Category: frosting

“Choco-LOTS of chips” chocolate chip cupcakes.

It seems like 2014 is the year of the ‘recipe redo,’ does it not? First the bagels (even though that was technically a different recipe), then the chocolate pudding, now these. Yep, I’ve posted this recipe before. Many years ago when I was a newbie blogger & my photography left a lot to be desired. So I’ve decided that when I’m bored & I want a snack/treat, I’m going to look first here at my own blog. I’m going to find things I haven’t made in a long time & make them again- then post about it!

‘Cause that’s really one of the coolest things about being a (food) blogger: it’s like having your own virtual cookbook slash diary right at your fingertips. You can go back & find cupcakes or pizza recipes that you thought were amazing but took crappy photos of, or recipes that you thought sucked but you might want to give them another go. Oh- the beauty of technology!

Chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate chip buttercream!

One night a few weeks ago, Jay was working late. Well he always works late; but this time he wasn’t expected home until 12 noon the next day as opposed to 2:30 a.m. It was about 11:30 p.m., I was sitting on the couch watching Walk The Line, Indy at my feet, when I got a craving for something super sweet. I had two opened bags of chocolate chips in my cabinet & just enough butter for cupcakes & frosting. So I thought some chocolate chip cupcakes would be just the thing.

Chocolate chip cupcakes.

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Double chocolate bourbon cupcakes!

A new year, and a new recipe! And for cupcakes, no less! I haven’t made cupcakes in forever. I know. I’m an asshole, what can I say? I’ve been neglecting the very thing that got my blog any attention when it was a newbie. It’s downright horrifying of me. I’m ashamed & embarrassed. But I’m back in the game!

It’s pretty cold out, so it’s baking time. It’s been baking time since October,  late September even… so who am I kidding? But it’s serious baking time now.  A high of 11° F? I think that means it’s time to bake. And cook. Hell, I’ll use any excuse to have the oven on when it’s this cold. Plus… I got a new oven… now I’m REALLY using any excuse! Yup- on December 26th, Santa Claus brought me a late Christmas present: a new gas stove, refrigerator & dishwasher. I have no backsplash yet, and my new counters are far in the future, but I can finally cook & keep butter cold. It’s pretty sweet. So yeah, I’ve been busy breaking in my new range & getting used to it. It’s beauuuuutiful!

And really, for me, what better way to break that baby in than with cupcakes?

Chocolate bourbon cupcakes with vanilla frosting & a chocolate bourbon ganache.

Everybody loves cupcakes. Except Duff Goldman. I mean, right? How can you hate a mini-individually-sized-cake? What could possibly be SO BAD about having a small cake, all to yourself? Oh. I get it. Anything “trendy” is awful. Mmm hmm. So I guess you don’t use an iPhone, a mason jar or eat kale either, correct? ANYWAY….

These are cupcakes WITH BOOZE. Oh, yes. So there’s even more to love.

Chocolate bourbon cupcakes! With chocolate bourbon ganache!

I think anyone who hates cupcakes is nuts, personally. But I digress…

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New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

A vintage NYE! (click through for NYE recipes)

Well it’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, as Dick Clark would say. In just a few short hours, 2014 will be here. In case you’re lacking recipe ideas for today, I figured I’d give you some. Consider it a belated Christmas gift. Most of them require nothing more than a bottle of champagne & a quick run to the grocery store.

  • Champagne parfaits: A delicious & easy “champagne jell-O” that takes absolutely no time to make. A grown-up jell-O shot, if you will. Click here for the recipe.
  • Champagne jelly: Excellent melted on roast chicken, or as a topping on a chicken sandwich. And also excellent with cheese on crackers. But I’m sure you can come up with other uses! Recipe can be found here. (FYI: these jars were also a 2011 Well Preserved Pimp That Preserve winner!)
  • Champagne cupcakes: No explanation needed! Champagne cupcakes with sweet champagne frosting. Get the details right here.

This year I knew I wouldn’t be around; I’m presently packing to go to Connecticut. Jay is playing a show tonight at The Webster in Harftord, so I’m going with him. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.. so therefore no NYE recipes for me this year. Boo hoo. But also kind of exciting- it’s the first time he’s been off for NYE since 2009! And that means it’s also literally a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve, and an even better 2014. See you next year…

Happy New Year... A NYE recipe compilation! And most things don't even require more than an extra bottle of bubbly.

Gingerbread cake with marshmallow snow & paper trees.

