Cranberry Cider Cupcakes

Cranberry Cupcakes

Spiced Cranberry Cupcakes made with Hot Ruby
(Photo by Isaac Kim)

It’s fall! I’m ready for the cooler weather and flavors that come with the season like pumpkin and cranberry and cinnamon.

I used Hot Ruby, a cranberry wassail, as the flavor base for my first cupcakes of fall. Hot Ruby began as a family’s tradition in Shallowater, Texas, and now is available in stores nationwide and online. It is cranberry-based with spices and citrus hints and has no artificial dyes or preservatives.

Jar of Hot Ruby (and an apple, for no particular reason)

Hot Ruby is a delicious mix of cranberry. lemon, cinnamon and clove. Ruby herself always drank it hot, they say, but “it’s pretty darn awesome served over ice,” so try it that way, too!

For the cupcakes, I reduced some Hot Ruby to add to the batter. I cooked it down to almost a syrup to add to the buttercream, along with some straight from the jar. I highlighted the flavor by adding orange zest, cinnamon, and dried cranberries.

Cranberry Cupcakes on tiered server

The Hot Ruby gave the cupcakes a spiced cranberry-citrus punch.
(Photo by Isaac Kim)

I served these as bite-sized mini cupcakes at the Tuesdays Together meeting of the Manhattan Rising Tide Society.

Hannah enjoying a Cupcake by Amélie

I hope Ruby Faye would have enjoy these treats as much as we did!
(Photo by Isaac Kim)

Hot Ruby also makes a great cocktail mixer. I added vodka for a Ruby Martini (@drinksunited), which my husband commented tasted like a mulled cosmo. Check out Hot Ruby drink recipes here.

Thank you to Gwen Warren of Hot Ruby for providing samples! Visit to learn more about this tasty cranberry and citrus cider.

Cupcake photos were taken by Isaac + Hannah Photography. Isaac and Hannah are a (soon-to-be) husband-and-wife team providing engagement and wedding photography services in NYC and PDX.

See more photos…

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Tasting Tour NYC: City Cakes

Chelsea, Manhattan

City Cakes
251 West 18th St. (basement)


Though it calls itself “the cake shop known for cookies,” City Cakes–quite a small bakery with only one oven–serves up a gorgeous array of gourmet cupcakes on a daily basis.

City Cakes offers classics alongside innovative creations. Here are the flavors I recently tried with a few trusty tasters.

Red Velvet

Red Velvet

A good red velvet is a must, and City Cakes’ Red Velvet Extravagance is a nice, moist cake and frosting with just the right balance of cream cheese.



City Cakes’ special Peanut Butter & Jelly cupcake has “white bread” cake filled with, yes, peanut butter and jelly, covered with a light peanuty buttercream with some jelly on top.

One taster wanted more peanut butter and was a little thrown off by the “bread” cake, finding it too dense. It is a different sort of cake from the norm, but it hits that PB&J sandwich nail on its head.



The City Cake’s Cookies-n-Dream cupcake will please Oreo fans. Vanilla buttercream and a Nutella-dipped Oreo tops it off. This cupcake was described as having a Nutella core, but mine seemed missing. (No worries, we still enjoyed it!)

Raspberry Chocolate (GF)

Raspberry Chocolate (GF)

The Flourless Dark Chocolate Cupcake filled with raspberry purée from City Cakes is a tasty gluten-free option. It’s a powerful punch of chocolate and raspberry that I really liked. Great with coffee (milk, no sugar).

Sharing City Cakes Cupcakes

Sharing is caring! The Cookies-n-Dream and Red Velvet for four

Inside a City Cakes PB&J Cupcake

Inside the PB&J

The cupcakes aren’t all on offer. City Cakes’ famous cookies deserve their own post, as do its crazy-dreamy sculpted cakes (this one will do for my next birthday, thanks!).

City Cakes Storefront

A tiny spot tucked under a residential building

Venture downstairs to try these treats for yourself!

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Brooklyn Brownies – Salted Chocolate Chip

I dabbled in cake mix when I was younger. You know, teenagers like to experiment. But I learned my lesson and have been a “from scratch” girl since.

Why so tough on mixes? Typically, they are full of preservatives and down right baffling ingredients. I mean, do polyglycerol esters of fatty acids sound like something you want to consume? You can taste the “mixiness” of it. No, thanks.

Enter Foodstirs


Foodstirs—founded in 2014 by Sarah Michelle Gellar (yes, of Buffy fame) and friends Galit Laibow and Gia Russo—offers what they call quick-from-scratch mixes. Each mix contains only 6-10 organic and GMO-free ingredients that can be traced to their source. Now, that’s a kind of mix I can get behind.

I decided to try out the exclusive Brooklyn Brownie Mix that recently debuted at Whole Foods in the neighborhood of Williamsburg. This mix makes a chocolate brownie with chocolate chips and salt flakes on top. (Someone thinks we Brooklynites are “salty,” eh?)

Foodstirs Brownies

Brooklyn Brownies, made in Brooklyn!

As promised, the instructions were simple and quick. I needed only 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and a little water to get going. I grabbed my whisk and batter bowl, and set to work.

Ingredients for Foodstirs brownies

Stirring Foodstirs brownies

One change to the instructions, I made cupcake-sized brownies instead of spreading them in a 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ pan. That worked great and gave me reasonable single portions.

Of course, I immediately ate two.

They were delicious with none of that “mixiness” I so loathe. I look forward to trying out some of Foodstirs’ other offerings. (I have my eye on you, Chocolate Chippy Cookies.)

Scooped Foodstirs brownies

Find Foodstirs mixes at all Whole Foods Northeast locations or on The Brooklyn Brownie Mix is available exclusively at Williamsburg Whole Foods. Foodstirs also offers foodcrafting kits (buy online or subscribe) such as the Celebration Cupcake Baking Kit, which includes frosting and cake mixes, sprinkles, liners and toppers.

Thank you to Foodstirs for providing mixes for me to sample.

I’m on Snapchat! Add me @cupcakesamelie.

[ Posted in Desserts, Video ] [ Photos by ] [ Leave a comment ]

Minecraft Cupcakes II

A satisfied customer requested Minecraft cupcakes for his birthday the second year in a row. I had made Creepers last year, so this time I tried my hand at Skeleton and Enderman cupcake toppers.

Minecraft Cupcakes

I again used gum paste and the same general method as the 2015 versions. One change, I bought 1 cm graph paper, so I did not have to draw a grid. I simply taped my graph paper beneath parchment. I rolled out and cut 5×5 squares, scoring them lightly for the bases.

Underman Cupcakes - Minecraft

The Enderman toppers were a little tricky, as I needed a 1/2 square on each side of the eyes. I did my best, but did not go to the extent of measuring millimeter by millimeter.

Skeleton Cupcakes - Minecraft

The Skeletons were easier, just a lot more squares! Plus, I had help from the birthday boy’s mom.


Happy Birthday, Creeper

[ Posted in Decorating ] [ Leave a comment ]

First Birthday Smash Cake

This was a fun project, my first mini-cake made for smashing! I made cupcakes for the guests with toppers to match the theme.

Smash Cake

The one-year-old boy presented with this cake, though, just would not smash it! Let’s see how he does on his 2nd birthday.

Raccoon Cupcakes


Note to self, perfect cupcake frosting is not the same for smoothly icing a cake.

[ Posted in Birthdays ] [ Leave a comment ]