Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

I’m going to tell you something: I adore cookies. I don’t discriminate against most baked goods, bu242341_348582141899787_1762811458_ot cookies? Lord help me, I cannot control myself with them. I always think to myself, “Okay Courtney, you’re only going to have two cookies today.” This never happens if there are cookies in the house. Never. What starts off as a snack, with the good intentions of moderation, always turns into a lack of self control. Or, more often than not, I’ll walk away after two cookies and then be back for a couple more in five minutes time when the tastes and yumminess are still lingering and I have to have more.

My favourite types of cookie are pretty typical, but they’re common for a reason: they’re delicious. My first love will always be homemade peanut butter cookies. They have to be soft, and made with smooth peanut butter, and that’s if I don’t consume most of the dough first. My second, and much more newly found love, is the Snickerdoodle. It’s a perfect balance of sweet, soft, and cinnamon-y. All good characteristics in a cookie. So when I found a recipe for Snickerdoodle cupcakes on Pinterest, I had to pin it, and I knew I would find an excuse to make them. It didn’t actually take long to find an excuse, actually. My cousin was planning a surprise party for her mom’s birthday and asked me to supply cupcakes. I willingly obliged.

I found the original recipe, via Pinterest, on the Martha Stewart website. The recipe suggests a Seven-Minute Frosting, which I chose not to use. Instead I used a cinnamon cream cheese icing. Let me tell you, these cupcakes were heaven! The icing was great with the cupcake, and the cupcakes were like huge, soft, moist cookies. I reiterate: Heaven.

256157_348582121899789_1991980073_oIngredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake pans with paper liners, or use a nonstick baking spray. In a large bowl, combine the flours (I used 3 cups of all purpose flour, rather than mixing two types and had no issue), baking powder and salt. Set the flour mixture aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to incorporate them fully before adding the next egg. Once the eggs are well combined, add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture in 3 sections, alternating with the milk. Beat until combined.

Once the ingredients are combined well, evenly distribute the batter in the prepared baking pans, and then bake for 18-20 minutes. The original recipe says to bake fully, remove from the oven and allow to cool, ice the cupcakes and then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar. I did not do this, since I was using an icing that already had cinnamon. Instead, I removed the cupcakes about halfway through their bake time and sprinkled with the sugar and cinnamon at that point, before letting them continue to bake for the remainder of the baking time. Then, I prepared the icing and iced the cupcakes once they had cooled completely. The icing was this cream cheese icing with the addition of two teaspoons of cinnamon.

I piped the icing using a Wilton 1A tip, and voila. Perhaps one of my favourite cupcakes ever. And, outrageously, when I offered the cupcakes to my parents to try, they asked me what a Snickerdoodle was. I’m not sure if they’ve been living under a rock or something, but they really had no idea. Needless to say, I made a batch of Snickerdoodle cookies soon after, to show them what they were missing out on.

S’mores Cupcakes

Originally posted April 16, 2012

My favourite thing about summer is obvious – campfires! And why, might you ask, do I love them? S’mores, of course. It’s not quite campfire weather yet though, so I’ve found a recipe to enjoy S’mores (and cupcakes!) throughout the rest of the year!

Now, I’ll be a first to admit that these did not turn out as I’d hoped. They were nowhere near as beautiful as the photos on theoriginal recipewould lead you to believe (but I’ve a solution for that, so fear not) and they weren’t as chocolatey as I would have liked, considering that they’re S’mores cupcakes. I think that the next time I make these, I’ll go with what was my initial gut instinct to fill them with chocolate rather than use chocolate chips in the cupcakes. Nevertheless, they were pretty tasty and a nice change from the usual. Not to mention, they’re so simple!

For the cupcakes, you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1-2 cups mini marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a regular muffin pan with liners, as this recipe yields 12 cupcakes. In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt. Set the bowl aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, oil and sugar. Beat until well combined and smooth and then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Next, alternately add portions of the dry mixture and the milk to the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and then fill the muffin pan with the batter.

At this point, the original recipe would have you pour a few mini marshmallows over the batter and then bake the cupcakes 18-20 minutes. However, I found that the marshmallows puffed up as the recipe indicated they would, and then melted everywhere because it was simply too long for them to be in the oven. So I’d suggest that you bake the cupcakes 10 or so minutes and then top them with marshmallows and continue baking for the remainder of the time. This should ensure that the marshmallows puff up and brown but don’t just turn into a melted (albeit tasty) mess. Also, as I mentioned briefly earlier, and because of my personal preference, I’d likely omit the chocolate chips in the future and instead fill the cupcakes with a chocolate ganache or fudge or something instead.

The great thing about these cupcakes is that, had they turned out, the marshmallows look so nice that you don’t really need icing. Mine weren’t quite as beautiful as I’d have liked, however, so I melted some butterscotch chips and drizzled butterscotch on each cupcake.

Let me know how you like these, should you try them yourself! Perhaps, like me, you’ll find that these cupcakes are the perfect solution to having S’mores year-round!

Checkerboard Cake How-To

Originally posted April 9, 2012

So, remember that lovely Easter Bunny Cake Topper? I had the cake topper prepared, but I needed a cake for it to top. What I settled on was a checkerboard cake. This was a 3 layer, 9″ round cake that, when cut, looks like a checkerboard on the inside. It looks pretty neat, and is much simpler to make than many would care to believe, so today I’d like to share with you how it’s done!

