Category: cake mix

Monsters, Inc.

It isn’t every year that Halloween falls on a Monday, which around here is Military Monday. To avoid being cheesy & disrespectful, I’m going to just be posting today not tomorrow, & I’m not going to include any soldier’s names this week. For only the second time in the over 2 years I’ve been doing it, I’ll be missing a week. Next week I’ll resume the usual MM posts, but this week just enjoy these adorable little monsters!

Yes, they’re edible. Inspired by Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc., they’re a twist on Bakerella‘s cake balls; made from Betty Crocker spice cake mixed with Betty Crocker whipped buttercream frosting rolled into little oblong creatures, then dipped into “Spooky Green” Wilton Candy Melts that weren’t completely smoothed out or melted. It was a thicker texture than I’d usually use so that it would better mimic the skin of a monster. The edible candy eyeballs are from Layer Cake Shop and really make them absolutely perfect. They really & truly look like slimy little monsters! I made a little army of them to help me ward off any evil spirits that may come along tomorrow. For the recipes & how-to’s of making cake pops/cake balls, Bakerella is the expert Queen, so you should hear it from her. However I do find it’s silly to waste a homemade, from-scratch cake if you’re just going to mash it up with frosting, so I always go the cake mix route (& I think Bakerella does too). If it’s your first time, allow yourself lots of practice, it can be trying, especially if you’re making pops. But you’ll get the hang of it soon enough! It took me a few tries to get ‘em right the first time I made them, but I did. And it’s so much fun to do with kids (at least, I can imagine it is- I only have 4-legged kids so I wouldn’t really know). And just so you know, they taste deelish. Not at all as slimy as they appear *wink*

Hm. It seems like the last three Halloween posts were all green-themed, weren’t they? Strange! I did do a black & orange one at some point, didn’t I? I think so. But even my nails are green this year…

Anyway, here’s to a happy & safe Halloween for everyone. Don’t let the little dudes & dudettes go out alone after dark… there are some way scarier monsters out there than these guys. And if you’re an older kid- give the little ones a break, okay? They don’t need to be egged or covered in shaving cream or harassed. It takes the fun out of it for them, so just let them have their candy & you can go kick rocks. Or kick snowballs, depending on where you live.

And remember… not all ghosts are bad.

The Celts celebrated Halloween as Samhain, ‘All Hallowtide’ – the ‘Feast of the Dead’, when the dead revisited the mortal world.

The celebration marked the end of Summer and the start of the Winter months. During the eighth century the Catholic Church designated the first day of November as ‘All Saints Day (‘All Hallows’) – a day of commemoration for those Saints that did not have a specific day of remembrance. The night before was known as ‘All Hallows Eve’ which, over time, became known as Halloween.

-source: The Irish Jewelry Company

Valentinium Cupcakinums.

If you know me well, you know I love all holidays. I love Valentine’s Day because, well, it involves hearts, pink & red & of course lace in the theme. I firmly believe in the power of surrounding oneself with beautiful things, and I use any and every holiday as an excuse to do so. This one is no different. The ‘love’ part is pretty nifty too, you know, but I firmly believe that you should tell your loved ones you care about them all the time. Give your girlfriend or wife roses & flowers all year ’round, not just on the 14th of February! But still, it’s a cute idea & it could be worse; it could be a day where you go around punching people in the nose. But I actually wouldn’t mind that. Violence Day. Maybe it should be February 15th, so anyone without a date on the 14th can take out their aggression the next day. Hah. I never had such an issue, when I was single on Valentine’s Day, I still loved it. It’s about all love, not just romantic love. So get off your throne of misery & celebrate! I have TONS of stuff to show you today.

In addition to cupcakes, this year I made the infamous Bakerella cake pops; white cake inside, white and pink Wilton candy melt coating with sprinkles outside. They’re really fun to make- & a great excuse to destroy a cake made from a boxed mix! I’ll leave it to Bakerella to tell you how to make those. But I will tell you they were so much fun to make, and were simple considering they utilize a cake mix/pre-made frosting/candy melts. I had a table covered with silpats, waxed paper, bowls of melted candy melts & with bowls full of different sprinkles, etc, and played around like a kid. I made some in heart shapes and others just round. Tell me these aren’t adorable! And not bad for my first try, right?

They didn’t last long before being painfully mutilated.

….

I loved making these. Tons of fun. Messy, but fun! Also, time consuming. But worth it. I had to restrain myself from eating them as I made them. I went a little large with these, making them about 1.5″ x 2″, or around that. That meant they were heavier when coated, so I really had to watch them to make sure they didn’t collapse. I only had one mishap, and it was easily fixed by me just popping it in my mouth. What? She who bakes has the right to do such things. The balls were all varying sizes, some larger than others. I used a candy bag filled with white candy melts to drizzle over the tops of some of the pops when the first coat dried.  Then, when they were all dried and set, I packed them all up in lollipop bags and tied them with ribbons to give as little Valentine gifts (whatever ones Jay didn’t eat, I mean). So cute.


