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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I had the opportunity to help bake cupcakes from Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new cookbook, Stirring Up Fun with Food yesterday. The book is full of fun recipes from S’mores Parfaits to Asparagus Fries (one of Sarah’s favorites) to Green Eggs & Ham, but I was delighted that the Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes were the pick.

Ingredients for Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes
These cupcakes are based on Foodstirs cake mix plus lemon pudding, poppy seeds, and lemon zest.

The former star of Buffy has been focusing on food these days, starting her organic baking kit company Foodstirs in 2015.  She wrote this book with Gia Russo to highlight being creative in the kitchen. Having fun with food is a great creative outlet for everyone, and a good way to spend time with children while teaching them–and yourself–to be fearless cooks.

Sarah Michelle Gellar zests a lemon.
Sarah likes to zest a whole lemon, using half for the cupcakes, half for the frosting.

These cupcakes smelled so good while baking, it was almost distracting from the rest of the event! I love lemon cupcakes, and these tasted great. Using a quick-from-scratch method (ie. starting with Foodstirs cake mix) was nothing like using a typical mix. The taste was all homemade.

I can’t wait to delve deeper into the book. Stay tuned for future posts, as I have a chance to test more of the recipes and food crafts like Grilled Cheese Dippers and Palm-Size Cherry Pies.

Amelie baking in Good Housekeeping's Test Kitchen
Thank you, Good Housekeeping, for hosting this event. Baking in your test kitchen was a real treat!

Stirring Up Fun with Food, by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gia Russo, is available today from Hachette Book Group. See page 88 for this cupcake recipe.

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I made an apple pie for Thanksgiving, but I had to have something pumpkin, too.

These are great for fall and into winter holidays. The pumpkin makes the cake so moist. People have loved these every time I’ve baked them, from office parties to family gatherings.

Double the recipe below for a “normal” batch, I wanted the just nine that this made.

pumpkin cupcake wrappers
I was given these cute pumpkin wrappers a few years ago. I was happy to finally use them!

I’ve done these before with cinnamon icing, but I decided to double down on pumpkin. I was worried that the frosting wouldn’t work out, the butter and pumpkin did not cream together as one recipe I saw describe them as doing. It worked out once I started adding the vanilla and powdered sugar, though!

Pumpkin Frosting

Recipe: Pumpkin Cupcakes and Frosting

Makes 9 cupcakes

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 oz. pumpkin purée (use canned or fresh, but make sure it is pure pumpkin - this is 1/3 of a 15 oz. can or a bit more than 1/2 cup)
FROSTING:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 oz. (a bit less than 1/2 cup) pumpkin purée
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and line your tins with 9 liners.

Beat the butter and two sugars on medium until creamed. Add the egg.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

Add the vanilla extract to the buttermilk.

Alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients until just combined, then mix in the pumpkin purée.

Scoop into tins with a ice cream scoop or your preferred method, filling about 3/4. Bake for about 22 minutes, turning halfway through. Cool for 5 minutes in pans, then cool completely on a rack before icing.

For frosting: Beat together the room temperature butter and pumpkin purée until as smooth as possible. Add the vanilla and spices. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing well.

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Gingerbread “cupcake” with Limoneira lemon sauce

One of my favorite desserts as a child was my grandmother’s gingerbread, which she topped with lemon sauce. The smell of this gingerbread hits me with straight nostalgia. It brings back many happy childhood memories of enjoying comforting food in cool weather and anticipating the holiday season.

Gingerbread by Amelie

The spices in the recipe are typical of gingerbread—ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you have Steen’s Sugar Cane Syrup from Louisiana (I can’t eat pancakes without it), that’s what you use. Molasses will do in a pinch.

I recently learned that the recipe for the gingerbread itself had been passed to my grandmother by a long ago neighbor of hers who had gotten it from her mother. So, really, it is a woman named Mattie Lou’s gingerbread (or perhaps her grandmother’s? You never know!). To me, however, it will always be my grandmother Glo’s gingerbread.

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce
I love these flavors. The gingerbread spices contrasted with the tart lemon sauce make this a perfect dessert for me.

Glo recommends doubling the lemon sauce recipe. And you should always listen to my grandmother! I used bright, juicy Limoneira lemons for this batch. 

You can prepare the dough ahead of time. This batter will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

I hope this gingerbread helps your family make wonderful memories, too!

Thank you to Limoneira, a sustainable citrus grower in California, for the lemons! Visit www.limoneiralifestyles.com for lemons and oranges, natural skin care products, and more.

Recipe: Glo’s Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

Makes 9x13 pan or 24 muffins

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses or sugar cane syrup
3 eggs
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
LEMON SAUCE:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar, then add the syrup. Beat in 1 egg at a time.

Put baking soda in buttermilk and add to mixture. Add dry seasonings into the flour and sift in slowly.

Pour into a 9x13 pan or muffin tins and bake about 30 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Make lemon sauce by combining sugar, cornstarch and water over low flame, stirring constantly. When thick, remove and stir in remaining ingredients.

Serve lemon sauce over gingerbread, warm.

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Mini Apple Pies topped with Sonoma Syrup Co. Salted Caramel (Photo by Jason Walker-Yung)

It is fall here in New York, and the delicious, fresh-off-the-tree apples are to be had in abundance. I don’t want any to go to waste, so it was apple pie time! Of course, I had to try baking some in cupcake tins.

Filling

Baking what I blog, I followed my instructions for making and freezing apple pie filling. I used 7 apples, which were 2 1/2 pounds once peeled and cut. Juice from a Limoneira lemon along with cinnamon and nutmeg flavored the filling. I needed only about 1/3 of it to make 12 mini apple pies, so I froze the rest for a future pie.

Amelie Peeling Apples

I cut the apples in chunks rather than slices to better fit the muffin tins, and I perhaps could have cut smaller, though I did not want it to turn into applesauce. I could only get about 4 pieces of apple in each. It was enough, though I felt there were some gaps in a few pies (gasp!).

Cooking Apple Filling

Crust

I’ve had good results with Simply Recipes‘ all-butter crust recipe, though I use a stand mixer with a flat beater instead of a food processor.

My method: After mixing together the flour, sugar and salt, I stop the mixer to add the butter, tossing with a fork to coat before mixing on medium-low speed until it resembles coarse cornmeal. I then add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to pulls together.

Mini Pie Crusts

I cut out 4-inch rounds to place in the bottom of greased muffin tins. After filling the cups, I cut pieces of pastry dough and wove a lattice with six strips for each. It took awhile, but the results were pretty cute! I could have gone larger for the bottom crusts, I didn’t have a rim to fold back over for a better edge. It worked out ok, I just tucked each strip under, trying to connect to dough below.

Amelie Weaving Pie Lattice

Caramel

To get in just a bit more deliciousness, I used Sonoma Syrup Co.‘s Sea Salt Caramel Syrup to add a finishing touch. I put the caramel in a squeeze bottle for more control and drizzled some over the uncooked pies before putting them into the oven.

Sonoma Syrup Co. Caramel on Apple Pies

When researching caramel apple pie recipes, I’d read one that poured caramel over the lattice, which is all I did here. A taste of just the top crust was delightfully caramel, but overall I’d say that I did not use enough. If you try the same, you should really pour that stuff on!

It got messy in the oven, but once the pies had cooled somewhat and come out of the pans, I was delighted with the results.

Mini Caramel Apple Pies - Photo by Jason Walker-Yung

Thank you to Sonoma Syrup Co. for the caramel syrup. The company handcrafts its extracts, syrups, and bar mixers in small batches in Northern California with botanical ingredients. Learn more at www.sonomasyrup.com.

 

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