Archive | October, 2013

Caramel Appletini Cupcakes

27 Oct

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Halloween has got to be one of the best holidays out there, if for no other reason than because it’s a just-for-fun holiday. All you have to do is put on a crazy outfit and go out and collect more candy than you should ever eat. (Some of us also know this as a trip to the Walmart.)

Caramel apples are probably the iconic Halloween treat for me. They’ve been associated with the spooky holiday for as long as I can remember. When I was little, there was always that one brilliantly crisp fall Saturday when my parents would load us all up into the Rambler station wagon and drive us out of town to the nearest apple orchard. In those days, it was actually a bargain to pick your own, and as anyone who follows this blog knows, my parents loved a bargain. We’d bring back a big bushel basket of apples that we kept in the garage, where it was always nice and chilly.

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Invariably, there were always several apples in that bushel that looked less than great. Those were the special ones, set aside for the profound honor of becoming caramel apples. My mom would bring out the bag of Kraft Caramels, take out the little popsicle sticks, and set us down to start unwrapping those lovely little squares. With the four of us popping more of those caramels into our mouths than into the bowl, it’s a wonder there were ever enough for the apples.

As my mom melted down the caramels, we’d get busy pushing the popsicle sticks into the apples. Once the caramels were sauce-ified, we’d start twirling and swirling the apples, trying to get as much caramel as possible on the apple, never quite making it all the way to the stick. On to the wax paper then, to cool, which always took too long.

Finally! time to eat – and to this day, it’s always the same – a couple of big bites of caramel-covered apple, but once the caramel is gone, I am done. Nobody really wants the rest of all that plain old apple, right? It was just a way to get all that caramel-ly deliciousness.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a good caramel apple. But I haven’t missed those flavors, because I’ve found the big girl version – the Caramel Appletini. A nice little cocktail consisting of vodka and apple schnapps in a glass rimmed with caramel sauce…mmmmmm!

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Of course, I had to try to “cupcake” it, and just in time for Halloween, too. I started with a spice cake mix, added in some Angry Orchard hard apple cider, topped it off with apple schnapps frosting, and garnished with Captain Morgan spiced rum caramel sauce.

These Halloween Caramel Appletini cupcakes are so good, it’s scary!

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Caramel Appletini Cupcakes

I used a Betty Crocker mix for this recipe, so the ingredients listed are for that mix. If you use a different brand, follow the directions, substituting the water with the same amount of hard apple cider.

1 box spice cake mix

1 cup Angry Orchard hard apple cider

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

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

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer, mixing at low speed for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

Appletini Frosting

1 cup butter, softened

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

3 – 4 tablespoons apple schnapps

Cream butter in bowl of stand mixer. Add 3 cups confectioners sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons apple schnapps, mixing at low speed until blended and then on high speed for up to 5 minutes until light and fluffy, adding more sugar and schnapps until desired consistency is reached. Frost as desired.

Captain Morgan Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce

Follow the directions for the caramel sauce from my Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes recipe. Drizzle caramel sauce over the frosted cupcakes.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes with Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce

26 Oct

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So apparently, just about very day is a national some type of yummy food day.  Fitting for the season, October 21 is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day. Now, I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake.  I know it’s a delicious, decadent, indulgent treat, but I’m more of a cookie, cake and brownie girl. But the thought of a pumpkin cheesecake cupcake got the creative wheels turning.

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First, the crust – no ordinary graham cracker crust for these special cheesecakes, I had to go with something a little more seasonal, something more evocative of fall, something with a little kick of spice to go along with the pumpkin. I don’t know what they call them where you live, but around here, we’ve got our Sweetzels Spiced Wafers, and they’ve got quite a cult following.  I don’t know which I look forward to more – the first fall pumpkin ales or the first spotting of that bright orange Sweetzels box.  OK, that’s just silly, of course it’s the pumpkin ales, but the Sweetzels are a close second.

