Orange Soda Cupcakes

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Every year, I am very thankful for today. Because today is my brother’s birthday! Growing up, nearly all of my friends had sisters, but I was never jealous. Although I didn’t have a sister to share clothes and makeup with, I had something much better. I had Sean. We’ve gone through many phases in our sibling-hood. When we were children, he was my constant protector and guide, screaming “COLLEENIE!” whenever I would run away in the grocery store. Which was often, by the way. As teenagers he was there to force me into listening to good music and berate me when I was talking to a boy he didn’t like. Which was all of them, by the way. And now, he’s one of my best friends. But the great thing about having a best friend that is also your sibling is that they see you as clearly as possible. They know your strengths and weaknesses, your faults and your greatest attributes. They can recognize these things a bit clearer than so many other people in your lives, and they can definitely see you a bit clearer than you see yourself. To me, Sean is one of the strongest, smartest, kindest people I know. I’ve always been in awe of the way he can command the attention of any room he walks into, and the way he drops everything to help others…be it a complete stranger or his little sister. Happy Birthday Seanie!

I brought these cupcakes along to a birthday barbeque we had for Sean, and since he’s not really into sweets I brought him some beef jerky and beer. But all the cupcake lovers in our family gave rave reviews. The cupcakes are incredibly moist and decadent and truly taste like an Orange Creamsicle. The recipe and the picture are from one of my favorite blogs Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. Enjoy!

Orange Cream Soda Cupcakes: Recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, Makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 3-oz package sugar-free orange jell-o
  • 1 4-serving size package sugar-free cheesecake instant pudding & pie filling mix
  • 1-1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:

  • 1 8oz package of low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon orange jello

Preparation:

  1. For the cupcakes, set aside 1- 1/2 teaspoons jello mix. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, instant pudding mix and remaining orange jello mix
  2. Add orange juice, eggs, applesauce and vanilla into dry ingredients and mix until well combined
  3. Line two muffin pans with muffin liners, and fill each 2/3 full with batter
  4. Bake cupcakes at 350 for 16-18 minutes
  5. To prepare frosting, place cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy
  6. Add vanilla extract  & remaining jello mixture until well combined
  7. Beat in sugar, one cup at a time until well combined
  8. After cupcakes have cooled, frost cupcakes

Banana Split Cupcakes


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A few weeks ago, my best friend LT asked me to make her a few dozen cupcakes to bring to work. And rather than whip up a batch of standard chocolate or vanilla, I wracked my brain for a new flavor combination to try out. I skimmed through a few of my favorite cookbooks and stumbled upon this recipe for Banana Split Cupcakes. And just like that, I was hit with a flash of childhood memories spent at my Grandparents house. Because anytime I think about banana splits, I am instantly transported back to one of our many sleepovers at their little house on Littlestone. My brother, cousins and I looked forward to sleepovers on Littlestone more than anything else. Sleepovers meant later bedtimes, an endless array of board games and, because it was Grandma’s house, a night full of sweets.  And no sleepover was complete without homemade banana splits. I can still remember the pretty pink glass dishes that were perfectly shaped for those special ice cream sundaes. Grandpa would slice a banana right down the middle and place it in the dish. He would then plop three whole scoops of Neopolitan Ice Cream over the banana and cover it with chocolate syrup and sprinkles. How we ever fell asleep after all that sugar, I will never know. My cousins and I bragged about the banana splits to our friends so much that LT asked if she could come for a sleepover too. We were actually in high school by that time, but my grandparents didn’t mind. And Grandpa happily made LT the famous banana split she had always heard about. So it seemed fitting that I made LT a batch of cupcakes inspired by the dessert she so wanted to enjoy all those years. These cupcakes have a light banana flavor that pair wonderfully with the rich chocolate of Sander’s hot fudge. The perfect “throwback” dessert.

