Boston Creme Cupcakes

Boston Crème Cupcakes.  Deliciously moist yellow cupcakes with a vanilla custard center and topped with chocolate ganache.  Hello, heaven.  My young daughter kept coming into the kitchen while I was making these and asking, “Mommy, can I have a cupcake?” and I’d always reply, “Not yet sweet pea, they’re not finished.”  She would then turn around and walk out, only to come back in, asking the same question every five minutes.  Although, I’ll have to say she had perfect timing when I was using a cupcake corer to remove the center of the cupcakes to prepare them for adding the filling…because there were cupcake scraps from removing the centers.  She must have eaten five little scraps, gobbling them down and saying, “Yummy in the tummy, Mommy!”  She’s definitely right about that one, these were very yummy in the tummy.

boston creme

I took a bite out of the cupcake for the picture above…and enjoyed every second of it.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to get the pictures done in order to finish off the rest of it.  It couldn’t be left sitting there like that, half eaten…right?!  Hard to believe this was my first try making chocolate ganache, and I’ll definitely be making that again to put on top of other desserts.  These cupcakes were simple and amazing.  Simply amazing.  There you go, that’s the perfect description.

For the Cupcakes:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in medium size mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Using an ice cream scoop, distribute batter into lined muffin pan.  Bake for 22-24 minutes, until a light golden brown on top.  Cool completely on cooling racks.  Use cupcake corer and remove center of cupcakes.  Slice a small portion off top of removed core, place on top of filling, top with ganache.  Store cupcakes in refrigerator.

For the Filling:

2 1/2 cups whole milk

2 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix

2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine milk, instant pudding mix, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Beat mixture with a hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until it thickens.  Place mixture in refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip.  Fill cupcakes with vanilla pudding filling by inserting tip into top of cupcake and squeezing a couple of tablespoons of filling into each cupcake.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

Heat cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat, add chocolate morsels to pan, and whisk until smooth.  Spoon or drizzle glaze over cupcakes.  Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour, before serving.

Chocolate Rainbow M&M Cupcakes

When it comes to M&M candies in our house, my husband is a vulture.  In the process of making these cupcakes, I had to run out for a little while.  As I’m looking at all of the sorted colored candies on the counter, the thought crossed my mind of giving my husband a head’s up.  So, I sent him a text message saying, “If you get home before I do, please don’t eat the M&M’s on the counter until I’m finished with the cupcakes.”  I smiled and shook my head, thinking of how many times I’ve had to yell at my dad for eating something he wasn’t supposed to, then learning from the situation and having to start hiding things.  It’s different with my husband, though.  He listens, because he always knows that I will save some for him…which is exactly what I did when he got home, make him his own special little M&M cupcake.  He loved it.

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One of the many wonderful things about these cupcakes is the fact that they’re so simple to make and decorate.  It would be a really fun project for them to stick all of the candies on top of the cupcakes!  First, make the batch of cupcakes.  After they have cooled completely, spread  a layer of chocolate icing on top.  As you can see here, I have already sorted out the different colored candies.

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Instead of yellow being the middle color of all the cupcakes, I rotated the colors through for more of a variety.  I’m big on numbers, so once I figured out how many candies of each color fit into a row, it was a piece of cupcake.  😉  Five candies in the middle row, four  on either side of the middle row, and three on the two outer rows.  I made sure to press the M side down into the cupcake, so all you see are the colors.

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Here is the finished product!  Look at all of those beautiful colors.  Even though the rows of colors were switched with the cupcakes, the pattern is still the same.  Yes, I am that anal.  😀

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Another wonderful thing is being able to switch up the colors and patterns.  M&M’s have seasonal items, so you can use colors accordingly with Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.  If you want to make some with school colors, you can do that as well!  So many options.  So much chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 box Duncan Hines dark chocolate fudge cake mix

1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and beat with electric mixer for 2-4 minutes at medium speed.  Using standard ice cream scoop, spoon into lined cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely on cooling racks.

*I just used a can of Duncan Hines classic chocolate icing.  Quick, easy, and delicious.

Eggnog Cupcakes

When it comes to eggnog, usually the first image that pops into my head is a scene from the movie “Christmas Vacation.”  Uncle Eddie takes the little moose head glass and gets himself a refill of the eggnog in the living room and slurps loudly, while he’s babbling away to a very uninterested Clark Griswold.  That’s definitely one of my favorite Christmas movies.  Tis the season to laugh yourself silly.

