Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes & Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

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“Pumpkin spice and everything nice”

Hello all! Hope you’ve been enjoying your Fall time. Here is another Fall recipe before all the Winter-y holiday baking fun ensues. If your family is not a fan of pumpkin pie, but you still want some sweet pumpkin at your Thanksgiving dessert table, try these cute mini pumpkin cupcakes, topped with a delicious pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting! They’re so small and fluffy – they go fast – so you might need to make extra!

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Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes

2.5 cups  flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
 pinch of salt
1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup champagne
3/4 cup buttercream
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place cupcake liners in pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine vegetable oil, champagne, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients. In 4 parts, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing in between.  Now pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake 10-14 mins (depending on your oven), or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
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Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes
8 oz. cream cheese, cold
 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 tbsp. pumpkin puree
4.5 cups powdered sugar ( depending on desired frosting consistency)
Place butter in stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree, and powdered sugar and blend until combined. Add more sugar for a stiffer frosting. Mine was still pretty soft, but stiff enough to pipe. It hardened a bit after setting in the refrigerator for an hour, which made it easy to serve.
Enjoy!
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Loquat Lemon Banana Bundt Cake

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“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow…”

Spring has sprung! And I’m back with some fresh recipes after a long hiatus 🙂 This one is a tasty dessert or great breakfast pastry – light and fluffy and perfect with a cup of tea.

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Cake

2 1/4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

3/4 cup of sour cream

1 ripe banana – mashed

zest of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 lemon

10 fresh loquats, peeled and quartered

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Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl cover peeled and quartered loquats with a light layer of flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Mix together butter and sugar in stand mixer until smooth. Add eggs and mix again. Add zest, sour cream, mashed banana, juice until well combined. Add dry ingredients in three parts. Once mixed in, fold in loquats! Pour mixture into WELL buttered bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, checking the cake with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.

Let cool to room temperature before removing from pan. Once cake is cooled, decorate with cream cheese frosting using a small round piping tip.

Voilà! Enjoy!

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Jack O’ Lantern Pumpkin & Chocolate Halloween Cake

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“There is magic in the night…when Pumpkins glow by moonlight”

Just wanted to do a quick little post to help you out if you’re still looking for something to bake on Halloween. This is a layered cake, made with two layers of chocolate cake, and two layers of pumpkin cake, filled with cream cheese frosting, and covered with buttercream frosting and candy ganache. The chocolate and pumpkin play great off of each other, and the cake looks amazing when you cut into it with those contrasting colors.

Pumpkin Cake

1 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

7.5 ounces (1/2 can) pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350F and butter two 6 inch springform pans. Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix together butter, eggs, and buttermilk in your stand mixer. Add in the dry ingredients in 4 parts. Next mix in the pumpkin puree. Split between pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

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Chocolate Cake

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk +1/2 tsp. white vinegar (let stand 15 mins)

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup French Vanilla Coffee

1/8 cup Bacardi Rum

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 6-inch springform pans. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, whisk, and set aside. Combine oil, milk/vinegar, eggs, and vanilla in stand mixer and mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 parts and mix together. Next add coffee and rum and mix well. Bake for 40 mins-1 hour, depending on your oven – just make sure a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter

8 oz cream cheese

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

4.5 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp heavy cream

Orange food coloring

Place butter in stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend until combined. Add the heavy cream and beat until fluffy frosting consistency. Add food coloring until desired orange color is achieved. Use this frosting to layer the cakes and crumb coat the 4 layer cake. Then place the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you make the buttercream.

Buttercream

1 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

4 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp clear vanilla extract

1 Tbsp heavy cream

Orange food coloring

Black food coloring

Beat butter and shortening in stand mixer until smooth. Add sugar to this and beat until smooth. Next add vanilla and heavy cream to desired consistency. Add orange food coloring, and make sure you have a bit of frosting leftover to dye black for the Jack O’ Lantern’s face. Completely frost your crumb coated cake in your orange buttercream. Place in fridge to harden for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile make your candy ganache

Green Ganache

1/2 bag of dark green candy melts

1/4 cup heavy cream

Place candy in microwave safe bowl. Heat heavy cream in microwave until hot. Pour heavy cream over candy melts and mix until thickened liquid. If not melting enough, it’s okay to place in the microwave for a few seconds at a time. Let the ganache cool a bit but not too much because you still want it to be able to drip down the cake to represent the pumpkin’s leaves.

