hello cupcake

hello cupcake
cupcake heaven

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Gluten-Free? Eh eh--not for me. And, clearly "Mikey" don't live here either. My kids were NOT dancing to the tune of "give me, give me" with these, more like "err" (that's my one year old giving me his mushed food that he regurgitated). Now, the man of the house, played a different melody, his was more like..."baby give me one more try". After he devoured three consecutive gluten-free banana nut cupcakes, he mouthed in between chews--"not bad." Oddly enough, I actually believed him.

The aroma was quite appetizing, and they certainly looked better baked. Before that, I was scurred!! I wasn't sure what to expect. The process was pretty much the same. As usual, there was beating, whisking, mixing, sifting. No tricks. No magic. Besides, being gluten-free all roads led to the same bite size treat, or in this case maybe, a TRICK??? Hmm...... The batter had a sticky, slimy, snotty consistency, much like okra dipped in maple syrup. Yuck, get the picture? Mostly, I pipe the batter into the cupcake wells, not this time. This was more like the old-fashioned movement. Scooping was the technique of choice. In fact, it was the only way.

Why gluten-free you ask?

Well, by wikipedia definition a gluten-free diet is a diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten-containing cereals: wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent. It is recommended amongst other things in the treatment of coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten intolerance, dermatitis herpetiformis, Lyme disease, and wheat allergy.

That's why!! It's a lifestyle for those who may have dietary restrictions or choose healthier eating habits. Aren't options great? Here is another example of a request from a neighbor whose friend, of a friend, of a friend....six degrees people- that's all, has dietary needs. Clearly, he's not alone, so I decided to try my hand at it. Why not? As I said, not my fancy, but definitely an alternative to living without your favorite treat. Did I try them? Sure. And, I'm sticking (no pun intended) to my story.

My tune would be more like..."girls just want to have flour too"!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Ordinary Pumpkin Patch

Recently I was asked, what's my inspiration for my weekly cupcake feature. Frankly, there really isn't a single answer to that question. I'm inspired by so many elements. Often, a friend or family member will ask--have you ever?...or more like, will you?... another one I've heard...perhaps, youuuu couuuuld? Clearly, there's a hidden agenda. Maybe a coincidence, but somehow those inquires usually happen prior to my Sunday baking routine. Usually, around Thursday or Friday is when the unsolicited suggestions come pouring in. At this point, everyone has heard- Sunday cupcaking at best- happens in my kitchen. Now, I'm not suggesting premeditation, but if the shoe fits...put it on! It's all good, though.

I also do a cupcake of the month on my blog. Have you noticed? Last month was creamy coconut, September was Lemon Meringue, August was Chocolate Mocha Chip and this month, Pumpkin Patch.

I drew my inspiration from our annual family hayride and pumpkin picking outing. My blurb language (as written on essence.com) even represented the desired experience: This pumpkin patch has more than just pumpkins turned jack-o-lanterns. Here you can take a delicious treat on your hayride while echoing “trick or treat give me some pumpkin patch cupcakes to eat”. Yeah, and then I woke up.

Actually, when I made these pumpkin cupcakes and the marzipan pumpkin embellishments-WHOA- can I talk marzipan pumpkins for a moment?

These delectable toppings are some conversation piece. You almost don't want to eat them. Almost. Seriously, they're like masterpieces...works of art. I had this idea for some time, I couldn't wait for Halloween to feature my skills. Honestly, I was a bit nervous- it had been months since I last attempted to make anything out of marzipan, and this time I didn't have my instructor to fix any screw ups. Good thing, there was no time limit. It took forever! Suffice it to say- patience, anyone? Indeed, you will be more than pleased with the finished product. I certainly was.

Then, I thought these would be fantastic to kick off the celebrated season, plus an unexpected alternative or addition to pie for Thanksgiving. And, that's how I arrived at the cupcake of the month for November. So, this month I invite you to try one of my holiday favorites, pumpkin patch cupcakes. Enjoy!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cookies 'n' Cream

Some scream for ice cream, while others scream just give me my COOKIES 'N' CREAM!!!
Uh, that would be me. Whether it's in a candy bar or the all American favorite sandwich cookie, the combination is undeniably delicious. The ice cream flavor was my fancy. I remember when Haagen-Dazs first introduced us to their version of cookies 'n' cream. OMG!!! Did you die and go to heaven, or what? C'mon, admit it. I wasn't alone. Now, I don't know if it made the "people choice" awards, but it certainly was at the top of my list. For awhile, the parlor was the only spot that sold the perfect combo. I guess, like most things, it had to undergo a test market analysis, before phase two-- the supermarket. But it wasn't long before I was able to take my favorite treat (at that time) home with me in the brown pint size container with a glossy white top- slip it in the freezer- write my name on it, or a "for my eyes only" message. Perhaps in this case "for my mouth only", just to avoid any confusion. Admittedly, I was a bit stingy back then, but only for things I really LOVVVED!! Haagan-Dazs cookies 'n' cream was not to be shared. And, that was that!

These days, I'm all grown-up, and I still don't like to share my cookies 'n' cream. Sure, I'll buy you some. No problem. I guess I'm just a "personal size treat" kind of girl. One for me and one for you. Bon appetite!

Anyway, with the arrival of Fall, and colder weather. I tend to gravitate towards more room temperature goodies. Like- Cupcakes!!! So, last week for my Essence feature, I decided to do cookies 'n' cream. It was my way of bringing my summer favorite into the fall. And, you know what-- they were a hit!! The fluffy, crumbly devils food chocolate cake with cookie crunch frosting, topped off with half of an Oreo cookie-oooh, yummy.

This idea--a good one. Definitely, adding this one to my Cookies 'n' Cream list of favorites. Try it-- let me know how it goes.

Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to bake something pink, my idea-pink velvet cupcakes. It was my way of, getting my pink on! And, recognizing an important cause. All I had to do was use my red velvet recipe, swap out the red food color for pink. Simple. Oh, but what about the Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Not so simple. I was thinking more... hot pink rather than maroon. Cocoa powder eliminated- solves that problem. But still needs the velvet touch, hence the name. I suppose "white"chocolate would be a great substitute.

So, I try it. Mise place (that's French for prepare the ingredients) No, I don't speak French, I learned that in cooking school. I'm an advocate for the "stay in school" campaign.

Anyway, back in the kitchen....