IMG_3545Although it’s literally been YEARS since I’ve had eggnog, the taste is so familiar that it’s hard to forget.  When I went to the store to get the ingredients for this, I picked up the Southern Comfort brand of non-alcoholic eggnog.  I’m no fun…I know.  BUT, the good thing is that you can always add liquor later.  Yes.  Anyway, while I was combining all of the ingredients, I poured myself a small glass, just for old time’s sake.  I kept smelling it, and realized that it really doesn’t have a scent…but oh, the taste was still there.  Yummy.

Eggnog Cupcakes Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix

8 oz. sour cream

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 cup eggnog

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons rum

Combine all ingredients in bowl and beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2-4 minutes.  Using ice cream scoop, evenly distribute batter into lined cupcake pan, bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned.  Cool completely on cooling rack, top with icing.

Eggnog Icing Recipe:

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup shortening

2 lbs. powdered sugar

1/4 cup eggnog

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine butter and shortening, beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 3-4 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, continue beating for 5 minutes.  Spoon icing into cake decorating bag, and using tip number 21 or 22, pipe on top of cupcakes.  Sprinkle with cinnamon for garnish.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing and Chocolate Pumpkin Topper

Click here to watch the video how to make these cupcakes!

I’ll be honest…I’m not a big fan of pumpkin.  But, these are absolutely delicious!  The combination of yellow cake mix, cinnamon and pumpkin compliment each other so well.  I normally make these in a mini muffin pan, and one batch makes about 90.  Yes, I said 90.  With the cupcakes, one batch made a little over 3 dozen.  These are great for any time of the year, but especially in the fall around Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 large can of pumpkin pie filling (the BIG can!) 30 oz.

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer for 3-4 minutes on medium speed.  Spoon 2/3 full into muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 32-34 minutes.  Cool and cover with cream cheese icing.  Oh, and a chocolate pumpkin for added effect.  ;)

Cream Cheese Icing Recipe: (does not need to be stored in refrigerator)

2 lbs. powdered sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can cream cheese icing

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix at medium speed for 5-7 minutes.  Pipe on top of cooled cupcakes.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

Mmmmmm…Cooookies!!!!  Just reading that phrase puts the Cookie Monster’s voice in my head.  Love it.  I saw the picture for these super cute cupcakes about six months ago, and knew exactly when to make them…for my 41 year old brother’s birthday.

You may wonder why I would make them for an old guy like him, and I’ll be happy to explain.  He absolutely LOVED Sesame Street growing up.  He also LOVED to put a big blanket over his head and chase me around the house with a monster voice.  He’s also like a big kid, and the thought of making these for his birthday was just perfect.

I had to improvise on making his eyes though.  I didn’t have any M&M’s and didn’t have time to run to the store, so I just melted some dark chocolate and dabbed the pupils on there.  Next time, I’ll definitely be sure to get the M&M’s.  These cupcakes not only have a chocolate chip cookie stuffed inside the Cookie Monster’s mouth, but they also have mini chocolate chips inside them as well.  Oh, and white chocolate wafers as the eyes?  Holy sugar overload.  The whole family came over for dinner to celebrate my brother’s birthday, so I had to make sure there was plenty of food.  Dinner consisted of pork tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, rice, corn, and green beans…and of course, the cupcakes.  My daughter, nieces and nephews must have asked me ten times if they could have a cupcake before dinner.

Then, the glorious time came…cupcake time!  My sister-in-law actually broke the seal, because I kept telling the kids that we couldn’t have cupcakes until everyone was done with dinner.  Next thing I know, she walks in the kitchen, picks one up and starts munching away.  Then I hear my nephew yell, “Hey!!!  She’s eating a cupcake!”  Okay okay…go ahead.  It was like a swarm of bees, all covered in blue icing afterwards.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 package Chips Ahoy cookies

white chocolate wafers

brown M&M’s

Combine first six ingredients and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Fill lined cupcake pan 2/3 full with batter, bake at 350 degrees for 23-24 minutes.  Remove from pan, cool completely.  Using a knife, make a horizontal cut across the top half of the cupcake.  Cut cookies in half, place one half of cookie inside slit.  Using a small star tip, pipe blue icing on cupcake.  Place two white chocolate wafers on top of cupcakes.  Attach brown M&M’s with a small dab of icing.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes

As I was scrolling through Reese’s Facebook page, it hit me…  I hadn’t made some cupcakes with those delicious little peanut butter chips in them.  So, that quickly made the top of my to-do list, especially since I was going to a cookout where there would be some cupcake fans there.  Oh yeah, and they also like peanut butter.  Then again, who doesn’t?

