Pink Champagne for a Champagne Birthday!

A close friend recently celebrated her champagne birthday (happy birthday Caitlin!) and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to try these Easy Pink Champagne Cupcakes I stumbled on via Pinterest!

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With only a few ingredients, I knew they would be easy, but the question is… Would they actually be good! Thankfully, the answer is yes! I think everyone enjoyed them. The result is a fluffy, sweet, very girly cupcake!

ingredients:
– One box white cake mix
– 1/3 cup oil
– 3 egg whites
– Red food coloring (to desired colour)
– 1 and 1/4 cup pink champagne

directions:
– mix!
– pour!
– bake (according to the directions on the box)!

tips:
– maybe make these mid afternoon so you don’t feel as weird finishing off the bottle of bubbly!

It’s really as easy as that!

For the icing, I made my favorite buttercream recipe and piped it into roses with little silver balls for decorations. I think it added to the girliness (in a good way!)

Enjoy!

P.S. sorry for the low quality pics – my camera battery was not charged (so unprepared)

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No Bake Nutella Cheesecakes

Happy New Year!

After a long holiday season of baking, I decided it was time to try a no-bake dessert, even though I usually reserve them for the summer months. After searching on Pinterest, I found this recipe for Nutella Cheesecake which fit what I was looking for!

While this dessert is possibly not the healthiest I could have picked, what is dessert for if not for spoiling yourself.

Voila!

Voila!

Ingredients:

Crust:

Oreo Cookie crumbs – either from the box (about 1 cup) or from whole cookies (about 12 cookies)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Garnish:

whipped topping & Oreo cookie crumbs

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, or in my case a Kitchenaid, beat the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping until well blended and no streaks remain.

3. Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

4. If desired, garnish with additional whipped topping and Oreo crumbs

Tips:

  • Why use real Nutella when the store brand is so much cheaper? For this recipe, no one will know the difference!
  • Don’t forget to put your Cool Whip in the fridge for a few hours before starting this recipe – if it’s cold, it will slow you down!
  • I’d love to try this recipe with more layers in a larger dish for a potluck – I think it could look really attractive!
  • Get creative with toppings! I for one would love to try this with fresh raspberries!

This recipe is so quick and easy, I’m looking forward to more no-bake desserts!

Enjoy!

Marble Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting!

Merry Christmas!

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Well, perhaps I’m a bit early. But my holiday baking started last week! It was two of my coworkers last day before the holidays, so I had to send them home with something sweet – so I decided on Marble Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting – and some with North Pole decor!

Both the cupcake recipe and the dark chocolate frosting recipe are Martha Stewart’s (probably time for me to get a new cookbook!) while the white is just your basic butter cream with the Wilton’s Icing Whitener added.

CUPCAKES:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 Cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/3 heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Stir together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine milk and cream.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk mixture, and beating until combined.

3. To make chocolate batter, measure out 1 cup batter, and transfer to another bowl. Combine cocoa and the boiling water in a bowl. Stir into reserved 1 cup batter.

4. Fill prepared cups with alternating spponfulls of vanilla and chocolate batter, filling each three-quarters full. Run the tip of a paring knife or wooden skewer through batter in a figure-eight motion to make swirls. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until tops are golden and a cake tester (i.e. toothpick) inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight container.

5. when cooled, sprinkle cupcakes with powdered sugar or frosting.

Tips:

  • I skipped the icing sugar and decided to use icing – it’s just so pretty!
  • The swirling portion was easier if I held down the paper cup lightly using two fingers
  • Don’t be afraid to get in there and really swirl in those figure 8 motions – otherwise you just end up with layered cupcakes
  • This made 18 cupcakes for me! (16 was the estimated)

ICING:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

Tips:

  • Martha always recommends melting your chocolate over a pot of boiling water – me, I stick it in the microwave and stir it every 30 seconds…
  • It’s definitely a good idea to have more icing sugar on hand, while the first time around would have had a good consistency for a cake, I felt I needed my frosting to be a bit stiffer for piping

 

Something to note is that this is probably the best icing I’ve ever made. It was just SO chocolatey and good! Definitely a must for any chocolate lover in your life.

The North Pole signage was made by “gluing” a North Pole sign to the broken candy cane with icing – while the sign itself isn’t edible, it’s still a cute way to decorate! To package these, I used holiday themed cupcake boxes picked up at my local Homesense, and tied a ribbon with a name card around them.

Happy Holidays!

Carrot Cupcakes

I’ve always loved carrot cake – but as a passionate anti-raisin-ist, it’s always risky to buy it! So I decided to make carrot cupcakes for my co-workers birthday (Happy Birthday Lorraine!).

As a first timer, I used a trusty Martha Stewart recipe and made very few modifications. (modifications are bold and italicized – I also doubled the recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots (from about 6 medium carrots) I used beautiful organic carrots that were the perfect shade of orange!

