st. patrick’s day: Guinness and Bailey’s chocolate cupcakes

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I’m not Irish, and I’m not a huge fan of Guinness beer, but when I woke up this morning and saw that it was st. patrick’s day, I knew that it was time to put together these boozy cupcakes.  As you’ve seen in the past with my boozy bailey’s milkshakes, I am a lover of anything bailey’s.  So I did not hold back with this recipe.  Because the only thing better than homemade ganache, is homemade ganache with bailey’s mixed in.

All things aside, I made this recipe because I love chocolate, I love bailey’s, and I love an excuse to make a cupcake for friends and family.  So to all those celebrating the holiday and having an extra drink (or two!), I hope you enjoy the day and don’t be afraid to give this recipe a try!

Guinness and Bailey’s Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 12 cupcakes)


For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:

1/2 cup Guinness beer
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/8 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey’s chocolate ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (about 6 oz) milk chocolate chips
2 tsp Bailey’s Irish Cream

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

Prepare the batter; in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the beer and butter.  Stir in the cocoa powder and mix until smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg, sugar, and sour cream.  Add the beer mixture to the wet ingredients and mix.  Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated.

Next, prepare the ganache;  in a small saucepan on medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer.  Pour the hot cream over a medium bowl containing the chocolate.  Whisk together for 2-3 minutes, or until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated with the cream.  Add the Bailey’s and mix until uniform again.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly and using a cupcake corer or teaspoon, remove a small amount of cake from the center of each cupcake.  Fill each hole with ganache to the rim, about 2 tsp worth.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting; in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar and mix until incorporated.  Add the Bailey’s and mix until smooth.  If consistency appears to be too thick, add more Bailey’s 1 tsp at a time.  If consistency appears to be too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like, and drizzle with any remaining chocolate ganache!

cupcake on,
Sharon

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back to basics: strawberry sauce

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I know it’s not strawberry season, but for some reason when I walked through Whole Foods this weekend and saw the cartons of strawberries, I couldn’t help but grab one right away.  It’s probably the fact that the weather has been so spectacular lately.  Today is March 1st, a time of the year when it is often still frigid and snowing, yet for the past couple weeks, the northeast has been blessed with beautiful sunny days in the 50s and up.  I even turned my A/C on in the car this weekend!  And walked outside with a long sleeve shirt on!  So when I saw those bright red strawberries, I immediately started thinking about what I could do with them.  I knew that I had to bake a cake during the weekend, so a lightbulb went off instantly – I would make a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberry filling.

I love being able to make a basic sauce like this strawberry sauce because the possibilities with it are endless.  And we all know how much I love a versatile ingredient.  Sure, I used this sauce as a cake filling.  But this sauce also works great as a filling in a cupcake, as a sauce to incorporate into (or top) your vanilla ice cream, or even as a filling in doughnuts!  Mmmmmm.  Now excuse me while I go wipe the drool off my face!

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you use it for in the comments below.

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Strawberry Sauce
(Makes 2 cups)

2 1/2 cups cubed fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the cornstarch and continue to stir.  Let boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat.  The sauce will thicken and go from translucent to opaque.  Allow to cool completely before using.

– sauce on,
Sharon

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girl scout cookies as a cupcake: tagalongs

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I saved the best for last in my girl scout cookie roundup – tagalongs.  Tagalongs are crispy vanilla cookies topped with peanut butter and coated in chocolate.  I was actually really excited about making these cupcakes.  I’ve always been a fan of chocolate and peanut butter together, plus I’ve been dying to perfect my peanut butter frosting.  This was just the nudge I needed to get started.  Plus, it was the perfect break from work that I needed.  Oooops.  Don’t tell my boss.

I went with a plain jane vanilla cupcake – my go-to recipe, then topped it with some peanut butter frosting (a new favorite for sure!), and coated that with a hard chocolate shell (super easy recipe below!).  I contemplated stuffing the cupcakes with peanut butter, but I thought that might be too heavy.  So I left it out.  But feel free to experiment with that, especially if you’re crazy about peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
(Makes 12 cupcakes)

For the vanilla cupcakes:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk

For the peanut butter frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the hard chocolate topping:

1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until uniform.

In another large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  Add all the milk and mix.  Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix, ensuring everything is incorporated.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting;  in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Add the vanilla extract and mix.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  If too thick, add milk 1 tsp at a time.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like and stick them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt everything until incorporated.  If microwave, be sure to microwave 30 seconds at a time, mixing well after each time.  This prevents the chocolate from burning and seizing up.  It typically takes no longer than 90 seconds for everything to fully melt.  Dip the tops of each cupcake in the chocolate, or just pour the chocolate over the tops.  It should harden very quickly and will turn from shiny to matte.

Well, that’s it!  I hope you enjoyed my girl scout cupcakes!  Here is the full list of my creations:
girl scout cookies as a cupcake: samoas
girl scout cookies as a cupcake: thin mints
girl scout cookies as a cupcake: s’mores

cupcake on,
Sharon

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girl scout cookies as a cupcake: samoas

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Next up on my girl scout cookie series is samoas!  I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of coconut, so this cupcake was 100% for K.  He’s a big fan of coconut, and was very excited when I came home from Whole Foods and told him there was shredded coconut in the pantry and coconut milk in the fridge.  Unfortunately for him, those ingredients are rarely found in our house!

If you are not familiar with samoas (or caramel deLites, as they’re called in some areas), they are vanilla cookies topped with caramel, toasted coconut, and chocolate.  In cookie form, all the flavors come together beautifully, so I knew this would taste just as nice in cupcake form.  These cupcakes have a vanilla cake, coconut frosting, a toasted coconut topping, plus a drizzling of caramel and chocolate sauce.  The coconut frosting was a huge hit – I literally had to fight K for the bowl of frosting when I was trying to fill my piping bag with it!