My two year old daughter went with me to the grocery store, and I asked her if she wanted to help me make some cupcakes.  She got all excited and said, “Yes!”  Even though she’s technically too young to help with the process, she loves to help me with the shopping list and watch the electric mixer do its thing.  Oh, and the most important part…testing out the cupcakes.  We loaded up all of the necessary ingredients to make these fabulous little cupcakes, and headed home to get started.

Anytime the standing mixer starts going, she comes running into the kitchen, and wants me to pick her up so she can see exactly what’s going on.  As we stood there by the mixer watching it mix away, the aroma of peanut butter was intoxicating.  We kept sniffing close to the mixer in order to get the full effect.  I seriously considered adding some cocoa to the icing recipe itself, but decided against it and made a chocolate peanut butter glaze to go on top, along with the mini peanut butter cup.  The batch makes 3 dozen cupcakes, and I ended up taking 2 dozen to the cookout.  I kept telling people to make sure to get a cupcake (I didn’t want to take any home with me).  Well, once the first one was eaten…it was like a domino effect.  Other people would see a cupcake, then remember they’re in there and go in to get one.  Next thing I knew, the same people are going back in for seconds…and even thirds.  By the time I went home, there were only two cupcakes left.  Success!  This is definitely one of those recipes that I’ll continue to make again and again…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines dark chocolate cake mix

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 bag Reese’s peanut butter chips

Combine first six ingredients in bowl and beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2-4 minutes.  Stir in peanut butter chips with spoon or spatula.  Using a standard size ice cream scoop, distribute batter evenly among lined cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 24 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.  *I used a cake decorating bag and tip 1M for these cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Icing Recipe:

2 lbs. confectioners sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup Reese’s creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat butter, shortening and peanut butter using electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes, until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and beat at medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and blended.  Pipe on top of cupcakes, then top with glaze and mini Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze Recipe:

1/2 cup peanut butter icing

1 tablespoon cocoa

2-4 tablespoons chocolate syrup

In small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together until desired consistency (should be thinner than icing, but thicker than plain syrup).  Using a cake decorating bag and tip number 3, drizzle glaze on top.  Top with mini Reese’s peanut butter cup.

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Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes

I love the sound of this name…caramel macchiato.  Sounds elegant and delicious.  I’ve heard people mention this in a way that just makes it sound yummy…maybe it’s just the tone in their voices because they love it so much.  Either way, I had to try it…and was quite impressed myself.

When it comes to making cupcakes (and many other baked goods for that matter), you have several options.  You can make the entire recipe from scratch, you can follow the box recipe, or you can use modified box recipes.  The healthiest choice would be to make it from scratch.  You know exactly all of the ingredients going into the cupcakes, so you’re not left in the dark with any artificial flavorings, chemicals, or additives that you may not know are in there.  With the box recipe, it’s so simple and all you need is a handful of ingredients.  Now, on to the modified box recipe…  It’s a few more ingredients than the standard box recipe, but is so incredibly worth it.  I made this batch two ways…from scratch and the modifed box version.  Both were delicious.  The from scratch recipe made just under two dozen, and the modified box recipe made three dozen.  Either way, it’s a lot of cupcakes.  Just make sure you have several people that are willing to try them out for you, but you could also wrap some up and stick them in the freezer, save them for another time.  Several options.  I like options.  Oh, and I also like these cupcakes…a lot.

Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes Recipe:

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup milk, warm

3 tsp instant coffee

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine all dry ingredients in bowl and stir together.  Put milk in microwave for 30 seconds, then stir in coffee granules until dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Distribute evenly among cupcake liners in muffin pan, bake at 350 degrees for 22-23 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.

