Thursday, September 20, 2012

Splatter Cupcakes

These cupcakes are colorful, fun little treats that kids and grown-ups are sure to love. And they may very well be the first treat that are (almost) more fun to make than they are to eat. I made mine using bright, neon colors, but you can make them with any color you like - as long as you can find the food coloring to do so. Perfect for the classroom, a birthday party or just a fun, little extra to add to any event or dinner, these bright cakes are sure to have people asking you "How did you make those!?"

Splatter Cupcakes:

The magic of these cupcakes are really in the design, but it is still important that you have a good cake base. Start with a white cupcake (this is important because the splatter affect works best on white).

Ingredients -

1 1/8 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine (if you use a stick of butter make sure it is room temperature; not melted or hard)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use GoldMedal)
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions - 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start by mixing the white sugar and butter/margarine together in a large mixing bowl. If you have an electric mixer, beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. If you are mixing by hand, use a large, wooden spoon to beat the mixture until it is a grainy/smooth texture.

Next, mix the powdered ingreients together (flour and baking powder) and slowly sift it in while beating at low speed. Then, beat two eggs in a separate container using a metal whisk, and pour them into the mixing bowl while continuing to beat at low speed.

Last, add in the vanilla extract. Continue to mix until the batter is fully-blended. If using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed for a few minutes. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are fully-blended.

Now for the fun part. Using whatever food coloring you chose - pour batter into 4 separate bowls. Next, mix the food coloring as you wish to create four colorful batters.

Use a spoon to create layers of the different colors in each cupcake paper. Then, drizzle different colors on top to create a colorful masterpiece. Be creative. Make each cupcake different by mixing different colors and creating patterns with the drizzle on top.

When finished, bake the cupcakes (12) for 18-20 minutes. Use a cake tester or toothpick to ensure cakes are fully baked. If any residue comes off on the tester or toothpick, place them in the oven for an additional 2 minutes.


Growing up my mom believed in home-made food. I didn't even know you could make pancakes from a box mix until I had them at a friend's house. She also used to make her own frosting/icing and I grew up doing this with her and her stand mixer. Something about homemade frosting/icing adds a little extra effort. You can use whatever frosting you choose here, again, as long as it is white. Below is a recipe for a home-made buttercream frosting. Store bought frosting may also be used. When making frosting from scratch, it is best to use a stand mixer. Making it by hand can prove difficult and hand mixers can be a little messy.

Ingredients - 

8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1/4 lb. unsalted butter (softened)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions - 

First: Don't forget to take out the butter and cream cheese so they can get to room temperature.

Mix softened butter and cream cheese together until consistency is smooth. Start at a low speed as you combine everything together and move up to a high speed. Beat at a high speed for about three minutes or until icing has fluffy peaks and looks like a cloud. Next, add the vanilla while beating the frosting at medium speed. Add sugar slowly (while continuing to beat the mixture). Add about 1/4 c. at a time or if you can, add sugar at a slow, steady pour (this keeps the icing fluffy).

Once the frosting is completed, separate into two-four containers and make each one a different color. After letting the cupcakes cool for about 15 minutes or more, frost them using the different colors.

Last Step: Enjoy!

Tips: If you have extra icing, chill it in the refrigerator for later use. Icing can be used later. Simply take out of the refrigerator and beat at medium speed until it is room temperature.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cinnamon French Toast

French toast is probably one of my favorite breakfast foods to make (and one of the easier options). And as far as I'm concerned breakfast food is good almost any time of the day.

I've come to the point where I've made french toast so much that I pretty much just eye it but below is a recipe for cinnamon french toast.


2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
8 pieces of bread

Use a nonstick pan if possible to avoid the use of butter/margarine, if you don't have one available use about a 1/2 tsp. of butter to coat the bottom of the pan. You may have to continue to add butter as you go through the slices.

Mix milk and eggs into a flat/wide container (I usually opt for a pie dish or square baker) Beat mixture with a whisk and then add cinnamon.

Dip bread quickly (do not soak) in mixture and place on frying pan. Cook briefly on medium heat (about 2 minutes per side). Mixture should make about 8 pieces of french toast.

When finished, sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Also add butter/margarine and syrup if desired. For an extra (healthy) kick, garnish toast with a sliced half of a banana or a few sliced strawberries.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Creative Alternative

These little cupcake cups are a great alternative to buying actual muffin pans. They save space because you can stack them and keep them in a drawer AND you can make different size muffins all in one batch. Plus, they are less expensive than must muffin pans. 
Cups also come in silicone and you can buy ones that look like flowers, all of which can be purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond. Another plus side is you don't have to use paper cups when baking and it makes cupcakes a unique shape. The downside to this is it makes for a little extra clean-up and then you don't have a paper to hold the cupcake with when you are serving/eating them. They are creative, convenient, economical space-savers :)

Lazy Baking...

Just because you don't have time to bake something from scratch doesn't mean you have to show up with basic chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. Pillsbury & Betty Crocker make less traditional cake mixes that take just a few minutes to make but are a little less expected. When I make these people always think I made them from scratch.

