Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cupcake Roses for Mom! :)

Happy Mother's Day to all you, hardworking Moms, everywhere in the world! I hope your family is sweet to you on this very special day, as you deserve it!!! Here is my greeting to you- some cupcake roses to brighten up and sweeten up your day! :)

Lemon CupcakesIngredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
zest of one large lemon
freshly squeezed juice from one large lemon
2-3 drops of lemon essential oil
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners (for cupcakes). This recipe makes about 30 standard size cupcakes.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).
Blend oil and sour cream. Add vanilla and lemon extracts, lemon zest,  lemon juice, and lemon essential oil. Mix to incorporate.
Add flour and milk, alternating- starting and finishing with flour.
Pour in muffin tins, filling each cupcake about 2/3 of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes or until they test done. Fill with Perfect Lemon Curd and frost with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipes below).

Perfect Lemon Curd
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (it took me about 5-6 small lemons!)
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Mixture may look a little curdled at first but that's okay, it will smooth our later, I promise you. :) Finally, add lemon juice and zest and mix in to incorporate.
Using a double boiler, bring water in the bottom container to a gentle boil, and add mixture to the top container while stirring frequently in the beginning and almost constantly towards the end. Keep stirring over medium to medium-low heat until mixture thickens enough to hold marks from whisk, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool. Fill your cupcakes with about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of lemon curd per cupcake. This recipe is enough to fill about 30 cupcakes and can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated until ready to use (big bonus for me!).

Recipe for Perfect Lemon Curd adapted from:

Lemon Cream Cheese FrostingIngredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
2-3 drops of lemon essential oil (optional)
3-4 tsp heavy whipping cream (or more, if you prefer a thinner consistency)
a few drops of yellow food coloring, if desired

Directions: In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese at medium/high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar, covering your mixer with the shield attachment or a kitchen towel to avoid a cloud of powdered sugar all over your kitchen. :) Beat until well incorporated. Add lemon extract and essential oil and beat again for another minute or so. Finally, mix in whipping cream, one teaspoon at a time, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. Add desired food coloring. I used Wilton's gel food colors: Rose (for the pink), Yellow, and some light green for the little leaves. For the roses, start the swirl from the center, working your way outwards. It's really simple but elegant. I hope you make someone very happy with these! :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

If you haven't hopped on the black bean brownie wagon already, you have been missing out big time! And if you are vegan or follow a gluten free diet, these could seriously be a life-saver for you (if you have a sweet tooth like mine, which I admit is pretty much giant) :)... They are extremely simple to make- all you need is a food processor- and once baked, I assure you nobody would be able to tell there are black beans inside! I never told my kids and after having a piece each, they declared, "We don't like these brownies. We LOVE them!". That, I think speaks for itself!

Go on, make a batch of these and see what I mean. They are delicious, rich in protein, high in fiber, and as healthy as a baked dessert could ever get!

Black Bean Brownies

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup quick oats or rolled oats processed fine
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or canola oil
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips, divided
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts of your choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease or line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper.
Put the beans in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the agave syrup, sugar, and coconut oil and continue to process until smooth and there are no lumps of beans left.
Add the processed oats, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking soda and salt and process until combined.
Stir in 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips by hand.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips and walnuts on top and press lightly into the brownie mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting. You may want to leave them in the refrigerator for a while, as there is no binding agent and the cold will help them set better. Makes 16 brownies.

Recipe adapted from: Butter baking

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

These were cupcakes I made for a "Dessert Auction" at my church. :) I had made them once before for a ladies' dinner and they were completely gone, all two dozen of them, so I figured if they were such a big hit once, they should do well at the auction. Apparently, I was right. :) They are truly delicious! They have a chocolate flavor really (because of the cocoa in them), but more like a light chocolate than the dark chocolate cake I usually make. The cream cheese frosting is a perfect accompaniment and can be made with less powdered sugar and less cream if you do not need to pipe the frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk (or 2 tbsp white vinegar and the rest milk, to make 1 cup liquid total- let sit 5 min)
2 tbsp liquid red food coloring or 1 tsp gel food coloring
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and oil on medium-high speed until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and beating until combined after each.

In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and vinegar (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed until combined, about 10 seconds.

Fill the cupcake paper liners 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer muffin pans to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Frost with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or less if you want to be able to pipe the frosting)

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium/high speed butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla extract. Mix in to incorporate. Gradually add the powdered sugar and cover your mixer with the protective shield or a kirchen towel after each addition to avoid a cloud of powdered sugar in your kitchen :). Once powdered sugar is fully incorporated, remove the paddle attachment with the whisk attachment and add the heavy whipping cream. Whisk on medium/high speed for 4-5 minutes. Frost your cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Note: this is a thinner, lighter cream cheese frosting and though it still works for piping on cupcakes and frosting cakes, it is not stiff enough for delicate piping decorations as buttercream or regular cream cheese frosting are.

Recipes adapted from these sources:, and,

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