I plan on making more of these delicious little things in the future, seeing as how I thought they were remarkably easy & fun to create. I also decided to make pink cupcakes this year for Valentine’s Day, because I hadn’t done it in awhile (well, not since 2008). So I made a pink cake (“white” cake tinted pink) with fat swirly pillows of  strawberry Kool-Aid buttercream with little marshmallow sprinkle hearts (I made ‘em by cutting large marshmallows into thirds, then cutting each slice in half, then making heart shapes with my hands & the scissors). I dipped the sticky sides in pink iridescent sugar and topped some of them, then for the rest used the pink sugar mixed with white sugar & heart toppers.

For the white cake, theoretically you can use any of these recipes: Martha’s, a vintage Sunbeam recipe or Rose Levy Berenbaum’s, or even this white chocolate cupcake recipe. Then just add either a little red food coloring, or some pink until it’s the desired color. My cupcakes look a little orange/yellowish because I used a reddish orange food coloring since I couldn’t find my pink. Bleh. I found it later. Oh well.

So that’s about it for my V-Day confections. But in closing, here are some pictures of my mom’s Valentine tree. It’s her winter tree just done up with hearts, cupids, etc.

Knitting & coffee… cupcakes.

In my ongoing quest to keep my audience entertained, I try and find interesting and unique cupcake (or cake, or dessert, really) ideas and images, aside from my own. I stumbled upon this a few months back and lost track of it, so luckily I’m good with a Google search…

Seriously? Seriously.

Knitting cupcakes! I love this: cupcakes and knitting are two of my favorite pastimes.  These delicious little cakes are topped with yarn made of … … *drumroll* …marzipan. And I said it like that because I know that you, just like I did when I first saw it, were probably trying to figure out how in the hell she did it. VeganYumYum‘s author, Lolo, gets genius credits from me for this. They’re perfectly executed and done so neatly. Lazy bakers like myself are in awe, Lolo.

As you can see from the above picture, I made some cupcakes myself tonight. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy, so instead of making a total from scratch recipe this evening, I opted for one of my mother’s favorites: Cappuccino cupcakes. Taken from the Anne Byrn book, which is basically a book based on doctoring up cake mixes… but this time redone a little bit by me. I had the vanilla cake mix in the house, and plenty of coffee, and since the last time I made them I wasn’t quite 100% pleased with them… I figured I’d try it again.

See- last time I had some trouble with the chips sinking to the bottom. While people enjoyed that, and  most thought it was done on purpose (like a layered-cupcake kinda deal), I wasn’t too thrilled. So this time I omitted them completely.

Be gone with thee, chocolate chips! Put thyselves in a scone! Also, the batter last time was very watery. I’m thinking those two issues are related, and it was all probably because I omitted the pudding and used cake mix WITH pudding, which really isn’t the same thing. If you’re gonna make these, use the pudding or else you’ll end up with watery batter. Especially if you want to put the chips in.

I also did not make mocha buttercream frosting this time. I made chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe below), and drizzled chocolate on top. And for the ‘pièce de résistance’… coffee beans. Well, actually, espresso beans. Starbucks espresso beans. Why is that a pièce de résistance? No idea. I think I just really wanted to have an excuse to say pièce de résistance. At any rate these were different from my previous cappuccino cupcakes and very yummy. Although those were also yummy, these came out much better.

CAPPUCCINO CHIP CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix (* or use cake mix with pudding and eliminate this step)
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
  2. Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.
  4. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. 18 to 20 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Get this stuff together:

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

And then:

  1. Place the butter and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is soft and well combined, 30 seconds.
  2. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.
  3. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk if the frosting is too stiff.

Visually, I think these are up there among the most attractive cupcakes I’ve made yet.

I know there are tons of people who are all anti-cake mix, and I agree to an extent. But I can’t make the promise that I’ll never again touch a box of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. So I won’t. I love baking from scratch; it tastes better, and makes you feel better than if you just opened a box of dehydrated powders and mixed it with oil. However that doesn’t mean I’ll never make Frankenstein cupcakes (meaning, half-scratch, half-mix) like this again.

Chocolate cheesecake muffin cupcakes with coffee (mocha) filling.

I adapted this recipe from one Tattooed Mama posted. I saw them and just needed to make them, immediately. I am a HUGE cheesecake fan, and these are practically cheesecake mixed with chocolate cupcakes, how could ya go wrong? So I put some Social Distortion on the iPod and started baking. I changed the recipe, minutely, omitting the salt (which she said was unnecessary) and added a filling instead of using frosting as she did. I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and “injected” them with mocha buttercream frosting, allowing some to come out the top.

