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Category Archives: Fall Flavors

Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes


Self-Frosting Cupcakes!

This week I was inspired by a tweet I received about Nutella frosting. I was introduced to the wonder that is Nutella my sophomore year at CCSU by my old roommate who used to eat it directly out of the jar on pretzels. Needless to say one taste of the rich, chocolate, hazelnut spread and I fell in love. So the idea to incorporate that flavor into a cupcake is genius.

Even though I wanted to bake with Nutella, I didn’t want to shy away from the fall flavors, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner. So I did my usual Google search to try to find a recipe that I could work with, and one of the first ones that came up was “Self-Frosting Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes” from the blog, 52 Kitchen Adventures. Now to be completely honest I didn’t search for any more recipes after finding this one, I was sold by the words “self-frosting” right in the blog’s title.

Not only did this recipe allow me to conduct a science experiment, but it also saved me from the frosting step, which has started to become my least favorite task. What is fun about these cupcakes is you make the pumpkin cake batter and rather than frosting them after, you put a spoonful of Nutella (or any hazelnut spread) on top of the batter in the cups and swirl it in with a toothpick. As the cupcakes bake in the oven the Nutella warms and spreads, virtually frosting the top of the cupcake.

Pumpkin and chocolate aren’t two flavors that are combined often, but I loved this cake. The cupcake itself is dense due to the weight of the pumpkin puree, but the Nutella serves as a nice compliment to the strong nutmeg and cinnamon flavors and the hardened Nutella could be broken off and eaten like a piece of chocolate!!

RECIPE

Self-Frosting Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes

Adapted from 52 Kitchen Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Nutella for topping
Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin pan with foil or paper liners.

2. Place the pumpkin, oil, eggs, vanilla, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat to combine.

3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Add to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

4. Fill muffin cups around 3/4 full. Place a couple of teaspoons of Nutella on top of each cupcake. Use a toothpick to swirl the Nutella around the top of the batter.

Ready to go in the oven!

5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

If you love Nutella as much as I do try some of these other inspired recipes, and don’t forget World Nutella Day is Feb. 5, 2012!

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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Cupcakes, Desserts, Fall Flavors

 

Poll: Fall Flavors

There is no doubt that I love fall and all the food that comes with it! Thanksgiving epitomizes all of the possibilities the season has to offer when it comes to recipes, but why wait until November? I want to know what some of your favorite fall flavors are!! It’ll help me decide which cupcakes to bake next so don’t be afraid to tell me what mouth-watering flavors you’d like to see infused into a cupcake!

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Fall Flavors

 

A Taste of Fall

Pumpkin Cupcakes Topped with Cinnamon Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Living in New England, fall is definitely my favorite time of the year. I can’t imagine being in a place where I can’t see the leaves change or feel the cool crisp air whip around me. Basically, to me everything about this season is magical. I love fall sports, Halloween and especially fall foods! Flavors come alive in the fall, from fresh picked apples to pumpkin to the spices. 

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is go apple and pumpkin picking at Lyman Orchards. Honestly I can’t imagine a more perfect day than getting up, going apple picking, trying to find the perfect pumpkin, all while drinking the sweet yet tangy cool apple cider. I say I can’t imagine anything better because that is how I spent my Friday last weekend. Ever since going pumpkin picking with one of my best friends I couldn’t shake the yearning of wanting to bake something with a pumpkin flavor. For Thanksgiving I usually bake pumpkin squares, but I am too impatient to wait an entire month. So, instead of experimenting with chai cupcakes like I planned on I changed my mind last minute and decided to attempt pumpkin cupcakes!

Searching for the perfect pumpkin

So many to choose from at Lyman Orchards

What drew me to the recipe provided by Jen, a blogger for My Kitchen Addiction, was the cinnamon brown sugar buttercream frosting. I am a huge lover of anything cinnamon, so pairing it with such a strong flavor like pumpkin was a match made in cupcake heaven! Usually I use a standard cream cheese frosting, but that’s something I won’t go back to.

