Tag Archives: baking

Keeping It Classic: Vanilla Cupcakes & Dark Chocolate Frosting

For a friend’s birthday and Super Bowl Sunday, I decided to whip up a batch of cupcakes. I decided to keep it simple and classic, and adapted two recipes for this entry. The first is the recipe for the cupcakes themselves, which is from The New Best Recipe


Their recipe, “Yellow Cupcakes with Simple Chocolate Frosting,” can be found on pages 844-845 in the “Cakes” section. I made a dozen, as the recipe calls for. Their ingredients are listed as follows (what I adjusted is replaced next to their ingredient and amount, struck through).

Servings: 12 cupcakes
Oven temp: 350

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened – I used 10 tbsp. and mine was borderline melted…
1/2 cup sour cream – the butter replaced this.
1 large egg, plus two large egg yolks, room temp I used 3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Addition: 3/4 cup water, room temp.

I changed the ingredients in mine not because I wanted to alter someone else’s recipe, but because I wanted to whip up something delicious and quickly, not to mention on a budget! So I feel like maybe some of you are like me, and you may have certain things on hand and not others! In this case, I didn’t have sour cream. Knowing it was partially a texture need and partially flavor and moisture, I decided to replace the sour cream with butter: two extra tbsp. and the eggs: two egg whites, making three whole eggs.

*This is just an example of how you can alter a recipe and make it work for you. Honestly, the internet can be helpful, provided you search generally and double check (or triple check) the answers…*

Anyway, back to these cupcakes! So first, I creamed the sugar and eggs, then added the butter and vanilla. I then added the flour, baking powder, and water as I saw fit. Since I didn’t use sour cream, I knew I’d likely need to make up for that liquid somewhere, and water is never a bad idea with cakes. Now, I’m no scientist so I can’t explain why, but with cookies the water has a spongy effect on the dough, which is much more suited for cake doughs.

I wanted to make a rich chocolate frosting, but I didn’t have any baker’s chocolate or chocolate chips at home! Another “on-hand” issue! What I did have was Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, so I Googled “dark chocolate frosting cocoa powder” and found a listing right away from Food.com. I adapted their recipe as well, and found I really liked my adaption!

Dark Chocolate Frosting


1/8 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 a vanilla bean
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup half and half
3/8 cup of unsalted butter (I used exactly 5 tbsp)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (however, as illustrated by the user who uploaded this to their site, you may adjust this amount according to richness desired)

First, let me say that most frosting recipes I have used are WAY off on portions. This recipe really nails it, which I can appreciate as someone who hates to waste any food. Secondly, make sure you have the proper tools. When you make frosting, it’s important that the butter be the proper temperature. For my frosting, I actually melted the butter. You see, I opted to make these on a whim, so the only butter available was frozen. I did, upon heating the butter, allow it to cool – and NO, I did not use a microwave. Side note: we don’t even own a microwave – they’re gross!

Using a stand mixer or food processor, mix the sugar, butter and vanilla. Gradually add the cocoa powder, pouring a small amount in at a time. Note: if you’re just going for smooth, rich flavor, just dump it all in. This gradual addition will allow you to add more or less for richer flavor. My box was at the tail end, so after a point I just dumped the contents. My measurement may be somewhat off (I’d guess by a max of 1/4 cup).

Allow 20 minutes for the cupcakes to cool on a cooking rack, until tops are room temp at touch. Then frost, and serve these delicious confections!



Happy baking!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rachel’s Redheads: Vegan Pumpkin-Cranberry Cookies

So I came up with this recipe so I could give my vegan bestie a treat that was cruelty free! In case you were wondering, her name is Rachel, and yes, she is actually a redhead! I highly recommend using a stand-up mixer if you have one for any baking recipes. They really are the greatest baking tool, and I promise you will see better results and a reduction in your prep time! I use a KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Mixer in Aqua Sky, and not that the color does anything for it, but it’s pretty much the most amazing invention I’ve ever owned. The possibilities are really quite endless with the mixer, but I won’t go into all that now; besides, it’s not like KitchenAid is sponsoring this blog!


Anyway, back to these cookies. I’ve given these to toddlers, adults, and everyone seems to enjoy them. I should state up front, these are a spongier cookie the way my recipe is done, so if you’d like them less so just use less baking soda. These cookies are delicious and low in sugar; although, one can make these using substitutes for sugar to make them safe for diabetics.

