Week 40: Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Dark, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Ganache and More

Well, we made it to Durham, NC, and back and had all kinds of fun (which means shopping!!) along the way. As soon as we arrived, we went out to lunch at The Q Shack, where some of us had "Pork Butt" sandwiches. Next stop was a couple of antique places...one was called "Branching Out" and the one next door to that looked like a museium. Then, on to the markets: We went to Foster's Market and found a Vanilla Raspberry cupcake and Randy, who was so cool and nice...he made us want to move to Durham! Next on the agenda was A Southern Season...which I've never been to before, but will never forget! Mucho dinero left in this store...but it was so much fun! But, no cupcakes that day...Them we went to a cool store called "Cozy," where, of course, I had to buy some more stuff...which I'm looking at now. The next morning we went to Elmo's Diner, and I had grits (which I love)! We had a great time and we did not say anything bad...except when we were on the UNC campus...because it's clear that they hate Duke, too!

Okay...now on to the cupcakes...I started out just thinking I would make peanut butter cupcakes, which I did. I was trying to have them taste like a Reese's Cup in cupcake form. I decided to jazz it up a bit with Dark Chocolate Ganache, which I did. I added some smashed Reese's Cups to the top of each cupcake. Then I began to feel guilty that someone might be allergic to peanuts...I'm sensitive to that because I'm allergic to fish...so I decided to make some Dark, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, frosting them with the same dark ganache..and adding some white chocolate strips to the tops of those. I wanted some sort of a chocolate explosion in your mouth! And, that worked, too! I'm packaging up 12 of these babies to fedex to my brother tonight. I'm trying a new packaging idea I have. I'll let you know how it turns out.

All in all, it was a successful weekend...but I'm happy to be back in Terp Territory! Please check out my flickr site for more of this week's cupcake photos! Download the Peanut Butter Cupcake recipe here. Download the Dark, Dark Chocolate Cupcake recipe here. Enjoy!

On the Road Again....Lookout Durham!

The Cupcake Queen is heading to Durham tomorrow morning...just for a quick over night visit with my step-daughter, Shelley, who's a graphic designer, and her fiance, Davey, a PhD student at UNC. I must admit that I have some trepidation (but no fear!) about visiting the Tar Heel State of North Carolina.... it's about the Duke Basketball team. Since I'm a Terp thru and thru, we love to hate the Dukies....I'm right in there with the kids, singing when they play what we call the "You Suck" song at games...even tho we're not supposed to sing it at all...lol! But for this weekend...I promise not to sing it or say it once I get into North Carolina. I promise not to wear my "Fear the Turtle" t-shirt. But, I'm not sure what we're going to do about the Maryland tags on our car.

On the brighter side, we're going to try to get into a restaurant called Magnolia Grill which is supposed to be pretty good. I'm also going to be on the lookout for any cupcake places I can find in my 48 hours on the road. We're taking Harry with us because he's little, but poor Layla has to stay at home with the boys. All my Mom wants me to bring her is some barbeque!

We'll be back on Sunday just in time to post some cupcakes!

Week 39: Birthday Cupcakes: Pistachio Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

My sister requested Pistachio Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting for her birthday...which isn't until January 25th...but we can't get together on that day. The first thing I do is think about going to this cake supply place my boss told me about in Laurel, MD, called Cakes Plus! I was so excited to have a reason to go there. So, at lunch on Friday I popped in my Jetta and off we went! When we got out of the car...you won't believe this...the place is in a shopping center right next to Kohl's...we could smell cakes baking. It was so cool! I found so much cool stuff...beautiful candy flowers of all kinds, books, frostings, glow lite candles, more stuff than I knew existed. They bake wedding cakes, party cakes, cupcakes, and more. That's where I got these cute little pansies. I also bought some roses to use on Valentine's Day! I had a very hard time getting out of there...

My sister's birthday dinner was at my Mom's house in Prince Frederick, MD, on Saturday late afternoon. I spent the morning making the cupcakes after I found the only recipe that seemed to exist on the web (none of my books had a recipe for pistachio cupcakes). The one I found was called St. Patrick's Day Cake. It called for pistachio instant pudding which meant a trip to...you know where...the grocery store! I had to pick up my Diet-to-Go stuff so I went to Wintergreen Shopping Center where I pick that up and they have a Food Lion there that I am growing to love. It has the most different stuff for baking. It's the only place I've found unwrapped hershey kisses...they actually are packaged this way. I've never found them at Giant or Safeway. I even found Ancho Chile Pepper there after I had made my cupcakes! I always end up taking too much time in the grocery store, so by the time I got back, time was becoming an issue for me.

The only thing I changed about the recipe is that I added a cup of chopped pistachios to the mix. One non normal thing I did was for one batch I used a pan that makes square cupcakes...I think it's really for muffin-type things. I got it for Christmas. The square cupcakes turned out great. The one drawback was that they were pretty big...the amount of batter was like two cupcakes worth to fill one square. Other than that, these cupcakes were really easy to make. Then I made my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting by Magnolia. It's always the best there is! It is easy to decorate with, too. And, it has just the right consistancy for the swirls. I also decided that these would be the cupcakes I would take to the office on Monday, so I made two batches of them and the frosting.