I followed the recipe for the cake verbatim from the original My Kitchen Addiction blog post, and if you yourselves are going to try it be prepared with a stand alone mixer! The directions say to put all the ingredients in one bowl before mixing, which sounds easier than mixing things individually, but the catch is you have to mix the batter for 20 minutes! Trust me, with my hand held electric mixer there was definitely no need for an arm workout today!! 

The aroma from the pumpkin baking in the oven made my mouth water for 25 minutes as it filled my kitchen, mixing with the boiling cinnamon sticks on my stove. The cupcakes didn’t rise like others I have tried in the past, but I am attributing that to the denseness of the pumpkin. These cupcakes were more like muffins, which is definitely not taking anything away from their flavor! A bite of the cake made me think of fall and it was like Thanksgiving had come early, which is exactly what I had hoped for. The cake was infused with the strong pumpkin flavor, with a good mix of spice from the nutmeg and cinnamon, but it was also sweet like you’d expect from pumpkin. 

Baking in the Oven

I could have eaten the cupcakes without frosting, but the cinnamon buttercream was a great addition, and only added to that fall sensation. I didn’t follow the original recipe, instead my sidekick and I made a few adaptations, which I highly recommend…especially if you love cinnamon like I do.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream

Ingredients

1 stick butter softened

1/4 C shortening

1/3 C dark brown sugar (packed)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (I began with a tsp, but I added a few extra shakes at the end to up the flavor.)

2 C powdered sugar

2 tablespoons half and half

Directions

1) Mix together the butter and shortening until fluffy then add the brown sugar and cinnamon until well combined.

2) Alternately add the confectionery sugar and half and half until everything is well combined.

The Final Cupcake!

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Buttercream, Cupcakes, Fall Flavors

 

Big E Adventures

The past few posts have been specifically about my attempts at baking a yummy cupcake, so to switch it up I thought this mid-week post would be about me finding desserts made by actual professionals!

Like it says in the “About” section of the blog, I may love to bake but the majority of my life is run by sports, more specifically hockey and even more specifically, the CT Whale hockey team (I’d like to point out we are the American Hockey League affiliate to the New York Rangers). For a little background, my job at the Whale is to do promotions, and a large part of that in the offseason is mascot appearances with Pucky the Whale and Sonar. Our latest appearance brought us to the Big E for Connecticut day.(I’ve never been to the Big E before today, and I fell in love…honestly it is the greatest celebration of New England, and it reminded me why I can’t bare to live anywhere else.)

Now this blog is Connecticut and cupcake focused, but I can’t pass up the chance to share some of the treats I found, which could easily be bought throughout the entire New England Region.

I think my favorite cupcake from the day had to have been the Boston Bruins cupcake, courtesy of Koffee Kup Bakery in Springfield, MA. For just $4 (it’s a lot of cupcake for not a lot of money) I could buy a combination of two of my favorite things…hockey and cupcakes! When else would that ever really happen? Being a Massachusetts-based bakery there were also cupcakes decorated for the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox!

Koffee Kup Bakery

While I loved the Bruins cupcake, found in the Massachusetts state house, I was continually drawn to the booth for Rosie-Blake’s Chocolates, right in Connecticut. As a matter of fact, this wonderful find happens to be right in a CCSU student’s own backyard. Located on 200 Myrtle Ave. in New Britain, Connecticut, Rosie-Blake’s Chocolates is the proclaimed “Home of the original chocolate covered bacon,” personally I believe that’s a heart attack waiting to happen, but the flavoring is ingenious! They’ve not only dipped bacon in chocolate but they seemed to have everything from chocolate-covered graham crackers to chocolate-covered jalapeno poppers (which I cannot wait to try!!). Mixed in with all the chocoaltey-goodness was three flavors of cupcakes for $3.50 each. These included red velvet, oreo and chocolate caramel.

Chocolate Covered Jalapeno Poppers (L)

Last But Not Least...CUPCAKES!

Beyond cupcakes, I also noticed a lot of booths were selling whoopie pies. Now, I’m not talking about the chocolate and vanilla whoopie pies that my parents grew up with….NOPE! At the Wicked Whoopies booth there were tie-dyed pies as big as my face and for much as $20. Walking through the different states of New England I couldn’t help but wonder…are whoopie pies the new up-and-coming dessert? Given that I’ve just begun this cupcake blog I hope the answer to that question is no.

