Funfetti Cucpakes

Last month, one of my good friends threw a golden birthday party for her husband. I offered a helping hand, and so was asked if I could make some cupcakes for the party. Funfetti was the request which got me excited, I had never made a funfetti cupcake before, but have always been a big fan of sprinkles! I used my trusty go-to butter cupcake recipe and threw in a half a cup of sprinkles. Voila, funfetti cupcakes! Super easy and super fun! I frosted them with a basic American buttercream that is always a hit. As far as cupcakes go, it doesn't get much simpler than this. So if you're looking for a fun and easy way to add homemade cakey goodness to your next party, look no further. 

I believe this is the third time I've used this cupcake recipe this fall now, and all three times it has turned out wonderfully! It's a great recipe that turns out 24 perfect cupcakes. And although I love a pure white cake, sometimes I just don't want to deal with separating egg whites and yolks and then whipping the eggs whites. This recipe just used 4 whole eggs that go straight into the batter, no separating, no whipping, nice and easy. 

Funfetti Cupcakes
Ingredients

  • 3 cups (14 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1¾ cups (12.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, cut into small cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup colored sprinkles, plus more for decorating

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the butter and mix on low speed, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well-combined.

Combine the milk, and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Beat half this mixture into the flour/butter/eggs. Beat on medium speed for 1½ minutes, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture, and beat for another 30 seconds. Add the sprinkles and gently mix into the batter until well combined.

Fill paper liners ⅔ full with batter, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool completely before topping with buttercream frosting (recipe follows) and sprinkles. 

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or 1-2 tablespoons of milk if you don't keep cream on hand, I've done this many time)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in the heavy cream (or milk) and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4-5 minutes.

Buttery Vanilla Birthday Cake

When I think birthdays, I think 2 things; presents and cake!! Two of my favorite things! I don't think I have to say anything about presents, but I do have something to say about cake. I. Love. Cake. I know I've said it before, but I am going to state it again. I truly cannot understand anyone who says they don't like cake. I find this hard to believe. I do believe that some people have never tried a really good cake, or that some people find cake too sweet or too rich to eat much more than a bite or two. But to say they actually don't like a spectacular fresh, homemade cake, never! 

Anyway, it's my birthday today, so I had to share my birthday cake. I love making layered cakes, so my birthday is the perfect time for me to pull out the cake pans and bake myself my favorite thing. While I love all cakes, I am partial to a simple, buttery white cake with a simple American buttercream, and if it's pink, even better! 

Regardless of how anyone else feels about cake, to me this one is a winner! Enjoy!

Buttery Vanilla Birthday Cake
Adapted From Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 3 cups (14 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1¾ cups (12.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, cut into small cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the butter and mix on low speed, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well-combined.

Combine the milk, vanilla extract and almond extract (if using) in a measuring cup. Beat half this mixture into the flour/butter/eggs. Beat on medium speed for 1½ minutes, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture, and beat for another 30 seconds.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 36-38 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. 

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
From Annies Eats
Ingredients

  • 1½ cups butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod (if using) into the bowl and add in the salt. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in the heavy cream and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4-5 minutes.

S'mores Cupcakes

April 1 is a special day in my family. We get to celebrate not just one, but two birthdays! My cousin Bailey and my grandpa get to share their special day with each other. In honor of their birthday's, Bailey invited us all over for a "112th birthday party" this past Sunday. Since my favorite part about birthday celebrations is the cake, I offered to make some cupcakes to bring along. In my opinion you cannot have a birthday party without cake, it just isn't right. 

For this occasion I had a few more restraints than normal. Dairy products don't agree well with Bailey so the only cake options I had were dairy free ones. This can be a challenge for me; I am partial to good old butter cakes piled high with sweet and fluffy buttercream, neither of which were an option for this party. I toyed around with a couple of different ideas before having that aha moment. Early on I had decided that a chocolate cupcake made with cocoa powder would work really well for the base. Cocoa is dairy free, and although I know you can find dairy free chocolate out there, I just wasn't going to get around to buying any in time. 

