Dark Chocolate Whiskey Cupcakes

About a month ago I had a friend send me a link to a cupcake recipe and asked if I would make those for her upcoming birthday. Those cupcakes were dark chocolate whiskey cupcakes. It just so happens that chocolate and whiskey are two of my favorite things. Why yes, I’ll be happy to make those for you.

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I have a serious love for baking with alcohol. I just made Blue Moon cupcakes a couple weeks ago, and my favorite pound cake has Amaretto in it. Most of whatever is put into the cake batter cooks out, but the frosting and/or filling is where you can make the most impact with the alcohol’s flavor.

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And I can’t forget to mention how good this cupcake’s chocolate cake is—the chocolate, whiskey and coffee flavors just work so well together. Oh, and it’s incredibly moist. It rivals the cake in the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes I make every year for St. Patrick’s Day, and those are my favorite.

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Fields of Cake
Make approximately two dozen cupcakes

Ingredients
2 cups  all purpose flour
¾ cup coco powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
½ cup super strong coffee
½ cup Jack Daniels Whiskey
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line standard muffin tins with paper cups.
2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another large bowl, combine and whisk together the eggs, coffee, whiskey, buttermilk and oil.
4. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
5. Divide the mixture evenly into prepared cups…about 2/3 full.
6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes about clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache
16 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup Jack Daniels Whiskey

Directions
1. Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl (I use glass) and set aside.
2. Heat heavy cream until just boiling, and then pour over chocolate.
3. Cover chocolate and cream for 2 minutes to allow chocolate to soften.  Uncover and stir with whisk until smooth and silky. If all of the chocolate didn’t melt, zap in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until all has melted.
4. Add the butter and stir until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in whiskey until fully incorporated and allow to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Whiskey Buttercream
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 three ounce package white chocolate, vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding mix (I used vanilla)
2 cups of the dark chocolate whiskey ganache
½ cup sifted dark cocoa powder
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted (more for a stiffer frosting)
Additional whiskey to taste (I think I added 2 or 3 more tbsp)

Directions
1. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and pudding mix together on medium high speed for approximately 5 minutes.
2. Add the ganache, cocoa powder and heavy cream. Beat for another 5 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sifted powdered sugar a little bit at a time. Add additional for stiffer or sweeter taste.
4. If needing/wanting more of a whiskey flavor, add a tablespoon at a time until satisfied with the flavor.

Assemble the cupcakes by coring out the center and adding the remaining ganache. Top each cupcake with the frosting using your favorite tip and/or technique. Enjoy!

—m.

Spice Cake Cupcakes with Cinnamon & Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

I had asked a coworker to pick out a recipe for me to bake right after getting back to work from our trip, and she immediately said “Pumpkin Pie.” After almost laughing at her and re-explaining that I don’t touch pumpkin anything with a 10-foot pole, she chose a different recipe—Oatmeal Cream Pie cupcakes. Done and done.

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I made these the day I decided to do “A Photo an Hour” and I had a busy day, so I was up making cupcakes at 8 AM. I will admit that I feel like I cheated with this recipe because the base of the cupcakes are a spice cake box mix, but there are additions and changes to the mix. And I love the marshmallow fluff in the frosting! It’s sooo good!

Almost everyone who tried the cupcakes said that there was too much spice in the cupcake to taste like an oatmeal cream pie, but the cupcakes were still well received…hence me changing the name. The recipe also calls for Oatmeal Cream Pie pieces for the frosting, but I was lazy and didn’t buy any from the store so I left them out. I probably would have eaten them all before they could even get to the frosting part anyway.

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Spice Cake Cupcakes with Cinnamon & Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
Original recipe from Beyond Frosting
Makes two dozen

Cake Ingredients
1 box spice cake mix
3 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk (make your own)
½ cup vegetable oil or applesauce
¾ cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp brown sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with liners.
2. Sift the spice cake mix and then add eggs, buttermilk, oil (or applesauce) and sour cream. Mix on medium speed just until combined.
3. Add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and mix until incorporated.
4. Fill each cup about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 15-18 minutes. Mine took about 16 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cupcake. Allow cupcakes to cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients
7 Oatmeal Cream Pies
1 ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature (3 sticks)
1 7oz container marshmallow fluff
2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
4–5 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch on salt

Directions
1. Grind up the Oatmeal Cream Pies using a food processor to grind into a small crumbs and set aside.
2. Whip butter in a mixer using the paddle attachment for several minutes until butter is smooth and creamed.
3. Add the container of marshmallow fluff and beat into butter until well combined. Add the vanilla extract into this mixture.
4. Sift powdered sugar and gradually add it to the bowl, maxing sure it’s full incorporated before adding in more. Use 5 cups for stiffer frosting.
5. Add the heavy whipping cream, followed by the cinnamon and pinch of salt.
6. Lastly, add the Oatmeal Cream Pie Crumbs and beat on low until incorporated.