“Doctored” Box Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines Caramel Cake Mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup milk

4 teaspoons instant coffee granules

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Put milk in microwave for 30 seconds, then stir in coffee granules until completely dissolved.  Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and beat well at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Distribute evenly among cupcake liners in muffin pan, bake at 350 degrees for 22-23 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.

Caramel Macchiato Icing Recipe:

2 lbs. confectioners sugar

2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup milk, warm

3 teaspoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Put milk in microwave for 30 seconds, stir in coffee granules until completely dissolved.  Combine all ingredients in bowl, beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 5-7 minutes.  Put icing in cake decorating bag (using tip of your choice) and pipe on top of cupcakes.  Drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.

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Jumbo Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

After experimenting with the layered chocolate cheesecake cake, I decided to use a different flavor and put them into a jumbo cupcake size.  Sounds like a good plan, right?  I agree.  From getting other people’s opinions, one of the most liked flavors that I hear people melt when this flavor is mentioned, is red velvet.  I’ll have to admit though, even the name is tempting.

These cupcakes are similar to the chocolate cheesecake cupcakes, but I didn’t add chocolate to the cheesecake mixture and decided to make these bigger.  More red velvet cake, more cheesecake center, more icing.  I’m gaining five pounds just by looking at these guys.

I took a batch of these out for Happy Hour since we were meeting up with some friends…some of which I promised to bring something sweet the next time we got together…so I showed up with these bad boys.  The waitress stared at them in the container, and asked me what they were.  I told her, and her mouth dropped.  I ended up pulling one out of the container and gave it to her so she could try it out.  She took it back into the kitchen, and my husband said, “She’s probably eating it right now.”  Two minutes later, she came back out, fussing at me because she said it was going to make her gain ten pounds because she ate the whole thing.  Our friends tried them out as well, and they ended up taking several extra home with them.  They were very, very delicious.

Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix

1 small box instant cheesecake pudding mix

8 oz. sour cream

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. cream cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine the first six ingredients in mixing bowl and beat well at medium speed with electric mixer for about 2-4 minutes.  Using an ice cream scoop, put 2 scoops of batter into lined large muffin pan.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and beat well until smooth.  Put in cake decorating bag or other plastic bag, and pipe a fair amount into center of the batter.  Use a spoon to try and cover the cream cheese mixture to avoid a large hole in the center of the cupcake while baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on cooling rack.

Icing:

1 lb. powdered sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup water

1 can Duncan Hines cream cheese icing

Combine all ingredients and beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 5-7 minutes.  Put icing in cake decorating bag and pipe on top of cupcakes, using tip number 21 or 22.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Here we go again…but this time, with cookie dough and cupcakes.  As I’ve said before, when I’m making cookies, I have to hide the dough from my husband because he’ll come scraping the bowl…but being the worry wart that I am, the thought of anyone consuming raw eggs makes me nervous.  Ick.  That’s actually what I love so much about the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies.  The texture, consistency and flavor are all exactly like the real cookie dough, minus the raw eggs…and doesn’t have to be stored in the refrigerator!  Score.

Since it seems like most people love chocolate chip cookies, it’s what I would consider a “safe” cupcake for people…  Meaning that most people are probably going to love it, especially considering there’s a soft chocolate chip cookie inside.  My brother had his concerns.  He said that he’s really not that much of a cookie dough fan, but I asked him just to try it anyway.  He ate two…  And his wife told me to get those things out of the house.  Trust me, that’s a compliment.  😉

Next time, I’ll just have to make sure that I make an extra batch of these, because they turned out to be quite popular.  How could they not?  Cupcakes, chocolate icing, chocolate chips and a soft gob of chocolate chip cookie inside….Yes please, I’ll take several of those.

Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 packages pre-made cookies (enough for 36 cupcakes)

Combine first six ingredients and beat well, using electric mixer for about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Using ice cream scoop, put batter into lined muffin pan.  Press one piece of cookie dough in each cup, pushing down as far as it will go.  Take a spoon and spread batter over top of cookie.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, until tops are a light brown in color.

Icing:

1 lb. confectioners sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1 can Duncan Hines classic chocolate icing

Combine all ingredients in electric mixer (I use a standing mixer) and beat well for 5-7 minutes.  Pipe on top of cupcakes with decorator bag and decorating tip.  Top with sprinkles of mini chocolate chips.

