Friday, May 31, 2013

Oh-So-Delectable Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes (Chocolate, Caramel, Pecan)


So I don't know if you are familiar with the deliciousness that is a chocolate turtle...

...but they are clusters of caramel and pecans coated in chocolate.

They are one of my mom's favorite candies. Yum, yum, yum!

The office that I work in has a bake off from time to time, so various people who work here will bring in their best treat and then we all vote for which one was the best.

This was my first year competing and, though the competition was FIERCE, I managed to pull out a win! (well, a second place win, but whatever!).

I ended up making Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes, which are chocolate cupcakes FILLED with homemade caramel and then topped with caramel buttercream, a swirl of caramel and a pecan!

Yes, that sounds like a bit much, but it didn't take too long and the end results were to die for!!!

Yes, they did taste as good as they look :)

Best, Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
(Yields about 2 dozen cupcakes or about 5 dozen mini cupcakes)

I rely heavily on this recipe.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1-2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup hot water

(*I have used non-fat milk and 2% milk in it's place and had similiar results. I've also made my own buttermilk by adding 1tsp of vinegar to milk and stirring it vigorously).

Preheat oven to 300*F
Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl.
Add in the two eggs and almond extract, and continue to mix.
Measure out the salt and mix this in as well.
Finally, slowly add in the buttermilk and hot water, a little at a time, until fully blended into a thin batter (it's going to seem REALLY watery but it's okay, do not worry!)

I prefer to pour the batter into a small Pyrex measuring cup to make it easier to pour into the small cupcake liners, but that's up to you!

Fill the liners up about 2/3 full.

Bake the cupcakes for 22 minutes, then check them with a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean, they are done baking!

Allow to cool completely before frosting!

Next, I'll tell you how I made homemade caramel!

I followed this recipe from Food Network



Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don't worry - the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.
Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

**If you let the sugar cook too long or on too high of heat and it doesn't look like it's melting correctly, NEVER FEAR! Lower your heat and BE PATIENT. Even if you are toward the end and your caramel seems to have SEIZED up and not become the right consistency, just let it sit on low heat and chances are, it will fix itself.**

I let this cool for about an hour in the fridge, then poured some into a pastry bag. I used this to pipe some caramel into the middle of the cupcakes!

I saved about 1/3 to add to a basic buttercream frosting and then just a little bit to drizzle on top of the finished cupcakes.

Let me know if you have any questions about this recipe! They were absolutely delish and worth all the effort!:)


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes (BEST moist vanilla cupcake recipe)

So in honor of one my friend's birthdays, (Sarah of Sarah Christine Style!)  I let her choose her treat!

She picked vanilla cupcakes with raspberries. I thought about how I would make these and decided upon a simple vanilla cupcake, covered with raspberry jam and then a swirl of raspberry buttercream.

I've tried a bunch of vanilla cupcake recipes over the course of my baking life. I've made great ones (like the 5 dozen cupcakes I made for my cousin's baby shower) and not so great ones (uh... No comment). This recipe is BY FAR MY FAVORITE. It yields a light, fluffy, sweet and moist cake that domes up perfectly.

Vanilla Cupcakes


1 1/2 cp. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
3/4 cp. sugar

1-2 tsp of vanilla (pure or extract)
1-2 tsp of almond extract
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola would work)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%, I assume fat free, 1%, or whole could work)

First, pre-heat your oven to 350*F.
Next, stir flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in large mixing bowl; set aside.
Now, mix eggs and sugar in a second bowl with a whisk or mixer.
After that, add the vanilla, almond extract, oil and milk to the egg and sugar. Whisk well!
Finally, add this liquid mix to the powder mix in the other bowl and mix well with a mixer.

Fill your cupcake liners about 2/3 full (don't go too crazy, they will rise!) and bake them for about 12 minutes. Try sticking a tooth pick into one that has domed up especially high. If it comes out clean, they are done! If any moist cake crumbs come off, pop them back in for an additional minute or two.

Allow them to completely cool before frosting!

(I slathered on a layer of preserves then frosted them with a simple buttercream with some of the raspberry preserves mixed in!)