Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Ever since I made these cupcakes several months ago, my nephew asks me every single time I give him a cupcake if there’s a cookie on the bottom. Every. Single. Time.

They were a hit.

A friend of mine asked me to make birthday cupcakes for her friend’s daughter and gave me the freedom to decide what kind.

Now, I’ve had people do this to me before. This opportunity both excites me (“Yay! I get to try one of the millions of Pinterest recipes I haven’t made yet!”) and terrifies me (“WHAT?! I have to decide?! What if I choose wrong and they hate it or what if I try a new recipe and it sucks or what if they are disappointed in the flavor combinations and ohmygoodnessthisistoomuchpressureIcan’ttakeit!!”).

Clearly I have issues. Let’s move on.

I chose to make Cookies and Cream Cupcakes for said birthday girl. Every kid likes cookies and cupcakes so what little kid wouldn’t like them together? Also, who doesn’t like cookies and cream? Also, there’s an actual cookie in the bottom so I knew they’d go over well.

Well, I didn’t when I was little but clearly I was the exception. (Also, I didn’t like Oreos at first. WHAT?!)

If you’ve got a cookies and cream lover in your life, these must be made. The recipe is from Kristan at the Confessions of a Cookbook Queen blog and all of her stuff is amazing so pop over there and spend some time.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes (I actually got about 27, but only 24 had cookies in the bottom)
adapted slightly from the original recipe

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup water
3 eggs
24 whole Oreos

Filling Ingredients:
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Frosting Ingredients:
2 sticks salted butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
7 Oreos, very finely crushed

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple of cupcake tins with liners and place 1 whole Oreo into the bottom of each liner. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, water, and eggs. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium (or high) and beat for another 2 minutes.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when pressed. Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the tins, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the marshmallow creme, butter, vanilla, and cream on medium speed until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat  on high for about a minute. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, remove the centers of the cupcakes, either by using an apple corer or by cutting a cone shape out with a paring knife. Eat or discard the centers (I kept them and dipped them in the leftover filling that I didn’t use. Yep. That’s how I roll.)
Place the filling into a large Ziploc-type bag and snip a TINY bit from one of the corners. Squeeze the filling into the center of each cupcake.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter, cream, and vanilla on medium-low until smooth and well combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.  Fold in the crushed Oreos and pipe onto the cooled, filled cupcakes.

Share!

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C's Construction Party!

My son turned 3 a few weeks ago. (Yeah. I’m finally getting around to writing this post. I’m aware I’ve been a slacker.)

I’m not sure how many of you have kids but it really is crazy how much faster time goes by when they’re around. Seriously; I blinked and he went from a sweet-smelling newborn who napped on my chest to a full-fledged big boy! (Emphasis on big: his pediatrician said at his check-up that he’s the size of a 4 year old. Then again, I get that news at every appointment. He’s a beast.)

For this year’s theme I went for “construction,” mainly because it’s so easy to do and I was able to think of a lot of activities to keep the kids busy (I’m not really one for awkward situations).

I started planning in March. Too soon? Not for me. I’m a planner, and besides that, I was having a super time putting it all together! I love doing stuff like this.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures of the big day. Enjoy!

I got a cardboard “3” at Hobby Lobby and a HUGE roll of construction tape from eBay (seriously- huge. Like, 1,000 feet. Anyone need construction tape?). I’ve also seen the tape at Home Depot, though. Wish I would have known that sooner. Anyway, I just wrapped the tape around the 3 and called it a day. It looks way better in this picture than it did in real life, though. It kind of started falling off. Still cute!

For the party favors, I found some cheap-o hard hats on eBay (I think), cheap little tools from Birthday in a Box, activity books from Dollar General, and tool belts from Home Depot ($.77 a piece). My mom sewed some felt over the Home Depot label and I used a paint pen to write the kids’ names on them. My mom also had some leather lying around (I know. Who has leather lying around?!), so she also added a little hammer holder on the sides of the aprons. So cute! (Thanks for your help, mom!)


I forget where I found these signs (probably eBay, like everything else), but they’re just poster board-like material and they came 4 to a package. I can’t remember now how much I paid for them but they were cheap (I’m on a budget, in case you can’t tell).

More use of the construction tape. I found a cool font online- all the letters are different tools! How cute is that?! Anyway, I printed out the letters, cut some cardstock to fit, and glued the cardstock to the construction tape. C actually helped me with this, and he was quite proud of himself.

Ahh, the food table. “3” balloons from eBay, construction cone from work, and cement blocks from Home Depot.


I got this dump truck from a great toy resale shop in Austin (Anna’s Toy Depot) for $14. I cleaned it and it was ready for the food table. Here, it was dumping “boulders” (grapes) into a bowl. (The bowls I got for his party last year in the Halloween section of Target.)
To dress up the tables a little, I taped some yellow ribbon to a black table cloth so that it looked like road stripes. I love the way it turned out!