Take #1

I mix my batter, add a little pink gel food coloring- need more- add a little more- perfect! I melt the white chocolate fold it into the batter; add baking soda, and distilled vinegar. This is good-(my bubble thought blurts out). Dip the ole' finger in the batter taste test-hmm, yummy. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove. Beautiful. Let cool. Okay- ready to remove the cupcakes from the muffin pans. Let cool just a little longer. Walk away. And, when I return. YIIIIIIKKKKKKESSSS!!!! What happened to my beautiful pink velvet cupcakes. How could this happen? Quickly, I reviewed my recipe. It said: add this...did that...add that...did that...1/2 teaspoon of this...did that too! I did everything as directed. So, my question: WHAT HAPPENED???

Clearly, this was: ******* a test of the emergency baking system*****

These were not even 1/2 the cupcakes my easy bake oven produced. They were more like doughnuts. Ruined- completely sunken in. I was mortified. Obviously, I disposed of the bad product immediately. I couldn't take the chance of my kids, certainly, not my husband witnessing one of my weakest baking moments. I was taking this one to the grave. Until now, of course. I pondered, what went wrong- over and over in my head. I verbally repeated the steps. It was like a bad date- how could I? Week after week, I test, I bake, I eat...not these!!!

Needless to say, I went back to the drawing board. I studied my first recipe draft. Did some editing, rewriting, rewording etc...

This time, I sifted a little more flour, used baking powder instead of soda, omitted the distilled vinegar (I knew that was a mistake when it started to foam). I was ready. Here we go....

Take #2

Mix the batter; add pink gel food coloring, add the melted white chocolate, flour, baking POWDER, skip the vinegar. It was deja vu all over again- it looked perfect!! I baked them again for 20-25 minutes. Remove. Let cool. I decided this time I couldn't take the pain for the gain, so I asked my husband to bare witness...he looked at them, looked back at me-as I stood on edge. I say well....he says well, what?, I say what do they look like...and he says, what else....Pink Velvet Cupcakes-without the hole!!!

by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Yo Quiero Cupcakes!"

Remember the Taco Bell mascot and his famous expression, "yo quiero Taco Bell." Well, now the chihuahua wants cupcakes. Yeah! Amazing what a few tricks will get you. Roll over. Sit. Bark. Good doggy- now here's a cupcake. What?

Apparently Taco Bell is branching out. Reportedly, they are test marketing cupcakes--in California. Imagine that! What will they call them? Not sure, but I've taken the liberty to come up with a few names of my own.

Disclaimer: I'm not getting paid for my services. But, I am for hire. Just in case.

Taco Bell test menu:

  • Jalepeno salsa cupcake
  • Soft shell re-fried vanilla bean cupcake
  • Chocolate beef taco cupcake with cheese
  • Chocolate beef taco cupcake without cheese

Admit it, sounds disgusting! Don't get me wrong, I'm all for expansion, but Taco Bell? Now, that would take the cupcake. I'd have so many questions like: Who's going to make them? Will they be made on the premises? Or, will you outsource? I think it's McDonald's that has a partnership with Otis Spunkmeyer. The cookie company. The one's that are sold in the hard plastic box at the register. Ring a bell? They're not bad, either.

Really, I have nothing against the fast food chain, but this seems like a bit of a stretch. Okay, I'll own up, I've even hit TB's drive-thru once or twice during a late night desperate attempt to find food fuel. Not the norm!

Here's my two cents, Taco Bell should stick to the tacos and leave the cupcaking to the bakeries. Agreed.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Paula & Me" Season One

This past weekend I attended Food Networks Wine and Food Festival (http://www.nycwineandfoodfestival.com/). As a "foodie", I was in culinary heaven. It wasn't really that big of a deal, unless of course you are smitten by the "who's who" in the culinary world (no, I didn't ask for any autographs). Even, Ms. Stewart graced us with her everyday living flavors. Like her or not, Martha Stewart is the BOMB! Post lock down, she is larger than life. I happen to be a fan, not like a groupie, but, on a "woman to woman" level. She has the it factor. Admit it, she's fascinating.

Basically, I attended a few culinary demos and discussions. It was like the gates of "foodie" world opened up and said, "welcome." Nooooo problem. I opened my arms and slipped in. Behind my imaginary gates stood Martha Stewart, Racheal Ray, Paula Deen and Rocco DiSpirito to name a few. Amongst the demos, I attended, Paula Deen was my favorite. And, not for the cooking techniques. She is a hoot! Her demo resembled more of a stand-up comedy act than a culinary demonstration. Would somebody plee--eeezze call the promoter. She's ready! For what? A tour. Her food wasn't the only thing sizzlin'. "Y'all know" Paula Deen.

Aunt Peggy and Michael were there too. Ms. Deen encouraged the audience to grab the mic-state your name, and bring on the questions. Optimistically, I raised my hand. The microphone lady passed the mic.

First things first, microphone check 1..2..3

"Hi Paula, my name is Nicole, and I make the best creamy coconut cupcakes, and I would love to come on your show and make them for you." Her response, "you come on up here girl and give me your information." Suddenly, I found myself face to face on stage with Paula Deen in front of 500 audience members camera rolling and all, talking about "The Cupcake Craze." Shut-up! Pretty amazing-huh! Good thing, I was camera ready! Not only did I seize that moment, but I froze it. With me speaking into the handheld, and she into her wireless, we had our very own Q&A right on stage. We spoke about the company, the cupcakes, our homes, husband etc...and, I still gave her my business card. I went for it "Y'all". The outlet became mine and I plugged away. And, why not? After my "Paula & Me" season one episode, I quietly returned to my seat. The after show featured studio audience requests for my business card. Who knows what the future has to hold from that experience, but I do know the present was pretty darn- special.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reese's Peanut-Butter Cup-cakes

Remember the famous Reese's old adage "you put your peanut butter in my chocolate," "you put your chocolate in my peanut butter." How many of us have recited that jingle? Well, if you haven't heard "retro", "throwback", "ole' school", "back in the day", however described, it's all in style again. I like to call it the "new old." Because really, haven't we all been there before. I decided to put my own spin on, "who did what to whom and how"--well, maybe not the how part- this is a family blog. I even took the time to produce a jingle for my peanut butter and chocolate premiere. And, let's just say it goes together like perfect harmony. WARNING..PARENTAL GUIDANCE ADVISED. There may be explicit language:

Music Beat...

"She put her peanut butter in his chocolate, no he put his chocolate in her peanut butter--cupcake-that is"...Uh, yes, yes, ya'll. It's--the--Re--mix.