Frosting:

  • 2 packages (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Decorations:

  • 1 package of ripe blackberries
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup super fine (or “easy dissolving”) sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two 12-cup standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice; set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture mixing until well combined. Divide among muffin tin. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  4. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. To frost: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth; beat in vanilla and lemon zest. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes with your favorite tip (I used Wilton 1M).
  5. While cupcakes were baking (or cooling) sugar the blackberries. Dip each in egg white, and lay to dry on parchment paper. Once they are tacky (about 5 minutes) sprinkle with sugar. Repeat the process until some of the sugar remains dry upon application. Top cupcakes with these.


The result was moist, delicious cupcakes, which in all honesty could have been a little more carrot-y. While this time I grated the carrots by hand using a metal cheese grater, next time I would do that to half (some nice bigger carrot pieces) and food process the other half to get more of a carrot mush. I think this would give the cupcakes a more carrot-y taste and maybe make them a bit more moist as well (note: they were nice and moist, but with carrot cake, it can never be too moist!).

A few handy tips for this recipe:

  1. You don’t need an electric mixer! Stir these by hand and fold in the carrots, which means less mess!
  2. Make sure you bake for long enough – a carrot cake that is slightly raw in the middle will collapse
  3. The batter is thick enough, so you can use an ice cream scoop to get it into the cups! Very convenient
  4. I wish I had thought to flatten the top of the batter a bit before baking – since I didn’t, I had some lumpy cupcake (hence the excess icing!)

Enjoy!

Cupcake Carriers

We had a tea party at work today, and someone else in the office brought cupcakes! (and they were delicious! It’s soo good to just eat cupcakes someone else has made for you every once in a while…). We got talking about cupcake carriers, and she has one that has the capacity for THREE DOZEN! I am beyond jealous.
I currently have two carriers – the basic Wilson, which carries 12 cupcakes / 24 mini cupcakes / one cake and a new one designed by Starfrit:

 

 

What I currently own "Starfrit Silicone Collapsible"

This one has capacity for 24 cupcakes, and is collapsible into a flat disk for easy storage. I basically thought this was the best thing in the world, until I stumbled upon:

The Dream: "Cupcake Carousel"

This thing is my new dream! It has the same capacity as the one I just bought, but it is SO much cuter and the cupcakes spin around on their little cups!

So since it seems kind of ridiculous to have THREE carriers, I actually think I’m going to sell my new Starfrit. Anyone want it, or have other suggestions about which carrier is best?

P.S. I’m seriously selling: http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-buy-and-sell-hobbies-crafts-Starfrit-Collapsible-Cupcake-Carrier-W0QQAdIdZ375103617


Coca Cola Floats

This recipe is from the Longo’s 2012 Recipe Calendar

Coca Cola Floats were an instant classic the first time I made that, and have been remade many times since. This recipe is so easy and the results are amazing. The cake itself comes from a box, while the icing is a little more challenging, but worth the effort. Two kinds of icing are used, a Coca Cola Buttercream as the base, and a little tuft of Vanilla Buttercream which acts as the “Whipped Cream” on the float. If you have trouble finding marachino cherries with the steams on, check out Metro, it’s the only Canadian grocery store I could find that carries them.

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box of vanilla cake mix
  • 1 can Coca Cola
  • Oil and Eggs per box instructions

Coca Cola Buttercream (You can use your favorite butter cream icing recipe, but add coke instead of vanilla for the base icing)

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cups Icing Sugar
  • 1 TBSP Coca Cola
  • 1-2 TBSP Milk, if necessary

Vanilla Buttercream (I sometimes get lazy and buy a tub of vanilla buttercream for this part!)

  • 1/3 cup Butter
  • 3 1/2 cups Icing Sugar
  • 1 TSP Vanilla
  • 1-2 TBSP Milk, if necessary

Decor

  • Maraschino cherries, steams on
  • Straws, cut to cupcake size

HOW TO:

This recipe is really one of the easiest and most satisfying ones I know.

Basically, just follow what the box tells you. Bake it for the recommended amount of time and temperature for cupcakes, and you’re going to get great results. Fill the cupcakes only halfway full with batter, as you want a flat top for decorating your float.

You’ll end up with a golden / blonde cupcake, something like this:

While the cupcakes are in the oven, mix both kinds of icing (or just the Coke, if you’re being lazy too and purchase the vanilla). I find that sometimes this icing starts to separate a bit because of the carbonation in the Coke. The best thing I’ve used to stop this is Wilton’s Icing Whitener, which I purchased at the Bulk Barn.

When the cupcakes have cooled (30 minutes or so), you can spread the base icing onto each cupcake. Don’t worry about it being too pretty, because the white tuft and maraschino cherry will draw attention. Once the base has been spread, use a Wilton 1M tip to make a small tuft in the centre of the cupcake, and top it with your maraschino cherry.

The cherry’s juices will drip down through your icing tuft, so if you know you’ll have guests that don’t like maraschino cherries (cough me), then leave a few without aside for them.

The resulting cupcake will be a beautiful little 50s inspired Coca Cola float! I love to make these in red paper liners, or as you see above, rich colours. I’ve also made them in silver liners – really the choice is yours!

ENJOY.