The recipe calls for mini-chocolate chips and I wondered why. I figured it out when I tasted the cupcakes...pistachio doesn't have much flavor...even with the added real pistachio...but the little bit of chocolate really gives just the punch it needs. And, the green color is a very nice addition! I call this photo "bite me." I posted more photos on my flickr account in this SET.

The recipe is HERE

Ugh! My Dog Ate My Ugg!

I know this isn't about cupcakes...but I have to vent somewhere! This is the evidence I found on the bed when I walked into the bedroom last night.

Hmmmm...no dog...just my Ugg slipper. What's up with that?

My favorite slippers...the ones I can wear them outside at 5:00 a.m. to pick up the newspaper every morning. They have nice rubber bottoms.

Now where is she? She just left it there for me to find....went off...and is partying on somewhere else. Ahh... She split the scene for the office!

Oh man, who could be mad looking at that? Not me. Oh well, at least I can still wear my Uggs!

Week 38: Snow People Coconut Cupcakes

Last night I decided to make something from Cupcakes! from the CakeDoctor by Anne Byrn. I had been planning on making a cheesecake cupcake from The Artful Cupcake but I just ran out of time. (Which turns out the be pretty funny considering how long it took me to make these!) We had made plans to go to visit Culpeper, VA. today because a couple of months ago there was a cool article about some of the shops there, and we had the day off. It's about 70 miles from where we live. It was pretty cool but some of the shops were...unfortunately...closed on Mondays. What's up with that? N E waz...we had lunch at this cool diner called Frost Cafe and the cheeseburgers were awesome...as was the chocolate malt. We have a Silver Diner here in our area, but Frost Cafe was a million times better! All three of us had cheeseburgers and fries and onion rings (we shared all the fried stuff).

I made the first stage of the cupcakes when I got up this morning at 7:00 a.m. with Layla. I decided on what the CakeDoctor calls Snowmen Cupcakes but I call SnowPeople Cupcakes because they all look different to me...some like ladies and some like men. Before we left on our outing, I hid the cupcakes in my office so that no one (including Layla) would eat any before I got back...they would do that even without frosting! Guys! On the way back home we stopped at the Giant so that I could pick up a few decorating items for the snowpeople...like spicettes, fruit rollups, etc. Got home around 4:00 and made the buttercream frosting...which I'm becoming a pro at...it's the easiest thing to make...and I frosted the lovely vanilla cupcakes and then rolled the top on them in shredded coconut. YUM! Then the production of the snowpeople began with the marshmallows. Luckily, I had a lot of the little items the CakeDoctor calls for to use for the eyes and mouths....chocolate sprinkles...but I soon grew tired of chocolate sprinkles and began to get crazily creative with dots, and other fun things I had.

This part of the decorating took a loooooong time to do 24 cupcakes...like about 5 hours total. You have to cut things, roll things, poke holes in things, give them eyes, glue things to other things and basically assemble a snowperson with some personality! You can't have them just looking like robots, you know? Soon, I had a french dude, a crazy guy with black teeth, some old ladies in red hats, and I even called one couple Mr and Mrs Smith. They look pretty much like a group of folks on a bus, don't you think? I wanted to give one a tie but I couldn't figure out how to do it...which reminds me...over the holidays at an office party some one mentioned to me that someone else in our office was doing a blog. His is about ties! He wears a cool tie every day and takes photos of them each day and explains a bit about them on his blog. I checked it and it's pretty cool. Also, a note about the pancake cupcakes....someone wrote to me and said that I should put the photo with the bacon on the flickr group that is called bacon...pretty funny..and so I did. Who knew they would have a group about bacon??? And, yes, cupcakeluv....these cupcakes will be in the office tomorrow morning!

To download the recipe...click here! You can see more of the SnowPeople on my flickr site at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cupcakequeen.

uh oh...another brother bet: redskins vs seahawks

My brother, Jim, and I have another bet...it's on today's semi-final football game between the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks...I am, of course, for the Redskins...go skins!....loser makes a dozen cupcakes and sends them over night to the winner....sigh...hope our lucks holds...on the other hand, I'm not sure how good a baker my brother is...hmmmm

Extra Curricular Mid-week Activity: Pancake Cupcakes

Okay...I know that you're going to think this is really crazy....but, tonight when I was picking up Turkey Hill Diet Iced Tea (which I am addicted to, btw) at Fresh Go, I was thinking about making some kind of cupcake to make that would be like an experiment. I was in the cake mix aisle and then I spotted pancake mixes...I was checking out the recipes on the box and thought WOW this might be fun to try out as a cupcake. Hmmmm...I didn't want to use a mix, though. So I picked up some Bisquick (probably the same thing, huh?). When I got home I made the pancake recipe for "lighter pancakes" that was on the box. Got out my cupcake pan. Put the batter in there and stuck them in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes. It worked!