I know, sometimes I take things a little too seriously. But, its so much fun! Clearly, I draw inspiration from all walks of life. This one so happened to be "Hip Hop Reese's". Seriously. The idea was also inspired by Funny Bones, not the one on our body- that gives you that numbing sensation when you hit it and you grab hold for dear life- no not that one. The cake by Drakes. Remember?

I think they still make them, haven't eaten one in ages. It was two Twinkie-like shaped cakes (ya'll remember Twinkies-right?), but slightly smaller chocolate with peanut butter filling in the middle and chocolate coating on the outside. Just needed a tall glass of milk, and whew. It was on!

In this "new old" time, its all about the cupcakes, and peanut butter & chocolate are really something to sing about. If peanut butter is your strength and chocolate is your weakness, then together you'll be in perfect balance. Trust me!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coconuts, Coconuts, Coconuts

Calling all coconut lovers!!! If you love coconut, you should try the coconut cupcakes of the month. No really. Coconut flavor is all over this one! Let me explain, there's the coconut cupcakes, meaning there's actual coconut flakes in the batter. Yum. The creamy coconut frosting, the secret, coconut extract- uh-ha, yup-ever seen that ingredient in your local grocery? And of course, the coconut topping- just some prepackaged flakes I came across in the organic store. Seriously, this cupcake- is COCONUT HEAVEN. If you have any desire to go there, please by all means, indulge. You'll be cupcake happy! Even my husband, who's been watching his diet lately, but still remains the cupcake sampler, couldn't resist the second time around itch. Usually, my neighbors are the lucky recipients of my leftover Sunday goodies, but this time honestly, I kept them for myself. Well not totally, I shared with a few more family members. Their response, "more". So needless to say if you care to "share and bake," you'll-be-a-star!'

Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Beautiful "Eye"

Indeed, I am the "cupcake lady", so they say. I like to make, bake and create tasty bite size treats. The aroma of fresh baked cupcakes can be intoxicating. Friends even ask, what ya making this week? Recently, inquiring minds have asked, who takes those photos? They're beautiful!!!! It would simply be a story tale if I said, who else, but "I". "I'm a jack of all trades, I do it all, baby. I am both talented in front of the camera as well as behind". Not! What if I said, it was one of those famous fashion or celebrity photographers from Vogue, "O" Magazine or "In Style" like Matthew Jordan Smith, Ruven Alfanador or David Lachappelle, would you believe me? Perhaps. What if I told you, I bought them from a stock photo website, like "istock photo" or "getty images"- sound about right? Surrrrrre. I can not tell a lie, those photographers are too pricey, and photoland? Well, that would just be photo faking. Nah! This guy is on the brink, he's the next break out photographer- fresh, artistic, captivating and easy to find. That "guy" is my husband. Yup! Most of the pictures on my blog, and all of those featured on essence.com are those of my very own hubby. I know, he's quite talented! It does make life easier. Just call us Edith and Archie- cause we trying to keep it"All in the Family". Our roles are clearly defined. I am the recipe builder and baker. He is the art director, set designer, photographer, and let's not forget sampler. Yeah, we got the whole cupcake thing covered. Cupcak-ing over here!! So, my promise to you, is to keep bringing you tasty treats, and he'll keep making them look pretty!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September cupcake of the month

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk


1. Preheat oven 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2. With an electric mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time (tip: break eggs in separate bowl in case spoiled), scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Beat in zest and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture in three batches alternating with the buttermilk and lemon juice, ending with flour, beat until thoroughly combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups (tip: use an ice-cream scooper) filling three-quarters full. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool before removing cupcakes.

4. Cut center of cupcake open, brush surface with lemon syrup and, fill with lemon curd to top. Use a small spoon to apply meringue frosting to cupcakes creating decorative peaks.

5. To finish, place meringue topped cupcakes on baking sheet under hot broiler until meringue becomes tinged with color.

Meringue Frosting:

8 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ cup sugar

Using an electric mixer whisk egg whites on high speed until egg whites are light, fluffy and stiff, adding sugar gradually once egg whites begin to peak. Use and enjoy cupcakes immediately.

Lemon Curd (available ready-made)

1 large whole egg
6 egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature

Whisk together whole egg, yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add butter, few pieces at a time, whisk until smooth.

Stir constantly over medium low heat until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer lemon curd to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool.

Lemon syrup: (optional)
Tip: (keeps cupcakes moist)

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Add lemon juice. Set aside.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Cupcakes for a Cure"/Breast Cancer Awareness

In Austin, TX they are kicking off "Cupcakes for a Cure" in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). What a great cause, and a beautiful cupcake!

9/29/2009 3:24 PM By: News 8 Austin Staff

Tasty frosting on top of even tastier cupcakes is just one of the many ways to help find a cure for cancer.

"Cupcakes for a Cure" kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness month for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Local bakeries competed for the honor of best cupcake in town, and while the cupcakes are a tasty treat, those who benefit from the organization the most say there's nothing sweeter than the support they receive.
"You get on the Internet and you see a lot of negative and not so great stats," Komen recipient Michelle Bynum said. "But if you turn the computer off, and see the folks that surround Komen, and the hope in people living and living well, not just alive, but not just breathing, but really, really living and eating life with a big spoon."
The annual Race for the Cure will be held Nov. 1 at the Domain in North Austin.
For more information on how to participate, go to

Email this Story to a Friend
Printer Friendly Version

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cupcake Determination

This past weekend turned out to be a busy one. I had to fill a cupcake order for Saturday, and of course my usual... Sunday baking for essence.com. If you haven't heard, the place to be on Sundays is my house, lots of cupcaking going on!

Anyway, back to the cupcake order. It was for an eight year old birthday party. A girly ice skate party to be precise, although I think boys were allowed, maybe her father, brother, perhaps grandfathers- at best three or four men were invited. The order was for 24 cupcakes, 12 vanilla and 12 chocolate with fluffy sugar frosting. And, yes the kids will be bouncing off the walls, but don't call me, because I told ya so. For any adults who wish to indulge in this sugar topping, childhood birthday cake memories will definitely be evoked. It's a kid thing, we wouldn't understand. Oh yes, and--there--was--one--special request--the skate motif. Uh-oh! Can't say that I've ever done that before. But, I figured it was a no brainer. I'll just visit one of the arts & crafts stores and stock up on a skate motif design, maybe even find a stencil- no problem. Uhhh, problem. I literally searched everywhere, and came up short, everywhere.

