November 23, 2013

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Bacon

Breakfast in a cupcake?  And wait … bacon on top??  Yup – you read that right.  Enjoy breakfast for dessert at anytime with this fabulous recipe.

Warning:  This is not low calorie, low fat, no sugar, or a quick & easy recipe … but it IS worth it!

I started with an original recipe from Pass the Sushi on Pinterest, however I changed a few things up and doubled the recipe so that I got 24 cupcakes instead of 12.  If you only need 12, you’ll just need to cut the recipe in half.  Here are the ingredients I used for 24 cupcakes:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of cake flour
  • 2 (3.9 oz) boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp of potato starch (yes – I had to ask what this even was in the store!)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp
  • ½ cup of light brown sugar
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 8 large egg whites at room temp (please spend the extra money and buy the egg white beaters and save yourself the hassle of dropping eggs on your counter, or yolks in the batter – you will ruin it!)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup of half & half at room temp
  • 1 cup of chopped, cooked bacon (about 10 strips)

Wow – that’s a lot of ingredients.  And that’s just the cupcake part.  I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s not a quick and easy recipe.  Also, your batter is going to be very sticky when it’s all done, so you’ll need an ice cream scoop with a release lever to get the batter into your cupcake cups – unless you want to break a spoon in half or have a lost utensil in the batter …

Maple Bacon Cupcake Batter

How to make the French Toast Cupcakes:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • Place 24 cupcake liners in muffin tins.
  • Combine the two flours, pudding mix, baking powder, potato starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl – stir everything together until it’s mixed in thoroughly.
  • In your electric stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together on low – about 6 to 8 minutes, or until they’re combined.
  • Gradually mix in the vanilla and egg whites. Scrape down the bowl and continue mixing everything until the batter is light and fluffy.
  • Add the dry ingredients mixture in 3 separate batches: 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add your maple syrup, then another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then your half and half, and finally the remainder of the flour mixture. Be sure you are using the mixer to mix everything together in between adding your batches – do not just add it all at once, this batter is way too thick.
  • Be careful not to overmix – and lastly, add in your chopped bacon. Yum!
  • Scoop the (sticky) batter into your prepared muffin tins – filling them about ¾ of the way.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean – this is going to be about 35 to 40 minutes.  The cupcake part itself will be very dense.

Baked Maple Bacon Cupcake

Cool your cupcakes completely before decorating.  To make the maple cream cheese frosting, you will need:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese at room temp
  • 4 Tbsp of unsalted butter at room temp
  • 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup of maple syrup (do not overdo it on the syrup – if you add too much your frosting will be runny and there’s no going back!)
  • 4 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 6 additional strips of bacon, cooked and chopped (woohoo – more bacon!)

To prepare the frosting:

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter in your stand mixer on medium until creamy and completely combined together.  I like to use my wire whisk attachment when making frosting.
  • Add the confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup (a little at a time – see how it absorbs to decide if you need to continue adding more), and cinnamon. Beat until combined and creamy.
  • Use a decorating bag and pipe the delicious frosting onto your cooled cupcakes.
  • Top with the chopped bacon and a small drizzle of maple syrup.

French Toast Maple Bacon Cupcake

And there you have it.  Can we say … impressive?!  Or better yet – AMAZING.

November 14, 2013

Sausage, Pepper, & Cheese Wonton Cups

So, this recipe isn’t your typical “cupcake,” but it IS a member of the “cup” family and since I’m way overdue on posting a recipe – this one is going to be the champ.  With that being said, before I go another 5 months without a post … try making these in the meantime, you will absolutely love them.  I’ve made them for the Superbowl, work events, and they are great as an appetizer for really any occasion.  Did I mention they are super easy, and someone will typically inhale the plate you put out before you can say … wonton?