Ingredients: From the Cupcake Diaries, Makes 48 mini cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 mashed bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup water

Frosting:

  • 4 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sander’s Chocolate Fudge Topping

Preparation:

  1. For the cupcakes: Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour through nutmeg)
  2. In a separate bowl, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time
  4. Add the bananas and honey to the butter mixture and mix until just combined
  5. Alternate adding flour mixture and water to the butter mixture, beating after each addition
  6. Scoop batter into cupcake pans lined with cupcake liners
  7. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes
  8. For the frosting: Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy
  9. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition
  10. Beat in vanilla extract
  11. To assemble the cupcakes: Use a piping bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with Sanders Hot Fudge, or chocolate syrup of your choice. Finish with sprinkles

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Engagement Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

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Memories are a funny thing. Some fade away instantly, falling into the corners of the mind as soon as the moment is gone. Others come back as fragmented pieces, allowing you to recall an event or a time, but leaving the details behind. And then there are the memories that stick with you. Perfectly preserved, as clear as the moment they happened. Like everyone else, I have my share of all three of these types of memories. But it is those few perfectly clear ones that seem to have had the most impact. One of my clearest memories occurred three yeas ago. It was a small moment between my Grandparents, my cousins and I, but it’s one I recall nearly every day. My grandparents were more in love than any pair I’ve ever known. They have the type of love story that you read about in books, the type of story that everyone hopes to have. And I remember, as clear as the moment it occurred, a speech my Grandma gave to her five grandchildren about the bond they shared. It was Christmas of 2009 when my Grandma shared her hopes for us. She looked adoringly at her husband, like she always did and said “This is what I want for all of you. For you to find someone that you love this deeply, and have this much fun with. I hope each of you finds your best friend to share your life with. Because when you find this… it is when your life really begins.” Her small speech struck me. Because although I never really considered myself a romantic, the words she spoke resonated with me, because I knew that is what I hoped for too. And then, much to my chagrin, a friend came to mind. Someone I had just met a few months earlier, but was quickly becoming quite smitten with. His name was Eric and even after a few months of knowing him it was clear that he was one of the kindest people I had ever met. I had never really felt quite as comfortable or at ease than when I was with my new friend Eric. And it wasn’t long after that night with my grandparents that it became clear that he was that best friend that my Grandma had described. People always say that when you meet your match you just know. Before Eric, I wasn’t quite sure if I believed that. I thought those amazing love stories were just for a lucky few, and for some reason I wasn’t quite sure if I would find that type of love. But after mere weeks of knowing this kind, generous man, I just knew that in Eric, I’d found my home. And after three wonderful years together, Eric asked me to be his wife. On the Friday before Christmas, he took me to Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, and proposed in front of the biggest, most beautiful Christmas tree around.

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We were standing in front of the tree, and Eric told me to look up at the lights. When I looked back at him, he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. I was shocked and elated and immediately said “Yes!” He then surprised me yet again, by having both of our families meet us downtown to share such a special night with us. It was truly a night I will never forget.

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And since every New Year’s Eve we often celebrate the new year with  bottle of champagne, I thought Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes would be the perfect dessert to celebrate this new step in our lives. The cupcakes have a subtle champagne flavor and are the perfect dessert when topped with a touch of cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 36 mini cupcakes, recipe from The Cupcake Diaries

  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup champagne
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cup milk

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a mini cupcake pan with 36 cupcake liners
  2. In a small bowl, soak diced strawberries in champagne and set aside
  3. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together (flour through salt) and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until soft and creamy
  5. Add eggs, one at a time to butter mixture
  6. Combine vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and milk in a large liquid measuring cup, set aside
  7. Add one third of flour mixture into butter mixture and beat until well incorporated. Follow by adding one third of the milk mixture. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture into batter until all is well incorporated
  8. Drain the strawberries of excess champagne and pat lightly with a paper towel
  9. Gently fold strawberries into cake batter until well mixed.
  10. Scoop batter into cupcake pan and bake for 10 minutes
  11. To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together until well incorporated
  12. Slowly add powdered sugar to butter mixture until all is well incorporated
  13. Stir in vanilla
  14. Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes

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Gingerbread Cupcakes

For me, the day after Thanksgiving is the true beginning of the Christmas season. Suddenly my music selections consist solely of the yuletide variety, Holiday movies are all I really have a taste for and my kitchen is full of the flavors of the season. And though it isn’t quite December yet, I felt a holiday Gingerbread Cupcake would be a great recipe to share. This spicy and sweet cake is covered in a decadent cream cheese frosting making for one delicious dessert. The recipe is from the Cupcake Diaries, a cookbook and memoir written by the bakers behind Georgetown Cupcakes. The soft texture of this cake and the subtly spiciness is proof that these sisters really know what they’re doing when it comes to cupcakes. So even if you aren’t quite filled with the holiday spirit just yet, I would suggest you give this recipe a try. Because the sweet smell of gingerbread wafting through your kitchen is sure to bring on the spirit of the season in no time.