What do you mean not the season? I thought winter, spring, summer, fall. HELLO-heard of indoor arenas. You mean, I have to wait until the dead of winter to find skate art? I thought winter gear hit stores in July- isn't that the norm? Well, at least I have the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. Normally, a minimum of 48 hours for cupcake orders is required, but if there are special requests (like a skate motif), then perhaps more time may be needed. Let's see it's September, gotta wait until its snowing- I guess January 15th should do the trick! Well, I know next time, fool me once. Less then 24 hours to go, I was determined to have a skate motif adorned on two dozen cupcakes. Time to consider plan b... go find Tonya Harding- I figured, whats she got to do? I didn't think it would be too much to ask, to play the mannequin for a couple of hours, isn't she still repaying her debt to Nancy Kerrigan? Ha-maybe, too controversial. What about, Michelle Kwan, the most celebrated figure skater in U.S. history- she'd be perfect for some charity work. My mother always told me to reach for the stars- well, here I go. So, after I returned to Earth. I figured I could make a stencil myself, wasn't sure how- but I could give it a try. After, the 10th try, I remembered art wasn't my major or minor in high school nor college. Help! Two hours later, 27 pieces of paper- I finally got it! The ice skate stencil was born. I was exhausted, stimulated, overjoyed, wiped out, pleased, tired, and just plain depleted. But, I still had to finish the cupcakes with less than 20 hours to go. Keep smiling. Finally, the order was complete. And after all that hard work, do you think she like the cupcakes? Nope. She loved them! Hard work really does pay off!

Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dark, Chocolate, and a mouthful!

Dark chocolate--oh so tempting. Whether tall dark and handsome or silky smooth and "devilish". Chocolate is undeniable sinful. The...secret...is...out! Many of us desire chocolate in one way or another. Cupcakes are my fancy. Some like it bitter, others prefer semi-sweet or just plain milky cocoa. There's even chocolate disguised as white, for those who like a little cream in their sugar.

Indeed, the package may vary but the rush remains the same. The best part, there's no disappointment, stand-ups or dramatic break-ups. Frankly, its an undercover lover, for sure. I wouldn't really call it an "affair" though, cause he'll know. No apologies necessary. "Chocolate"-- it is what it is!! Dark, Delicious, and Devilish. Given the chance, it will melt your heart. Beware!

See the recipe for Dark Chocolate cupcakes on http://www.essence.com/
Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, September 20, 2009


A few weeks ago when I started the "Cupcake of the Week" feature on Essence, my mother-in-law asked me if I had ever made a pineapple-upside down cupcake. My answer, "Nope, but I won't let that be a deterrent". Bring it on! I'll try almost anything once or twice and if I like it, well I just might keep going. I thought to myself why not make a cupcake version of an old favorite? But, I wasn't sure if they should be the standard size or the extra large cupcakes. Either, would do the trick. The giant size cupcake pan wasn't even a thought- for obvious reasons. I was on the fence with this one. Did I want deep and delicious or shallow and sweet- some decisions are really hard to make. So, I didn't make one, I chose both! I figured what could be better than a bite size treat. A bigger treat, of course.

I, made my batter, the pineapple glaze, cut up my maraschino cherries, floured my pans, and I was in business. Then, the unthinkable- I ran out of batter. Huh! I needed more batter to fill the rest of the cupcake wells. That's when it was time for the box legends to the rescue. I pulled out good ole Duncan Hines yellow cake mix from my pantry. Clearly, that wasn't part of the plan. I quickly mixed up the batter from the box and filled my empty wells. Normally, when I bake cupcakes, there is a sweet distinctive homemade aroma in the air, but not this time- it was an artificial scent. Mr. or Mrs. Duncan Hines was polluting my high. Nevertheless, this was the perfect opportunity to do a side by side taste test, not that there was any uncertainty who was the real champ, but I had to seize the moment.

The cupcakes were done, about 25 minutes later, the extra large looked more like mini towers or like the water buffalo hats Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble use to wear to their water buffalo meetings. Not very appetizing! Maybe that didn't work after all. But, the standards, well that was an understatement there was absolutely nothing standard about these few mouthfuls. Quite the contrary. Anxiously awaiting to try one as they cooled, I analyzed the differences between the scratch and the box. The box had an artificial smell, orange-yellowish color and it was a bit spongy- in a bad way! The scratch was a perfect shade of pale yellow with brown bits and crispy edges, it smelled refreshing. I knew how this story ended.

Drum roll.....it was a clear-cut finish, Duncan Hines was not even a contender. Not only was scratch the winner, but the amaretto pineapple-upside down cupcakes were absolutely...DELICIOUS!! I hope you try them, and remember, you never know what sweetness you can gain from your mother-in-law.

Happy Cupcaking!!!

Amaretto Pineapple-Upside Down Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
¾ cup milk
¼ cup amaretto


1. Preheat oven 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Mix in extracts. Combine milk and amaretto, set aside. Reduce speed; add flour mixture alternating with milk-amaretto mixture, ending with flour until just combined.

Pineapple Glaze:

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1½ cups canned pineapple slices packed in juice, drained
6 maraschino cherries, halved

1. Spray muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour, tapping out excess.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, stirring occasionally, until sugar bubbles. Divide butter-sugar mixture among cupcake wells to generously cover bottom.

3. Cut each pineapple slice in diagonal fours to create eight fan-shaped chunks. Place 4 or 5 of the chunks evenly over the butter-sugar mixture with the broader part of the fan along the edge of the well. Place half a cherry, rounded side up into the center, gently press down.

4. Divide batter evenly over pineapple glaze filling two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

5. To finish, run a small icing spatula or thin bladed knife around cupcakes and invert over a baking sheet to remove. Use a spoon to replace any topping stuck to bottom of pan. Serve immediately.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cupcake Busy-Ness

Whew...today, really took the cupcake...I piped, swirled, sprinkled, topped, filled, and layered. I must have baked more than 60 cupcakes all some version of chocolate. By then end of the day, I was covered in chocolate. First, there was my usual cupcake business, the "Cupcake of the Week" feature, on essence.com, then I have this other cupcake gig, its basically a six month stint, the deal is the Cupcake Craze's services were auctioned off back in the spring, we took a summer hiatus, and now we're back in business with the "Cupcake of the Month", then there's the "Cupcake of the Moment" and that is every time, I make cupcakes there's not a moment that goes by that I'm not sticking something in my mouth- That is a REAL problem! I just can't keep this up. I may have to start baking some low cal goodies or "just say no to cupcakes". Yeah right! The first step is admitting there is a problem-right? Well, there's no problem here. Shhhhh!

