Showing posts with label cupcakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cupcakes. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana + chocolate + peanut butter make for such a heavenly flavor trio that honestly, I read it and I hear angels singing. "Ahhhhhhhhhhh," sing the angels.

This recipe came from a duo of amazing bakers who own a bakery in Brooklyn called Baked. One day I'm going to make a trip to Brooklyn just to visit them (and get pizza). Anyways, I tweaked a couple things in the recipe, added in chocolate chips, swapped the sour cream for yogurt, added a little extra of that dairy, and boom. Here it is. My dream cupcake.

One of the many benefits of getting a recipe online is that sometimes other readers have already chimed in and written reviews, shared suggestions, rated the recipe. In this case, I noticed two frequently recurring comments about the frosting: 1. It's the most incredible frosting on Earth. 2. The recipe makes way too much frosting and you can cut it in half. So, I decided I wasn't going to modify the frosting (it ain't broken!), but I also decided I wasn't going to cut the recipe in half. I like a cupcake with a lot of frosting. Plus, I was planning to pipe the frosting on rather than spread it with a spatula. And piping uses more frosting than spreading. As it turned out, I made a wise decision. I used up every last drop of the frosting on my 52 mini cupcakes. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Please, pretty please, make this. Don't delay.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from a recipe by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito that was published on (and in Bon Appetit April 2010)
Makes 12-15 cupcakes or 48-52 mini cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain lowfat yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 overflowing cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips (tossed in 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)

For cupcakes:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners or48 to 52 mini muffin cups. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend.

In a small bowl, pour in the mini chocolate chips and add in 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients, tossing to coat the chocolate chips (this will help prevent the chips from falling to the bottom of each cupcake while baking).

In another medium bowl, mash bananas with fork until smooth. Mix yogurt and vanilla into bananas.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-yogurt mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling to 3/4 full in each mini muffin cup.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes for regular size cupcakes, or 13-14 minutes for mini cupcakes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

For frosting:
Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes with a metal spatula, dividing equally, or scoop frosting into piping bag with a large tip to decorate the top. Frosting can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Whisk dry ingredients together and set aside...

Toss the chocolate chips in a small bowl with two tablespoons of the dry ingredients...

In another bowl, mash bananas and stir in yogurt and vanilla...

These are your wet ingredients! Set aside...
In a mixer, beat butter and sugar together, then add eggs...

Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips...
Scoop batter into cupcake liners to 3/4 full...
Bake at 350 degrees for 13-14 minutes for mini cupcakes, 18-20 minutes for regular size cupcakes, then cool completely on wire rack...

For the frosting, sift powdered sugar into bowl, then add peanut butter, butter, cream cheese...
Beat frosting until smooth and pipe or spread onto cupcake tops...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Celebrate New York With My Friend Christina's Rainbow Cupcakes

Photo Credit: Tastes Like Yum on flickr
Photo Reprinted with Permission

I am very excited by the news that New York has just legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the largest state to do so. And while perhaps this political news is out of place on a baking blog, I am going there!

My friend Christina and I go wayyyyy back, back to high school in the Bay Area. Christina is a GREAT baker. And actually, I have to give her extra credit because she is up to just about any challenge to turn a "normal" recipe into a vegan one. It's quite impressive. Well, on her own fabulous blog Tastes Like Yum, she just posted a tribute to this fresh-from-the-oven New York law. Rainbow cupcakes! While her cupcakes are vegan, you can use a dairy yellow cake recipe instead and follow her instructions for creating the rainbow layers. Her pics are very helpful!

Visit Christina's Rainbow Cupcake blog post here and let's all toast to New York and hope we see more states follow suit soon. Rainbow cupcakes everywhere! All the time!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting

My cousin Jessica got married last weekend in a beautiful ceremony at a lakeside venue in Agoura Hills, California. She looked stunning! Her groom Alex is a lucky guy! And we're lucky to have Alex in our family now.

Family came in from all over and if there's one thing you should know about me by now, it's that sweet tooths and great bakers run in the family. My mom, my cousin Rachael (sister of the bride), a family friend, and I all baked for a dessert party hosted at the hotel the night before the wedding. It was a fitting event for our extended family.