Sausage Pepper Cheese Wonton Cups

Here are the world’s easiest (and quite possibly the tastiest) ingredients:

You will need to grab:

  • Wonton wrappers (I use Melissa’s – there are 60 in the package, and they are usually kept near the produce section of your grocery store and are refrigerated).
  • A bottle of ranch dressing (I usually buy a light one – unless you want a zestier ranch taste … not me!)
  • 2 green bell peppers (Chop into small squares)
  • 1 package (about 2 cups) of mild cheddar cheese – shredded
  • 1 package (about 2 cups) of Colby or Monterey Jack cheese – also shredded
  • Breakfast sausage (about 10 links – chopped into small pieces once it’s cooked)

Wonton Cups Mixture

How to do it:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray two mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place the wontons in the muffin tins to form cups (you are going to get at least 48 cups out of this recipe – so just be prepared for a crowd … but don’t worry, they will not last long!)
  • Bake the wonton wrappers in the muffin tins by themselves for 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the sausage and cut it into extremely small bite size pieces (think: for-a-child size).
  • Drain the sausage and/or absorb any grease from cooking, and then place the sausage pieces into the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Stir in your chopped peppers, cheeses, and the ranch dressing and mix well with the sausage until everything is evenly distributed and coated with the ranch dressing.
  • Take a teaspoon and scoop the mixture into the baked wonton wrappers (without overflowing the wonton cups please – I know it’s hard to control yourself once you start!), and bake everything altogether for another 10-12 minutes until they’re slightly browned and the cheese is melted.

Unbaked Wonton Cups

  • Cool for a few minutes and then it’s like watching a magic trick – these babies will be gone in the blink of an eye!

If you have some of your sausage mixture left, you can always make more cups – or freeze everything for another day.  The Italian in me freezes the extra wonton wrappers and you guessed it – I make a ricotta cheese mixture and turn them into homemade ravioli at a later date. That’s the super easy way without spending an entire day rolling out and cutting dough.  The wonton wrappers do freeze well.  But – I’m positive you are going to love these sausage, pepper, and cheese wonton cups so much, that there’s a good chance you might not have anything left to freeze!

Baked Wontons

Mangia … or, since we’re dealing with wontons … in Chinese, you’d say “Chi!”

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June 22, 2013

Angel Food Cupcakes with Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting

This blog is credited to my fabulous Mom – Debbie, who made these cupcakes last weekend for Father’s Day!  My Dad wanted a lower calorie/lower fat dessert and as any dieter knows, angel food cake is light and heavenly.

Read on for the angelic ingredients!

Angel Food with Limoncello Icing

For the cupcakes (courtesy of cookingclassy.com), you will need:

  • ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 and ½ Tbsp warm water
  • 6 egg whites at room temp*
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp cream of tartar (For you non-bakers – this is actually powder found in the baking aisle, do not mistake this for tartar sauce … please!)

*Important note – separate your egg whites (or purchase a container of liquid egg whites at the store) over a bowl and not over your stand mixer when your other ingredients are already in it.  If you get even one drop of egg yolk in your mixture during the separation process, it can prevent the peaks from forming and you won’t be able to use your angel food batter.

How to do it:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a separate bowl – combine ½ the sugar, the cake flour, and the salt.
  • In your electric stand mixer, combine the egg whites, water, vanilla, and cream of tartar – mix about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer speed up to medium and add the other half of the sugar that was initially separated by itself.
  • Add the flour mixture a little at a time until all has been incorporated.
  • Once the mixture is smooth and you have stiff peaks in your batter – it’s ready to be placed in paper cupcake liners in your baking tins. This recipe makes about 16 cupcakes.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes, or until they are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

To make the Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting (courtesy of thecomfortofcooking.com), you’ll need:

  • ½ stick butter at room temp
  • 4 oz. cream cheese at room temp
  • 1 Tbsp Limoncello (Limoncello is a liqueur – my Italian family loves it! My parents brought some back after a trip to Italy a few years ago, but you can find it in the good old USA probably in your regular liquor store).
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

*Note – this frosting recipe makes enough to frost about 12 cupcakes. If you are going to be using a decorating bag and piping on your frosting, you may want to double the ingredients so you have extra for prettying up.

How to do it:

  • In your electric stand mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese on medium  until light and fluffy.
  • Add the Limoncello and beat for an additional minute.
  • Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar.
  • Mix until everything is combined evenly and it looks like frosting!

Decorate your cupcakes with a pastry bag and tip – and garnish with a fresh raspberry.