Ingredients: From Georgetown Cupcakes; Makes 24 cupcakes

  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup hot water

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a medium sized  bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour through salt) set aside
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and dark brown sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs into butter mixture, one at a time, beating after each addition
  4. Beat molasses into butter mixture until just combined
  5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and hot water into butter mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated
  6. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for 20 minutes
  7. For the batter, beat softened cream cheese and butter together until creamy
  8. Beat in vanilla
  9. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time until well incorporated
  10. Use a piping bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

One more day until the most food filled holiday of the year! I hope you are all busy in your kitchens baking and cooking your way to a Thanksgiving feast. I’ll be whipping up a classic sweet potato casserole later tonight, but I thought I would actually share another recipe that centers around this quintessential autumn ingredient. On Tuesday we had a Thanksgiving potluck at work and I decided to bring along a batch of these Sweet Potato Cupcakes.  I found this recipe over at TheBakingPan and decided to top them with a classic cream cheese frosting.  And I’m happy to report that this recipe was quite a hit. My coworkers were big fans of these cupcakes, which is great, because I’m a big fan of all of them. Finding a job that I love is another thing I’m very thankful for this year. My first year out of college was a bit of a bumpy road and for a while I started to think I would never find a good fit. But somehow, I stumbled upon a job that I actually love going to every day. It’s challenging and interesting and fun every single day. Not everyone can say that about the place the spend 40+ hours every week, so I am incredibly thankful that I found such a great place to work. And they let me bring cupcakes in whenever I want. Major plus. Happy Thanksgiving!

Ingredients: Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (about one large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg)
  2. In a large bowl, place butter and sugars and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time
  4. Stir in vanilla
  5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and mashed sweet potatoes into butter mixture until well incorporated
  6. Scoop batter into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 350 for 20 minutes
  7. For the frosting, beat cream cheese & butter together until well combined
  8. Slowly beat powdered sugar into cream cheese mixture until just combined
  9. Stir in vanilla and pipe onto cooled cupcakes

Cannoli Cupcakes

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” It is that famous line from The Godfather that made me love the movie. Because let’s be honest… why on earth would you let a perfectly good dessert go to waste? I think the Italians just have it right. Food is an important part of Italian life and has always been a defining part of their culture. There are an endless number of Italian proverbs centering around the importance of food, and countless books written about Italian cooking. Maybe that is why I’ve always envied those with Italian roots. The emphasis put on food is something that speaks to me. Cooking with my family is one of my very favorite pastimes. And the time and labor that goes into make homemade pasta or tirimisu is to me an exciting challenge rather than a tedious task. But despite my envy for the Italian heritage…being of Irish descent does have it’s benefits. We get to enjoy the festive Irish music and the signature scones filled with raisins and currants. And then again, there is my Irish mother who often operates like an Italian. In her mind, most ailments are usually a result of being hungry. You have a headache? Go eat something. You’re tired? Go eat something. You might be getting a cold? For goodness sake, go eat something. So maybe the Italians and the Irish aren’t so different. After all, it was Oscar Wilde, a fellow Irishman who said ” I cannot stand people who do not take food seriously.” So to celebrate this worldy love of food, I decided to take a cue from the Italians and make a twist on a classic dessert. These cannoli cupcakes are comprised of a moist vanilla cake filled with the classic ricotta filling found in a cannoli. They can be made in both regular sized cupcakes or as the delectable bite sized minis. Either way, I’m pretty sure Michael Corleone and Oscar Wilde would be  fans.

Adapted from FoodNetwork.com; makes 12 regular, 30 minis

Ingredients:

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cream:

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sugar “Ice Cream Waffle Cones”

Fresh Whipped Cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preparation:

  1. For the cupcakes: Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt in a medium bowl; set aside
  2. Beat eggs, sugar  & oil together in a large bowl
  3. Beat in vanilla & sour cream until well incorporated
  4. Slowly beat in flour mixture
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake at 350 (14 minutes for minis; 20 minutes for regular sized cupcakes)
  6. For the cannoli filling, Beat ricotta & powdered sugar together; stir in vanilla & chocolate chips
  7. After cupcakes have cooled completely, scoop out the center of the cake with a small knife; using a teaspoon, scoop the cannoli filling into the cored out centers
  8. For the whipped topping, beat heavy whipping cream & sugar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; using cold beaters & cold heavy cream is best
  9. Place whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes
  10. To garnish, sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and a piece of ice cream cone