Monday, February 3, 2014

S’mores Cupcakes

S'mores Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with a graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallowy meringue frosting. Oh. my. gosh. These were super duper delicious! I’ve been so excited to make these S’mores Cupcakes for a while now but I didn’t have a kitchen torch to toast the tops. I don’t know why I haven’t bought one before, but I’m super excited that I got one for Christmas. Thanks Mom!

Trophy Cupcakes & Parties!

The recipe for these cupcakes is from Jennifer Shea’s new cookbook, Trophy Cupcakes and Parties! (pssst… I’m giving away a couple of signed books below) Trophy Cupcakes has several locations in Seattle. You should visit if you get a chance. Such cute shops and the prettiest cupcakes. I visited the shop in Bellevue a few years ago. Adorable!

But the first time I met Jennifer was back in 2008 when we were both on The Martha Stewart Show. What?!?

Yes. Still crazy to me. I was on to show Martha how to make my Cupcake Pops about six months after I started the blog (P.S. This past Saturday was National Cake Pops Day. YAY!) and Jennifer was on the show to make these same s’mores cupcakes … which I didn’t get a chance to try when I was on the show.

S'mores Cupcakes

So, I thought they would be the perfect ones for me to make from her new book.

And boy am I glad I did. They are fantastic!

graham cracker crust

They start with a graham cracker crust for the cupcake. Awesomeness!

Graham cracker crust

Place a teaspoon of the crust mixture in each baking cup.

Making cupcake crusts

And press with the bottom of a small glass.

Graham Cracker Crumb Cupcake Crust

Like so.

Chopped Chocolate

But that’s not all. They get chocolate, too.

S'mores cupcake crust

Yep. Just sprinkle chopped chocolate on top of the crusts and bake for a few minutes to set first.

Cupcake Batter

Cool and then… fill with the chocolate cupcake batter. YES!

S'mores Cupcake Batter

But we can’t stop there. Before baking, sprinkle more graham cracker mixture and chopped chocolate on top. I like where this is going … oh and I’m messy!

S'more cupcake

Beautifully cupcakes. I actually think they’re great just like this.

Toasted Meringue Frosting

But they wouldn’t be s’mores without the fluffy marshmallow frosting.

Swirl the meringue frosting on top of the cupcake with a star tip and then toast using a kitchen torch.

P.S. I love my kitchen torch. This was the first time I’ve used one, and now I want to toast everything. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get one. So fun!!!

S'more Cupcake

But not as fun as biting into these babies. Yummmm!

Here’s the recipe … and check out Jennifer’s video on MarthaStewart.com too OR skip down below for the giveaway.

S'mores Cupcakes

Servings: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup boiling water

Meringue Frosting

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the crust first:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bow, mix together crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter until well blended and no dry crumbs remain.
  3. Place 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each liner. Press the crumbs flat into the liner using the bottom of a small glass. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of chocolate over each crust. (Reserve remaining graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate to top the cupcakes before baking.)
  4. Bake crusts for 8 minutes. Remove the pans and let crusts cool for at least 5 minutes before adding cupcake batter.

For the cupcakes:

  1. After crusts are prepared, increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Then combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add sugar and mix until combined. Then add flour mixture. Blend at low and then increase to medium. Beat for 2 minutes until blended and smooth. Remove bowl from stand and add boiling water. Gently stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Batter will be thin. Then let batter rest for 15 minutes and stir again gently before using. Fill liners with prepared crusts three-quarters full with batter. Sprinkle with reserved chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Bake about 16-20 minutes until done. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Make the meringue frosting:

  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water in the saucepan. Hold the handle of the bowl with an oven mitt while whisking the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are hot to the touch… about 4 minutes. Then transfer bowl to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture, starting on low and increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the meringue has cooled, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine. Use frosting immediately.
  2. Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #867 star tip. I used a Wilton 4B tip. Pipe high swirls on the cupcakes and brown the meringue using a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
Source: Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! by Jennifer Shea, 2013

Here’s a little peek into the book.

It’s filled with recipes for cupcakes and crafty ideas to help you create charming parties. It’s basically super cute.

Trophy Cupcakes & Parties!

Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Trophy Cupcakes & Parties!

  • To enter just leave a comment below and share the best thing you ate this weekend. Was it sweet? Was it Super Bowl snacks? Do tell.

  • Deadline to enter is Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Sorry! Time’s Up, Winner announced below.

  • Two (2) winners will be selected at random and announced sometime Wednesday evening.

Good Luck guys!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Okay – we have two winners. And I’m now super hungry for party food and appetizers!!!! Thanks for sharing all your best bites. Mine was actually these cupcakes. They are seriously so good. And… I’m still eating them. I have to stop.