Delish!

June 14, 2013

Cotton Candy Cupcakes

First, I will start out by apologizing for my year and a half hiatus from cupcake blogging (life happens).  But during my time away, I’ve been baking and photographing tons of yummy treats to feature in the coming months!

Since it’s summertime and I’m a born and raised Jersey Shore Girl who grew up at the boardwalk – I figured it’s the perfect time of year to turn a boardwalk favorite into a cupcake … hence, Cotton Candy Cupcakes.

Think these kind of cupcakes could only happen in your dreams?  Think again.  They are real (thank you Anne Byrn, Cake Mix Doctor – you have made my life)!

Let’s get going!  For the cupcakes, you will need:

  • 1 and ½ cups blueberry yogurt (try to use the kid friendly kind – without the actual blueberries, unless you want blueberry pieces in your cotton candy cupcakes … yuck).
  • 1 package (18.25 oz.) of plain white cake mix
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 5-6 drops of blue food coloring

Your cupcakes are going to be blue – do not be alarmed!

IMG_0001

How to do it:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 and line your cupcake/muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.
  • Place all the ingredients above – in the order listed, into the bowl of your electric stand mixer.
  • Blend on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and increase the mixer speed to medium for another 2 minutes.
  • Scoop up the batter (I like to use an ice cream scoop with a trigger) and fill each lined cupcake cup about 2/3 of the way full.
  • Bake the cupcakes about 17-20 minutes, until they are lightly golden and spring back when touched gently.
  • Cool at least 5 minutes.

Want double the cotton candy?  Add it to your buttercream!

  • 4 cups of cotton candy (3 oz.) – you can find it in the grocery store
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 Tbsp milk

To make the buttercream:

  • Measure out 2 and ½ cups of the cotton candy for the frosting – the rest will be used to garnish the tops of your cupcakes at the end.
  • Place the butter in your electric stand mixer and beat on a low speed until creamy, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the 2 and ½ cups of cotton candy and blend it on low with the butter until incorporated.  *Note – the frosting mixture will be grainy, this is perfectly normal.
  • Add the sugar and milk, and blend further on low until the frosting comes together smoothly – about 1 and ½ minutes.  It will still be a little bit grainy.
  • Increase your mixer speed to medium-high and beat the frosting another 30 seconds to get it light and fluffy.

Decorate your cupcakes with a piping bag once the frosting is made and the cupcakes are cool to the touch. You can even add pink or blue sprinkles!

IMG_0004

*Important note – the first time I made these, I put the cotton candy garnish on top of the frosting right away.  BIG MISTAKE.  Since cotton candy is spun sugar, the moisture from the frosting actually makes it disintegrate within a few minutes’ time.  So if you do this too much ahead, it’s going to be pink and blue liquid sugar on top of your frosting by the time you are ready to serve your cupcakes.  I recommend placing the cotton candy garnish on right before serving.

Once you do that – these cupcakes are out of this world and so perfect for summer!

IMG_0011

October 12, 2011

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

The other day I made my favorite cupcakes for my best friend’s daughter’s first birthday party – cookies & cream cupcakes.  I love cookies & cream everything – ice cream, candy bars, you name it – there’s nothing better than this flavor!  When I came across Anne Byrn’s cookies & cream cupcakes last year and made them for a family party and they were a big hit, I just kept making them and they are still my fave.  So, what’s in a cookies & cream cupcake?  Read on to discover the deliciousness!

The heavenly ingredients for 24 out-of-this-world cupcakes:

  • 1 package (about 30) Oreo cookies (I like to use the Double Stuff ones)
  • 1 package (18.25 oz.) plain white cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to do it:

  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.  Line 24 muffin baking pans with cupcake liners.
  • Separate the Oreos, and make sure each half has some icing on it.  If this doesn’t work for you, just use the half that has the icing on it.  You are going to place one Oreo with icing at the bottom of each cupcake liner in the baking pans.