Incredibly (but true), Rachael, with the help of a friend, spent two days in the kitchen and also made a dessert bar for the wedding reception, which featured a whopping 12 kinds of treats, everything from cookies, to truffles, to cupcakes. She outdid herself. And then, the sweet tooth-y relatives, who are used to this sort of over-the-top sugar overkill and would probably never admit something was "too rich," descended upon these treats, giving their inevitable thumbs-up. It was by far the most desserts I've ever seen at a wedding. And I didn't even mention there was a wedding cake, too.

These chocolate-orange cupcakes are really delicious and easy to make. I brought them to the dessert party. The trick to making them elegant is putting the frosting into a piping bag and piping swirls onto the top of each cupcake. It brings a bakery-like quality to them, despite being as homemade as homemade can be!

Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from a recipe in The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 orange
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

For the frosting:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners or 36 mini cupcake cups (which is what I did).

In a small glass measuring cup, heat water until very hot in the microwave and then stir in the cocoa until it dissolves; set aside.

In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Zest the orange and add the zest to the dry ingredients, stir, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until well blended. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the cocoa-water. Blend in the melted butter, and then add the dry ingredients.

The batter will be a bit thin, so carefully spoon enough batter into each muffin cup to fill it about half full. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes have puffed up and appear set and a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. For regular-sized cupcakes, this should take about 15 minutes, for mini cupcakes, check at about 9 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in their pan on a wire rack, then gently lift them up and remove from the pan.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. While the chocolate is cooling to room temperature, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth. This takes about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate until thoroughly combined. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and use a large star tip to pipe a spiral onto each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes to set the frosting, but take out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving so they are not chilled.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Combine the dry ingredients. Add the orange zest and set aside...

Beat together the eggs and sugar...
Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla...
Add the cocoa-water, then the melted butter...

Blend in the dry ingredients...

Stir just until combined...

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling halfway...

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min (for regular size cupcakes) and 9 minutes for mini cupcakes. Cool completely before frosting the tops...

To make the frosting, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar...

Add the melted chocolate...

Stir until well blended...

Pipe the frosting into spirals on top of the cupcakes...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Fleur de Sel

Last year, I attended a talk by a cookbook author at Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco (an amazing bookstore in one of my favorite neighborhoods of the city - Noe Valley!). The talk was led by Christie Matheson, someone who became so fascinated by salts that she wrote an entire cookbook using various kinds of salts in dessert recipes. It made for a really interesting bookstore discussion. Christie described the difference between Maldon sea salt and fleur de sel and smoked sea salt and all sorts of other types I didn't know existed. I had no idea salt could be an entire new baking adventure. I did, however, know that I loved the taste of sea salt. I also knew that I loved the Chex Mix flavor that combines sweet with salty ingredients, officially and lovingly referred to as Chex Mix Sweet 'n Salty. Don't leave me alone with a bag of that.

It's no secret I love peanut butter and chocolate together. So naturally, when I discovered the photo in Christie's book of these peanut butter cupcakes with a hefty dollop of chocolate frosting, I couldn't turn the page. I stopped in my tracks and my face started to melt. Face melt! These cupcakes were destined to become the next thing I bake. And oh boy, they are delicious! Thank you, Christie! The sprinkling of fleur de sel on the top makes this the perfect marriage of salty and sweet. Wedded bliss. Holy matrimony. And all that jazz.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Fleur de Sel
Adapted from a recipe by Christie Matheson in Salty Sweets
Makes 12 regular size cupcakes or at least 24 mini cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (regular, not natural)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 1% and it worked just fine)
Chocolate Frosting (see recipe below)
Fleur de sel or chopped salted peanuts for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use paper liners to line a 12-cup muffin pan, or just grease the inside of each cup. You can also use a mini muffin tray. You'll make a lot more this way. I made about two trays of mini-sized.

2. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed. The mixture will look light and creamy. Shouldn't take more than 2 minutes..

4. Add the one egg and beat for about 30 seconds. If the mixture has climbed up the sides of the bowl, scrape it back down. Then add the vanilla and beat for a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

5. Starting with the flour mixture, alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk, dividing the flour mixture into three portions and the milk into two portions. Don't overmix. As soon as the mixture comes together, you're done. Turn the mixer off! Walk away from the mixer! :)

6. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners or greased cups, filling each cup three-quarters of the way up the sides. If making regular sized cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes. If making mini-sized cupcakes, check the cupcakes for doneness after about 10 minutes. They will bake really fast when they are tiny. You'll know the cupcakes are done when the tops are golden and firm to the touch. Stick a cake tester or toothpick into the center and it should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave the cupcakes in the pan to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely before frosting.