Spoon ganache over the top of the cake, making sure to leave an area on the side open for the face. Place a chocolate candy on top to represent the stem. Use your black frosting and a small round tip and piping bag to pipe on a Jack O’ Lantern face. And…that’s it! Happy Halloween!

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Hydrangea Cupcakes

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“There are always flowers for  those who want to see them.”

…or frost them on cupcakes!

Hello Friends! It has been way too long since I’ve posted, and I apologize. Sometimes time just gets away from you! I owe you all many recipes, so let’s get started with this one!

Banana flavored desserts are always a favorite of mine, and these banana-blueberry cupcakes add that perfect banana flavor without too much banana punch – I think the blueberries help give it a fresh kick too! The frosting is super sweet and yummy and goes well with the fruit flavors.

Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers, so why not have them in cupcake form? Hope you enjoy!

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Mini Banana-blueberry Cupcakes

2.5 cups  flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

1 and 1/4 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup champagne

3/4 cup milk +1 tsp. white vinegar (let stand 15 mins) or ¾ cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

2 over-ripe bananas, mashed

2 handfuls fresh blueberries

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Preheat oven to 350 F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine vegetable oil, champagne, milk+ vinegar mixture or buttermilk, eggs, and bananas – and mix just until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients, except for blueberries. In 4 parts, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing in between. Add lightly floured blueberries (the flour helps them not sink to the bottom) towards the end and mix until evenly combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10-12  minutes (for mini cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before adding the frosting.

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Hydrangea Frosting

1/2 cup butter

8 oz cream cheese

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

4.5 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp heavy cream

pastel pink food coloring

Place butter in stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend until combined. Add the heavy cream and beat until fluffy frosting consistency. Place half of frosting in separate bowl and add food coloring until desired pink is achieved.

hydrangeasFill sides of piping bag with pink frosting, and inside with white frosting. Use Wilton 2D tip to pipe out hydrangeas, starting at the edges and filling up the middle of the cupcake. Don’t be afraid to overlap the flowers. To pipe hydrangeas, just squeeze bag firmly, then release and lift bag off quickly. Refrigerate cupcakes overnight so the flowers harden a bit for ease of transport (cream cheese frosting can be a bit soft), or enjoy right away!

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Strawberry Meringue Cake

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“Where there is cake, there is hope. And there is always cake.”

Yes! And this Strawberry Meringue Cake is the perfect addition to any summer soiree. Also, strawberry curd. It’s in this cake, but it should also be on top of your bagels, in your pastries, and just on a spoon headed into your mouth – because it is sooo tasty! Try not to eat all of it before you finish making the cake 😉

Strawberry Cake

10 large strawberries, pureed in blender, put through strainer

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

2 cups sugar

1 package strawberry gelatin

3 cups flour

pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla (clear)

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Prepare cake pans with non-stick spray. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in large bowl and set aside.

Beat butter in stand mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and strawberry gelatin to combine. In a separate bowl mix together milk, buttermilk, vanilla, strawberry puree, and eggs. Add this mixture to the stand mixer and combine. In 3 parts add in the dry ingredients from separate bowl. Mix well.