  • Take the remaining halves of any Oreos you might have had with no icing on them and then some complete Oreos from the package – and use a food processor and crush the Oreos until you get 1 cup of crushed cookie pieces.  Set these aside for later.
  • Place the cake mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla in an electric mixer. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds, and then stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Increase the mixer speed and beat 1 and ½ minutes more until the batter is well blended.  Stop the mixer and add the cup of crushed Oreos you set aside before.  Mix until everything is blended completely.

  • Place about 1/3 cup of the batter on top of the Oreo you split in half, in each lined muffin tin.

  • Bake the cupcakes about 18 to 20 minutes – until they’re lightly golden and spring back when gently pressed.  Place the pans on wire racks and cool for 5 minutes.  Then take the cupcakes out of the pans and cool them on the wire racks for another 15 minutes before frosting.

For the birthday party – I just made a standard vanilla buttercream frosting and added pink food coloring to go with the pink, princess themed party.  But, you can add whatever frosting floats your boat!

One more thing – if you have any Oreos left in the package, crush the remaining cookies in your food processor and then sprinkle them on top of your frosted cupcakes for an extra special touch.

Ready for the final product?  Voila!

Cookies and cream cupcakes

So amazing, if I must say so myself!

September 22, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

A couple weeks ago, I was asked by one of my co-workers to make cupcakes for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower.  Since they knew the baby was going to be a girl, of course a pink themed cupcake was a must!  I did some regular vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with pink buttercream – but the “icing on the cake” was definitely these strawberry shortcake cupcakes with homemade strawberry cream cheese frosting!  If you love strawberries, keep reading for your double dose.

The original recipe idea came from Elinor Klivans in her “cupcakes!” recipe book, however I changed it up a bit.  Before you start, please note that this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes.

The delicious ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 12 fresh strawberry slices

How to do it:

  • Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners, and spray the liners with non-stick cooking spray.  If you don’t spray the liners, you will definitely have trouble peeling the cupcake wrappers off later!
  • Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350.
  • First, heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat for just a couple minutes until it gets hot – then remove it from the heat and set it aside for later.  Don’t let it start to boil or curdle!
  • Combine the flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  This is another recipe that calls for salt, but since I don’t cook with it – I won’t be adding it in!  Any recipes I post will be no or very low sodium.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color – about 3 minutes. Then mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.  On low speed, mix in the flour mixture until well incorporated – then slowly add in the milk.  Mix for about another 30 seconds until your batter is smooth, and don’t be alarmed – it will be very thin and liquidy.
  • Fill each cupcake liner with about ½ cup of the batter.
  • This is something I added in on my own – take one strawberry slice for each cupcake, and place it on top of the batter in the cups.  You will be baking in a fresh strawberry!

  • Bake for 16 minutes and then cool for at least 10 on a wire rack before you take the liners out of the pan.  Then let the cupcakes cool some more.

At this point Elinor Klivans goes into something entirely different – and while I’m sure it tasted great, I didn’t want to lose the idea of keeping my cupcakes as cupcakes – so I just left them as is.  Klivans actually goes into removing the wrappers and actually creating mini strawberry shortcakes with fresh whipped cream to be served immediately.  If that’s what you’re looking for – you won’t find that here, you’ll have to look up her original recipe!  But if you are looking for real strawberry shortcake cupcakes in wrappers – this is what you’ll need to make the strawberry cream cheese frosting for them (courtesy of Anne Byrn – The Cake Mix Doctor):

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (1/2 cup) also at room temperature
  • 3 to 3 and ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup of mashed and drained fresh strawberries (I used my food processor and it worked great!)

Place the softened cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl, and blend together in an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds – until combined.  Stop the machine and add 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar and the drained strawberries.  Blend on low until everything is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then increase your mixer speed to medium and blend until your frosting is fluffy – 45 seconds longer or so.  If the frosting needs to be thicker so it’s more spreadable – add the other ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar.  It’s definitely better to start with less and add more if needed later on so you don’t risk ruining your frosting! 

Once your cupcakes have cooled and your frosting is done – take a pastry bag and a decorating tip of your choice and make them look pretty!  Below is my final product, which I topped with large sugar crystals for extra sweetness:

Strawberry shortcake cupcakes

Fabulous!

September 1, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Tonight I’m going to post my first cupcake recipe, and let me tell you – it’s delicious.

