Monday, September 7, 2009

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

September always reminds me of the yummy fall flavors that take over the baking world, especially apples. Living in Oregon I have discovered that there are more varieties of apples than I could have ever imagined. Baking with apples, making apple cider and all the wonderful spices that goes with and on of my personal favorites, ooey gooey caramel apples.
I love the combo of a tart, crisp green apple mixed with the salty, sweet taste of creamy caramel and a little bit of crunch from toasted pecans.

I started with a green apple cupcake. Jumbo of course. I used apple cider mixed with some extra frozen concentrated thawed for a nice apple flavor, used apple sauce instead of oil for moistness as well as more apple flavor and a dash of apple pie spice

I found these adorable ribbons in the $1 aisle at Target. One had red and green apples on it, another said , "Fall Fun" and another with stripes and another with sayings on it including , "Apple picking". They were perfect. I used Wilton cookie sticks I got at Michaels.

Still working on my cupcake photography.

The frosting is from Martha's Cupcake book. I am still on the fence about making swiss meringue buttercream. My heart belongs to Italian meringue but it didn't work with trying to make it caramel. At least not the way I was trying to make it. So I went with Martha's recipe. It flopped but instead of throwing it out I stuck it in my fridge to chill and I am glad I did. Chilling it made the flavor mellow out and taste more caramel like than toffee like. I wasn't terribly to thrilled with the swiss meringue - I have made it before and it flopped and no amount of mixing saved it - but this time it worked. I just have to perfect my caramel making skills so it has that deep caramel flavor.
I drizzled caramel sauce over the pecans to add to that gooey goodness.
Next time I will use green liners so you can really see that green cupcake.
All in all I say these are a keeper on my list of cupcakes to make

Green Apple Cupcakes


  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup apple cider or juice mixed with 2 tbsp of frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples peeled and shredded
  • a few drops green food coloring ( optional)
Makes:  10-12 jumbo cupcakes, 18-24 standard


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place paper liners in either two 12 cup regular muffin pans or two 6 cup jumbo muffin pans.
In large bowl, beat eggs with cider mixture, apple sauce and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Add to egg mixture; stir just until moistened. Do not overmix. Stir in apples. Pour into prepared pan 1/2 - 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 (25 for jumbos) minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes 5 cups
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make caramel: Pour 1/4 cup water into a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming. Let syrup boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is dark amber.
  2. Immediately remove from heat; carefully pour in cream (caramel will bubble vigorously). Stir caramel until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.
  3. Whisk together remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff. Reduce speed to medium low; add butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue whisking until smooth.
  5. Switch to paddle attachment. Add caramel and vanilla; beat on lowest speed until combined, 3 to 5 minutes. The buttercream can be made 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Before using, bring frosting to room temperature; return to mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes

My mom got me a set of jumbo cupcakes pans and I have been dying to use them and since I don't ever really need an excuse to bake but a friend's birthday is always a good reason. My friend Julie is a huge fan of Sex and The City and LOVES Cosmos just like Carrie so I decided to try my version of the Cosmo cupcake and make them JUMBO

I made an actual Cosmo for the liquid in my batter and added in a touch of pink coloring to enhance the pink color of the cupcake. I LOVE how pink they came out. I also added in lime zest so when you took a bite there were little flecks of green here and there throughout the pink cake

I baked 6 jumbos and made the rest of the batter regular sized. They looked so tiny compared to the jumbo. And made me think why have I been making regular sized all this time when we could be eating Jumbo. If I had made mini's that would have been eating like popcorn - by the handful. Ha ha.

I then made another cosmo - how I didn't get a buzz during this process I do not know - and reduced it into a glaze which I brushed over the still warm cupcakes with a pastry brush. I really wanted that cosmo flavor infused into the cake.
I used a few teaspoons of the cosmo reduction in the buttercream and added pink sprinkles. I made little lime curls to garnish. I had attempted making candied limes but I didn't do them right so that is another item on my list of things to try to do. Another time

What girl doesn't love the girliest of girly drinks made into a cupcake!!
These tasted amazing!!