For some reason, as I was writing the title of this post, I thought of the lyrics from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Odd.

Anyway, gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday treats. I love the cookies, I love it in a spicier form like pfeffernusse and I love gingerbread cake. I don’t make it nearly enough, though, even around the holidays. I have a favorite gingerbread cookie recipe & a favorite Guinness ginger cake recipe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying others. So I thought that this year, I’d make a plain gingerbread cake- no Guinness, no chocolate- and top it with some fluffy white snow.

And trees. Gotta have trees.

Gingerbread cake with a marshmallow "snow" and paper cupcake liner trees. And elves!

For the trees, I got the how-to from The Cake Blog. Pretty self-explanatory, but still. It’s a fun & easy way to make cupcake or cake toppers.

It’s so retro-looking, isn’t it?

Cupcake liner Christmas trees!

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All you need is love. And cupcakes.

“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

- Julia Child

Just a short & sweet post today.

Nothing new. Nothing groundbreaking.

Just some good old fashioned Valentine’s stuff: red velvet cupcakes, little red hearts, etc. But with a twist… a black & white twist! And of course even the frosting had to have a little bit of black in it… so I made it a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Very simple: make a regular cream cheese frosting, and add the seeds from one half of a scraped out vanilla bean to it.

Black & white liners from sweet estelle’s baking supply, solid black liners from Layer Cake Shop. Cherry-flavored heart candies are from the drugstore, no idea what brand.

Tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d tell you all how much I appreciate & love you. You readers of mine make me blogging worth it. Your comments, both here & on my Facebook page & Instagram, and your tweets make my day. Every time. You’re all incredible. I say it all the time but it’s true- you make it worthwhile! I’ve met so many great people just through them commenting or following me on Social Media. It’s amazing.

So thank you, my hundreds & thousands of Valentines.

Fill your heart with frosting.

I wish I could say I love surprises, but I really don’t.

Deep down inside somewhere, I kinda do; I kinda do get excited about being surprised. But more often than not, it’s just an overwhelming sense of “What am I missing out on?!” and it drives me bananas. I hate not having control over things. I like knowing what’s happening, what time it’s happening, and where it’s going down… I like being dressed appropriately & I like being mentally prepared. Jay can tell you numerous times when I almost ruined birthday gifts, Christmas gifts or trips with this twisted way of thinking. I think the problem is when I know I’m going to be surprised. If you just spring a surprise on me, then I don’t have time to over-analyze or try & figure out what it is. Yeah I know- I’m a f#%!ing wack job who ruins everything. It’s not that I’m a control freak, though, not at all. I’m extremely laid back when it comes to most things. You can plan anything, take me anywhere, give me any gifts, etc, and I’ll be totally cool with it. I just really prefer to know ahead of time.

All that said, however, a cupcake surprise is a different story.

See, these cupcakes aren’t frosted traditionally. Instead, they’re filled with a surprise. And by that I mean they’re filled with a light, fluffy pink-colored vanilla buttercream through a convenient little cut-out heart shape. I used a little heart-shaped cookie cutter from Sur la Table that cost me a whopping $.76. I know, it almost bankrupted me.

Just bake your cupcakes, whatever kind you want, and when they’re all cooled cut out the shape using a small cookie cutter. I went down pretty deep so the entire cupcake would be filled, but you can just do a bit from the top. Then fill the cut-out shape with frosting using a piping bag & small round tip (for the size of my cookie cutter, Wilton’s 2A tip was perfect). Donesky. If you want to do the confectioner’s sugar thing, just dust them AFTER cutting out the shape but BEFORE filling with frosting. That would look awesome with a red velvet cupcake, too. Any & every combination works: chocolate with vanilla filling, red velvet with chocolate filling, red velvet with cream cheese filling, vanilla with strawberry filling, chocolate with strawberry filling, vanilla with chocolate filling, strawberry with chocolate filling… etc, etc. The sugar dusting just won’t be very visible on a vanilla cupcake, though. But that’s okay… it’s pretty without it, too. On that note, I’ve seen it done as a vanilla cupcake with lemon curd filling as well, which would be nice for spring.

