White Wine Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream + 5 Cupcake Links for Mom

“Most was said in our first moment, when we were so quiet.  He swam through the air to me and there was nothing.  No spaces.  I suppose it was the first moment I was thoroughly alive because I fell too far in it to ever describe it.  There was nothing to look at because I was too busy seeing, and I got to be a beginner too.  Will always be now, as every moment with your child will never repeat itself with something lovely after it, like a sunset or a passage in a book.  Real time with them, I think, is the only actual.  Everything left over is just a weather report.” Mary-Louise Parker, Dear Mr. You

[My words, lost for now, adrift in a dense, gunmetal fog will come back.  Thank, whomever, whoever or whatever for Mary-Louise Parker’s insight.  Happy Mother’s Day. xo]

White Wine Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

A lightly sweet cupcake with a tight crumb topped with a super silky chocolate buttercream

Recipe adapted from Silver Palette Cookbook and Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup dry white wine ( I used Pinot Grigio)

2 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Reduce speed to low and add oil, wine, dry ingredients and vanilla.  Increase speed to medium and beat until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.  Pour batter into prepared muffin pans.  Place 1 pan on the middle rack and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  (Be sure to check at 20 minutes.)  Once baked, remove cupcakes from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Proceed with baking the next pan of cupcakes.

Once cool, frost the cupcakes generously with chocolate buttercream.  Enjoy!

*Cupcakes are best the day they are made.  However, they still taste great the next day.  Be sure to store them in an air-tight container, at room temperature.*

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

6 eggs, whites only, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature

pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Cut the butter into tablespoon chunks and set aside.  Melt your chocolate either in the microwave or stove top and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, place egg whites in bowl and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  While the egg whites are beating, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Cook on high until it reaches 238F or the softball stage.  Immediately, with the mixer on medium speed, add the hot sugar in slow but steady stream.  Beat until the whites have cooled.

Reduce the speed to low and the add the butter, one chunk at a time, until it is completely incorporated.  Increase the speed to high and beat until glossy and light.  Turn the mixer off.  Grab a rubber spatula and fold in the melted chocolate until smooth.  Mix in a pinch of salt.  Frost your cupcakes generously!

**If your buttercream breaks or looks curdled when mixing, hold a cloth ice pack or ice against the bottom of the bowl and continue to beat on medium speed.  The buttercream will eventually come back together.  Be patient!  This happened to me and the cloth ice pack trick worked!**

5 Cupcakes Just for Mom

Rhubarb is showing up the in market just in time for Mother’s Day so why not make mom cupcakes studded with fresh rhubarb?  Head to Kitchen Konfidence for the the recipe.

Looking for a quick and easy cupcake recipe mom is sure to love?  Head to i am Baker for Amanda’s coconut angel food cupcakes.

Eat your bananas and make Local Milk’s buttermilk and roasted banana cupcakes with Lindt truffle filling and marshmallow frosting.  This sounds like a bite of heaven to me!

David Lebovitz’s chocolate, peanut butter and pretzel cupcakes will make any mom forgot a horrible, no good, very bad day.

Keep it simple and make my chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream.

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream + 5 Classic Cupcake Links

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When I overthink things I get myself into trouble.  I overthought these chocolate cupcakes. I agonized over thoughts of various fillings, my mind racing with options: raspberry curd, mocha whipped cream, chocolate ganache, Dulce de Leche.  [No, next.]  So, I focused on frosting choices: Swiss meringue buttercream, sea salt caramel frosting, dark chocolate ganache, a simple fruit icing.  [No, no. Tasty, but not what I’m looking for…today.]

“Keep it simple, Kel.” She tells me, one hand on the steering wheel as she applies a thick coat of lipstick without looking, once, in the mirror.  [Light blue Ford Taurus station wagon that smells like sour milk and old coffee.  She doesn’t care.  She gave up on caring about incidentals a long time ago.  I get that…now.]  

I stare, memorized by her confidence, memory recall, her lips as they transform from a pale, wrinkled pink to a smooth, as, buttercream mauve.  How does she do that?  A mystery to me in so many ways.  

