting Chocolate Cake for Two

My husband and I went on a Carnival cruise this past December. It was our first cruise together (and individually), so we really weren’t sure what to expect. We decided to go the week before Christmas, which meant our holiday prep had to be done way in advance. I have to admit, it was really bizarre coming back to New Orleans two days before Christmas. It just didn’t feel like Christmas after spending a week snorkeling, eating island food, sampling lots of Jamaican rum & battling a mean sunburn (ha!). :-) We ended up having a wonderful time, and we’re actually planning our next one!

One of the things that I was looking forward to was the food. I read reviews that the meals in the dining room were like going to a fancy restaurant every night. Oh man….and those reviews were right. Every single dish we had we loved. In fact, I loved the food so much that I gained 5 pounds in a week (whoops!). The dish I looked forward to the most (based on reviews from friends and online) was the warm melting chocolate cake. After trying my first one, I was hooked. It was such a rich, decadent dessert, and usually I can’t finish desserts like this, but I couldn’t let any of the cake go to waste. They served them in small ramekins with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cake itself is baked along the edges, but in the middle is a warm, gooey center of chocolate. Amazing. It’s worth breaking a diet over…seriously.

When we got home, I immediately searched for this recipe. There were a couple of popular variations, but this one is apparently straight from the cruise line’s newsletter. I ended up halving it to make this a dessert for two. This recipe is so simple (you will need a food scale for this one)…the batter was done within minutes, and I only used two regular sized bowls to make the batter. It’s the perfect ending to a nice dinner (hint hint: Valentine’s Day or Anniversary). You could add fresh fruit, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top, which I would recommend since it’s so rich.

Melting Chocolate Cake for Two
Source: mildly adapted from Carnival Cruise Lines, found on Mommy Musings

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chopped)
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 3 oz. granulated sugar
  • 1 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • confectioners sugar, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees. Prepare two small ramekins (or cocottes) by spraying the inside with a baking spray. Place the two ramekins in a 9×13 inch baking pan, and fill the baking pan (not ramekins) with water until it is surrounding the ramekins halfway up the sides.
  2. In a bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter, stirring the mixture every 30 seconds, until the chocolate and butter are homogenous mixture. Allow the mixture to cool until it’s just warm.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together for about a minute, until well mixed. Add in the flour and vanilla extract and mix together.
  4. Once the chocolate/butter mixture is no longer hot, pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking well as you pour it in.
  5. Once everything is mixed, divide the batter into the two ramekins. Bake for 15-25 minutes (it varies this much based on the size of your ramekins/cocottes…mine took 21 minutes), until the top of the cake is crusted, the edges are baked/firm, yet the middle of the cake is still gooey.
  6. To serve, sift confectioners sugar over the cakes and enjoy warm!

 

 

Meyer Lemon Bliss Cake + 5 year blogiversary

Meyer Lemon Bliss Cake

Five years ago, I started writing a food/recipe blog. It was really meant to be an online space for me to keep my favorite recipes, and for me to challenge myself more in the kitchen, since my kitchen skills = a mean scrambled egg or boxed macaroni and cheese. I never really thought anyone would read it, besides me.

Five years later, I feel like I’m a part of a wonderful blogging community. I’m so thankful for every comment, email and pin from y’all. I’ve made some amazing friends through blogging, and I’ve learned to become a lot more comfortable in my cooking and baking. So, from the bottom of my heart–thank you for everything.

I thought I would make an elaborate cake for this post, but sometimes simple is best. I made this cake on a whim when my husband’s coworkers offered him some meyer lemons from their tree. I figured I should bake his coworker (and the office) something as a “thank you” featuring the lemons, and I came across this recipe on Food Librarian’s blog. In case you didn’t know, Mary’s blog is THE blog for bundt cakes (at least in my opinion). Her “I like Big Bundts” feature is truly awesome, and I always find myself going to her blog first to find a bundt cake recipe. :-)

Now personally, I do not like lemon desserts. I love lemonade, love lemons in savory dishes, but for some reason, lemon desserts just aren’t appetizing to me. However, my husband’s fruit preference in desserts is lemon (along with pineapple…it’s probably a tie between the two actually). After putting the glaze on this cake, my husband was definitely eager to give this cake a taste for me. He told me this was probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever made, in his opinion. He loved how moist and flavorful it was…there’s no shortage of lemon flavor in this cake! He absolutely loved it, as did his coworkers.

