Tag Archives: cake

Not so Spooky Halloween’s Eve Cupcakes

30 Oct

I had every intention of making devil’s food cupcakes in honor of it being Halloween Eve.  I was missing some key ingredients though, so I turned to a much less spooky, more ‘angelic’ sort of cake.

But this one still got some candy corn devil horns =]

I was a bad blogger and didn’t take any pictures of the process, but I promise it’s totally easy.  And after a whole batch got gobbled up in a day, I knew I had to share the recipe with you.

Plus there’s a good story behind these cupcakes.

I always make cake for birthdays in my family.  But whenever I take a fancy cake over to my mom’s house to feed my little sisters (they’re 5 and 7 now), they never eat it.  I made a spice cake with espresso buttercream.  They didn’t eat it…fair enough.

So I made a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and raspberry puree in the middle.  Kids love chocolate, right?!  They didn’t eat it.  Really?

So then I decided to make the most boring, kid friendly cake I could think of.  Sure to impress even the pickiest of children: a vanilla milkshake cake.  A malted vanilla cake, filled with pastry cream (which is more or less a vanilla ice cream base), and frosted with a sweet vanilla buttercream.

The main problem with this was that there are very, very few malted vanilla cake recipes out there.  Chocolate malt cakes are all over the place, but vanilla? No dice.

So I was pretty proud at having to adapt this recipe from the one malted cake recipe I could find to taste more like a vanilla milkshake…

The cake still doesn’t taste like a vanilla milkshake, but it is still one of my favorite vanilla cake recipes.  These cakes rise perfectly, they are moist and spongy on the inside, and the malt powder gives a depth of flavor missing in your average vanilla cake.  Frost with a vanilla buttercream that ‘tastes exactly like vanilla ice cream’, and the milkshake is complete.

I’m sure these will make it through a few more trials…eventually I will create that perfect vanilla milkshake taste.  This batch got pretty rave reviews regardless, so for now, make yourself some delicious malted vanilla cupcakes.

Oh, and in case you were wondering…the kids still didn’t eat my vanilla cupcakes.  But I hope you will!


Malted Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie Eats
Makes ~12 cupcakes

¼ + 1/8 cup all purpose flour
¼ + 1/8 cup cake flour
½ cup malted milk powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 T vanilla extract
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup buttermilk

‘Tastes like Vanilla Ice Cream’ Buttercream
From Sweetapolita
1 stick of butter, softened
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
1 T heavy cream (or whole milk)
1 tsp  vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

I halved the frosting recipe and only had enough frosting for 9 out of my 12 cakes…so either make half a batch and go light on the frosting (not recommended), or make the whole batch and eat the extras with a spoon (you should do this)…or freeze for later use.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, malted milk powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside
  • In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and oil, until well combined and light in color.
  • Alternate additions of the dry mixture with and the buttermilk into the egg mixture, starting and ending with dry.  Pour in 1/3 of the dry mix, stir gently until combined, then pour in 1/3 of the buttermilk, stir gently to combine, then repeat (ending with dry mixture).
  • I used a 1 oz ice cream scoop to measure out the batter evenly into 12 cupcake tins.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  • To make frosting: On low speed, beat together butter and powdered sugar until well combined.  Add in vanilla extract, salt, and the heavy cream.  Beat at high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

22 Oct

I have a great dinner to share with you.  Remember when I made thai turkey burgers and said they reminded me of meatballs I ate as a kid?  I made those meatballs, and they were excellent!  I didn’t feel like wading through the pictures though.  Instead, how about some delicious whoopie pies?

I made whoopie pies once before.  They were chocolate cookies with homemade marshmallow fluff squeezed in the middle.  Both components were delicious…marshmallow fluff is actually incredibly easy to make with a candy thermometer and a stand mixer (or a third arm).  Otherwise it’s tricky, but much better than store bought.  As for chocolate cookies?  Oh boy, I have the best chocolate cookies to share with you later.

But back to the whoopie pies.  The chocolate cookies were dense and heavy, and the marshmallow fluff was soft and runny.  It was a mess.  So here’s what you need to consider when making any variety of whoopie pie:  soft, cake like cookies, and a firm filling.  It’s that easy.

