Black-Bottom Cupcakes

When I asked my friend Maria what cupcake she would like for her birthday she requested black bottom cupcakes. I had honestly never heard of them before but I am always game to try something new. These are incredibly easy, in fact you can bang these out in under and hour and with no frosting to complicate things, clean up couldn’t be easier. They taste fabulous, somewhere between a cupcake and a muffin, with the mix of the cake and cream cheese filling keeping everything very moist. If you want a quick fun cupcake try these out, they do not disappoint.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes  (makes about 12-14 cupcakes)

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen



  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate (I used mini chocolate chips)


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (natural)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar (I used cider)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg together until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces (or mini chocolate chips).

To make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350′F. Prepare you muffin tin with paper wrappers. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt-stir with a whisk. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth- do not overmix. Divide batter among muffin cups, I filled about 1/2 way. Then add a few tablespoons of the filling to the cupcakes. I did it off to the side for a black and white look but you can just add it to the center. This will fill the cups almost completely, mine went over the edge a bit but not too bad. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and feel springy when gently pressed. Let them cool in the pan till they are set, about 20 minutes. Then cool completely on a cooling rack.



Baptism cupcakes


Gumpaste flowers

One of my best friend’s was having a baptism for her adorable baby girl and I offered to make cupcakes. I just knew I wanted something feminine and pretty. We decided on lavender as the theme color and we enjoyed a Friday night creating these. They turned out better than I expected, we could not find the flower cutout I wanted anywhere in town so we had to settle for one I already had. But, we made it work and had a lot of fun with the gum-paste and disco dust. My friend also got to create her first cupcake tower, it turned out so cute and the sparkle ribbon I couldn’t resist at the store looked wonderful.

For the cupcake flavors, I did a limonchello cupcake, with a lemon curd filling and limonchello cream cheese frosting and a chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling and a Swiss meringue butter-cream frosting. I will say this will be the last time I use this chocolate recipe, they just don’t hold up well to being cupcakes and they puff up so much in the oven its hard not to get an ugly “muffin top” on the cupcakes. They taste fabulous but just are not sturdy enough for cupcake production. They also make a lot of cupcakes, which is not necessarily a bad thing but no normal batch of frosting will cover them all so I had to make a half batch of chocolate cream cheese frosting to get them all covered.  I also  ran into another problem with the lemon cupcakes, the recipe only makes 12 cupcakes, which is fine but the amount of lemon curd was not nearly enough for all 12 in my opinion, therefore I have doubled the recipe below so you do not encounter the same problem. Also, the frosting recipe makes just barely enough (for my frosting taste), so it really would not hurt to do a double batch if you would like a little more frosting on top. As for the Limonchello, again not to diss this recipe but I would not go out and spend $25 on a bottle just for these cupcakes, I would use a lemon extract instead. I added a touch of lemon juice in my frosting to add more flavor, I have noted that below as well.

Limoncello Cupcakes:

Recipe adapted from: Brown eyed Baker

For the cupcakes: (makes 12 cupcakes)

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons limoncello
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

For the Lemon Curd:

Zest of 4 lemons
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks

 For the cream cheese/limoncello frosting:

2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon limoncello

1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

  1.  Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack in the center of the oven. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk together, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer add butter, cream cheese and sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and creamy, (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat and additional minute. On low-speed add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively,beginning and ending with the flower mixture (so, flower-buttermilk, flower-buttermilk-flower).  Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low-speed just until incorporated. Divide batter between 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until your inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
  2.  Lemon curd: In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them (start with a very small stream and whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling-take your time). Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat (at this point you can strain the it through a fine mesh strainer if you are concerned some of the egg might have scrambled-its a safe way to eliminate that concern). Cool completely.
  3. Cream cheese/limoncello frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed with the paddle attachment until light and creamy (about 3 minutes). Add the limoncello and lemon juice and beat for an additional minute. reduce speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  4. Assemble the cupcakes: Cut a hole (cone shaped) into each cupcake with a small pairing knife. Fill each hole with the lemon curd and then replace the top (you may have to trim the pointy part of the cone to fit it back on). Frost the cupcake however you like, either with a pastry bag and star tip or use an off set spatula to smooth it on top. Decorate however you like.



