Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Award-Winning Chocolate Cupcakes!!!

Photo courtesy of Michele Argiro

I've been basking in the glory of my win all day. Not trying to sound cocky or crazy, I really have been feeling all glowy and whacked out all day! Hahahaha. I'll come crashing back down to Earth in the morning...
And here, my darling readers, is the recipe for my First place-winning chocolate cupcakes :)

{Just a note: My method is a little different than Cook's Illustrated. They suggest pressing the ganache into the cupcakes before baking, but I prefer to core the cupcakes after cooling, then adding a teaspoon of the delicious filling.}
Devilishly Chocolate Cupcakes
Courtesy of Cooks Illustrated via Pink Parsely
Yield: 15-18 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Bittersweet chocolate- 3 oz, finely chopped
Dutch-processed cocoa- 1/3 c
Hot, strong-brewed coffee- 3/4 c
Bread flour- 3/4 c
Sugar- 3/4 c
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Canola oil- 6 tbsp
Large eggs- 2
White vinegar- 2 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp

1. Put chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, then pour the hot coffee over it. Whisk until smooth, then transfer to refrigerator until cool, 20-30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together, and set aside.
3. Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mix.
4. Add flour mixture to the mix, and whisk until batter is smooth.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes. In my oven, it worked best when I rotated the cupcake pan at 17 minutes, then let them bake an additional two {it would probably be better to do it halfway through... let me know what you find!}

Ganache Filling
Bittersweet chocolate- 2 oz, finely chopped
Heavy whipping cream- 1/4 c
Powdered sugar- 1 tbsp

1. Place chocolate, cream, and powdered sugar in a microwave-proof bowl. Cook on high until mixture is warm to touch, about 30 seconds.
2. Whisk mixture, then put bowl in refrigerator. Let stand until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Creamy Insanely Delicious, Super-Creamy Bowl of Yumness (aka Chocolate Frosting)
Sugar- 1/3 c
Large egg whites- 2
Salt- a "pinch"
Unsalted butter- 1 1/2 sticks, softened & cut into cubes
Bittersweet chocolate- 6 oz, melted & cooled to 85 degrees
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp

1. Mix sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of a stand mixer. Place bowl over pan of simmering water, and whisk constantly until mixture is foamy and registers 150 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Put bowl in stand mixer, and beat mixture on medium with whisk attachment 1-3 minutes, until slightly cooled and the consistency of shaving cream.
3. Add butter, one cube at a time. If it looks curdled halfway through, DO NOT PANIC! Just keep beating, just keep beating, just keep beating, beating, beating :) {couldn't help it!}
4. Pour in the cooled chocolate and vanilla. Mix until combined, then increase speed to medium high, and beat for another 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

After the cupcakes have cooled, and the ganache has been in the fridge for 30 minutes, use a cupcake corer (or a knife), and reserve the cupcake "tops." Fill with yummy ganache, then replace the "tops" and frost as desired. I used my jumbo open-star tip :)

Note: I brought milk with me to the competition, and I whole-heartedly recommend having a nice, tall glass nearby.


A very fuzzy picture from my cell phone of my display table at the competition :)

Also, if you would like to watch WHSV Harrisonburg's Litsa Pappas's segment on me and my business, please check out the following link!
JMU Student Starts Business to Avoid Unemployment after College

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Today, at Cupcakes for a Good Cause, I won first place for CHOCOLATIEST CUPCAKE!!!
My Devilishly Chocolate Cupcakes were a big hit, and I had so much fun at the event! I will definitely be participating next year :)

I will post my recipes tomorrow, as well as more pictures! For now, here's a picture of me with my winning cupcake and my "first place" ribbon :)

Cupcakes for a good cause!

Today's the day!!!!

The First Annual Cupcakes for a Good Cause competition will be held today, October 22, from 2-4 pm at Cornerstone Christian School. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE! Hehe.

If you're in the Harrisonburg area, you're definitely gonna want to see what I've concocted :) They're rather incredible. Mind-blowing even. Not being cocky, just tellin it like it is :D

For more info, go to


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beauty & the Beast

As I gaze at this poor, dilapidated little cake, I can't help but chuckle.
My boyfriend's favorite flavor is caramel, so I tried to make a version of Whisk Kid's caramel cake. Key word: tried. It was kind of an epic fail. And by kind of, I mean totally. I mean, just look at it!

