better than bakery buttercream

There is something you need to know. It’s a secret way to make almost any butter cream icing better. It’s the magic little trick that you need to bring your sweets to the next level. And once you know, there’s no turning back. Are you ready?? Are you sure?

Cream cheese.

I don’t care if it’s vanilla, chocolate, cookie butter (yes, this IS an icing flavor and go—make it now), as long as it’s a butter cream it will be better with cream cheese. The magic is, it won’t mess up your recipe and it will improve the texture to help make it creamy and thick. Just 4 ounces of cream cheese isn’t noticeable enough to make it “cream cheese icing”, but adds the extra ‘mmm…’ to keep people wondering.

This is a wonderful vanilla butter cream recipe that is perfect for piping that perfect bakery swirl. It isn’t overly sweet and is easy to adjust for different occasions. Add a little peanut butter, nutella, or cookie butter (yeah, I’m bringing that up again!) in at the end for your own special twist. 

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the perfect summer sweet

THIS is the perfect summer cupcake. PERFECT. My favorite by-the-pool drink is a pina colada, and this captures the mood and flavor perfectly. It’s a delicate balance of creamy coconut icing and a moist pineapple cake. These are a must at any picnic, by the pool, at the beach, in a dark closet by yourself….whatever the occasion. They are on the top of my list for favorite cupcake recipes by far. Give them a try, and don’t forget to top them with true pina colada flair!

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be better than green

St. Patty’s day is always such a great excuse to make all sorts of sweet treats and tasty drinks, but when I look for a great recipe to make for this holiday the number of cupcakes, cakes, and brownies overloaded with green sanding sugar, clover cut out sprinkles, green oozy icing—-well it begins to look less like food and more like something you found behind your sink when you were cleaning back there that one year. Green is such a great fun tradition, but sometimes maybe we should leave the green on our shirts and let good food look like…good food. I’ve tried out several “drunken cupcake” recipes over the years and this is the cream of the crop. I combined a few different recipes and found that this is the ultimate crowd pleaser–the ultimate moist, chocolate cupcake (which I WILL figure out how to make un-boozy so i can use it all the time because it is perfect and amazing) with the perfect hint of dark, nutty guiness, the creamy bitterness of the ganache filling, perfectly offsetting the perfectly sweet irish cream buttercream that is the ultimate consistency and flavor. Convinced yet? Make it and find out for yourself how delicious these babies are. And if you can find them, top with these perfect liquor filled chocolates.

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brown butter is better

These little ghoulish treats were a last minute design on a recipe I knew I had to make. I have recently discovered the amazing, magical thing that happens to butter when you over cook it (not over over cook). It makes a pleasantly caramel colored, rich and nutty flavored syrup that is just right in a fall meal or dessert. I have not so recently discovered my love of brown sugar in all its molasses-y glory. So to combine these two flavors into a Halloween treat was a no brainer. Don’t let the exterior fool you, these are not just a Halloween treat. Try them out for anytime of year, with a nice big swirl of what can only be described as my favorite flavor of icing (so much left over….I kept sampling and sampling until I was convinced I had to throw the rest away…>tear<). The pairing is definitely one of my favorites.

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how do you oreo?

Love at first sight. This recipe was undeniably a must-make as soon as I glimpsed a picture and mumbled in disbelief, “is that an oreo?!” These have it all, a light whipped topping, smooth cheesecake center, and of course a delicious oreo crust. They are easy and impressive, and the cookie is a wonderful surprise. As soon as I turned them upside down to show off the oreo bottom in response to all the “what are these?” you can see it—-the look only an oreo can bring. Don’t we all have childhood memories with these treats? After all, they are ‘milk’s favorite cookie’.

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pb & c

 

The sole reason for these cupcakes lies behind my love of peanut butter pie. I wanted some the other day when a crazy thought hit me—can’t I use it as icing?? (I know, I’m wild!) You could spread that creamy, fluffy goodness on a turkey sandwich and I’d be a happy camper, so why not cupcakes? And determined as I was to come up with some incredibly unique pairing for a cupcake flavor, type in “peanut butter and—-” into google and chocolate chocolate chocolate it is. There were ideas for apple or banana cupcakes topped with peanut butter icing, but overwhelmingly peanut butter pairs with chocolate to top the dessert charts. And I’ll be darned if I’m not going to give the people what they want. I went with the delicious dark cocoa cupcake from a previous post, spread with a layer of nutella, and topped with a dollop of whipped peanut butter pie filling. And it was crazy—I had an overwhelming amount of people telling me (or telling my husband to tell me or texting me) to say that they were the best cupcakes they ever had. It threw me for a loop, but I guess you can’t deny the delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate. And a layer of nutella between the two never hurts.

