Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Birchbox Charity Bakesale

My husband’s company had a charity bake sale for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, and he made cupcakes!

Share Our Strength® is a national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. They work with community groups, activists and food programs to surround children facing hunger with nutritious food.

I was proud that my husband wanted to bake cupcakes himself for the event. It was difficult for me to stand by while he took charge of the baking, but I did my best. I did formulate a recipe for him from his idea to mimic the taste of a nice hot cup of minty mocha.

Husband Bakes

Scoop and Pipe Cupcakes

Mixing, scooping and piping like a pro

The recipe is based on a basic chocolate but replaces some of the cocoa with coffee grounds. It was his idea to start there, as the chocolate cupcake recipe already uses a small amount of brewed coffee to enhance the flavor. He used fresh Birch Coffee beans, ground as fine as our electric grinder would grind them.

The whole batch left the house, but he bought a cupcake at the sale so that I could taste the results of his efforts. (I shared.) It did taste of chocolate and coffee with a sweet minty finish, much like a peppermint mocha. Great job! We make a good team, huh?

Mocha Peppermint Cupcake

Make the Vanilla Buttercream with a teaspoon of peppermint extract for these.

Recipe: Mocha Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs (room temp)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (room temp)
3/4 cup sour cream (room temp)
3 tablespoons brewed coffee
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coffee grounds (finely ground)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for five minutes. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla extract.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, the cocoa, the baking soda and the salt, and the coffee grounds. In another bowl, mix the milk, the sour cream and the brewed coffee.

Add the two mixtures to the bowl with the butter, the sugar and the eggs. It is best to alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients. Mix well.

Put the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake them for 20 minutes. (Rotate after 10 minutes, check at 18 minutes.) Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely on racks.

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Apple Bread for Breakfast

Breakfast break for this cupcake girl!

Apple-Bread-Breakfast

I had apples galore from my fruit share at the CSA. This season is all apples all the time. I love them, but I can’t eat them all before they go bad! To use some of them up, I made apple bread.

Apple_Bread_MixingOne reason that I bake cupcakes is that they are, in my opinion, easier to bake than regular cakes or bread. They are more forgiving, at least. I’m used to baking teeny amounts for short periods of time. An hour’s recommended baking time threw me, but I stuck to it.

It looked great…

Apple_Bread_Pan

…until I noticed the sides looked a little dark. When I depanned it, the bottom stuck. I got it out and pieced things back together, but the sides and bottom were certainly near-burnt. Darn! Next time, I will try lining the pan with parchment paper and maybe putting the loaf pan in another water-filled pan.

I’ve seen suggestions to try cooking at a lower temperature for a longer time, though more than an hour seems extreme. The inside was perfect, so I don’t think it was the cooking time. Thoughts?

I suppose I could experiment further, but this isn’t “Breakfast Breads by Amélie!” The apple bread was tasty enough for me and my husband to enjoy for several breakfasts.

What else to do with apples? I made some tasty pear-apple sauce (great with plain yogurt). I also suggest prepping and freezing apple pie filling. Read my post about that at farm2me, Apples, Apples Everywhere.

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Owl Carrot Cupcakes

Cupcake-Bar

All my stands for cupcake display—even the Ferris Wheel—made it out for this event.

The always crowd-pleasing Carrot Cupcakes were the request for a friend’s baby shower, and I was happy to bake a double batch. I also helped with decorations for the party, though I was not the mastermind (that was another crafty friend)! The artist mom-to-be drew a baby owl to adorn the invitations and décor, and we used it as a theme throughout.

Suzy-Owl

Owl-Cupcakes

Pies ‘n’ Thighs catered everything but the cupcakes, including their tasty fried chicken and cornbread with honey butter (and lots more). Lucky bar patrons who came in after the party got the leftovers.

Boat-Bar-Shower

Congrats to the new parents (beautiful baby boy has now arrived)!

Sock Favors

Owls overlook the favor table. (Unmatched socks! If you know the mom-to-be, you get it.)

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Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

Muffins aren’t quite as cute as cupcakes, but don’t call them ugly cupcakes. While they have a similar appearance, cupcakes and muffins are different delights.

Muffins are more bread than cake. They are denser and often drier than cupcakes, and they are usually not as sweet.  (The line blurs a bit when you get into sweeter muffins like chocolate muffins which are, let’s face it, really closer to cupcakes without icing.) Baking methods differ, resulting in unique textures. Cupcakes usually call for butter, creamed with sugar, and a mixer is recommended to achieve a smooth batter. Oil is often used in muffins, and the batter can be mixed by hand, smoothness not required or really desired.

Pumpkin Muffin Ingredients

I roasted a small sugar pumpkin for 90 minutes at 350 degrees, let it cool a little bit, scooped it out, and puréed it. I stuck it in the refrigerator overnight, and two cups went into my muffins the next day. You could used canned pumpkin, but get plain (real) pumpkin, not pie filling or spiced pumpkin.

Recipe: Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 18 small muffins or 12 large muffins

3 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup olive oil
3 eggs
2 cups pumpkin purée

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins or use paper liners.

Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the olive oil and eggs, then the pumpkin purée. Stir this mixture into flour mixture until just combined.

Scoop batter into muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Baby Boy Blue Cupcakes in the City

city cupcake

My cousin-in-law had her baby shower at Brooklyn Bridge Park on what turned out to be a beautiful day by the river. The Picnic Peninsula at Pier 5 has grills, which made it the perfect spot to set up a BBQ celebration. I baked mini vanilla cupcakes with blue-tinted icing for the occasion.

blue frosted cupcakes

Planning a Pier 5 BBQ? Get there early to reserve a space (the park is open 6am-11pm; grilling is allowed until 10pm)! And note to party decorators, nothing is allowed to hang from or otherwise be attached to the umbrellas. We learned this only after completely decorating and being made to take everything down.

baby_boy_cupcake

The happy, healthy boy himself has now arrived. I hope he has a sweet tooth (when he’s a teeny bit older)!

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