7. Prepare the frosting, then frost each cupcake with an offset spatula or use a piping bag and a large round or star tip. Sprinkle the top of each frosting mound with fleur de sel or chopped salted peanuts. The cupcakes will be their freshest for up to two days. Beyond that, they'll still be enjoyable, but drier, especially the mini-sized. They'll keep in the freezer really well if wrapped tightly.

Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 1 cup (enough to frost about 12 regular-size cupcakes or the equivalent in mini-cupcakes)

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Place the chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl, such as a glass bowl, and set aside. In a few minutes, you'll be pouring a cream mixture over this chocolate.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt. The mixture will melt the butter and dissolve the salt and be very hot but not boiling. Should take 5 minutes or less.

3. When the cream mixture is very hot but not boiling, immediately pour it over the chocolate waiting for you in that heat-proof bowl. Leave the mixture alone to heat the chocolate for 5 to 7 minutes. That means no stirring! Then whisk until completely smooth. Make sure there are no lumps of chocolate, especially if you're going to be piping the frosting, because little pieces of chocolate will clog up your piping bag and you'll be frustrated (Note: I'm speaking from experience, and boy was that frustrating! I couldn't figure out why the frosting wasn't coming out of the tip...until I found the chocolate culprit!). Chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes, then beat with an electric mixer until the color changes to light brown and the texture is fluffy and spreadable. Store the frosting in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. If you do this, you'll need to bring it to room temperature before frosting the cupcakes, and possibly even remixing it with your electric mixer.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; then set aside...

Beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and peanut butter...

Add the egg and mix to combine...

Add the vanilla and continue beating...

Add the flour in three increments, alternating with the milk. Begin with flour...

Then add milk. Continue alternating, ending with flour...

Beat until smooth...

Fill each muffin cup three-quarters full...

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes if making large cupcakes, and about 10 minutes if making mini-cupcakes...

To make the chocolate frosting, first heat together the butter, salt, heavy cream, and corn syrup...

When the cream mixture is very hot but not boiling, pour over the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl...

Stir until melted and smooth, then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. When ready to use, beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy ...

Spread or pipe the frosting onto each cupcake...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Scavenging Los Angeles Cupcakeries in a Chevy Camaro and Equinox with Best of Tours

Image credit: When Tara Met Blog

Say what now?

Yes, on Saturday, I spent a couple of hours with fellow food bloggers, being chauffeured around town in Chevy demo cars, going from cupcake place to cupcake place to cupcake place to cupcake place.

Image credit: When Tara Met Blog

More specifically, we all met up at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, where a couple of Chevy Equinoxes and one Chevy Camaro were lined up in the horseshoe, waiting for us. Giant magnet decals stuck to the outsides of the cars that read Best of Tours. That's because we were about to embark on a best-of-Los-Angeles-cupcake-bakeries tour. There were four stops planned: Crumbs Bake Shop, Sprinkles, SusieCakes, and Vanilla Bake Shop. The drivers had their printed-out cupcakeries maps ready to go. We got in the vehicles, taking turns riding in the Camaro because there was only one, and because it was so freaking awesome (bumblebee yellow and black and special Transformers edition with the Transformers logo on the outside of the car and stitched on the leather center armrest).

Our first stop was to Crumbs Bake Shop in Beverly Hills, and Harley Bauer, the owner and West Coast partner of the company, was there to greet us and personally hand us our cupcakes to sample. He was very hospitable, offering everyone coffee, additional cupcakes, and staying to chat. He was also wearing a fantastic t-shirt ("Jews do it for eight nights"), so I was an instant fan. I've always enjoyed Crumbs because they have a great ratio of frosting to cake (in other words, a TON of frosting), they even have fillings, there are tons of flavors to choose from (Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is my absolute favorite), and they stay open later than any other cupcake shop I can think of so you can get your fix late at night. Crumbs is also certified Kosher, and that is one HUGE leg up over the competition in this very Jewish city, and much appreciated, might I add. :-) Getting to meet the owner behind this great brand was really exciting, and for him to turn out to be such a doll and so inviting and friendly only made my experience at Crumbs Bake Shop better. In fact, I can tell you right now, this first stop was the highlight of the tour for me.