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes with Cosmopolitan Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter room temp
2 cups sugar
2 eggs room temp
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup Cosmopolitan ( recipe to follow)
zest of 1 lime
Red paste or gel food coloring.(optional, if you would like a stronger reddish tint in the cake)

Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with cupcake papers.
With a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until well combined. Add the lime zest
Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside
Make the cosmopolitan and measure out 1 ½ cups in a separate bowl.
Add in 1 cup each of the dry and wet mixtures alternately, beating on low until the whole mixture is well combined.
Fill cups with batter two-thirds full. Bake at 350 F for 18-22 minutes or until cupcakes
spring back in the middle when touched lightly. Cool for 10 minutes in pan.

For glaze:
1/2 cup cosmopolitan
Heat the cosmopolitan over med heat until thickened and slightly reduced.
Brush with cranberry/vodka glaze when cupcakes are still slightly warm.
When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with Cosmo Buttercream

Cosmopolitan Buttercream Recipe
3 sticks or 1 1/2c butter room temp
4 c confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp meringue powder ( optional)
pinch salt
1 tsp lime zest
3-4 tbsp of the Cosmopolitan (or more until you reach desired consistency)
red food coloring

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time beating well with each addition. Add the meringue powder and the salt. Mix in the zest. Add the Cosmopolitan one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Garnish with: (optional)
Dusting of Lime zest
Dried cranberries

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe


1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger vodka (cranberry or any citrus vodka works best)
1/2 fluid ounce cointreau
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 fluid ounces cranberry juice
1 twist lime zest, garnish


Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously for several seconds and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.


This is for one drink  or roughly 3 ounces of a cocktail. I needed about 15 ounces (I think) so I converted it to 5 servings. I may have had enough I can’t remember since I made this recipe a while ago but here it is .


Ingredient amount for roughly 15 ounces.

5 (1.5 fluid ounce) jiggers vodka (cranberry or any citrus vodka works great)
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon cointreau
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons fresh limejuice
3/4 cup and 3 tablespoons cranberry juice
5 twists lime zest, garnish


You can always err on the side of needing more and make more. And if there are leftovers you get a martini glass out and fill with the remaining cosmo and drink up!!

Side note : this recipe makes a lot of cupcakes. Because I made jumbos and the rest regular size I really don't know how many it makes if you do all jumbo or all regular. Bake the jumbos about 25-28 min and the regulars 18-22 min.

Sunflower Cupcakes

This year we decided to plant sunflowers in our garden. I thought, "oh how pretty I love sunflowers" Little did I know that we were going for world record sized sunflowers. They grew and grew and grew. One is over 10 feet in height. Amazing
So when they finally started to bloom and open I was excited to see how big and pretty they got and was instantly inspired to try making some sunflower cupcakes

The cake is the dark chocolate cupcake ( the same ones I made for the dark chocolate peanut butter ones) and I had leftover IMBC from the pineapple cakes that was already dyed green and yellow. I used my Wilton leaf tips 68 and 71 for the leaves and the petals

For the centers I sprinkled in some chocolate jimmies.
I think they came out pretty good.

This is the flower on our 10 foot plant. Look at all the pollen on the leaves. These put a huge smile on my face. Sunflowers are just so happy. And we have some seriously happy honeybees in our yard right now because of these!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Most of the time I make cupcakes from scratch. I rather enjoy making a GIANT mess in my kitchen. Especially since my mom bought me a new KitchenAid stand mixer for my birthday this year. The big boy 6QT professional model. She has gotten her money's worth already that's for sure. But sometimes I make a batch of cupcakes from a box mix. I am not always fond of the commercial taste of some box mixes but my friend Steph told me that there was a new one out that was now her fave, DARK chocolate. Being that the only type of chocolate I like is dark I had to try. So I made a batch of 24 and made two different frostings. One was a prior fave of many, the creamy peanut butter frosted ones. The others I will blog about here soon. My twist on these was that I added in cold coffee that I had brewed earlier in the day instead of water in the mix for a richer flavor. I tend to substitute other liquids instead of water for a less box like flavor. I will also add in extracts, spices etc.