I plan on having another post about making gumpaste flowers next month.

Swiss Meringue butter cream

Chocolate cream cheese frosting

Cupcake tower directions


Pretty cupcake tower

Sour Cream Coffee cake with blackberries and lemon

Crumbly and soft, wonderful for breakfast

A coworker gave me some wonderful farm fresh eggs that were begging to be made into something. I had this recipe bookmarked since Christmas because my husband loves coffee cake. I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand, which never seems to happen so I whipped this up. Its incredibly easy and fast, something you could certainly do for a morning breakfast.  The book  had a variation in it for lemon/blueberry, which sounded fine but I had some frozen blackberries that needed to be used and it sounded better to me. I also made this in a rectangular pan rather than the called for bunt pan, I think either works, I just happened to purchase this pan that day and wanted to try it out. You will get a prettier slice from a bunt pan, so if you are using this for entertaining I would go with that.

I brought this to work to share and everyone enjoyed it. The eggs were the star, nothing beats farm fresh eggs from happy chickens that hang out in a garden all day and eat completely organically.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Blackberries and Lemon
Source: Baking Illustrated



  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped ( I did not add nuts because I am not a fan)


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries


  1. For the streusel: Place the flour, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and the cinnamon in a food processor and process to combine. Transfer 1 1/4 cups of flour/sugar mixture to small bowl and stir in remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; set aside (this will be the streusel for the inside of the cake). Add the butter and pecans to the remaining dry ingredients in the food processor bowl. Process the mixture until the nuts and butter have been broken down into small pebbly pieces. Set aside. (The streusel with the butter and nuts will be for the top o the cake).
  2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan (10-inch diameter, 10-cup capacity). Combine eggs, 1 cup of the sour cream, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at low speed, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of sour cream and mix at low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Decrease the mixer speed to medium-low and slowly incorporate the egg mixture in 3 additions, beating for 20 seconds after each and scraping the sides of bowl as necessary. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute (the batter should increase in volume and become aerated and pale in color).
  4. Toss 1 cup frozen blackberries with 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest in small bowl. Add 2 cups of the batter to the prepared pan. With an offset metal spatula or rubber spatula, smooth the surface of the batter. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of blackberries and 3/4 cup streusel filling (without butter or nuts). Drop 2 cups of the batter over the streusel and blackberries, spread evenly, and then add the remaining blackberries and streusel filling. Top with remaining batter and then the streusel topping (with the butter and nuts).
  5. Bake until the cake feels firm to the touch and a toothpick or thin skewer inserted into center comes out clean (although there may be bits of sugar from the streusel clinging to the tester), 50 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan on for 30 minutes. Place a rimmed baking sheet over the top of the cake and invert the cake onto the pan (the cake should now be upside down, with the streusel on the bottom). Remove the tube pan, place a wire rack on the cake, and reinvert so the streusel is facing up. Cool for 2 hours and serve or cool completely and wrap the cake in aluminum foil.

Beautiful fresh eggs

Weekend Cocktail~ Pink Grapefruit Margaritas

These margaritas will certainly liven up your weekend, both refreshing and delicious. They are super simple to make, the only catch being, you need fresh limes, it really makes a difference. Make these at your next party, they are sure to be a hit.

Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
From: Barefoot Contessa’s  How Easy Is That

  • 1 cup          ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2  cup    fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 1 cup         triple sec orange liqueur
  • 3 cups      ice
  • 1 cup        silver tequila
  • 1   lime cut in wedges, optional Kosher salt.

If you prefer to rim the glasses take a lime wedge and rim, then dip in salt, if you do not like a salted rim sprinkle a touch of salt in each glass, the salt really brings out the flavor.

Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, triple sec and ice in a blender. Pour into a large pitcher (or just keep it in the blender) and pour in the tequila, stir. (I personally just added it all to the blender- I like slushy, that is totally up to you)

Makes 4 drinks.

* Just as a note: it is important to use Ruby Red grapefruit juice, it is much sweeter than regular and it has the lovely pink color.  