Meyer Lemon Bliss Cake
Source: originally from King Arthur Flour, found on Food Librarian

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • finely grated rind of 2 meyer lemons

For the glaze:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare your bundt pan by spraying the inside with baking spray, making sure to get the spray in every nook and cranny (I use a pastry brush for this).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together for about 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, and add the eggs in one at a time, thoroughly mixing the batter well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl once again, and add the baking powder.
  3. With the mixer on low, alternatively add the flour and milk to the mixer, starting and ending with an addition of flour. Using a spatula, stir in the lemon rind.
  4. Add the batter to the prepared bundt pan, and spread the batter around the pan, until even and smooth.
  5. Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make your glaze by mixing together the lemon juice and sugar. Set this aside.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then place a cooling rack over the cake pan and invert the cake into the cooling rack. Using a toothpick, gently poke the hot cake to prepare it for the glaze. Stir the glaze again to combine, and using a pastry brush, just brush the glaze all over the cake. Allow the glaze to sink in a bit, and brush it once again. Repeat this method until all of the glaze is used. Allow the cake to fully cool before slicing. Enjoy!

 

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream - These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal - My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies - Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles - Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie - I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes - Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade - Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies - These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette - This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013″. :-)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bundt

This time of the year is just crazy. Sunday’s weather was well into the 80s and then Monday evening, the low was in the 30s. We had a party to go to on Saturday that I bought a sweater dress for, and of course, it was 70s/80s outside. I still wore the dress, but it was a little odd wearing a sweater dress with tights and boots, considering mosquitoes were biting like crazy outside. Thankfully, we’re in for a freeze warning, so that should get rid of the darn bugs. :-)

Since it finally feels like December again, it definitely feels more natural to bake up a storm. This past weekend was the big holiday bake-palooza, and after baking up dozens of cookies, I just feel like I should be baking something every day. This cake is one of those things…I love baking bundt cake. They’re so pretty right out of the pan, which makes decorating them super easy. You can easily decorate bundt cakes with a thinned icing type of glaze or sifted powdered sugar. I’m loving the powdered sugar topping lately, since it looks like a layer of snow. So festive, right?

This cake is a recipe that I had bookmarked for a while (story of my life), and I thought it sounded interesting…pumpkin with oatmeal in a cake. I decided to add mini chocolate chips to give it a little boost, and it came out amazing. I had some doubts since this batter was SUPER thick, but the cake came out beautifully.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
Source: adapted from Erin’s Food Files, originally on Dine and Dish

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

  • pinch of cloves

  • 2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips

  • powdered sugar

 Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. To prep the bundt pan, either spray it with non-stick baking spray (they usually include flour in them) or just butter/flour the pan.
  2. Place the oatmeal in a small bowl, pour in the boiling water over the oatmeal and stir the mixture together. Allow the oatmeal/water mixture to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat the mixture for about 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, and mix until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Add the pumpkin, oatmeal/water mixture and vanilla to the wet mixture, mixing on low until everything is well mixed.
  5. With the mixer still on low, add the flour one cup at a time, and then add the spices, baking soda and salt to the mixture. Mix everything until it’s well incorporated.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the bundt cake pan, and bake the cake for 60 minutes, or until a cake tested inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake in the bundt pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I’m sitting here in disbelief that Thanksgiving is a few short days away. As much as I love this time of the year, I can tell it’s just gonna fly by all too quickly! For example, I’m currently knitting stockings for my husband, the pup and me, and I’ve been working on them since early October (which was just yesterday, right?). It just blows my mind that they’ll be on our mantel this weekend. I guess I should finish up my husband’s stocking ASAP, eh? :-)

With this time of the year, I just can’t help but bake. I was asked to bake up some cupcakes (I’ll share the reason with y’all later…have to keep hush for now), and the first thing that popped in my head was pumpkin. I wanted to jazz them up a little bit, so I spiced up the standard cream cheese frosting and drizzled the cupcakes with my favorite caramel sauce. I made enough of these to also share with my coworkers, and a few of them asked for the recipe! Even my Mom is baking these up for Thanksgiving, which is a huge compliment since my Mom is pretty much my cooking/baking idol (along with my Memaw). :-)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves

For the caramel drizzle:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Whisk the ingredients together until well-combined and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugars, butter and eggs together until fully mixed. Add in the dry ingredients, and mix on low until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the bowl. Add in the can of pumpkin puree, and mix until everything is well-combined.
  4. Fill each cupcake liner about halfway full, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating once after 10 minutes. You’ll know the cupcakes are done baking when  a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, whip the cream cheese and butter for a full 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, as well as the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and mix until well-blended. Add in the confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time, mixing on low, until everything is mixed. Then, whip the frosting one last time on medium-high for about 30 seconds.
  6. To decorate the cupcakes, pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes, and then drizzle with caramel sauce. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes

I can’t believe that the weather is no longer in the 90s. I have been so used to leaving work, getting in my car and immediately rolling down the windows to escape the sauna. It’s so nice to wear long sleeve shirts, and burn spicy candles when the weather is actually cool. The highest the weather has been lately is the mid 80s. I’m so spoiled by this weather right now…I wish Louisiana was like this for more than a few weeks a year!! :-)

In fact, it was the most perfect night for trick or treating a couple of nights ago. We like to give out candy outside, because just one doorbell will make Millie go batty. It’s just not worth giving her the anxiety, so we dress her up (ha…she’s fine with it as long as it’s not a full sweater or something) and sit outside with the candy. The families in our neighborhood just love Millie, and she loves the attention (unless someone wore a mask…we found out this year that she’s scared of those).