Hanukkah cupcakes at Crumbs Bake Shop

But I will blab on a bit about the other three stops because, well, there was a lot more sugar to be had, and I did have other positive experiences.

Sprinkles, just down the street from Crumbs Bake Shop, was our second stop. I really enjoy Sprinkles cupcakes. The ones I love the most are the ones that do, indeed, have sprinkles on them. For the tour, we pre-ordered a couple of boxes so we wouldn't have to wait, and we stood outside the shop to taste these. There is almost no room inside and we wouldn't all have been allowed in at once. Without getting to meet the owners or even the staff at Sprinkles, I simply didn't have the same positive feeling about this cupcakery that I had at Crumbs; it was missing the personal experience. But the cupcake itself was delicious. I had a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles covering every last spot of the frosted top.

Tara of When Tara Met Blog being fed a Sprinkles cupcake by pal Zendi

Then we were off to SusieCakes in Brentwood. The staff were warm and helpful. The holiday decor in the shop was everywhere, from the full-sized Christmas tree to the shelf displays to the baked goods, and they had a lot of seasonal options, not just in the form of cupcakes. In fact, while I got the gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting, and it was spectacular, I also had my eye on a gingerbread whoopie pie with buttercream frosting sandwiched in between. Wow. SusieCakes makes a great cupcake. I am very impressed with how moist the cake part of the cupcake is.

Seasonal cupcakes at SusieCakes; I ordered the gingerbread ones
on the left with cream cheese cheese frosting

Amazing-looking gingerbread whoopie pies with
buttercream frosting from SusieCakes

My make-shift Tupperware is filling up!

Finally, we stopped off at Vanilla Bake Shop in Santa Monica. There were some cutely decorated cupcakes for Christmas with dyed green frosting, and mini versions of some of the flavors. I opted for a chocolate cupcake with toasted coconut frosting. Yum.

Lindsay, friend and co-editor of LAist, sitting in the
backseat of the Chevy Equinox with me.

I hope I get to partake in another Best of Tour because I had a lot of fun. It was neat to meet bloggers whom I only knew online via their blogs or on Twitter, plus going to eateries and sampling food is always a good time. And then of course, there's the aspect of being driven around in brand new vehicles with that new car smell...

The Chevy Equinox was a fun ride. Kind of reminded me of a Honda CRV. Outdoorsy and rugged, yet sophisticated enough to work as an everyday car. We even tested out the On Star feature, calling the hotline for directions back to the Pacific Design Center. There was plenty of leg room and the leather was comfortable.

Chevy Camaro and 3 Equinox cars taking us around LA

The new Camaro was a great ride and in a totally different way than the Equinox. It was sporty and sexy and bulging with biceps, if you know what I mean, and I could tell people on the streets were paying attention. And we weren't in just any Camaro. It was the bumblebee, meaning bright yellow with black striping detail all the way down the car. And it was the Transformers special edition with logo detailing on the outside and on the leather interior. The only thing missing from the scene was Shia Labeouf.

The sexy bumblebee Transformers special edition Chevy Camaro

Transformers logo affixed to the Chevy Camaro!

Transformers logo embroidered on the interior leather of the Chevy Camaro!

Special thanks to Tara of When Tara Met Blog for organizing the event. Thanks also to Chevy and GM for providing the transportation and to the cupcakeries for putting up with a crowd of chatty, photo-snapping, inquisitive bloggers.

Speaking of these bloggers, if you want to follow some really interesting, opinionated, fun ones on Twitter, why not start with the attendees from this event!

Here are their Twitter handles:

And here are recaps of the day by some of the bloggers:
Caroline on Crack: "Best of LA Cupcakes Tour with Bloggers and Chevy"
Let Me Eat Cake: "Cupcake Coma"
When Tara Met Blog: "Best of LA Cupcakes Tour with Chevy"
Pretty Sandy Feet: "Cupcakes and Wedding Dresses!"
Faces of GM: "Bloggers, Cupcakes and Chevrolet"
L.A. and O.C. Foodventures: "Thankfulness for Cupcake Tour Around LA"
LAist: "Tuesday is National Cupcake Day: So Who Has the Best?"
Edmunds Inside Line: "Chevrolet Goes on Cupcake Tour in L.A."
Pleasure Palate: "LA Cupcake Tour Powered by Chevy"

I've retired from cupcakes for a few days.
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