I spent so much time on this cake, and almost everything went wrong.
Problem #1: Somehow, I ran out of sugar. Regular old granulated sugar. WHO DOES THAT?! What kind of baker runs out of the most basic fricking ingredient?! I had already been to the grocery store, and I really didn't feel like going back, so I ran over to the gas station across the street and bought all the sugar they had.

Problem #2: I definitely should have made three layers instead of the monstrous two I tried to make- the center of one wouldn't bake all the way through, so I kept putting it back in, until it was kinda getting a little burned. So then I stopped.

Problem #3: When I tried to split the layers (I wanted to make four), I couldn't exactly keep the slicer level. Hence the unevenness.

Problem #4: The recipe called for Italian Meringue Buttercream, which I LOVE. Once I figured out how to make it, it became my favorite. I finally realized the problem, though: using liquid egg whites does not work for IMBC. It works for Swiss, but not Italian (not entirely sure why, let me know if you have any theories..). The recipe called for 10 egg whites, and I didn't want to waste all those yolks, so I tried the liquid egg whites... and it turned out horribly.

I was running out of time, and had run out of patience (and sugar) at least an hour earlier, so I went back to American Buttercream. I added the caramel syrup, and it turned out rather nicely.

Even though the cake looked dreadful, it tasted AMAZING. The caramel I brushed over each of the layers soaked into the cake, and it all melded together into this huge ball of deliciousness.

So, I am going to post the original cake and caramel syrup recipes, but I'll post the Caramel Buttercream recipe I made up instead of the IMBC.

Caramel Buttercream Cake

Caramel Syrup

Courtesy of Whisk Kid
Sugar- 4 c
Water- 3 c

1. Combine sugar and 1 c water in a saucepan. Cook, whisking occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved, until amber.
2. Slowly pour in the remaining 2 c water (BE CAREFUL! Stand back a good distance, cuz it's gonna sputter and bubble and get all kinds of violent!) to stop the caramelizing process. 
3. Cook until reduced and sticky between two fingers. 

Caramel Cake
Courtesy of Whisk Kid
Butter- 1 c + 4 tbsp, softened
Sugar- 2 1/2 c
Caramel syrup- 2/3 c, cooled
Eggs- 4, room temperature
Vanilla- 4 tsp
Flour- 4 c
Baking powder- 1 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Milk- 1/2 c, warmed 10 seconds in microwave
Sour cream- 1/2 c

1. Cream butter, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the caramel syrup, then the eggs, one by one. Add vanilla, beat until incorporated. 
2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Sift half the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add the milk and sour cream and mix. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients, mix until just combined. 
4. Pour into three greased 9-inch pans, bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from Savory Sweet Life
Butter- 1 c (2 sticks), softened
Powdered sugar- 3-4 c
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Milk- 3-4 tbsp
Caramel syrup- 2/3 c

1. Mix butter, powdered sugar and salt
2. Mix in vanilla and milk. Add caramel syrup to taste- recommended is 2/3 c.

1. Before the cake is totally cool, spread caramel syrup over each of the layers. Let it absorb, and let the layers cool completely. 
2. Stack the cake, with a generous amount of caramel buttercream in between each layer. Decorate as you wish :) 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whoa 2.0

*Places self in dog house*
I suppose I'm a bit overdue in getting this recipe to you, huh?
I do apologize for the recent infrequency of my posts- last week was midterms, this week will be much calmer. HOWEVER, this week will end in an incredibly exciting event:
It's a cupcake competition in Harrisonburg, VA, and all the proceeds go to supporting those in the surrounding area that have been affected by lung cancer.
And I'm entering!!!
I won't reveal which cupcake I will be entering, but it's gonna be ballin :)
In the words of the great Kristen Wiig, I'M SO FREAKIN EXCITED!