Place batter into cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes. Check if it is done with a toothpick in the center of the cake that comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

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Blackberry Cream Cheese frosting

1 box pureed and strained blackberries

1/2 cup butter

8 oz cream cheese

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

4.5 cups powdered sugar

After pureeing the blackberries in the food processor, strain the puree so you don’t have any seeds. Beat butter and cream cheese together in stand mixer. Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cups and mix. Add Blackberry puree 1 tbsp at a time until desired color and consistency. (Remember you don’t want it too liquid-y because you will be piping the cream cheese frosting)

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Strawberry Curd

1 box strawberries, pureed in blender and strained

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

3 eggs yolks

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup butter, cut into cubes

Add first 5 ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until thickened. Turn off the stove and add butter 1 cube at a time to further thicken. Continue mixing until melted. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap (so that the plastic wrap touches the curd), and place in refrigerator for 1-4 hours. The more time, the thicker it will get – but if you’re in a rush like I was, and making this a couple hours before you are supposed to bring it to a party (oops!) – 1 hour will do!

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Meringue frosting

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract (clear)

Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks.

Assembly

On your first layer of cake, spread a thin amount of blackberry cream cheese frosting, layer this with fresh strawberries that have been thinly sliced. Next, pipe a thick circle of the frosting around the top of the cake in a circle to create a border for the strawberry curd. Now using a spoon, fill the center of the cake with desired amount of curd. Place next cake layer on top and repeat the process one more time. Place last cake layer on top. Next crumb coat the cake with the meringue in a thin layer (it spreads very smoothly). Place this in the fridge for 15 minutes. Remove from the fridge and using a closed star tip, pipe roses around the cake (starting at the bottom), with the meringue. Once you’ve completed piping the roses, use your kitchen torch to toast the meringue. This helps stabilize the frosting as well. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, and then enjoy!

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Graduation Owl Cake Pops

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“If you imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

Ah, graduation time. It’s such a special time to enjoy with family and friends, and to really be proud of this huge accomplishment and milestone in your life. You did it! Now you should enjoy some cake pops, grad style 🙂

(P.S. sorry the photos aren’t great. These were my first ever cake pops- done a year ago, before I really tried to take pretty pictures of my baking. However, I still really wanted to share them because they are such an adorable thing to make for your special grad -and yummy too!)

The cake pops themselves can really be made out of any cake and frosting that you prefer. I made this one out of my carrot cake because it happens to be my favorite flavor of cake – and it holds its flavor well so that it doesn’t become unbearably sweet combined with all the frosting (I prefer cream cheese frosting) you’re going to use.

Pops

Bake a 9×13 inch sheet cake (You can follow my recipe here for the carrot cakes. This amount will be enough for the sheet cake.) Make cream cheese frosting.

Once cake is cooled, crumble the cake into a large bowl (I use my clean hands, or you can use a food processor for a few seconds. You can’t really use the edges of the cake which will be hardened too much, so you can just snack on those!)  and add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup frosting and mix together with crumbs until you get a consistency that you can shape.To mix, you can use a spatula or your clean hands. You may need to add a bit more frosting if you still have crumbs left.

Next take some of the mixture in your hand and roll it into a 1.5 inch ball. Make as many pops as your combo of crumbs and frosting allows. ( I can usually get about 14-16) They will be very moist at this point.

Place the pops onto parchment paper and put them in the freezer for a couple hours.

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Decorating!

1-2 bags of  dark chocolate candy melts

Cake pops

candy sticks

1-2 Styrofoam blocks

Wilton’s candy eyes

Orange Air Head candy

Yellow star shaped sprinkles

Watermelon or cherry flavored sour belts candy

Lindt dark chocolate squares

mini chocolate chips

Reese’s mini peanut butter cups (not the mini mini ones but the classic minis wrapped in the gold foil)

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Once you are ready to take your pops out of the freezer, begin melting your candy melts dark chocolate – do just 1/4 cup at this time, in 15 second intervals, mixing in between.

Now dip your candy stick into the chocolate and then into the cake pop so that it goes half-way through the pop and leaves a little circle of chocolate, sealing the stick in. Be very careful not to push it all the way through, or even to the top – because, unfortunately, in my experience, once you do that, when you try to cover the whole pop in chocolate it may just break your little pop in half. If you put it all the way through – don’t worry – you’ll have to remove the stick, reshape the pop, and put it back in the freezer and then try again.

Once all the sticks are in the pops, place them back in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Now melt more chocolate – about a cup at a time, still in 15 second intervals, and still mixing in between.

