Monday, September 5, 2011

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake with Oreo cookie baked inside with Oreo buttercream frosting

I know my last posted cupcake was a birthday cupcake, but so is this one. We have a lot of summer birthdays in my family. This one is for my beautiful niece, who requested an Oreo cookie cupcake. What could I do? She asked so nicely, and I love her. 

Excuse the crappy cell phone picture (yes, again). I broke a camera, got a new camera and promptly lost said camera. You know what they say.... better a cell phone picture than no picture. Okay, so nobody says that but me. I know the picture is bad, but I bet it's making you drool anyway.

This cake is a super moist chocolate cake recipe that I have used before to make Mint Chocolate Chip cupcakes. I baked an Oreo right in the bottom of the cupcake, which I was skeptical about at first, but let me tell you... that cookie gets soft and becomes one with the cupcake. I had planned to fill them with frosting, but I'm glad I didn't. The cookie inside and frosting on top was enough.

Speaking of frosting, this frosting seriously tastes just like the inside of an Oreo. Without the filling, an Oreo is just a chocolate cookie. I mean, chocolate cookies are good, but the filling is the pièce de résistance of the classic Oreo cookie. And really, let's not pretend like we haven't all at some point in our lives eaten only the frosting, leaving behind sad, lonely dark cookie halves with no frosting to keep them company.

Even if you haven't done that, let's pretend you did so I won't feel alone.

Anyway... before you start gathering ingredients and faint, the frosting has *gasp* shortening in it. I generally make my buttercream frosting with only butter, but I had to go the shortening route with this cupcake. I wanted it to really taste like Oreo frosting. Wanna know what the frosting in Oreo cookies is made from? I'll give you a hint... it's shortening. It probably also has a bunch of other stuff that I can't pronounce, but my recipe calls for pure, snow white shortening so it's okay. Anything pure white can't be bad for you, right? Except cocaine. Or shortening, but we're going to ignore that one.

Here's the cake recipe, courtesy of Hershey's Chocolate.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 30 Oreo cookies, twisted open 

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill muffin trays with paper liners. Place the cookie halves with the frosting in each cup, frosting side up. I tried this with double stuff or regular... both worked fine.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. Batter will be really, really thin. So thin you'll want to feed it a cheeseburger. Don't worry, it will be fine.

3.Pour the batter into prepared liners, right on top of the cookie halves, filling the cups 2/3 full. You can fill them a little more if you want big, overflowing cupcakes. I like mine to sit neatly within the liner, so I fill them 2/3 full.  
4. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Set pans on wire racks. Cool in pans until completely cooled. This keeps them from falling completely apart when you pick them up. This is a super moist cake, and if it's still hot it will fall right apart, so really... resist the urge and let them cool.
While they cool, make frosting!
Oreo Frosting
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
milk if needed
crushed Oreo crumbs
You know the cookie halves you had left after you put the frosting sides in the cupcakes? You need those now. Throw a handful in the food processor and reduce them to crumbs. If you would rather put some elbow grease into it, toss them in a Ziplock and beat them to pieces.
Beat the shortening and butter until it gets light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, alternating with a tablespoon of milk at a time if needed until the frosting is light and fluffy. Beat in the cookie crumbs. I didn't put an amount for the cookie crumbs because I just eyeballed it until it looked right. It was between 1/4 and 1/2 cup.
That's it. Squeeze it on the cupcakes. It doesn't have to be perfect if you stick half a cookie on top!
I'll tell you, every single person that tried one of these LOVED them. I wasn't surprised. I mean, who doesn't love Oreos? Make them. Eat them. Share them. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Brownie cupcake with peanut butter cup inside and PB frosting

This month was my daughter's 7th birthday. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she said, "Uhhhhhhh... CUPcakes, Mom!" I was prepared to make something pink and sparkly, but she shut that idea down in a hurry. She wanted these rich, chocolatey, peanutty morsels of goodness. The kid has good taste! This is no regular cake. It's chewy brownie with a peanut butter cup baked right inside it, topped with a fluffy peanut butter frosting. The very best thing about these cupcakes is the teeny little cupcake on top - a Reeses mini with a dollop of frosting looks exactly like a cupcake. Tastes like a bite of heaven, too.

You need a lot of peanut butter cups for this. I bought a bag of the miniature snack size cups (like you get in Halloween candy), a bag of minis, and a couple of regular sized ones to make crumbs with. It sounds like a lot of candy, but really, can you have too many peanut butter cups in your house? I think not.

Here's how you do it.