Her beautiful bright blue eyes dart over me, examine my face.  “What’s with you today?”  I turn my face into the light coming through the passenger’s window, a rural landscape runs alongside.

“Nothing.”  My go to answer for many decades to come.  Poor Mom, tormented and relieved by the unknowns.  Juxtaposition at its best.

“Keep it simple.”  These words coming from a woman who has never kept anything simple in her life.  A woman who counted on plan b and plan c .  If the levy should break.  

She doesn’t know I will take her words, carry them with me, and sing them like a psalm.   

So, I  pushed options to the side.  Tucked them safely in a place, a corner of my brain, where they sit patiently and wait.   Wait for a day when I need them.  After all, I am my mother’s daughter.

So I kept it bald, bare, naked and made a rich, moist chocolate cupcake paired with a sweet and light white chocolate buttercream.  Nothing fancy, in fact, quite simple, but altogether delicious.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Cupcake recipe from Not Without Salt

Buttercream recipe adapted from What To Bake & How To Bake It, Jane Hornby

Makes 24 cupcakes ( You may get more. I got 36!)

Ingredients for cupcakes:

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 + 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

2 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 eggs

1 + 1/2 cups milk ( I used 1%)

3/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 + 3/4 cups sugar

1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

Grab a large bowl and sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Using the a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla on medium speed.  Reduce the speed to low and add the sugar and dry ingredients.  Mix on a low speed for a couple of minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter is smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  (You should not see lumps.  If you do, keep mixing.)  Slowly, add 1 cup of boiling water and mix on the lowest speed until completely smooth.  (Alternatively, mix the water into the batter with a wooden spoon until smooth.)  The batter will be quite thin.  Let the batter rest for about 15-30 minutes.  I let it sit for closer to an hour.  When ready to bake, gently stir the batter.

Fill the cupcake liners, about three-quarters the way full.  Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched or when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20 minutes.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.  While the cupcakes cool, make your buttercream frosting.

Ingredients for white chocolate buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

a good pinch of kosher salt

2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

Grab a small saucepan and heat the cream until the edges just begin to bubble.  Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.  Once melted, stir until smooth.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy.  Add the vanilla and salt, scrape down the sides and continue to beat.  Slowly, add the confectioners’ sugar.  Continue to beat until fluffy and pale.  Pour in the cool chocolate and whip on high for 5 minutes.  Add more sugar if it seems too thin.  ( I didn’t need to add more sugar.)  Frost cupcakes with an offset spatula or fill a pastry bag and add your favorite piping tip.  Cupcakes are best the day they are made.  However, they taste just fine if made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Eggs

Ingredients:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

piping or Ziploc bag

parchment paper

Directions:

Using a pencil, lightly draw desired shapes on parchment paper: eggs, flowers, butterfly etc.

Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate in an oven proof glass bowl either using the microwave or nestled on top of a small saucepan with simmering water. * If using the microwave, watch carefully, as it will burn easily.  If using the stove top, be sure the bowl does not touch the simmer watering.*  Stir until the chocolate is smooth and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.  Pour melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and trim just a bit of the corner with scissors.  Trace your drawings using the melted chocolate.  Allow to dry until completely hard, about 30 minutes.  Remove the chocolate from parchment paper with a spatula and carefully add decorations to cupcakes.

 5 Classic Cupcake Links!

My favorite cake and frosting match up is yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Sally’s Baking Addiction has a recipe that is making me drool: moist yellow cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting.

Red velvet will never go out of foodie style.  Averie Cooks has a recipe for red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting that looks divine!

Looking for a mouth watering all chocolate cupcake?  Head to Sweetapolita for Rosie’s dark and dreamy double fudge cupcakes.  

Kids and adults will go crazy for My Baking Addiction’s vanilla bean cupcakes.

I love all lemon desserts, but Cooking Classy’s lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting is really pulling on my heartstrings today!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting + 5 New Pumpkin Desserts!

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“Mama will you sing me a lullaby?” G.