What was really stumping me was the frosting. I am not a fan of using butter substitutes, I just don't think they taste good. Even the really nice brands without trans fats and all that other junk don't taste like butter. I like butter, and there really is no replacement in my book. I toyed with the idea of using coconut cream but I'm not a huge coconut fan and I'd never tried it before so didn't know how it would work. Then I came across a recipe for marshmallow frosting, basically just a meringue, and it all came together. Marshmallow frosting on a chocolate cake, only one thing is missing.... graham crackers! Who can resist a good old s'more, especially in cupcake form? The perfect dairy free cupcake to celebrate a couple of extra special people. 

This cupcake recipe is a cinch to make, all you need is one bowl and you are good to go. The recipe said it would make 1 dozen, but I always like to make a few mini cupcakes too as testers and it worked out great. I managed to get 1 dozen regular cupcakes and 6 minis.

As for the frosting; I'd never made marshmallow frosting before, but I have made marshmallows, and it was pretty much the same thing, just without the gelatin. Pretty easy to whip together, but incredibly sticky! I thought the combination of the dark chocolate cake with the sweet and light marshmallow frosting was a winner; the two complemented each other so well. I finished the whole thing off with some homemade graham crackers (dairy free of course) and some graham cracker crumbs. 

All I have left to say is: Happy Birthday Bailey and Grandpa! Have a wonderful day!

S'mores Cupcakes

Adapted from 

King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 1 cups (4 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/8 cup (1 1/8 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/8 cup (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) coffee

Frosting

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (I actually didn't have any and it worked fine without, cream of tarter just helps stabilize the egg whites, but you can go without if you have to)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake or muffin pans with papers.

Prepare the cake batter. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the coffee, beating until smooth. 

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups; you'll pour a scant 1/4 cup batter (about 58g) into each cup. Bake the cupcakes for about 20-22 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes in the middle of the pan comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. In about 5 minutes, or as soon as you can handle them, remove them from the pan, and place them on a rack to cool.

When the cupcakes are cool, make the frosting. Place the 2 egg whites in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat until the egg whites are foamy and thick; they should mound in the bowl, without holding a peak. Set them aside while you prepare the sugar syrup.

Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently; the sugar should be dissolved. If the sugar hasn't dissolved, cook and stir a bit more, until it has. Once the sugar has dissolved, boil the syrup, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, or until the syrup registers 240°F on a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer.

Begin to beat the egg whites, and immediately pour the boiling sugar syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream, beating all the while. As you beat, the mixture will thicken. Once all the syrup is added, stir in the vanilla, and continue to beat until the frosting is thick and will hold a peak.

Spoon the hot frosting atop the cooled cupcakes, swirling it decoratively.

Decorate while the frosting is still warm with graham crackers crumbs. You can also toast the edges of the frosting with a kitchen blow torch, or how I did it, using the flame on your gas stove. Just watch your fingers!

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes + 6 mini cupcakes

Classic White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

It was my mom's birthday this past week, and what do birthdays mean?? Cake of course! And the chance for me to make a cake, one of my favorite things to do. I'm lucky that I am on an easy rotation at school right now, so it wasn't a big deal to take some time out of my schedule and bake a nice birthday cake for my mom. She is a fan of white on white cakes, so that's what I made. Classic white cake, with sweet and sugary American buttercream frosting. Simple to be sure, but always a winner. 

While I love cake, a normal double or triple layer 9-inch cake is so big for our family. We can usually finish it off eventually, but it can take a while, and even though I absolutely love cake, I start to feel bad about eating it every night for a week straight! So this time I decided to try something new. I took my favorite white cake recipe, cut it in half, and baked it in a smaller 12x9 inch rimmed baking sheet. Once it was cool, I cut it into three rectangles and stacked those rectangles to make a triple layer cake. It turned out to be the perfect size for us. On the night of my mom's birthday, we had 8 people over for cake and they all got nice sized (but not jumbo) pieces, and there was just enough cake left over to snack on for a day or two, perfect!

