Tag Archives: Cupcakes Take The Cake

Reese’s Chocolatey Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Sometimes you need a relaxing weekend where you don’t do much. That’s exactly what my fiancé and I did this past weekend. Saturday included sleeping in, a solid 6 mile run in the middle of the day (outside, without sweating to death, mind you!), some more delicious pizza, and cupcakes!

I hadn’t made cupcakes since our wedding party BBQ (a whopping two weeks ago), so I figured it was time to make another batch. I found this recipe on Something Shiny’s blog, which was linked to by Cupcakes Take the Cake. I’ve always wanted to make a stuffed cupcake, but have been wary since I don’t have the right tools. This was the next best thing – shove a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup inside a yummy chocolate cake – sold! Considering I love chocolate and peanut butter, this was a no brainer – I knew I had to make them.

The recipe also has a pretty awesome chocolate magic shell, but I tried to keep it basic. And considering I still haven’t replaced my pastry bag, the frosting was less than stellar. So if you want to see really awesome and delicious looking pictures of these cupcakes, I suggest looking at Something Shiny’s. While mine aren’t the most visually appealing cupcakes I’ve ever made, they sure did taste great!

Per the usual I didn’t have all of the ingredients necessary when I first started getting ready to make the cupcakes. So, I had to put the perishables back in the fridge, and run out to the store to pick up some more cocoa powder and sour cream. Mind you, this was after just literally walking in the door from a three mile walk. Oh well, turns out I walked about 4 miles that day – no biggie! I also love hitting up this particular Stop & Shop for items here and there, because they seem to be the only grocery store around me that has Amy’s Organic Breakfast Burritos! Every other store I’ve been to offers some of their other variations, but not the breakfast one. So I’ll be enjoying one of those later this week.

Back to the cupcakes. The recipe was super easy, and the batter was light and fluffy so I knew it was going to be decadent. I popped the little Reese’s cups into the center of the cupcakes, and into the oven they went! After a mere 15 minutes they were done baking and ready to cool. We waited a few hours before enjoying them with the peanut butter frosting (which calls for a creamy variation, but I went chunky). The recipe only made 12, which was perfect for my fiancé and I; we’ve enjoyed one every night after dinner, and they’re keeping well in an air-tight container in the fridge (cupcake and frosting are separate).

Now that I’m a little more comfortable with putting things into the middle of my cupcakes, I’m probably going to experiment a bit. It’ll probably stay pretty basic, but I might come up with a super sweet combination – we’ll see!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (With Reese’s PB Cup Center)
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
– Makes approx 12 –

Ingredients:
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup (1.5 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (or regular if that’s what you’ve got handy)
3/4 cup (3.75 oz) All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream (you could use reduced fat, but really…why bother)
12-15 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line tin with cupcake liners.
2. Combine butter, chopped chocolate and cocoa in a small bowl. Microwave 30 seconds then stir. Microwave at 15 second intervals until smooth. Don’t overheat! Alternately, you can get fancy and use a double boiler, or a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.
3. Cool until barely warm.
4. In small bowl, combine flour, soda and powder.
5. In a medium-ish bowl, beat the eggs then whisk in the sugar and salt. Add the cooled chocolate mix, beating until smooth and well combined. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until fully combined. Add sour cream, mixing well, then add remaining flour mixture, whisking till flour is fully incorporated and batter is thick.
6. Scoop batter into lined tins using you preferred method—spoon, ice cream scoop, measuring cup. Place a mini Reese’s cup in the center of each cake. Press into the batter until nearly level with the top.
7. Bake 15-20 minutes (15 was enough for me).
8. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack to cool thoroughly before frosting.

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
Adapted from
browneyedbaker.com
Easily covers 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter (like I said, I used chunky)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 – 2/3 cup whipping cream (heavy cream) adjust as necessary – add more if it looks like it needs it. Go wild.

Directions:
1. Beat peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. Add cream and beat until light and fluffy. Give it a few minutes to get nice and pale and lovely. Lick the beaters. No, really. Do it. It’ll make you feel like a kid again.
2. Spread onto cooled cupcakes or pipe with your preferred decorating tip.

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Filed under Cupcakes, Recipe, Running

A Failed Attempt at Cupcake Camp NYC Still Ended Sweetly

This past Friday was the second annual Cupcake Camp NYC. You may find yourself asking, “What is this camping cupcake nonsense?” Well, yes, there are cupcakes, but no, there isn’t any camping. It’s basically an ad-hoc gathering for cupcake lovers alike. From bakers to writers and bloggers, and everyone in between, it’s an event to get together and mingle with other cupcake nerds. And Cupcake Camp happens all over the WORLD!