Next, the cheesecake filling. Easy enough, using a basic cheesecake recipe with a helping of  pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice stirred in for that touch of autumn.

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And finally, the bit that makes these little cheesecakes bui cupcake-worthy. Spiced rum caramel sauce. No goopy canned cherry topping for these cheesecakes. We’ve got some Captain Morgan and he’s bringing the heavy guns. Mix a nice dose of that spiced rum in with a little brown sugar, a little cream and you are good to go. Seriously, is there anything the Captain can’t do?

So happy National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day – the bui cupcakes way!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe by Bakedbree

For the Sweetzels Crust

20 Sweetzels (or other gingersnap-type cookies)

3 tablespoons butter – melted

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Put the Sweetzels in food processor and pulse on and off until crumbs. Add melted butter and mix in processor until combined. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of crumb mixture to each liner. Tamp down with the bottom of small glass. Bake for 8 minutes.

For the Cheesecake Mixture

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 brown sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree  (not pie filling)

Cream the above at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add:

1 tablespoon sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until combined. Pour on top of pre-baked crumb crusts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature, then finish cooling in the fridge

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Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Epicurious

This recipe makes a little more caramel sauce than you probably need for these little cheesecakes. But hold on to the leftovers. Coming up next? Caramel Appletini Cupcakes!

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Captain Morgan spiced rum

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in Captain Morgan spiced rum. Cool completely, stirring every few minutes.

Top cooled cheesecakes with the caramel sauce. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Add a spritz of whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Ganache and Frosting

17 Oct

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October 18 has to be one of the best days of the year. Why? It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day!  And I have a confession to make – as much as I love concocting all of these fun, spiked cupcakes I’ve been posting about, my absolute favorite is, and always has been, the simple chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. Perfection to me is a rich, moist chocolate cupcake topped with a velvety chocolate buttercream. Nothing makes me happier.

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My sister, Laura, has mastered the art of the perfect chocolate cake. She found the best recipe years ago and has stuck with it, turning out wonderfully delicious  chocolate cakes time after time. One year for my birthday, she surprised me at work with a towering chocolate cake – I think it was three layers high! –  filled and covered with chocolate buttercream and decorated with cascades of chocolate curls. Definitely one of the all-time top 5 best birthday presents ever. And I didn’t share any of it.

It’s not that I’m a chocolaholic, per se. I do appreciate good chocolate, usually the darker the better. In fact, I have several favorite chocolatiers strategically located up and down the east coast. But I can enjoy one little square from a bar of 80% dark and call it good for the rest of the day. The family is mystified that a box of exquisite dark chocolate-covered marzipan (another all time favorite) can last for weeks and weeks. But there’s something about the chocolate-chocolate cupcake that erases all self-control.

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A little while back, a favorite blogger, BrownEyedBaker,  posted a recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes. They looked wonderful. Wiping the drool from my chin, I immediately bookmarked the post to try another day. And that day has arrived.

I started with BrownEyedBaker’s cupcake recipe, but being true to this blog, tinkered with the ganache filling and frosting by introducing a little Lady Godiva…Chocolate Liqueur, that is. The end result is a cupcake so rich and decadent and chocolatey sinful, they’d make even Lady Godiva blush.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Frosting

Makes one dozen cupcakes

Start by making the ganache first so it has time to set in the fridge.

Godiva Liqueur Ganache

2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined and smooth. Stir in Godiva Liqueur. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

3 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

3/4 cup hot coffee

3/4 cup bread flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

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

Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in large bowl and pour hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly in the cupcake tins. Add one slightly rounded teaspoon of ganache in the center of each.

Bake for approximately 17-19 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Cool on rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan to cool completely.

Godiva Liqueur Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 to 2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

dash salt

2 to 3 tablespoons Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

Cream butter with electric mixer. Add 1 cup of confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix until combined. Add Godiva Liqueuer. Mix at high speed until light and fluffy, adding more sugar and/or liqueur until desired consistency is reached. Frost as desired.

Enjoy!

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