The first thing you’ll need is cake. I used a simple vanilla cake recipe and then coloured half of it pink, and the other half light yellow, after separating the batter into two separate bowls. You can also use two cake batters, such as vanilla and chocolate, or whatever suits your fancy. Keep in mind, however, that when using two different batters you’ll have to pay attention – not every cake has the same baking temperature or baking time, which could be problematic. For simplicity’s sake, that is why I chose to simply colour my cake batter. Given that it was for Easter, I thought the pastel colours looked nice together and suited the occasion nicely.

The next thing you’ll need is a checkerboard cake pan set. I’m sure that if you can’t find one of these handy sets (I found mine at a local Michael’s), or if you just don’t want to pay for one (I found mine on sale), there is probably a way to do this in some makeshift fashion – I found an alternative to the pan set, which you can see here. Let me know if it works!

Now that you have the batter, and the necessary equipment, what you’re going to do next is actually quite simple:

1. Grease cake pans (or flour them, or prepare them in some way so that the cakes don’t stick)
2. Place the dividing rings in the first cake pan, and fill the center ring with cake batter. I used pink first, and found it was easiest to fill the pans using a large serving spoon.
3. Fill the middle ring next, holding the divider in place, with the second colour of batter (yellow, in my case).
4. Fill the outer ring with the first colour (pink), still holding the divider in place. Once the third and final ring has been filled, pull the dividing ring out of the cake pan, being sure to lift it straight up so as not to disrupt your cake batter.
5. Rinse the dividing ring thoroughly and dry it, before placing it in the next cake pan. Then, proceed to fill the second cake pan in the same way that  you did the first. Use the same colour pattern, which in my case was pink in the center and outer rings, with yellow in the middle. These two layers, which are now the exact same, will be the top and bottom layers of the cake.
6. For the middle layer of the cake, again rinse the divider and then position it in the third pan. This pan is going to be filled in the opposite way of the first two. In my case, I filled the center with yellow, then proceeded to fill the middle with pink batter, and then the outer ring with yellow batter.
7. Bake and cool the cakes as directed according to the recipes.8. Level the layers as necessary, and then frost and layer the cake. Begin with one of your two matching layers, as it will be the bottom. Layer icing over the top (I used vanilla buttercream) and then position the opposite cake layer on top. Again, ice the top and then position the third layer.
9. Now, ice the cake as desired, cut, and serve!

When you cut into the cake, you should find that you have achieved a checkerboard appearance! This cake has always been a hit for me, and it can be done in so many ways! Once  you get the hang of the dividing ring, feel free to change up the colours, add more in, change batters, etc! I have made several checkerboard cakes, and a few of my favourites included:

– A vanilla and chocolate checkerboard cake with raspberry buttercream icing
– A chocolate and banana checkerboard cake with cream cheese icing, and
– A vanilla checkerboard cake that I coloured using red, green, and white for christmas

Try out some of your own combinations and please feel free to share them either in the comments below or on the Facebook and Twitter pages! Feel free to subscribe the blog, and enjoy your checkerboard cakes until next time!

Bacon Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

Originally posted March 30, 2012 (Looking at this post again makes me wish I hadn’t become vegetarian in July, the cupcakes were AMAZING!)

While flipping through The Cupcake Diaries early this week, a recipe caught my eye – Bacon Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes. I wasn’t sure whether to cringe or not because I’d never considered bacon as a cupcake ingredient. My curiosity got the better of me though, and I knew that I had to try these cupcakes, if for no other reason than to discover whether or not they were as gross as a little part of me imagined they could be (for the record, they were most definitely not gross).

I was not exactly sure what to expect with these. They had the potential to go one of two ways – delicious, or disgusting. They fared on the delicious side, as I was pleasantly surprised to find. The flavours go surprisingly well together, the cupcakes stay moist due to the maple syrup in them, and the salty bacon is offset nicely by the sweet blueberries. I highly recommend that you all give these a try! And, in hindsight, considering my love of breakfast foods, I’m not sure how I could have doubted these little gems.

This recipe will make you 24 cupcakes, for which you’ll need:
6 slices maple bacon
1 3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or an additional 1-2 tsp vanilla)
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Maple Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 oz cream cheese (1 1/2 sticks)
8 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin pans with baking cups or grease them to avoid sticking. Fry the bacon until very crunchy, sprinkle with the 1tsp of sugar, and then remove from the heat, strain the grease, and chop up into fine bits. Set the bacon aside for use later. Next, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set it aside as well.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each. Combine the vanilla, vanilla bean seeds (if using) and milk in a liquid measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. Mix slowly until just combined. Add the maple syrup, mixing slowly. Then, using a spatula, gently fold the bacon bits and blueberries into the batter.

Scoop the batter into baking cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool entirely.

For the frosting, combine all the ingredients in the stand mixer and beat until smooth and well combined. Turn the mixer to high speed for a couple of minutes at the end to get a light, whipped icing. Ice the cooled cupcakes as desired, and voila!

Let me know what you think of these cupcakes! The great thing about them is that, you could conceivably legitimize eating them for breakfast. Bacon, blueberry pancakes, maple syrup, cream cheese – all legitimate breakfast foods. And what could be better for breakfast than dessert? I have yet to discover an answer to that. Maybe you could make these into your Sunday morning family breakfast. I’m sure they’ll thank you for it!

If you’re considering bacon in your dessert, here are a few other options if blueberry isn’t for you (and please let me know the results if you try any of these!):
Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Maple French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes 
Bacon Cupcakes: Sunny Side Up
Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes