Category: marshmallow

It’s my birthday & I’ll make cupcakes if I want to.

HOLY FRIGGIN’ BALLS. Tomorrow I turn 32 years old! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! And more importantly, who the hell is in charge here, because somewhere along the line, I got shafted. Time went too quickly, and I’d like to file a complaint.

Hello? Anyone?

Me, as a baby.

How things change. Not so very long ago, I was wearing pink Osh Kosh overalls & making scrunchy faces at people. Actually, scratch that; I still do those things, except I only have regular ol’ blue denim H&M overalls now, not pink. Jay will tell you (& my family will attest to the fact)… I still make that face. Frequently. And my bangs still separate like that no matter what I do.

Some things don’t change. Nevermind.

Anyway… uh… cupcakes.

Happy 32nd birthday to me- funfetti cupcakes!

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Snap, crackle, Snackle Mouth.

Snackle Mouth is an awesome company. I’ve done two different posts with their delicious granola snacks before, and I had so many more ideas floating around my head. So I was thrilled when they offered me some boxes of their new varieties: Bacon Maple and Salty Chocolate. BACON. MAPLE. Did you read that? Bacon maple. And salty mutha’f’n chocolate. WHAT. Yes.

Sweet and Salty….we get it and we likey!  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night, snack time – seriously, any time is the right time to eat Chocolate.  So, we baked in loads of yum and sprinkled just the right amount of sea salt for a little zippy-do.

-Snackle Mouth

They sent these to me around a month ago, perhaps longer, and I couldn’t wait to start experimenting. But first comes the taste testing! And after thoroughly testing each one, I had some serious thinking to do. I had already done a coffee cake, and made parfaits with it. And being early August at the time, there weren’t a lot of “cozy” moments; it was hot as hell. So I was a little hesitant to bake. But that’s what I do, yanno? I bake. I get down in the kitchen with a wooden spoon and beat batter & people with whisks. Plus, fall is swiftly coming upon us. And I know the warm, late-summer days & nights are numbered. In a few weeks, maybe even days, things will change; I’ll be cooking up (& eating up) fall treats & I’ll want to wear toasty, fall-y clothes.

But now? Now there are still those hot, sweaty & humid days. Except now there are more of the much cooler, lovely nights. And I like to spend those nights drinking an Octoberfest or Pumpkin Ale, sitting around the fire pit. The smell of burning wood & toasting marshmallows, the crackling & snapping sounds, the need for a (light) sweater. So with all that in mind, I decided to bake something with the Snackle Mouth after all. And I came up with these babies:

Salty chocolate granola campfire bars. The granola’s name, Snackle Mouth, kind of reminds me of the crackle of a fire. So I thought, why not incorporate their salty chocolate granola into a more portable version of the classic campfire treat: the s’more. You all already know I love s’mores. But they can be messy, you know? And yeah the messiness can be the entire point, and even what makes it so fun, but what if you want a s’more at like, 12 noon on a random Thursday? Or while you’re at school… and there’s no campfire? That, my friends. That’s why you make these.

The bottom “cookie” layer has a graham crackery taste, but yet it’s soft, like a chewy chocolate chip cookie base. The chocolate chips melt just enough and the saltiness of the Snackle Mouth combined with the marshmallows… UGH. So delicious. And sweet. And a little salty.

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I made this recipe three times, each a few weeks apart, and wrote and rewrote it numerous times before I got it to the point where it was good enough to write up for you guys on the blog.

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I think this is it.

SALTY CHOCOLATE GRANOLA CAMPFIRE BARS

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted & cooled to just slightly warm
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 box Salty Chocolate Snackle Mouth granola
  • 1/2 bag mini-marshmallows
  • 6 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line an 8″ x 11″ brownie pan (or a 9″ x 13″ pan) with parchment paper & spray lightly with PAM, or brush a little of the melted butter on it. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, sugars, flour, vanilla, salt and honey in a bowl with a hand mixer. Once it’s thoroughly combined, pat the dough into the prepared baking pan, a handful at a time. It will be very moist but very crumbly. Using your (clean!) hands, press it and push it together to form a cohesive dough. Make sure it’s as even as you can get it so it bakes evenly. I made it slightly lower in the middle, making a little “crust” on the edges like a deep dish pizza, but you don’t have to do that.
  3. Spread the chocolate chips on top in an even layer, pressing them into the dough just slightly. Bake it for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chips are almost but not yet completely melted. Remove from the oven and add the Snackle Mouth granola, pushing it down in between and on top of the chips.
  4. Bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is baked through. Remove the pan from oven. On top of the granola layer, arrange the marshmallows evenly while it’s still hot.
  5. Turn on the broiler and place the pan under the broiler until the marshmallows begin to toast & melt slightly. Remove immediately and let cool completely to room temperature before slicing.

If you drape the parchment like I did, it helps when you’re taking them out of the pan. If you’d rather cut them on a board instead of in the pan, just lift them up & out. Once they’re 100% cooled that is. Look at this melty goodness.

They were sweet, messy (when eaten on the warmer side as I did- I couldn’t help it) and perfectly campfire-y. I guess I’m just on a toasted marshmallow kick lately, huh? So I hope by now you’ve realized that granola, especially Snackle Mouth, isn’t just for snacking on right out of the box or for making into granola bars. You can use it in all sorts of different ways- coffee cakes, parfaits, cookie bars. And there’s more to come! I have tons of ideas. But these will tide me over until I come up with an appropriate Bacon Maple recipe. Hmm…

I think it goes without saying I lit a fire in the fire pit, settled in next to it and ate these until I couldn’t stand it anymore! And I hope that this Labor Day, you do the same, hopefully while remembering the reasons you have off from work.

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S’more & more & more…

Hey… psst… as of midnight last night, er, this morning, the cookie jar giveaway is officially over! Congrats to the winner, Sarah – enjoy your cookie jar! And thanks to everyone else who entered. I hope to have many more in the future.

I bake after midnight a lot. More than most, I’d guess. And lately I’ve been in baking mode; clafouti & cookies & cupcakes, oh my. But see, here’s the rub. When the weather gets hot, I hate to turn on the oven, so I try & do my baking at night (or the early morning) when it’s cooler. I’m kind of old fashioned like that. Even with air conditioning… I still hate to have the oven on when the temperature is over 80º degrees unless it’s 100% necessary. And you’d think that with cupcakes it’d be necessary. And it is. But not necessary enough. So I do it at night when everyone’s asleep (well, almost everyone… Jay does work until 2:30 a.m. after all) & the sun is down, & it’s way cooler. This guy might or might not be awake, too.

Anyway. If I’m lucky, it’s cool enough (and the humidity is low enough) after midnight to fling all the windows open and get fresh nighttime air. I’m a full-on night owl, that’s when I do my best thinking too. It’s when I came up with this.

S’mores cupcakes have been done before. Tons of times. You’re probably thinking, “Been there, done that, seen it on Pinterest.” And you’d be right. But I don’t really like to try & reinvent the wheel, here. I like the classics. Forget about inventing taco cupcakes or some crazy shit. I like reworking the classics & trying new ways of doing them. I’m just nutty like that. I mean, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results? I think someone said that once. It probably wasn’t anyone I know, though, they’re all a bunch of damn lunatics themselves.. It..

At any rate, I decided to recreate a classic cupcake in a way I never did it before. S’mores cupcakes are some of my favorite cupcakes ever. The last time I made them was quite some time ago, and it was this recipe. That recipe is awesome- don’t get me wrong. But I wanted to try something different. Side note: do you think it’s normal I look back on my blog posts from 4 years ago and cringe? ‘Cause I do. Mainly because the pictures suck. Anyway… s’mores. What’s there not to like about them? And they’re pretty much perfect for this time of year; s’mores themselves are a summer staple, aren’t they? They’re made at cook-outs, barbecues, camping trips, etc. And this is a less messy way of having your s’mores and eating them too. Although a messy s’more right off the fire is a lovely thing.

This time I decided to make a rich dark chocolate cupcake and sprinkle it with graham cracker crumbs before baking it.

Then once they’re out of the oven and almost cooled, I put a large marshmallow on top…

And then stuck ‘em under the broiler; toasting the marshmallow and melting it, creating a “frosting.”

As it settles, it melts down onto the cupcake. And there you have it.

A new take on the s’mores cupcake.

S’MORE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Hershey’s® Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • about 4 or 5 honey graham crackers, crushed
  • 12 large marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º degrees F. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. In another bowl whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk and vegetable oil. Gradually whisk flour mixture into sugar mixture. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Add a heaping teaspoon of crushed graham crackers on top of each cupcake. Bake in preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool for several minutes in the cupcake pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool just enough so they can be handled. Once cooled, but yet still warm, transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each cupcake with a large marshmallow. Slide under the broiler and broil until browned, bubbly & melted. Remove immediately. Allow marshmallow to cool enough so that it won’t burn your mouth, then eat away!

I got my brown cupcake liners from sweet estelle’s baking supply. I like using dark brown liners when making chocolate cupcakes, I think it looks much nicer than a white one or a colored one. Most colored ones aren’t greaseproof enough to work on chocolate cupcakes. Unless they’re from the Confectionery House or Sutton Gourmet Paper. But that’s just my two cents. I prefer to use brown or black liners for dark cupcakes, I like the look. But I also like potato chip sandwiches, hot sauce in macaroni & cheese, dipping french fries in blue cheese dressing, the smell of gasoline and shaving the sides of my head. I don’t expect you to fully agree with everything I say.

The neat thing about these is that the next day, the marshmallow is still soft & gooey. So they’re good warm and they’re also good the next day.

Or for breakfast. Not that I’m encouraging that at all, kids. S’mores cupcakes and Coke are NOT a balanced breakfast, but I eat it anyway and feel the same silent, secret shame I feel when I actually like a Coldplay song.

Thankful.

I’ve been hearing about sweet potato cupcakes for a few years now. Retro Bakery in Las Vegas features a Candied Yam cupcake every Thanksgiving season, and seeing how I follow them on Twitter, I kinda salivate each time they’re pictured or mentioned. I don’t actually like sweet potatoes, but I do like sweet potato fries and when there’s marshmallow on anything it’s probably gonna be delicious. So sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow-y frosting? Sign me up, baby. My friend Sami made a version of sweet potato cupcakes from Better Homes & Gardens with a chocolate syrup-type frosting & she wasn’t a fan, but I thought I’d try this version anyway. After all, I’d had it saved & waiting to be used for almost a year.

See here’s the deal: I don’t just bake or make edible stuff for Thanksgiving or Christmas. My mixer isn’t pulled out for the holidays then covered up again for another year; she’s in a place of honor where she belongs. I always have a variety of flours & sugars, not to mention honey, sprinkles, buttermilk and unsalted butter in the house at all times. I’ve got cookie cutters that are discolored & well-worn, not brand new & shiny. I have baking pans & cookie sheets out the ass, most of which have seen better days. I have plastic bins overflowing with muffin & cupcake liners for every day of the week let alone season. I have Mason jars & lids stashed everywhere & there’s liquid pectin in my fridge. I’m a full-on, from-scratch baker/cook/canner, 12 months out of the year. I make time to bake & make homemade food & confections every week, because it’s not only enjoyable but also because it’s important to me. It keeps me happy, well-fed and most importantly sane. So I have recipes bookmarked (both on Firefox & literally bookmarked in books), earmarked, cut-out of magazines & taped to notebooks, some even stored in the “notes” section on my iPhone. They’re everywhere. I get them in e-mails from family members, on Facebook, on Twitter (or I should say via Twitter, since fitting a recipe in 140 characters is kinda hard) and more. Both virtual copies & hard copies. They’re stashed all over my house from the bedroom to the kitchen to the living room. I have notes on the calendar about them, memos in my phone about them, and reminders on my laptop. I spend my spare moments before I fall asleep searching the internet for things like whiskey-pickle recipes or unique ways to use up dried cranberries. Insane? No. It’s entirely possible that people who don’t do that are far more insane than I am. Because of the fact that it keeps me sane.

Anyway while I bake a lot, and make a lot of cupcakes… I wanted to make an extra special batch of cupcakes for this Thanksgiving, and I do think these fit the bill. I toasted the frosting & I think that just adds to it. Of course, I can’t have one yet because they’re all for tomorrow- but I tasted some batter & OH MY GOD. I don’t even like sweet potatoes & that’s some good shit.

Jay will be home from Texas for turkey day, too, which is an added bonus. I’m picking him up from La Guardia in a couple of hours, after a long day of baking & packing up food. Mi familia will be together tomorrow & stuff our faces full of that food, & that’s just the way it should be. This Thanksgiving is the first one I’m, or we’re, celebrating without my grandma. It’s rough, and I know Christmas will be tougher still. But she wouldn’t want me to complain or be sad. She loved the holidays, & so I’m doing my best to celebrate her memory as well as each holiday. This Thanksgiving we’ll all raise our glasses of wine & toast to Aggie, and of course Uncle Pat, and at the same time be thankful for all we do have & that includes family, and of course for me it includes these two sweet little faces…

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SWEET POTATO CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned whole sweet potatoes (unsweetened), mashed
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line twelve 2 ½-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set cups aside.
  2. In medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Add sweet potatoes and vanilla, beating until combined. Add flour mixture; beat until combined (batter will be thick).
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 minute. Remove from pan and cool completely.

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SEVEN-MINUTE FROSTING

Makes about 4 cups, plenty of frosting for 12-18, possibly even 24 cupcakes, depending on how high you frost!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature

Directions:

  1. Combine ¾ cup sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230° degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining tablespoon sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230° degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Just remember: you really do need a stand mixer for this frosting. Unless you have Incredible Hulk muscles & don’t mind standing there beating egg whites until stiff for possibly 15-20 minutes or more and then beating the hot frosting itself for 7+ minutes by hand. However, you can make a marshmallow frosting using Fluff that’s awesome too, and tastes similar (a bit sweeter) & can be toasted as well.

And of course I boxed them up in Bake-A-Box boxes. The liners are greaseproof natural, unbleached liners from Layer Cake Shop. I bought the fall leaves from Sugar Robot on Etsy. They’re paper… but they’re edible! How awesome is that?! Supposedly they taste like vanilla. We’ll see. Oh, and those other cupcakes are cinnamon-vanilla (recipe here) with a vanilla frosting in plain white liners for the finicky among us who perhaps won’t eat the sweet potato cupcakes. These have little vintage-inspired turkey toppers on ‘em.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow, even those of you who don’t celebrate it for whatever reason. Enjoy your friends & families, & pets. I hope that you’ll consider a donation to help feed someone who can’t feed themselves tomorrow, or if you’re able to you’ll volunteer at a shelter or food bank or soup kitchen. But at the very, very least, please make a $5 or $10 donation to the ONE campaign, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, or Share Our Strength. Please think about those less fortunate than you, when you’re “counting your blessings” tomorrow.

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Spring has sprung.

Not 100% of course, but for the most part anyway.

I’ve done one of these little compilation posts for Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas, Valentine’s Day & St. Patrick’s Day, so here’s my springtime/Easter version. I don’t really do “Easter”, I like bunnies, baby chicks, lilies & chocolate… so I celebrate those things & call it Easter. I’m not one of those Wiccans or “Pagans” either. I’m Agnostic, but I do love me some holidays. I can’t help it. I love to decorate and bake and cook and that’s the best part of life, in my opinion. So why not celebrate everything!?

The real meaning of Easter:

Easter (Old English: Ēostre; Greek: Πάσχα, Paskha; Hebrew: פֶּסַח‎, Pesakh, “Passover“) is the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year.[1] According to Christian scripture, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday[2] (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and 36, traditionally 33. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox.[3] Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the 21st century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover.[4][5]

Relatively newer[citation needed] elements such as the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts have become part of the holiday’s modern celebrations, and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike. There are also some Christian denominations who do not celebrate Easter.

