healthier chocolate muffins

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Today I woke up with a craving for chocolate.  I know, shocking.  But instead of grabbing a cupcake from the refrigerator (there are ALWAYS cupcakes in the fridge), I decided to make some muffins.  I wanted it to be healthy-ish, but I also didn’t want something too dense or packed with oats or wheat germ.  A few simple substitutions later, and I was left with a one bowl, no butter, no granulated sugar recipe that was quick and delicious.  The muffins were moist and soft, with a crispy muffin top, just like it’s supposed to be.  I added some mini chocolate chips because there’s nothing better than a warm muffin and those melted pieces of chocolate in each bite, but you can certainly leave them out to make them even healthier.

I’m now writing this post outside on my deck on a beautiful sunny morning, on the unofficial start of the summer.  I’ve got my dog laying down next to me, a warm muffin to my left, and a small cup of iced coffee to my right.  What more could you want?!

Healthier Chocolate Muffins
(Makes 6 jumbo muffins)

1/2 cup maple syrup
3/8 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) yogurt
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/8 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp espresso (or strongly brewed) coffee
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (plus more to top each muffin)

Preheat over to 375F.  Line a standard jumbo muffin pan with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, milk, and coffee.  Once combined, add the baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Whisk until combined.  Add the flour and whisk until combined again.  With a spatula, fold in mini chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin liner almost to the top, a little more than 2/3 full.  You want the muffins to rise enough so that they develop that “muffin top” shape.  Top each muffin with a few (or ten if you’re like me) mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 20-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

– bake on,
Sharon

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homemade peanut butter cups

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A couple weekends ago, my amazing mom surprised me with the cutest little gift from Le Creuset.  It was these mini heart-shaped silicone baking cups.  I knew I had to use them immediately, and for some reason, I instantly thought of using them to make peanut butter cups.  I thought the size would be perfect, not to mention I knew the silicone material would lend perfectly to removing them from the cups once they were completed and ready to be eaten.  Plus, I’ve always loved the store-bought peanut butter cups, but I couldn’t help but think that I could recreate them on my own, and with a lot less (bad) ingredients than what the store-bought kind has.

So this weekend, I played around with a few different ingredients and in no time, I ended up with the perfect peanut butter cups.  In a few simple steps and with a little patience, I had a giant batch of these ready to be eaten.  Complete with a smooth creamy peanut butter center that melts in your mouth.  Coated in a hard milk chocolate outer shell that sweetens it all up.  And so itty bitty that there’s zero shame in popping these like they’re M&Ms.   I couldn’t help and sneak one as dessert after every. single. meal.

Peanut Butter Cups
(Makes 24 candy cups)

2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a double boiler (my personal preference), or in the microwave in 30-second increments, melt the chocolate.  Using a small pastry brush, brush a thin even coating on the inside of each candy cup, being sure not to leave any paper exposed on the inside.  Freeze for 10 minutes.

While the cups are in the freezer, prepare the filling; in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the confectioners sugar, peanut butter, and butter until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a large opening (about 1/2″ diameter).  Pipe the mixture into the frozen cups to about 1/8″ from the top.  Smooth with an icing spatula.

Transfer the remaining melted chocolate to another piping bag with a small opening (about 1/4″ diameter).  Pipe the chocolate onto the tops of the cups to the rim.  Smooth with another icing spatula and return to the freezer for another 10 minutes.

Once completely frozen, remove the paper cups from each peanut butter cup.  The colder the cups are, the easier (and less messy!) it will be to remove the paper.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.

– chocolate on,
Sharon

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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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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: thin mints

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Growing up, my favorite girl scout cookie flavor was always “animal treasures”.  You know, the shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate with an assortment of animals embossed on the top.  They were sweet and chocolatey and fun!  It’s now been several years since they’ve been sold (RIP, lil’ guys) and I still find myself anxiously wondering each season if they’ll magically pop back into the lineup.  Luckily, the new s’mores cookies  are becoming my new favorite.

Despite my love for animal treasures and s’mores, it’s clear that thin mints are the clear favorite worldwide.  It seems that every year, they make up the majority of the sales.  So for my second cupcake creation, I had to give thin mints a shot.  I crushed up the thin mints and created a delicious cookie crust, made a rich chocolate cupcake, filled it with mint chocolate ganache, and frosted it with mint chocolate frosting.  If you’re a mint lover – enjoy!  You’re in for a real treat.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 12-15 cupcakes)

For the thin mint cookie crust:

1 cup (about 15 cookies) thin mints, 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 mint chocolate ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (about 6 oz) milk chocolate chips
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

For the mint chocolate frosting:

2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp mint chocolate ganche (recipe follows)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

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

Prepare the cookie crust; add the thin mints to a ziploc bag and seal.  Using your fist or the flat side of a meat tenderizer, crush the cookies 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.

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 peppermint extract and mix.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick 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; beat the sugar and butter until they are incorporated.  Small clumps are okay.  Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract and beat for 2-3 more minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.  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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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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