Two kinds of cupcakes: chocolate (basically the base for the Snickers cupcakes but without the Snickers), and vanilla bean (told you I loved them). I topped both with cookie dough frosting, because what kid person doesn’t like cookie dough?! I sprinkled some with dirt (crushed Oreos) and some with rocks (they actually make chocolate candies that look just like rocks- I got them at a local ice cream parlor but some grocery stores carry them). Others were topped with tiny hard hat picks (found at a local bake shop) or tool picks (found on eBay for like $2.75).

What construction party would be complete without “rocky road” something?!  My son LOVES marshmallows, so I thought these would be perfect (and they were)!  I got the retro straws on the cheap from eBay, but they’re all the rage now and you can kind of find them anywhere. I’ve seen them in Michael’s often.
I poked a retro straw into a marshmallow and dipped them halfway into some milk chocolate candy melts. I then sprinkled them with some chopped toasted almonds. You need to do this quickly, because the candy melts harden before too long.
Easy!

The “wrecking balls” (a.k.a. cheese balls) were also quite popular, of course.

No fancy decorations needed for the kids’ table! Throw some toy trucks on there and call it a day! (They didn’t stay on the table long.)

This was, without a doubt, THE most popular activity we had! I bought a cardboard playhouse (from Zulily, but you can find them on several websites) and some washable paint and let the kids go to town! They loved it!

(I love the look on my nephew’s face here. He’s like, “Um, that’s not a good choice.”)

I bought some cardboard bricks (also from eBay) so the kids could have a “building” station.

My parents also recently built a huge sandbox for C and my nephew to play in. It got a lot of use that day, too!

Singing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy.

All in all, it was a successful party! Low-stress, easy, and totally fun (for the moms and the kids)! I kept it small, which I think is key, especially for such a young age.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes

Well, friends. Fall is upon us. (Even if the highs are still in the 90s here in Texas.)

I love fall. I love the cool, crisp weather (when it finally gets here in November), lightweight sweaters and scarves, and, of course, the football games. (What I do NOT love is my raging ragweed allergy, but the other stuff makes up for it.)

But I think what I love the most is the pumpkin recipes that I get to try out. Naturally, I would eat pumpkin things year-round, but that’s the food equivalent of wearing white after Labor Day, so I don’t.

Now it’s October, so it’s socially acceptable to dust off my cans of pumpkin that I’ve hoarded all year. So I did.

I made a lot of great pumpkin recipes last fall, and I may share some of the non-cupcake recipes with you.

It’s my blog. I can if I want to.

But for now…Pumpkin Cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
adapted slightly from Your Cup of Cake

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix all the cupcake ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes).
Fill the liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-22 minutes or until tops are springy and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the tins for a few minutes, then place on wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin pie spice and the vanilla and beat some more. Slowly add the powdered sugar until you have reached the desired consistency. Add pumpkin puree and beat until combined. If this thins out the frosting too much, you can add a little more powdered sugar. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

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The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes

That’s not just a clever name, y’all.

These are ultimate vanilla cupcakes.

Sometimes when people think of vanilla cupcakes, they think of plain, non-exciting, average, run-of-the-mill cupcakes. These are anything but. They have more than just vanilla extract in them. They have actual vanilla beans in them. If you’re unfamiliar with vanilla beans, you’ve got to get on board. I’ve recently developed a slight (read: big time) obsession with vanilla beans (maaayyybe partially because of this recipe), and I want to put them in everything. Everything.

Vanilla beans can be pretty expensive. I ordered mine from eBay and paid $10.99 for 30 beans, which is kind of a steal. I have a feeling the 30 beans won’t be lasting me all that long. But I digress…

These cupcakes are going to be my new go-to (provided I have the beans on-hand). They are deliciously moist and loaded with tons of vanilla specks so you get a mouthful of flavor in every bite. The frosting is…well…what’s better than wonderful? Spectacular? Stupendous? INCREDIBLE?!

Y’all, it’s like topping your already-amazing cupcake with some pretty awesome vanilla ice cream. It’s just…there are no words.

Here’s your homework:
1) Get on eBay
2) Buy vanilla beans
3) Make these cupcakes. Try not to die when you taste them.
4) Top with this frosting. Try not to die again.

Aaaannnddd…GO!

The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes
makes 16 cupcakes (I got 21 out of it)
recipe from Cupcake Project

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream (full-fat)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk

Frosting Ingredients:
(amounts have been doubled from the original recipe)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (I used 4 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 [scraped] vanilla bean)
2 teaspoons milk

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with 16-21 liners; set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean (if you’re unfamiliar with vanilla beans, watch this video on how to prep a vanilla bean).
Using the back of a spoon, break up any clumps of vanilla seeds as best you can. Stir the mixture well to infuse the flavor. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix well to combine.
Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed for 3 minutes. (Because there isn’t much butter being used, it will be a crumb-like consistency.)
In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the milk. Mix until just combined. (The batter is very runny- don’t worry!)
Fill the  liners with the batter, filling about 1/2 full. Bake for 14 minutes, then test to see if they are done. (They are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If they are not done, test again in 2 minutes. If still not done, test again in another 2.)
When the cupcakes are done, immediately (carefully!) remove them from the tins and let cool on wire racks.

