Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

I was feeling particularly indulgent and wanted to bake, so I decided on combining two of my very favorite things: dark chocolate and red wine. Since Valentine’s Day is conveniently in a week or so, these sugary treats are especially appropriate. Without further ado, here’s a delicious combination of these vices. (P.S. Sometimes when you bake with wine, you gotta also drink wine. Don’t judge the empty wine bottle 😉 )

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The Cupcakes:
Chocolate merlot cake
Godiva dark chocolate liqueur ganache filling
Merlot buttercream
Drizzled dark chocolate and chocolate hearts

The recipe:

Chocolate merlot cake (yields about 20 cupcakes):
2 1/4 C cake flour (or 2 C all purpose flour, if you don’t have cake flour)
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 C cocoa powder
1 C merlot or other red wine
1/3 C cold water

(If you’re in Colorado or any other area above sea level, don’t forget to adjust for high altitude! Just send me a message and I can convert the recipe for you:) )

Godiva dark chocolate liqueur ganache filling:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
3-4 tbsp Godiva dark chocolate liqueur

Merlot buttercream:
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C water
150 g egg whites (if you’re using eggs, use the whites from 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
4 tbsp merlot or other red wine

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add 3 eggs to creamed butter mixture. Beat thoroughly.
5. In another bowl, combine cocoa powder, merlot, and water. Whisk until well-mixed.
6. Alternatively add flour mixture and cocoa mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix well between each addition. Start and end with flour mixture.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

For the ganache filling:
1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
2. Melt chocolate over double-boiler on low heat (or in microwave–heat in 10 second intervals, mixing in between, until melted thoroughly).
3. While butter and chocolate are melting, heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Combine chocolate and butter when melted.
5. When heavy cream begins to boil, mix into chocolate and butter mixture and whisk rigorously until well-combined.
7. Add Godiva dark chocolate liqueur and mix well.
8. Cover and refrigerate until solid.
9. Once solid, mix with a spoon and you’re ready to fill.

For the merlot buttercream:
1. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, heat on low until boiling.
2. While sugar mixture is heating, whip egg whites, vanilla, and merlot with mixer until frothy.
3. Pour boiling sugar mixture into egg whites and vanilla while mixing.
4. Beat on high speed till cool and stiff. This is going to take several minutes.
5. Once the bowl feels cool, switch the mixer to low speed and add in butter in small chunks.
6. Beat for another few minutes on low until buttercream comes together. It will look like cottage cheese for awhile…this is completely normal and happens just before the buttercream pulls together so don’t panic.
7. You’re all ready to frost! Top iced cupcakes with chocolate drizzle (melted dark chocolate with a little bit of butter) and chocolate candies of your choice.

I feel like I’m going to need to go to the gym a lot this week…

White Rascal Cupcakes

Like any true Coloradan, I enjoy a good craft beer. Since I moved to Boulder, I’ve been taking advantage of the abundance of local breweries. One of my absolute favorite Boulder beers is called White Rascal (shout out to Avery Brewing Company)–a Belgian wheat beer flavored with coriander and orange peel. I’m obviously always pondering my next baking adventure, and sipping on this beer inspired me…thus, the White Rascal Cupcake was born.

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The Cupcakes:
Orange White Rascal-infused cake
Grand Marnier chocolate ganache filling
Orange buttercream
Orange zest

The recipe:

Orange White Rascal-infused cake (yields about 20 cupcakes):
2 C cake flour (or 1 3/4 C all purpose flour)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 C sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 C milk (whole milk is best)
2/3 C White Rascal beer
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest

(If you’re in Colorado or any other area above sea level, don’t forget to adjust for high altitude! Just send me a message and I can convert the recipe for you 🙂 )

Grand Marnier chocolate ganache filling:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
4-5 tbsp Grand Marnier

Orange buttercream:
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C water
150 g egg whites (if you’re using eggs, use the whites from 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
3-4 tbsp Grand Marnier

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar and butter in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add half of flour mixture to creamed butter mixture and mix. Add milk and egg whites and orange zest to mixture and mix. Add rest of flour mixture and mix.
5. In a measuring glass, combine beer with vanilla extract. Whisk well.
6. Add beer mixture to batter in 3 increments, mixing on high speed for about a minute after adding each increment.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

For the Grand Marnier ganache filling:
1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
2. Melt chocolate over double-boiler on low heat (or in microwave–heat in 10 second intervals, mixing in between, until melted thoroughly).
3. While butter and chocolate are melting, heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Combine chocolate and butter when melted.
5. When heavy cream begins to boil, mix into chocolate and butter mixture and whisk rigorously until well-combined.
7. Add Grand Marnier and mix well.
8. Cover and refrigerate until solid.
9. Once solid, mix with a spoon and you’re ready to fill.