The Cake:

1 box brownie mix with directions for cake style brownies
whatever the directions on the box call for to prepare them
24 small peanut butter cups

Prepare the brownie batter according to the directions on the package. Fill cups 2/3 full. Get out the candy and unwrap those sweet babies. Do not enlist the help of your children for this step unless you bought two bags. Gently press a peanut butter cup into each cup-o-batter and bake. It took about 25 minutes to bake my brownie cupcakes. There will be a small indent where the candy is when you take them out, but don't worry... it's just more room for frosting. Cool completely.

The Frosting:

1 sticks softened butter
1 C peanut butter
3 - 4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip the butter. Add the peanut butter and whip some more. Add the vanilla, then start slowly adding powdered sugar. 3 cups will give you a fluffier frosting, 4 cups a thicker one. We went fluffy. If you need to thin it, add a little milk as you go.

The Decorating:
If you are piping the frosting, start by squeezing a dollop into the indent made by the candy in the cake, then pipe it on as you normally would. Line up a bunch of mini peanut butter cups and pipe a tiny dollop of frosting on top. If you want the candy crumb look, chop the regular sized candy cups into pieces.

Take this advice: Freeze the candy you want to chop before you try it or you will end up with a sticky blob of candy.

Sprinkle some candy on if you like, then press a teeny cupcake on top. Voila! Make sure you have a full gallon of milk when you make these, because you're going to want a glass. I will be making these again. And again. And again. You will too. :)

Nom nom nom

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Easy ice cream cone cupcakes - Kid friendly!

You know you want me. Funfetti Cake, vanilla buttercream, sprinkles.... Come on, take a bite.

This cupcake is nothing but fun. There is no fancy recipe. No complicated fillings. Your kids can make these.... mine did. Well, my kids and a couple kids I claim as mine.

This is seriously so easy there isn't even a recipe. The kids picked out confetti sprinkled cake mix, so we mixed it up according to the directions on the package. Set the cupcakes in muffin tins and scoop batter into them. Inside the cone there is a place where the bottom cylindrical part stops and the curvy top part begins. That's your batter line. Bake them about 20 minutes and let them cool. The cake puffs up all pretty and ice creamish. If a little drips over, don't worry about it. The kids thought it looked more ice creamish. Yes, ice creamish is a word.

We made vanilla buttercream from this recipe, but you could certainly use the stuff from the can. For that yummy birthday cake flavor, make your own. My pretty 14 year old niece made the buttercream this time, and it came out perfectly.

Vanilla Buttercream

1 C butter, softened
4 C powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, alternating with a Tbsp of milk if needed to get a smooth consistency. The frosting should hold a soft peak if you pull a spoon of it up out of the bowl.

To get the ice cream cone look, you really need to pipe the frosting. I had the girls use a pastry bag with a star tip, but you can cut the corner off a ziploc bag and squeeze it on that way. If you want swirly colors in the frosting like we did with the blue, just take a portion (about 1/3) of the frosting and mix in some food coloring. When you fill the pastry (or ziploc) bag, fill one side of it with the colored frosting, then fill the remainder with the white. It mixes up when you squeeze it out! Throw some sprinkles on top and you're done.

The kids had fun decorating these, and they had fun eating them. There is a time for fancy cupcakes, and there is a time to let the kids dig their hands in and do something fun with cooking.  The next cupcakes I make, I'll do grown-up style, but these... these were for the kids!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Banana Pudding Cupcakes, aka "The best ones yet"

Banana cake filled with pudding, bananas and vanilla wafers

Soooooo when I made these cupcakes, I realized mid-bake that my camera batteries were dead. I apologize for the low quality cell phone pictures. I think I deserve a little credit for not taking them in the mirror of the bathroom with the toilet in the background, Facebook style.  I realize my regular pictures aren't super high quality, because I use a regular point-and-shoot digital camera, but these pictures are truly horrid. It's sad, because it was such a beautiful cupcake. Anyway, enough about my camera.

Most of the inspiration for the cupcakes I make comes from other people. My sister and her family are my biggest cupcake fans, and they offer suggestions for flavors to me from time to time. She asked me if I could make a banana pudding cupcake, and my mouth watered. I volunteered to give them a try and bring them to a giant waterslide party at her house a couple of weeks ago. I made a huge batch of them, and they were instantly inhaled. The next day, I made another batch and took them over for all the friends who didn't get one. Again, inhaled. These may very well be the best cupcakes ever, unless you hate bananas, but who hates bananas? They seem like a good amount of work, but they're not that bad... a doctored up cake mix, some instant pudding and an easy frosting. SO worth the work.

