Archive | March, 2013

Hummingbird Cupcakes with RumChata Frosting

28 Mar

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Until just a few weeks ago, I thought I’d be making some sort of Almond Joy, chocolate-coconut cupcake for my Easter blog post.I don’t know why, but for some reason coconut is the one ingredient I associate most with Easter. Maybe it was those gigantic chocolate covered, coconut cream fruit-n-nut eggs the Easter Bunny always left smack in the middle of my Easter basket. I never liked those eggs much. For one thing, they didn’t taste all that great. But more importantly, they were so large they took up nearly 80-85% of the precious good candy real estate inside the basket. (It was strikingly obvious the Easter Bunny liked my dad the best. While the rest of us were made to suffer through those fruit-n-nut eggs, my dad’s egg was always just nuts – none of that coconut filler, none of those chopped little bits of candied fruit, just gobs of nuts barely held together with that delicious nougat).

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There’s no denying, coconut plays a starring role in Easter baking – lamb and bunny shaped cakes sprinkled with coconut, pastel colored coconut to decorate cupcakes, and those little coconut “nests” filled with jelly bean “eggs” all make an appearance this time of year. And so, true to tradition, my choice for this year’s Easter cupcakes also contains coconut….along with some sweet, ripe banana, juicy pineapple, nutty pecans and just a hint of cinnamon. This year I’m making Hummingbird Cupcakes topped with RumChata frosting.

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I found this recipe some time ago and have been waiting for the perfect time to try it. The end result is more of a muffin really, than a cupcake. Left bare, they make the perfect Easter morning muffin. But the Rumchata frosting is the perfect complement to this sweet, moist, fruit filled little cake. Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home

Makes approximately 24 cupcakes

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups mashed ripe bananas

1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

In a large bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a third bowl, combine bananas and pineapple.

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Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Fold in the coconut and nuts.

Filled paper-lined muffin tins about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from wire racks to cool completely.

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RumChata Frosting

The recipe for the frosting, which I adapted from the RumChata website,  is the most viewed item on my blog. It really is out of this world.

1 cup butter

3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 tablespoons RumChata or to taste

Cream butter. Add confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons RumChata at low speed until combined and then at high speed, adding more RumChata until desired consistency is reached. Frost cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

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Nutty Irishman Cupcakes

10 Mar

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I love, love, love St. Patrick’s Day. Partly because at this time of year, I love, love, love being an Irish-American.  I also love being a German-American, a Dutch-American, a British-American and even part Native American, but today we’re focusing on the Irish bit.

ST PATRICK

Most Americans in general, and Irish Americans in particular, know how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Until relatively recently, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a religious feast day marked mainly by attending church, with maybe a small parade or festival thrown in for good measure. But on this side of the pond, it’s a whole other story.

Here in the  States, we love to celebrate St Patty’s Day. We start by rummaging through our closets and donning every bit of green clothing we own, no matter the shade. Extra points are given if the item is also covered with shamrocks.  Gold Claddagh rings, bracelets and earrings are pulled out from the back of the jewelry box. We attend parades and parties and pub crawls. We drink copious amounts of beer, sometimes green beer but preferably Irish beer, and ideally Black and Tans – Guinness and Harp combined in a pint of brewed perfection. We enjoy “traditional” Irish fare such as corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and even Irish potatoes (which are not only NOT Irish, they’re not even potatoes….but quite tasty, nonetheless.) Irish coffee, spiked with a little Irish whiskey and topped with clouds of whipped cream is the order of the day, as is its sweeter cousin, Bailey’s Irish coffee.  We pull out our U2, Dropkick Murphys and Cranberries CDs and maybe visit iTunes for some classic Dubliners or The Chieftains. (Roger Daltry & The Chieftains doing Behind Blue Eyes is one of my all time favorites.) Our Dads and Grandpas might wipe away a tear or two while listening to a particularly maudlin rendition of Oh Danny Boy. If the luck o’ the Irish is with us, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday or Saturday. If not, a higher than average number of sick days are taken the day after by those stricken with the “Irish Flu”.

And so it goes from year to year and generation to generation, that truly wonderful way we have here in the States of celebrating the customs of our different heritages and the cultures from whence they came while at the same time making them uniquely American.

No surprise then, that to this Irish American girl, the only thing better than a cupcake is a cupcake with a wee bit of the juice added in – like this scrumptious Nutty Irishman. A light, Frangelico-infused chocolate cupcake topped with fluffy Irish Cream buttercream frosting. Sure, Frangelico is an Italian liqueur, but some say the blessed Saint himself was born of Roman citizens, so what a perfect combination to celebrate his feast day. Easy enough to make, it starts with a boxed mix, and even easier to enjoy. Slainte!

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FRANGELICO CUPCAKES

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix

3/4 cup Frangelico

1/2 cup water

1/2 vegetable oil

3 eggs

Prepare cupcakes according to the box directions, but substitute some of the water with the Frangelico. Bake as directed for 18-22 minutes. Cool.

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IRISH CREAM BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1 cup butter, room temperature

3 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

4 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

pinch of salt

1/3 cup hazelnuts

Roasted Hazelnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast hazelnuts in shallow baking pan for approximately 10 minutes. Remove to clean kitchen towel, and gently rub hazelnuts together until the skins come off. When cool, coarsely chop and set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, at low speed until combined. Add Irish Cream and salt and beat at high speed, adding more sugar or Irish Cream as needed, until desired consistency is reached.

Frost as desired and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

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Dirty Girl Scout Cupcakes

7 Mar

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Once again, Girl Scout cookie season is upon us. I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t like at least one variety of Girl Scout cookies. For years, I was a huge fan of the classic Thin Mints. Fabulous straight out of the box of course, but pop them in the freezer first and the taste sensation rises to a whole other level. More recently, I’ve been known to enjoy a Do-Si-Do or two. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the shortbread cookies, more formally known as the Trefoils, must contain traces of crack cocaine. Once you dive into a sleeve of those bad boys, there’s no putting them down until they are gone.

I often wondered at the Girl Scouts marketing division’s decision to always have the cookie selling season coincide with Lent. I know, of course, that not everyone does the whole giving-up-for-Lent thing, but I suspect a big chunk of the cookie buying population does. For years, I always started those weeks before Easter with a firm resolve to give up all sweets, and usually did pretty well until that first little box of cookies appeared on someone’s desk, at which point all willpower flew out the window. It would seem the marketing division knew what it was doing….they’re still selling cookies, but I’m no longer giving up sweets.

I thought it would be fun to base a cupcake one of the varieties of Girl Scout cookies, but in my search for inspiration, I came across references to a shot/shooter called the Dirty Girl Scout, a wondrous concoction of Kahlua, Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream and creme de menthe. Ooooooh! That combination just spells fun. My search was done.

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Needless to say, these cupcakes are delicious. I started with a Black Russian cupcake recipe, topped it with some Irish Cream buttercream and drizzled with the creme de menthe. A sweet, boozy concoction sure to please….just dont share them with any girl scouts.

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DIRTY GIRL SCOUT CUPCAKES

Adapted from Duncan Hines.com recipe – makes approx. 24 cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup sugar

1 – 6 oz box chocolate instant pudding

1 cup oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup Kahlua

1 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl of stand mixer. Once combined, beat for 2 minutes.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

IRISH CREAM BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1 cup butter, room temperature

3 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

4 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

pinch of salt

Creme de Menthe

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, at low speed until combined. Add Irish Cream and salt and beat at high speed, adding more sugar or Irish Cream as needed, until desired consistency is reached.

Frost cupcakes.  Lightly sprinkle creme de menthe across tops of frosted cupcakes.

Enjoy!

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