*heart cake stand also from Sur La Table

You can use any flavor cupcake, any flavor or kind of frosting, and any shape cookie cutter. Stars, snowflakes, shamrocks, etc. Even just a circle! Here are some recipes, if you need them:

I used Wilton’s heart-shaped silicone baking cups to bake the cupcakes in. Any kind of shape will do, you don’t have to use hearts, nor do you have to use the same shape as your cookie cutter. A round cupcake with a heart cut-out is just as cute! Another excellent idea: letters. Cut out letters on top to spell out a message, or someone’s name, or just use one letter; maybe your kid’s initial for a birthday party. I’m partial to hearts, and the color pink, so obviously I was going to make ones like this for Valentine’s Day. But of course, this idea can extend far past Valentine’s Day.

I like the spelling out of a message idea, myself. Like maybe…

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Just a thought.

printable-valentine-cards-cupid-inside-red-heart

Darkness of winter… & darkness of cupcakes?

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

-Edith Sitwell

That title makes me sound like Ozzy Osbourne or something… ‘the prince of darkness & his dark cupcakes.’ Hah.

So, we’re leaving today to go to Connecticut for a few days. Just a small weekend trip. As a matter of fact, depending on when you read this I’m probably either on the road or already there. Getting into some out-of-state trouble, stuffing our faces in out-of-state places, you know how it is. Going to gamble our money away in a casino, stopping by Mystic, no doubt, for some Mystic Pizza or Bleu Squid Bakery & Cheese Shop (which I once did a small, informal, messy review of on a previous trip). And of course, enjoying the drive there. At any rate… I won’t be home for a few days. So here’s a post to tide you over ’til mama gets back. Don’t say I never did anything for you! *wink*

I’ve been saying this over & over & over again for weeks, but it’s cold. It’s winter, of course it’s cold. And winter is time for food, comfort, and home. Who wants to be out in the elements when it’s absolutely freezing? Or when there’s snow all over the place? Wouldn’t you rather be home, eating (or making) cupcakes? I know I would. And yes- I’m aware I just told you I’m leaving my home today to go on a little vacay. But that’s different. I mean, vacations are nice reasons to leave home, and cupcakes from bakeries are lovely, but really, who doesn’t love a nice homemade baked good right out of the oven? As much as I hate winter, even I have to say that I relish the days and nights when having the oven on to bake doesn’t cause you to sweat through your t-shirt and have to wring your hair out when you’re done. Air conditioning, you say? HA! Even with the A/C on full blast, you try making more than one batch of cupcakes or try baking something for longer than 20 minutes on a day that’s over 95° degrees without feeling the heat. So yes, this time of year is good for that. And even though the shortest day of the year has passed, and the days are already (supposedly) getting longer little by little, we’re a far cry from June when the night seems to pull it’s curtain down around at 10 p.m. It gets dark pretty early, and I mean dark. And dark nights remind me of dark chocolate.

I’m not particularly a dark chocolate person; I’m actually one of those intolerable people who love white chocolate, which really isn’t chocolate at all. However in certain instances dark chocolate does indeed have it’s merits. Like in cupcakes, for example.

I feel like dark chocolate is appropriate for winter. Add a little coconut, which is unexpected in the cupcake itself, despite the topping… and you’ve got a cupcake that reminds you of both dark winter nights & the warm summery days to come. Isn’t that what coconut makes you think of? Tanning lotion, pina coladas & warm sunshine?

Or is that just me?

Maybe it’s just me.

At any rate, they’re kind of a juxtaposition of dark & light: dark chocolate & white coconut. Which is what winter is, isn’t it? Wow, I’m so deep. And on a much less deep note, really they’re a kind of cupcake version of a Mounds bar. Or, if you added some almonds somewhere, an Almond Joy. As a matter of fact, in the absence of coconut extract… or perhaps just instead of it… using almond extract in the cupcake might give you an Almond Joy-ish flavor.

DARK CHOCOLATE COCONUT CUPCAKES

Makes 16-18 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pans

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (plus more for topping, if desired)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line your muffin tins with liners, and set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and cocoa in a medium sized bowl with a whisk. In a glass measuring cup, combine the milk, egg, oil and coconut extract and mix well.
  3. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the coconut, and stir until well-mixed.
  4. Spoon around 2 heaping tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner. Put the cupcakes into the oven and lower the temperature to 325° F. Bake 20-25 minutes, just until tops are domed and spring back when gently pressed and when a toothpick inserted in the centers come out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans 5 minutes, then allow to completely cool on a rack.
*Mine is from Watkins, you can buy it online.

Uhm. Yeah. I couldn’t find ANY of my offset spatulas, so I had to frost them with a butter knife. Not the best situation but it works. At least once the coconut is on top, you can’t see the knife marks. I’m such a pro! By the way… how does one lose three offset spatulas? No idea.