“Sure buddy.” Me.  The lyrics to You Are My Sunshine come imperfectly out of my mouth.  I hear Johnny Cash in my head. He hears my exhausted, grating voice attempting to coax him to sleep.  Unconsciously, I rub his back.  His eyes are heavy, any minute now he will be dreaming. Dreaming of home?  Perhaps.  For now he makes his nest in a sterile hospital bed, his blankies, froggy and me, little bits of home, remain with him.  

I stare at his sweet, peaceful face, more obvious to me now with his head tightly wrapped in gauze. Beneath the gauze, a constellation of small metal probes stick securely to his head, a rainbow-colored array of wires spill from the top of his head, all connecting to small a computer, recording his brainwaves.  Where do you go when you disappear, buddy?  Maybe this test will tell us.  

I attempt to sleep in the tiny bed/chair they provide.  I can’t get comfortable, my mind races and morning can’t come soon enough.

Morning breaks.  The sky turns from gun-metal gray to overcast ocean blue.  Lights in the building across from us become less obvious as the sky brightens.  I stare out the window, not fully awake, despite nursing my second cup of hospital coffee. I gaze 9 stories down to the Healing Garden, a small bit of nature growing between two buildings, providing a bit of respite for the sick and their caregivers.  A mother and son play with a soccer ball.  The boy, maybe 7, no hair, runs for a bit, but he tires quickly.  Mom picks him up.  He finds the perfect spot on her lap and snuggles.  Her body sways gently back and forth like a cradle.  They attempt normalcy.

G eats breakfast in bed while watching TV.  This is, by far, his favorite part of this visit.  Today we go home with no real answers.  Today after a short drive home, fingers crossed, we attempt normalcy, again. pcccf1119pcccf1169

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Shortly, after our hospital stay I made these pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting because it felt good to bake.  It felt good to give Bubba and kids cupcakes for no reason at all.  After a long few days, we all needed to feel normal, less stressed.  This cupcake brought us back.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist pumpkin cupcake with subtle hints of ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon topped with a rich chocolate cream cheese frosting makes a perfect dessert for fall.

Makes 12

Cupcake recipe barely adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Frosting recipe adapted from the Cupcake Project

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

1⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground ginger

¾ cup canned pumpkin

½ cup sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup canola oil

2 eggs

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.

Using a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Set aside.

Using a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugars and oil until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Pour half of your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and fold gently.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently until no flour streaks remain.  Do not over mix!

Fill each lined muffin cup with batter, about two-thirds to three-quarters the way full.  Place the muffin pan on the center rack of your oven.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, but check at 18 minutes.  The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute in the pan and then dump them on a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, frost the cupcakes and store in an air-tight container until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

**The cupcakes taste best the day they are made.  If you need to make them a day early, store them in air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.**

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients for Frosting:

8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (Use good quality cocoa powder here.  You will taste the difference!)

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional but delicious)

Directions for Frosting:

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy or several minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar.  Next add the cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract and orange zest.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  Use frosting immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

**If you refrigerate the frosting be sure to bring it to room temperature and beat for a couple of minutes before using.**

5 New Pumpkin Desserts!

If you love cheesecake check out Baker By Nature’s pumpkin ricotta cheesecake and Jelly Toast’s mini pumpkin goat cheese cheesecakes.  Such creative riffs on a classic dessert!

Halloween is coming up.  Try making a classic candy with a healthy twist this year!  Check out Edible Perspectives chocolate pumpkin almond butter cups.  I want to eat ten of them now!

Craving a s’more?  Head to How Sweet It Is for Jessica’s pumpkin s’mores tart recipe.  Wow!

If you need a gluten-free pumpkin cake recipe, Alice Medrich has the recipe for you on Food 52.  She rocks.

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting + 5 Unique Cupcake Links!

bcnb492After playing a round of “would you rather” with the kids the other day, I discovered I would rather eat a cupcake than eat pretty much anything else.  I’m not sure if I love them because they remind me of the goodies that came out of my Easy Bake Oven or because of the perfect frosting to cake ratio.  Either way I am hooked.  Many believe the cupcake craze is over, we have moved on to cronuts and macarons.  Maybe with the demise of Crumbs the hysteria for these sweet treats ended as well.  So be it.  Trends come and go, but for me a small delicious cake topped with a large dollop of sweet frosting that fits perfectly in my hand, no fork or knife needed, is always in.