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If you follow me on Instagram (username: niftyfoodie), you probably saw this last night. :-) The little hat eventually came off, since she kept trying to eat the string, but she was pretty much the cutest pumpkin in the neighborhood (in my HIGHLY unbiased opinion).

For our coworkers, I usually bake something festive for the day. These cupcakes were what I chose to make: a simple vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream. I had to make a double batch, so I wanted to keep things simple. I ended up throwing some sprinkles in the batter to give it a festive feel, and they were definitely well-received. :-) This cake leans towards the denser side, but the flavor was definitely there. This chocolate buttercream is pretty addictive, too and it couldn’t be simple to make. It comes together in minutes, which could be trouble…I had trouble resisting after having a spoonful, but I promise I did!

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Source: cupcakes from King Arthur Flour, buttercream from Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 2 sticks  unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners  sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp. heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare your cupcake tins by placing a lining in each well.
  2. In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt and then whisk everything together. To that, add the softened butter and beat on low speed in a mixer, until the mixture resembles sand.
  3. Mix the milk and vanilla in a small bowl and add that to the butter mixture. Mix everything together on low speed for 30 seconds, and then mix on medium speed for another 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl down.
  4. Put the mixer back on low speed and add one egg. Once the egg is added, beat on medium for 30 seconds. Repeat this with the second, third and fourth egg, scraping the bowl down after each addition.
  5. After the last egg is added, beat the mixture on medium for another 30 seconds.
  6. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners (about 3/4 of the way full), and then bake the cupcakes for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  7. Once the cupcakes are done, place them on a cooling rack.
  8. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare your buttercream by placing your 2 sticks of butter in the bowl of a mixer and beat the butter for about 2 minutes until fluffy and light.
  9. With the mixer on low, add in the confectioners sugar, as well as the cocoa powder and mix well. Add in the salt, extract and cream, and increase the speed to medium. Mix the frosting, scraping the bowl down a couple of times, until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  10. When the cupcakes are cool, frost with the buttercream (and add sprinkles, if you’d like). Enjoy!

 

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

You may have noticed a little pattern here. Pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin?

Yup.

See, the Fall in Louisiana is short-lived. Pretty soon it’s either going to be in the upper 80s again and before we know it, it’s gonna be stuck in the 30s. So, don’t judge me if I use pumpkin as much as possible in recipes. :-) I promise, I’ll get over pumpkin soon, but for now, I should be purchasing pumpkin in bulk. I’m not tired of it.

My husband asked me to bake something for his office, and who am I to turn down an opportunity to bake? Seriously, send me to a doctor if I refuse to bake. :-P I’ve been wanting to make these whoopie pies for a while now, and of course, this was the perfect excuse to bake these little treats up. I didn’t want to use a cream cheese frosting, since I’m always paranoid about leaving cream cheese out for an extended period of time (I know…super paranoid), so I thought that this salted caramel frosting would serve just fine. :-)

I love when my husband forwards me emails from his coworkers about what I bake for the office. It’s always good to hear when a recipe is good, and this one was GOOD. Pretty darn popular amongst the people in his office, and they are known to be very honest. I’ve never had a complaint, but one time, my husband was sent home with a recipe request haha!

I made these whoopie pies with a mini scoop so there would be more than enough for his office. Making this recipe with a mini scoop makes about 36 complete sandwiches.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Source: whoopie pies via Culinary Concoctions by Peabody (originally from Baked), buttercream from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Salted Caramel Buttercream (for filling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg) together, until everything is well-mixed.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the granulated and dark brown sugars together, and add the canola oil in. Mix the ingredients well. Add the pumpkin puree to the sugar/oil mixture and whisk until everything is well-blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until everything is incorporated. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet mixture a little at a time, until everything is thoroughly mixed together.
  4. To make mini whoopie pies, use a tbsp. sized scoop to drop tbsp. amounts of batter onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each cookie for spreading.
  5. Bake the whoopie pies for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies just start cracking on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (without crumbs). Remove the whoopie pies from the oven, and allow them to cool thoroughly on a rack before assembling.
  6. To assemble the cookies, drop a tbsp. of frosting on the bottom side of one whoopie pie, and then press together the flat sides of two whoopie pies. Enjoy!