—m.

Rustic Peach Galette

A galette is a relatively new food item to me. Galette is a French term and can be described as a free-form tart with a buttery, flaky crust—similar to pie. You can fill it with fruit to make it a dessert or fill it with vegetables, meat, and/or cheese to make a savory meal. I’m not a pie person, but every since seeing a galette, I’ve been wanting to make one. I feel like it’s a good stepping stone for me to eventually make a full on pie. So, before peaches go out of season, I picked up a few and made a peach galette. It got Tim’s approval :)

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The peaches I bought ended up being so large, I only needed to cut up two of them for the galette.

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After you prepare the dough and let it sit in the fridge for an hour, take it out and roll it to a large circular shape—about 12 inches around. It’s okay if the edges are uneven—they just get folded up over the fruit, and it makes the galette more rustic looking. You can see a couple spots that needed some patch work done…I rolled the dough too thin and it torn when I was folding it.

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Spread a beaten egg and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the folded dough. Bake for 20-22 minute and you’ll have one tasty peach galette.

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Peach Galette
Original recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen

Crust Ingredients
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) very cold butter (Put in the freezer for a solid 20 minutes)
4 to 6 tbsp ice water
1 egg
Cinnamon and sugar for the crust

Filling Ingredients
1 lb peaches, about 4 medium, not overly ripe
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tbsp butter

Directions
1. Using  a food processor with the blade attachment, the flour, sugar and salt until well mixed.
2. Cut cold butter into small cubes and add to the food processor. Push the pulse button 8-10 times, or until your butter becomes pea-sized.
3. Add 1 tbsp of ice water at a time, and pulse between each addition. The dough will be ready when it just begins to clump. I used 5 tablespoons.
4. Form and pat the dough into a disk shape. Dust the dough with flour on all sides and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
6. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set aside
7. Slice peaches into ½″ thick slices. Put the peaches in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the flour, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir gently with a spatula just until combined.
8. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a 12″ circle. Place the parchment paper and dough into a rimmed baking sheet.
9. Arrange the peaches in circles in the center of the dough. Leave a 1.5″ to 2″ dough border. Discard any excess juices from the peaches, or your galette may overflow. Cut the ½ tbsp butter into small pieces and place on top of the peaches.
10. Fold the edges of the galette up and over the peaches, pinching the overlapping edges together to form a nice seal. Patch up any rips or breaks in the dough. Brush the crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 18-22 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the peach juices are syrupy. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

—m.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling and my very own Vanilla-Almond Buttercream

I did a little happy dance after I made these cupcakes last week. Not only because they were for my birthday the next day, but also because I did the buttercream on my own…like didn’t use someone else’s recipe. I figured out a good vanilla-almond ratio on my own. It’s a small feat for some, but a big one for me. Now I do realize that creating a flavored buttercream frosting is not hard if you know a the basic butter / powdered sugar ratio. Just let me pretend I did something magical. Cool?

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Let’s just take a second and admire those small, black vanilla bean dots in the cupcake above. You can even see them through the liner!

And now let’s admire how awesome it is that these cupcakes domed so beautifully.

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Okay, done admiring…for now.

One of my coworkers had requested that I bring in “something strawberry.” So I said that for my birthday I would bake “something strawberry.” I don’t do vanilla cupcakes terribly often, so I decided to make them vanilla bean. I had actually done a trial run the week prior and hadn’t cared for the outcome as much, so I switched recipes. So glad I did. These were so good. Seriously. I had several coworkers say that this one was their favorite. I credit the vanilla bean. Whole Foods has a jar of 3 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for like $7, or if you are able to wait, order bulk online. I recommend ordering from Beanilla. They have a good variety of vanilla products from all over the world.