If you've never heard of the Cake Mix Doctor, you should check her out. The cake recipe I used was a slight modification of hers. I would have made it exactly the same way, but I bought the wrong cake mix and skipped a step. Oops. Honestly, they came out awesome, so I'm not complaining.

Here's the cake recipe.

 medium ripe bananas
1  package vanilla cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk 
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Smash the bananas. You can food process them, mash them with a fork, or put them in a Ziploc and squish them until they are mush. Smash, mash, squish, mush. Lovely words. Anyway, once the bananas are pulverized, mix everything together until it is smooth. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full and bake 18-20 minutes until they just spring back if you touch them on top. DO NOT wait for them to brown. You want them just done.

Let me tell you something about this cake recipe. It is moist and banana-y and delicious, and I will be using it again. Not only does it taste good, but it has a great texture and it is easy. I'm all about easy.

Now we're going to fill the cupcakes.

Here's what you need:

1 box vanilla wafers
1 box vanilla pudding, prepared according to directions
1 tub of Cool Whip
2 bananas, sliced into 12 slices each

You are probably thinking, "Shouldn't she have baked the vanilla wafers in the bottom of the cupcakes?" Yeah, that's the step I skipped. I remembered about 8 minutes before they were done baking that I forgot the wafers, so I came up with a Plan B. I have to do that a lot. I'm kind of forgetful.

Put about 24 of the cookies into a large Ziploc bag and crush them with a meat hammer (or a can, or a rolling pin) until they are in pea-sized pieces. Get your pudding out of the fridge and stir all but one cup of the Cool Whip into the pudding. For the love of all things Southern, please do not use banana flavored pudding. Vanilla pudding with banana slices is the gospel rule of banana pudding.  Now you're ready to fill.

Wait! You have to actually core the cupcakes for this recipe. I love cramming a pastry bag tip into a cupcake and squeezing in the filling, but sliced bananas do not fit through a pastry bag tip. Take a sharp knife and cut a circle into the top of each cupcake, coring it to about 2/3 of the way down. Gently pull the middle out and slice the extra off the core so you have a flat top to put back on the cupcake after you fill it.

When you're done, it will look like this.:

Ready to fill tiny bowls of sweet banana goodness

Now fill 'em up. A little dot of pudding, a sprinkle of cookie crumbs, a banana slice, more pudding. Put their little hats on them and they're ready to frost!

I was torn over what kind of frosting to put on these. I wanted to just put whipped cream on them, but that is just not a good plan for cupcakes that have to be transported and served outside. Nothing seemed quite right, so I made something up. I actually had banana flavoring in my cabinet, but if you don't, you can use a little vanilla instead.

Frosting Ingredients:

1 stick butter, softened
1 8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 C Cool Whip
3-4 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp banana flavoring

Whip the butter. Whip in the cream cheese. Whip in the Cool Whip. (I say whip it! Whip it real good.)  Add in the flavoring, then start adding sugar until you get a good, soft frosting that forms soft peaks. Eat a spoonful of it. Get a vanilla wafer and smear some on it, then put a banana slice on it and consume. 

When you frost the cupcakes, it will cover your cuts. sprinkle on a few of the crumbs from the crushed cookes and stick a wafer on top. You will get around 24 cupcakes from this recipe. If you are making them for a party, make a double batch, because every last one will get eaten.  Make them for your kids. Make them for your spouse. Make them for the people who just moved in down the street. Just make them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

PB&J Cupcakes

Vanilla cake, grape jam filling, peanut butter frosting

This cupcake was a spur of the moment creation. It just felt like a day for cupcakes, so the kids and I dug around in the kitchen and decided on peanut butter and jelly. It's not a fancy cupcake, but it was easy and delicious, and the kids helped! We actually used a cake mix that was in the cupboard rather than making a from-scratch cake. This turned out to be a good thing, because box cake mix has a different texture when baked, and it gave it kind of a fluffy-white-bread feel.

Ok, so here's what you need:

1 vanilla cake mix (and whatever it calls for on the box to prepare it)
Grape jam (or jelly - we used jam)
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350. Prepare the cake batter as directed on the box. We used a french vanilla cake, but any type of white, vanilla or yellow cake would work. In your cupcake pans (don't forget the liners for this recipe!) fill each liner about half full. Plop about a teaspoon of grape jam in each cup. Don't push it into the batter... you're going to cover it up when you're done. When you have jam in each cup, go back and fill the liners until about 2/3 full. Don't worry about covering the jam completely, because the cake will bake up around it.

The box directions usually call for baking cupcakes about 18-21 minutes. Set the timer for 16 minutes and check them. Dry cake happens when you overbake. Check them every minute until they just start to brown the tiniest bit on top, then take them out. Cool completely. If you just can't stand it and have to eat one straight out of the oven, be warned... that jam gets HOT. Yeah, I made that mistake.

