Chocolate Spiderweb Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! 

Since Halloween falls on a Monday this year, Ward, Andrew, Dion and I celebrated on Saturday. We dressed as the characters from Stranger Things to celebrate Halloween and I decided to bake some Halloween inspired cupcakes!

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Now, we know that I always try to make things from scratch, but I think we can all appreciate how amazing boxed cake mix and frosting is. That’s probably what made these spiderweb cupcakes such a breeze to make and I was thankful for it!

I found two different recipes – as it turns out – and accidentally combined the two recipe ingredients into one list. I didn’t realize this until I had already taken my photos so please disregard the maple syrup and pumpkin pie filling because I went with the Itsy Bitsy Spiderweb Cupcake Recipe instead.

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I started by making the cake mixture and pouring it into the muffin tins.

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I baked them for 17 minutes at 350. While they baked, I made the white chocolate spiderwebs by melting the white chocolate chips and piping them out onto the stencils.

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I made a point to strictly follow the stencils at first but towards the end I moved quickly and made circles instead of curved lines.

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I put the webs into the fridge to set and moved onto the cupcakes which had cooled by this point.

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I put the frosting into a bowl and microwaved it until it became thin enough to pour.

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I dipped the tops of the cupcakes into the frosting and let the excess drip off.

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I took the webs out of the fridge and started to assemble the cupcakes. I was super impressed with how the webs came out.

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I added the plastic spiders and voila!

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I’ve always been the person who sets out on an art project and has it turn out less than perfectly so I was so, so pleased to see how these turned out!

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I hope everyone has a safe & happy Halloween!

Sweetly,

Simona

Rainbow Cupcakes

Happy Pride!

Growing up in San Francisco, I have gone to the Pride parade every year. I couldn’t make it this year, so instead, I decided to make rainbow cupcakes in celebration!

Disclaimer: this recipe was not from scratch. For me, the point was to make something in spirit of Pride and all of the recipes for rainbow cakes from scratch were insanely complicated.

Can you believe that Walgreens didn’t have vanilla cake, frosting or food coloring?

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So, I had to go to Whole Foods and the ingredients above were all they had. Slim pickins!

I mixed eggs with oil then added the cake mix to it.

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The cake batter was really dry and I knew that wouldn’t work with the plan I had for rainbow cupcakes so I added a little milk to moisten it.

I then split the batter into 6 different bowls and added food coloring to each.

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The yellow, orange, and green seemed really similar to me and I was worried that once baked they would all blend together.

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I prepped the cupcake pan and began to pour the batter into each cup one by one starting with purple.

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I put them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

When they came out, I thought they looked pretty cute! In the original recipe, each color was an entire layer. That didn’t happen for me, which wasn’t entirely surprising, but I liked the way they looked anyway.

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While the cupcakes cooled, I mixed the Whole Foods frosting together.

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I took a bite to taste the outcome and to see how the rainbow inside turned out.

Color wise, I thought the cupcakes were pretty but they were definitely pastel – not quite what I wanted for today, but still nice.

Taste wise – sorry Whole Foods, but …. homemade is better! Maybe it was because the only option they had was gluten free? Or maybe I’m just used to homemade now, but I wasn’t entirely convinced with their mix. Regardless, I had fun making these and will definitely try something similar again.

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I hope everyone had a fun, safe, and happy Pride weekend!

Sweetly,

Simona

Chocolate Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Frosting

Happy Mother’s Day!

This year, for Mother’s Day, my mom requested that I make her favorite chocolate cupcakes with Italian meringue frosting from Miette. I love Miette too and they have some amazing pastries and candies. My mom has their cookbook and handed it over to me recently.

I intensely prepared for making this recipe because I know that Miette is tough so I read, and re-read their Old-Fashioned Cake recipe. When I was prepping to cook, I made sure my mise en place was, well, mise en place.

I started by sifting the dry ingredients together.

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I placed the dry ingredients aside and mixed the buttermilk and vanilla. I placed the cocoa chunks in a third bowl and poured boiling water over them to melt.

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The boiled water created a very liquid chocolate mix. It was much like hot chocolate, which, didn’t feel right but I went with it and continued to follow the recipe.

While the chocolate mix cooled, I whisked the eggs together until they became foamy. The recipe required adding vegetable oil to the foamy eggs. For some reason, we haven’t had vegetable oil in our pantry for months so, instead, I added apple sauce. Another tip I’ve learned – apple sauce can be substituted for vegetable oil. It will create the same moist cake, but can also help in reducing sugar, if that’s a concern.

The cooled chocolate mix and buttermilk mix was then poured into the egg mixture and whisked. I then added the dry ingredients and mixed it with my hands. The recipe said to leave it chunky.

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I poured the batter through a sieve and pressed it through with a spatula, making sure that as much batter as possible got through.

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This was a messy, but delicious process.

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The batter was thick as I poured it into the cupcake liners. It was almost brownie like!

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After baking for 25 minutes, the cupcakes came out and looked great!

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I made these on Saturday night only to realize that the meringue frosting had to be made the day of serving so I let the cupcakes cool and waited until Sunday morning to make the frosting.