Having heard about the event awhile ago, I was pumped and ready to go. When the tickets were finally made available in March, I made sure to get myself and my fiancé a pair. Since they were free, I was more than ecstatic at the mere thought getting to see (let alone eat) some awesome cupcakes, and potentially brush shoulders with some seriously important cupcake people. You know, like my favorite blog Cupcakes Take the Cake. Or the owner of Buttercup Bake Shop! So once the day rolled around, my fiancé and I made sure to leave work 45 minutes early to get into the city as soon as possible.

Cupcake Camp was held at Happy Ending on Broome Street on the lower east side. When we were approaching our destination, my heart sunk. The event started at 7pm, and it was only about 7:10. The line was not only out the door, but down the street, and around the corner. I mean, I knew it was going to be crowded – everyone loves cupcakes. I couldn’t help but think to myself; “I got my tickets a month early! I love cupcakes way more than these people! I’m even wearing my cupcake necklace! My fiancé and I have mushy gushy cupcake love! THIS ISN’T FAIR!”

The dreaded line

The dreaded line

After whining in my head till the end of the line, we got in line, and waited. We waited and waited, and we didn’t actually get in until just a bit after 8pm. On the way in, we heard a few people echoing “There aren’t any cupcakes left!” while they walked out with boxes of leftover goodies. I sincerely hoped they were lying, but my hopes were dashed once I finally got inside. Any cupcakes that were left were already spoken for by others. There were a few authors selling their cupcake books, and everyone was just mingling and enjoying one another’s company. The bar was so packed, it was nearly impossible to move. After making our rounds, my fiancé and I left, a little disappointed, and very hungry.

I am utterly shocked at how many people were there! It was truly impressive. I mean, I know cupcakes are the “it” trend right now, but man! I suppose the word “free” might have played it’s part as well. I’m definitely going to make an attempt at next year’s gathering. But I think some camping might be involved this time. Forget about leaving work 45 minutes early – I’m going to need to take the whole day!

After that fail, we decided to head over to Dos Toros Taqueria, a place I had read about on SeriousEats. They compared it a lot to Chipotle, so as a burrito fanatic, I was in. When we got there, though, we faced our second fail of the evening. It’s an extremely small place – only one window bench with about 4 seats. And, the line was out the door. Since it was a bit chilly and windy, we decided to save that deliciousness for a day we could really enjoy it. We settled on the Thai restaurant Spice. We passed one of their other locations en route to Dos Toros and had already perused the menu, so we figured that would suffice. I really think Friday was the night of the foodies. We walked past Momofuku‘s Milk Bar and that line was even more outrageous! [I still need to get in on that chicken dinner!]

When we got to Spice, we were told we’d have about a 20 minute wait, which isn’t so bad for 9pm on a Friday in the city. Thankfully, we only wound up waiting about 10 minutes, and we were brought upstairs to our table. We decided to get an order of the spicy calamari to share. It wasn’t spicy so much as it had a nice crisp black pepper taste. The dipping sauce was sweet, tangy, and peanuty with a little kick all at the same time. I really enjoyed it.

Spicy Crispy Calamari with Sriracha honey chili sauce

For our entrees, I went with the Drunken Man Noodles, and my fiancé went for his go-to Pad Thai. The Drunken Man Noodles were broad rice noodles (my favorite!) with chicken, shrimp and squid along with chili, egg, and green beans.

Drunk Man Noodle

Our food came quickly, and it was actually really good. Being the spicy lovers that we are, we asked for extra spice. Surprisingly, despite the restaurant’s name, the food wasn’t spicy. That would be my only gripe about the place. The service was friendly, but they didn’t check-up on us once. It worked out since everything was fine, but if it hadn’t been, I wonder if we would have had trouble flagging someone down. At any rate, for a $30 dinner in the city, I really can’t complain.