To make the frosting: Mix together the sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. Add the vanilla bean paste and the milk and continue to beat for another minute. If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste or more powdered sugar if you need to make it stiffer.
Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

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Twinkies Cupcakes

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while! I’ve had good intentions, but sometimes life gets in the way…

So let’s talk about Twinkies.

Ahh, Twinkies.

I don’t think I ever had a Twinkie until adulthood. Isn’t that weird? Apparently they’re “sugar-laden” and “bad for you.” They also have a lot of “preservatives.” (By the way, if I was actually speaking to you right now, those would be air quotes.)

Whatever. They’re also awesome.

So, when I saw that my “blog friend” (more air quotes) Haley (a.k.a. The Domestic Rebel) had made Twinkie cupcakes, I knew it would be happening in my house before too long. (I mean, come on. Twinkie. Cupcakes.)

These cupcakes do taste Twinkie-esque. I wouldn’t say they’re dead-ringers for the real things, but certainly a close second. The yellow cake is light and spongy and they are filled with a marshmallow center that’s so yummy (and just slightly gooey) that any kid (or kid-at-heart) is sure to go nuts for.
They do get better with time, so don’t be afraid to let them sit for a day or so before eating them…if you can wait that long.

 

Twinkie Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
recipe from The Domestic Rebel

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix, plus all ingredients on the back of the box
1 small box French vanilla pudding mix
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons very hot water

Frosting Ingredients:
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 1 (32 ounce) bag powdered sugar (I used less)

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with liners; set aside.
Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, adding the box of pudding mix and blending thoroughly. Fill each liner about 2/3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are springy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the tins, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Once cooled, core the cupcakes with a small knife or apple corer. Discard (or eat) the centers.

To make the filling: Dissolve the salt into the hot water and allow to cool. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the marshmallow fluff, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in the salt water. The mixture will be light and fluffy but not stiff like frosting.
Scoop the mixture into a resealable plastic bag and seal. Snip the corner off and fill each cupcake with the mixture, filling just to the top of the cupcake. Place in the refrigerator while you make the frosting.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the marshmallow fluff, butter, and vanilla until fully mixed and creamy (this will take about 2 minutes).  Slowly add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until frosting is light and fluffy. Pipe onto the cupcakes.

 

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Coffee Cupcakes

I like to try to find the perfect cupcake flavor for any given activity/holiday/event. It’s a fun littlle game I like to play- and it’s kind of a challenge, which is fun, too.

Example? Well, donut cupcakes on National Donut Day,  red, white, and blue cupcakes for the Fourth of July, and pecan pie cupcakes for my dad for Father’s Day all come to mind. Oh, and Biscoff cupcakes for…well…a Monday (don’t judge me).

Last week was no different. Though there was no holiday or significant event, it was “scheduling time” at work. See, I don’t teach at a “school,” per se, and we have classes year-round with a 2-week break between semesters. In that time, all the instructors and my boss bust our butts to get the new schedules out, as well as planning our new classes and getting our rooms in order. Yes, it’s a lot to do. Coffee is consumed in mass quantities. Sooo…

Coffee cupcakes! Perfect.

These cupcakes turned out pretty good. The flavor of them was excellent, but they were a little dry. Perhaps I cooked them a bit too long or maybe it’s just the way the recipe is- who knows? I did double the original recipe, so maybe that was the issue. Regardless, they were a big hit among my coworkers and the caffeine/sugar combo got us through the day, so mission accomplished!

(Please note the amounts listed below are the originals, not the doubled.)

Coffee Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream
Makes 12 cupcakes
Recipe from Recipe.com

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup brewed coffee

Frosting Ingredients:
**This is not the frosting used in the original recipe**
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso
1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl of a stand mixer for about 2 minutes, or until light-colored and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the brewed coffee.
Divide the batter among the liners, and bake for about 25 minutes or until the tops are firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for a few minutes, then remove them to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Mix the instant espresso, hot water, and vanilla together and set aside.
Using a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Reduce the speed again to low; add the coffee and mix until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream

So…remember my love of Biscoff?

Yeah, well, I made something delicious with it. Again.

Before, I made the Biscoff Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream, right? And those were good.

But I just did one better. Chocolate cupcakes with Biscoff buttercream. That’s right.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the stuff (and too lazy to click on the links I’ve provided), Biscoff spread is essentially ground-up Biscoff cookies. Like, cookie butter. (I love peanut butter and all, but doesn’t cookie butter sound so much better? It is. Not as nutritional, but whatever.)

I could talk all day about how great these are, but really. Just go make them. Thank me later.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream
makes 24 cupcakes
Source: The Little Kitchen

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 package Devil’s Food cake mix
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon instant espresso dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water

Frosting Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 stick salted butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy Biscoff spread
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcake tins with liners; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together all of the cupcake ingredients for a minute or two until well blended. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are springy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove them to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: In a stand mixer, beat the butter and Biscoff  spread on low speed for a minute, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another minute. (You want the mixture to be nice and creamy.) Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, beating until mixed. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency (you may need more- I only used 1 tablespoon).
Increase the speed again to medium or medium high and beat for about 5 more minutes, or until the frosting is nice and fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

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