Chocolate Wedding Cupcakes

Brett and Margaret Wedding CupcakeI was honored to be asked to bake wedding cupcakes for my friends Brett and Margaret. They set up a fabulous weekend in the Catskills for the big event, which was unique, relaxed and great fun, just like the couple.

The bride and groom requested my chocolate with vanilla frosting. I did ask if they wanted something fancy or a new flavor, but a tried-and-true flavor was just fine with me, I was happy to oblige.

I baked the cupcakes the night before our drive upstate and brought along a pound of butter, 4 pounds of powdered sugar, and a bottle of vanilla extract to make the frosting on site. Decorating supplies including small edible silver dragées and dark chocolate shavings completed my wedding cupcake prep kit.

Catskills Wedding Cupcake Display

Recruiting a friend to help, I ran some tests to set a decoration plan. The goal was festive wedding vibe that wouldn’t look out of place at the rustic venue. And I wanted them to look special for the very special occasion.

Sprinkling the dragées didn’t get good coverage, I preferred a solid silver layer. It ended up working best to ice with a knife, dip and swirl (like glue and glitter). We added a pinch of chocolate shavings in the middle for fun. When we ran out of dragées, we covered with the chocolate shavings—again dipping after icing—and added silver sugar sprinkles.

Rustic Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Shavings

Congratulations, Brett and Margaret, and thank you for making me a part of your wedding celebration!

Wedding Bell - Hikers

A cute design of a hiking couple adorned bells distributed to guests and other décor.

Cupcake Recipe

Frosting Recipe

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Red, White & Blue Vanilla Mini Cupcakes

Red, White and Blue CupcakesThese patriotically colored cupcakes are fitting for a Fourth of July post, though they were baked for a party celebrating the recent union of two friends, one of whom was born across the pond.

UK US Love Cupcakes

American-British relations certainly have improved over the past 238 years.

Bobby and Katie

UK-US BK love

I also designed an event “logo” for the invitation, cocktail napkins, and party décor.

Basic Vanilla, All Dressed Up

Vanilla Mini Cupcake with Chocolate Sauce

To provide a variety of flavors without baking different cupcakes or making a lot of icings, I went with vanilla on vanilla with a little something extra. Baking mini rather than full-sized cupcakes gave me more to play with. Half the cupcakes got a swirl of frosting, then a chocolate ganache or caramel drizzle. On the others, I used a dollop of strawberry-rhubarb jam or lemon curd, piping frosting around.

Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Vanilla Frosting

I was honored to bake for such a special occasion celebrating two good friends (and loyal cupcake fans)!

Cupcake Amelie

Yes, I do eat the cupcakes.

Frosting Recipe

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Summer Strawberry Cupcakes

Summer officially starts this weekend, and summer means the tastiest strawberries are ready to go into our breakfast, salads, desserts, or just straight into our mouths!

CSA_strawberries

My CSA (Local Roots) gets us these luscious strawberries from Phillips Farm in New Jersey. I was so excited to see a quart of them waiting for me at pickup, especially as my favorite almost-5-year-old had requested strawberry cupcakes for his birthday party.

fresh strawberry cupcakes

In the past, I have found that using preserves works better for baking, but I wanted to go all fresh this time around. One of the complaints I hear is that it’s hard to get a strong strawberry flavor in cake using just fresh berries. With that in mind, I sliced up about half the quart and added a little sugar, refrigerating for 2 days to draw out liquid and concentrate the flavor. I drained (and reserved) the juice and puréed the result.

strawberry batter

Since another complaint is that fresh berries have too much liquid to use in frosting, I used the purée without juice in the frosting. I did use the purée with the reserved juice in the cupcakes, plus some freshly chopped strawberries. I was glad that I decided to use those extra strawberries at the end, as the little chunks of fruit were a great addition to the cake. I think the purée of 2-day-sugared strawberries really helped me nail the flavor, though.

pool party cupcakes

Grab some freshly picked strawberries and welcome summer!

Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Makes 30 cupcakes

2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces strawberry purée (with juice)*
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. (I used red ones!)

Combine butter and sugar, mixing until sugar and butter form a cream. Add eggs one by one, then the vanilla. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Sift together baking powder, salt and flour. Add half of the flour mixture, followed by sour cream and strawberry purée, and then add the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until combined, but do not over mix. Scoop cupcakes into lined tins and bake for 20-22 minutes at 325° F, turning the pans after 10 minutes.

*For purée: 1/2 quart fresh strawberries, sliced, covered with sugar and refrigerated 2 days, drained, then puréed (remove 1/2 cup for frosting, then mix juice back in)

Frosting Recipe

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Chocolate Peanut Butter “Mix Tape” Cupcakes

peanut butter chocolate cupcakes

My husband is a fan of peanut butter cups, so I baked him a cupcake version for his birthday. It was one of those “big” ones, and we had a great party to celebrate.

peanut butter chocolate cupcakes

Peanuts, Inside & Out

I started with my regular chocolate cupcake batter, then dropped a peanut butter ball into each. I made the balls by combining crunchy peanut butter with a little flour until I could roll it into spheres. Baked in, they made a peanuty center that was similar to the inside of a peanut butter cup.

I used smooth peanut butter for the frosting. (Recipe below.)

Party Décor

My husband is into music (playing and listening), and cassettes were the thing for most of our younger years. Thus the “Mix Tape” theme was formulated. I had an oversized cassette tape printed for the wall and made smaller tapes to hang around it. There was one with the top song (according to Billboard) of each year since he was born. I also printed two 2″ x 3″ mini-tapes for each year to create cupcake toppers.

tapes

tape

The Venue

There are many great bars, restaurants, and other event spaces to have a party in Brooklyn. The place that fit just right was Two Moon Art House & Café in Gowanus/Park Slope. It has a wine and coffee bar and in-house catering for refreshments, sound system for music and speeches, and a projector to play sweet messages from faraway friends (or embarrassing slideshows…your call!). Two Moon also has a garden patio, a nice place for guests to relax. The owners and staff are lovely and easy to work with. Thanks, Two Moon!

peanut butter chocolate cupcake

Recipe: Peanut Butter Frosting

Makes frosting for about 3 dozen cupcakes (depends on icing method)

2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2-2/3 cup cream

Beat together the butter and peanut butter, then slowly add powdered sugar and salt, followed by the vanilla extract. Mix in 1/2 cup cream and beat on high for a few minutes. If needed, add more cream or powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

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German Chocolate Cupcakes

german chocolate

I arrived at the party with an all-in-one dessert and cocktail conversation topic!

Did you know that German chocolate cake is not German at all? It’s actually American. The first recipe for German Chocolate Cake appeared in a Dallas, Texas, newspaper in the 1950s. It used Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, which was developed by a guy named Sam German in the mid-nineteenth century.

The party was a housewarming/birthday event, and the honoree requested something with coconut. I’d never done German Chocolate Cupcakes before, so I gave it a shot.

The coconut pecan frosting was my biggest challenge. I tried a recipe that used eggs and ended up with custard. I did it again without the eggs and got more what I was expecting.

I used a small ice cream scoop for the topping, which was moist enough starting out.

german chocolate cupcakes

I added a chocolate ganache drizzle to finish them off. It was my first use of my new squeeze bottles. It’s certainly much easier than other methods I’ve tried.

By the time I reached the party, the topping was more the consistency of candy. It hardened and could be popped off and eaten separately. Call it a bonus!

Manhattans and Cupcakes

The cupcakes paired well with Manhattans (photos by Shumit Basu)

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