I love throwing Halloween parties. Mostly because I get to make delicious food and give it disgusting names. Here’s a round-up of all the deliciousness I made this year and the nastiness I called it. Most of these items are easy to make (and can be done ahead of time) so you won’t be slaving away in the kitchen while your guests are having a goulishly good time! My hot hubby and I dressed up as Johnny and June Cash this year. We had a blast!
I started thinking about blueberries after my 6th friend posted on Facebook that they were blueberry picking. No joke. Who knew that all the cool kids go blueberry picking in August? Actually, come to think of it, a few weeks ago when my sister watched my munchkins, she took them out to harvest some blueberries from a local farm. I totally should have though of doing that! Man! When did I become such an un-fun mom? Gotta work on that! It seems to me that with all this berry picking going on, folks might appreciate a recipe (or seven) to use up some of that abundant fruit. So here’s the great big Bakerlady’s Best of Blueberries post!
I can honestly tell you that this recipe was a present for me. From God. No joke. Let me explain. Some lovely people I know just got married. A few days before the wedding I agreed to help out by making a giant cupcake for them to cut into for the smash-cake-in-your-face moment at the wedding. The bride wanted a strawberry cake, but every single recipe I could find used strawberry flavored Jello in it. I’m sure the Jello cakes would have been fine, but the color just seemed too fakey pink given that the bottom of the cake wasn’t going to be frosted.
I searched for several hours and couldn’t find anything that looked good enough for me to use. Frustrated, I went to bed. The next morning in my Twitter feed was a post from America’s Test Kitchen that said “Yes, strawberry cake without Jello is possible with our Strawberry Dream Cake”. (pick my jaw up off the floor) Are you kidding me? I made the recipe that day as a test. It was very good, but a little denser than I wanted. I decided I could make life a lot easier on myself by bumping up the strawberry portion and using a white boxed cake mix as the base. The result was a light deliciously strawberry cake that took only a little more effort than a basic boxed mix. I’ve included both recipes for you. The resulting color is very pale pink and lovely. Since I was taking this to a wedding, you only get photos of the outside.
The cake mix variety I turned into cupcakes to taste test before the wedding and thought I’d share a very important tip with you. Do not frost cupcakes when they are still warm. Do. Not. Do. Not! It does not matter how good you are at frosting techniques, you will fail if the cupcakes are even a little bit still warm. Blame it on the delicious smell, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to try them! I used a new crusting buttercream frosting, added the pressed out strawberry solids from the cake instead of the water called for & adjusted with powdered sugar to get the right consistency. It tasted like strawberry ice cream. Delicious. You can just add the pressed strawberry solids to your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting. Pat them dry first though, moisture and frosting don’t go well together. Warm cupcakes and frosting don’t go together either. See?
Strawberry Dream Cake
a Bakerlady Original
1 box of white (or vanilla, french vanilla) cake mix
3 cups frozen whole strawberries
eggs & oil called for on back of boxed mix
1/2 cup of whole milk
1. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 1 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
2. Prepare cake mix as directed on box. Substitute milk and strawberry mixture for water called for. The boxed mix I used called for 1 cup of water. So I used 1/2 cup strawberry puree and 1/2 cup of milk. Adjust these amounts based on your box mix directions. Bake according to box directions and size of pan you’re using.
3. Top with your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting – add the reserved strawberry solids after patting them dry for an extra burst of strawberry.
Strawberry Dream Cake
from America’s Test Kitchen
- 10 ounces frozen whole strawberries (2 cups)
- 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
- 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment, and flour.
2. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 3/4 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
3. Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
4. Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Sometimes I feel like my house is swimming in bananas. They are always around for my kids and every year I forget how quickly they get ripe for baking (aka dark brown freckly) once the weather turns a smidge warmer. I had some to use up this week and decided to mash-up a couple in these delightful cupcakes.
These cupcakes have all the flavor of a good banana bread with a light airy texture. The vanilla mousse “frosting” is perfect on these, totally reminiscent of banana cream pie. It is rich and delicious. A perfect topper. It is very versatile as well. You could swap out any flavor of instant pudding and use it for fillings in cakes. It’s amazing.