And here are some that fit the bill.

Fluffy, cake-like cookies, with the fresh taste of pumpkin an intense pumpkin spice blend.  Not overly sweet, and perfectly paired with a thick, creamy, sweet maple cream cheese filling.  The perfect little fall bites.  And totally quick and easy to make.


Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings in a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the sugar and oil, then vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.  And an egg…which I don’t remember adding.  Oh well.

Add your flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture in three increments (I used the mixer to beat in the first third, then a spoon to mix in the rest).  Stop once the flour is just mixed in.  Don’t overmix!

1-2 tablespoons of batter per cookie, placed an inch or so apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until they look like cooked little cakes and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cookie comes out clean.

Then it’s just a matter of letting these cool completely, making a quick cream cheese filling, and assembling your pies.

Cute, festive, and delicious.  What more could you want?


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Whoopie Pies:
Makes ~24 small cakes; 12 pies

1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cloves
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin, ideally chilled
1 egg*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ – ½ tsp maple extract (optional)
Pinch of salt

*I made half of this recipe, and definitely did not add egg.  My cakes were fantastic!  Without the egg, they’re also vegan!  (The filling’s not though)

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bading soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Set aside.
  • In a separate, large bowl, beat together the oil and sugars, then beat in the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet.  Do this in three increments.  Use the electric mixer to beat in the first third of the flour mixture, then stir in the next third, and then the last third until just combined (do not overmix!)
  • Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out cookies, placing each an inch or so apart on the baking sheet.
  • Bake 10-15 minutes until the cookies look like a baked cake on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before filling.
  • To make filling: beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Then beat in the maple syrup and extracts.  Finally, beat in the powdered sugar and salt.  Start on low speed, then increase to high when the sugar is incorporated enough to not fly all over your kitchen.  Beat on high speed for a few minutes until nice and fluffy.  Be sure to taste…you can add more maple, powdered sugar and salt to get the flavor just right.
  • To assemble the pies: find pairs of cookies that are of similar shape and size.  Turn one over, and either pipe or spoon filling onto it.  Press the other cookie on top and press gently to seal.  Store in the refrigerator.

Hello Fall! and some Cupcakes

24 Sep

It was FINALLY cold enough yesterday to break out the jeans and long sleeve shirts! Fall has finally arrived in the real world and not just for those of us who started early with all the pumpkin and apple delights!

The good news is that my jeans still fit.  The bad news is that they’re not nearly as loose and comfortable as sundresses, cotton skirts and t-shirts.  The solution to this should be to take it easy on desserts and stop frying EVERYTHING (I do that a lot on here, don’t I?)…but cookie dough ice cream with cool whip and white chocolate chips, I just can’t quit you!

Oh yeah, and then I made cupcakes.  I need a new strategy.  And probably soon some new pants.

Remember when I told you last week about my red velvet fails and that I planned a red velvet recipe for this weekend?  That was mostly only because I had half a block of cream cheese in the fridge I wanted to use up…I was actually feeling pretty disenfranchised by red velvet and everything it stood for.

Here’s what changed that: the boyfriend went to a fraternity meeting and a sorority brought red velvet cupcakes.  He texted me about how delicious they were, and I replied “I will make red velvet that will make their cupcakes weep.”

You see, I’m very competitive.  I had no real desire to make great red velvet cupcakes.  Until then. In fact, even in that moment I didn’t want to make great cupcakes…I just needed to make red velvet better than that sorority. Plus, red velvet is one of the boyfriend’s favorite flavors, so I wasn’t going to let those girls woo him away with delicious cupcakes.  No, my friends, I was not.


First, make sure you’re not wearing any nice clothes.  Inevitably, no matter how careful you are (especially if you’re sloppy like me), you will end up with red food coloring on your fingers, shirt, countertop, etc.

Oh yeah, and buy a bottle of red food coloring.  I bought the pack of assorted colors (for variety, you know?), but this recipe calls for 3 T of red food coloring, so you will use much more than is in those little dropper bottles.


Like any cake, cream together that butter and sugar until incorporated and a sandy texture.  Then beat in the egg and set aside for a bit.

