Meet Cara. She’s made of rich, dark chocolate covered with creamy caramel.
I baked this cake for a fundraiser at my son’s daycare to benefit its sister programs in Nairobi, Kenya. It was also a baking contest, each person who bought pieces of cake and pie got a vote.
When the director asked what my cake was named, it came to me. This caramel-chocolate sweetie’s name was Ms. Cara Cocoa.
Perhaps I have an unfair advantage, you say, when it comes to a bake off. But I’m a cupcake baker, not a cake baker. Plus, I wouldn’t say they were too serious about it. One parent brought a delicious and beautiful but store-bought cake and wasn’t disqualified.
I don’t often bake full-sized cakes. I’m used to short baking time with cupcakes and forget how long you have to leave these in the oven. Frosting them is also still a challenge. Evening the layers, stacking, crumb-coating, smoothing… Geez. With cupcakes, it’s often just a quick swirl and done.
I made enough frosting, at least. I sometimes stress about that. I followed Ovenly‘s Salted Caramel Buttercream recipe (check out their cookbook).
I couldn’t resist adding more caramel to finish it. I used a squeeze bottle filled with caramel sauce to adorn the edge with enough excess to drip down the sides of my cake.
Ms. Cocoa didn’t win. A pie won. A pie! I mean, really…
(I love pie, too. It’s ok.)
Only crumbs were left at the end, and that’s a big win in my book.
FNaF cupcakes, for one of my favorite 9-year-olds…
If the animatronics at Chuck E. Cheese gave you the creeps as a kid, you are not alone. Five Nights at Freddy’s is a video game in which such characters come to life and try to kill you. Sounds about right.
What surprised me about this scary game is that there is a cupcake! It belongs to a backup singer chicken named Chica. She wears a bib that say “Let’s Eat!” How bad could she be? (Bad, huh?)
Because the cupcake in the game is brown with pink icing, I made chocolate cupcakes with strawberry icing. I used real candles with flames made from gum paste and added candy eyeballs.
I’ve not seen or played this game–or heard of it before I got this request–so I relied on the good ol’ internet. As I saw many images of Chica’s Cupcake with a blue and white candle, that is what I used. The birthday boy later told me it was supposed to be yellow. Oh well… One party goer let me know that I got the cupcake “mostly right,” and I was happy with that!
Happy birthday to this guy! That makes nine cupcakes for nine years. Remember this?
My son started at his childcare center about the time Teacher Appreciation Week rolled around. Already appreciating the teachers helping transition my child to an “early learning” environment–and hearing that the dessert bar was lacking–I volunteered to bake cupcakes.
The director requested either carrot cake or red velvet. I know what she was really wanted…cream cheese frosting!
I’ve baked these many times and have edited the recipe (see below) over the years. However, I made a mistake this time, using an old version rather than the one from this website. So, I left them in the oven longer than I normally do. A few were overdone, but most seemed fine. I’ll stick with 30 total minutes next time, though.
My little guy loves his new teachers, and so do his parents! Thank you, teachers everywhere for what you do.
Recipe: Carrot Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
2 1/2 sticks butter 2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 large eggs 2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 pound grated carrots 1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pans with 24 paper liners.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, then mix in the eggs, one at a time.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add half of this flour mixture to the mixing bowl, reserving half, and mix completely.
Add the grated carrots and raisins to the remaining flour and mix well, then add to your batter in the mixture. Mix until just combined, do not over mix.
Fill cups with batter about 3/4 full. Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350° F and cook for about 20 minutes more. Cooking time varies, so start checking after 10-15 minutes. The cupcakes are ready when a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool 5 minutes in pans, then remove and cool completely on racks.
Variations: I've made these replacing the raisins with crystallized ginger or even chocolate chips. I've also used other fruits and vegetables such as zucchini or apple, reducing the amount of carrot. Lots of possibilities!
I did not bake cupcakes during maternity leave (though I did manage some brownies), but my husband did. His office was holding a bake-off, and he was all in. He wanted to bake banana bread rum cupcakes with cream cheese icing and a rum sauce on top. I did not help him bake or frost the cupcakes–I promise!–but I did develop the recipe (below!) for him.
The banana rum cake turned out great. It hit the mark between the taste of both banana bread and rum cake but was lighter than those baked goods typically are.
I’m not providing a recipe for the butter rum sauce, as it requires more testing. We started with too much cornstarch, ended up heavily “watering” it down with rum. It worked, but I’m not sure I could replicate it. It was made from Mount Gay Rum, cornstarch, brown sugar, and butter.
The cupcakes lost third place by one vote! They garnered many sweet comments from happy tasters, though.
My husband was disappointed the final product did not taste more boozy. If that is your goal, I would recommend more rum poured over the top of the cupcakes pre-frosting. You could do a rum glaze instead of the cream cheese frosting, more like a typical rum Bundt cake, but that would be a different dessert.
Recipe: Banana Rum Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen
1 cup dark rum 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter 1 cup sugar 2 1/2 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream 1 1/3 cup pureed banana (2-3 bananas)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
Bring rum and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat off and let cool. Add sugar to mixture and whisk to combine.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Combine the eggs and sour cream on medium speed in a mixer with the whisk attachment.
Slowly add cooled rum mixture to the egg mixture.
Add the sifted flour mixture (1/3 at a time) to the rum-egg mixture.
Mix in the banana purée.
Scoop into pans and bake for 20-24 minutes (turning halfway through) or until the tops are firm to the touch. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pans.
Dribble a teaspoon of rum over each baked cupcake when you take them out of the pans.