Pumpkin Spiced Latte Cupcakes

Fall. Not particularly my favorite season of the year because it leads into the dark and cold winter, but I do love ALL fall treats. Pumpkin anything. Candy corn. Apple crisps. You name it. My all time weakness in the crisp afternoons for a pick me up…pumpkin spice lattes. Fall flavors at their peak and so refreshing.

We were having a work bridal shower and the bride to be shares my love for pumpkin spiced lattes. I found this recipe on my favorite cupcake blog and just had to make them. Pumpkin Spiced Latte cupcakes. Whipped cream frosting and all the accoutrements. Can’t be beat! I believe I will be making here every fall as a treat. Less calories than the famous Starbucks drink and way more filling. I have to say, the whipped cream frosting sprinkled with cinnamon made this whole cupcake very decadent. My next hope that Javacupcake produces from the fall treats at Starbucks…the Salted Caramel Mocha!  Maybe I can take a stab at this one too :)

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Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

So my husband likes to brag to his friends that he gets baked goods frequently. It is status quo that when I make anything baked that I am expected to leave at least 3 of whatever was made for his consumption alone. Needless to say his softball friends caught wind of this baking expedition I take myself on and wanted to taste the cupcakes I make as well.  I decided, for a summer softball rec league I was going to go with a classic summer flavor – pink lemonade.  Refreshing after running around at a game in the dead heat and so easy to make.  This recipe called for Crystal light packets for the batter and frosting with a little bit of fresh lemon juice.  These cupcakes were so festively pink and decorated with pink sprinkles and a lemon wedge thrown in here or there :)  I brought the leftovers in to work and got this reaction from a co-worker “I bit into it not expecting anything and I thought, sonuvabitch! that’s pink lemonade!” Job. Well. Done.

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Philadelphia Cheesecake for Paige’s Birthday

My sister absolutely LOVES cheesecake.  If it is on a dessert menu, more than likely she will save room eating dinner just to have a little slice of cheesy heaven.  It was natural when I asked her what she wanted to have for dessert for her birthday, and cheesecake one.  I wanted to make a traditional NY style cheesecake without any accoutrements.  I took the Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe off of the box and followed it to a T.  What I failed to follow though was the cooling to room temperature BEFORE putting it in the fridge.  I rushed the process trying to cool the cheesecake down for us to eat.  Needless to say, I  had to come up with a plan B to cover my cracks.  My defaults are always strawberries and chocolate.  A little Hershey’s chocolate sauce and some cut up strawberries and we were in business!

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Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

To put this mildly, I am obsessed with Starbucks banana chocolate chip bread.  Ever since I had it and becoming aware that it is on their lower cal menu, I have loved it.  Every time I make banana bread now, I refuse to put in nuts and put the chocolate chips in instead.  Huge crowd pleaser in my household because neither my husband nor I are huge fans of nuts in our baked goods.  Chocolate as a substitute for texture, sign me up!

When I saw this recipe on JavaCupcake, I knew this was my next endeavor.  My guinea pigs as I kindly put it (my coworkers) were the first ones to try out this new recipe I found.  It was a huge hit!  I think I got everyone on board for the chocolate chips replacing nuts in banana bread, AND the espresso powder was a nice touch in the recipe to give it a little zip.

 

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Shirley Temple Cupcakes

During my sister-in-laws second pregnancy her drink of choice was Shirley temples. Sweet, cherry, good summer flavor. Such a refreshing drink so it would make a perfect cupcake. We were going to Maryland to visit our godson and wanted to bring a treat with us.

First of all. I never thought maraschino cherry juice could be used in anything other than keeping those sweet not so typical cherries “fresh.”  I never thought to add them to a batter or drink for that matter but this worked wonders. It gave the batter a nice pink color that represented the drink and that telltale cherry taste you look for in the drink. And no one can say no to Cherry 7up. It’s that soda you don’t drink all the time but thoroughly enjoy when the situation presents itself. I am always a little weary of soda in cupcakes after my less than pleasant looking root beer float cupcakes but I am always willing to try. This attempt definitely paid off!  Refreshing cherry flavor with and airiness unlike any other. And such a fun color!

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Limoncello Cupcakes

So as most of you have already read my post about Cupcake Madness last year in Rhode Island, this post mentioning limoncello cupcakes will be of no surprise to you. I am rather behind on posts and Cupcake Madness took precedence over the old posts I had to write. I am still writing this post to pay homage to this mash up of flavors that so inspired my Cupcake Madness entry (and winner of 2nd place best frosting!).

