Dealing with life is a piece of cake.

Posts tagged ‘buttercream’

Dark-chocolate resolutions for a bright 2013

IMG_1662

Welcome to the time of year where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to pack your gut that you worked so hard to flatten for the summer, with butter, sugar, and booze. There’s a time-limit to this moment, though. It ends the moment you wake up on January 1st (for most people, anyway).

That’s right, I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. Dun dun DUNNNN!

I took the liberty of looking up the most popular “commitments” people make at the beginning of each year.

Of course, the most faddish resolution is to “get in shape” and lose those elusive 15 pounds that seemed to creep out of nowhere and attached themselves to your innocent thighs. I’ve tried this resolution, and if I remember correctly, I ended up gaining weight because all I could think about was food that brings those pounds out of their hidden cave. Then I stuffed my face. That, and the fact that I write a baking blog. Um, duh.

Another popular resolution? Eat healthier. See above.

A third? Drink less alcohol. I think I always say this on the 1st. I blame the 31st.

One of the lists I read included “learn something new.” What? That’s ridiculous. If you’re not learning at least ONE thing every single day, you’re not awake. You’re probably dead. And I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say that we’re not quite ready for the zombie apocalypse yet. So wake up, and learn something, you scary, scary robot.

Am I talking about robots or zombies? Wait…what?

IMG_1665

What I’m getting at, is that these resolutions are so impersonal. I’ve made a short list of things I will commit to for 2013. Want to see? If you don’t…boo on you. Because I want to hear about yours.

1. Take more pictures. I feel like a lot of people say this. This doesn’t mean pictures of me and my friends, although I love those. I mean taking pictures of things I find beautiful around me — meaningful things that catch my attention. Trees do that for me. Call me weird, I don’t mind. This might even mean investing in a camera! Ooh, hello, idea lightbulb.

2. Get a piece of art for my apartment. My walls are bare. It’s kind of sad.

3. Take a trip with my roommate. We decided we wanted to go on a cruise. I fully support this idea, and I have every intention of executing it.

4. Drink a little less coffee. I’m not going to cut it out, but maybe ration myself to two cups a day. Or leave one shot of espresso out of my Americano. I should probably be more decisive on this.

5. Be more decisive about the coffee situation.

6. Bake more. I bake a lot, obviously, but I have a zillion ideas in my head that I need to make reality, like, NOW.

7. Tell you about these chocolate cupcakes.

Okay, the 7th item on the list is happening in 2012, but hey, nothing wrong with being ahead of the game, right?

These cupcakes would make Count Chocula blush. It’s serious business. I took my chocolate cake recipe, tweaked it a little, made my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe, tweaked that a little, and the next thing I know I have these chocolate cupcakes that are so rich, they make Donald Trump look like an orphan.

What did I do differently? More of the onyx cocoa powder, and more sugar. I intentionally made the buttercream slightly salty. It cuts the sweetness a little. Maybe next time I’ll add caramel.

Wait, did I just accidentally make a potential salted-caramel cupcake (also known as one of my all-time favorites)?!?

IMG_1664

Ohhhh 2013 is going to be good.

Salty-Sweet Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp onyx cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Sift cocoa powders, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat eggs and vanilla until slightly fluffy, about 45 seconds.

4. Add dry mix, beat for 30 seconds.

5. Add oil and beat until combined.

6. Add cream in two portions, waiting until the first addition is blended in.

7. Add warm water and beat until smooth.

8. Fill liners 1/2 full and bake for 20 minutes.

Salted Chocolate Buttercream:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp onyx cocoa powder
1 packet instant hot chocolate powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Beat butter and cocoa powders, and hot chocolate mix on high until thick.

2. Add salt and vanilla. Beat until combined, and then beat on medium for an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add powdered sugar and heavy cream alternatively in 3 additions, starting with the heavy cream, beating well between each addition.

IMG_1663

Bon appétit!

 

Summertime on Cloud Nine

Let’s play a game.

It’s called “Where Is This Blog Post Being Written?”

Here are the rules:

Guess where this blog post is being written. Complicated.

Don’t cheat. (If you do, that just means you’re a creepy stalker. I don’t think you want to live with that.)

I think you’ll do fine.

So, here goes.

I have a (free) mimosa in my hand.