DARK CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM FROSTING

Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes, can be halved

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound plus 8 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Melt and cool chocolate (until just slightly warm). Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  2. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar. Add salt, vanilla, cocoa powder and sour cream and mix until very smooth.
  3. Add chocolate and mix until just incorporated.*
*Don’t over-whip and add too much air into the frosting. The consistency should be rich and dense, like ice cream!

All in all, these were some pretty delish cupcakes. Nice, springy, moist cake and a really amazing frosting. You can use shaved coconut for a different effect, if you can get your hands on it. Also, perhaps using coconut milk and/or coconut oil in the cake would be an interesting touch.

Sources & credits: Grasslands Road cake stand, from Roux Royale in New Orleans, LA, Layer Cake Shop black cupcake liners.

And to all a good night!

Welp, today is Christmas Eve.

That came super quick, didn’t it? Or maybe it’s just me.

Regardless, it’s here now. And on Christmas Eve I have a few family traditions: making the last of my Christmas Day treats (usually more fudge), pre-cooking whatever has to be done for Christmas Day (if anything), wrapping up any last minute gifts, and a eating a dinner made up of a variety of appetizers while drinking cocktails & watching A Christmas Carol; more specifically, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim (the best version, in my humble opinion). Sometimes there’s a big, gigantic tin of assorted flavor popcorn thrown in there as well. That’s been the tradition in my house for as long as I can remember. When Jay came into the family, we had to work around his schedule as well as everyone else’s, which wasn’t really an issue until he became a cop. Then that kind of really threw a monkey wrench into things. And I don’t say that negatively; I say it meaning sometimes the Christmas Eve traditions end up being on Christmas Day, while the Christmas Day dinner ends up on Christmas Eve. Or sometimes, the big family Christmas dinner is pushed forward to the 26th or 27th. But that’s totally fine with me. I’m adaptable. I like having multiple celebrations, anyway… it’s fun to spread out the awesomeness for a few days!

(Pardon these photos… the lighting was poor & I was kind of rushing. I hope you get the gist of it, and can enjoy them anyway)

I had to make cupcakes for Christmas, that’s obvious. So I baked up those delicious Stollen-inspired cupcakes, courtesy of the Food Network magazine.

A Stollen is a fruit cake containing dried fruit and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season, when called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen.

Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus peel (Zitronat),[1] raisins and almonds, and different spices such as cardamom and cinnamon are added. Other ingredients, such as milk, sugar, butter, salt, rum, eggs,[2] vanilla,[3] other dried fruits and nuts and marzipan may also be added to the Stollen dough. Except for the fruit added, the dough is quite low in sugar. The finished cake is sprinkled with icing sugar. The traditional weight of a Stollen is around 4.4 pounds (2 kg), but smaller sizes are now available.

The Dresden Stollen (originally Striezel), a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit, was first mentioned in an official document in 1474,[4] and the most famous Stollen is still the Dresdner Stollen,[5] sold, amongst other places, at the local Christmas market, Striezelmarkt. Dresden Stollen is produced in the city of Dresden and distinguished by a special seal depicting King Augustus II the Strong. This “official” Stollen is produced by only 150 Dresden bakers.

-Wikipedia

So of course, these cupcakes aren’t genuine Stollen. They’re just inspired by it, and because I have this weird thing where my cupcakes have to have frosting, I added a vanilla whipped cream-ish frosting. I swear, making these cupcakes with no frosting almost killed me. I absolutely HAD to frost them! However, if you aren’t as opposed to frosting-less cupcakes, you can leave it at the confectioner’s sugar, or make a simple icing with heavy cream, rum & confectioner’s sugar to drizzle on top.

Also, that tablecloth in the photos was handmade by my mother when she was 10 years old. It’s red felt, with a little white fringed edge, and cut out green felt trees decorated with glitter, beads, sequins, & paillettes. That tablecloth plus my grandmother’s “spaghetti ware” Santas, the retro-y Meri Meri Merry & Bright Christmas cupcake kit I had & the stollen-inspired cupcakes (stollen always seems like an old fashioned dessert/bread to me), really made it feel like a vintage Christmas.