Congratulations Katie B. and E. Nadler. Hope you enjoy the book and you should definitely make these.

*Amazon affiliate link.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

These cookies are whale cute!

Whale Cookies

Oh my gosh… I love how these cookies turned out. I’ve been wanting to make little whales for about a month now. It started with a cookie cutter that I bought on clearance after Christmas.

Santa Cookie Cutter

I saw a bunch of these little Santa cutters and decided I absolutely needed one more … you know for next year.

Whale Cookie Cutter

But, when I grabbed it, I must have picked it up sideways because I totally forgot all about Santa. I think I was imprinted or something. This was now my new whale cookie cutter and I haven’t been able to get making them out of my head. So, I decided to turn them into a super sweet packaged treat for Valentine’s Day.

And, also because I like to play.

Cookie Dough

Okay … here we go. It all starts with the cookie dough. And I love using this recipe from my friend Bridget at Bake at 350. It’s always a dream to use. No sticky dough. And if you need cookie decorating help, her book is awesome!

Whale Cutouts

Now my Santa/Whale cookie cutter wasn’t completely perfect. When turned sideways, I needed to cut off part of that little hump from the hat and move it to the right so it would be closer to where the whale’s spout should be for decorating. Not a must, but I thought it made a difference.

Royal Icing

I went light blue for these little guys.

Piping Whales

Outline the whale bodies first with royal icing.

Whale Decorating

Then fill them in with flood icing consistency and let dry. When all dry, you can define the fins with more of the outline icing.
Then, since my whales were blue, I used white icing for the steam from the whale’s spout.

hearts

But that’s not all. These whales have a lot of heart.

Pink!

… and they needed to be decorated in pink royal icing of course.

Whale Cookies

…And topped off with sweet pink heart sprinkles for their mouths, too. Then you just need a black edible ink pen for their eyes and smiles. That makes these cookies pretty easy to decorate. They are basically one color cookies which is right up my alley

P.S. This is the first time I haven’t complained about my piping. I think I’m getting a little better each time I try decorated cookies. But my hearts sunk a bit. I need to work on that.

So that’s the cookie overview. But, that’s not all.

Whale You Be Mine

I made custom treat bags to so they’d be extra sweet. The bags I used are 3.75″ X 6″ and I just trimmed off some of the top. The tags are just folded over and attached on top of the bag.

I also made a downloadable pdf for the whale and treat bag tags so you can make them, too.

Oh, and I went ahead and fixed the whale shape if you want to use it as a template to cut out your cookies.

Or … here’s a cutter I found online that looks similar. And the heart cutters were similar to the one in this mini set.

Whale Cookie Valentines

See. Whale cute!

Whale Cookie Valentine Treats

Like whale, whale cute!

Whale Cookie Valentines

Hope they made you smile!

Whale Cookies

And hope you have a whale good day!

P.S. This version is included in the pdf also, so you can give them away any time of the year.

 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been craving chocolate chip cookies lately. And when I say lately I mean always. They’re my “I need a chocolate feel-good fix.” But I wanted to mix something else in with them this time so I thought I’d crank them up a bit with cranberries and walnuts. And try to tell myself at the same time I’m eating healthier. It worked for .0001 seconds.

Cranberries, chocolate and walnuts

The players.

Dried cranberries. Chocolate chunks. Walnuts. Who’s ready?

Making cookies.

Just cream, combine, mix and stir the ingredients together. Easy. as. that.

The other reason I love chocolate chip cookies. So customizable. It’s fun to just play with different combinations. What’s your favorite cookie mix in? - there’s chocolate … semi-sweet, milk, dark…  and in different sizes … mini, regular, chunk or wafer-sized yum. There’s peanut butter, butterscotch, mint and other morsels. Then there’s nuts, fruits, coconut, oats, m&m’s and much more. It’s endless what you can make with a simple cookie base.

Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

And then you end up with dough to play with. Play dough.

Cookie Dough

Scoop or roll into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Bake and eat.

That was easy.

Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

And if you want, drizzle the tops and dress them up with a little melted white chocolate.

Cranberry-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Servings: three dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 10 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugars with a mixer for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at at time until combined. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Then add flour mixture slowly and mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chunks.
  7. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place two inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until done. Optional: When cooled, drizzle melted white chocolate on top.
Source: © 2014 Bakerella.com

Yum

Monday, January 13, 2014

Say Cheese. Cake!

Today I’m giving away cheesecake! Happy Monday!!!