This is what they looked like right out of the oven. Pretty much like cupcakes! But, what about the taste? They even taste like pancakes...not right away...but just when you start you swallow a bite you get the pancake flavor. So, next I made some maple frosting out of confectioner's sugar, a little milk, maple sryup, maple flavoring, and a little vanilla. I mixed it all together and then put it in the microwave to melt it. I dipped each cupcake (the top of the cupcake) into the melted stuff and when it cooled, it hardened like maple candy. Awesome! My next thought was to put some bacon bits on top of it, but I held myself back from doing it. One cool thing about this is that they are very easy to make and doesn't everyone have Bisquick on hand? I, however, just thought that it was funny to make a cupcake out of a pancake!

I've posted more photos of these pancake cupcakes on my flickr account. Check it out!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes Recipe is Finally Online!

I've finally managed to type up the Week 31: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes recipe from The Artful Cupcake! It's only taken me six #&@*%$!-ing weeks....Now I remember why...there are several steps involved in the recipe...making the cupcakes, making the filling, making the fluffy icing...but then you get to the using the culinary torch part. And, that's when the real fun begins! It took a little encouragement from http://www.flickr.com/people/juventina_s/.

Click HERE for the recipe.

Week 37: Mini Chocolate Ancho Chili Cupcakes with Pure Vanilla Paste Buttercream Frosting

I've been wanting to try these cupcakes for a while and today, for some reason, turned out to be the day. I think it might be because they are good as mini cupcakes and a lot of folks in my office are on new year diets. I think this little babies will appeal to them. The ancho chili gives the chocolate a good kick in the pants and you don't taste it at first...until it hits the back part of your mouth. We couldn't find any ancho powder at the latino grocery store, but did happen to have a package of whole ancho chilis at home (Who knows why?) So, I used the food processor to grind them up. Be careful if you do this because you do get them on your hands and if you rub your eyes, it can make them burn a bit. I used Scharffen Berger Semisweet Chocolate because Martha Stewart says to invest in the best ingredients you can...you know, I never knew any of this stuff 37 weeks ago...Also, I've decided that this is a great way for me to help support our economy! (that part's a joke!)

I decided to make the Vanillia Bean Paste Buttercream Frosting because I thought that the vanilla would be a nice complement to the chocolate. I had bought some of this Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste from Nielsen-Massey and had not had the chance to use it yet. This is what their web site says about it: "It's pure vanilla with natural vanilla bean seeds in a unique, convenient, paste form that adds a gourmet appearance to any recipe." It's actually pure heaven. And, I this frosting is so good that everyone passing in and out the kitchen today wanted to eat the frosting all by itself...just forget about the cupcakes! It might also be because I added some bourbon to it!

But really, the cupcakes are very special, too. I'm not usually brave at all about eating "hot" stuff...whenever we go out to a place like Rio Grande I absolutely do not put anything hot on my food while the rest of my family pours the stuff on....but even I really like the rich flavor of these cupcakes. And, Catherine said that it was the best baking smell she's ever smelled (that sounds funny, doesn't it?)...it fills the entire house with the a comfortable chocolate aroma even now. This experience definitely has a happy ending!

Whoa! I don't know what's going on (maybe it's because the Redskins won yesterday...here's our song...in case you don't know, it's "Hail to the Redskins...but...I actually posted the recipe before posting this (for a change)...well, it is the new year, right? You can download the PDF here. Also, if you're no sick and tired of me yet, check out more of my cupcake photos (including Layla) on flickr.

Week 36: Real Banana Pudding Cupcakes

This week I've had a lot of time to think about which cupcake to make...we've been off all week! My dad was from Georgia and I always loved southern-style Banana Pudding the way my Grandma used to make it. I searched the web and my cupcake books for a recipe that incorporated the ingredients of Banana Pudding...vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding, bananas, and meringue...to no avail. I decided to try to create something like this all on my own. Yikes...pretty much up to now I have followed someone else's recipe to the letter. I put some more thought into how I could create this and here's what I came up with.

I decided to try making my own banana pudding as the basis for the cupcake filling. First, I made the cupcakes...lined cupcake pans with paper liners, and put one vanilla wafer in the bottom and one thin slice of a ripe banana on top of that. I decided that the batter should be vanilla and I used a recipe I found on Oprah's web site for because it made 18 cupcakes and I doubled it. (I always need at least 30 cupcakes for home and work.) I filled the cups 3/4 full and smoothed them over to make sure that there weren't any holes because of the wafer and banana. After they were baked, I let the cupcakes cool down and then I carefully cut off the top and cut out an area in the middle of the cupcake. Then, I tried not to eat all the pieces I cut out...but that was hard.

Then I scooped a spoonful of the pudding into the cavity in the cupcake. I used a knife to extend the pudding out over the top of the cupcake so that the top would stick back on and then would not move. I had made 36 cupcakes so while the filling of the cupcakes took a little while, I was watching a bowl game, so the time went quickly. The final touch was making the meringue to go on top of the cupcakes, and doing the torching (I love this part!). Everything went well and my taste-testers here at the house were delighted with the Banana Pudding Cupcake. It's like portable Banana Pudding!

Check out my flickr account for more photos of the stages: Banana Pudding Cupcakes Production