Tiny ear buds are humming Frank Sinatra’s voice into my head.

I’m in a pretty comfortable leather seat.

I’m looking at tiny blips of white surrounded by large areas of green and brown thousands of miles beneath me.

There’s also a layer of mashed potatoes underneath me.

Not too far behind me is a small child, who initially decided to scream its head off, but then (smartly) ceased.

Where am I?

In the air!

If you guessed anything but an airplane, I’d like to know your answer and then pick at your brain.

I’m well on my way to Seattle, Washington to visit one of my very best friends in the world. Yay!

I feel like I’m on Cloud Nine right now. The past week at work was not only tolerable, but I generally had a good time. What?! Cray. I know.

Last night I was lucky enough to enjoy a late-night after-work IHOP run with my darling boyfriend. I (shamelessly) scarfed down some blueberry pancakes. I was also told I have giant eyes. Whatever that means.

I woke up this morning, got dressed, put my face on, had a nice little conversation with a coworker, and headed to the airport. Did I mention I’m flying First Class?

Yeah, I’m flying First Class. I’ve never done it. The best part so far, aside from the complimentary mimosas the stewardess is throwing at me, is the line cutting! Mwahaha. I must have saved about an hour of waiting because of this “First Class” status.

When things like this excite me, does that mean I’m getting old? I mean, first I’m overly stoked about my new car having amazing gas mileage, and now I’m excited about short lines?

Stewardess! I need another mimosa. This is too much to handle. I’m not old…yet.

 

Speaking of getting old, my birthday is soon. Which, ehh, I’m not overly excited about. But it does make me think back to when I was a kid. Sleepovers, Back-to-School Nights, Poptarts for breakfast…ahh to be a child.

One thing I vividly remember as a child, is lemonade stands. My next-door neighbor and childhood BFF, Jessica, and I used to have one every year. I mean EVERY year. Tradition. It always seemed to be right after the gardeners overly trimmed the trees. I’m sure the majority of our sales came from our parents and other close neighbors, but it didn’t matter. It was fun. We were fun. We were cool kids.

Some smartypants friend of mine suggest Pink Lemonade Cupcakes to me a few weeks ago. GENIUS!

The cake has a slightly tart taste, and paired with the cream cheese frosting (infused with lemon-lime soda) and you’ve got yourself a lemonade stand in a cupcake wrapper. That can’t possibly be wrong, right?

Enjoy, my fellow childhood lemonade-standers. Reflect on the goofy memories. Smile.

In the meantime, I’ll be frolicking in Seattle, being fabulous as I take a huge bite of a much-anticipated Trophy Cupcake and laughing over God knows what with an amazing friend. “She’s good for your soul,” says my mom. I must agree.

MAKE THESE CUPCAKES!

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour minus 6 tbsp
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 tbsp vanilla
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1/2 cup sweetened instant pink lemonade

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake wrappers.

2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and instant lemonade in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat butter until fluffy and pale.

4. Add sugar and beat until smooth.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

6. Add vanilla and strawberry cream cheese. Beat well.

7. Alternately add milk and flour mixture, beating well between each addition.

8. Bake for about 20 minutes and let cool before frosting.

Lemon-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8oz packages cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup lemon-lime soda
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice

1. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.

2. Add vanilla and beat until well-combined.

3. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, until completely blended.

4. Add soda and lemon juice and beat until just combined.

5. Allow the frosting to set. It will initially be runny.

6. Frost them cupcakes! Then shamelessly shove it in your mouth.

For instructions on how to candy the lemons, see this recipe for Grapefruit Cupcakes and you’ll be all set. 🙂

Like what you see? Check out the Pink Cake Party Kit over at Event Blossom!

I think they complement these little beauties quite well. 😉

Bon appétit!

Quality time with me, myself, and I. And some chocolate mousse cupcakes.

Do you ever feel like you need some “me” time?

I don’t mean me time, as in, time with me specifically. Although I’d be delighted to get together sometime.

I mean you time. You have you time, I have me time. Our time. But not spent together…

This is getting mildly complicated.