If you’re one of those closet cookie dough eaters like me – although maybe I’m not a “closet” cookie dough eater, I have no qualms about opening a package of store bought cookie dough and eating it totally without baking it … so, if you’re one of those too – now you can bake a cupcake with it!  By the way, let me add that I am also eating cookie dough ice cream as I’m typing this.  Now, I can’t take the credit for coming up with this magnificent concept – that goes to The Cake Mix Doctor, Anne Byrn.  But, thanks to her ingeniousness – I came across her fabulous recipe when my Mom gave me her wonderful “Cupcakes!” cookbook for my birthday last year.  If you love cookie dough and chocolate buttercream, read on!

The glorious ingredients:

  • 24 paper liners for regular sized cupcake pans
  • 1 package (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package (1 lb.) of your favorite store bought chocolate chip cookie dough – but stick it in the freezer so it’s frozen before you bake with it, otherwise it will bake a cookie into your cupcakes instead of being actual dough!  But, your preference of course.

How to do it:

  • Make sure your oven rack is in the center of your oven, and preheat it to 350.
  • Line 24 cupcake cups with your paper cupcake liners.
  • Blend together the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more.  The batter should be well blended after this – if not, try a final 30 seconds of mixing.
  • My favorite trick for neatly filling cupcake cups with batter: buy an ice cream scoop with one of those rotating levers that forces your scoop out when you push the button on the side.  Use this tool and fill your cupcakes about 2/3 of the way full with ¼ cup of batter in each one.
  • If there are any leftover liners you didn’t fill – get rid of them.
  • Cut your frozen dough pieces or break them apart, so you have 24 – one for each cupcake liner.
  • Place a frozen dough piece on the top of each cupcake, you don’t have to press it down – you want it to lay on the top like so:
  • Bake the cupcakes until they are golden and spring back when lightly pressed – 23 to 27 minutes.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the oven and set the pans on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Take the cupcakes out of the pan (you might want to run a butter knife around the edges of the liners) and place them on the wire rack to cool another 15 minutes.  If they sink a little in the center, it’s okay.

While you are waiting for your cupcakes to cool – start whipping up your chocolate buttercream frosting (my favorite is actually from Martha Stewart’s book “Cupcakes”):

  • Combine ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons boiled water. Stir together until cocoa has dissolved.
  • In your electric mixer, beat 3 sticks of softened butter and ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar together until light and fluffy.  Martha does include salt in her recipe but I never cook with salt, so you won’t find anything to aggravate your high blood pressure here!
  • Add 1 lb. of semi-sweet chocolate that you melted completely, but allowed it to cool – to your mixture and scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to.  Beat together until totally combined.
  • Lastly, add in the cocoa mixture and mix until everything is blended and you have the perfect frosting.
  • Take a pastry bag (I buy a huge pack of disposable ones from Michael’s) and a decorating tip with a large, smooth opening (or whatever tip you’d like) and pipe your frosting onto your cooled cupcakes.
The final product:
Yum!
August 16, 2011

My first “sweet” post.

I’ve been writing, baking, taking pictures, and obsessed with my Italian heritage for as long as I can remember.  I figured, why not combine everything I love doing all in one?  So, here it is – my first blog.  I’ve decided to call it Dolce which means “sweet” in Italian. This blog will be about the one sweet little thing I love to bake the most – cupcakes.  My dream is to one day maybe turn parts of this blog into a cupcake cookbook, since I’d love to be a published author.  Plus, a published author who can write and bake would be even better in my book.  But what I’d love even more is to open my own cupcake shop some day.  This is obviously a long time in the making (since I currently work in regular corporate America as a Marketing Manager, oh – and we can’t forget about the student loans I’m still trying to pay off from getting my Master’s Degree last year…), so as I’m working on that I figured I’d start small and see what happens.  You never know until you try, right?

So here we go – I’m going to plan to feature at least one new cupcake recipe that I make monthly (if not more often) … plus photos, tips, and more recipes here and there.  Or if my baking turns into a complete disaster – I’ll blog about that too!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading.  I promise, it’ll be sweet!

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