my my my, my key lime pie!

Just in time for summer, these cupcakes are simply amazing! Each one is like a delectable bite of key lime pie, a little piece of paradise. It’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet, and the cream cheese frosting is a great compliment to the lime. These may well be my new favorite cupcake flavor, I found myself popping one after another throughout the work day (minis have a way of tricking your mind that way). I chose to make my (40!) minis straight in the pan–no sleeves–and they came out with this great golden edge that gave it a very key lime pie kind of look. Seriously, these things are addictive and even now I am staring across the room at the few that made it through the day and back home, I am wondering if I might make it into the double digits by night’s end. Just kidding. Sort of.

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grapefruit, greatfruit?

We live in central Florida. You can’t travel anywhere without finding yourself on some long 2 lane (why only 2 lanes??) highway with nothing to look at but wide, flat fields of grazing cows and row upon row of perfectly placed trees or crops. And summertime–which starts in, oh, March and stretches until you find yourself sweating in shorts on Christmas Day–brings farmer’s markets, watermelon festivals , and the opportunity to rummage through some of those fruitful fields with a bucket and a dream. A dream of finding the most perfect blueberries, though those blueberries over there always look bluer. Right? Well, at church some friends brought in a bucketful of large, juicy grapefruit for everyone to pick up a few on the way out. And of course before I knew what was happening I was making promises of a sweet treat I’d make with grapefruit—grapefruit? Why did I say that? I don’t know that I’ve tasted a grapefruit more than twice and I didn’t remember liking it. Of course I found this cake recipe—through a website who I later found out got it from smittenkitchen (I should have known…I shouldn’t even bother searching for recipes anywhere else because inevitably all leads back to the mecca site). And when I praised the recipe to my sister I got a “grapefruit? do you like grapefruit?” But trust me, this is good stuff. A sweet citrus flavored summer treat.

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very cherry…

I got the idea for these cupcakes when perusing for hi-hat recipes. Someone had chosen to give them a Valentine’s Day makeover with a pink themed cherry vanilla twist. I paired the cupcake from that with a meringue icing recipe from the Food Network (throwing in a measure of cherry here too) to make this little pink treat. I wanted to sample a different style of icing than the traditional butter cream I love, and if you too are looking for something with a unique flavor and texture, meringue may be for you. It’s shiny, fluffy, and light as air. It lacks the sugar kick and serves as a more refreshing option which is great paired with a fruit flavor or garnish. The batter was a light shade of pink and in mini form they couldn’t get more adorable. You’ll soon notice that occasionally when I’m not content with the way the cupcakes look when they come out of the oven—either I don’t like the sleeves I used or they come out a little uneven—I will simply peel the paper off and flip them upside down. It gives them a fun, unique look and makes minis even harder to resist when there is one less step between you and them.

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bean there done that

In these cupcake crazed times, more and more outrageous and unique flavors have made their way onto our tables. The last thing you’ll see these days is a plain old vanilla cupcake. A classic, this recipe amps up the flavor with real vanilla bean and an unmatched smooth, fluffy texture. I enjoyed splitting my first vanilla bean and scraping out the hundreds of little black beans–if ever you were able to say “made from scratch” this would be it. But don’t worry, its a pretty simple recipe and makes the most beautiful consistency of batter (I wouldn’t know about the batter flavor or anything since you’re not supposed to eat it or whatever but I bet it’s really stinkin’ awesome…or something). I also tried the two-toned icing technique for the first time, and will include whatever helpful hints I can offer if you would like to try it out. Enjoy!

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‘C’ is for cupcake?

I had seen these cute little cookie monster cupcakes around on the internet, done in various shades of blue with different techniques for the eyes and fur. I knew I had to take a shot at them after stumbling upon what I can only describe as a stroke of maddness genius–a cupcake with a cookie dough center. Yes, it’s true. These are simple and can be made even simpler if you choose to use store bought cookie dough and box cake mix (and I assure you that there is no shame in that). The cupcakes actually cook with the dough inside, and the key is to follow the instructions down to the commas because if you under freeze the dough, the result will be a dry or possibly cooked cookie center. Great for kids, a coworker told me how excited his son was when he bit in to the cupcake to find that the cookie monster had eaten a cookie– it was in his belly!

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holy cow!

It’s Cinco de Mayo! My husband and I went out yesterday to our favorite Mexican restaurant and enjoyed some delicious food and live Mariachi band in honor of the holiday. That left me in the mood to celebrate further–and what better way to celebrate than with a decadent dessert in cupcake form? Tres Leches cake is popular for its dense, milk soaked cake and light, whipped icing. The recipes vary far and wide, some including alcohol, some with variations on the type of milk used. I liked this one because it kicked it up with a kick of coconut and pecans. They might just leave you wishing to celebrate seis-siete-and-ocho de Mayo!

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i tip my hat

Hi-hats. They are a cupcake that I think most with an affinity for sweets lay their eyes upon with both awe and fear. When I decided to make these for a family Easter gathering, I mentally prepared for a night of melting down (pardon the pun) and do-overs as many delicacies involving chocolate have seemed to lead me to. But fear not! They were surprisingly simple, as long as you have gotten past the stage of burning through 2 bags of chocolate for every one well melted batch. They are far worth the effort, and though these tall towers make it hard to decide where to take the first bite, trust me when I say that people will figure it out.

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a sweet cup of joe

My husband works with a group of men who have graciously taken on the part time job of taste-testers and sweet-eaters. They also love their coffee, so when I got a request for a chocolate coffee cupcake combo via a cut out magazine picture of one that got passed from hand to hand until it reached me, I wanted to do it right. I had Starbucks Via Italian roast (a bold flavor) I had been keeping around for such an occasion as I always see reviews for coffee cupcakes followed by comments about how the coffee taste could have been stronger. This recipe has coffee in both the cupcake and the icing, and I opted for dark chocolate covered espresso beans to top them off which we found if you ate first–which almost everyone does because how can you not–left a lingering coffee taste that adds to the overall flavor of the cupcake.

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