Then make your cocoa paste.  In a small bowl, combine red food coloring, cocoa powder and vanilla extract into a paste.  Cocoa powder does not incorporate well, but just keep stirring and it will eventually look like this:

Like I said, you’ll need a lot of food coloring.  Color doesn’t matter…you could just as easily make this a blue or green velvet cake.  You could even forego food coloring altogether…just use 3 T of milk or water instead to make this paste.  Your cake would be a light brown color.

Scoop that paste into your butter/sugar mixture and beat until well incorporated and then alternate additions of the wet (buttermilk) and dry (flour) ingredients.  Your batter will be pretty dense, but no worries.

Now comes the interesting part…baking soda and vinegar.

Why baking soda and vinegar in a red velvet cake? It’s tradition!  No, seriously.  Back in the day, people used beets to dye this cake red, but the red coloring in beets turns bluer in an alkaline environment…baking powder and baking soda both make cake batter alkaline, and we need them as leavening agents to make cakes light and fluffy.  To neutralize the basic baking soda, add an acid (vinegar), so the beet dye stays red! (source)

But we’re not using beets to dye our cake, so do we still need the vinegar?  Well the reaction of baking soda and vinegar also produces carbon dioxide gas…this infusion of gas bubbles into your batter will help with the leavening to make your cake fluffy!  It may help with that characteristic red velvet taste too, though I found no confirmation of this.  I do know that there was no baking soda or vinegar involved in the other two red velvet attempts I’ve made and both of those failed.  So yes, I’m convinced you need it.

Make sure your oven is preheated and ready to go, because you’ll want to get these into the oven as soon as possible once the batter is complete. 

Sprinkle in your salt, and then add the baking soda to one side of the bowl, the vinegar to the other.

Then give it another good whip with the electric mixer.  I’m convinced the batter fluffed up more with the baking soda and vinegar.

I used a  1 oz. ice cream scoop to dole out the rather thick batter and it worked beautifully (I made a half batch and got 8 cupcakes).  Into the oven for 15-20 minutes

Look how pretty!  The perfectly crinkly tops!

While those cool, make your frosting!  It’s just softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and a bit of heavy cream (whole milk, sour cream or greek yogurt work too…it’s just to lighten the otherwise heavy, dense frosting slightly)

The boyfriend approved.  He loved the cake…but was not as much a fan of the frosting.  “It tastes…cheesy,” he said quizzically.  “Well duh,” I replied “It’s cream cheese!”

I will say, I used Neufchatel cheese (1/3 reduced fat cream cheese), which I like in almost everything else.  I think it tastes just like cream cheese, but for a frosting where the taste is so prominent and so expected, I’d say just go with the full fat real cream cheese.

These cupcakes turned out perfectly.  I’m no cake baking expert, and have fallen flat with homemade cakes numerous times, but these are just beautiful!  And they’re everything you could want from a red velvet cupcake!  Most, fluffy, slightly chocolaty but light…you will love these, and how easy they are to make!


Red Velvet Cupcakes w/Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 12-14 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes
4 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
3 T red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 T distilled white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz cream cheese (use full fat), room temperature
4 oz (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 tsp heavy cream (can also use whole milk, sour cream or greek yogurt)

I’m going to tell you what I did, see Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe for more detail/what to do if you have a stand mixer:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F and line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until incorporated, and a fluffy/pebbly texture, then beat in eggs until light colored, liquidy and well combined.
  • In a separate, small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring until it turns into a paste (it will take a little while, but just keep stirring)
  • Beat your chocolate paste into the butter/egg/sugar mixture
  • Slowly alternate additions of buttermilk and flour: beat in half the buttermilk, then the flour, buttermilk and flour. Scrape down the bowl as necessary, and beat until smooth (I used the hand mixer the whole time)
  • Add salt, then baking soda to one side of the bowl and vinegar to the other
  • Give the batter a final mix with the mixer at high speed for a minute or so
  • Divide the mixture evenly among cupcake liners (I used a 1 oz ice cream scoop and got 8 cakes), and bake 15-20 minutes until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the biggest one comes out clean
  • Allow cupcakes to cool about a half hour before frosting
  • To make frosting: cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth, then slowly beat in powdered sugar.  With mixer on high speed, beat in heavy cream and vanilla for about 5 minutes.