I baked chocolate cupcakes for a chocolate lover’s birthday. I wanted a silky ganache frosting, but it didn’t exactly turn out that way.

I used some milk chocolate and some semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted with heavy cream. After chilling, I whipped this chocolate-y concoction with some vanilla extract and a touch of powdered sugar.

Note that the window is small for the perfect whipped ganache. Mine went from liquid to overwhipped (that interesting “texture” you see pictured above wasn’t intended) in the blink of an eye. I didn’t have time–or supplies–to start over, so I rolled with it. Still tasted good!

Chocolate Cupcake

I’ll let you know next time I give this frosting a shot!

Some whipped ganache recipes, if you want to try:

Your Cup of Cake
Martha Stewart

Chocolate Cupcake with milk
Nothing like a fresh, cold glass of milk with a chocolate cupcake!

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I’ve baked cupcakes for my friends’ son each year of his life (all 8 of them). This year he requested cherries and chocolate!

I pitted and chopped a cup of fresh cherries, which I added with mini chocolate chips to vanilla cake batter. For the tops, I grabbed a jar of maraschino cherries, the ones every Shirley-Temple-loving kiddo knows best.

Inside the Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcake

I used cocoa candy melts to make the chocolate sauce, so my dribbles would harden à la Magic Shell. I liked the look, and it was less messy than chocolate syrup.

Kids and adults alike seemed to be fans! There was one boy who pulled the cherries off five otherwise untouched cupcakes, so I guess at least the cherries were a hit. Ah, to be 8 years old…

Recipe: Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Makes 36 cupcakes

2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
16 oz. sour cream
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped fresh cherries
1 cup mini chocolate chips
maraschino cherries (for tops)
Optional: Wilton Cocoa Candy Melts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high.

Lower speed and add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. Mix on medium until light and fluffy.

Sift together the baking powder, salt and flour.

Add half of the flour mixture, followed by sour cream, and then add the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until combined.

Add the chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips, mixing on low or by hand.

Scoop cupcakes into liners and and bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Frost with vanilla buttercream, and top with maraschino cherry.

Optional: Heat Wilton Cocoa Candy Melts (or similar) to drizzle over frosted cupcakes.

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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
Raccoons!

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

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Craving oranges like sunshine at the tail end of winter, I decided to go citrus for a karaoke birthday party. I can’t guarantee that these cupcakes will make you want to sing, but they might brighten your night!

Orange Cupcakes by Amelie

Since my grapefruit cupcakes didn’t quite hit the flavor strength I would have liked, I tried something different this time. Instead of using straight OJ, I cooked the juice, reducing it by about half before using it in the batter and frosting. 1/2 cup reduced to about 4 tablespoons will give you enough for this recipe.

When I first tasted the frosting after mixing it, I did not think it tasted great. But after just a little while, the flavors melded…and it was really good. The orange cake was especially moist, too. These were some of my favorites of recent cupcake experiments!

With the vanilla, these have a bit of that Creamsicle/Dreamsicle creamy citrus taste.

 

Recipe: Orange Mini Cupcakes

Makes about 36 mini cupcakes

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon reduced* orange juice
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the orange juice and vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the orange zest to the flour mixture. Incorporate the dry ingredients gradually into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins (I use a size 50 ice cream scoop for minis). Bake 5-6 minutes, rotate, then bake another 5-6 minutes. Baking time may vary, so keep an eye on them!

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely before frosting.

*Start with 1/2 cup fresh orange juice and simmer until reduced by half. This will give you enough to make these cupcakes and their frosting. (You could also probably use thawed concentrate.)

Frosting Recipe

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Cupcakes for a 6-year-old boy’s Minecraft-themed birthday party

As I have tended to concentrate more on flavors than decorating, this was my first time working with gum paste for my own cupcakes. Gum paste is similar to fondant except it dries hard. (I also think it tastes a little bit better, but it still doesn’t taste wonderful!) That makes it more appropriate for detailed decorations.

Minecraft_Cupcake_Topper_Grid

I drew a 1 cm grid on parchment paper to provide a guide, flipped it over and taped it to a white cutting board. That gave me a clean and stick-resistant area to work.

The gum paste was white, so I colored a batch with food coloring gel to a light green before rolling it out onto my grid. (Note: Use gloves if you don’t want your hands colored like mine were! The easiest way to color is to work the gel into the paste by hand.) I used a pastry cutter to cut out 5×5 cm squares. I scored them gently with a grid, not cutting all the way through, to provide the base for my Creepers.

I colored other batches of gum paste a darker green and black for the details, cutting 1×1 cm squares.

Minecraft_Cupcakes_Green_Squares

I applied water with a brush to glue the small squares onto the larger to make my Minecraft Creeper cupcake toppers and let them dry overnight.

Minecraft_Cupcakes_Cut

The cupcakes were dirt-color (chocolate!), and vanilla buttercream attached the Creepers. As creating the toppers were time consuming, I made enough for half the batch, piping buttercream “grass” onto the rest.

Minecraft_Cupcakes_Creepers

The birthday boy was delighted with his Minecraft cupcakes, it was totally worth staying up late and dyeing my hands green and black!

MinecraftPinata
The TNT piñata was a hit.

Gum paste may harden, but it wilts in the summer sun! The birthday party guests didn’t seem to mind at all.

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