STOLLEN-INSPIRED CUPCAKES (adapted from the Food Network magazine, Dec. 2012)

Makes about 1 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of a mix of citron, dried currants, dried cranberries & raisins, or whatever you like (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup marzipan, room temperature & softened slightly
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (for topping)
  • confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a larger bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the softened butter with the marzipan and sugar until fluffy. Then beat in the 2 eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla & almond extract.
  3. Slowly beat in the flour mixture and 1/3 cup milk in alternating batches. Divide among 12 prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full, and bake 20-25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside for five minutes. Brush with melted butter while still warm, but not hot, and dust with confectioner’s sugar. When 100% cooled, then frost.

WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING (adapted from The Food Pusher)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whipping cream (regular or heavy, I used heavy)
  • pinch salt
  • 5 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl to soften.
  2. Scald 2 tablespoon of the cream; pour over gelatin, stirring till dissolved.
  3. Refrigerate until consistency of unbeaten egg white. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.) Then, with a whisk, beat until smooth.In a stand mixer with a whip attachment, or with a hand beater, whip remaining cream, salt and sugar; whip in the smoothed gelatin mixture, stopping to scrape the bowl twice.
  4. This recipe stands up well, even in warm weather. Keep leftover frosting and any product topped with it in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

I’ll avoid any overly sappy holiday messages… all I will say is that this Christmas we all have so much to be thankful for. After the Newtown, CT shooting I’m sure we all had a little wakeup call about that. I know all the parents that I know certainly did, and me too. I may not be a parent- but life is short, and you should appreciate what you have while you have it. You just never know what may come tomorrow. So be thankful for your family & friends & pets, tell them you love them every chance you get & don’t let fear get the best of you. I had to remind myself that after being in NYC during the 9/11 attacks- when it was time to get back on that train, it was kind of hard to do. Fear of what could happen should never take away from your life, or interfere with you living. And I know there are some parents who might feel a form of survivor’s guilt; why did their child live? How did they get to be so lucky when others were so terribly devastatingly ruined by this? I don’t know why or how, but I do know that you should just be thankful & not let that guilt or those questions take one minute of time away from you enjoying your family as much as possible. I don’t have the answers. And I don’t really have anything to say that can solve this, provide comfort, or take pain away from anyone. I do know that sweets make people happy. And when I make people happy, it gives me solace that my one little tiny act of baking a cake or pressing “publish”  can maybe help make someone smile in an otherwise shitty situation. So in that vein, I’m continuing to light up my little section of the web with deliciousness (& hopefully a few laughs). Food can sometimes give the comfort words themselves can’t.

I’ll leave it at that and I’ll just get right to the point…

Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

Blogger? No, I’m a blood spatter analyst.

Well, it’s been a while since I made cupcakes that involved blood. Actually it’s been a while since I made “gory” or creepy cupcakes. For a long time there I sorta went the cutesy route with my Halloween offerings. But that has changed, my dear readers. I got some new-found inspiration from my pseudo-TV- boyfriend…. Dexter Morgan.

;

Ohhh, Dexter. AKA Michael C. Hall. You might know him from Six Feet Under, but we’re not here to talk about that. You should know him from his TV show, aptly named Dexter, where he plays Mr. Dexter Morgan, a murderous character: blood spatter analyst working for the Miami Metro Police Department by day/serial killer by night. Key players? Glass slides, clear plastic sheeting, blood (lots of it), some bad guys that deserve a good killin’ and a few crazy bitches thrown in for good measure. Obviously, blood & blood spatter is a major part of the show, both in Dexter’s day job… and his “night job.”

So, that said, welcome to my “Kill Room.”

;

I’m a big fan of the show. Is that obvious?

My love of Dexter came about kind of randomly last fall. On a whim, I ended up putting every available season on my Netflix queue and watching them one after another. I’d been hearing such great things about the show for so long, but I hate to jump on bandwagons. The more hype something has, the less I’m interested. So I resisted (just like I did with Sex & the City, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under- it took me years to see those) for a long time and then I ended up watching all 5 seasons in a matter of two months, devouring them like a fiend. I fell in love. And see, I have a thing for the bad guy. I know it seems funny for me to say that, being that my significant other is a cop, but it’s true! I loved Tony Soprano, I love Nucky Thompson & Jimmy Darmody, I love Dexter. I find he’s not really all that bad. He’s cleaning up the element the police can’t due to red tape or lack of evidence. And that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned!* Come on, be honest: you can’t tell me you’ve never heard a story about a crime and said (re: the criminal) “I wish I could get my hands on that bastard.” Of course you have.

