Raspberry Cream Cheese Mini Brownie Cupcakes

{Cupcake Week- Day 5, the final day}
Okay, yes. Technically these aren't cupcakes
But they are definitely the pièce de résistance. I hate to admit that I ate about half the batch. They were just so darn good, I couldn't not eat them. I used a basic brownie recipe, light cream cheese, and fresh raspberry puree for these baby cakes, but there is definitely some wiggle room for alterations. Example, I'm sure a brownie mix from a box would suffice; you can use any variation of cream cheese, and the fruit puree could be switched to anything that goes well with chocolate, like strawberries. These baked up pretty quick and made the perfect amount, not too many or too little. These little treats would be great for any occasion!
1 batch brownie batter (here is a good recipe)
4 oz cream cheese, softened (half a regular brick)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed and pureed with a pinch of sugar for sweetness

Preheat oven to 350F, spray mini cupcake pans generously with cooking spray. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Spoon a heaping teaspoon full of brownie batter into each mini cupcake slot. Next, spoon a smaller amount of cream cheese on top of the brownie batter. Then add a little (about a 1/4 teaspoon if you want to get technical) raspberry puree to the top of the cream cheese. Once you've added the cream cheese and the raspberry puree to each brownie cupcake, take a tooth pick and swirl the tops slightly.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until tooth pick comes out mostly clean when inserted in the center of cupcake. Let cool for about 10 minutes before popping them out. Depending on how many cupcake pans you have, you may have a second batch, like me! Should yield in the ballpark of 48 mini brownie cupcakes.

There ya have it! Happy weekend! 


Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

{Cupcake Week- Day 4}
For today's post, I wanted something simple and delicious. I've been trying for weeks to find a buttercream recipe that didn't end up separating once the fruit was added. I guess this can be somewhat common, but I finally decided to change the method and the recipe, and finally landed a recipe that stays combined, tastes amazing, and pipes beautifully. I used fresh strawberries that I cut up and froze for a few days, then let them thaw completely in the fridge. The berries made their own syrup and so no extra sugar was needed to sweeten them.
8-12 Vanilla Cupcakes (either from a mix or from scratch)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup strawberries- pureed

In a medium bowl, beat together butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add strawberry puree and vanilla, and beat again until combined. Next, add a little bit of powdered sugar at a time, mixing after each addition until it's fluffy- don't over beat. Spread on cupcakes, or pipe away! For these cupcakes I used the large Walton French Tip.
This frosting would also go great with chocolate cupcakes! 
Source for the frosting: My Baking Addiction


Nutella Swirl Cupcakes

{Cupcake Week- Day 3}
Today is my birthday! And because it's my birthday, I'm showing you the best and easiest cupcake recipe you'll ever see. No one should have to cook or bake... or clean, or fold laundry or change diapers on their birthday- but in case you have to bake your own cake, here is a fantastic recipe for you! With only two ingredients, you can't really go wrong, am I right?
1 French Vanilla Cake Mix (or likewise from scratch) (plus the ingredients to make it)
1/2 cup Nutella

Scoop your cake batter into your cupcake tins, about 3/4 full. Take a small spoonful of Nutella, and dollop it on top of the batter. Swirl with a tooth pick so the tops look marbled. Bake as directed.

Once the cupcakes are out of the oven, and mostly cool, spread a thin layer of Nutella on top as the frosting. You can even get fancy and pipe it on if you'd like- and there ya go!


German Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Almond Frosting

{Cupcake Week- Day 2}
I have never been much of a fan of that coconut frosting that generally comes with German Chocolate Cake, mainly because the only time I've tried it, it's been from a can. I love coconut to death, but that canned frosting kind of ruined my liking for German Chocolate Cake, I guess you can call me a frosting-nazi because I'm so particular about the frosting on cakes. Well, I am here to tell you that making your own coconut frosting is fast, easy, YUMMY, and most importantly--- you can pronounce all of the ingredients used to make it. My husband, the one who doesn't like cake, actually ate three of these in one sitting and absolutely raved about them! He even offered to take the rest to work with him so his co-workers could try them. That is no small compliment, my friends. Take it from him, they are delish, and will definitely satisfy that decadent chocolate craving you've been having.
8-12 German Chocolate Cupcakes (either from a mix or from scratch)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 - 3/4 of a 7 oz. bag sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds (you can generally buy them in the snack food isle)

Once your cupcakes are completely cool, in a small sauce pan bring butter, sugar, evaporated milk and egg together over medium heat. Cook until thickened, about 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Once it's thickened up, remove from heat and add vanilla, coconut and almonds, stir until combined. Cool to room temperature before frosting cupcakes. Add chocolate flower for decoration once all the cupcakes have been frosted. (I found it was easier for the chocolate flowers to stand if the frosting was thicker in the center.)

