Graduating college is a big deal! It’s tradition for me to make cupcakes or cookies for my sister’s graduation (high school, associates degree, undergraduate, and soon to be graduate!). Her schools colors are green and yellow so I opted for a “green velvet” cake and my tried and true cream cheese frosting.
Velvet cakes, I’ve found, are actually a pretty good crowd pleaser. It’s not a vanilla cake, and not quite chocolate. And these were even more awesome because I made some edible graduation caps to go on top. I was inspired by this post and used colored candy melts with my brownie bite pan and candy cup mold. And yes, I sorted out all the green colored mini M&Ms and cut the green out of strips of rainbow sour belt, but I was determined to have a super cute graduation cap and tassle!
The cupcakes were a hit and we surprised my sister at an end of the year Girl Scout event with a mini party in our hotel room.
caps in progress
Party setup in hotel room
With every ending there’s a new beginning. Or so they say. At work we had some interns that were returning back to school. A large project was coming to an end and we were all “rollin’ off” to new things. One of the intern’s favorite candies was Rolos® and she told me one day how she used to make candies out of pretzels and Rolo® candies. I decided for the end of project celebration to make these cupcakes, especially for her.
I had not remembered eating Rolos®, but there have been commercials about them recently. I wanted to get the Rolo® Minis (no un-wrapping required) and was surprised that they were a bit hard to find; in spite of or because it was around Halloween season.
Baked goods had become the standard accompaniment to my visits in to the office and these did not disappoint. In fact, I had under-estimated how many people would be in the office that day and there was a mini-riot at the lack of cupcakes. Thankfully I was able to pacify them with the leftover Rolo® candies that I had brought in case such a situation would arise.
This treat used my standard go-to chocolate cake recipe, paired with a graham cracker crust and filled with chopped Rolos®. The topping is a cream cheese frosting to keep bites from getting too sweet. I topped the whole cupcake with a single candy and drizzled it with salted caramel.
This week marks many things –
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Leopold’s gotch-ya day, and my 27th birthday.
These recipes came out of a conversation I was having a few weeks back at my in-laws dinner table. My father-in-law (it’s almost official, right?) whipped out some pumpkin bread he had recently picked up at Wegman’s thinking “why not?” We all agreed the bread was good, but just not the same as “Beth’s Pumpkin stuff”. What was this pumpkin bread-muffin-cupcake and why had I not heard of it? More likely I had heard of them, possibly eaten them, and just forgot about them and their reputation. I made my mother-in-law promise to send me the recipe and later that night it arrived in my inbox.
There aren’t many recipes that I don’t make modifications to. I kept the cake recipe the same, even leaving in the pecans. There are two camps in the “nut” baked good battle; some like the textural contrast of the nuts and some find it offensive and disharmonious. I added the pecans because: 1) I love pecans and 2) I had them in the apartment. My mother-in-law leaves them out and they taste just as good.
In this case, I took my mother-in-law’s recommendation and switched the original recipe’s frosting out for her tried-and-true and award-winning cream cheese frosting. I added in a few tablespoons of pumpkin puree leftover from the cake into the frosting and topped these with some cranberry orange relish, which I had already added a few tablespoons of to the batter.
You might think topping a cupcake with relish is crazy, but pumpkin and cranberry are both flavors that can go savory or sweet. This relish is more like a coulis and the tartness and brightness of the topping really do a great job to keep this treat from getting too heavy. You can even argue that this has fruit and vegetables in it–with cream cheese, it’s great for breakfast! Plus you know there’s going to be leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving.
I usually don’t do anything for St. Patrick’s Day other than wear something green to avoid being pinched. This year, the holiday fell on a weekend and a delicious recipe popped up in my RSS Feed – these Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes from Oishii Treats.
I’ve been wanting to make green tea cupcakes for a while, but have been a bit wary. Green Tea is an acquired taste and I was worried how these would go over with my taste testers.
I replaced half of the flour the recipe called for with whole wheat flour, which went well with the earthiness of the matcha, though it probably kept the cake from being more green. I also used almond milk instead of regular milk. Since green tea is an acquired taste, I opted to swirl the frosting so that it’d be half matcha and half regular cream cheese frosting. This kept the cupcake from being a matcha-overload while adding a nice flair.
The best thing about these cupcakes are the smell. I love the way they smelled coming out of the oven and when I opened my carrier up to bring them in to the office. You’ll definitely want to use a nice quality matcha since they’re the star ingredient here. And, this is the way that you’re getting a dose of green, naturally!
The baking with Girl Scout Cookies® saga continues! Trefoils™ are sometimes seen as the plain, boring cookies that you always have extra boxes of after a booth sale. My sister had an extra box of Trefoils™ from last year and gave them to me on the condition that I bake something with them. Also, did you know that February 8th is National Girl Scout Cookie Day?
I was a little burned out on chocolate, as crazy as that may sound, so I wanted to make something for my office for Valentine’s Day that was decadent, but lighter. I made my Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes recipe and replaced the blackberries with blueberries. I also replaced the vanilla wafer cookies with the buttery, fragrant Trefoils™ and added some almonds in too (omitting the almond extract in the original).
It was easy to convince my office-mates to try these treats. The fruit on top makes it “healthy”; they’re bite-sized; they have Girl Scout Cookies® in them, which makes them “limited edition”. The crust on these are delicious and it goes well with the tanginess of the cheesecake and the tart berries.
Feel free to sub your favorite fruit on top or replace the cookies with what you have on hand. I had some extra filling and crust and swirled in some chocolate chips and crunchy cookie butter for a rich Valentine’s treat.