Let the chocolate cool a bit and meanwhile prepare the candy. For each pop, you’ll want two eyes, 2 star sprinkles, one lindt choco square. Cut the Reese’s cup in half and use the narrower upper half only (I found the whole cup was too heavy to stay on the pop. Also, make sure they are refrigerated and cold before you cut them – makes it less messy). Shape mini beaks out of the Airhead candy (see my pics for what they should look like. Doesn’t have to be perfect!) Now rip the sour belt into narrow strips about 1 inch long.

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Take the pops out of the fridge. They should be pretty secure now. Take the stick and dip it pop first into the deep cup of chocolate, so that it is completely covered. Now remove it and swirl and shake it around a bit (not too hard) so that excess chocolate drips off. Place the stick into a prepared Styrofoam block. Now get to work right away on your candy, because the chocolate hardens pretty quickly. Attach the two eyes, the beak, the feet, and one mini chip a bit to the side at the top as an ear (the other imaginary ear is supposedly under the graduation cap!) Next dab some chocolate on the top of the pop (a bit to the side, since you have an ear – see the pictures for guidance) and attach the base of the graduation cap (open larger peanut butter side down, since we cut them in half earlier!) Now dab chocolate on top of the base of the cap and attach the lindt chocolate, design side down, at an angle. Dab a dot of chocolate at the top middle of the cap and attach the sour belt as the tassel. Once you have done this with all the pops, place them in the fridge for about an hour to fully harden.

Now take a big bite of wisdom out of that lil graduation owl cake pop!

Puppy and Kitten Love: Mini Cupcakes

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“A true friend leaves paw prints on your heart.”

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Aww..so true! Gotta love puppies and kittens. What better way to honor them than cutie mini cupcakes? Here’s a how-to:

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Puppies:

Your favorite mini cupcake recipe (You can try a chocolate one, or even a gluten-free option.)

Wilton candy eyeballs – small

Wilton candy eyeballs – large

Airheads- cherry flavor

Black edible ink pen

Wilton black candy drops

White sparkling sugar

Cream cheese frosting -white

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Kittens:

White chocolate chips

Pink candy sprinkle hearts

White and pink jimmies (sprinkles)

Black wilton rainbow chip crunch sprinkles or mini dark choco chips

White sparkling sugar

Cream cheese frosting –white

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Directions

Place a handful amount of the white sparkling sugar in a shallow bowl. For both cupcakes, once cooled to room temperature, use your round piping tip, I used 1a – to pipe little round blobs of frosting onto the cupcakes. It’s ok if it’s not too neat. Then go ahead and dip them into the sugar and push down lightly so that they are evenly covered. Next, we decorate!

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The puppies: Take the mini eyeball candies and use your edible ink marker to make the black spots larger so you get big puppy dog eyes. Dab some frosting with a toothpick on the backs, and place these on the cupcakes. Next take one big eyeball, place some frosting on the back, and place it in the middle so that it is the snout. Place frosting on the back of two black candy drops and attach them to the sides for floppy looking ears. (By the way, if you can’t get these candies, you can also use little cylindrical black licorice pieces that you can get at a candy store in a licorice assortment.) Next you’ll take a tiny bit of airhead in your hand and shape it into a little tongue, rounded on one side. Dab some frosting on the non-rounded side and place it under the large eyeball (snout), to the side. Now you have a puppy!

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The kittens:  Place some frosting on the back of the black rainbow chip crunch (or mini dark choco chips, tips facing down) and attach to the cupcake as eyes. Dab frosting on one side of the white choc chips and place on the cupcakes as ears, with pointy side facing up as you see here in the photos. Grab the pink sprinkle hearts, dab some frosting on, and place them under the eyes for the little pink nose. Use three white jimmies on either side of the nose as the whiskers. Use three pink jimmies to create the mouth – one coming down from the nose, and two making a little smile as seen here. You have kittens!

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That’s it! Now if you have an animal themed party to go to, you can make these 🙂