Wicked Whoopies

While I love desserts and they all looked mouth-wateringly delicious, I have to be honest. The greatest things I found all day were apple cider and super seedz. The apple cider from Vermont was some of the best I’ve ever tasted and I could just picture drinking it with the apple spice cupcakes I made last week! Super Seedz is a flavored pumpkin seed business right out of Connecticut. Operated by the Seed Queen, Kathie Rosenschien, Super Seedz is a delicious snack, that’s already been shelled, this way you don’t lose any of the flavor. For $5 a bag I bought the sea salt and super spicy flavors, but plan on convincing my mom to buy my tomato italiano and cinnamon sugar when she goes to the Big E next week!

Amazing Apple Cider from Vermont

 

Cool Fall Days & Warm Apple Spice Cupcakes!

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Homemade Caramel Drizzle

Apple Spice Cupcake Dipped in Caramel

This past weekend is the first weekend that it truly felt like fall. I’m talking about feeling the crisp air, seeing the leaves on the ground, the desire to go apple picking and my wanting to wear nothing but leggings, over-sized sweaters and hats.

With this onslaught of fall surrounding the residents of Connecticut, and all of New England for that matter it seemed like the perfect time to try to make some apple spice cupcakes. I can’t take all the credit for this idea, because while I may be running this blog, and am definitely a novice baker, I have my cousin (we’re each other’s own side kicks) who loves to bake just as much, if not more than I do. So from here on out I’ll be documenting OUR baking excursions as we test the perfect cupcakes to someday be made at her own bakery!

Now, this apple spice cupcake recipe is actually a cake recipe from a book called Great Cakes, which we adapted to be able to make cupcake sized portions, because any cupcake lover will tell you, cupcakes are in fact better than a slice of cake!

Apple Spice Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 /2 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon– I added 2 tsp just because I love the taste of cinnamon, so don’t be afraid to add more!
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg- I wouldn’t add any additional nutmeg because the flavor is so strong and present with just 1 tsp. You want the taste of fall not Christmas!
  • ¾ cups pecans- chopped medium fine
  • 1/3 cup (2/3) sticks of butter
  • 1 tsp lemon zest- Make sure you have a zester or cheese grater! I didn’t have either and was scrambling to find ways to zest my lemon. Also, once you have gotten what you need from the fruit I suggest boiling the leftover bit in water…it’ll make your house smell like fresh lemon.
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 lrg eggs
  • 1 medium granny smith apple- peeled and chopped medium (about 2/3 cups)**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened bottled apple sauce
** When it comes to apple recipes I usually like to pick my own apples, especially in the fall. Since I live so close, I tend to go to Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Conn. Sadly Granny Smith apples are in season until the end of October, so I had to settle for store bought, but Lyman Orchards has a ton of fruit for the picking right now. I only go there out of pure convenience, and I love their apple cider donuts, apple butter and apple sauce (which I also love to use while baking) but there are a ton of other orchards in Connecticut, which is a great thing about living in New England.
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir in chopped pecans and set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into 1” pieces and place in a large bowl. Soften using a mixer on low speed, add in lemon zest. Beat on medium high, until smooth (about a minute). Add shortening and beat for a minute longer.
  4. Add sugar, 1 tsp at a time, taking 3-4 minutes to blend well, scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix.
  5. Add eggs, 1 at a time with 1 minute intervals. Reduce speed from medium to low and add in the fresh cut apples and vanilla.
  6. With the speed on low add the flour mix alternatively in 3 additions, with the applesauce in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mix. Beat until everything is incorporated and after each addition scrape the sides of the bowl.
  7. Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 and bake 18-22 minutes. Due to the applesauce it is better to bake them closer to 22 minutes than 18.

Finished Batter

In the oven!! Yum!

Caramel Sauce: This recipe was taken from Food Network and it yielded amazing results. This is something that you really have to pay attention to or you’ll end up burning the sugar, which is never a good thing. Once the caramel is done it tastes like a melted English toffee. The sauce is on the sweeter side, but you can either dip the cupcake in it, or just drizzle it on top, it’s up to you, but it’s a nice addition to the spicy cupcake. 