Cinnamon pull-apart bread

What better to do than make some fresh delicious bread while you are home with a sick child. I remember seeing this recipe a while ago and it seemed the perfect treat for sick little Gattor. It’s a rather simple recipe, no copious amounts of kneading, you simply cut it up and then bake it.  So if you are not a bread maker, as I am not, I still encourage you to go for it. If you are going to make this for breakfast keep in mind the length of time you will need for the rising and resting. I started this around 10:30 AM and we were not nibbling on it until after 1 in the afternoon.  I added lots of pictures because I took advantage of the wonderful daylight.

Dough getting reading for its first rise

brown butter is your friend

Coated in brown butter


Cinnamon Donut Muffins

These muffins have been on my to-do list for a while, they look so delicious. They are super simple to make, literally 10 minutes and they are in the oven. My daughter thought they were fabulous, which is not surprising. They are dense like a muffin but the texture with the cinnamon sugar reminds me of a donut. I made them in my mini muffin tin and I think that is the best way to enjoy them. I don’t think it is completely necessary to dip them in butter, the cinnamon sugar will stick if you roll them in it right out of the oven. So, whip a batch of these up to accompany your breakfast this weekend.


Muffin ingredients:

1 3/4 cup Flour

1.5 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/3 cup of Oil (I used vegetable)

3/4 cup White sugar

1 Egg

3/4 cup Milk ( I used 2%)

For the topping:

1/4 cups butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

In a small bowl  combine dry ingredients with a whisk or fork. In a larger bowl combine oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add in the dry ingredients and stir just enough to combine. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. While they are baking melt the butter in a bowl and in another bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar. While the muffins are still hot dip them in the butter (optional but not necessary) then in the sugar mixture, cool on a cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from:  Tasty Kitchen

Bakers Coconut

The idea to create my own coconut for baking never really occurred to me, but after reading how easy and tasty it was on the Cupcake Project I knew I had to try it. She is also responsible for me making my own Oreo cookies and well, that certainly turned out awesome.

The key to finding a good coconut in the store (which we found out after purchasing ours) is to shake it and listen for the juice inside, you should hear it. If you don’t the coconut is dry and probably not usable, hence the prop coconut you see in the cupcake pictures.

The process went rather smoothly, once your coconut is bought, you poke a hole in one of its little eyes (I know sounds gruesome). My husband took his drill and made a hole but you could also take  a clean screw driver and a hammer to it. Around here power tools rule so we went that route. Once you have a hole you then take the coconut and put the hole over a glass and let it drain. Once all the coconut water is out you then take it outside, or in the garage as we did and bash the sucker against the cement. It will split open, you then collect your pieces and head to the sink.

Then the process of removing the shell from the flesh begins, this is definitely the least fun part, so if possible have your significant other do it. :) A butter knife works well for this process. Once the shell is popped off, you then take a veggie peeler and peel away the brown skin. Then rinse all the pieces and dry them on a paper towel. If you do not have a food processor then you will have to shred it by hand (sorry) but if you do have one just use the shredder attachment, if you don’t you can chop it instead. If you chop it the coconut will be slightly chunkier and not as pretty, in my opinion.

Next,  measure your coconut (so you know how much sugar to add) and put it in a saucepan with whatever coconut water you go out of the shell. You then add 1/3 the amount of sugar as coconut. (example: 2 cups coconut = 2/3 cup of sugar) At this point I added some water because I didn’t seem to get much coconut water out of my shells compared to the amount of coconut and I didn’t want it to burn in the pan. I added enough water in to be soupy-see picture below.  You then bring it to a boil and then turn it down to low and let it simmer uncovered for about and hour, best to read that part before 11:30 at night,(mine was on med/low to get a good simmer). The liquid should turn into a syrup, drain that out and save for whatever you want- its delicious. Next lay the coconut out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight. On the other blogs the coconut turned a yellowish color, mine however remained white, I have no idea why but it still tasted wonderful so I really didn’t care.  Use it, refrigerate it or freeze it.