I woke up early Sunday morning to start the Italian meringue. Having struggled with my first meringues, I wanted to give myself enough time to make this.

I mixed the sugar, water, and cream of tartar and heated it to make a candy liquid/paste. I searched high and low for a candy thermometer on Saturday but couldn’t find one. Thanks to Google, I learned what to do in this situation.

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I heated the sugar mixture and had a bowl of ice water and spoon handy. As it cooked, I dipped the spoon into the mixture and put it into the ice water. I dunked my hand in there with it, and based on its consistency between my fingers, I gauged if it was ready or not. I know that this is not entirely accurate but it worked well enough.

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Next, I mixed the eggs and vanilla and poured the sugar mixture down the sides of the bowl. The recipe said to whisk the mixture for 10 minutes or so until it formed firm peaks. I don’t have a stand mixer (though it is on my baking wishlist – hint, hint), so I used my electric hand mixer.

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This is where my problems began. I beat the eggs for 10 minutes, and though it was much thicker now, firm peaks were not forming. I’d like to blame my hand mixer but I know that meringues are finicky and I might have missed something else along the way. I also didn’t want to over-beat the mixture and make it too thick. So many places to make mistakes – yikes!

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My next step was to pipe the frosting. Another thing I need practice on and I knew I would have some trouble with this since my meringue wasn’t the right consistency. That being said, I at least learned how to get frosting into a piping bag with ease by placing it in a glass first.

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I started to frost the cupcakes, and as anticipated, things got messy. I started by piping as much as the recipe said to, hoping that the meringue would in fact be puffy. This only ended in large amounts of meringue dripping off the top. I started putting less frosting on to offset this but then the cupcakes looked flat. I couldn’t win!

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The dripping frosting also made it so that my somewhat centered top candies became very off centered. The above photos show the cupcakes that made it with minimal drips and struggle, so in the interest of full disclosure… this is what the majority of the cupcakes looked like:

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I decided to go with the flow of the dripping and pretended that that was the look I was going for. Messy hair buns are in right now, so messy cupcakes must be too, right?

I was happy to have enough to package up nicely and give to my mom and Ward’s mom for Mother’s Day. When I tried one of the cupcakes, I was happy to discover that they were extremely moist and rich. The frosting was gooey but tasted so good.

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This recipe reminded me how much of a learning process this is. It also reminded me how fun it is to be messy. I’ve been somewhat concerned about posting the perfect pictures of perfectly baked goods and clean prepped items but that is simply not the reality of learning to bake. Though I am getting better at prepping my ingredients before beginning to bake, a big mess is sometimes unavoidable and I’m starting to think that that’s not a bad thing. Here’s to more messy kitchens and adventures in baking!

Sweetly,

Simona

Chocolate Rainbow Cupcakes

I made a few cupcakes…

A few dozen that is!

I started baking late Tuesday night so I completely forgot to document the process until the cupcakes were out of the oven – oops! I just wanted to bake, bake, bake and was having fun doing it so documenting completely slipped my mind.

I did, however, learn to make my own buttermilk! Just a tablespoon of lemon juice, then enough milk to make a cup of liquid. Stir it up then let it sit and voila. I also learned that it’s okay to replace vegetable oil with melted butter.

After baking for 20 minutes, the cupcakes came out wonderfully round with a slightly crisp bottom and moist inside.

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I had made an easy sugar frosting made of (mostly) powdered sugar. I considered piping it to make pretty cupcake tops but since it was already late at night, I opted out. To make them a little more fun though, I decided to add food coloring to the frosting.

They were maybe not the most gorgeous cupcakes but they were fun and delicious!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

I haven’t made cake for this blog yet, so I felt like starting with cupcakes.

It was a lazy day so I didn’t want anything too complicated but I did want to make the cupcakes and frosting completely from scratch.

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The batter was a simple vanilla one with butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk, and vanilla. The frosting was also pretty simple but it was so tasty. I know this because I, unabashedly, ate a few spoonfuls of it 🙂 The frosting was powdered sugar, melted chocolate, butter, and vanilla. The chocolate I melted was a mixture of mini Nestle chocolate chips, a small chocolate bunny, and some Trader Joe’s chocolate chunks. The combination was delicious!

To note: I need a better bowl for melting chocolate… The bowl I used was, apparently, not heat proof – oops!

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I was really proud of how the cupcakes turned out when they came out of the oven.

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I waited as long as I could (10 minutes) for the cupcakes to cool before frosting them. During that time, I put the frosting into a piping bag because I wanted to try frosting these in a slightly fancier way than simply spreading it on with a knife.

This went relatively well, at first.

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After a little bit, though, the nice layers of frosting became an even level of frosting. Maybe my frosting needed to be thicker? Maybe I needed to wait even longer for the cupcakes to cool? I’m not sure, but they still looked good and were delicious!

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Obviously, I couldn’t be done here though, and covered some of the cupcakes with…. RAINBOW SPRINKLES!

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I was very pleased with the outcome of these and can’t wait to try more alternatives!

Sweetly,

Simona