For the orange buttercream:
1. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, heat on low until boiling.
2. While sugar mixture is heating, whip egg whites, Grand Marnier, and vanilla with mixer until frothy.
3. Pour boiling sugar mixture into egg whites and vanilla while mixing.
4. Beat on high speed till cool and stiff. This is going to take several minutes.
5. Once the bowl feels cool, switch the mixer to low speed and add in butter in small chunks.
6. Beat for another few minutes on low until buttercream comes together. It will look like cottage cheese for awhile…this is completely normal and happens just before the buttercream pulls together so don’t panic.
7. You’re all ready to frost! Top iced cupcakes with orange zest.

Grab a beer, live up the last few days of summer, and let out your devilish side with these awesome White Rascal cupcakes!

Samoa Cupcakes

It’s that time of year again…Girl Scout cookie season. Everyone knows that the best kinds are Samoas and Thin Mints (duh). Since I have a love affair with all things coconut and chocolate, I’m 100% obsessed with Samoa cookies. I could probably eat a couple boxes in one sitting, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Not even a little. Hence, my Samoa cupcakes.

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These are so perfect in every way. If you are a fan of Samoa cookies (which you better be), then you will not be able to resist them.

The Cupcakes:
Chocolate cake
Coconut cream cheese filling
Caramel buttercream
Toasted coconut
Drizzled chocolate
Half a Samoa cookie

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The recipe:

Chocolate cake (yields about 20 cupcakes):
2 1/4 C cake flour (or 2 C all purpose flour, if you don’t have cake flour)
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 C cocoa powder
1 1/3 C cold water

Coconut cream cheese filling:
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 C coconut
1 tsp coconut extract
2 C confectioner’s sugar

Caramel buttercream:
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C water
150 g egg whites (if you’re using eggs, use the whites from 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
~2 C caramel blocks/candies

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For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add 3 eggs to creamed butter mixture. Beat thoroughly.
5. In another bowl, combine cocoa powder and water. Whisk until well-mixed.
6. Alternatively add flour mixture and cocoa mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix well between each addition. Start and end with flour mixture.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

For the coconut cream cheese filling:
1. Cream butter and cream cheese with mixer.
2. Add coconut extract and mix.
3. Add all of confectioner’s sugar in 1 cup increments, mixing between each addition.
4. Mix in coconut by hand.
5. Fill a pastry bag (or Ziploc bag) with the filling and pipe out a generous amount into the center of the cupcake.

For the caramel buttercream:
1. In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt caramel. You’re going to want to let it melt for about 20 minutes, or else it will be too sticky to add to the buttercream. Mix in a little milk and melted butter to smooth it out.
2. While sugar mixture is heating, whip egg whites and vanilla with mixer until frothy.
3. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, heat on low until boiling.
4. Pour boiling sugar mixture into egg whites and vanilla while mixing. (Enlist a friend if you have a hand mixer! 🙂 )
5. Beat on high speed till cool and stiff. This is going to take several minutes.
6. Once the bowl feels cool, switch the mixer to low speed and add in butter in small chunks.
7. Beat for another few minutes on low until buttercream comes together. It will look like cottage cheese for awhile…this is completely normal and happens just before the buttercream pulls together so don’t panic.
8. While mixer is running, slowly drizzle in melted caramel. Mix thoroughly until all of the caramel is incorporated.

For the topping:
I baked a sheetpan full of coconut at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Move around the coconut with a spatula at 5 minutes or else it will burn.
After sprinkling the toasted coconut onto the iced cupcakes, I melted a handful of semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave and added in a tiny bit of melted butter to smooth it out. Using a fork, I drizzled the chocolate onto the top of the cupcakes by using a zig-zag hand motion.

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I was a Girl Scout myself back in the day. Here’s to hoping these cupcakes make today’s Girl Scouts proud! Enjoy! 🙂

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Cupcakes

I’m a whiskey lover. I can vaguely remember the days long ago when I flinched at the sight of a whiskey bottle because I thought the taste was too strong. But over time, it grew on me, and today I can confidently say that it’s my favorite.  My preferred bourbon? Maker’s Mark.

So obviously, Maker’s Mark cupcakes had to happen. And they did.

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I loved these. I wanted to stuff them all into my face, but my roommates beat me to it! (Yes, they’re avid whiskey lovers, and more importantly, sugar lovers just like me. Great minds think alike?)