And, later I have to decorate 35 cupcakes for my sons birthday party, although his birthday technically was a couple of weeks ago, we're just getting around to his kiddie party. A little late, but better late then never. So, inevitable there will be more of the same piping, swirling, sprinkling, topping, filling and layering. It's all good though, literally.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And the winnner is: Red Velvet!

Votes are in and polls are closed. Congratulations to the Red Velvet cupcake. She received 70 percent of the votes. Vanilla was a descent second with 50; those darn red and blue constituents are always on the fence! Carrot and Chocolate weren't even in the ball park. That's surprising. I'm a chocolate lover myself. You know what they say, once you go chocolate its hard to go back to vanilla. Okay, so that's not really what "they" say. Perhaps, in the cupcake world. Seriously though, I do enjoy red velvet cupcakes, some would argue that they are really chocolate cupcakes with food coloring. Others, well....does it really matter? Of course, not. Actually, the cocoa powder, an ingredient used, has a bit of a reddish hue, which is enhanced by a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda, also ingredients. But, the deep redness is achieved with food coloring. Here's a tip, you must use the real deal, not that generic stuff at supermarkets sold in the little box with the matching cone shaped caps- uh-uh! The best food coloring to use when baking is the gel food color, its more concentrated and gives it a nice vivid shade, without having to use the entire bottle. Well, that's my tip of the day. Enough blogging, let's get to baking...keep me posted.

Happy Cupcaking!

Yield: 24 cupcakes

2½ cups cake flour, sifted
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon red gel food color
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar


1. Preheat oven 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together sifted cake flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl combine milk and vanilla extract.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Mix in food coloring and vanilla extract. Reduce speed; add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk, ending with flour until just combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar in small bowl, let foam, then add to flour mixture and mix for 10 seconds.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups (tip: use an ice-cream scooper) filling three-quarters full. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool before removing cupcakes.

5. To finish, use a small offset spatula or small butter knife to spread cream-cheese frosting.

Cream-Cheese Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed add sugar ½ cup at a time, then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Serve immediately. Excess frosting can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in airtight container; before use, bring to room temperature and re-beat on low speed until smooth again.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cupcakes All Week!

The UK has got it going on! Apparently, they've kicked off "National Cupcake Week" starting today. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to begin and end my week than with everyone's favorite treat. A "Happy Cupcake Week"celebration- now that's my cup of tea. Of course, the queen of all "Living Media", Martha Stewart celebrated Cupcake Week on her show back in July. The craze continues to be in full swing. First Martha, then Great Britain. What's next? National Cupcake Month or Year, how far will it go? It all sounds so heavenly to me. Perhaps we (meaning the United States), should adopt the idea, there could be an "International Cupcake Week." YUMM-O! Chances are Congress won't include that as part of their national agenda-right? But seriously, I'd rally for it. Yup, I actually have the "audacity to hope" for more cupcakes. Well, in the meantime, I'm willing to do my part and kick off my own holiday or at least support Britain's tradition from afar. I guess, I'll have to bake a batch of cupcakes a day this week- well, maybe not everyday-perhaps every other day.

Why not jump on the band wagon? Don't fight it--give in to temptation and pay homage to the Great Brit's. Let me know how it goes! If you need ideas, blog me, I'll see what I can come up with.

Happy Cupcaking!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Glamour Magazines Cupcake Campaign

Glamour’ Courts Buyers with Cupcake Campaign
Published on September 08, 2009 Email this article
Conde Nast’s Glamour is hoping to reinvent its image among media buyers, and differentiate itself from its competitors, with an all-out campaign which positions its readers as aggressively cheerful all-American girls.

The campaign, the launch of which coincides with Fashion Week in New York, will see cupcakes delivered to Universal McCann, Mediaedge:cia and Mediavest. Clients nationwide will also get cupcakes, which will be topped with the words, “Live for Glamour,” reports The New York Times. Cupcakes will also be delivered to crowds around Fashion Week tents in Bryant Park and at Bloomingdale’s, and images of cupcakes will be projected onto the walls of Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomie’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, and sites in the meatpacking district.
The cupcakes are also featured in a series of print and billboard ads, along with other happy images like hearts, smiley faces, lollipops and balloons. The ads, which will run in trade publications such as Drug Store News and Cosmetic World, attempt to inform media buyers that the publication is not attempting to be Vogue. Wackerman hopes the campaign will convince buyers that the magazine’s unique readership is more attractive to fashion and beauty brands than the other fashion magazines. - courtesy of http://www.mediabuyerplanner.com/

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Saturday, September 12, 2009

cupcakes on FIRE!!!!

A little belated, but nevertheless, I had to tell you about my smokin' Labor Day. Boy oh, boy! Did we have some excitement in my house. I was knee deep in cupcake business, for the “cupcake of the week” feature on essence.com. Our neighbors dropped by (they have two boys) and the kids were in and out, up and down the stairs having a blast. With the help of our "Bob the Builder" friendly neighbor, my husband was climbing up this roof ladder while his wife kept me company in the kitchen. We were planning on grilling outside, but something weird was going on with the grill, plan b was in action. We'll use the indoor grill- simple enough-right? Not exactly! My husband claims to be the grill master, so I let him have that title, one less thing for me to do. While I baked, his responsibility was to manage the grilling- huh, he managed to slip out the door and never returned. So, I got stuck manning the indoor grill- somehow it didn't work out the way I envisioned. Does it ever?

Anyway, while I continued to make cupcakes the grill continued to do what it does-smoke, I didn't think anything of it. I just turned on the exhaust and kept on baking. The smoke continued to rise until the whole house was full of black clouds. Still I didn't think much of it, I just opened the windows. Finally, the smoke alarm went off and I shut it off and continued to bake and grill. Then it went off again- so I shut it off again, I figured the alarm company would call, but I never heard the phone ring- so I yelled out the window told my husband the happenings, he didn't say much so, I kept on baking and grilling. By this time, the better half of our neighbors went back to her house to get her dinner going and the kids including hers were still in and out and up and down- honestly, I really didn't know where they were! My cell phone rang- I looked at the 800 number and thought -huh, who is this calling me on a holiday from an 800 number, so I did what most of us do- I ignored it. About 10 minutes later, my stepdaughter comes in from outside and says there's a fireman here, and I said, WHAT? Walking through the gray smoke that filled the kitchen air appears a real live firefighter, standing about 6 feet 4 inches tall wearing a yellow jacket with matching pants, fire hat, boots, fire extinguisher the whole nine dead center in my kitchen asking "Is everything okay," Where's the fire"? It was like a scene out of a movie. I just stood there and smiled- what else was I to do? The kids thought this was the coolest thing ever-a real LIVE firefighter up close and personal. My husband never showed his face- he was too embarrassed. I told the firefighter everything was okay-I guess I just missed the calls from the alarm company, but there was no fire here, just some shishkabobs and cupcakes. I apologized and offered him a plate and a cupcake to go, I thought that was the least I could do. After all it was a holiday. The rest of the 25 firefighters, 4 firetrucks, police officer and fire chief were very happy there was not a fire to fight on Labor Day and needless to say we were too.

