Caramel Delight Cupcakes

I am very excited to announce that my friend Vicki has started a food blog and invited me to write a guest post for Dessert Week over on her blog, Mind, Body & Belly!

So I decided to get all fancy and make these Girl Scout Cookie inspired cupcakes:

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YUM. Head over to her blog and check out the recipe! While you’re there, be sure to sign up to follow her blog for more great recipes!

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Kahlua Mocha Cupcakes

kahlua mocha cupcakes

I love making cupcakes because they’re so pretty, but man, they’re so much work! This is probably because I’m on a filled cupcake kick. I bought a cupcake corer and I’m obsessed with it.

My recipe inspiration for these was a Caramel Frappucino cupcake recipe from Pixie Crust. Spoiler alert: I changed it a lot. I just don’t have that much time on my hands.

Step 1 – this is going to make all you baking purists hate me – I used a boxed cake mix, OMG.

I’ll let you all recover for a minute.

We done? Good.

Here’s the thing. Go read the original recipe from Pixie Crust. There’s like 50 million steps!!!!

So back to my Step 1. Chocolate cake mix – with pudding in the mix! Follow the instructions on the box (this is rocket science, I tell ya!). I added an instant coffee packet to the water, to make mocha flavored cupcakes. MMMM. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Step 2. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the mousse. I halved it, so the measurements are kind of weird. It was an awkward recipe to halve, but you will have way too much mousse if you don’t. (I didn’t, but I’m halving it for you because I love you).

For the Coffee Mousse (Recipe from Epicurious)

1/4 cup + 1/8 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/6 cup water
1 and 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)

1 and 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (you can never have too much Kahlua!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, yolks, water and espresso powder in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water); whisk until candy thermometer registers 160°F, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Using electric mixer, beat egg mixture until cool and thick, about 5 minutes.
Beat cream, liqueur and vanilla in another large bowl until stiff peaks form – this might take a while. Fold cream mixture into egg mixture.

Step 3. Core the cupcakes!

Once cupcakes are cool, core out the center of each one. If you don’t have a corer, you can use a knife to hollow the cupcake out.

Using a pastry bag or large ziplock bag with a corner snipped off, pipe coffee mousse until the center is full. Once all cupcakes are filled, pipe frosting onto each one. I ended up frosting the cupcakes with my leftover mousse (because I didn’t halve the recipe, boo!), but I think it would have been better to use something different for the frosting. I felt like, with the mousse as the frosting AND the filling, it wasn’t exciting when you got to the center of the cupcake, because you were like “Oh, it’s just more frosting. LAME.”

So you should make this delicious sounding frosting recipe from Pixie Crust:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Heat sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Return bowl to mixer, and whisk, gradually increasing speed from low to medium-high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to a paddle attachment and beat until air bubbles are gone, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Curious how I got that stripe of chocolate in my mousse frosting? 

I based it off this method from Our Best Bites, where you essentially paint a stripe INSIDE your pastry bag/ziplock back with gel food coloring, or in my case, melted chocolate.

Before you put your frosting/mousse into the pastry bag, carefully paint vertical streaks of chocolate or food coloring all the way down to the tip. THEN add your frosting. You have to try to drop the frosting straight down into the center of the bag so you don’t smudge the lines too much.

And then you get awesome stripes in your frosting!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

I’ve been busy making messes in my kitchen and I’m ready to show you the fruits of my labor! (‘Fruits of my labor’ pun intended, as all the following recipes involve lemons.)

Last weekend I decided I wanted to try out lemon bar cupcakes. In my head, this seemed like a good idea and I found several blogs where other people had tried it. The recipe I followed is from BakeBakeBake.

Here’s  a shot of the mini cupcakes I made (before I frosted them). You can kind of see the layer of lemon in between the shortbread and cupcake.

Verdict? The combination of flavors was great, but I wished I had made the lemon bar filling layer thicker with less cupcake on top. I think that would have made the flavors pop more.

Oh, and never make mini cupcakes. You can’t stop popping those little bite size morsels into your mouth!

I also tried my hand at lemon pudding filled cupcakes that weekend, too. I liked the idea, but did not like the boxed lemon pudding that I used to fill them.

Which leads me to the big kahuna of this post…Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.

My colleague had asked me to help her out with her daughter’s graduation party. I instantly offered to make cupcakes. I’m on a total cupcake kick. She wanted something lemon to represent the high school’s colors of blue and gold, and something with purple frosting to represent her daughter’s college’s colors of purple and white.

For the cupcakes, I followed this fabulous recipe from Bakerita.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Stir together buttermilk and lemon juice. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.

Love me some KitchenAid action…

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes. Let cool for about 3-5 minutes in the pan and then move the cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

It was fate when I found these adorable blue cupcake liners at Hobby Lobby.

So perfect for the blue and gold theme of the cupcakes!

For the Lemon Curd

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes (mine ended up taking about 12 minutes), or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

To Prepare the Cupcakes

To finish, make a hole in the center of the cupcake with either a cupcake corer or a knife (here is a tutorial). Spoon lemon curd into the center of each cupcake. Frost & decorate as you wish.

Hello, adorable little army of cupcakes. I also found gold cupcakes liners, so I did half and half and made little cupcake toppers!

If you click on over to her blog you’ll find instructions for a whipped meringue frosting. I didn’t make it – I don’t have a “small kitchen blowtorch” and it said to serve immediately after torching the frosting and I was making these hours in advance. I made a lemon buttercream frosting instead (Food.com is great because it calculates how much frosting you need to make to frost x amount of cupcakes – you type in the amount and it adjusts the recipe!).

I snapped this shot with my phone of the cupcakes on the table on the party. People loved them. Some crotchety older woman even said they were better than the store bought cake. WIN.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chocolate Cupcakes

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This can only turn out amazing, right?
RIGHT.
Chocolate cupcakes with cookie dough centers. Amazing.
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The frosting is even cookie dough flavored.
LOVE.
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Hello beautiful.
The recipe is from Recipe Girl. Click on over and check it out.
My suggestions: Make the cookie dough (it’s egg-less, ps) the night before and freeze overnight. It eliminates one step the next night (and these are labor-intensive!) and ensures your cookie dough center will not bake and turn into a cookie center. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but I was going for a cookie dough feeling.
I think this idea would lend itself to several variations: Peanut butter cookie dough in the middle (which my friend Erin tried out), White cake with chocolate chip cookie dough centers, White cake with snickerdoodle centers, etc.
Happy baking!