I don’t want you to think I’m getting lazy, but I’ve been a busy bee these days. So, when I realized I needed to make interesting and yummy cupcakes that my husband would love with only what I had on hand, I dug into my candy box.
To the rescue, Trader Joe’s English Toffee and Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels.
I made regular vanilla cupcakes, dropping a caramel in each cup of batter.
Once I frosted, I added chunks—and I do mean chunks—of the toffee.
Voilà, we had tasty cupcakes fit for a celebration!
Have leftover cake, icing or melted chocolate? Make cake balls!
For all of these, I used my small ice cream scoop, the one I usually use to scoop batter for mini cupcakes.
Carrot Cake Balls
The secret to cake balls is that they are really just crumbled cake mixed with frosting in most cases. I had leftover carrot cake and vanilla buttercream, these were the result.
Most cake balls have some sort of chocolate or candy coating, but mine went bare. If I’d planned ahead, I would have gotten some white chocolate to melt and dipped these. That may have made them over-the-top rich, but that just seems to be the deal with cake balls or pops.
My first type of chocolate balls were really candy rather than cake. They were made from a mix of milk and dark chocolate melted with a little cream, scooped into balls when cooling and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
The second chocolate-based batch was basically chocolate icing and peanut butter, chilled and scooped, then dipped in chopped hazelnuts. I kept them in the freezer until I took them to the event (with ice packs), where they eventually reverted to mush. They made tasty mush, but I wouldn’t try this method again unless I were serving immediately.
My friend Katie loves sea turtles*, so that’s the theme I ran with for her birthday cupcakes. I’d seen cupcakes with gumdrops made to look like turtles on top, but the first thing I thought of was turtle candy, the chocolate caramel and pecan treats that look like turtles.
Of course, the candy would need a cupcake base. I decided on chocolate cupcakes with a caramel center. I made the lighter chocolate cupcakes I like, leaving room for the caramel to shine.
I confess, I “cheated” and didn’t make homemade caramels. It’s just way too easy to drop an unwrapped caramel candy in the middle of each puddle of batter. When they are baked, you can barely see a sign that they’re in there, but there’s a caramel-y surprise waiting.
While my chocolate cupcakes baked, I made the turtle candy. I roasted some pecans, arranging them on foil in groups of four for my turtles’ legs. I then dropped a spoonful of melted caramel in the center of each pecan cluster. Next, I swirled on a spoonful of melted chocolate chips.
To complete my turtles, I made heads with half pecans and finished with some green sprinkles. Vanilla frosting colored blue gave my sea turtles a place to swim.
*Sea turtles are endangered. Learn more about the real turtles and how you can help protect them at www.conserveturtles.org.
Black and white cookies are a New York classic, so I thought I’d make a cupcake version for a returning native’s bridal shower.
For these, I baked straight from Bon Appetit. Why muck around when their test kitchens already perfected a recipe for black-and-white cupcakes? One of my co-hostesses found them on good ol’ Pinterest, and—after inspecting the ingredients for NYC b&w cookie authenticity—I carefully followed the directions.
The hardest part was getting the halves of icing exact. I had been thinking that any irregularities on the chocolate side would be more noticeable, so I did those first in case I needed to cover up imperfections. The white icing was not opaque enough, however, to allow for correcting when I added the second side. Next time, I might start with the white half.
They weren’t perfect, but I think they looked enough the part! And they tasted just right.
I believe it was the bride’s sister (and Woman of Honor) who called them “cupcookies” and began lobbying for more cupcake versions of various cookies. Maybe… What kind of cupcookies would you like to see?
I made cupcake wrappers from NYC subway maps and from a design on the shower invitations. Making your own wrappers is really easy to do. Offbeat Bride has a great tutorial including a template. I found that my cupcakes were smaller than the template, so I trimmed until they fit as I wanted.
Birthday girls get their wishes, and one of my friend’s was to have toffee cupcakes at her party.
These were easy. I make what amounts to toffee chip cupcakes, adding about a cup of Heath Toffee Bits to a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. For the frosting, I melted a square of unsweetened chocolate and added it to my basic buttercream recipe until it tasted right! A generous sprinkle of toffee pieces and crumbs finished them nicely.
Next time, maybe I’ll try my hand at making homemade toffee!
Her new age is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, but I fell short of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy theme. I did add a robot and a couple of spaceships I had on hand.
What did they taste like? Well, I’ll have to tell you next week. I’m off the sugar for a few days (don’t be shocked), but I froze two samples for later research.
From the honoree:
The toffee had a chewy crunch and a very slightly salty tang. It was perfect with the sweet, moist cake