Category Archives: cupcakes

Let’s go to the Hop!

Have you ever seen the movie American Graffiti? No? Okay, I’ll just a wait a second while you go add it to your Netflix queue. Now please. Thanks.

::whistles and twiddles thumbs:: Got in there? GREAT!

This is one of my favorite movies! Personally recommended to me a few years ago by my dad, who never steers me wrong when it comes to movie recs. If he says he thinks I’ll like it, I do! American Graffiti is no exception. So the basic gist of the movie is four friends go out on the town for one last hurrah before college. They drive around, not necessarily with each other. That’s pretty much it. Okay, so that’s not it, but it’s all I’m going to say without giving too much away. It’s got a ton of big stars in it (when they were young) Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Suzanne Somers. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It was nominated for Best Picture!!

So what does any of this have to do food, you ask? Well, the movie begins and ends in parking lot of Mel’s Drive In…A quintessential cultural icon of a days gone by. I always thought it would be fun to be a car hop girl….with the roller skates and all. They just opened a Sonic here in town…..a new career in my future perhaps? Heh.

Well, I’m probably not going to be a roller skating car hop, but I can bring a little bit of drive-in fun to my kitchen. My Soda Shop Cupcakes are a delicious chocolate cake, smothered in swirls of malted milk buttercream, dotted with sprinkles and topped with a cherry. And two straws, of course….so you can share with your steady before the sock hop. He sure is dreamy…..

Put on your poodle skirts, your saddles shoes, cue up your 45’s and ENJOY! 🙂

SODA SHOP CUPCAKES (Recipe Sources – Cake from Hershey’s, Frosting Adapted from


  • Click here for cake recipe. I made the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake and halved the recipe. I got 12 good sized cakes. You can use any chocolate cake you like. Even a box!


  • 1 /2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup malted milk powder (not malt drink mix, just the regular powder)
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract

Cream butter in a mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together powdered sugar and malted milk powder. Add to butter and mix until combined. Mix in vanilla. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistancy for piping.



Filed under chocolate, cupcakes

Love is…

A cupcake stuffed with cream and and covered in chocolate.

Am I right or what? Yeah….that’s pretty much love. And when you get to share with them with the most wonderful man in the world, that’s pretty much perfection.

I made these Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes from Martha Stewart as our Valentine’s Day dessert. I spotted them last weekend on Martha’s website and thought about making them but changed my mind at the last second. Later that same day, I spotted them in Erin’s blog Dinner & Dessert, and I just knew I had to try them! Isn’t that funny how that happens, you have something in your brain, you change your mind and then that exact same thing appears later. It’s like a sign. It’s meant to be. I was meant to make these cupcakes. LOL. They were kind of labor-intensive, but worth it in the end. Sweet, creamy, chocolate yumminess.

I had one minor setback that involved a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond for a new strainer and to the grocery store for more eggs. I went to strain my pastry cream without realizing that my stupid cheapy strainer was completely rusted along the edge on the underside. I banged it on the side of my bowl, lifted it up and found my lovely vanilla cream dotted with flecks of rust. Nice. Ugh. So that got scraped into the trash and off I went to get myself a nice STAINLESS strainer and a dozen more eggs as I had cracked my last one into the first batch of cream.

After that, it was smooth sailing and cupcakes came out great! The cake had a great texture and the cream was delicious, the chocolate divine. The perfect end to a perfect date night at home with my hubby. 🙂

BOSTON CREAM PIE CUPCAKES (Recipe source: Martha Steward Living, February 2009. Also seen on Dinner & Dessert)

Makes 18


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour standard muffin tins. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Warm milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar with a mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in dry ingredients.
  3. Bring milk and butter to a boil. With mixer on low speed, add milk mixture to batter, and beat until smooth. Add vanilla. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each halfway. Bake cupcakes until light gold, about 15 minutes. Let cool in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Let cool.
  4. Using a serrated knife, cut each in half horizontally. Spread 1 tablespoon vanilla cream on each cupcake bottom. Sandwich with top. Spoon glaze over each, and serve immediately.