I used to bake cupcakes for work. We used them for marketing purposes and would bring them to our clients. I also made them for our bi weekly potlucks so everyone in the office could enjoy some too. Considering I had to be at work at 8 a.m. quick recipes were helpful to have on hand.

Pick up Pilsbury's Strawberry mix or Betty Crocker's Carrot Cake mix. Top either with Cream Cheese icing (recipes for home made below). Both brands make their own cream cheese frostings. OR make delicious Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes by frosting with chocolate icing.

Add a special touch by garnishing the strawberry dessert with real strawberry slices. Just cut off the stem and cut strawberries in half and place them on top of frosted cupcakes.

To add a special touch to Carrot Cake cupcakes mix in fresh nuts or carrot shavings.

With just a little extra effort your box-mix cupcakes, or cake, will look and taste like they are from scratch and people won't know you used a box mix.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

These are the same as the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cupcakes just without the Chocolate Chips.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes:

Ingredients - 

2 c. all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. cocoa powder (dutch process/NOT unsweetened)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. milk (Sometimes I use soy, either works)
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. butter or margarine
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions - 

First, mix the sugar and softened butter or margarine in a large mixing bowl and beat at low speed until fully blended (should only take a few minutes with an electric mixer). Then, mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl and slowly sift in the powdered ingredients while beating the mixture at low speed. Beat the eggs in a separate container and then add to the batter. Mix well. Then add vanilla extract to mixture. Next, mix in the peanut butter and beat at medium speed until batter is smooth. Then add milk.

Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full and heat at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Let cool and then frost with chocolate frosting.

Magic Cookie Bars

My best friend taught me how to make these when we were living together in SF. I made them when I went to my boyfriend (now fiance's) house for the holidays. They are great for the holidays but are seriously good for anything.

My bff is also a really good baker. And a pretty good cook, too. Now she eats vegan a lot and she told me about some vegan cupcakes she made. I'll have to get her recipe to share with everyone so they can try a vegan option.

She also has recipes for fruitcake (or Christmas cake.. her family is all from England and she was born there and lives there now so they have some weird stuff haha) and fondant.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the Magic Cookie Bars...

Magic Cookie Bars:

Ingredients - 

1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 c. flaked coconut
1 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Tip: Change up the flavor by swapping in different kinds of chocolate chips. Do half white chocolate and half milk chocolate, or all white chocolate. Also, when I make these for the holidays I like to do half with nuts, half without to give people options.

Directions - 

First: Preheat oven to 350.

Fill the bottom of a pan, a 13 x 9 in. pan will make slimmer cookies while a square baker or circular cake pan will make thicker ones, with melted butter. Pour graham cracker crumbs evenly across the bottom. I buy regular graham crackers and crush them in my hands to make the crumbs. Next pour the condensed milk evenly over the graham cracker crumbs. Add an even layer of chocolate chips, then an even layer of coconut flakes. Top with a layer of chopped pecans if desired.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool before cutting.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chocolate Snowballs

These are a favorite of my family. It comes from a Betty Crocker recipe and they are soooo easy to make. You don't even need to be good at baking to make these, yet they seem to be more popular than the more decadent treats. They work great for Christmas but really you can make them anytime.

Chocolate Snowballs:

Ingredients - 

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cut melted butter or margarine (I use margarine)
1 egg
1/4 c. all-purpose flour (I usually use Gold Medal)
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
About 60 unwrapped Hershey Kisses (approximately one bag)
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. water OR vanilla extract

The only changes I really make to this recipe is I took out the chopped almonds and almond extract. I personally am not a big fan of nuts inside of baked goods and I don't think many kids are either. On top of that these are one of my fiance's favorite baked goods I make and he is allergic to almonds. I add in a tsp. of water to make up for it. Vanilla extract works too, but the cookies are sweet even without added vanilla flavor so it's not necessary. The water is more to keep the right consistency.

Directions - 

First: Make sure to unwrap all of the Hershey kisses.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cookie mix, butter/margarine, eggs, flour, cocoa, and water/vanilla extract (or almond extract if you like). Mix until soft dough forms.

Next, roll dough around a chocolate kiss. Balls should be about 3/4 in. in diameter, just big enough to completely cover the chocolate kiss.

The recipe says to use an ungreased cookie sheet but I almost never suggest this unless you are using a good quailty non-stick pan. If not, using a Pam spray or grease with butter/margarine.

Tip: If greasing with butter or margarine, use a plastic Ziploc bag to spread butter/margarine onto the cookie sheet. Just put your hand inside the bag and smear a thin layer over the whole sheet. This way you have easy clean-up and minimal mess.

Bake snowballs for 8-10 minutes at 375. Then let cool for 5 minutes.

Roll snowballs in powdered sugar, let cool for 15 minutes, and then roll again if desired.

Tip: if you are one of those people who likes their chocolate cool, store snowballs in a tightly-sealed container inside of the refrigerator. These baked goods taste really good chilled.