Yeah so that last part applies to me. Delicious chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs filled with creamy fondant? Yes please. I guess, though, I more celebrate just the coming of spring itself, which is more like Ostara:

Old English Ēostre (also Ēastre) and Old High German Ôstarâ are the names of a putative Germanic goddess whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath, has given its name to the festival of Easter. Eostre is attested only by Bede, in his 8th century work De temporum ratione, where he states that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, and that feasts held in her honour during Ēostur-monath had died out by the time of his writing, replaced by the “Paschal month“. The possibility of a Common Germanic goddess called *Austrōn- was examined in detail in 19th century Germanic philology, by Jacob Grimm and others, without coming to a definite conclusion.

Linguists have identified the goddess as a Germanic form of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, *Hausos, some scholars have debated whether or not Eostre is an invention of Bede’s, and theories connecting Eostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed.

Notice the spelling similarities between Eostre and Easter? Hmm. Food for thought. I’ll let ya chew on that one.

So in short, I like to eat and make stuff, and that’s what holidays are all about, really. I don’t think you have to believe in a God to celebrate the coming of spring, especially after a winter where here in New York we got a whopping 60.9″ of snow total. At any rate… here are some delectable cupcake confections that celebrate this time of year, and can be adapted/used whether your celebrations are referred to as Ostara, Easter, Passover or just plain spring.

One of my favorite Easter cupcakes; lemon-vanilla cakes with a lemon-vanilla buttercream, topped with toasted coconut “nests” and Cadbury mini-eggs. Super cute and so easy! These were a humongous hit with everyone who ate them, I highly recommend trying them. Recipe here: Nest Eggs.

I grouped these two together because they’re in the same post from last Easter. The top ones are Creamsicle mini-cupcakes topped with a thick marshmallow Fluff buttercream, and the bottom ones are carrot cupcakes topped with a lavender-tinted cream cheese frosting. Check both recipes out here: Easter?
I didn’t actually make these for Easter, I made them for my grandmother’s 92nd birthday… however they’re a perfect springtime cupcake idea. A light chocolate cake topped with an Earl Grey/lemon icing and candied lemon peel garnish (which is deceptively easy). Very sophisticated & delicious. Find the recipes for the cake, icing and lemon peel here: Earl Grey with lemon “tea party” cupcakes.
Another one I didn’t make for Easter, I made them for Cupcake Rehab’s 1st birthday, but yet they would be totally appropriate for spring. Neapolitan cupcakes- vanilla cake, strawberry Kool-Aid frosting and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. Extremely delicious. Recipes: Neapolitan “happy 1st birthday Cupcake Rehab” cupcakes.
These I definitely didn’t make for Easter. But being that they’re almond cupcakes with a white chocolate buttercream, they’d be so cute with marzipan fruits or hand-rolled marzipan Easter eggs on top for Easter, wouldn’t they? This is one of my favorite cupcakes ever. Try them yourself: Frau Marilla’s Alpenblume Weiße Schokolade Kleine Kuchen!


So that’s that. If you’re not drooling by now, there’s something wrong with you. Also, I also have a recipe for chocolate hi-hat cupcakes that I made for Easter a few years back that I didn’t include above. So knock yourself out!  And If you’re looking for something more Passover-y, I have a recipe for sweet noodle kugel. I also have TONS of other cupcake and cookie recipes that can be adapted or used for this time of year, with just a little creativity.

As usual, I’ll be posting more spring-y things in the weeks to come so stay tuned... and tomorrow I’ll be guest posting over at Frosting 4 the Cause, so please come and check that out. I promise you’ll like it.

Vintage-style chocolate & Ovaltine for Halloween.

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing by now how much I love Halloween. Well, tough noogies I say. I’ve got my costume all ready (Merlotte’s waitress, complete with bloody vampire bites on my neck & requisite t-shirt, black shorts, & black Adidas sneakers), my house is all decorated with orange & purple lights, pumpkins, mums, zombies, faux spider webs, scarecrows and other assorted scary creatures, my jack-o’-lantern is carved (well actually, it will be tonight), and I’m excited. Bring on the monsters! Anyway, today I’m not going to be showing you a cupcake that’s gorey, just gooey. No gimmicky Halloween stuff, just… Ovaltine. Yep. Ovaltine.