Honestly, these are fucking awesome. I even used the f-word there to describe them which I use freely in every day life but avoid using here. They’re light, fluffy, moist and super tasty. The coffee filling isn’t too much, its just a lovely surprise. I deemed them “Chocolate cheesecake muffin cupcakes with coffee filling” but really, thats a hella long name. Maybe you can do better?

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE MUFFIN CUPCAKES:
Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 box of chocolate cake mix (I used one box Hershey’s chocolate fudge and one box Devil’s Food)
(Follow Instructions on box for cupcakes.)

Cream Cheese Mixture:
1 pkg (8 oz) Cream Cheese, (softened)
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, beat cream cheese. Add sugar, egg. Mix well. Prepare cake mix according to directions on box. Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full with cake batter. Top each with 2 tbs of cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Add powdered sugar and frosting, or filling.

The directions for the mocha buttercream can be found here. I used a Wilton tip that was on the thin side (352) to poke into the top of the cupcake and just added some filling, pulling the tip out slowly and letting some swirl on the outside.

I’m feeling under the weather and Jay is full-on sick, so hopefully these’ll make us feel better. I made over 2 dozen of these by accident, so it looks like Jay’ll be bringing some to work again, and my father might be too. Yeah, by accident. I underestimated the amount of cupcakes a single box of cake mix makes. Der. I’m an idiot. But an idiot with tons of delicious cuppin’ cakes. Nyah-nyah!

I was thinking of possibly entering these in the latest Cupcake Hero contest. The ingredient of the month is coffee, coincedentally. It has to be used in either the cupcake, frosting or filling. I have until January 25th. I’ll think about it.

I’m cupcake-d out!

Last week I told Jay I would make him a whole batch of cupcakes JUST for him to do with as he pleases. He can keep them for himself, share them with his family, or bring them to work. Whatever. And he got to pick what kind. Of course, he picked French Toast cupcakes. My mother heard about this arrangement and of course wanted her own batch of something. I expected her to ask for Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes & I was preparing to tell her I didn’t have any pumpkin when she said “DONUT MUFFINS!” Having had enough of making donut muffins for the time being, I suggested Cappuccino Chip cupcakes (from the Cake Mix doctor, Anne Byrn) instead, seeing as how she loves coffee. She was very pleased with this idea. My father also has been requesting magic bars incessantly, but I’m not that crazy. Thats for another day… even I have my limits. I have knitting to get back to, for goodness’ sake!

So tonight I set out making these two sets of cupcakes. (Yes, two separate & different batches in one night. Plus dinner. I have been called certifiably insane before). But I made a simple pasta dinner with mini-meatball sauce courtesy of Prego, so it wasn’t too complicated. :)

The french toast cupcakes are one of my favorite recipes to make. It always goes so smoothly. Plus the smell is comforting and home-y. And cream cheese frosting always pipes out so well. I didn’t take photos of them, because they look the same as they did last time. Now on to batch #2…

For the cappuccino cupcakes, I didn’t use miniature chocolate chips. I used regular ones. And for the frosting, I used a recipe I got from Southern Living (because southerners don’t fuck around when it comes to baking). But of course you could use any recipe you think would be good on cappuccino cupcakes. So do as you wish when it comes to that. Whatever tickles your pickle. I used floral cupcake liners because… they’re for my mom. A warning: the chocolate chips sank to the bottom. I’m not sure if thats because they were large, or because the batter was loose/watery. But it didn’t seem to bother anyone who ate them. My mother actually liked it, she said they were like layered cupcakes.

Here, I give you Anne Byrn’s recipe for Cappuccino Chip cupcakes.

CAPPUCCINO CHIP CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 24 paper lines for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix (* or use cake mix with pudding and eliminate this step)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Mocha Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 tbsps milk
  • 2 tbsps instant coffee granules
  • 1 ½ cups butter
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (*or almond)


Directions:


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. 18 to 20 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wine rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare the Mocha Buttercream Frosting (see below).

Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or the back of the spoon, or pipe on using a pastry bag. Garnish with the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips or roasted cracked cocoa beans. The cupcakes are ready to serve.


Mocha Buttercream Frosting


Directions:

Cream butter at medium speed of an electric mixer; gradually add sugar, beating until light & fluffy. Dissolve instant coffee powder in milk, add to butter & sugar mixture; beat until spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Use on cooled cupcakes.**

**I didn’t wanna use TOO much frosting on them, because I felt like it was possibly coffee overkill? So I went easy on it. But if you’re a coffee freak then by all means, smear that shit on! My mom could’ve eaten the entire bowl of frosting on one cupcake. So to each his (or her) own.

Apparently my camera fixed itself, no more pixelated pictures! Hooray!

I’m officially cupcake-d out. No cupcakes… for at least… well… a few days. ;) I’m going to hang up my apron and knit some more before packing it in. Adios.