Plus, I have a little crush on him, serial killer or not.

;

Anyway, all I know is, I like love the show. So when I was thinking of my Halloween cupcake offerings for this year, I came up with the idea of some gory, blood drenched ones as I was having a little refresher watching season 6 of Dexter before the new season starts tonight. It seemed almost wrong to not refer to him & acknowledge the show in my post, especially since I got my idea from it and also used some of the posters for sale in the Dexter Showtime store as “pattern inspiration” for my blood. What I used for the blood itself was really easy: just some red gel icing color (Wilton Christmas Red) mixed with a tad hot water. I just mixed it until it was “drippable” or “splatterable” (neither of those are in Webster’s, I guarantee you). I used a toothbrush to fling/spatter/squirt the blood onto the frosted cakes. Instant crime scene.

;

If you want to use a cherry-flavored extract to mix with the food coloring, you can. But the alcohol content might cause it to behave differently than water, so I don’t know if it’ll “dry” the same way or splatter the same. But it’s worth a shot. You could probably even use liquid food coloring with good results, too. Even better would be Karo syrup thinned out a little with red liquid food coloring & water. That way it would mimic the thing I like best about using the gel: it’s thicker, so it has more heft. Also another benefit of the gel is that it doesn’t fully dissolve so it has little “clots”… and therefore it’s more like real blood. However I’m just a perfectionist! Nobody else would notice that stuff. I’m just one of those crazy people that notice details.

(Either way, no matter what method you use, I do recommend that you use an old tablecloth [if not actual plastic like I did] because once this stuff splatters on something light-colored, then you’re done with that for good. Oh, and wear plastic gloves. Seriously.)

Needless to say, disposing of the aforementioned red-dotted plastic was a challenge. The food coloring seriously looked so much like real blood, and the splatters looked so realistic, too. Because of that, to avoid frightening my idiot neighbors or causing a mass hysteria, I had to roll it up & wrap it in a black Hefty bag, so I really felt like Dexter. Haha. Maybe I should’ve let them see it… that would’ve made things interesting, huh?

;

The cupcakes can be any kind you like. I chose chocolate, and I filled half of them with some cherry preserves… but anything will work: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, etc. The main thing is that the frosting be white or off-white. I know it seems incredibly obvious, but you won’t see the blood spatter on chocolate frosting, it’ll just look messy. You can see how the spatter looks when it gets on the chocolate cupcake, imagine that as frosting. Not as good. It’s really a great effect on the white frosting.

You can even take it one step further and make glass slides out of sugar!

SUPER CHOCOLATEY CUPCAKES

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (one at a time)
  • 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Cream butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add 4 large eggs (one at a time) and beat each until thoroughly combined, then add chocolate (chocolate should be melted, then cooled for approximately 15 minutes before being added). Add and alternate cake flour plus baking soda with buttermilk (room temperature) plus vanilla extract.
  3. Place cupcake paper into each cup of 2 muffin pans (each pan yielding 12 muffins). Then fill each cup with 1 leveled off scoop of an ice cream scooper (or a little more than halfway).
  4. Bake at 350° degrees in regular oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

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HEAVY CREAM BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (perhaps more)

Directions:

  1. Place the butter and shortening in a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add the first pound and a half of powdered sugar, a cup at a time until all is incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl very well. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  2. Slowly add half of the heavy cream while the mixer is on, and beat for one minute. Add more cream or sugar as needed to achieve a frosting consistency that’s suitable to piping. Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

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Like I said, it was really a little freaky how much like blood it looked. Not to mention how well it splattered. I was shocked that it really had the viscosity of blood. Not that I know that much about blood or anything…

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Tell me they aren’t beyond awesome. You can’t. ‘Cause they are.

And of course, this idea can be adapted to a variety of movies/TV shows/themes: just regular old Halloween parties, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, Friday the 13th, vampires, CSI, Carrie, American Psycho, etc. Any gory horror movie where they feature a lot of blood, you can use these to represent it. Personally I’ve done the vampire angle a few times and I figured it was Dexter’s turn. Plus I already had all this plastic sheeting. Don’t ask why. It’s just better that way.

Dexter airs Sunday nights (that’s tonight!) at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime. Be there or be…


*I am not endorsing vigilante justice. Okay, maybe just a little bit.

Blackberry jam cupcakes with lime.