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Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

A moist and sweet banana cupcake topped with rich hazelnut chocolate buttercream frosting.  Nutella lovers will go crazy for this cupcake!

makes 12

Cake Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and browned

4 ripe bananas or 1 1/2 cups, mashed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

banana slices for garnish, optional

sprinkles, optional

toasted rice cereal, optional

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients . Pour the butter, mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla into the well and mix.  Begin to stir in the dry ingredients and until just combined.  Do not overmix!  The batter will be thick.

Evenly, spoon or scoop the batter into the muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check your cupcakes at 20 minutes.  If a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean the cupcakes are ready.  Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.  Cupcakes taste best the day they are made.  You can make them the night before, but store in an air-tight container until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

makes 2 cups of frosting

Recipe adapted from Add a Pinch

Ingredients:

2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (If you love super sweet frosting add closer to 4 cups.)

3 tablespoons Nutella

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk or cream

pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or an electric hand-held mixer), cream together the butter and 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar.  Add 1 tablespoon of Nutella.  Add the another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar followed by a tablespoon of Nutella.  Add rest of confectioners’ sugar, followed by last tablespoon of Nutella.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Add the vanilla beat on high for about 30 seconds.

Next add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency.  Add a pinch of salt and whip on high-speed for another 30 seconds.

Frost your cupcakes adding as much or as little buttercream as you like.  Garnish with sprinkles, toasted rice cereal or fresh banana slices.  Banana slices will brown, so add just before serving.

**Buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.  When ready to use bring to room temperature and beat on low-speed until smooth.**

5 Unique Cupcake Links You Should Check Out!

My favorite chocolate confection is a turtle.  The combination of caramel, chocolate and nuts makes me so very happy.  Annie’s Eats turtle cupcakes are now on my must make list.  I’m drooling.

If you love strawberry cupcakes, check out Hint of Vanilla’s strawberry lime cupcakes.

Need a perfect summer cupcake recipe for your next cookout?  Check out my recipe for blackberry shortcake cupcakes.

Gluten-free Shirley Temple cupcakes: yes, it exists and they sound delicious.  Head to Simply Gluten-Free for the recipe.

Father’s Day is coming up in a few weeks so how about treating dad to Bakers Royale beer and pretzel cupcake?  Non-alcoholic version available too!

Blackberry Shortcake Cupcakes + 5 Summer Cupcake Recipes You Can’t Miss!

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“School is over in one month Mama!” C excitedly announces the other day. “No, you have longer than that until summer break.” I assure her. “No! We! Don’t! Summer is coming!” I hurry over to our calendar, flip to June and realize she is right. School is almost out. Summer is almost here. Oh f%4#2! I’m not ready! I love summer, but after a few weeks of fun in the sun I am ready for a routine. I know: routine and summer just don’t sound right together. Your right. I need to embrace the freedom that comes with summer. No, I need camps. Camp makes everyone happy, including me. A few weeks of camp for C and G mixed in with family beach time and leisurely mornings sounds like a good summer. Right?! Hopefully, baby N will become that go with the flow, mellow third child everyone with 3 kids told me he would be; so far they are wrong. I think he still has a chance to turn it around!

Oh and I need a cupcake, one that celebrates summer. This blackberry shortcake cupcake will get me in the summer spirit…

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Yes, a cupcake does make everything better. This cupcake has a tender, and moist crumb. I mixed fresh blackberries into a basic frosting turning it a beautiful shade of purple. The blackberry flavor is subtle and the single berry on top is a treat, much like summer. Even as I lament about keeping C and G happy this summer, I must remind myself that summer is a short-lived treat. Like everything when you have little people ruling your life, it won’t last. Love it for what it is, now.

Blackberry Shortcake Cupcakes

cupcake recipe adapted from Food & Wine

Frosting recipe adapted from Heather Cristo

makes about 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for Shortcake Cupcake:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. of unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp.  salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

Ingredients for Blackberry Buttercream Frosting:

½ cup butter, at room temperature

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (you may want to sift your sugar or at least whisk it a few times to get out any lumps.)

