Archive | December, 2012

New Year’s Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting

31 Dec

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The night they invented champagne

It’s plain as it could be

They thought of you and me

The night they invented champagne

They absolutely knew

That all we’d want to do is

Fly to the sky on champagne

And shout to everyone in sight

That since the world began

No woman or a man

Has ever been as happy as we are tonight!

                                                                                              from the motion picture Gigi

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I adore champagne. And all its incarnations – prosecco, cava, sparkling wine, asti. If I was given the choice of only enjoy one special beverage for the rest of my life, I would choose champagne. Not only because good champagne is absolutely delicious. It’s also because of all that champagne represents. Say the word “champagne” and wonderful associations immediately spring to mind: bubbles, festive, indulgent, celebrations, flirty, headiness, golden, amusing, intoxicating, seductive, delightful,holidays, sparkle! No wonder we raise glasses of champagne to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and the hopes for the new year.

And so, to celebrate this New Year’s Eve, I give you Champagne Cupcakes. The recipe is adapted from one by Sprinkle Bakes. I did not include the pastry cream filling in mine, but urge you to give it a try, they look fantastic.

I raise my glass to all, wishing you a peaceful, joyful, cupcake filled 2013!

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Champagne Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup champagne or other sparkling wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill cupcake tin with paper liners.

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Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add in the vanilla.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Combine the sour cream and champagne in another bowl.

Add the dry ingredients and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Fill the cupcake liners with 1/4 cup of batter.

Bake for 17 – 22 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

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Champagne Buttercream Frosting

1 cup plus one Tablespoon champagne

1 cup butter, softened

2  1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Pour 1 cup of champagne into a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool.

Using the whisk attachment for a stand mixer, combine the butter and confectioners sugar.Whisk together for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the cooled reduced champagne with the tablespoon of remaining champagne and mix to combine.

Frost and decorate as desired. For these cupcakes, I used gold sanding sugar, gold pearlized sugar and gold dragees.

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Eggnog Cupcakes with Eggnog and Rum Buttercream Frosting

26 Dec

It is around this time each year that I rekindle a romantic affair with an old love of mine. We don’t get to spend nearly enough time together – just one, maybe two evenings with a little Cruzan rum or brandy by the fire. Perhaps a lazy Sunday morning over coffee. And I’ve even snuck out of the office one or two afternoons for a little quickie. But before I know it, our time together is over and my love is gone again until next year. I speak, of course, of my love for eggnog.

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I’m not proud of this affair – a little eggnog, brandy and grated nutmeg in the evening, catching up with my best friend over eggnog lattes on Sunday morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up. I know this relationship is not good for me and I’ve heard it all: too much fat, too much sugar, it’ll ruin your diet, your figure, your health. But I can’t stay away, can’t say no. And why should I? Eggnog is rich, sweet, smooth and comforting….everything a girl could ask for.

But I am fickle and sometimes tire of this love…maybe it’s a little too rich, a little too sweet, but more often than not, I am done with eggnog before it is gone. And so it is I usually find myself with a half carton or so leftover. What to do? Make scrumptious eggnog cupcakes of course!

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This is a busy time of year, so a little shortcut (by starting with a boxed mix) is completely forgiveable. This is a recipe adapted from one by Sheila posted on Food.com. The frosting is a recipe adapted from one posted by Domestic Rebel.

These cupcakes turned out as rich, and smooth and decadent as their namesake ingredient with just a hint of the nutmeg spice coming through. And although they make a great Christmas cupcake, try whipping up a batch for that “in-between” week, before New Year’s. Because with the eggnog and rum, these are some naughty cupcakes – and you’ve got a whole year to get back on Santa’s Nice List.

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Eggnog Cupcakes (makes 18-24 cupcakes)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 cup eggnog

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 tablespoons of Cruzan rum

1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, eggnog, oil, eggs, rum and spices until blended, about 2 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.

Bake at 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

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Eggnog and Rum Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup butter

splash of vanilla extract

1 – 2 tablespoons of eggnog

1 – 2 tablespoons Cruzan rum

pinch of nutmeg

5 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter in large bowl. Add vanilla, eggnog and nutmeg. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, alternating with rum, until desired consistency is reached. Frost and decorate as desired and ENJOY!

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CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH GRAND MARNIER FROSTING

12 Dec

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When I was a little girl, a very practical Santa visited our house every Dec. 24th. (Anyone who has read my Bananas Foster Cupcakes post will not be surprised by this.) Each Christmas morning, we’d rush into the living room, pull down our stockings and dump out the contents to see what wonderments Santa left. Without fail, there’d be the new Christmas toothbrush and toothpaste, the new Christmas comb and brush, and maybe some new Christmas underpants. If we were really good that year, there might even be a coloring book and box of nice, new, sharp Crayola crayons. But no matter what, without fail, Santa always left a nice big orange in the toe of the stocking.

As I grew older and Santa got to know me better, the toiletries and coloring books were replaced by lovely little sparkling items that could easily be slipped over a wrist, onto a finger or around the neck.  And he still left an orange in the toe of the stocking – but now the orange was a decadent treat made of rich dark chocolate infused with orange essence, wrapped in bright orange foil. One rap on the table and the ball broke into perfectly formed little chocolate orange segments – delicious!

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And so the whole chocolate and orange combination is now something I’ve come to associate with the holidays. I’ve put together a yummy little cupcake using my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe (which just happens to be a vegan recipe – but don’t let that throw you, this is one awesome, moist  chocolate cupcake), topped with some Grand Marnier-infused buttercream frosting. It’s a perfect holiday cupcake to take to a family gathering or holiday dessert swap…….just be sure to save one for Santa!

Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan)

Adapted from recipe found on Chow.com. Makes approx 12 cupcakes

1 cup soy (or almond) milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons Grand Marnier

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

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Whisk together soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl. Set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Add sugar, oil, Grand Marnier to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain.

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Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake 18 – 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Grand Marnier Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 – 2 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

freshly grated orange peel

Cream butter.  Add confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla and Grand Marnier. Blend in slowly at first, then beat, adding more sugar or Grand Marnier until desired consistency and flavor is reached.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with grated orange peel.

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