A couple of months ago, I made some blackberry lime jam. And then (true to form), in all the summer hubbub, I genuinely forgot all about it. I say “true to form” because I do that a lot. I make something that I’m dying to use, and then I forget about it. Months later, I end up finding it in the cupboard and thinking, “OH CRAP!” But it’s okay, because isn’t that why we make shelf-stable jams & jellies? So we can use them months & months & months after we make them?

So the idea I had for the jam was originally a form of thumbprint cookies. But that fell by the wayside when I imagined vanilla cupcakes with a blackberry lime jam filling, topped with some vanilla-lime buttercream. I’ve been in a cupcake-y mood again lately, it seems. And this jam is really beautiful. Pardon my photography skills (and the possible overload of photos in this post), these shots were taken on my birthday gift, a.k.a. my new camera, so I’m still playing around with settings.

While I’m on the subject of cupcakes, I’d like to introduce you all to my new “blog adoptee” for lack of a better term. Meet Cathy, everyone! Her blog is new, it’s called Legalized Frostitution, and she’s asked me to help her navigate the sometimes stormy seas of the blog world. She joins the ranks of the lovely Amanda, my first blog adoptee whom I will love for always & forever stalk on Instagram. Cathy is awesome- she said some really sweet things about me (flattery will get you everywhere, take note *wink*) and you should all bookmark her blog or whatever it is you crazy kids do nowadays. Like Amanda, she’s about to realize I really have no idea what the hell I’m talking about; I just like to read my own writing & take pretty pictures. Heh. Welcome to the fold, Cathy. I wish you much blogging success!

Anyway, I adapted a cupcake recipe to make about a half-dozen (it made 8, actually) so I didn’t have a surplus of cupcakes. Plus, I didn’t want to use up ALL the jam. I was originally going to swirl the jam into the batter, but then I ended up just “filling” the batter with a teaspoon/teaspoon and a half of jam. You can’t see it from the outside, but it’s there. You could swirl it if you wanted to create a nice visual effect (or if you’re not using frosting), but I figured the frosting would just cover it so it was a waste.

Anyway, because the recipe is quartered, you can double/triple/quadruple it with excellent results.

BLACKBERRY JAM CUPCAKES WITH LIME

Makes about 6-8 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Rodelle, my new favorite)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Blackberry lime jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and oil in a separate medium bowl. Add eggs; blend.
  3. Whisk in buttermilk, milk, & vanilla extract. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend.
  4. Divide batter among liners, adding about 2-3 teaspoons of batter, then 1-2 teaspoons of jam, then 2-3 more teaspoons of batter on top.
  5. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.

VANILLA-LIME BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (preferably Crisco)
  • 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • the zest of one lime; half finely grated, half left on the larger side (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Beat butter & shortening until light and fluffy.
  2. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar. Add milk & vanilla and mix until very smooth. Adjust depending on preference- add more sugar to thicken, more milk to soften.
  3. Add the finely grated lime zest, beat until incorporated. Frost cupcakes & top with the rest of the lime zest.

So I just frosted the cooled cupcakes with a large closed star tip, leaving an opening in the middle. I filled the opening with a dollop (isn’t that a great word- DOLLOP) of jam, and then grated some more lime zest on top. My jam happened to have some larger almost-whole blackberry chunks, which was perfect.

Look at this sweet little sunset-bathed blackberry lime cupcake.

Okay so here’s the deal. If you don’t want to make the jam, you can 100% use fresh blackberries; just plop a berry in the middle of each cupcake where the jam would go. Then plop another one on top, after it’s frosted, also where the jam would go. And then just grate the lime zest over it. You can actually use any kind of jam or berry you want, in theory. Lemon zest goes well with blueberry & strawberry, orange goes nicely with raspberry. Even marmalade would be nice, like a creamsicle cupcake. I’ve made lemon marmalade cupcakes before, but not orange. Hm.

Say hello to He Who Must Not Be Named (Harry Potter reference!). He’s fairly new- he just got here in February & he hasn’t gotten a lot of face-time, unlike Lola, who is basically the dominatrix/queen of everything around here. But he’s mega spiffy with his skull & crossbones sticker. And he wanted to say hi. So hi. Also, he’s a KitchenAid 9-Speed digital Architect model. Just in case you were wondering.

And that’s that. Now… on to the 600 other jars of jam I have in here.

Sources & credits: Ikea black bowl, Ikea cupcake tea towel, vintage silverware, Ball® 8-oz. crystal quilted jars can be purchased at freshpreserving.com.