2 tbsp. whole milk

4 blackberries, chopped

12 ripe blackberries for garnish

pinch of kosher salt

Directions for cupcakes:

Pre-heat your oven to 350°.

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and kosher salt.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar with the eggs and vanilla extract at medium-high speed until smooth and thick , about 3 minutes.

Add the butter and oil and beat until combined. Be sure to  scrape the bottom and side of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and milk in 3 batches, mixing well between additions. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan about 2/3 the way full.

Bake the cupcakes for about  20 to 23 minutes. Check your cupcake at 18 minutes.  The cupcakes are done when they are springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Directions for Frosting:

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for a few minutes or until smooth. On low-speed, add the confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the milk and chopped blackberries and beat at medium speed until thick and smooth.

Pipe or spread frosting on each cupcake and add a blackberry for garnish. Enjoy!

5 Summer Cupcake Links You Must Check Out!

When I think of summer food I think lobster salad, fried clams and s’mores. Sally’s Baking addiction has a recipe for s’mores cupcakes: chocolate cupcakes stuffed with marshmallow filling, topped with milk chocolate frosting, crushed graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow. Amazing! I can’t wait to try it.

Last week, I made a roasted strawberry frappe that tasted so, so good. Not up for a frappe aka milkshake ? How about a strawberry milkshake cupcake? Hummingbird High has the recipe for you. Yum!

If you love blueberries, you should make the ultimate blueberry cupcake by Oh Sweet Day! I wish I could eat this cupcake now!

I have a friend who loves key lime pie, but I am pretty sure he hasn’t tried key lime pie cupcakes. Tracey’s Culinary Adventures has the recipe. Next time I head to Duxbury I might just bring a batch.

Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes– sounds like a perfect summertime dessert! Adventures in Cooking has the recipe and Eva’s photos are beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting + 5 Spring Cupcake Links!

lps0006I called an old friend today to wish her a happy birthday. A few hours later she called me back. We attempted to have a conversation, but N started crying. Neither of us could ignore his helpless newborn cry so we said goodbye. I felt sad we couldn’t chat longer. I miss her. Distance and small children who need us make staying in touch difficult. We try anyway because we need each other. We try because we remind each other of who we are. We try because a 20 year friendship deserves it.  One day our little people won’t need us as much and our conversations will last longer than 5 minutes. So today we make an effort for one day.

If today, we had more than 5 minutes to chat this is what I would have said: Happy birthday sweet friend! It is so good to hear your voice. I know, it is hard to believe we haven’t talked since N was born. Crazy how 5 weeks fly by. Lets not let another 5 weeks go by. Are you taking some time for yourself today? You should. No, don’t feel guilty. You deserve some time just for you. They will be ok. I wish we could grab a drink tonight and chat and eat the cupcakes I made. I think it is so cool your birthday falls on the first day of spring! Spring means a new beginning. This 36th year is your new beginning. Surprise yourself this year. Do something adventurous, and call me and tell me all about it. Also, be patient with yourself. You have a lot going on and there is only so much you can do in a day. Go for a run to clear your head as often as you can. Go to yoga and breathe out whatever is troubling you. Stop debating about whether you should have a second piece of cake today. You should damn it! It’s your birthday! You mentioned buying eye cream. You should buy some. Time is not our friend. If it works let me know! I know you have to go, me too. I hope this is your best year yet. I love you and miss you terribly. Bye for now.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe adapted from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food 1-2-3-4 Cake and Averie Cook’s Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for cake:

2 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp. poppy seeds

zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350. Line a 12 cup standard size muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

Separate 2 eggs and set aside. Sift and measure 1 and 1/2 cups of cake flour into a medium bowl. Stir in 2 teaspoons of baking powder and a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 1 stick of butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of sugar and lemon zest. Cream until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides once or twice. Add the egg yolks, one at a time. Now add vanilla extract and fresh lemon juice. Once it is well combined, add the flour mixture and milk alternately. Start with 1/3 of the flour and then 1/3 of the milk, ending with the flour. Stir until just incorporated. Do not over mix! In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Spoon the batter, about 2/3rd the way full, into the prepared muffin pan and bake for about 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cupcakes will last in an air tight container, at room temperature for 2 days. Enjoy and happy spring!