I digress. Back to the star of this piece. A limoncello cupcake with a raspberry jelly center topped with a tart limoncello cream cheese frosting. Are your mouths watering yet??  I love tart flavors. Plain and simple. My coworkers give me all of their lemon flavored candies because I am the only one who thoroughly enjoys them. An ingenious combination for lemonade. Raspberry lemonade. This cupcake encapsulates these wonderful flavors and then some! The cream cheese frosting really pushes this cupcake over the edge by adding another layer of tartness with its smooth lemony undercurrent. Topped with a fresh raspberry and you are ready for a summer picnic!

Stages of deliciousness:

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Vanilla Bean Pound Cake Cupcakes with Macerated Peaches

Girls nights always call for a delectable dessert at the end of the night or meal. I wanted to plan something special for an after dinner treat at my friend Nancy’s house when we were going to do a Weight Watchers dinner party. I knew I wanted to incorporate some beautiful peaches I had just purchased in to the dessert. I found a recipe for vanilla bean pound cake cupcakes. Why such a heavy sounding dessert for a WW dinner you ask? Because I could and it was a WW approved recipe (or I at least convinced myself of this fact ;) .) To these little delectable morsels of vanilla heaven I macerated the juicy peaches and put them on top of the pound cakes. Vanilla + peaches = a summer match made in heaven. No lie, I think I will be making these every summer as a refreshing treat! To one up it, I may have to come up with a drink recipe to replicate this delicious combination of flavors ;)

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Sangria Cupcakes

Sangria cupcakes.  How can one go wrong?  Sangria.  Good.  Cupcakes. Great.  Until…you try to convert metric conversions to standard baking measurements. It was all wrong from here on. The cupcakes SMELLED delicious but when the tops looked cooked enough I took them out to examine. The bottoms were still very wet and soaked through with wine. Not exactly how I had pictured them coming out…

 

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I think next time I will try to find a site where the measurements are standard and I actually put in enough dry ingredients so that I don’t have mush for cupcakes. The idea is great in theory, just a failed execution on my part.

Cupcake Madness-Narragansett, RI

So this blog post, is very near and dear to me, but it has taken me about 5 months to get to writing it.  Wedding stuff had taken over my life (in a good way!), and Cupcake Madness in Narragansett, RI has fallen to the wayside for blog posts.  It is not any less exciting, and in saying that…I won second place for best frosting!  But I digress, a little background on the competition.  My future (Now) in-laws have a condo at Narragansett Beach in RI, and last year we had seen some posters up about a cupcake baking challenge.  I was a little late getting myself together for a cupcake competition last year, so I waited until this year, and even then I still debated what I was getting myself into.  This competition, is ALL RI professional bake shops, competing in various categories ranging from, best frosting, to best vegan cupcake, to best gluten-free, and on and on.  Truth be told, a rather daunting task for an at home baker.  I even debated pulling out of the competition the night before, even AFTER I had baked 200+ cupcakes for the challenge.  Luckily, I had my rock steady support group ready in the flanks and they kept pushing me along on this endeavor.
Here are some of my busy bees at work, or as my sister so cleverly named them, Binny’s Bitches:

The process began on Thursday night.  I sat in front of my baking cabinet (yes I have a whole baking cabinet) and emptied out the items I thought I would need to decorate and bake these cupcakes.  Friday night, we got to the RI condo at about 8PM.  We quickly unloaded the car, and I set off to the grocery store to buy all of my baking items. $200 later and I was on my way back to set up the kitchen for the next day of baking.  Side note: I do not think I have ever been so grossed out by massive amounts of confectioner’s sugar in my life before this moment.  Gave me a cavity just looking at all of the bags!

I had all of my recipes laid out and a game plan for which would take the longest.  I had 4 different types of cupcakes I was making, with 4 different types of frostings.  I left the frostings until Sunday morning, boy was that a fun fire drill!  Thank god for my troops!  These are the flavors I made with their oh so creative names my friends helped me out on: La Vita Bella Limoncello, Top P’ The Mornin’ Car Bombs, Sunny Strawberry lemonade, and Can I Have S’more?.  I think about the only overlap I had in ingredients was flour, sugar, powdered sugar, and maybe a few (or a lot of!) citrus fruits here and there.

At this early point of Saturday morning, it was only myself and Brendan at the condo, and (luckily for him) he had a broken wrist.  I was thinking I had a built in dishwasher, but apparently not!  I got about 2 flavors of cupcakes into the oven before my reinforcements (my parents) showed up and could help me by washing dishes in between so I could keep the process going.  I started baking at around 9am and finished at 3pm.  Not worthy of Cupcake Wars time, but I thought it was pretty impressive to finish 4 flavors of cupcakes, 200 total cupcakes, with 1 oven, limited bowls, AND limited muffin tins in anything under 10 hours!

