Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. It’s up there as one of my top 3 favorite holidays- not only do we get a 4 day weekend, but lots of food and relaxation. This year I spent it at a potluck and was responsible for… you guessed it… dessert!

Just in case people don’t like pumpkin, I made some standby chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, with a Thanksgiving theme.

I liked the idea of replicating Indian corn with Jelly Belly beans. So here we are:

Add a few dried corn husks for a realistic effect:

 

I also liked the idea of mini-pie with M&M “berry filling.”

Pipe  a lattice with frosting, and add a decorative crust.

Many mini pies!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. 🙂

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Cupcakes are good for your eyes…

… when they are made out of carrots!

My buddy Dan requested carrot cake cupcakes for his birthday. Seriously, I love carrot cake. But I honestly thought that other people didn’t, and that it was something you’re just born with tastebuds for. Like coconut.

Anyways, I leaned on good ol’ Martha Stewart for  some guidance with this one. It’s a terrific recipe, but just reading how much sugar in it made me cringe. I always do a little less than, because it tastes the same and the frosting definitely makes up for 1/4-1/3 less cup sugar in the batter. As far as I know, no other baking catastrophes have resulted from a little less suga’ so that’s how I’ll leave it.

Here’s the recipe (copied and paraphrased from “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes”)

Cake:

  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled + finely grated (I do mine differently, see below)
  • 3 large eggs @ room temp
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk
  • 2 cups sugar (I use at least 1/3 cup less)
  • 1.5 c. oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 c. A.P. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • (P.S. cheated on the spices, just used 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice instead of ginger n cloves)

Oven: 325 degrees

Whisk wet ingredients together in a bowl (includes carrots). In another bowl, dry ingredients. Stir dry ingred. into the wet ingred.

Bake till toothpick comes out clean, 23-28 min. (I believe mine were good at 23 exactly)….

Makes 24 scrumptious cupcakes! 

Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temp.
  • 1 lb. (4 c.) powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese with electric mixer till light n’ fluffy. Add in powdered sugar, a little at a time, then vanilla. Yum!

Megs and I baked these at her place, so that’s bonus #1: A different setting with non-fluorescent lights in the kitchen for photos to follow. Bonus #2 is…. the photos weren’t taken by me! These were taken by none other than Miss Lauren, who made the cupcakes look gooooooood. Thanks to these girls!

Let’s get the show on the road… First things first, grate the carrots.

Yep, I use a peeler. I find that grating is a pain, and peeling the carrot is faster. Additionally I think it creates a better cupcake. I figured this out when I lived in my beloved teeny 300 sq. ft studio apt in Chicago, and didn’t have space to have BOTH a grater and a peeler. Well, ya can’t peel with a grater, but you CAN grate with a peeler…. (of sorts). Anyways, this produces longer thinner strands, but I use my industrial strength scissors to just cut ’em up once they’re all bunched in a bowl. Sounds tedious, but it literally takes seconds.

So, we have carrots. The other key? Cream-cheese-frosting- Y-U-M.

Cupcake, slightly domed and delicious smelling:

Mmmm. More cupcakes!

Frosted generously with the swirl by the back of a spoon. No fancy tools needed for these ones, and they still look pretty nice 🙂

This just leaves one problem… what does one do with the leftover frosting?!

Bust out the animal crackers… and a *few* sprinkles for a *little* fun:

Orrr… a LOT of sprinkles for a TON of FUN!!!!!!

Can’t hold me back… party animal 🙂

Monkey Food…

I almost never finish a bunch of bananas before they start getting too soft and brown to eat… so I’ve had a few trials with banana cupcakes.

I wanted to replicate the roasted banana cupcake I had in San Francisco at Kara’s Cupcakes… so tried roasting bananas and then adding them to the batter (recipe from Martha Stewart’s Banana cupcakes).

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Cut banana’s lengthwise…

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Brush with melted butter…

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Roast them in melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and honey in a 400 degree oven for 15 min. or so.

After they cooled, I mashed ‘em up with a fork and folded them into the batter.

The combination of Honey-Cinnamon and Cream Cheese in frosting sounded so enticing that I decided to experiment a bit. Wanting a light consistency other than simple buttercream (powdered sugar and butter), I opted to add a slight twist on buttercream made with whipped egg whites, boiling sugar syrup, and butter. I cut back on the 2.5 sticks of butter and added 1/3 c. cream cheese. Then a few squirts of honey and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon.

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The result was a light and fluffy cream cheese frosting. The only thing is- the cupcake turned out more muffin-like and too dense for the frosting.

Second time’s the charm, right? I adapted this banana cupcake recipe from The Cupcake Project:  

The Banana Cupcake Recipe (Makes 16)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 bananas, pureed

Cream butter and sugar
Add eggs
Add sour cream, flour, and baking soda
Add vanilla and pour in bananas.
Bake for 20 min at 350

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I adjusted the sweetness factor (the original was too sweet for me) and also upped the banana content, because I happened to have more at the time. I also used my handy dandy Magic Bullet to puree the bananas, because I didn’t want to risk having dense chunks that turn cupcake-into-muffin.

This time, I just did the regular cream-cheese buttercream frosting, with ratios slightly off and in favor of the cream cheese, because I had leftover whoopiee pie filling!

Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Approx. 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash of cinnamon (to taste)
  •  Squirts of honey (to taste)

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and honey. Whip until light and fluffy.

I got some good feedback on these guys- I liked them myself texturally- quite light and more cakey than muffin-y. Though overall a bit too sweet for me. Next time… perhaps caramel?! Yummmmmm.

Hey there pumpkin.

I love Fall for the flavors… I guess it’s not Fall anymore, but I’m still in a pumpkin-y mood. A few weeks ago my friend Megs had Fall Fest at work, and since she’s from PA, wanted to do some pumpkin whoopie pies! I jumped at the opportunity to try something new. I used Rachael Ray’s recipe– the faster the better!

These little guys were a bit spongy/dense/chewy for me. I’m no expert on whoopie pies but was under the impression that they’d be softer. Oh wells. I also re-made them yesterday during the wedding cake frenzy and decreased the amount of flour. Verdict? Still spongy. I’ll get used to it, I guess. The rest of the world has already bought into Rachael Ray, I might as well also.

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The individual cookies… yummm pumpkin.

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Piping bags are by far the most useful tool in the world. Even though the recipe says to spread the cream cheese filling, I went with the piping bag. Clean, easy, and makes great swirl patterns!

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Whooooopie!!!!

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Yum. 🙂 Oh yes, this is one of those random tid-bits (non-wedding-related) that I’m including.