To end our night on an even higher note, we headed over to 16 Handles. My fiancé and I actually went here on our fourth date, after dining at the Telephone Bar which is sadly now closed. 16 Handles really is as great as it sounds. There are 16 different flavors of frozen yogurt that you get to choose from yourself, followed by a plethora of toppings. It’s all done buffet style, so you get to pick your cup size, yogurt and topping choices, and then pay by weight. They have everything from sweet to tart flavors, non-dairy and low fat options, and both fruity and candy-like toppings. Being the sweets junkie that I am, I went for red velvet, cookies & cream, New York cheesecake and peanut butter yogurt (just a dollop of each!). I then topped it off with some cookie dough bites, brownie bites, crushed graham crackers, crushed Oreo, and mashed Reese’s peanut butter cups. Oh. Yes. Take a look at the masterpiece!:

16 Handles of deliciousness

So all in all, despite not getting a cupcake, I think I had a successful foodie evening. And I made up for the lack of cupcakes by getting a Crumbs cappuccino and half baked cupcake Saturday. Plus, I’m on Sunday I was able to whip up some peanut butter cupcakes from my 500 Cupcakes recipe book! Maybe next year I’ll be adventurous and bake my OWN cupcakes for the event! We’ll see 🙂

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Filed under Cupcakes, Food Review, Restaurant

Cupcake Storage: An Experiment

I don’t bake too often, but when I do, I always make the full recipe. Since there’s only two of us, I always have leftovers. This poses a problem with baked goods; what are you supposed to do with those left over?! Leave them out in the open? Wrap them in foil? Put it in an air-tight container? Refrigerate? Freeze? So many choices!!

When I last baked, I made the Chipotle Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes, and my fiancé and I wound up throwing about half of them out, because I had forgotten to cover them. When we were in Disney World, we picked up Minnie’s Cupcake Mix, and I was thinking about how it’s time to make them. But, worried about having extras and storage, I turned to Google.

I read a ton of different suggestions, that really just left my head spinning. Some sites said just to cover them and leave them at room temp. Others said air-tight at room temp. Or in the fridge air-tight. I also found a little tip section on one of my favorite cupcake blogs, Cupcakes Take The Cake about freezing them.

So, since there were so many different suggestions, I decided to take matters in to my own hands. I’m going to make those Minnie Mouse cupcakes (sans frosting), and store one in each of the aforementioned styles. I’ll freeze one, leave one out uncovered, another out in foil, another out in an air-tight container, and another in the fridge in an air-tight container. I already know that simply putting them in the fridge bare or in foil results in hardening in just a few days. I’ll leave each of the test cupcakes in their designated areas for two days. Then, I’ll sample each of the five cupcakes for freshness, and report back.

If you’re like me and bake and have left overs, stay tuned to find out the best way to store them. Expect an update next week!

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes

Chicago Food Round-up!

So this post has taken quite some time for me to finish. The reasons are two-fold; one, there is just SO much for me to talk about in regards to food in Chicago, and two, I got sick with a nasty cold almost as soon as I pulled into my driveway.

I can honestly say I’ve never been somewhere that had such a plethora of [delicious] food in such a small radius. You name the type of food, it’s available. They even have late night places open from 9p to 5a, for the sole purpose of feeding your midnight munchies!

That being said, I’ll do this the most economical way; day by day, meal by meal. So prepare yourself!

We arrived Friday evening after a grueling 12 hour drive. Not to waste any time, we checked into the super nice Belden Stratford Hotel (thanks, Orbitz!) and set out on our first culinary adventure. We weren’t sure what type of food we wanted, or even where to go, so we settled on our tried and true favorite, Mexican. The place was called El Nuevo Mexicano, and it was awesome! The place was small and loud with lots of talking, and great music. We each ordered a Mojito; mine regular and my boyfriend splurged for the pomegranate. The tortilla chips were nicely seasoned, and the salsa was spiced just right. I got the Combonation Vegetariana, which had a guacamole burrito, rice and bean chimichanga, and chile relleno, all served with rice and beans. I’ve had all of the aforementioned foods, but never in the specific combinations. A burrito solely stuffed with guacamole is satisfying in itself. Throw in some deep-friend rice and beans, almost like a Mexican eggroll, and a deep fried, stuffed with cheese chile smothered in sauce = heaven. I left full, with a smile on my face!

On the way home, we happened upon Molly’s Cupcakes, which was actually recommended by a friend (Serial Baker). Ecstatic over our first cupcake experience in Chicago, we ran into the store, forgetting our stuffed bellies. I’ve never seen a cupcake joint so crowded in my life! It was overflowing with people sipping huge cups of coffee, and chatting over delicious looking cupcakes. I ran up to the counter, and immediately started deliberating. Being in an extreme chocolate mood, I went for the Chocolate Decadence, while my boyfriend got the Pumpkin Spice. BEST. CUPCAKES. EVER. Mine was filled with chocolate mousse, and topped with two different types of chocolate ganache. As a chocolate lover, I couldn’t have asked for anything more! The pumpkin was also awesome; the spice and pumpkin ratio was perfect, with an almost cheesecake –like filling and icing. I really don’t think I could have asked for two better cupcakes!