Vanilla Cream:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Whisk yolks until smooth. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add milk in a slow, steady stream. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour 1/3 of milk mixture into yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Pass vanilla cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and add chocolate and corn syrup. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.



Filed under chocolate, cupcakes

We’re Loyal to You, Illinois!

Orange and Blue, Illinois!

Eric and I have something really important in common…we both bleed Orange and Blue! Fighting Illini Orange and Blue, that is! Not only is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where we met, it’s also where we got to know each other, fell in love, had the time of our lives, and eventually got engaged (about a year after I graduated). It is so very near and dear to my heart. Lifelong friendships and lifetime loves were forged there in it’s hallowed halls. I have been known to get a little teary eyed remembering all the good times we had there, especially now that we live so far away from the friends we gained while we were there.

Champaign, IL is not a particularly glamourous place to be. The opposite really. It’s in the middle of a cornfield, it’s ungodly windy for whatever reason, and it always seemed a bit dirty and rundown. In fact, I’ve have heard the word “Dump Hole” used to describe it. Okay, so I maybe I coined the phrase myself to describe it. LOL! What can you expect…college students come in, trash the place for four years, then leave and never go back. It has improved ten fold since I graduated though. (Chipotle?? Cold Stone??? STARBUCKS!!! Whatever, man! When I was there, we had the world’s most disgusting Burger King and an abandoned Wendy’s building. Can you say JEALOUS??) Despite all it’s faults, and my extreme jealously over how nice it’s getting, I love that place. LOVE it!

Well, we don’t even live in the state of Illinois anymore, so it’s not like we get back there very often. We can keep ourselves connected by tuning in to our beloved Fighting Illini when football season starts. Thank YOU, Big Ten Network, for curing our Displaced Fan Syndrome. Up until this year, we couldn’t even get the score of our game on any given Saturday, let alone actually SEE it on TV. Hawkeye Country…BLECH!

So, if you know anything about the Big Ten, you know how bad Illini football has been. Boy, did they SUCK for a few years there. I mean really, really bad. Awful. Worst team in the Big Ten. Last year, out of nowhere, they seemed to miraculously improve! HOORAY! So, they are no Ohio State or anything (although…who was that that beat #1 OSU last fall…who was that…wow, I can’t remember…oh, that’s right! WE DID!)

I was excited for the Big Ten opener last night, so I wanted to make a fun treat to have while we watched the game last night. I thought maybe my baking vibes would bring them some good luck…sadly, Penn State outplayed them and we lost. 😦 We started out strong, but then there were a couple of costly penalties there in the first half that they just couldn’t seem to come back from. I have to admit I’m slightly concerned for the rest of our season as I don’t want to see dumb mistakes lead to lost football games that they should win. We have to at least beat the Hawkeyes!! That’s all I ask…please, please, PLEASE let us avenge last year’s monstrosity at Kinnick.

So, I was brainstorming my Illini-themed treat and thought It’d be a lot of fun to incorporate our school colors…orange and blue! I’m not big on sugar cookies and icing and that sort of thing, so I wanted to come up with something else. Hmmm…what to do, what to do?! I thought about cupcakes, because they are my favorite thing to bake but just tinting the icing didn’t seem like anything all that exciting either.

In the end, I decided on a twist on the classic red velvet cake. We all know the red part of red velvet cake is just red food coloring…who says it has to be red? Why not green…or purple…or ILLINI BLUE!! 🙂 And so, my Illini (Orange and) Blue Velvet cupcake was born!

Now, Illini blue is a very deep dark navy, so I knew it was going to be a challenge concocting up a navy blue cake with just food coloring. In the end, I was so excited how they came out! The color is just about right on. I ended up using two .3 oz bottles of blue and one red. I was so enthralled with the food coloring, I forgot to add the vanilla to the batter and I missed it in the final product. The frosting was yummy too. I thought the cake was a tad dry, but that could have been because I overbaked my cupcakes a little bit. I always have trouble with the time conversion when changing cakes to cupcakes. I brought in the orange by decorating with M&M’s. You can try this with your team colors for your next tailgate!