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

recipe barely adapted from Averie Cooks

(double the recipe if you want a lot of frosting on your cupcakes)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar or more for desired consistency

pinch of kosher salt

optional: lemon zest for garnish

Directions:

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Add a pinch of salt. Continue to add sugar until you reach desired consistency. Refrigerate the frosting for about an hour so it firms up a bit. Once firm, frost your cupcakes with as much or as little frosting as you like. Enjoy!

5 Spring Cupcakes You Should Try!

If you like lemon meringue pie, why not try the cupcake version? Cooking Classy has a recipe that looks fantastic and I’m guessing tastes even better!

Looking for a cupcake recipe to try on your more adventurous eaters? I found it! Head to Annie’s Eats for her strawberry balsamic cupcake recipe.

I love the combination of raspberries and lemon. I need to make this cupcake by My Baking Addiction very soon.

I love carrot cake, especially in cupcake form. The Cupcake Project has a carrot cake cupcake recipe that promises to be moist and delicious. Check it out!

Peeps and Easter go hand in hand. I love Peeps, especially when they are a little stale. How about a vanilla cupcake, frosted with vanilla raspberry marshmallow frosting, topped with a pink peep? Yes please! Heather Cristo has the recipe for you.

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting + A Birthday

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I turned 35 a few days ago. 35. I was 25 yesterday, I blinked and now I am 35. It is not so much the number that bothers me but more the passage of time. It goes by too fast. I would rather be where I am now at 35 than where I was at 25. I like myself more now than I did 10 years ago. That is saying a lot because I am a pretty harsh critique of myself.

So to celebrate the start of my 35th year we hired a sitter and Bubba and I went to an excellent restaurant in the North End called, Carmen. I had linguine with clams in fra diavolo sauce. The sauce was fresh and spicy and creamy all at the same time. The pasta was cooked to perfection and the clams were off the boat fresh. Bubba ordered scallops on a summer risotto with bacon. Amazing! After dinner, we took a long stroll and ended up at Lulu’s Sweet Shop. Lulu’s is known for their cupcakes. I love cupcakes. After eating a carrot + pineapple cupcake with cream cheese frosting in less than 3 minutes, I started thinking about cupcakes, a lot.

The next morning I obsessively looked at dozens of cupcake recipes until I came across one by Smitten Kitchen called Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting. I’m sold! I love peaches but peaches in a cupcake was something completely new and exciting.

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These cupcakes are very easy to make. The cake itself is very moist and light. The peach pieces add a fresh sweetness. The frosting is not like any frosting I’ve had and I think this it would work well on a number of cakes or cupcakes. I might try it on a carrot cake or spice cake next time.

I didn’t tweak either of the recipes at all. Maybe next time I’ll switch things up a bit, but I think they are pretty perfect just the way they are. Give them a shot! You will not be disappointed. Take them to a friend on her birthday. Who doesn’t love a cupcake?

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

by Smitten Kitchen

Yields about 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of nutmeg

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed  dark or light brown sugar packed

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, sour cream or full-fat yogurt ( I used full fat plain yogurt.)

3 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped small

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 and  line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla. Gently mix the yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Fold in the peach chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. I use an ice cream scoop for this part.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Check at 18 minutes and continue baking if necessary. Cool the cupcakes for about five minutes in the muffin tin. After 5 minutes, place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch (Brown sugar is more damp than granulated or powdered sugar and is missing the cornstarch thickener. Adding cornstarch helps the frosting to set up.)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla. Beat until frosting is smooth and light. Refrigerate the frosting until it thickens back up, about 30 minutes and spread on cooled cupcakes. I bought an inexpensive Wilton’s decorating kit at Michael’s. This is a good purchase if even if you only like to occasionally decorate cakes and cupcakes.