I do my best thinking during “me time.” And since I hardly ever get any, I value these little dates I have with myself. Don’t forget, I’m an only child, and therefore I hold this precious solitude near and dear to my heart. I do love spending time with the people most important to me. Margaritas and sarcastic banter with my boyfriend definitely top the list. And of course gossip and soul-searching with my best friend make any day better. But occasionally, I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, need some time to myself.

I don’t really plan this time. And I usually end up doing something random that I don’t think any one else would enjoy participating in.

The activities that occur during “me time” include (but are not limited to):

– Watching dumb TV
– Reading Fifty Shades of Grey (at least that’s the case lately…)
– Writing for funzies
– Browsing cooking stores like Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma, and ultimately buying a hot pink spatula because it’s freaking adorable. (this happened last week…)
– Painting my nails
– Going for a run
– Busting out a Grammy-worthy a cappella solo of “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble’
– Playing fetch with Kitten
– Venturing on the ever-so-dangerous Amazon.com
– Driving down Pacific Coast Hwy
– Baking…duh.

These things seem a little mundane, but my “me time” isn’t about extremes. I’ll save the base jumping and fire-swallowing for another time. My inner diva wants to unwind, and if watching Friends reruns and throwing together a batch of chocolate chip cookies makes her happy, I can’t (and won’t!) contest.

I strongly urge you to pencil yourself in for some “me”..err…”you” time. Times are getting tough? Breathe. Take a moment to realize that no matter what, the sun is still coming up tomorrow.

My mom always tells me that. It’s smart.

Browse a magazine. Go for a hike. Be a trendy hipster and sit in a Starbucks and write your Nobel-Prize-winning novel while sipping a cappuccino. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it, and make sure that it is what you want to do, not necessarily what you need to do. There’s a difference.

As for myself, as the title of this blog implies, baking is my main source of “me” time. And this week, I reeeeally enjoyed myself. I made chocolate mousse filled cupcakes.

I made an angel food cake, filled it with chocolate mousse, and topped it with a white chocolate buttercream. It felt so wrong, yet so, so right.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Mousse
I had never made mousse before, so I got the recipe from the Joy of Baking and made a few minor tweaks.

8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
10 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz bittersweet chocolate

1. In a double-boiler or a saucepan with simmering water and a heatproof bowl on top, medium heat, melt the chocolate. Stir occasionally at first, then continually. Once the chocolate has completely melted, set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.

3. Gradually add 5 tbsp of sugar, beating the egg mixture until soft peaks form and it look glossy. You don’t want it to get dry.

4. In another bowl, beat the whipping cream, remaining sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.

5. Add a few dollops of chocolate into the egg mixture to lighten, and then transfer the egg whites to the chocolate bowl. FOLD the two together. FOLD in the whipped cream.

Make sure to fold — not stir, not beat. Fold. This will keep the mousse airy.

6. When everything is completely combined, transfer the mousse to an airtight container and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Angel Food Cake Cupcakes

10 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1. Set oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.

4. Gradually add sugar, and beat until fluffy. The mixture should look glossy.

5. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until combined.

6. Gradually add flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat until just combined. Do not over mix.

7. Fill cupcake wrappers 1/2 full and bake for 15-18 minutes.

White Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
10 oz (1 bag) of white chocolate chips

1. In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with simmering water, melt the white chocolate. Set aside to cool.

2. In a separate bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy.

3. Gradually beat in powdered sugar to desired consistency.

4. Beat in vanilla.

5. Add melted chocolate and beat thoroughly.

Check out Kim’s blog for great ideas on how to use the Wedding Shower Party Kit!

I can’t imagine guests would be disappointed with cupcakes like these in these adorable wrappers…

Enjoy YOUR “me” time! We’ll get together soon.

Bon appétit!

I’m not letting the chips fall where they may.

There are so many things I want to accomplish in this adorable little life I’m living.

Learn how to surf.

Master the art of cooking pasta. (You may think it’s simple, but for me, it’s not. I’m a baker. Not a cook.)

Muster up enough courage to sing at a karaoke bar. (Liquid courage is not out of the question on this one…)

Move to another city, state, town, planet…somewhere. Anywhere.

Learn another language (or six). Italian would be awesome. French would be even cooler. Maybe I’ll master some ancient African language. I can’t imagine it would ever come in handy…but you never know.

Make one of those really awesome melted crayon paintings you see on Pinterest. You know what I’m talking about. (and you know you want to make one too.)

I want to sew a dress, knit a scarf, patch some jeans…something domestic that would put my dusty sewing machine to good use.

Learn how to swing dance. I can’t imagine that being rhythmically tossed around like a doll is a bad time.

Publish something. Whether it be a cookbook, novel, or a children’s book…I want my words out there, in print. There’s something so official and wonderful about it.

I want to be able to spell “Wednesday” without having to think of it as wed-nes-day.

Same goes for Feb-RU-ary.

And finally, bake a cupcake with chocolate chips that don’t sink to the bottom.

Well wait just a doggone baker’s dozen minute here…I just did that!

I made banana chocolate chip cupcakes. I put some Tiger Butter buttercream on top.

For those of you who don’t know what tiger butter is…it’s my favorite candy in the fudge category. Peanut butter and chocolate. I’m all about it. You should be too.

Fresh out of the oven, they fit the description of a muffin. A perfectly warm, melty, banana scented muffin. I would not judge you if you decided to nix the frosting and try to get away with having these for breakfast. They have bananas! It could work.

Told ya.

That’s something I seriously considered. In fact, I’ll probably whip these up as muffins in the future, but for the sake of the blog and the fact that I do love buttercream and decorating cupcakes, I moved forward. I’m glad I did.

These are seriously the bomb.com. Even when they’ve cooled, you get a perfect amount of banana flavor. Crazy. I was worried they’d come out too…potassium-y. It’s a thing.

Oh and the secret to having the chocolate chips not fall to the bottom? Lightly coat them in flour before you add them to the batter. Who knew?!

Well actually…Google knew.

These week’s theme for the Event Blossom party kits is Jungle Safari! Check out what Kim did with the other great stuff in this wild kit here.

This theme was the main reasoning behind the banana flavor this week. Jungles have animals. One of the animals you can find in the jungle is a monkey. Monkeys eat bananas, and so do I. Hence, this cupcake was born.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Tiger Butter Buttercream

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 ripened bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake wrappers.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.

3. Beat butter on high until light and smooth.

4. Beat in sugar until fluffy.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

5. Beat in vanilla until combined.

6. Beat in bananas well. Make sure it’s completely incorporated.

7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the half and half. Beat until just combined.

8. Toss the chocolate chips in a little bit of flour. You may use a ziplock bag and shake it around or be fancy and toss ’em around in a bowl.

9. Fold the chips into the batter.

10. Fill cups 3/4 full and bake for approx. 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

11. Try one without frosting. I dare you to tell me it isn’t amazing.

Tiger Butter Buttercream

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
4 tsp vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1. Beat butter until fluffy and pale yellow. About 2 minutes.

2. Beat in powdered sugar in increments, until desired consistency begins to form.

3. Add vanilla.

4. Transfer half of the buttercream to another bowl.

5. For one half, add the cocoa powder until completely combined.

6. For the other half, add the peanut butter until completely combined.

To create the swirl effect

3 pastry bags (or ziplock bags)

1. Put a small amount of each frosting in its own bag. Cut the corner off the bottom.

2. Cut the corner off of the third bag, and set up with desired decorating tip.

3. Place both of the frosting bags in the third bag, so the cut-off corners are feeding into the third bag’s tip.

4. Gently squeeze the bag, and do a few test runs to make sure it comes out even.

Voila! Gorgeous decorating that will impress anyone.

Bon appétit!

Cinnamon-sugar-coated clarity

I just bit into this cupcake.

This is my breakfast. This is happening.

You can’t stress about too much when you’re having a cupcake for breakfast. I mean, come on.

Like really, I can’t. I’m not lying!

I would never lie to you. You know this. Our relationship has become far too deep and meaningful for me to do stupid things like that.

Before I took this ginormous bite, though, I must admit, I was a bit of a stress basket. I’ve got a lot going on.

That’s how powerful this cupcake is. It de-stresses you. Boom. Magic cupcake.

After I took a deep breath after my bite, I had a moment of clarity. My life, despite some of the less than favorable events that have taken place over the past few weeks, is pretty great.

Why, you ask?