Makes (somewhere in the neighborhood of) 30 2″ round cookies

Oven temp: 350


2 1/4 cup flour (all purpose – I even use whole wheat or half whole wheat half not)

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

1 can of pumpkin

1/2-1 cup craisins

1/3-1/2 cup canola oil

To start, I usually whip the pumpkin, sugars, and spices together in the stand up mixer, then add flour gradually. Then I mix in canola oil in small doses, stopping when the consistency becomes thick enough to mold into a cookie – you don’t want runny cookies! The baking soda is usually added last, and then I always taste my batter, and recommend every baker do the same. The only way you’ll know if it’s good is if you taste it, so always taste your batter! If the batter needs adjustments, make those – recipes are not set in stone. Maybe you think it needs more ginger, or more sugar: you could even roll the cookies in a sugar mixture, or like Snickerdoodles, in a cinnamon-sugar mix!

Then make 2″ cookies (these won’t spread too much, unless the dough is really loose). Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, switching positions of cookie sheets (top to bottom and vice a verse) half way through.

Voila! Alas, I cannot seem to locate a picture of this recipe!

I will make these soon and upload photos 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peaches, Mangoes, Raspberries…Oh My!

I absolutely love making cobblers, and for this recipe I use a cookie dough style crust. This sugary treat really finishes the sweet but tart taste of the berries, and the touch of Hennessy on the peaches gives it a little chutzpah.

Oven temp: 400

Peach, Mango, & Raspberry Filling

2-3 peaches

2-3 mangoes

1 small container of raspberries (of course, I don’t have the size written down: palm, forehead)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch o’ freshly ground cloves (aka cloves, ground)

1 tblsp. Hennessy or other cognac

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 cup granulated sugar

First, slice mangoes and peaches into desired size. I generally just halve the peaches, then quarter and sixth them, creating thin slivers. Mangoes can be a bit difficult to cut, so here’s a tutorial on YouTube (sidenote: fast forward to 0:33 to skip his little sales pitch and ripeness hints). Place the mangoes in a small bowl and do the same with the peaches, keeping the two fruits separate. Place sugar in the mixing bowl you plan to combine everything in and set aside. Sprinkle the ginger on the mangoes and, using your hands, toss the slices and spice together, until the ginger is spread throughout evenly. Then, pour the Hennessy on the peaches, and then the pinch of cloves. Just as with the mangoes, toss the spices, liquor, and peach slices together until the ingredients have coated the slices. Combine the peaches and mangoes with the sugar, adding the vanilla once the fruits have been hand-tossed and combined. Add the raspberries and again hand-toss them, and then transfer the whole fruit mix to a pie dish or whatever baking pan you intend to use.

Next, it’s time to prep the filling to be cooked. Cover the pie dish with aluminum foil, being sure to seal up the sides – you want to trap all the heat you can for this step! Then place this in the preheated oven, cooking for 17 minutes.

During this time make the crust!!!

Cookie Dough Crust


3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

pinch o’ salt

12 tblsp. unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Real quick, let me take a second to talk about vanilla extracts. Not all vanilla extracts are created equal, and not all of them taste the same. For example, I have a family friend who is also an exceptional cook and baker, and she prefers to use this high-end vanilla extract: Nielsen-Massey. The taste difference is notable, however not so much so in this part of this recipe (not to mention it comes at a hefty price). Where the vanilla flavor becomes apparent in this recipe is in the fruits, and if you use a cheaper brand that uses more artificial flavoring techniques, some more sensitive palettes may take notice. I personally tend to use McCormick: mainly because it’s cheap, easy to find, reputable, and doesn’t taste really artificial.

Okay, so to make this crust, place the slices of butter and other dry ingredients (all but the flour) in a food processor. Pulse the processor to get the butter broken up, and then add the flour gradually, being sure the butter gets spread evenly throughout.

Once the filling has cooked, take the crust batter and using a regular tea spoon, dollop the top of the cooked filling with crust as desired. Then, place entire cobbler in oven for 40 mins at the same temp!

Allow to cool 20-30 mins (or until pan is warm enough to touch) and serve with ice cream if desired…

Peach Mango Raspberry Cobbler

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,