It’s The Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake from Harry & David. What?? That’s right, the gourmet gift basket company also exclusively ships for the Cheesecake Factory. I didn’t know that until this past fall when I visited Southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley where Harry & David grows it’s famous Royal Riviera Comice pears. My friend Sandy works with Harry & David and invited a group of us to come out and learn about the company. I love Oregon, so I said sure.

Sidenote: Historically, I’m not a big fruit person…I know, I’m weird. I just stick to a set few that I love. So until that trip I don’t think I’d ever even tried a pear. Oh my gosh I have been missing out. Now I don’t know how other types of pears compare, but the Comice pears they grow are really something special. Definitely delicious. And for me to say that about a fruit is saying a lot.

Here’s the fun group of friends I attended with: Helen Jane, Cookies and Cups, The Inspired Room, From Home to RoamInspired by Charm, Reluctant Entertainer, Bake Your Day, SkinnyTaste, Gimme Some Oven, The Little Kitchen, Add a Pinch, Love and Olive Oil and Kevin and Amanda.

Check out the slideshow below for a little peek inside the company and Southern Oregon. It was a few days of incredible meals, beautiful surroundings, pears, chocolate decorating, and some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. You can also click here to see the photos on flickr. P. S. If you’re ever in Ashland, Oregon, stay at the Winchester Inn. Some of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

Now for some Cheesecake!

The opposite of fruit. : )

Enter for a chance to win CHEESECAKE! Delivered right to your door.

  • To be entered for a chance to win, just leave a comment with the name of your favorite flavor above. Easy!
  • Two (2) winners will be chosen at random to receive your favorite.
  • And if you really want pears instead, that’s totally fine, too. I’ll be sending gift cards to cover the cheesecake, so you can also pick out whatever you like from the site instead.
  • Deadline to enter is Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm ET. Sorry, Time’s Up! Winners announced below.
  • Winners will be announced sometime Wednesday evening.

Good Luck!

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Hey guys! It’s time to announce the cheesecake winners. Their cheesecakes of choice were Chocolate Mousse and Key Lime.  So that means you Matthew and you too, Chandra! Congratulations!!! I hope you enjoy.

This giveaway is sponsored by me, but my trip to Oregon was paid for by Harry & David. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Adorable

Snowman Cupcakes

I made some sweet snowman cupcakes this weekend and it kinda looks like it’s been snowing powdered sugar in my kitchen. These snowman heads were inspired by one of my new and now absolute favorite Christmas decorations. I’ll show you in a minute. It’s awesome!

But let me walk you through how I made these first.

Powdered sugar coated

The heads. I just picked up some powdered doughnuts to play with. They needed to be rolled in more sugar though to cover up some of the dark areas.

Frosting

The snowmen bodies were just frosting. I kept it on the thick side, so it would stay sturdy and hold it’s round shape when the heads were placed.

Oh yeah … I used this recipe for the cupcakes.

Powdered Sugar

Right after frosting each one, coat with powdered sugar to match the doughnuts and make it look like one snowy body.

Powdered

The scarves were pink tinted frosting piped on top. When you place the heads and press down, it will look like the scarf wraps all the way around. Then you can sprinkle a little sanding sugar on top for an extra snowy look. You can also put the heads on a lollipop and insert to make it more stable.

One tip – If you want your frosting white, use shortening instead of all butter. It would have made the bodies look brighter. See the frosting and recipe here.

Snowman Cupcakes

Now for the faces.

Powdered sugar doughnuts

I decorated the doughnuts while they layed on a small tray. Just poke a toothpick in position for all the facial features.

Seeds and Sprinkles

Then press chocolate jimmies in for the eyes and mouth and orange sunflowers seeds for the nose.

Petite Mints

These Smooth and Melty Mints in pink worked out great as snow dotted buttons on each belly.

Waffle Cones

And the hats… just gently sawed off waffle cones. You might say that’s a waste of a waffle cone, but I’m not much of an ice cream cone person. I like my ice cream in a cup with a cone on the side. So I just save the unused pieces and use them like nachos.

And speaking of ice cream, let me show you the inspiration for these cupcakes.

Ready?

Santa's Frozen Treats Ice Cream Truck

It’s Santa’s Frozen Treats Ice Cream Truck topped with a sweet little snowman head.

I. Love. This. Thing.

P.S. I think the cupcakes are cute, but after the fact I now wish I had made them into cake pops. Just look at that little head. I’m pretty sure I could have made the faces way cuter and definitely less messier. Until next time.

Santa

Back to Santa. Inside the truck is an ice cream sundae train track complete with moving train, lighted interior and it even plays 8 holiday tunes. It just makes me happy so I guess I’m going to have to leave it out all year long.

Here’s a short video of it in action on my instagram.

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