Ovaltine always reminds me of vintage, old-fashioned things. Maybe it’s because you don’t often hear of it anymore, maybe it’s because of ‘A Christmas Story’, who knows. Either way, to me, Ovaltine & “malted milk” are really old-timey notions. Notions? I’m even talking old-timey now. This is a recipe I got from Bon Appétit’s September issue. Chocolate malt cake with malt crumbs, chocolate fudge sauce mini-marshmallows). Sounds amazing, right? Yeah that’s what I said too. So I decided to adapt it into a cupcake for Halloween, since it was dark & chocolatey. I omitted the malt crumbs because they just didn’t fit in with a cupcake version of the recipe- since you don’t “layer” a cupcake, there was nowhere to put them! I figured there was enough going on with these as it is, you know?

So here we are. Chocolate-malt cupcakes, filled with malt-fudge sauce, topped with amazing marshmallow Fluff buttercream (& if you like, you can add some charred mini-marshmallows, or just char this frosting itself!), adapted from a recipe by Christina Tosi, Momofuki Milk Bar‘s pastry chef. You can also use Swiss meringue, but I know some people find it tricky. So I included a recipe for an easy and delicious frosting alternative that’s equally as “pile-able” and smooth. Happy Halloween!

Have a fang-tastic Halloween… perhaps I should’ve used those toppers on these?


CHOCOLATE-MALT CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons Ovaltine Chocolate Malt mix (Classic Ovaltine can be used also)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place chocolate in a small, microwave safe bowl. Melt in microwave in 15-second intervals until just melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Combine butter, sugar and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium high speed until fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs; beat on low speed to incorporate, then increase speed to medium high and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add melted chocolate & Ovaltine. Beat until blended, about 1 minute. Add buttermilk, oil, milk and vanilla; beat on medium high speed until pale brown, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed until just blended- about 45 seconds.
  5. Divide batter amongst muffin tins, filling about halfway full. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.

MALT-FUDGE SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups Ovaltine Chocolate Malt mix
  • 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mild-flavored molasses
  • Pinch of coarse Kosher salt
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Place first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Combine cream, corn syrup, and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  3. Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture in bowl. Let stand 1 minute.
  4. Stir until smooth. Whisk until sauce is glossy, about 1 minute.

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

First you get:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (7½ ounce) jar Fluff, or similar marshmallow cream
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Then you’re gonna:

  1. Beat butter in a large bowl with mixer on high speed until creamy. Beat in marshmallow cream. Reduce speed to low, and beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat until fluffy.
  2. Frost cooled cupcakes.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

PERFECT CUPCAKE FROSTING (courtesy of Our Best Bites)

First, get this:

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (whole milk is best)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (NOT margarine!)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

And then yer gon’ do this:

  1. Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
  2. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It should still be liquid-ish though. It’s okay if you have lumps, because we’re gonna strain those out right now. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through.
  3. You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.
  4. Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.
  5. It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.
  6. But you just wait. It’s gonna blow your mind in a few minutes. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. Yes, that long. I know it seems like forever, but that’s when the magic happens!
  7. After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.

I should tell you I halved the cupcake recipe, but not the sauce recipe. I got 18 cupcakes and had PLENTY of sauce, so if you’re planning on making the entire recipe as cupcakes, you might not have to double the sauce.

Now you can use these elements in any way you like. What I did was I cut a hole out of the middle of each cupcake using a round Wilton 2A tip, then filled it with the malt-fudge sauce (when they were completely cooled but when the sauce was still warm and gooey). Then I frosted them high with a fluffy, creamy, shiny marshmallow Fluff  frosting that I split into two batches; I colored one batch violet and one green. I had already done the black & orange thing, and the blood red thing, so the only option left to cover this year was zombie skin green and mottled-flesh purple. Of course, to stay truer to the Momofuku version, you can also spoon the sauce over the tops of the cupcakes, then use mini-marshmallows on top and char them or just the frosting using a kitchen torch. That is if you use the marshmallow frosting. Don’t try and char Swiss meringue!!