I am using my GIANT pastry tip that I now love. Its like the Wilton 1M on steroids. ha ha

The cupcakes are so dark you can hardly see them. I added in a few dark choc chips on top. These were a hit at my husband's work. He told me people asked for my recipe! Now that's a box mix worth using over and over.

Oatmeal cookies

I am actually glad my old hair salon is no longer in business. It was getting too fattening to get my hair cut. I would go on Saturday mornings to get my hair done and hang out with my friend Jenny that does my hair. And the minute I walked in I would smell these amazing fresh baked cookies. There on the table in the waiting area was a GIANT plate of cookies. I of course couldn't resist. They were too good to pass up. They were always the same base recipe but the "mix-ins" changed on a weekly basis. Sometimes chocolate chips, another time white chocolate chips and dried cranberries, another time toffee chips and dark chocolate chunks. The possibilities are endless. Once they were made with duck eggs instead of chicken and well lets just say I won't ever be making those. EW. One day I asked the guy that made them for the recipe and I have been making my own variations ever since.

So anyways I have a friend that had an upcoming bodybuilding show and I wanted to send some yummy after show treats. Dieting for months and months would make any sweet treat taste extra yummy. So I got out my old stand by recipe and added in M&M's as my "mix-in"

I finally used my silicone bake pad for what its meant for. No more parchment paper or scraping cookies off my old cookie sheets. Silicone is the way to go. Easy cookie removal and cleanup

Don't they look yummy?

They smelled amazing and tasted great. The colors from the M&M's bled a little into the cookie and they always come out a little different each time. Some thicker, some flatter. But always good. My favorite mix in is dark chocolate chips, walnuts and dried cherries. OH MY!!

Recipe - MY OWN

Best Ever Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour (you can sub in 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for one of the cups of AP flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup aka 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar ( can use white or organic)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups oats ( quick cooking or whole oats)
*** ADD INS – see my notes after directions


Preheat oven to 375 Deg F.
Whisk together dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and set aside. Do this in a bowl of some sort not just on the counter
In mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter for 30 seconds on medium speed then add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Just a few mintues you don’t want to over beat
Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition then add in the vanilla and milk. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended and then mix in the oats on low speed as well. Fold in your ADD IN ingredients

Place rounded tablespoons of dough on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for a min on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

This recipe makes like 70 cookies if smaller cookies are made, Probably around 50-60 if you make bigger and 40 if you eat half the dough while making them. Ha ha


Spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, apple pie spice etc…  ( add a tsp or so in with the dry ingredients

Chocolate chips ( milk, white, dark, semi sweet)
Cinnamon chips, butterscotch, peanut butter

Nuts – walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts etc

Candies – caramel bits, M&Ms, toffee bits etc

Dried fruit – raisins, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, coconut, apple

Some of my favorite combos of ADD INS are

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 cup raisins and cinnamon
2 cups DARK chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped dried cherries
2 cups white chocolate chips, 1 cup dried pineapple pieces, ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut, ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup chopped caramel pieces (or toffee bits), 1 cup dried apple diced up, 1 cup chopped pecans and 1 tsp apple pie spice added in to dry ingredients ( this is for the caramel apple oatmeal cookie)
I bag of peanut butter M&Ms

The possibilities are endless. You can also go for “Kitchen Sink” cookies and throw in any combo of whatever add in ingredients you have on hand. Go crazy put anything in. These cookies are super yummy!!

You can make the cookie dough ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate. Just thaw before baking so you can actually get the dough out of the bowl. Ha ha