Anyways, on to the promised recipe.
I combined two recipes to make these bad boys, and it turned out pretty well. They were a little messy, so I'm gonna try to tweak the combination in the future. It turned into a rather disastrous adventure as my impulse control seemingly vanished.. As you may know, I've been on a chocolate "detox" for the last two and a half months to see if it is a potential migraine trigger. Instead of slowly introducing chocolate back into my diet like a normal person, I went ballistic, and I ate THREE.

When you make these cupcakes, you will understand why eating three is a really bad idea, whether you've been deprived of chocolate for two and a half months or not.

Needless to say, I was in a rather extraordinary chocolate coma the following day. I was so dizzy I could hardly get out of bed. BUT I refuse to accept the possibility that chocolate is a trigger... I believe that I can  enjoy chocolate, just in moderation... We'll see how that works out.

Okay, here's the recipe for real!
Note: I doubled the Creme and Ganache recipes. The original recipe can be found via the link below :)

Chocolate Marshmallow Creme Filled Cupcakes
Courtesy of Sweet Baking Supply and Glorious Treats
Yield: 30 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Sugar- 2 c
Flour- 1 3/4 c
Cocoa- 3/4 c (*NOTE: Orig. calls for unsweetened, I used Hershey's Dark and it was amazing!)
Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Eggs- 2
Whole milk- 1 c
Canola oil- 1/2 c
Vanilla extract- 2 tsp
Boiling water- 1 c

1. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat for one minute on medium speed.
3. Stir in boiling water (DO NOT PANIC, the batter is supposed to be thin!).
4. Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. BE CAREFUL. I definitely overfilled my liners, and it turned out a little crazy.
5. Bake approx. 22-24 minutes at 350 degrees.

Marshmallow Creme Filling
Marshmallow creme- 14 oz (two 7 oz containers)
Butter- 1 c (softened)
Powdered sugar- 2/3 c
Water- 2 tbsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp

Mix all ingredients together with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Note: Mine wouldn't really get fluffy, I'm not entirely sure why. If you get better results than I do, let me know in the comments section, please!

Ganache Frosting
Semisweet chocolate chips- 24 oz (two 12 oz bags)
Heavy cream- 2 c

1. In microwave, heat chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl until chips are soft. Let sit for one minute to continue melting the chips.
2. Stir, then allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.

There are several approaches to filling a cupcake. My preferred method is using my Cuispro cupcake corer, then using a spoon to position the filling. The original recipe suggests filling a piping bag with a large tip and coupler and inserting it into the cupcake, then filling it until the cupcake expands slightly. This did not work for me, as my creme filling was a little runny. Whichever method floats your boat! :)

Note: HAVE MILK LEFTOVER FOR DRINKING! These cupcakes are SOOO chocolatey and delicious, and they're even better with a nice cold glass of milk!

Monday, October 10, 2011


See that? That white stuff oozing out the sides of the cake? Know what that is?

It's marshmallow creme. 


Marshmallow creme. 

Mixed with powdered sugar and butter. 

I made 30 cupcakes and still had some batter left over, so I did what any sane person would do (right?)... I made an itty bitty 4" two-layer cake. 

I'll post the recipe tomorrow, as well as pictures of the cupcakes themselves, but right now I'm going to devour this entire cake clean up the kitchen... 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wilton Cake Decorating Class!

Hello all,
I have completed my Wilton Cake Decorating Basics course! I'm so excited, I learned so much!
I've now started the second course, Flowers & Cake Design.
These are pictures of my final Basics cake!

I decided to use a technique I'd learned in class for this cake- piping a dam to keep the filling from spilling out. I used strawberry jam, and it was simple and delicious! 

This is the cake stacked.

And this is it iced! I felt like it was the smoothest icing job I'd ever done. As insanely sugary as the Wilton class buttercream is, it really is great for icing cakes. 

Now, the final product:

My boyfriend plays football for the Shenandoah University Hornets. I made the cake for their homecoming game last week :)

Those are ribbon roses on the left. I learned how to do them in class, so I didn't have time to let them dry/harden like I should have- hence the smushiness. They're pretty easy, I might post a how-to sometime in the near future :)

I highly recommend taking the Wilton Cake Decorating classes. They are an incredible deal- I'm paying  $67.50 for TWELVE CLASSES. 
There are some places in Northern Virginia where just one class is $75.

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