Coconut Cupcakes with Caramel & Chocolate Drizzle
(Makes 12 cupcakes)

For the vanilla cupcakes:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk

For the coconut frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla coconut milk
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

For the toppings:

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup (1.5 oz) milk chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and stir until uniform.

In another large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  Add all the milk and mix.  Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix, ensuring everything is incorporated.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely and reduce oven temp to 325F (you will need the oven to toast the coconut).

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting;  in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter until smooth and creamy.  Add 1 cup of confectioners sugar and mix until incorporated.  Add the vanilla extract, coconut extract, and coconut milk, and mix.  Add the remaining 1-2 cups of confectioners sugar until your desired consistency is reached.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  If too thick, add coconut milk 1 tsp at a time.  With a spatula, fold in the shredded coconut.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like.

With the remaining 1/2 cup shredded coconut, spread the coconut on a lined baking sheet.  Bake for 5 minutes, or until the coconut is a golden brown.  Dip each frosted cupcake in the toasted coconut, and drizzle with the melted chocolate and caramel.

cupcake on,
Sharon

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girl scout cookies as a cupcake: s’mores

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It’s winter time, and you know what that means!  Well here in the east coast, of course that means snow, and lots of it.  But it also means girl scout cookies are available!  It’s hard to say no to those cookies – so far I’ve grabbed them at the grocery store, the bank, and even at the drive thru at Dunkin’ Donuts (what?!) – am I the only one that thinks they’re everywhere this year?!  Oh well, I’m happy about it!

So when Shirley texted me the other day saying, “could you turn our favorite girl scout cookies into cupcakes?”, I immediately responded with, “YES!  You’re a genius!”  How fun to combine my love of baking with my love of these cookies.

I’ll start today with the NEW, but oh so delicious s’mores cookies.  These cupcakes have it all – a graham cracker crust, chocolate cupcakes, marshmallow frosting, and the s’mores cookie to top it off.

Check back all week for more cupcakes inspired by the girl scout cookies!

S’mores Cupcakes
(Makes 12-15 cupcakes)

For the graham cracker crust:

1 cup (about 3 sheets) graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the chocolate cupcakes:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For the marshmallow frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups marshmallow fluff, either store-bought or homemade
2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

Prepare the graham cracker crust; add the graham crackers to a ziploc bag and seal.  Using your fist or the flat side of a meat tenderizer, crush the crackers until it is a coarse mixture.  Add to the melted butter and stir until incorporated.  Press about 1 tbsp into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake for 3 minutes and remove from the oven.

Prepare the batter; combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.  In a couple batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  With the mixer at a low speed, add the boiling water.  Be patient – it will take about a minute for everything to incorporate.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting; beat the butter until creamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the marshmallow fluff and beat for 2-3 more minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and mix.  Working 1 cup at a time, add the confectioners sugar and mix until combined and at your desired consistency.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  If too thick, add milk 1 tsp at a time.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like!

– cupcake on,
Sharon

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valentine’s day: chocolate cupcakes for two

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The best (or worst?) thing about this recipe is that it only makes enough batter for exactly 2 cupcakes.  So if you’re sharing Valentine’s day with a special someone, you’ve each got a cupcake for dessert.  And if you’re single and just as special, you’ve got two cupcakes to eat for dessert.  Honestly, I think the single ladies and gents have the advantage here.  Because 2 cupcakes is ALWAYS better than 1.  Whether you’re single or taken on this made up holiday, take a break and indulge yourself with some sweets!

Chocolate Cupcakes for Two
(Makes 2 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:

3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/16 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp mini chocolate chips

For the frosting:

3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 2 cups of a cupcake pan with liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the water, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and combine with a hand mixer.  Add the batter to the two cupcake liners and top each cupcake with a 1/2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting.  In a small bowl, combine the softened butter and cocoa powder with a hand mixer.  Add the confectioners sugar 1 tbsp at a time until your desired consistency is achieved.  Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost and decorate however you’d like!

cupcake on,
Sharon

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chocolate pecan pie

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For most of my life, I’ve chosen cake over pie.  Who could say no to chocolate, frosting, and moist cake?  How could I ever pick fruit and a dry crust over that?!  Boy was I misinformed.  This chocolate pecan pie changed everything.  Not only does it have chocolate, my most favorite ingredient on the planet, it also has the most flaky crust ever. Served warm with some ice cream, and I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Of course, you can use store-bought crust, but do not be frightened to try making this crust from scratch!  It really does make such a huge difference, and it is very straightforward!  A perfect pie to make on a cold wintry weekend day.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
(Makes 1 pie with extra dough for a crust)

For the crust:

1 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
3 tbsp ice water

In a large bowl, combine the bread flour and salt.  Add the butter and mix with your hands until everything is combined and the butter has broken down into small pieces.  Add the ice water and continue to knead the dough.  The dough should come together at this point.  If too thick, add a tad more water.  If too thin, add a tad more flour.  Small chunks and streaks of butter is good!  Divide the dough into two discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

For the pie:

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups pecans, chopped
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup dark chocolate, cut into small cubes
Egg wash

Preheat oven to 375F.

Take one of the discs of dough and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-1/2 cm.  Lay the dough in a pie dish and cut any excess dough that is hanging off the edges.  Place in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the brown sugar and corn syrup.  Mix in the eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla extract, butter, and salt, and mix until uniform.  Mix in the pecans and chocolate, and pour the filling into the pie dish.

Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator.  Roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-1/2 cm.  Cover however you wish – lattice, a small cookie-cutter design, or a full crust cover.  Brush the crust and edges with egg wash.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool before cutting and serving.

– bake on,
Sharon

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