Three years ago today I started Bella Eats. This little site was much different then, dedicated to a healthy diet and my progress in training for a 10-mile race. Today I bring you cupcakes. My, how things have changed. :)
Thank you to all of you still here from that first year, and all of you who have found me along the way. I can't wait to see what year four has in store!
Frosting Ingredients (you may want to doule this if you like a lot of frosting. this recipe makes enough for a decent dollop on each cupcake)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, sugars, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Divide the batter among the prepared tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
Cream the butter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the sugar and beat on medium high until fluffy. Scrape the bowl again. Add the maple syrup and beat until well combined.
There's something in the water around here. It seems as if Brian and I are surrounded by friends having babies! We have officially become the only couple amongst our close Charlottesville friends who does not have a tiny addition to the family. And, it kind of freaks me out. Just a bit. We're not ready for all of that yet, but it sure does get the gears in your head turning when you're tickling those tiny toes or witnessing first giggles. Those turning gears, they're something that I was never all that sure I would experience and now that I am...wow. Mind-boggling. Brian has asked me more than once who I am and what I've done with his wife, for this whole biological clock thing was never something that either one of us gave a whole lot of merit. Well it exists, I assure you.
The arrival of these tiny humans brings along something that I can wrap my mind around...baby parties. The kind where both men and women are invited, and the focus is on good food and fun [yard] games and great friends giving advice to the new parents-to-be. I love an excuse to plan a party, and the arrival of a new being sure seems like a wonderful reason to celebrate!
A couple of Saturdays ago I helped to plan a baby party for our good friends Tommy and Kristin. Their little girl arrives in just over a month, and we couldn't be more excited and happy for them! This party was a fiesta of sorts, decorated with bright balloons and citrus-y hues. We had carnitas tacos, and veggie tacos, and cilantro lime slaw, guacamole, black beans, and dulce de leche cupcakes. I fully intended to photograph the carnitas to share with you but, well, when you're co-hosting the party it is tough to remember to pick up your camera. I did manage to capture some images of the cupcakes, so they will have to do. I promise, you won't be disappointed.
These cupcakes come from Joy, who never ceases to amaze me with the cleverness of her recipes. If I think of something, chances are Joy's already done it. And every single recipe I've ever tried of hers has been a winner, so I typically don't question her methods. This was no exception. Seriously, who could go wrong with cream cheese and dulce de leche whipped into a buttercream frosting? It is one of the best things you'll ever taste, I promise.
3/4 cup dulce de leche (I used canned, Nestle brand, dulce de leche. Not the best, and next time I'll find a better brand, but it still worked well in the frosting.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
To make the cupcakes:
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Beat on medium for one minute. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition. Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.
Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture. Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk. Beat until just incorporated. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula. Try not to over mix.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.
To make the frosting:
Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color.
Use a large frosting tip to swirl the frosting onto the tops of the cupcakes.
Garnish with fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt.
For more pictures of Tommy + Kristin's baby party, visit the AHPhoto blog!
We're not big on Valentine's Day plans in our house, typically choosing to stay home for a dinner cooked together paired with a nice bottle of wine. And really, how is that different from most nights around here? But this year Brian has something special up his sleeve, and despite my persistent quest for answers, he hasn't slipped me the slightest hint about what he's up to. It's impressive, really, because we're usually the couple that exchanges gifts as soon as we've purchased them, never able to hold out for the birthday, anniversary, or holiday they are truly meant for. I've got to say, I'm pretty excited. The anticipation is killing me! :)
When you're a recipe blogger you really can't avoid Valentine's Day, despite our typical lack of celebration at home. The red food coloring and sprinkles and heart-shaped cookie cutters are part of the job, and I really am okay with it. Any excuse to bake is fine by me. This year for my Valentine's baking (a week early, so that I could share with you here) I decided to go with a more natural palette - a toned-down burgundy cake and cream frosting, adorned with a simple craft ribbon. Which, I think, makes these red velvet cupcakes the perfect "all-grown-up" Valentine's Day dessert.
Now I wouldn't call myself a red velvet cake aficionado, as I've never really understood the appeal of it before now. It's just red cake...right?!? Not really. I love the subtle chocolate flavor and soft crumb of these cakes, made light and moist with buttermilk. And the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is so completely delicious that it's a wonder any made it to the domed tops. Seriously, I could have eaten the entire bowl on its own. Don't skip this frosting in favor of a fluffy white version, the cupcakes just wouldn't be the same.
Happy Valentine's Day, all! I hope you spend the day, and each one after that, with those you love.
PS: There's nothing wrong with sprinkles, and if you're looking for some (along with the story of my breaking a little boy's heart), I suggest my Valentine's Day post from last year. :)
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 12 cupcakes. double the recipe to make two 9-inch layer cakes.