Here is a picture of all 200 cupcakes; pre-frosting:

Then it was time for lunch from our favorite deli in Narragansett, The Picnic Basket.  I gave myself the rest of the afternoon/night off and we took a nice trip into Newport for dinner at The Fastnet, a dive pub that reminds me of Ireland-with Magners on tap!

Sunday morning was an absolute blur.  I woke up early to start the frostings, not anticipating that these would almost take longer than the cupcakes themselves! Two of the cupcakes needed to be cored and filled, and then frosted.  I couldn’t do that the night before because I was afraid that the cupcakes would get too dried out on the inside, so this was a morning of deal.  The Irish Car Bombs needed to have a Jameson chocolate ganache on the inside, so that had to be made as well.  Luckily the Limoncello ones just had a raspberry purchased jam piped into them.  At about my second flavor of frosting for the Limoncello cupcakes, I had been frosting each cupcake with a mound of frosting (since I ALWAYS have leftover frosting when baking at home) and ran short.  And in all of my calculations before the competition on groceries etc., I was hard pressed to be able to find enough of the ingredients to make another batch.  I decided with the Strawberry lemonade cupcakes that this frosting would be close enough to match with the Limoncello, and could be a kid-friendly version!  I started to frost the cupcakes with less frosting at this point, but still ended up running low on the Irish Car Bomb frosting as well.  Note for next year: DOUBLE THE FROSTINGS! Then I had to decorate the S’mores cupcakes with graham cracker and marshmallows, and chocolate bars.  Quite the endeavor.

While I was busy frosting away and barking orders at whoever was left in the condo, Brendan went over to The Village Inn early to pick out a good spot for Binny’s Buns to set up.  With pink tablecloth in hand, he picked a perfect table, that he and my mom set up beautifully.  I had the handmade cupcake tower that my dad made, my banner from VistaPrint, a few trinkets to dress up the table here and there and I was in business.  My 3 helpers got my cupcakes over to the Inn while I ran through the shower and ran over for opening announcements.  Needless to say, I was exhausted.  Three hours of what seemed like thousands of people, walking around, asking questions, and buying up the cupcakes with their purchased tickets.  I came home with 24 cupcakes out of 200+ cupcakes, and was thrilled.  I felt very accomplished and cleaned up my table while listening to the awards.

Here is a picture of the table all set up:

Being one of possibly the only at home bakers in the competition, I continued on my task and half listened to these major wonderful RI bakeries win their awards.  I had entered 2 flavors of cupcakes into 2 categories.  For best frosting, I entered the Limoncello and Irish Car Bombs.  For signature cupcake, I entered the Strawberry Lemonade and S’mores.  I thought if any, the S’mores would win.  It is always a crowd favorite.  They got to best frostings, announced 2nd runner up, then 1st runner up was: Binny’s Buns with the Limoncello cupcakes! I nearly fell over.  I couldn’t believe they said my name.  Such an accomplishment for being a home baker from Connecticut and entering into a competition like this.  I was so excited and I have to give a big thanks to Brendan and my parents for #1 putting up with my crazy dream, #2 for supporting me through this, #3 for helping me prepare 200 cupcakes for the greater good of practicing for Cupcake Wars :) .  And a special thank you to my in-laws for allowing me to borrow their RI kitchen to make this dream a reality.

Royal Wedding Scones

My friend Kate had a great idea, as I am sure many girls in love with Prince William had, to host a Royal Wedding Party.  Now, I am not one of those girls who follows gossip too closely, but when the royal wedding came around I was all over it.  I mean, who wouldn’t be?  The heart throb prince was marrying a beautiful commoner, every girls dream!  So, for the party, she had a group of girls over, all dressed up in their best royal outfits, fit with crowns and and sapphire ring replicas, with a blue hawaiian punch.  Fantastic!

So, what better treat to bring to a royal gala than scones!  I found the perfect recipe on Annie’s Eats for blueberry lemon scones.  To, die, for.  I have heard mixed reviews about people thinking scones are difficult or they are the easiest delicacy to make.  I tend to lean towards the easy side, BUT I have to try and remind myself that the pats of butter in the dough mixture WILL melt during the baking process.  Side note of why I have to remind myself: if you do not use a lipped pan the butter will melt and spill over into your oven, and possibly set off the fire alarms.  I will learn…eventually.

I like blueberries in muffins, or pancakes, or these scones.  They give it a nice texture, and bring out the lemon flavor in a great burst of freshness.  Definitely a nice springtime treat to enjoy at brunch, or the next royal wedding ;P