I frosted this cake very simply because I was trying to quick get it done before my mom came home from work so didn't have the time for anything fancy, but I think it still turned out pretty cute. Just one color of frosting jazzed up a bit with some colored sprinkles, quick and easy.

Love you mom!

The birthday girl and her cake

You can do it!

Classic White Cake

Adapted from

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large egg whites

Directions

Butter and flour a 12x9-inch rimmed baking sheet. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

Transfer batter to prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a light, golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let them cool completely. 

Frost the cakes with vanilla buttercream, recipe follows. 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Adapted From 

Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Directions

On medium speed, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until all the sugar has been incorporated (you may want to do this in a couple additions to prevent the powdered sugar from getting everywhere). Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla and almond extracts, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk or cream and beat for 3-5 minutes, until light and creamy. Add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time, until you reach desired consistency. 

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

I've had a wonderful Christmas break, but Monday it's back to school for my final semester of my master's program. While I don't want to go back, I am ready for this semester to be finished. Fortunately I was able to do a lot of cooking and baking this break, especially for Christmas. My grandparents hosted Christmas dinner a couple weeks ago. My grandma made a delicious beef tenderloin roast that was meltingly tender, like butter. She asked me a couple of days before if I would like to make the dessert and of course I jumped at the chance. Last year we had red velvet cake and everyone loved it, so this year I decided to stick with that theme, but bump it up a notch and make a red velvet cheesecake cake.

I'd seen this idea online in a couple of places and it sounded like a winning combination. Bake a thin layer of cheesecake and sandwich it between two layers of moist and delicious red velvet cake. Frost with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting and dig in. It just had to be good, and it was!

I used my favorite red velvet cake and frosting recipes from America's Test Kitchen, and the cheesecake came from 17 and Baking. Although this recipe did take two days and had several different steps, none of it was very difficult. Putting all of the components together the day of our Christmas party was so satisfying. The final product was gorgeous, and more importantly it was delicious. I was surprised to find that I hardly even noticed that the middle layer was cheesecake, it all just melded together seamlessly. Even my dad who says he doesn't like cream cheese or cheesecake loved this cake. So if you're looking for an impressive and delicious dessert for any special occasion, give this idea a try.

The cocoa and food coloring paste

The ingredients all set to go

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy

Add in the flour mixture, and then the 

food coloring paste

Pour into two round cake pans

And bake

Let cool on a wire rack

Meanwhile, whip together the frosting

(my favorite part!)

Ready to assemble

Start with a layer of cake

Place cheesecake on top

(I froze it for a couple of hours so it would be

easy to work with)

The cheesecake was a little bigger than then 

cake so I had to trim off the excess

Then place the final layer of cake on top

Cover the whole cake with a crumb 

coat of frosting

And then frost it up

Dig in! (not the most beautiful photo, but I just wanted to take a bite; trust me, you don't need a big slice of this!)

Red Velvet Cake
From: America's Test Kitchen
Ingredients
CAKE

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda 
  • Pinch salt 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder 
  • 2 tablespoons (one 1-ounce bottle) red food coloring 
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar 

FROSTING

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar 
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened 
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • Pinch salt 

Directions
FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

FOR THE FROSTING: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cheesecake
From: 17 and Baking
Ingredients

  • 20 oz full fat cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 2/3 cup white sugar (5 1/4 oz) 
  • Zest of half a lemon 
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature 
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour 

Directions
Grease a 9″ springform pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, and set the pan into a larger pan (for the waterbath.)

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon and beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, making sure they are combined but not overmixing. Add the sour cream. Stir in flour and gently mix just until combined.

Pour the batter into the greased pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan halfway up the cheesecake. The aluminum foil should protect the cheesecake from seeping water. Bake until the cheesecake is just set in the middle, about 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Run a knife around the sides and let the cheesecake cool completely. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the cheesecake and refrigerate overnight.