And, happily the Apple Walnut Crumb cupcakes turned out fantastic and the shishkabobs too. Check out the recipe on essence.com/recipes.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Giant-Size Cupcake- Oops! Continued...

Well, 8am came and went, 8:10am, and 8:20am, this giant size cupcake sure was taking a giant size time. It had been almost 45 minutes and it still wasn't done. Half of it was still shaking when I checked it, I even stuck the toothpick in the middle and it came out with wet chocolate batter. Exhale-wheeeeewwwwwww!!!! This was not good. I. had. to go. I could only give it 2 or 3 more minutes, now I was choosing the cupcake over education. That was a real problem, but I didn't want to spoil his birthday with a sunken cupcake and I couldn't leave it in the oven, couldn't take the chance of burning it- I had to stand watch like a friendly neighborhood watchdog. I know, this was crazy- all in the name of wanting to make my birthday boy happy. The things parents do- I started to break out into a Diana Ross 70's hit remake "Ain't No Cupcake High Enough, Ain't No Oven Hot Enough, Ain't No School Far Enough To Keep Me From Baking This Cupcake For Yooouuuu,(slow it down) Ain't--No--Cupcake--High--Enough". Sike! Don't worry I saved the serenade for another day!
Anyway, at 8:26am, almost an hour later, I had to get to steppin'. I checked my chocolate mountain one last time, toothpick inserted, and YESSSS, it was done. I took it out of the oven and we ran out the door. EJ was late of course, but I did bring some Apple Walnut Crumb cupcakes for the teachers- who ever said there was anything wrong with a little kissing up? When I returned home, it was time for the icing- how the H*#@ do you frost this ginormous thing? Well, I did figure it out, well-kinda, I topped it off with some chocolate sprinkles and washed my hands. When EJ got home we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed the yummy cupcake. It was a nice birthday after all and his first day of school was fun too. THE END.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Giant-Size Cupcake- Oops!

Today is my sons 4th birthday he wanted a giant-size cupcake, of course. Thinking ahead a couple of weeks ago, I bought a giant cupcake pan from Michael's Arts & Crafts or AC Moore, can't remember, one of those places-cute though!
This morning is also EJ's first day of school- so I have a lot going on and I'm blogging. For some reason, I had this crazy idea to bake the cupcake this morning before I took him to school, what was I thinking? I mean, I'm usually up at the crack of dawn-6am to be exact, depending on what time my human alarm clock goes off (that's my 1 1/2 year old) he let's me know when it's morning so I didn't really think it would be a big deal especially since I planned on getting some help from Mrs. Crocker- Gasp! I know save the drama- how dare I, right! But a batch from scratch would have been out of the question- I needed something quick, really simple and easy- I thought! Kids don't care even mine just want mile-high frosting and tons of sprinkles anyway. The supermom thing just wasn't in my favor this morning- besides a little backsliding every now and then never hurt nobody. I'll get back on my homemade game next week.

So, I get the devil's food cake box 'cause chocolate is his favorite, and all the recommended ingredients, but of course I have to add in my own substitutes, usually I like to omit the water and add buttermilk (sour cream or yogurt) are also great substitutes for water if you are using the box legends. While I was prepping I was also tending to my 1 1/2 year old who was busy in his high chair eating his favorite food- cheerios. I was also preparing EJ's lunch, getting his breakfast, Apple Jacks-usually the cereal of choice, and unloading the dishwasher- whew I had a lot to do and needed to get it all done and have this giant-sized cupcake in the oven by 7am. I wasn't sure how long it would take so I gave myself about an hour before I had to take EJ to school.

I added the buttermilk, four eggs instead of three, 1/3 vegetable oil and 1 1/2 cups of water- WATER? What- I wasn't supposed to add the water because I added the buttermilk- Oh no, what am I going to do? The batter looks and moves more like chocolate pancake batter rather than cupcake batter. I mildly panic, and just stood there momentarily in a state of disbelief trying to retrack my steps and figure out how I goofed! I added, the buttermilk, the eggs, the oil AND WATER- I just had too many things going on usually I can multi-task no problem, but this morning wasn't going so well. I thought I should just dump the whole thing out and start over, but what about the four eggs, the cup of buttermilk and the oil- what a waste that would be. So, I turned to google for answers- NOTHING! Yikes! I stood there starring over my chocolate syrup a little longer and thought- CAKE FLOUR Eureka!! I'll sift some cake flour about 1/2 cup and add it to the batter to thicken. So, I did. I rebeat it and it seemed like it was okay. It looked the part, tasted the part...hmmm...poured it in the pan, popped it in the oven. Not really sure how long it's going to take, but I have to be out of here by 8am and it's now 7:39- I better hurry, I say c'mon EJ let's get dressed, nope he's not even dressed yet- this is so not good. Gotta run I'll get back to you later......

To be continued

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Saturday, September 5, 2009

August cupcake of the month


Chocolate Mocha Chip cupcakesYield: 24 cupcakes


1 cup all-purpose flour1 cup cake flour3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder1 tblspoon baking soda1/2 spoon slat1 1/2 stick unsalted butter (make sure it's room temperature)1 1/2 cup sugar1 tsp pure vanilla extract3 large egs1 1/2 cup buttermilk (room temperature)1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in cupcake pan.

2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

3. In a large bowl beat butter until creamy (2-3 minutes) with an electric mixer. Add sugar
gradually, beating until light and fluffy, abou 3 minutes scraping the bowl down a few times. Beat in Vanilla extract and eggs in one at a time TIP- separate eggs-just in case one is spoiled don't want to spoil the whole bunch. Continue scraping bowl after each egg is absorbed. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk. Should begin and end with the flour mixture TIP- slow mixer down to low-medium speed when adding ingredients so that you don't become a flour puff. Mix until smooth.

4. Fold chocolate morsels into cupcake batter.

5. Using a icecream scooper divide the batter into cupcake wells, approximately 2/3 full. TIP -pick up pan and gently drop on counter to remove any air bubbles in batter before baking.