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2-1/2 Tablespoons red food coloring (I used a gel food coloring...about 1 tsp mixed with enough water to make 2-1/2 tablespoons...which is why my cupcakes are more burgundy than red)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350*. Line standard muffin pan with paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until well-incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa, food coloring, and vanilla extract to form a paste. (I used 1 tsp of gel food coloring with water added to equal 2-1/2 tbsp, which is why I think my cupcake color isn't as vibrant as Joy's.) Add to the batter and mix thoroughly, until completely combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure that all of the batter is equally colored.
Turn the mixer to low and slowly add half of the butter milk. Mix to combine. Add half of the flour and mix to combine. Repeat with the last of the buttermilk and the last of the flour. Scrape the bowl, turn mixture to high, and beat until smooth.
Turn the mixer back to low and add the baking soda, salt and vinegar. Turn mixer up to high and beat for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
Spoon the batter into paper-lined cupcake pan and bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. If you have doubled the recipe and are baking 2 pans at once, be sure to rotate the pans halfway through baking.
Cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting.
I go light on frosting, so this made the perfect amount for a double-batch of cupcakes. If you're making a layer cake, you'll probably want to double it.
2-1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, cold (I used room temperature)
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon and mix at medium-slow speed until well combined.
Add the cream cheese all at once and beat at medium-high for 5 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Do not over-beat as the frosting can become runny quickly.
Last weekend we gathered with friends to celebrate the forthcoming birth of a new family. The party [yes, party. this was not a baby shower. and yes, boys were invited.] was co-hosted by myself and two lovely ladies, all of us brought together by our shared bond to Joe and Erin, the parents-to-be. The event was in the works for two months. Dozens of emails were passed between the three hostesses as we planned. The only request from Erin was that there be no diaper decorations and no silly shower games. No problem.
We decided to throw a simple summer party and to decorate using colors inspired by the nursery; shades of blue, yellow, and green. There was fruit-laden sangria and homemade lemonade, pulled-pork sandwiches and corn straight from Erin's family's farm. The weather was kind, overcast and cool with only the slightest spattering of rain. We sat outside sharing stories and laughter as candlelight flickered across happy faces long into the night.
Also, we ate cupcakes.
[To see more images of the evening, visit the AHPhoto blog.]
I love an opportunity to make cupcakes, and an outdoor summer party seemed to be the perfect occasion. A quick email to Erin verified that she had no preference for cake flavor, which was lucky because I had already decided that chocolate wasn't an option. It just didn't fit in with the party decor, which is a perfectly valid excuse I assure you.
And so I was left thinking about vanilla and lemon. It is no secret that I am a fanatic for citrus-flavored sweets, with four lemoncakes, citrus scones, key lime butter cookies, and coconut lime bars all listed on the Bella Eats recipe page. I should probably apologize for giving you yet another citrus dessert...but I won't. You just can't go wrong with citrus, and that requires no apology.
The cake itself is actually a modification of an old favorite, borrowed from the Lemon Mousse Cake I made for my own birthday a few months ago. It is a chiffon cake, made light and spongy by the egg whites folded into the batter just before baking. The addition of lemon and orange zest brightens the flavor, but it is the swirl atop the golden domes that truly stands out. The meringue buttercream seemed to be a hit, although it is the most unusual frosting I have ever tasted. A finger swiped across the side of the mixing bowl produces a dollop of ultra-creamy spread that melts as soon as it hits the tongue. At first the taste buds are overwhelmed with the flavor of butter, which then melts away to become a bright pop of lemon, that then fades to the slow warmth of Grand Marnier. It is a three-step process using each third of the tongue - front, middle, back - in succession, with each flavor forming its own distinct statement. And it isn't too sweet, so you could easily eat several cupcakes without causing your teeth to ache.
Not that I would know that...
The frosting shapes beautifully, and despite my fears did not melt in the warm and humid evening air. A summer winner, for sure.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 fresh lemon, seeds discarded
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened slightly
1/3 cup orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350º. Line 1 standard muffin tin with 12 liners, and another with 6 liners.
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, butter, milk and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt to blend. Add the lemon and orange zest and blend with your fingers to separate clumps. Add the egg yolk mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside.
In a clean dry bowl, using clean dry beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Lower the mixer speed to medium and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Stir about one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold the remaining whites into the batter, in two batches, to blend thoroughly.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, filling each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted near the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Set the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely on wire racks.
Heat whites and sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and a thermometer registers 160°F. Remove bowl from heat and beat mixture in standing electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick, glossy peaks form. If mixture is still warm, continue beating until cool. (this takes about 10 minutes)
With mixer running, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add liqueur and lemon juice, beating on high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 10 minutes. If buttercream begins to separate, beat on high speed until smooth.
Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting over cupcakes once they are completely cool. Keep refrigerated until ready to consume.
Congratulations Joe and Erin, we are so excited to meet your baby boy!