 From FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

 Directions

Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.

The longer you let it stand the thicker the caramel will get, so you don’t want to use it for about 4 hours.

Finished Cupcake!!

 

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Fall Flavors

 

“Any Given Sunday” Cupcakes

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean cream cheese frosting, topped with chocolate covered pretzels.

With this blog beginning the same weekend as the kickoff to the 2011 NFL season I couldn’t think of a better way to get things started than combining two of my loves; sports and baking. Once I decided that I wanted to somehow combine the ideas of football (extremely masculine) and cupcakes (very feminine) I decided to first attempt beer cupcakes. Nothing goes better with football than beer and beer and pretzels is a staple in practically every sports bar, so why not put all of these elements into a sugary and chocolatey treat?

The best recipe I was able to track down was from the blog, Pinch My Salt. The recipe calls for the use of Guinness stout, yogurt, which is healthier than butter and sour cream and the vanilla bean cream cheese seemed like an interesting twist on a traditional flavor. There is also an added bit of cinnamon added to the cake batter, which adds the perfect hint of fall flavoring.

Recipe: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Adapted from Pinch My Salt

2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
6 oz. dark stout- preferably Guinness
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder- I used dutch cocoa powder, but any would work
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon- This is where I altered the recipe a bit. I love cinnamon, so instead I added 1/2 tsp, which you wouldn’t think makes a difference, but truly does.
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Step 1- gather ingredients: You know it's going to be a good cupcake when step 1 is go to the package store. When I was there I bought the wine for myself, it has nothing to do with the actual cupcake! Just saving myself a bit of time!!

Step 1 Continued

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake papers. Pinch my Salt instructed bakers to spray the liners as well, but I found that it then warped the wrappers and made the cupcakes look sloppy.
3. Melt butter in microwave or on stovetop, then set aside.
3. In a large bowl whisk together eggs and yogurt. Add beer and vanilla whisk until well combined.
4. Sift all the dry ingredients together (cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon) into a separate bowl.
5. Add about a third of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and using a hand mixer, blend well. Add the rest of the flour mixture, a third at a time, mixing well after each addition. When all ingredients are blended, add the melted butter then continue mixing until very well combined.
6. Pour batter into the twelve cups, filling each only about 3/4 full.
7. Bake on center rack of the preheated 350 degree oven and for approximately 25 minutes.
8. When cupcakes are done (toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake will come out clean), remove the pan to a wire rack.  Let cool for ten minutes then remove cupcakes from pan and let them cool completely on wire rack.

After sifting together the dry ingredients whisk together the liquids...and in goes the Guinness

The batter gave me no trouble, and the size of the cupcakes when filling them 3/4 of the way in the tins came out perfectly. The Guinness gave the batter a rich and dark color without it tasting bitter and the aroma of stout, chocolate and cinnamon was amazing. Where I had trouble was the cream cheese frosting.

The Guinness gave the batter a dark and rich color, while the mix of Guinness, cocoa powder and cinnamon smelt gorgeous

Frosting Recipe:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean that has been split and scraped

In a medium bowl, blend together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and vanilla bean seeds. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well until it’s all incorporated.  Use immediately.  The frosting will harden in the fridge, so plan on bring it back to room temperature if you must refrigerate it before frosting the cupcakes.

Bad Batch

I ended up having to make two batches of frosting in the end because being the health conscious person that I am, when shopping for ingredients I bought fat-free cream cheese. Well, I learned that that kind is made with skim milk, not cream, which means that the consistency of the frosting was runny instead of thick. At first I added extra cream cheese to try and thicken it, when that didn’t work the frosting went in the freezer, but that didn’t work either. When I remade the batch with actual cream cheese the frosting turned out perfectly, and I definitely recommend using the vanilla beans!!

GOOD BATCH! Who would've thought such a tiny detail could make such a big difference!

GOOD BATCH! Who would've thought such a tiny detail could make such a big difference!

In the final product you could definitely taste the Guinness used in the batter, but it wasn’t overwhelming, it was off-set by the strong taste of the cinnamon matched with the sweetness of the frosting. 

Final Product!

 
 
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