6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs.

7. Allow cupcakes to cool on rack for 5 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cupcakes Gone Fishin'

This past week my family and I headed up north to Massachusetts for an almost Labor Day retreat (since technically the holiday isn't until Monday), we hopped on the ferry to the vineyard for some real R&R. If you've ever been to Martha's Vineyard you know exactly what its all about. It's quaint, cozy and charming. Everyone is on "soon come" time, the ultimate chill out spot. There's biking, boating, beach bumming or just hanging on circuit avenue. It's al--most perfect. Just one little thing missing CUPCAKES!!! Where are the cupcakeries on this God forsaken island?????? Shame on me, I just assumed the whole country had gone cupcake crazy. Apparently not! I couldn't find a Magnolia's or Crumbs anywhere. Needless to say, I was seriously jonesin', craving, longing, yearning- anyone of those nouns would be an appropriate description. You know when you want something really really badly and you can't get it--you want it even more. Right? Well, HELLO-that was me! I searched high and low from Oak Bluffs to Chilmark-NAA--DAA! ZILCH!! NOTHING!! Now, of course there was your average old-fashioned bakery--not the same though. I wanted cupcakes with adult fanfare- call me spoiled. Perhaps? While I came up short with my fix, I continued to obsess like a junkie, so I thought I would try a substitute. I'll bake some Nestle chocolate chip cookies (the new batch post the E. coli scare), I convinced myself that it would do the trick- Negative! Wasn't it. Maybe some cake- Nope! Didn't work either. I tried everything to turn my errrrrr's into ahhhhh's! I had one last idea...GO HOME!!!!

Four long days later, we returned home to my quaint, cozy, charming bite size treat. First stop-the nearest cupcake shop, please. This was definitely a food(cupcake) for thought trip next time I'll remember to bring my own batch!!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Sweet Summers End

Perhaps you have seen my "Cupcake of the Week" feature on essence.com. It just launched last Thursday and I'm very excited about it. Well now that I have this weekly cupcake business I have new responsibilities, tasks and deadlines. It's all very sweet-though, no pun intended. As you know Labor Day is quickly approaching- the last hurrah of the summer, so I had this idea of doing watermelon cupcakes for my next feature. Part of my responsibility is to come up with a new recipe every week, actually that's my only responsibility for this position. Anyway, back to the cupcakes. I wanted to use fresh watermelon puree in my batter. I had never done this before, but I thought this was a special occasion and so apropos for the holiday. In the past I've used other fruits and vegetables in cupcakes so I figured I had a good idea about how it should go down. So, I gave it a try. And all I can say is DELISH!!

First, I bought a whole watermelon sliced it in quarters ate about half of it while cutting it up (laugh), but I did reserve enough for the cupcakes of course. I pureed my juicy reddish-pinkish fruit in a blender until it was good enough to enjoy as a watermelon smoothie. I added the liquid to my batter tasted it, (even though you should never eat raw batter) I had to know if it was watermelony enough (don't think that's a word). So here it goes...tasting...
Yuuu-mmmm-yyy! I bake them for 20-25 minutes until they're spongy and the toothpick inserted comes out clean then I take the cupcakes out of the oven, let cool. The color is perfect! The best shade of fresh watermelon straight from the farm. I say to myself, this looks good! Should I frost them? What hue of food coloring should I use? Moss green or Christmas red? Do I want to match the skin of the watermelon with the dark to light green vein like lines or do I want to resemble more of the interior of the rosey seedless ready to eat appeal? Hmmm decisions. Sometimes I like it bare, but then again sometimes with frosting on top, pretty please is my fancy. Can you relate?

I can't wait to taste my perfectly colored watermelon treat straight out of the oven (more like after 10 minutes of cooling) but still slightly warm-love that! Once I bite into it, immediately, I decide frosting- no way!! So I leave them plain. They looked like perfectly ripe miniature watermelons in cupcake liners. Couldn't beat the aesthetics. Besides cupcakes these days come swirled and sprinkled, piped and topped or not! I'm just having it my way that's all! Isn't that my prerogative? So, if you want to see the finished product check out the recipe this Thursday on essence.com/recipes. P.S. my stepdaughter took the photo, maybe the next Annie Leibowitz (smile). Have a Happy Labor Day!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Happy Hour"+Cupcake="Happy Cupcake Hour"

Bring on the cupcakes, and the mojito's? Apparently you can get your drink on "cupcake style" at this new bakeshop in Chicago. I didn't know "Happy Hour" could be so sweet! Having never been a drinker it's not something I'd care to indulged in, however this sounds fierce. I haven't been to More's bakery but I hear every Wednesday and Friday during "Happy Hour" or should I say "Happy Cupcake Hour" tasters are welcome to indulge in weekly cocktail cupcakes with pomegranate mojito or the Cuba Libre, yup-inside the cupcake. Wow talking about a real bit size treat. Sounds like a party to me! Seemingly, Chi-town is taking NO punches with this cupcakery serving serious adult-friendly fanfare. I mean it's hard to beat the concept of alcohol with sweets, I guess. Isn't that the icing on the cake? So why not step in the name of love and get your drink on cupcake style. If you happen to be in the windy city or passing thru and go to the "Happy Cupcake Hour" let me know how it goes. I also found this recipe for mojito cupcakes on the internet. Check it out.

disclaimer: this is not my recipe/ I have not made these cupcakes

Mojito Cake:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
- handful of fresh mint.
- 1 shot spiced or dark rum (if you've only got white rum, use brown or muscavado sugar above)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 cup milk (milk past its date preferred)
Mojito Icing:
- 1 1/2 cups powdered (icing) sugar (or more, depending on rum amount)- 3 T butter, softened
- zest and juice of half a lime
- half shot of spiced or dark rum (or more or less to taste)
- 12 sprigs of mint garnish (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350F
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
Melt the butter in the microwave and add the beaten egg to it.
Add that to the dry ingredients, stirring in the milk and rum until smooth.
Zest an entire lime, add half the zest to the bowl.
Squeeze in half of the lime as well (keep the other half and its zest for the icing!).
Finely chop your fresh mint, and add that to the batter, mixing well.
Split the batter between 12 lined cupcake wrappers.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the sides pull away and are golden brown (the tops should be spongy to the touch).
When done, remove to a wire rack and wait until they're completely cool before you attempt to ice them

Mojito Icing:
Mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl until smooth.
Add the rum and lime, mix further until stiff peaks form (add more powdered sugar if necessary).
Taste to see if it needs more rum, and add as appropriate.
I use a flat knife to spread the icing onto the tops of the mojito cupcakes because a spatula is just too big.
Then add a sprig of mint on each to garnish.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Cupcake Cure

Last night was a ruff night in my house. My little one 17 1/2 months old woke up around midnight after going to bed at 7pm. He was running a fever so I did what every mother would. I picked him up and held him until he felt better. With the help of a nice cool rub down, some water which he drank as if he had been in the desert for a month and a dose of Tylenol seem to do the trick. In total I was up for about an hour.