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Sangria Cupcakes

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to Sangria.  Back then, I wasn’t a fan of red wine just yet, but have always liked the sweeter drinks.  I’ve been reading for years that red wine is the best alcoholic beverage for your health, and a small glass a day is beneficial to the heart…so I’ve been wanting to make the switch for a while, but just hadn’t done it yet.  Well, Sangria helped me along the way of that journey.

After my cousin and I gave birth to our babies (who are exactly 4 weeks apart), we would occasionally go out for a cocktail when I was in town visiting.  She would always get red stripe beer, and I would go for something like an apple martini (definitely my favorite!).  The irony of the two of us getting those beverages is this:  She’s as girly as they come, and I’m still somewhat of a tomboy.  So, you would’ve thought our drinks would have been in the other person’s hand, but sometimes you just never know.

One of our evenings out, she mentioned how much she loved Sangria.  Even though we have a fully stocked liquor cabinet (that rarely gets touched), I’m somewhat clueless when it comes to the different kinds and brands of liquor.  I asked her what it was, and she said it had red wine in it, but was sweeter because of other ingredients.  So, the next time I was at the grocery store, I went hunting down the wine aisle, looking for it.  She seemed so excited when she talked about it, so I had to give it a shot…  And I LOVED it.  Not long after that, a childhood friend’s fiance brought some homemade Sangria over to the house for a party we were having, and I still rant and rave to her about how good it was.

So, here I was with a cupcake idea for something different.  Only this time though, these cupcakes do not have any alcohol brushed on top after baking or made in the icing.  BUT…You can always throw in a little bit of wine in the icing, if preferred.  The good thing is that I can take these to my friend’s work and no one will get in trouble.  😉

Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines orange supreme cake mix

1 small box instant lemon pudding

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 cup oil

3/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup brandy

Combine all ingredients and beat at medium speed for 2-4 minutes using electric mixer.  Using medium ice cream scoop, spoon batter evenly throughtout liners in muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 24-25 minutes.  Cool completely on cooling rack and top with icing.

Icing Recipe:

2 lbs. confectioners sugar

2 sticks butter, softened

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup orange juice

Combine all ingredients (I use a standing mixer) and mix for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and creamy.  Put icing in decorator bag, using tip 1M and ice cupcakes.

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Margarita Cupcakes

Well, Cinco de Mayo is coming up this weekend, and we all know what that means…TEQUILA!  Such a great song, I always think of the Pee Wee Herman movie when he jumps up on the bar and starts doing the dance in those big ole shoes with that goofy look on his face.  Next thing you know, the bikers love him.  Maybe they’d been drinking too much tequila themselves?  Unsolved mystery.

I did have some of the el cheapo tequila in my liquor cabinet, but I decided to go on a hunt for some good quality tequila instead.  Here’s what I came across.  When I walked into the liquor store, the girl up front greeted me and asked if I needed any help.  “Yeah, I need some REALLY good tequila,” I told her.  “Right this way, I’ll show you where the good stuff is.”  Score.  As she was talking about the different brands (of course there was a price range), and I looked at the Patron Silver.  The brown eyed baker used it on her site, and she made a very valid point about using high quality liquor.  There’s a reason it’s more expensive, and it’s because it tastes so much better…which is extremely important in baking.  The girl at the liquor store pointed to the Patron and said, “That stuff is really smooth, definitely the best.”  I’ll take it.  When I told her what I was making, her eyes lit up.  As very well they should have, because these cupcakes were awesome.

Oh, look at that.  There’s a cupcake and a shot waiting for me.  It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?  I’d have to be careful though, being such a lightweight.  Makes me a cheap date though.  The funny thing is that I’m really not a margarita (or tequila in general) fan, but I absolutely LOVED these cupcakes.

Honestly, I was only going to eat half of the cupcake and save the rest for my husband to try…but after biting into my half, chewing, swallowing and grunting over how good it was…I ended up finishing the rest of it off, trying to justify that I needed to make an accurate judgement on how good it tasted by eating the whole thing.  That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

About two dozen of these cupcakes are going to a 30th Cinco de Mayo birthday party on Saturday, so I wanted to dress them up to make them a little festive.  When I came across the neon colored straws at the grocery store, “Great!” came out of my mouth and I threw them in the buggy.  Festive.  Colorful.  Delicious…and with a wonderful tang of lime combined with smooth tequila.  I honestly couldn’t be happier with how these guys turned out.  In fact, as a couple of days go on, they’ll probably taste even better with the flavors marinating in the cupcake even more.  I’ll definitely be making these again!

Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix

1 small box lime Jello gelatin

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup tequila

1/2 cup lime juice (you can use fresh-squeezed, in a bottle or frozen limeade concentrate)

8 oz. sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and mix at medium speed for 3-4 minutes.  Spoon into lined cupcake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 23-24 minutes.  Cool completely, then brush tequila on tops of cupcakes.  Let the alcohol dry, then top with icing.

Icing Recipe: 

2 sticks butter, softened

2 lbs powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup tequila

1/3 cup lime juice

Combine all ingredients and beat at medium speed for 5-6 minutes.

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Mai Tai Cupcakes

German Chocolate Bliss Cupcakes

About a month ago, a very close friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer.  Rhonda was a wonderful woman with a good heart, spoke her mind, and laughed all the time.  Literally, all the time…she always had a smile on her face.  She organized the Relay for Life in Myrtle Beach and her hometown.  Before she passed, she had been following all of the goodies that I’ve been making.  She joked about stalking me.  Hey, that’s fine with me…because I’m guilty of bugging people.  A lot of people, actually.  I asked my friend what her mom’s favorite flavor was with desserts, and she told me anything with pecans in it.  So, the ole noggin started chugging away, thinking of what I could make for a cupcake with pecans in it.  At the Relay for Life, they had a cupcake contest, and Rhonda had said something a couple of months ago about me entering the contest.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or not, but when Rhonda passed…I knew that it had to be done for her.  So, I really started working on a recipe for a really good German chocolate cupcake with lots of pecans in it.

The first batch was pretty yummy, but I felt like it was missing something.  Calories and fat, maybe?  That had to have been it, because these things were rich, heavy and delicious when I tweaked the recipe.  More German chocolate?  Check.  More coconut?  Check.  More pecans?  Check.  Personally, I love nuts in desserts, especially cookies…so it wasn’t a problem to add a lot more pecans to the filling and icing.  Since I was donating these cupcakes to a cancer benefit, I decided to give them a little something special as a decoration topper.  I bought the ribbon mold at amazon.com, and made purple ribbons to go along with the event.  Since it was a little more difficult to make the icing look pretty (those clumps of pecans don’t go through a decorator tip very well…more like, at all), the chocolate topper certainly helped the appearance.

When it was time for the contest to begin, I was right up front.  Each of the judges took their cupcake, and since it was the first cupcake they were trying, people were surrounded with cameras, taking pictures of the first bite.  I only wish they had gotten a picture of the guy on the right when he took a bite.  His forehead crinkled up, he looked at the inside of his cupcake and said, “Mmm, that’s good.”  And here’s me, grinning ear to ear.  To make things even better, the guy on the left has a local show in Myrtle Beach.  I was standing with Rhonda’s family, and he looked over at them and gave a thumb’s up at the cupcake…they both started pointing vigorously at me.  He pointed at me and asked, “Did you make this?”  I nodded and smiled.  He joked about having me on his show, and I laughed…told him I didn’t live in town.  “Do you come back to visit often?”  In all honesty, I look for reasons to take a trip to the beach for a weekend…especially with a free place to stay only two blocks from the ocean.  “Yep, actually I do,” I responded to him.  He said, “Come here.”  I couldn’t get over there fast enough, my curiosity and excitement had gone into overdrive.  He gave me his card, and told me to call him about two weeks ahead of time the next time I come down, and let him know what recipe I want to use.  Ho.  Lee.  Cow.  I’m surprised I haven’t laminated his business card and framed it yet.

Although I didn’t win the contest, I couldn’t have been happier with how things turned out.  I walked up to Rhonda’s family after the winner was announced, and I said, “Soooo, I didn’t win the contest…but I got invited to be on a show.  I’ll take it.”  Biggest smile ever was plastered all over my face.  As I was walking back to my car, I couldn’t stop laughing, and called my husband.  Next phone call was my cousin…who’s one of my blog fans.  Hearing her excitment catapulted my excitment even further, which I honestly didn’t think was possible at this point.  Needless to say, it was a good night.

