Here we are at 2018!! For many, a new year is a beginning, another chance to keep those promises to yourself and others that maybe didn’t get kept the previous year? For me, the energy that comes from the fresh start of a new year is motivational, so I try to ride that “wave” as long as I can. Here’s hoping that we can all achieve our goals, large and small, in 2018!
For my first post of this brand-spanking new year, I whipped up some delicious and celebratory Champagne Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting. These cupcakes are subtly sweet with just enough of that sparkling wine flavor to tell that it’s there, and the crumb is moist, but still fairly light. I hope you’ll try them! Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, and productive new year!!
For the cupcakes:
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Sucanat, ground*
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons champagne
For the icing:
- 6 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used clear vanilla extract to keep the icing as white as possible)
Preheat oven to 350ºF
For the cupcakes:
- Put liners in a cupcake pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and ground Sucanat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg whites, vanilla, sour cream, and champagne and mix on medium speed after each addition until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add flour mixture and beat on low speed for 1 minute, being careful not to over beat the batter. You can finish with a spatula.
- Fill cupcake liners just over half full.
- Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating pan half way through. Test with a toothpick, it’s okay if there are a couple of crumbs left on it.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
For the icing:
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add the honey. Mix until combined and smooth. (If you beat too long the frosting will be too soft to pipe. If this happens, place the frosting in the refrigerator or freezer until it firms again). Or you can forgo the piping and just spread the frosting on each cupcake with a spatula. It’s still pretty and little less work and fuss!
Yields: 12-14 cupcakes
*Grind Sucanat in two batches in a blender until fine and powdery.
Makes 1 1/2 cups of frosting which will frost about 12-14 cupcakes.
Frosting adapted from America’s Test Kitchen – Naturally Sweet cookbook
I confess that I’m not much into making cakes. Shocking for a professed baker, I know! I suppose I should specify that it’s the multi-layered versions that regularly defeat me – there’s only so much filling and frosting you can use before it becomes obvious you’re trying to cover up a “leaner”. In a moment of frustration/desperation I’ve even considered shimming the legs on the table to compensate; but, yeah, that might be noticeable too… So…I opt for sheet cakes or my absolute favorite – the cupcake. The flavor options are nearly endless, there’s no anxiety about them falling over, and they’re not just a piece of the whole, but your very own, individual cake. And they’re cute, to boot! So much to love!
These Blackberry Jam Cakes have a moist, but tender crumb and come with sweet, jammy goodness in the middle. My next batch will be filled with raspberry jam, I think, or blueberry, or hmm, maybe strawberry….
- 1 white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 10 tablespoons blackberry fruit spread (I used Smuckers Simply Fruit)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons orange juice (squeeze juice from the orange you zested…)
- ¼ tsp. orange extract
You will also need:
2 jumbo cupcake pans (6 tins per pan)
Paper baking cups (optional)
Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Spray Baker’s Joy into jumbo cupcake tins. Set aside. (If you are using paper baking cups, you can skip this step.)
- Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Add eggs, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and orange zest. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute, then increase to medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Pour batter into each muffin tin until two-thirds full.Top each with 1 tablespoon of jam; cover with remaining batter.
- Bake about 25 minutes or when a testing toothpick comes out clean. After cooling in pan for 10 minutes, remove cakes and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice and orange extract to make glaze. Place rack over parchment paper (I didn’t do this and made quite the mess… Duh!); drizzle cakes with glaze.
Yields 10 Cakes
These Cinnamon Pecan cupcakes are another of my mom’s “oldie-but-a-goody” recipes. Actually, the original recipe was for a bundt cake, but I adapted it into cupcakes. There’s something a bit indulgent about having your very own little cake, plus it takes half the time to bake as when its made as a cake; and trust me you will not want to wait any longer than necessary when the aroma of yummy cinnamon and toasty pecans starts to fill your home. Mmmm! These cupcakes are from scratch, which takes a tiny bit more effort than using a box cake, but the difference in texture and taste is totally worth the extra time and energy that goes into making these little gems. This could probably go without saying, but these are soooo good served warm from the oven. You really need to try them and see!
Preheat oven to 350°F
- Spray muffin tins with Baker’s Joy or use large aluminum muffin cups.
- In a small bowl, combine the 2/3 cup brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon; set aside.
- With a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, and mix well. Add the sour cream and vanilla, mixing until combined.
- Measure and whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet; fold together until thoroughly combined, but don’t over mix it. Its normal for the batter to be a little stiff.
- Fill each tin half-full with batter; sprinkle on 1 1/2 tablespoons of the streusel, then add enough batter to almost reach the rim of the tin (¼” below the rim).
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon streusel on top of the batter in each tin.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing from muffin tins. (Run a knife around the edge of each muffin to ease removal from the tins)
Yields: 10 Large Muffins
NOTE: I used Jumbo muffin pans – the kind with only 6 tins, but you could easily adjust the recipe to make these muffins in a standard 12-tin pan.
If I had to choose a favorite doughnut it would have to be the Boston Cream, a.k.a. the Bismarck; but for reasons having mostly to do with my waistline, I don’t indulge in them as often as I’d really like. Now I can dispense with at least some of the guilt that comes with consuming fried dough stuffed with cream and slathered with chocolate, by eating these lovely Boston Cream Cupcakes. No, they aren’t low-fat, they just have less fat than a doughnut. And are they ever good!!
Moist vanilla cake, made more so with a creamy custard filling; and just as it should be, they’re topped with luscious chocolate ganache. There’s some assembly required, but all the parts whip up so easily. Really, what could be easier than a cake mix? Give these a try-you’ll be glad you did!
- 1 box Vanilla Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines French Vanilla)
- 1 box JELL-O Instant French Vanilla Pudding (3.4oz)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- Pinch salt
For the Cupcakes:
- Prepare cupcakes according to package directions. Cool on wire rack.
- When cool, cut cupcakes in half.
- Take the bottom half of each cupcake and scoop out a teaspoon or so of the cake. Be careful not to make a hole in the bottom of the cupcake.
For the Cream Filling:
- Prepare the pudding according to package directions. Set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, beat the 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes). Gently fold in pudding. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Chocolate Glaze*:
- Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, 1/2 cup cream, water, vanilla, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat.
- Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and stir to combine and melt the chocolate.
- The glaze will thicken as it cools. Re-warm on low heat to thin.
- Put all of your cupcake bottoms on a serving platter. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the cream filling into each small cavity and over the tops, spreading it almost to the edge.
- Place cupcake caps on top of the cream-topped bottoms.
- Spoon chocolate glaze over the tops of the cupcakes.
NOTE: *Makes about 2 1/2 cups glaze.