While I was half awake comforting my little one. My husband was having a mini cough attack in our bedroom. I wanted to check on him too, but kinda had my hands full already. I figured he could manage. He(my husband) was really tired last night and decided to turn in early. It's rare that he does that- usually I'm the one getting my much needed beauty rest but surprisingly- he was the winner of lights our last night. Anyway after listening to my husband gasp for air between every cough I heard the safety gate open, he proceeded down the stairs in search of some relief for his nagging cough, I concluded. Maybe some water, a cough drop, cold-eze or inhaler would do the trick. A few minutes later- complete silence. He must have found the cure, I say to myself.

Stay with me....

Quietly, I returned to bed. In desperate need of some more sleep- I pray...please no coughing, crying, whining, early morning potty trips or anything in between. Just sleep, I beg you until the sun comes up.

Fast forward to the morning...

My husband and I met in the playroom where we often congregate in the morning with the kids. I asked him how he was doing this morning. He said okay- but thought he may have a sinus infection. Briefly we discussed his coughing episode last night, I asked him what he had found downstairs to stop the coughing. And he replied genuinely, "I went downstairs for some cupcakes!" Needless to say....we laughed, and laughed. Who knew cupcakes could cure a choking attack?

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Say it ain't so...a cupcake what?

A cupcake truck! Now that takes the cake or should I say cupcake. The craze continues...
Well my friendly neighborhood ice cream truck patrons, change has finally come to the streets of New York City. Same rundown whitish truck, but with a different ring tone, this one with the sweet sound of cupcakes. Sadly enough, the time has come for Mr. Softee
to move over 'cause there's a new "truck" in town, and his name is CupcakeStop. Yup, a mobile cupcake truck. That's Brilliant! The ideal mobile food cupcake in one hand and blackberry in the other. I really wish I had thought of this one.

Cleverly the CupcakeStop publishes his daily locations on twitter, so that devotees don't have to worry about chasing him down, literally (much like the ever so familiar run down the street after Mr. Softee when we were kids- and if you have kids today you're still running). Bring back any childhood memories? Certainly does. But don't be fooled by the white truck that you may walk or drive pass temporarily parked on fifth avenue- although he may look the part chances are there is no ice cream aboard that vessel. Just cupcakes. A dead giveaway are the prints of stock photo cupcakes decorated on the white exterior and of course the CupcakeStop logo.

It's a one of a kind gourmet cupcake shop on wheels. Sounds pretty cool to me. I guess I'll have to add this to my "to do" list.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cupcakes, boxed or not

Really, I have nothing against Duncan Hines, Pillsbury or even Mrs. Betty Crocker. How could I? Growing up that's all we knew! Long before cupcakes were referred to as chic and sophisticated with pristine pastel exteriors, there was super moist, moist deluxe and moist supreme classic yellow cake mix. Later came triple chocolate fudge and red velvet. It's impossible to forget licking the mixer sticks or the bowl to a likeness of "Mr. Clean", as if the raw batter was an appetizer to the ready-made cake entree. I mean really how could I have something against the mix box legends.

Nowadays, with bakeries like Crumbs, Sprinkles or Magnolia's, dare I catch a sale of three boxes for $1.99 at Shoprite (just add water, vegetable oil and three eggs)- Ugh!! Perhaps in disguise. In my house believe it or not, this is actually a topic of conversation. My husband is still holding onto those childhood birthday party dreams of moms homemade cupcakes, not! Again, not that there is anything wrong with a little nostalgia. But you have to ask, didn't he see Carrie Bradshaw (Sex in the City) have an almost orgasmic experience when she inhaled the now famous Magnolia's cupcake. I realize its just his preference, but c'mon people let's expand our palates just a tiny bit. My husbands argument simply stated, "box is better." And, mine is "are you kidding me"?

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why am I Jonesin' for a cupcake?

I know it's basically impossible to hide the joy of consuming a cupcake, somehow that mischievous smile seems to inevitably creep upon our faces. Could it be that tasty treats come in small packages and size really doesn't matter? With cupcakes, of course. Or perhaps it's the knowledge that underneath their immaculate exteriors lies a sinfully decadent experience beyond our wildest bake sale dreams. I don't really know. But they are delightfully irresistible. And, so much to choose from cupcakes are everywhere it's nearly impossible to avoid them-in the mall, downtown, street fair, department store and now even Starbucks, dare I have a grande caffe latte without the complimented side of a cupcake. Not a chance.
So I ask myself why am I Jonesin' for a cupcake again?
posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

What's more gratifying than cupcakes?

Sweet, cute and oh-so innocent in a small package of delicious fun. What's not to love about cupcakes? There are few things in life simply as gratifying, perhaps one or two. We'll talk about that another day!! The cupcake by my definition is a miniature-sized cake with a whole lot of potential. Swirled and sprinkled, dipped and glazed, piped and topped or not! Definitely have it your way. They come in vanilla, chocolate, lemon, carrot, coconut - flavors aplenty. But, I can't deny it there is something really satisfying about peeling away that paper lining ever so gently, as not to crumble the moist tender surprise awaiting my bite. Well, when it's put that way- I think now is a good time to revisit my first thought- are there really more than a few things in life more gratifying? Hmmm, I'll have to get back to you on that one. In the meantime, indulge yourself!!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A tiny taste of childhood

Obsessed? Perhaps. Junkie? Maybe. Simply Delicious? DEFINITELY.

A star is re-born. Reminiscent of the good ole’ days when cupcakes were just for kids. Well, no more. The cupcake has clearly broken its sprinkles ceiling. It’s trendy, sophisticated and all grown up. The red velvet cupcake, the coconut cupcake, the key lime cupcake and of course, the ooh la la cupcake. Right now, the love of my life is the chocolate mocha chip. What a delight. I make no apologies for my love affair. So pleasure yourself. And, why not? Close your eyes and indulge in a tiny taste of childhood. After all, we all want to be a cupcakes R’us kid.
Related Posts with Thumbnails