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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Originally from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Originally recipe is doubled below to make 24-28 cupcakes

Ingredients
3 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
4 egg whites
½ cup plain greek yogurt
1½ cup vanilla almond milk (or regular milk)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 1 whole vanilla bean

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. Using a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside,
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined and fluffy. Add egg whites one at a time, followed by the yogurt, milk and vanilla extract. Mix well. Split open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds from the bean and into the batter.
4. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. There shouldn’t be any lumps when finished mixing well.
5. Divide the batter amount the cupcake liners and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before assembling.

Strawberry Filling
Originally from The Art of Two Tarts
Portions modified to fill cupcakes

Ingredients
2  cups of  sliced strawberries (I recommend fairly small pieces since you’ll be filling the cupcakes with this)
1/8 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp corn starch

Directions
1. Mix 1 cup of strawberries, the sugar, water, lemon juice and corn starch in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the strawberries to break down and sauce thicken. If needed, add another teaspoon of corn starch and sugar.
2. Turn off heat and add in the addition cup of sliced strawberries.
3. Put in a container with a lid and refrigerate until cool.

Feel free to make this the day before. I actually ended up with a bit extra and used some of the sauce to drizzle on top of the buttercream, or even use on ice cream!

Vanilla-Almond Buttercream

Ingredients
2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Directions
1. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter.
2. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar to the butter, 1/2 cup at a time, making sure the sugar is fully incorporate before adding more. Scrape the side of the bowl as needed. I always recommend sifting powdered sugar before adding to the mixer. You’re less likely to get clumpy or gritty frosting.
3. Add 2 tbsp of heavy cream. If you want the frosting softer, add another tbsp of heavy cream. If you want the frosting stiffer, add the last cup of powdered sugar.
4. Add the salt and the vanilla and almond extract. Mix until fully incorporated. If you think either the vanilla or almond flavor needs to be stronger, add a few drops at a time until you’re satisfied with the flavor.

Assemble the cupcakes by coring out the center and adding the strawberry filling. Top with the frosting using your favorite tip and/or technique. I cut some of my leftover strawberries into quarters and added a slice to the top of each cupcake as well.

Enjoy!

—m.

Cherry Blueberry Cobbler

The hubs informed me last Thursday (I think it was Thursday) that I had been volunteered to make dessert for Father’s Day just a few days later. No big deal I thought. But then I remember that his family likes pies. PIES! Gross fruits ones even. If you couldn’t tell by that last statement…I’m not a fan of pies. Okay, maybe chocolate pie is fine, but that’s because it’s chocolate. Not to mention, I don’t have much experience making pies from scratch.

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I don’t remember how it happened, but I convinced the Hubs and his father to let me do a cobbler. Phew. I can do cobbler. Their flavor request? Cherry. Whomp whomp. (I’m not a fan of cherries either—go figure). But I had to remind myself that this cobbler wasn’t for me—it was for the fathers. So in my natural fashion of wanting to bake something a bit more challenging (aka more exciting), I decided to not only use fresh bing cherries, but to also throw in blueberries I had leftover from the lemon blueberry cupcakes I had just made. Bingo.

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I had just made a peach cobbler a week prior that had a topping I loved, so I decided to use the same topping. It’s actually a bit more cake-y than biscuit-y (yes, that’s a word) like traditional cobblers, but bakes wonderfully and turns out nice and crisp. The sprinkled sugar on top also helps balance out the tart bing cherries. Just serve with a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream and you’ll be good to go.

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Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
Recipe made for a 1.5 quart Corningware or 8×8 baking dish.

Filling
Adapted from Girl Versus Dough

Ingredients
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
1 heaping cup fresh blueberries
2 cups bing cherries, quartered
1/8 tsp vanilla or almond extract (I actually forgot this, but would recommend putting it in)

Directions
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon and whisk to combine.
2. Add blueberries and cherries and stir occasionally until mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in flavored extract. Pour filling into the baking dish that has been greased with the butter; set aside.

Cobbler Topping
The following recipe is half of the original to accommodate my smaller portion.
Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup + 1 tbsp white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ cup boiling water

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, ¼ cup sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend.
2. Add in small pieces of butter and blend with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Using a spoon, stir in water until just combined.
3. Drop spoonfuls of topping over the berry mix, and sprinkle the entire cobbler with the remaining 1 tbsp of sugar. Set baking dish on a cookie sheet (the cobbler could drip into the oven). Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until topping is golden.
4. Let the dish cool down for a few minutes after removing from the oven, and don’t forget the ice cream when serving :)

—m.