Oh yeah, back to the cupcake…  After the first batch, I knew what needed to be changed.  While I was chopping up the chocolate to go in the batter, I must have gotten it on my hands.  I had an itch on my face, so I rubbed the inside of my cheek with my hand.  Several minutes go by, and I went to the sink to wash my hands after I’m done chopping everything up.  When I looked at my hands, I saw melted chocolate all over the place.  “Hmmm,” I said out loud as I thought of rubbing my cheek.  So, I went into the bathroom and glanced in the mirror…only to see a HUGE smudge of melted chocolate all over my cheek, and couldn’t help but to laugh hysterically.  This was just another time that I was lucky there wasn’t a candid camera hiding somewhere.  So, we have a German chocolate cupcake with chunks of German chocolate inside, a coconut pecan filling, and topped with a German chocolate coconut pecan icing.  If you don’t think that’s a mouthful, just take a bite of one…

Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake Mix

1 small box instant coconut creme pudding

2 German chocolate bars, chopped

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Spoon into lined muffin pan using ice cream scoop.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 24-25 minutes.  Cool completely, remove center of cupcakes by using a cupcake corer.  Fill with filling, top with icing.

Filling/Icing Recipe:

2 sticks butter, softened

2 lbs. powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups chopped pecans

1 cup finely grated coconut

3/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for about 4 minutes.  Remove 1 cup for filling, add 1 German chocolate bar (melted and cooled) to remaining filling, beat until chocolate is mixed in well.

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Cupcakes for Cancer

Although I may not be able to cure cancer…yet…that doesn’t mean I can’t honor the people who have battled cancer.  There are two cancer benefits on the same day in two different cities that are 150 miles apart, and I’m donating several dozen to both places.  Crazy?  Yes, that just may be the case here.

These strawberry cupcakes are going to a breast cancer benefit in Columbia.  A family friend is close with a woman who has battled breast cancer, fought through and now helps organize a huge benefit they have every year.  When she contacted me about donating some cupcakes for a good cause, I said, “Absolutely!!”  I contacted the lady and asked her how many people attend the benefit, and she said about 400.  Ho.  Lee.  Cow.  May have caught her off guard when the amount I told her was going to be six dozen that would be donated…but for a good cause?  Sign me up!  Strawberry cupcakes popped into my head first.  Maybe it was because they’re pink, or maybe because they’re just so delicious.  Either way, that was the flavor that was chosen.  They’re topped with cream cheese icing, and a chocolate ribbon.  Doing something special as a topper seemed like the best option, so I ordered the chocolate mold from amazon.com and used hot pink chocolate to make these little guys.

These cupcakes were very close to my heart.  A very good friend that I’ve known for almost 20 years lost her mother to cancer just a few weeks ago.  Several months ago, Rhonda Brown (who has put together the Relay for Life in Myrtle Beach) jokingly told me that she stalks my baking on Facebook…and she thought I should enter the cupcake contest they’re having at the benefit.  I chuckled and said, “Maybe.”  Rhonda had battled cancer on and off for 18 years, so when I found out that it had come back again, I wasn’t too worried because she had fought it off two times before that.  Just a month ago, things took a turn for the worst.  The cancer had spread to her liver, and it was too late.  That was a very long and emotional day, waiting to hear exactly what was going on.  I kept hoping to hear that things had turned around and she pushed through again…but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  At her funeral, I told her daughter and husband that I wanted to enter some cupcakes in the contest for her, because she was the one who wanted me to do it.  So, I asked them what her favorite flavor was.  They responded, “Anything with pecans.”  The first thing that popped in my head was German Chocolate cupcakes, so here they are.  German chocolate cake with coconut and chunks of German chocolate, a coconut pecan filling, topped with German chocolate coconut pecan icing…and topped off with a purple chocolate ribbon.

I’ve known Rhonda since I was 13 years old…  She knew me as a talkative, bratty and lovable kid who always called her “Mom” and raided their refrigerator and pantry, looking for food when I spent the night at their house.  I’ll always remember her laugh.  She was always laughing and smiling.  Even when I was being a smarty pants, she would cut me the “look” but still have a little grin…and I would say, “Okay” and sheepishly smile back at her.  She will continue to live on through her daughters, because both of them have so many of her wonderful qualities.  She will always be missed.