The Cupcakes:
White cake
Bourbon chocolate ganache filling
Cinnamon bourbon cream cheese frosting
Sugar & cinnamon

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Here it is:

White cake (yields about 16 cupcakes)
2 C cake flour (or 1 3/4 C all purpose flour)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 C sugar
3 egg whites
2/3 C milk (whole milk is best)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Maker’s Mark Bourbon chocolate ganache filling:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
3-4 tbsp Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Cinnamon Maker’s Mark Bourbon cream cheese frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
4-5 C confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp Maker’s Mark Bourbon

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar and butter in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add half of flour mixture to creamed butter mixture and mix. Add half of milk (1/3 C) to mixture and mix. Add rest of flour mixture and mix.
5. In a measuring glass, combine remaining milk with egg whites and vanilla extract. Whisk well.
6. Add egg mixture to batter in 3 increments, mixing on high speed for about a minute after adding each increment.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

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For the ganache filling:
1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
2. Melt chocolate over double-boiler on low heat (or in microwave–heat in 10 second intervals, mixing in between, until melted thoroughly).
3. While butter and chocolate are melting, heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Combine chocolate and butter when melted.
5. When heavy cream begins to boil, mix into chocolate and butter mixture and whisk rigorously until well-combined.
7. Add Maker’s Mark and mix well.
8. Cover and refrigerate until solid.
9. Once solid, mix with a spoon and you’re ready to fill. (side note on filling cupcakes: I usually cut an inverted cone out of the cupcake. Basically, cut a circle into the top of the cupcake but point towards the center of the cupcake with the knife so that you’re making an upside-down cone. Pull the cone out and cut off the very top circle of it–you’ll put this cake circle back onto the cupcake after filling it).
10. Fill a pastry bag (or, for less advanced bakers, a Ziploc bag with one corner cut off) with the ganache filling, pipe the ganache into the hollowed cupcakes, and replace the top cake circles.

For the cream cheese frosting:
1. Cream butter and cream cheese with mixer.
2. Add cinnamon and bourbon and mix.
3. Add all of confectioner’s sugar in 1-2 cup increments, mixing between each addition.
4. If buttercream is not stiff enough, add a small amount of confectioner’s sugar and mix well.
5. Fill a pastry bag (or Ziploc bag) with the buttercream and pipe out a generous amount of frosting in a circular motion.
6. Mix a little sugar with a pinch of cinnamon together in a separate bowl.
7. After icing cupcakes, sprinkle sugar & cinnamon mixture on top.

And there’s my boozy dessert creation for the day. Enjoy responsibly 😉

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Chocolate Raspberry Smooch Cupcakes

Okay, so in complete honesty, Valentine’s Day doesn’t rank high on my list of favorite holidays. But it gives me an excellent excuse to make deliciously clever cupcakes, so I’m not complaining.

These cupcakes are alcohol-free (sorry to betray the name of my blog!). They were designed and baked with the help of my baking partner-in-crime, Alex David.

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We sort of improvised a lot when we were making these, so there were definitely some moments of crazy panic. But they turned out to be absolutely perfect.

The Cupcakes:
Chocolate cake
Raspberry creme filling
White chocolate Italian meringue buttercream
Raspberry drizzle
Chocolate hearts

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Here it is:

Chocolate cake (yields about 20 cupcakes):
2 1/4 C cake flour (or 2 C all purpose flour, if you don’t have cake flour)
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 C cocoa powder
1 1/3 C cold water

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add 3 eggs to creamed butter mixture. Beat thoroughly.
5. In another bowl, combine cocoa powder and water. Whisk until well-mixed.
6. Alternatively add flour mixture and cocoa mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix well between each addition. Start and end with flour mixture.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

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For the raspberry filling:
This is the part we completely made up. I’m not sure on amounts of anything, but basically we did a simple syrup (heat sugar and water together in a saucepan), blended frozen raspberries with heavy cream and raspberry extract, combined them, and beat in powdered sugar. We made it creamy but with a thick consistency so that it wouldn’t seep through the chocolate cake. If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to replicate this. Or for a safer route, I would recommend just throwing together a raspberry mousse for the filling.

mixing

For the white chocolate buttercream (you’re gonna need a stand mixer or a hand mixer for this!):
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C water
150 g egg whites (if you’re using eggs, use the whites from 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
6 oz white chocolate

1. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, heat on low until boiling.
2. While sugar mixture is heating, whip egg whites and vanilla with mixer until frothy.
3. In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt white chocolate. If it’s kind of chunky when you melt it, mix in a little melted butter to smoothen it out.
4. Pour boiling sugar mixture into egg whites and vanilla while mixing. (Enlist a friend if you have a hand mixer! 🙂 )
5. Beat on high speed till cool and stiff. This is going to take several minutes, so if you have a hand mixer your arm is probably going to get tired. Just keep on keepin’ on!
6. Once the bowl feels cool, switch the mixer to low speed and add in butter in small chunks.
7. Beat for another few minutes on low until buttercream comes together. It will look like cottage cheese for awhile…this is completely normal and happens just before the buttercream pulls together so don’t panic.
8. Add melted white chocolate and beat on low until well-mixed.