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twice as nice

It’s not often a recipe is this versatile. It’s half of a recipe that can go two ways. Confusing, right? While looking for a good church breakfast treat I could make in a bundt pan, I came across a blueberry sour cream coffee cake. It had everything in it–blueberries, cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans…so much so that since I needed to make two bundts, I made the base twice and then went only blueberry with one and cinnamon pecan with the other. AMAZING, both ways. Let me tell you. It makes for an amazingly moist cake. When you bite into it, the cake practically melts and I have no idea why but it is good and I do not question things that are good. All I know is I may or may not have been making repetitive trips every 5 minutes or so to the leftovers, so that I eventually just left a fork under the saran wrap for convenience.  But this post is specifically about the magic that was the cinnamon pecan result. The bundt I drizzled with a maple glaze. And a day later in response to a request at work for a sweet treat, I scooped this same batter into cupcake sleeves and topped with a maple cream cheese icing. The batter was that same fluffy, melty white goodness with swirls of sweet crunch. I have never seen cupcakes disappear this quickly (they never saw high noon) and one coworker came to me with a mouthful and exclaimed “these are stupid good!”. People went out of their way to come to me and tell me how good these were, they were their favorite yet. It was like a weird dream. I even ate 2 and normally I am so over sugar by the time I pop goodies out of the oven that I rarely make it through more than a few bites. I can say all these things because I am not complimenting myself, but merely reveling in a thing of magic. I don’t know why or how but this recipe is here now, stored forever, and I can’t wait to pull it out when I need it for a breakfast bundt or special dessert.

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banana fana fo fana

These came about by beautiful accident. I have been waiting and waiting for an excuse to make brown sugar buttercream. And not because I sneak the occasional spoonful of brown sugar for a pick me up (yeah, the big spoon)… But being that it’s not the crunchy leaf, cool breeze time of year when sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and pretty much anything served with a dash of spice finds its way onto our tables (and into our hearts bellies), I kept deciding and re-deciding what it was that would be more sweat-out-of-your-clothes season appropriate. So that left me with apple or banana. And I ran across so many maple icing recipes out there on the world wide web that I couldn’t make apple cupcakes with anything else.  So banana it was! And then I set out to figure out some way to make  sure they weren’t banana muffins or banana bread. This is more of a vanilla bean cupcake which happens to have lumps of banana in it for one reason or another, topped with my crossbred version of brown sugar icing which happens to have cream cheese in it for one reason or another, topped with toasted coconut curls for one reason or another (>cough< it’s pretty and white and makes my house smell good). And after all this, the recipe was a hit. My toughest critics ooh-ed and ahh-ed and “wow! Can I get the recipe”-ed me. But for me the best part is it qualifies as breakfast. Bananas. It’s fruit ; )

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oh so cocoa

Nothing like a special occasion to indulge in a little chocolate goodness. Yes— anniversaries, birthdays, mondays…really I think it’s an anything goes kind of situation. I made these for a baby shower with the one request being chocolate. And what a pregnant woman wants everyone else wants, too a pregnant woman gets. I saw a picture of these and put them on my mental ‘make these whenever the excuse arises’ list. They have an amazing color, more like black than that light milk chocolate brown you normally run into with chocolate cupcakes. There is cocoa in the icing, cocoa in the cake, and semisweet chocolate chips somewhere in the middle. And if you are within 10 feet of these, your glucose levels will start to rise. The smell is overwhelming. Amazing. Unmistakable. Chocolate.

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a better box mix

So not every cupcake can be homemade. I said it. I guess it’s possible but I’m not one to frown at someone when I hear they ‘made it from a box’. I used to bake exclusively that way—but it’s hard to go back once you realize the simplicity, unending possibilities, and sheer incomparable texture and flavor of homemade cake. But there is a secret, a way to amp up that box mix that a blessed few (well…many judging by the popularity of the books) have been bestowed the knowledge of. It makes the result more moist and closer to a homemade feel—close enough, in fact, that it’s your choice if you tell people it’s homemade or not.

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