Well, my friend, let me tell you. I have an oven, which means I can make things like that magical Cinnamon-Sugar Cupcake up above. I have an iced coffee in my hand, which, duh, is awesome. I’m in good health…which I mean, obviously rocks. And last but certainly not least, I have the BEST people in the world by my side.

So as I stuff my face with this dessert-breakfast-extravaganza and take a giant sip of my coffee, I’d like to thank those awesome people.

Thank you, to the person who calls me in the midst of her insanely hectic schedule to check up on my life and “live vicariously through me.” This girl lets me vent like a madwoman, and then manages to make me laugh and remind me that even in the worst of times, there’s always Glee.

Thank you, to the friend who lives states away but still remains as close to me as a sister. She accepts me despite my biggest of flaws, and also shares my fondness of vegetarianism and blood orange vodka martinis.

Thank you, to the person who shares my love for Drake concerts, Mascato, and Laguna Beach, and can laugh with me about things no one else would understand, regardless of how often we are able to see each other.

Thank you, to my mother who emails me to get drinks after work just because we both need to laugh and relax, because we both know that if we didn’t have each other, we’d be…crazy. Which we already are. So really we’d just be…crazier? You don’t have to understand, which is why our relationship is so unique and awesome.

Thank you, to the most ridiculously charming person I’ve ever met who not only appreciates my sarcasm, but has seen me for an umpteen number of days in a row now and still hasn’t gotten sick of me, my oddball sleeping habits, or the copious amounts of sushi we eat. ❤
I could so go for a veggie factory roll right now…

And thank you, to the friend who can only be described as my sister-soul mate. We’ve stood by each other through every decision we’ve ever made, regardless if it seemed irrational or crazy to others. This girl supports me in every way. In particular, my baking and this blog!

…which leads me to a very exciting announcement for Sugar Therapy!

For the next ten weeks, Sugar Therapy will be teaming up with Event Blossom, a wholesale wedding favor company based in Southern California. They just launched their new Mod Party Kits, and they are awesome! I’ll be coming up with new cupcake recipes for each kit and posting about them weekly.

Look how cute the cupcake wrappers are for the Blue Baby Shower theme!

I’m okay with things that make my stuff look even better. 😉

This is big news, people! I’m moving up in this little baking world!

Be sure to check out Kim’s blog for Event Blossom. She’s a fabulously talented writer, fantastic cook, and one of the most fun people I know. How do I know this? She’s that sister soul mate I was talking about! (I know, you’re jealous.)

I made Cinnamon-Sugar Cupcakes this week.

Moist cinnamon cake with a creamy cinnamon-sugar buttercream, topped with a simple brown sugar cinnamon crumble? Oh no she didn’t!

Well actually yeah. Yeah, I did.

These babies were a huge hit. It’s a ST original, too. 🙂

*patting myself on the back*

So for the next few months it’s going to be cupcake central at this blog, which is totally fine with me since I haven’t dabbled in the cupcake world since the Grapefruit Cupcakes!

Yeah, I’d say this is long overdue.

Cinnamon Sugar Cupcakes

3 1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk (whichever kind you prefer – I used 1%)
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake papers.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. It should look airy, like a buttery cloud.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition.

5. Reduce speed to medium-low and add vanilla and beat until combined.

6. Add sour cream and beat until combined.

7. Alternate adding milk and the flour mixture, making for three separate additions of each. Beat until just combined between additions.

8. Fill muffin pan 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes.

9. Enjoy the amazing aroma of cinnamon baking. Set cupcakes on a wire rack to completely cool before frosting.

Cinnamon Sugar Buttercream

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 heaping tbsp of cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

1. Beat butter on high speed until light and airy.

2. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until fluffy.

3. Add vanilla and beat until just combined.

4. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and beat until evenly distributed.

I’m a bit of an over-froster sometimes, so I ran slightly short of frosting. If you frost cupcakes like I do, increase each ingredient 1/2 – 1 cup.

5. Frost. Decorate. Use the Party Kits and show them off to your friends and family!

I’m so excited about this project. It’s going to be so fun, and just wait until you see the cupcake accessories. They make even the snooziest of cupcakes look fun and festive!

Bon appétit!

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all the fantastic moms out there! I’m very thankful for mine. I know it hasn’t been a picnic raising me but I personally think I turned out pretty darn okay. 😉 Love you Mom. xoxo