Saturday morning we got up early, and trekked through the rain to the all famous Orange. A breakfast place known for its juices and frushi, I had only heard great things. Though, some of Yelp’s reviews left me a little wary. At any rate, we sat down and immediately got a water with a cucumber slice (nice and refreshing), and some orange infused coffee. The coffee was okay; it tasted more like a tea, and reminded me a  bit of a mixed drink. We then ordered some frushi, which was absolutely delicious. It was coconut rice wrapped around either kiwi or watermelon… yum! I went for the #11.5 omlette that had bacon, leeks, and brie cheese, along with toast and delicious breakfast potatoes. My boyfriend went for the chai tea French toast. Both were decent, but nothing to write home about. The French toast was a little soggy, and the eggs were good, but could have used more cheese. Overall I enjoyed the experience, but wasn’t floored.

We continued our mediocre eating day by stumbling upon Phoebe’s Cupcakes, a place I had found from the Cupcakes Take The Cake blog. I went for the red velvet, and my boyfriend got a red licorice cupcake. I couldn’t have been more disappointed! It feels blasphemous to even write about a subpar cupcake, but someone’s gotta do it. The cake itself was really good. The icing, however, not so much. It was WAY too cheesy, to the point where I couldn’t even finish it. My boyfriend’s, however, was good. I’m going to chalk it up to a bad batch of icing, but it’s definitely ruined red velvet for me for awhile. Such a shame. On a brighter note, though, they did have cupcake flavored coffee that was amazing! I couldn’t put my finger on the flavor combination, but it was just right without any milk or sugar.

We spent the rest of our Saturday at The Lawrence Arms 10 year anniversary show which was awesome, despite me feeling sick from the aforementioned cupcake. Afterwards, we stopped at The Weiner’s Circle to get ourselves a Chicago dog. I was skeptical about liking a hot dog with pickles, hot peppers, and relish, but I really liked it! It’s definitely something I would get again. The place itself was also quite an experience; the help talked back to every drunk person looking for a late night snack, and didn’t take anyone’s crap. I was actually afraid to place my order, in case I messed up. Thankfully, since I was sober, they treated me with respect. Others weren’t so lucky.

Since Sunday was our last full day, we decided to spend most of it doing touristy things like visiting Millennium Park and the Willis (Sears) Tower.  We decided to start the day off with breakfast at The Bongo Room. Now let me tell you, I’m actually not much of a breakfast person; I tend to shy away from it when given the option. But Chicago has definitely showed me how delicious it can be! We decided to share plates this time, as every thing on the menu sounded amazing, and we couldn’t decide on one thing each. Being a lover of Mexican food, I tend to judge places on their burritos. Naturally, we got the breakfast burrito, and one of their daily specials; French toast smothered in cream, caramel and caramelized apples, along with a side of Thai chicken sausage. Every single thing I tried there was phenomenal. Everyone around us had something equally delicious looking on their plates. If I had the stomach for it, I would have tried everything. It seemed like most tables each got their own dishes, and then shared one of their yummy sounding pancake options. I would go back there in a heartbeat; the 45 minute wait was more than worth it!

We ended our trip with some Chicago style pizza. I had searched on Yelp while waiting in line at the Willis Tower, and decided on Giordano’s, which was around the corner. After tweeting about it, some locals gave me a hard time, telling me I should have gone to a few other places. Unfortunately, they were too late. I’m not sure what the huff and puff was about, though, because I really enjoyed Giordano’s! We decided to get the pie stuffed with onions, peppers, and broccoli. I was never really interested in the concept of a stuffed pizza with the sauce on top. After having it, though, I’m a fan. We only got a 10 inch pie to share, and wound up bringing more than half of it home which was convenient for snacking on the 12 hour drive back!

All in all, I think I gained anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds (I was too afraid to actually weigh myself), but it was totally worth it. While we were there, we walked everywhere, and I couldn’t help but take note of all the people out for jogs. Now I understand. If you live in that city and aren’t afraid to eat, you need to work it off some how! Needless to say Chicago is vying for the top spot on my list for best cities. And when it comes to food, it’s definitely number one.

So here are the pictures of everything mentioned above. Let the salivating commence!

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Filed under Pizza, Restaurant, Spanish Food, Travel