The 4th of July is upon us already! I'm not sure why 2010 is in such a hurry to rush on by, but I do wish that she would slow down just a bit. I had big plans for this week, some favorite salads and cocktails and desserts to share with you before the holiday weekend ahead of us. But, well, time flew.
I did manage to share one dessert with you, and here is a second. The first was somewhat healthy, this one is not. Both are delicious, and either would make a nice addition to your picnic, bar-be-que, or party. How to choose...
I am keeping things short and sweet today, because I have family in town! That means wandering shops on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall, stopping for gelato, lunch on a patio, pampering with my Momma, vinho verde on the back deck, sausages on the grill. And that's just today! Oh, the weekend we'll have.
I hope that yours is just as lovely. What are your plans? (I really do want to know!)
Perhaps you could make these cupcakes? Lemony and chock-full of bright bursts of blueberry, they absolutely scream summer. You'll love them, I'm sure.
Blueberry Hill Cupcakes with Blueberry Glaze
cupcakes from bon appetit, glaze from bella eatsI've heard good things about the frosting that accompanies this recipe on bon appetit, but wanted something lighter and with a bit of color. I bet a lemon buttercream or a lemon glaze would also be really delicious.Also, my "glaze" originally started out as a full-blown buttercream frosting. I frosted one cupcake, but found the very sweet topping to be very overpowering. The cake itself is so delicious that you really want to let it shine.
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk or low-fat yogurt
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries, frozen for 4 hours
2-3 tablespoons blueberry puree (about 1/2 cup blueberries, pureed and strained if desired...I did not strain)
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick), room temperature
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350* F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Sift flour and next 4 ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk the melted butter and oil in a separate, medium bowl. Add eggs; whisk to blend. Whisk in buttermilk, milk, vanilla extract, and zest. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Stir in frozen blueberries.
Divide batter among liners. Bake cupcakes until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 23-27 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.
Beat butter in electric mixer with whisk attachment until creamy. Add about 1/2 the sugar slowly. Add 2 tbsp of the blueberry puree and continue whisking to blend. Add the last of the sugar and whisk to blend. Taste, and add more blueberry puree if desired. You want the consistency to be like a loose buttercream; easy to spread but also easy to control (you don't want it running down the sides of your cupcakes).
When the cupcakes are nearly cool, brush them lightly with the glaze. You will find that the glaze will harden nicely in about an hour.
Keep stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.
Let's talk about cupcakes. Really, really, good cupcakes that don't need too much of an explanation. Why? Because its a three-day weekend dear readers, and I have a date with my husband and some good friends at the bowling alley in an hour!
I want you to have this cupcake recipe today though, just in case you want to make them for a 4th of July party, summer picnic or barbeque, a little girl's birthday party or just because you have a craving for some chocolate this weekend. They would be well-received at any event, as they were at our barbeque last Saturday.
Many thanks to the lovely Tara, whose family is filled with a bunch of chocolate fiends, and whom I knew would pull-through for me when I asked "What is your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe?". Pull-through she did, even helping me out as I pondered the type of frosting to use. You see, as I've mentioned before, my dessert of choice for any outdoor event in the middle of a hot Virginia summer typically involves lemon. After realizing this problem, I decided to go with chocolate for our barbeque, but was worried that a chocolate on chocolate combo would be too heavy and rich. Tara agreed, and supported my idea of going with a berry-flavored buttercream, a la Love and Olive Oil. Now, if only I could learn to decorate my cakes as beautifully as both of these ladies do...
The cupcakes were delicious - rich and moist with a delicate crumb and perfectly domed tops. The tang of fresh raspberry puree' whipped into sweet buttercream frosting complimented them wonderfully. The combination was so good, in fact, that they caused a dear friend of ours to eat the two cupcakes sent home with her that were meant for her 3-year old daughter. Shhhh...I won't tell, no worries. I can't say that I wouldn't do the same thing.
For those of you celebrating, have a Happy 4th!
Chocolate Cupcakesoriginal recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook (One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes) with adaptations suggested by Tara at Seven Spoonsmakes 24 cupcakes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
2-1/2 cups sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp
1-1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups warm water
Preheat oven to 350*. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix in the eggs, yolk, milk, sour cream, oil, vanilla and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.
Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3s full. I actually over-filled mine a bit, and still had enough left over for 2-3 additional cupcakes. Next time I’ll probably plan to make 30 cupcakes total with this recipe.
Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 20-27 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Mine took 26 minutes, but like I said, they were slightly over-filled.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Raspberry Buttercream Frostinginspired by Love and Olive OilI made two batches of this frosting for 24 cupcakes and had about 1/4 of it left.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioner's sugar
5 tbsp fresh raspberry puree, strained
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
Cream the butter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup of the sugar and beat until smooth.
Slowly add the raspberry puree and mix until combined.
Add remaining confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated.
Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
The frosting can be made the night before, but do not refrigerate it. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.