ILLINI (ORANGE and) BLUE VELVET CUPCAKES: (Recipe adapated from: Food – Emril Lagasse)


  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 .3 oz bottles of blue food coloring, 1 .3 oz bottle of red food coloring.
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line muffin tin with baking cups. In a medium bowl or on a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk. Beat in food coloring and vinegar, then add vanilla. Spread the batter evenly in the pans.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Frost cooled cupcakes.


And just for fun, here are a few pics of campus.

My lovely dorm at ISR! I still remember where my room was! 🙂

Illini Union on the Main Quad.

Altgeld Hall. A lovely building except for all the Math that goes on inside there. HA!

November 6, 2003…Brother’s on Green…the night that changed HISTORY! (As in, the night I met Eric)

May 1, 2005…Alma Mater statue at Wright and Green…the day I SAID YES!



Filed under cupcakes

Banana Love

I sure do love cupcakes. They are quickly becoming my favorite thing to bake. Here’s why. Instant portion control. Eat one and you feel like you’ve had a delicious treat. I especially love the recipes that only make 12. It’s just the perfect amount for Eric and I share for the week. Not to mention the fact that they are just so darn cute.

So I think I’ve found a new favorite way to use up those ripe bananas! Move over, banana bread! These cupcakes are light, fluffy and delish. And the frosting…omg…the frosting. I don’t always love buttercream (it can be too sweet for me) but this one packs a punch. Eric LOVED these!



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Honey-Cinnamon Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Spread tops with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting. Just before serving, peel and slice banana into rounds, and place one on each cupcake, if desired.


  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I increased this to 1/4 tsp. – helps counteract the sweetness)
  1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners’ sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes



Filed under cupcakes, fruit

Cute Little Cupy-cakes! :)

***EDIT (7/22/08)*** Don’t try to use the Caramel Kisses! They don’t hold up very well. I hadn’t gotten one with a caramel kiss myself until LAST NIGHT! It just melted into a puddle at the bottom of the cupcakes. I served these to a bunch of people Saturday night, so I guess no one had the guts to tell me. Thanks a lot!!! The others worked great though! Still yummy! ENJOY! 🙂

Who doesn’t love all things mini?? Seriously, there is just something about cute little snacks that makes me so happy. They are DANGEROUS though…woo, look out! Somehow the entire concept of portion control goes right out the window when the treat is tiny. Check out this YouTube clip of comidien Jim Gaffigan (who is HYSTERICAL, btw, and talks a lot about food) where he comments on the messed up world of Mini-Muffins. SO funny!

Luckily, these little guys I concocted are pretty rich, so one or two will do ya. I stumbled across some leftover Hershey Kisses in my cabinet this week. Leftover from…CHRISTMAS! GASP! Ha! I also bought a mini muffin tin last weekend and I decided to break it in today by making a treat to enjoy while my friend from college is visiting. It’s a chocolate cupcake with a candy surprise inside! I made the cake and frosting using my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipe – “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake from Hershey’s. If you have not tried this cake, you should. It’s so EASY and it comes out perfect every time.

CANDY KISS CUPCAKE BITES (Recipe Source and adapted from:

**Note**: This made A LOT of mini-cupcakes, I recommend halving the recipe. Hope my friend is willing to take some home with her!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Assorted Hershey Kisses (preferably “filled” kisses. I had caramel, mint truffle, and hot cocoa cream. Hello, and welcome to Yumstown!)


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared muffin cups, about 2/3 of the way full. (I filled my first tin of cupcakes WAY to high, so they kind of spilled over the tops and spread a bit, so make sure not to fill them all the way to the top!)