In loving memory of Rhonda Sue Brown.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes and Muffins

On Easter, we celebrated with my husband’s family.  My mother-in-law always has great magazines that I like to thumb through, including Southern Living.  Well, this issue had a section with just strawberry flavored desserts, drinks and other snacks.  Just reading over the recipes made me excited and want to try a bunch of them, so my mother-in-law told me that I could take the magazine home with me to try out the recipes…as long as she was able to be one of my taste-testers.  Deal!  One batch is a cupcake recipe that I threw together, the other is the muffin recipe pulled directly from the Southern Living magazine.

This batch was made specifically as cupcakes.  I used the basic recipe and moved some flavors around to give it the strawberry lemonade flavor.  The icing is mostly cream cheese with a hint of lemonade, then topped off with a strawberry cream cheese glaze.

Cupcake Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines Strawberry Supreme Cake Mix

1 small box instant lemon pudding

3/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

3/4 cup oil

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well, using electric mixer at medium speed for 3-4 minutes.  Using ice cream scoop, spoon into lined muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 23 minutes.  Cool completely, the cover with icing and strawberry glaze.

Icing Recipe:

1 lb powdered sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 can Duncan Hines cream cheese icing

Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer (I use a standing mixer) on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

*For strawberry glaze: Mix a spoonful of icing with Hershey’s strawberry syrup until a thinner consistency than icing, drizzle on top of iced cupcakes.

Here is the muffin batch.  This is the recipe that was pulled directly from the Southern Living magazine.  I did make a change though…  The original recipe calls for folding in chunks of strawberries, but I pureed the strawberries with the butter, lemon juice and lemon zest for a smooth texture in the batter.  To top it off, sprinkle sugar on the batter before baking.  After they baked and cooled, I added a strawberry cream cheese glaze on top instead of icing.  After all, aren’t muffins just cupcakes without icing?  In this case, they are.  😉

Muffin Recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups diced fresh strawberries

Preheat  oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl, make a well in center of mixture.  Stir together sour cream and next four ingredients;  add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Gently fold strawberries into batter.  Spoon batter into lightly greased 12 cup muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over batter.  Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on a wire rack 1 minute, remove from pans to wire rack and cool ten minutes.

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Lemon Cupcakes

Easter is a big holiday for cakes, candies, chocolates…anything sweet, you name it.  Since I haven’t made lemon cupcakes before, this past weekend seemed like a perfect opportunity for it, and to use family as guinea pigs.  They’re just so lucky…or doomed.   While thinking about colors and flavors with what to decide on for Easter, of course the color yellow is perfect…but what about flavor?  Lemon.  Of course.  Here lately, it’s seemed like time has been an issue, so I had to think fast and easy for a decorative topper.  While I was fishing around at the grocery store, looking at the different candy they had in the Easter section (while desperately fighting off the peanut butter eggs that were calling my name), there they were…  Chocolate malted Easter Eggs.  Perfect size, different colors, jackpot!

When I was making the icing, the lemon color just wasn’t yellow enough, so I did end up adding some yellow food coloring to the batch to make the color a little more intense.  This batch ended up going to family and neighbors, and I even caught my brother stealing one of the Easter Eggs off one of the cupcakes to snack on it.  Thief.  My three year old niece was the cutest though with these things.  She asked if she could have a yellow cupcake, then she started to eat the icing….just the icing.  Without even biting into the cupcake, she asked if she could have another one.

Lemon Cupcakes Recipe:

1 box Duncan Hines lemon supreme cake mix

1 small box instant lemon pudding

1 cup oil

1/2 cup sprite or other lemon/lime soda

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Combine all ingredients, mix well at medium speed with electric mixer for 3-4 minutes.  Using ice cream scoop, spoon into lined muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 22-23 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.

Lemon Buttercream Icing Recipe:

1 lb. powdered sugar

1/4 cup sprite or other lemon/lime soda or lemon juice

1 stick butter, softened

1 can Duncan Hines buttercream icing

Combine all ingredients, mix well at medium speed with electric mixer (I use a standing mixer) for about 5 minutes.  Store in airtight container, no need for refrigeration.

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