Can you say DELICIOUS? It’s like eating a cup of Ovaltine with chocolate candy… in cake form. And if you added the marshmallows, it would be like hot chocolate or hot Ovaltine in a cupcake. Perfect for Halloween when everyone indulges in sweets & treats that really are just a bit too decadent. The fudge-malt sauce is to die for, and when it sets, it doesn’t get too hard, so it’s the perfect filling. But like I said, you could even use it as a frosting.

Liners and toppers are Martha Stewart for Michael’s, and the cupcake stand is by Wilton. Happy Haunting! And if you’re still looking for Halloween-themed treats… look no further than here, here and here.

The Devil’s road is paved with… orange marshmallow buttercream?

Before I get started on this post, I want to say how awesome it is that on October 13th the official Tru Blood Beverage website wrote a post about my True Blood Velvet cupcakes on their news page! So exciting, especially for me, I’m a huge fan of the show True Blood & the Sookie Stackhouse books. It was really spiffy that they noticed me & my lil’ ol cupcakes. I really geeked out over it for a while, truth be told (and still am, kinda). If you missed the post, and can’t find it, don’t worry. If you check out my press page, you’ll see a screenshot of what was written.

In researching my latest cupcake endeavor, I found out an interesting new fact. I didn’t know that black licorice was referred to as ‘Devil’s Road Tar’, but once I did I was so excited. I’m a big black licorice fan, I’m that person who eats all the black jelly beans and gum drops and leaves the rest. Not to mention there’s nothing like a good quality piece of licorice candy. I love it. Fennel, anise, licorice… whatever. I love it all. When I was little, my grandpa used to share his licorice pastilles with me, when I was a kid I’d devour Good & Plenty’s like there was no tomorrow, and as I got older I fell in love with Luden’s Honey Licorice cough drops (which are really hard to find, but I’ve been suckin’ ‘em down like crazy the past few weeks since I’m just getting over a bad ass cold) whether I was sick or not. I used to brush my teeth with Tom’s of Maine fennel toothpaste for a while, too. And Sambuca? Yes please. But all that aside, when I discovered that alias above, I knew it was perfect that I make these for Halloween. I stumbled upon a few different licorice cupcake ideas on the web. Some didn’t really appeal to me, to be honest, and others were combined with odd flavors. I don’t like chocolate with licorice, sorry. Vanilla was a safe bet, but I wanted something a little different. And so inspired by a few other bloggers, I decided the best bet would be an orange marshmallow topping made with Fluff. Why orange? Well, there’s an ice cream called ‘Tiger Tail’ (thanks Tania) that is orange ice cream with licorice sauce, and also there was a candy made by See’s that was a licorice stick, but orange & licorice together. The combination intrigued me, since both flavors are in my list of favorites. And really, what’s more Halloween-y than black & orange? Plus they match my Halloween cupcake cookie jar & cupcake candle… heh.

Admittedly, these will not be for everyone. Most of you will probably gag at the thought of these. That’s alright. It’s my blog & I’ll bake licorice cupcakes if I want to! And if no one else likes them, then more for me. This recipe only makes 12, so it’s not like a lot will go to waste. Honestly, they were really delicious. Not too much of an in-your-face licorice flavor, just a pleasant anise taste. And I even added more anise to mine! Don’t be afraid to try them, even if you cut the recipe in half. I am not ashamed to say I ate three in a row. Okay, maybe I’m a little ashamed. But they’re made with egg whites, so they’re healthier. Right?

The cupcakes, with an interesting cast of characters on top.


.You know what I learned while looking up licorice? Licorice is not the same thing as fennel or anise, despite having the flavoring compounds.

The flavor of liquorice comes mainly from a sweet-tasting compound called anethole (“trans”-1-methoxy-4-(prop-1-enyl)benzene), an aromatic, unsaturated ether compound also found in anise, fennel, and other herbs. Additional sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin, a compound sweeter than sugar.