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For the raspberry drizzle:
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C water
a few frozen raspberries
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp raspberry extract
red food coloring

1. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, heat on low until just boiling.
2. Blend together raspberries, heavy cream, and raspberry extract.
3. Mix together sugar and raspberry mixtures.
4. Mix in a few drops of red food coloring.
5. To top cupcakes, we just used a fork and lightly drizzled over the buttercream.

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For the chocolate hearts:
6 oz semisweet chocolate
a little melted butter to smooth out the chocolate (if necessary)

1. In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt chocolate. If it’s kind of chunky when you melt it, mix in a little melted butter to smoothen it out.
2. Pour chocolate into a parchment paper cone, with a small tip at the end for piping.
3. Pipe little hearts onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Get clever with the design!
4. Put tray in freezer until hearts are solid.

And there’s your recipe! These aphrodisiac cupcakes are sure to make your valentine happy, with the perfect flavor combination of chocolate and raspberry.

Love is sweet. Happy cupcake adventures.

vday2

Hot Cocoa Peppermint Schnapps Cupcakes

Hey there and welcome to my blog!

So I know this post is wicked late for the holidays, but these cupcakes turned out to be absolutely FANTASTIC. After messing with the recipe a couple of times, I finally found the perfect combination of ingredients to capture the deliciousness that is one of my favorite holiday drinks, a steaming hot chocolate spiked with a tiny bit of peppermint schnapps.

Holidays can definitely be stressful–having family around, while great for the most part, can quickly turn into a train wreck. So if your family is hindering your ability to get on your holly-jollys, bake these cupcakes. They’re the perfect amount of nice (sugar) with a little bit of naughty (alcohol), so they’re sure to keep your spirits high.

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This photo was captured knee-deep in the snow in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, my hometown and basically the most picturesque place on the face of the planet.

The Cupcakes:
Chocolate cake
Godiva Chocolate Liqueur ganache filling
Peppermint schnapps buttercream
Crushed peppermint

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(Yes, they’re to die for.)

And here it is:

Chocolate cake (yields about 20 cupcakes):
2 1/4 C cake flour (or 2 C all purpose flour, if you don’t have cake flour)
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 C cocoa powder
1 1/3 C cold water

Godiva Chocolate Liqueur ganache filling:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
4-5 tbsp Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

Peppermint schnapps buttercream:
1 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
6-7 C confectioner’s sugar
3-4 tbsp peppermint schnapps (or until it is minty to your liking)
dash of vanilla extract

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For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add 3 eggs to creamed butter mixture. Beat thoroughly.
5. In another bowl, combine cocoa powder and water. Whisk until well-mixed.
6. Alternatively add flour mixture and cocoa mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix well between each addition. Start and end with flour mixture.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners (“cupcake pants,” as I like to call them).
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

For the ganache filling:
1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
2. Melt chocolate over double-boiler on low heat (or in microwave–heat in 10 second intervals, mixing in between, until melted thoroughly).
3. While butter and chocolate are melting, heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Combine chocolate and butter when melted.
5. When heavy cream begins to boil, mix into chocolate and butter mixture and whisk rigorously until well-combined.
7. Add Godiva Liqueur and mix well.
8. Cover and refrigerate until solid.
9. Once solid, mix with a spoon and you’re ready to fill. (side note on filling cupcakes: I usually cut an inverted cone out of the cupcake. Basically, cut a circle into the top of the cupcake but point towards the center of the cupcake with the knife so that you’re making an upside-down cone. Pull the cone out and cut off the very top circle of it–you’ll put this cake circle back onto the cupcake after filling it).
10. Fill a pastry bag (or, for less advanced bakers, a Ziploc bag with one corner cut off) with the ganache filling, pipe the ganache into the hollowed cupcakes, and replace the top cake circles.

For the peppermint buttercream:
1. Cream butter with mixer.
2. Add all of confectioner’s sugar in 1-2 cup increments, mixing between each addition.
3. Add peppermint schnapps and vanilla extract and mix again, until the flavor is to your liking.
4. If buttercream is not stiff enough, add a small amount of confectioner’s sugar and mix well.
5. Fill a pastry bag (or Ziploc bag) with the buttercream and pipe out a generous amount of frosting in a circular motion.
6. Topped with crushed candy canes or another type of peppermint.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! The decadence of the hot cocoa peppermint schnapps beverage in cupcake form. Snuggle up in your blankets, watch excessive amounts of Netflix, and overindulge in chocolate. If that was an Olympic sport, I’d have the gold.

Enjoy! Peace, love, and cupcakes 🙂

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