Tip: You will get around 27 cupcakes from a box mix.

Now it's frosting time! This frosting kind of tastes like these little balls of peanut butter and powdered sugar that my grandma used to make. It's good. Real good. Like eat it out of the pastry bag good.

Beat the room temperature butter until it gets nice and fluffy, then mix in the peanut butter. Beat it all until it is creamy, then start adding your powdered sugar. I used close to four cups, alternately adding a teeny drizzle of milk until it reached a good frosting consistency. A few taste tests are necessary, not for the quality of the frosting, but for your own well being and happiness. Trust me.

That's it! Frost the cupcakes however you want. I use a pastry bag, but you can use a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, or smear it with a knife the old-fashioned way. When you're done frosting them, melt a little jam in the microwave until it is smooth and runny. Drizzle a little on top of each cupcake. Hide one for yourself and serve!

 These cupcakes are a great baking project with your kids (or your sister's kids, or the neighbor's kids). Let them hold the mixer while you crack eggs in the cake batter. If you're brave, let them crack the eggs. They can plop jam in the batter, smear frosting on the top, and drizzle them with jelly. Kids love to help cook, and baking together creates memories for the whole family.
Abigail and Molly, decorating PB&J cupcakes!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July!

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.
It's been a while, right? The last few months have been kind of crazy for me, and cupcakes have been on the bottom of my to-do list. I'm back with a couple of recipes and a promise to try to make more cupcakes. It might not be a recipe a week, but I will make cupcakes and I will share them with you!

This week's cupcakes is all about the color (and making them quickly!). While I love stuffing cupcakes with interesting things, these were for an Independence Day get-together. What could be better than red velvet cake? Rich, red color with a hint of chocolate, covered in smooth cream cheese frosting.... delicious.

I used a tried-and-true recipe for red velvet cake from The Joy of Baking.*  I made my own cream cheese frosting, because the frosting recipe on the web page is a little softer than I like for piping on cupcakes. Easy peasy!  The decorating possiblities for a 4th of July cupcake are endless, but this was a quickie and I used what I had... blue spray coloring (found with the Wilton supplies at Walmart) and white sprinkles. Yum!

*Because I made the recipe to the letter, I just linked it to the original site.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 7 - Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Mocha cake with peppermint buttercream and crushed candy canes.

Nothing says Christmas to me like the cool flavor of peppermint. Mix that with the warmth of mocha and you always have a winning winter flavor1 This cupcake is a simple variation of two recipes I've used before, a basic chocolate cake with coffee added to it and regular buttercream with peppermint added to it. Easy peasy! If you want to use a boxed cake mix, you certainly could, and I'll add instructions for modifying a box mix and frosting at the end.

 Chocolate Mocha Cake
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp instant coffee granules

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill muffin trays with paper liners (or grease and flour).
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir coffee granules into boiling water and stir into batter. Batter will be very thin. Don't worry, it will be fine. You could substitute 1 cup of very hot, very strong coffee for the instant granules and boiling water if you like.
3. Pour the batter into prepared liners, filling the cups 2/3 full. You can fill them a little more if you want big, overflowing cupcakes. I like mine to sit neatly within the liner, so I fill them 2/3 full.  
4. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Set pans on wire racks. Cool in pans until completely cooled. This keeps them from falling completely apart when you pick them up. 

Peppermint Buttercream

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 3-5 drops peppermint oil or 1/4 tsp extract (or more to taste)

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • red food coloring or gel colors

    Beat butter until light and fluffy, then add in the sugar. Beat until well mixed, adding the milk as needed to thin. Whip in oil or extract - use a light hand with this until you get the flavor you want. When the frosting is light and spreadable, separate about 1/4 of it into a smaller bowl and stir in red coloring.
    Frost your cupcakes after they are completely cool. To achieve the swirly colored frosting, use a pastry bag or ziploc with the corner snipped off to frost. Smear some of the red frosting against one side of the bag, then fill with white. As you squeeze out the frosting, the white will drag a little red with it giving you a pretty swirl.
    Sprinkle with some crushed candy cane and you're good to go!
    If you crave this cupcake but are a box-mix kind of baker, you can make simple subtitutions and get similar results. Use a chocolate cake mix, and whatever water is called for, substitute coffee. Make it strong. If you want to use canned frosting, go for it... just add a little peppermint flavor. It's that easy.
    Whether you make them from scratch or use a mix, make these cupcakes. They taste like the holidays, and will make you happy. Promise. :)