Green Tomato and Fig Cupcakes

I have really grown to love my shadowy, lonely cupcake photos...

I have really grown to love my shadowy, lonely cupcake photos…

Right now I am mourning the end of summer. It’ll take me a few weeks to accept the return of Autumn and get excited to bake Pumpkin bread, enjoy the leaves changing colors and break out some warmer clothing. But not yet, please, nature! I needed some super summer recipes badly, and this cupcake was the ultimate pick-me-up. A birthday request, it used seasonal ingredients that were readily available at the market: sweet, plump figs and beautiful, green heirloom tomatoes. I cried a little bit on the inside when I had to puree the tomatoes up–they were so pretty!

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Strawberry Ricotta Cupcakes

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I love holidays and even holidays that I don’t celebrate because there always is an excuse to bake something delicious!

I wanted to make cupcakes and try something new, but not too new because I’ve never messed up cupcakes before and didn’t want to start now! Trust me, I have a never-ending baking bucket list that includes all kinds of crazy cupcake ideas, but after reading so much of Mark Bittman’s books, I think his “simple is better” edict is starting to sink in and I chose not to make the crazy stuffed cupcakes I had in mind originally.

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Black and White Cupcakes

BIG MISTAKE. Sorry. Didn't take a picture of the cupcakes fresh--so this is what they looked like a day or so later...after spending time in a zipblock bag. I feel like a bad parent!

BIG MISTAKE. Sorry. Didn’t take a picture of the cupcakes fresh–so this is what they looked like a day or so later…after spending time in a zipblock bag. I feel like a bad parent!

It all started last week when I was planning what to bake for my family’s Hanukkah dinner. I knew I wanted to make cupcakes but I really wanted to make them in a Hanukkah theme. Short of putting Star of Davids or little Maccabees on top of them, I couldn’t think of anything that screamed Hanukkah besides some blue and silver icing. No fun.

My boyfriend, Andrew suggested I make Black and White cookie-style cupcakes. Great idea? I didn’t think so!!! I believe I told him the idea was “stupid” among other things. Just because they sell black and white cookies at Jewish delis doesn’t make them Hanukkah desserts!!!

Baking for the first time sans a box mix! I don't feel like such a bad "parent" anymore!

Baking for the first time sans box mix! I don’t feel like such a bad “parent” anymore!

Fast forward to a few days. My friend Heather came over to help me bake. I had decided on vanilla cupcakes and would make half with vanilla icing and half with chocolate fudge icing with no intention of mixing the two together. That’s when Heather had the BRILLLIANT idea to make black and white cookie cupcakes! The vanilla icing had turned out more like a cookie icing than a cupcake icing and this sparked her creative thinking.

My first and only reaction was just to laugh. If two different people, unbeknownst to each other come up with the same conclusion to a baking dilemma…then they are probably on to something. Of course, I now have to live with the fact that I’m like all of the record labels that passed on someone who is now a big, huge star. Like, I kinda didn’t think Taylor Swift would ever make it big and now I have to see her on TV and hear her on the radio all the time and think about the millions and millions of dollars that could have been mine….or whenever someone told me that a B&W cookie cupcake was an amazing idea….

The gooey messy mix...one of my fave parts of baking.

The gooey messy mix…one of my fave parts of baking.

Sometimes, you just have to admit your  when wrong and uncreative and do not have the foresight to see a good idea when it’s presented to you the first time.

So bake these vanilla cupcakes and think about that. I found Amy Sedaris’ while searching on Yummly for a good vanilla cupcake. I used her frosting, but definitely listen to the reviewers who said it was too runny! And the chocolate fudge frosting was from the Joy of Baking.

Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 lb confectioner’s sugar
  • Half and half
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, two teaspoons vanilla, salt and baking powder. Add flour and milk in batches, starting and ending with flour. Stir until batter is smooth and satiny.

Fill paper-lined muffin tins with batter. Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes.

For the vanilla frosting, whip together the box of confectioners’ sugar, half-and-half, and one teaspoon vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Allow cupcakes to cook for 45 minutes before frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • 4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (160 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

The BEST Peanut Butter Cupcake

Make this immediately. It’s that good. It’s that kind of good that you can’t really describe in words. It’s the kind of good that warrants the reaction of Guy Fierri on Triple D when he eats something he actually likes…which if you pay close attention isn’t very often.

In honor of my little sister and fellow peanut butter fanatic graduating college this past weekend, I wanted to bake her some peanut butter treats! Cupcakes are my go-to because I have never messed them up too bad since taking Paula Deen’s advice and always baking them for 22 minutes exactly at 350 and turning them around in the oven once at the  halfway mark.

For this I went to Martha Stewart and the recipe was ridiculous. I could search high and low for a better descriptive word in the dictionary but “ridiculous” truly sums it up.  The batter tasted like the inside of a Reese’s peanut butter cup and my sister is lucky that I was still able to make 23 cupcakes after “taste-testing” so much of it early on.

This would have gone perfectly if not for a broken pilot light in the oven which kept turning off! Grrrrr. Many expletives were uttered and oven mitts were thrown as I had a baking temper tantrum, but they turned out pretty good in the end!

Sidenote: The cream cheese icing was in no way sweet enough for my taste. I kept pouring in more and more confectioner’s sugar until it tasted right. So don’t be afraid to add a little or a ton of extra sugar to the frosting.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

Reduce speed to low. Mix in sour cream and peanut butter. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each  about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cupcakes will keep, if covered, for up to 3 days.

For the frosting:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer on medium speed. Add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla. Whisk cream until soft peaks form, and then fold into peanut butter mixture.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

I’m kinda embarrassed to say that my boyfriend, Andrew knows his way around the kitchen better than I do. Whenever we cook together, the end result is almost always better than anything I could make by myself. And whenever he cooks without me…well, you get the idea.

We had long been wanting to make Guinness cupcakes but we replaced the Guinness with Andrew’s homebrewed Chocolate Milk Stout. We borrowed from a few different recipes, but Smitten Kitchen’s “Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes” is the best and easiest to follow. We looked up a few frosting and glaze recipes but ultimately we created our own concoction for that using amounts of ingredients that we never bothered to write down (oops!) We even used some of the homebrewed stout for the glaze, too!

Cupcake Recipe

  • 1 cup stout
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-pressed)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. In a large saucepan, bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add in cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Turn off heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in a separate bowl. Add chocolate stout mixture to egg mixture and beat until combined. Next, add flour mixture and beat on slow speed. Fold in batter until it is entirely combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way. Bake for 22 minutes and let the cupcakes cool on a drying rack.

Stout Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • Milk
  • Chocolate milk stout

Red Velvet Cupcakes

One thing I can actually make reasonably well is a good red velvet cupcake. The recipe I use is from America’s favorite diabetic, Paula Deen. These treats always turn out perfectly moist and just sweet enough for my taste. While I’m aware there’s tons of Paula haters out there, her red velvet recipe is well worth a shot…ya’ll (sorry too much? I can’t seem to resist a good ‘ya’ll’ when speaking of the great butter goddess…) Happy baking!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a stand mixer, beat together the wet ingredients: oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the eggs 1 at a time and then the red food dye. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until it is smooth and combined.

Divide the batter evenly and fill the liners about 2/3 of the way. Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes and turn the pans around half way through baking. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Let cool completely and then add the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar while beating at low speed until it is incorporated. Increase the speed and mix until light and fluffy.