I ziploc baggie frosted these. It was early – I didn’t feel like busting out the pastry bag and frosting tip. Then topped mine with a little dried banana chip. Aren’t they cute?
Banana Cream Cupcakes
adapted from Taste of Home
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vanilla Mousse Frosting
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 large package of jello instant vanilla pudding
1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in
bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder
and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk,
beating well after each addition.
3. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for
18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes
out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For mousse frosting: Combine ingredients and mix well until fluffy and light. Thin with a little milk if necessary.
If you’ve seen any pictures of me, you know why I have to make special things for St. Patrick’s Day. Pale skin, green eyes and freckles freckles everywhere. I missed out on the red hair though (darn you genetics!). In actuality I think I’m about an eighth Irish, but it is the heritage I associate most with. I’d love to visit the Emerald Isle someday. Photos of the verdant (my super smart husband taught me that word) rolling hills of Ireland are more beautiful to me than all the sandy beaches and turquoise waters in the world. I know. I’m odd. Continue reading
Our worship pastor at church is currently on vacation in Hawaii. How nice to be him. He’s posting gorgeous pictures of sandy beaches and brilliant blue skies. I spent my time today huddled in my freezing garage waiting for the few brave souls who could bear the wet dreary 55° day to come check out my stuff for sale. Why is it that every time my neighborhood garage sale happens, it’s remarkably crummy weather? Oh that’s right. I live in Seattle. And it’s May. As I was preparing for my morning tomorrow at church I decided this batch of island vacation cupcakes would be a perfect way to ease the jealousy of the rest of the church volunteers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is wishes I could be somewhere tropical, sipping a frosty beverage and listening to the lulling sounds of waves crashing on a pristine beach. And I don’t even really like sand. But I need a vacation. I’d be willing to deal with a beach to get one. Continue reading
Do not confuse this recipe with banana bread. They are not the same. These cupcakes are light and sweet with major banana flavor. Banana bread (delicious too) is much more dense and not nearly the sweet factor of these. I love the vanilla buttercream on these cupcakes because you get the flecks of dark in the cupcake from the banana and then the flecks of vanilla bean in the frosting. Delightful! Continue reading
Stop the presses. These cupcakes are divine. Simply amazing. I took a lick from the bowl after portioning out the batter and wanted to just eat all of it raw using my hands as shovels. The process for making brownies (melt butter and chocolate together slowly, then add to dry ingredients) is used here and it produces a batter that is thick and rich, but kind of reminded me of my foamy hair mousse because it still had a lightness to it. Ah-mazing. Made with rich dark chocolate, the deep flavor of the cupcakes is perfectly offset by the airy creamy sweetness of the peanut butter frosting. Honestly? It tastes like the middle of a peanut butter cup, but creamier. Wow. Heavenly. Continue reading
Oh how I love love love these cupcakes. The spices, the pumpkin, the cream cheese frosting. It all combines for an absolutely perfect taste explosion. All individually packaged up in a convenient wrapper. Does anyone else think unwrapped cupcake holders look like tutus? No? Just me? Anyway. These are my favorite fall cupcakes – and while it may be spring technically according to the calendar, you’d never know it to look outside at my house. A chilly 48° with misty rain and wind. You know what I mean by misty rain right? The kind of rain that doesn’t really look like it’s coming down. Like it’s really just sprinkling. Yet somehow you are DRENCHED after walking the 14 steps between the front door and your vehicle. Misty rain. It’s the most deceptive of all the rain types. Trust me. I’m from Seattle. I know my rain. Today’s weather had fall written all over it, so I figured I’d make the most of it with my favorite cold weather cupcakes. It’ll probably be the last time I get to before it’s all sunshine-y and spring like outside. (sigh) I know. That’s totally wishful thinking. Oh well. Continue reading
I just have to give a little plug for a gift I was recently given. My grandma got me some cupcake liners and toppers from a local shop called “Three Cups of Tea” and I cannot get over how adorable they are! They are made by Meri Meri and are just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. They also make all kinds of other stuff, all as cute as these babies. Continue reading