But for our purposes, for this recipe, anise = licorice and does a pretty good job of it. Licorice has quite a rich history. It’s been used in drinks & teas for ages, and used to soothe many ailments. Not only that, but it’s just plain yummy.

Licorice. Just the word by itself evokes certain memories in each of us. Now imagine tasting some licorice right now; yum! In fact licorice has been enjoyed throughout the ages by pharaohs, kings, and people like you and I! Licorice comes in more varieties than the candy vines, it is used in teas, medicine, booze, food, and all sorts of candy. Let’s take a look at how licorice has become such a delectable treat worldwide.

Now, licorice wasn’t always used in candy of course, it was often put into a drink consumed by the ancient Egyptians. Often time warriors would use licorice because it could help out on long marches when a thirst needed slaking. Many wise men in many countries like Alexander the Great and the Indian prophet, Brahma, encouraged the use of licorice for its healing properties. Even today the Aveda Company makes a comforting tea using the licorice root, Glycyrrhiza Glabra. Licorice has even been used to soothe coughs and heal peptic ulcers.

In spite of all its medicinal qualities, its most popular quality is its wonderful sweetness and its use in candies. It can be found around the world: In the United States of course, and in Germany, England, the Netherlands, and Nordic countries. Its popularity knows no boundary.

In 1914 the American Licorice Company was founded in Chicago, Illinois. Black Vines were born that year and have remained a popular treat ever since. The chewy black goodness evolved into “yummies” such as: Black Crows, Licorice Snaps, Black Scotties, and an all time favorite, Good and Plenty. My favorite was a product call “Allsorts.” These were originally manufactured in England and looked like beautiful candy jewels with licorice surrounded by pink, blue, and yellow confections. They were cut into squares, cylinders, and rounds; usually layered so you could see the licorice in the center of say a pink round candy. The look was tempting and the taste magnificent. You can still buy these today.

Eventually, in 1920 the classic Raspberry Vines made their debut, and while they weren’t really licorice, they became synonymous with licorice because they were produced by the same company and had the same chewy characteristics as real black licorice. However, red licorice is made with strawberry or cherry extracts; they are not made with the licorice root, therefore, they don’t taste anything like black licorice, but are delicious in their own right.

Licorice has been used for kinds of purposes throughout the ages. One thing that stands true is the tastiness and the memories we get when licorice is on our palate. We reminisce a bit about when life seemed to move a bit slower, or when grandpa would hand us a licorice morsel out of his jar. Whatever the memory is, there is no denying the history and goodness of a licorice treat!

BLACK LICORICE CUPCAKES

First you get:

  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 oz white chocolate (good quality)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Then you:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the top of a double boiler. When completely melted and combined, stir in the sugar, and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup, mix together the milk, vanilla, and anise extracts.
  4. Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, starting and ending with the flour. Beat just until ingredients are combined after each addition.
  6. With clean bowl and beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed for one minute,then on high until soft peaks form.
  7. Transfer 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter bowl, gently fold to combine. Fold in the rest of the egg whites.
  8. Fill 12 cupcake papers to ¼ inch from the top rim. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I frosted them with an orange marshmallow Fluff frosting that I striped with black & orange stripes, then piped it on and sprinkled it with orange and brown sprinkles with miniature black bats. I don’t often do the “holiday themed jimmies” thing, but these were so freakin’ cute with the mini-bats, I had to. The toppers are vintage, they include a jack-o-lantern, a flying witch, a black cat face, a witch’s head, a black cat, a scarecrow and a skull & crossbones. Cute, right? The liners are Martha Stewart for Michael’s, of course. She always pulls me in with these adorable liners and then I always buy way more than I need to. But that’s alright, it just means more cupcakes and muffins for this delicious holiday.

Honestly, even if you aren’t a big licorice fan, you might like these. They aren’t bold at all, they have a very light flavor. And if you’re looking for the frosting recipe, it’s here. Just add orange extract to it instead of vanilla and you’re ready for Halloween. And Arwyn, my darling little creature the color of licorice, is ready for Halloween too. As always.