3.  Insert a kiss into the center of each cupcake and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. (And now for my DUH moment of the day! Of course, the candy sank right to the bottom (DUH!) so the kiss is certainly not in the middle (see photo below) But I wonder if you invert the kiss by sitting it in so the tip is facing the bottom, if that may help the problem. Then again, it doesn’t really matter because they still taste DELISH!)

4. Cool completely and frost with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting.


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.



Filed under chocolate, cupcakes

Stuffed with Strawberry Goodness

I came across this recipe for Strawberry-Lime Stuffed Cupcakes on the Food Network last week and it immediately went into my “must try” pile. Armed with a little extra time and a brand new jumbo muffin tin today, I decided to give this a whirl.

I was slightly concerned from the very beginning. After mixing up the batter, it seemed very thick. Not pourable like a regular cake batter but stiff….almost like a scone batter. Hmmm… Well, nothing left to do after that but press forward.

I became even more discouraged when they came out of the oven. Sure enough, I didn’t have pretty, smooth cakes…I had stiff, crunchy peaks. Hmmmm… Well, move forward I did!

When I got ready to stuff and frost, I decided to go ahead and even out my cakes by cutting off the tops. The cake was extremely dense. It was not looking good for the home team at this point.

I mixed up the lime frosting. It tasted really really sweet. Like really sweet. Too sweet. To top it off, I only ended up with enough to frost 4 of my 6 jumbo cupcakes. Uh-oh.

Well, when it was said and done, and I had spent an entire afternoon fiddling with these damn things, I was ready to chalk it up to another trial that ended up in error. HOWEVER, after the cakes were stuffed and the frosting set for a couple hours, the flavor actually turned out to be very good. The strawberry helped cut the sweetness of the frosting and the juice sort of moistened up the cake a bit. I’m not sure I would make these again, as they were a lot of work, but it they were certainly something new and different. I’d be interested to see if anyone else has better luck than I did. So, if you make these, please let me know!



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 drop green food coloring (I omitted)
6 large ripe strawberries, hulled
Green sanding sugar
Fresh mint leaves or candied leaves (I omitted)


Equipment: 6-cup jumbo muffin tin


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In another medium bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. While beating, gradually pour in the butter and then the vanilla.

While mixing slowly, add half the dry ingredients, then add all the milk, and follow with the rest of the dry ingredients. Take care not to over mix the batter. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared tin.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove. Cool on the rack completely.

For icing: Mix the confectioners’ sugar and lime zest in a medium bowl. Add the lime juice and mix with an electric mixer to make a firm but pourable icing. (If needed, add up to 1 teaspoon more juice, but take care if the icing is too loose it doesn’t set properly.) Add food color to make a pale pastel green icing.

To assemble: Remove cupcake from its liner. Cut and remove a strawberry (coned) shaped portion of cupcake from the top of each cupcake, leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch of cake in the bottom. (This was where I cut off my tops.) Stuff each cake with a strawberry and cover with a little bit of cake. Spoon and spread icing over the top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Top with small mint leaves or candied leaves.



Filed under cupcakes, fruit

Lemony-berry deliciousness

I big puffy heart anything lemon. Sweet, savory and anything in between. Lemon is totally underrated. When we were kids my mom used keep a bowl of Jolly Ranchers in the living room and we always told her to get more when there was nothing left but a handful of lemon left in the bottom on the bowl. No one ever wanted Lemon!

Well, needless to say, I’ve grown up a lot since then and will almost always take a minute to read a recipe that has lemon in it’s title. It’s so versatille! When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, I knew I would love it. Sure enough!! Lemony-berry deliciousness!!

LEMON-SCENTED BLUEBERRY CUPCAKES (recipe source: Cooking Light Magazine, January 2007)

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
10 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

1/4 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon flour, sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk together melted butter and egg in a separate bowl. Add buttermilk, milk, and 1 teaspoon rind to butter mixture; whisk together. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Toss blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Fold blueberries into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

For the frosting, put cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon rind, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar (do not overbeat). Stir in juice. Frost cupcakes. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

Enjoy! 🙂


Filed under cupcakes, fruit