How to make chocolate flowers:
Things you'll need:
1/2 bag semisweet chocolate chips
microwave safe bowl
a piece of wax paper
a dinner plate (or any hard, flat surface that is easily transportable)
a zip-lock bag

In a microwave safe bowl, melt down chocolate chips in 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Place wax paper on the back of a dinner plate (or the like), and make sure there is room in your freezer or refrigerator for the plate to lay flat.
Spoon melted chocolate into the zip-lock bag, and twist the top so no chocolate leaks over the top on to your hand. Snip one of the corners of the bag, about 1/8 of an inch, or as big or little as you'd like.
Pipe the chocolate on to the wax paper, making three long ovals all connected at one point, with the center oval being larger than the rest. Repeat. Make sure you make a few extras in case one or two break when removing them from the wax paper.
Place plate of flowers in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, or in the fridge for 20-30 minutes or until hardened.
To remove flowers from the wax paper, bend the paper near the flower and very carefully peel the flower off. It's okay if a few break, it happens. There ya go! You can experiment by making other funky designs with the chocolate, like stars or hearts... or whatever you can come up with!
Source for frosting: Barbara Bakes


Black Forest Cupcakes

{Cupcake Week- Day 1}
So, because it's my birthday week, I'm celebrating with one of my true loves. Cupcakes. There is just something about them. I know you feel it, too. I hadn't had black forest cake before until about a month ago, and oh... my... gosh. It's now one of my favorite's! I can't believe I've gone all my life without having tried it before. I decided to make it into a cupcake for my cupcake week, and it was a smashing success! 
8-12 Chocolate cupcakes (either from a mix or from scratch) completely cooled
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 can cherry pie filling
shaved semisweet chocolate for garnish, optional

After your cupcakes are completely cooled, cut a cone shape out of the top center of each cupcake. Fill the cupcakes with a couple spoonfuls of cherry pie filling. In a small bowl, whip the whipping cream until it is stiff enough to form soft peaks. You can add a little powdered sugar to sweeten it up if you'd like. Don't over beat the cream or else you'll end up with butter. 
Top each cupcake with whipped cream, as much or as little or as you'd like. You can dollop it on, or make it fancy by making peaks in the whipped cream by using the back of a spoon, and swiftly pulling it away from the cupcake, all the way around the top of the cupcake. Top each cupcake with a little bit of the remaining cherry pie filling, then sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Serve immediately or refrigerate. 
There ya go! So easy, right?! And so good!   


Cranberry Pear Crumble

Courtesy of a good friend, I've been dying to try this recipe she gave me via my Facebook page. In this last year or so, I've discovered how much I love pears. I tried to poach one once, and it didn't turn out so great, which is why it never made it on to the blog. I love that they are so close to apples, but are softer and are just as versatile. I can't stop eating them! For this recipe I used ripe Bartlet Pears and some fresh but frozen by me cranberries, left over from the holidays. I used a little more than the original recipe called for, but you can add as little or as much as you'd like. Another good thing about crumbles and crisps is that you can alter it to your tastes without compromising the integrity of the dish, making it essentially fool proof!
This recipe yields 4 servings
2 ripe Bartlet Pears, peeled and cubed
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon All Spice
a tiny bit of lemon juice (to keep the pears from turning brown)

for the topping:
1 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, soft but still cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 4 single serving dishes with cooking spray. In a medium bowl add a tiny bit of lemon juice, and then add pears and toss lightly. This will keep the pears from turning brown while you do the rest. Add all the remaining ingredients for the filling and toss until well combined and the cornstarch is no longer visible. Pour equally into each dish, should be about 3/4 full, maybe a little more, which is just fine.

In another small bowl, add all the ingredients for the topping and stir with a fork until crumbly, about the size of peas. Top to fruit and push down a little. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Depending on how full your dishes end up, you may want to place a cookie sheet underneath the dishes in case they run over. In which, you may need to adjust your baking time slightly.
Source: Krystal Cole (thanks friend!)


Chocolate Temptations

{straight from grandma's cookbook}
I'm not quite sure why my grandma titled these 'chocolate temptations' because most of these little cookies are peanut butter. But, there ya have it. These will knock your socks off! Peanut butter cookies with peanut butter cups in the center and melted to perfection. My mouth is watering just thinking about them! I bet you can't have just one.
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
50 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter, butter, and shortening for 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla and beat again until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, stir in any remaining flour with your hands or a big spoon. Cover and chill for about 15-20 minutes or until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray two mini muffin pans with cooking spray. Roll dough into 1/3 inch balls and place each ball of dough into each mini muffin slot. Bake for 7-8 minutes. While cookies are baking, unwrap as many peanut butter cups as you can. Immediately after you remove the cookies from the oven, take a peanut butter cup and push it down into the center of each cookie. Let sit for about 20 minutes so the chocolate melts and everything sets together. Pop them out of the mini muffin pans and, ta-da! Eat away!
 You will have lots of peanut butter cookie dough left over, so feel free to use it all up making these (you'll obviously need more peanut butter cups), or freeze it for later use. This dough also makes great peanut butter cookies. To make those, roll dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten by making crisscross marks with a fork. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until bottoms are lightly brown. 
Source: Family recipe 

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