Source: Cupcake Project

Chocolate Caramel Coconut Pecan Cupcakes

First off let me please apologize for the photos, it was 11pm and I have yet to invest in some lighting, so unfortunately they have a terrible yellow cast to them. On top of that I completely spaced cutting one in half so you could see the inside. With that out-of-the-way…

For my friend Jane’s birthday I told her to design her perfect cupcake and I think she did a fabulous job. She wanted caramel with pecans and coconut. We decided on a chocolate cupcake leaning towards a German chocolate type idea. I was browsing some blogs and came across a post for creating your own bakers coconut. I think it made a huge difference and the taste was fabulous. My husband who does not like coconut was eating it out of the pan while it toasted, so I can assure you its worth the extra work. I made my favorite salted caramel cream cheese frosting from my go to caramel recipe. The filling was wonderful too, toasted pecans, toasted coconut and caramel.  The chocolate cake was very good as well, light and moist.Overall these cupcakes were a huge hit. I took some extra time to decorate them, having fun with different ways to arrange them. Don’t let the multiple steps discourage you from making these, they are well worth it and the process was half the fun! I am going to put the coconut recipe in a separate post, so stay tuned.

Caramel coconut filling with caramel cream cheese frosting.

Yield: approx 36 cupcakes

Chocolate Cake:

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flower
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 36 cupcake slots with cupcake papers.  Combine chocolate, 1 cup water and espresso powder in heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add chocolate mixture and vanilla and beat until blended. Sift four, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with sour cream in 3 additions, beginning with dry ingredients and beating well after each addition.

Fill cupcake liners no more than 2/3 full;  1/2 full would work too just know you will make more than 36, do not do as I did and fill them 3/4 full, they will make a large muffin top which is very delicate and breaks when you try to move and frost them. Cool completely. They are super fragile cupcakes, so be very careful when removing them from the pans.

For filling:
Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until syrup turns a light amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush ( I rarely do this) and swirling occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add cream (mixture will bubble ). Place pan over medium low heat and stir until caramel bits melt, about 5 minutes. Stir in coconut and 1 cup pecans. Cool filling until it thickens, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Assembly: After the cupcakes have cooled take a pairing knife and cut out a cone-shaped chunk out of the middle of the cupcake. Take a tablespoon of filling and fill the hole, replace the top. (you may have to trim a little off the bottom of the top if the filling is very full).  Make the frosting, fill a piping bag with a large tip of your choice and pipe frosting. Decorate with coconut and any left over caramel and filling. Have fun!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious



Cupcakes three ways


Oprah’s Lemon Drop Martini


This has been one of my favorite drinks for years now. It its sweet and refreshing and the addition of mint really adds something. You cannot necessarily taste the mint but in my opinion it’s what makes this drink for me, well that and the sugared rim. :) If you can score some fresh lemons from someones tree (thank you neighbor) it really knocks this out of the park. My husband and I spent a good hour juicing lemons after a friendly lemon tree raid. I would recommend doing it in daylight, my daughter’s Princess flashlight was a rather pathetic supply of light and didn’t keep us from being attacked by the tree but in the end it was still worth it.  A word of caution, this drink is rather stiff, so although it goes down smooth it will sneak up on you with quite a punch.

Oprah’s Lemon Drop Martini

  • 3 oz of your favorite vodka
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP of sugar, and more for the rim
  • 4 mint leaves, torn

Take your cocktail shaker and combine all the ingredients with ice and shake. Take a chilled martini glass and rub a lemon wedge around the edge and rim with sugar. I use a mint leaf for garnish, you can also curl some lemon rind. This recipe will make one drink.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Brown sugar frosting and the middle stuffed with cookie dough

What more can you say, these are remarkable. These cupcakes have been on my to do list for a long time. I finally had an excuse to make them today for a birthday party. They were fabulous, one of the few times where I think everyone at the party had two. I was concerned at first the cake would be boring and dry but nope, it was very good. I should know to never  question anything from the Cupcake
Bakeshop, that girl knows her stuff. If you love cookie dough, these are the cupcakes for you, not to mention they make a fabulous presentation. I am just adding a link, they are on every other blog but I feel Annie as usual does a great job with instructions

I had a concern about the flower in the frosting, not seeing any real need for it to be in there but when I tasted it without it, it was too sweet for me. I think the flower really help cut that. I also added a smidgen of salt to the filling.


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