Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes/cinnamon cream cheese frosting [joy the baker]

(Originally posted: February 14, 2014)

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Whether you’re spending it with a significant other or with a movie and some chocolate, make sure you treat yourself well today.

My Valentine’s Day gift to myself is takeout, a bad 1970 adaptation of Dracula, and good friends. Ladies and gentlemen, life at UChicago.

As far as V-Day treats go, though, I’m a big fan of red velvet done right. In my quest for the perfectly moist, tender and crumbly red velvet cake, I made these cupcakes from Joy the Baker.

Let me just say: right choice. This is by far the best red velvet recipe I’ve tried to date.

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Moreover, the frosting? Oh my god, to die for. Why have I never thought of putting cinnamon in cream cheese frosting?

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And the ratio of powdered sugar to cream cheese is just right for a frosting that sets firm but is still nice and tangy from the cream cheese. It tastes like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch–only better.IMG_5718

The one note I have is about the red food coloring. 2 Tablespoons? That’s a lot. I didn’t even have that much food coloring in my house when I made these. I ended up using 2-3 teaspoons of food coloring + 1 T hot water, and then added another teaspoon or two of hot water to the chocolatey paste when it wasn’t quite paste-y enough. As you can see, the cupcakes were still a vivid shade of red, so nothing lost here!

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Make these for your valentine, for your friends, for yourself, for your cat–whomever you wanna share some love with today.

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In other news, tenderloveandcupcakes.com is officially my own, GoDaddy-hosted website! This is very exciting news. It also means I’ll be playing with the layout a lot for a while, so bear with me, please. And feel free to leave comments on how it looks/what works/what doesn’t! I’ll try to stay on top of everything, but there will be bugs, and for that I am sorry.

Poke around, leave me a comment, and have a happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂 <3

slutty cupcakes: a story

Picture it if you can:

Wednesday night of 10th week. Classes are done for the year, finals are still far enough that the panic hasn’t set in, and the ladies of PBT are rocking out to Taylor Swift in a dorm basement kitchen.

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Note how excited Emma and Estelle are. As they should be.

Their mission for the night has been long awaited, but what better way to welcome reading period than with stress baking? Yes, the night was simply perfect for slutty cupcakes.

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You’ve never heard of slutty cupcakes? Victoria is skeptical.

Now don’t ask me why they’re slutty. I can’t answer that question in any remotely satisfactory fashion. What I can tell you is that they’re so rich, so deeply indulgent, and so damn easy to make that they should be illegal(Except not actually, because then what would we do without them?!) These classic but slightly terrifying muffin-cupcake-brownies–because one name is not enough to capture what they are–consist of a soft cookie dough base, one full Reese’s Cup, and one full Oreo layered over it, all topped with a healthy serving of gooey, moist brownie batter.

Warning: more than one of these may kill you.

So we assembled the trays. Readymade cookie dough, Reese’s Cups, Double Stuf Oreos, and Betty Crocker brownie mix. They looked like those adorable chocolate-covered marshmallow and graham cracker cookies, whose name completely evades me.

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So cute already!

The baking time was an educated guess, so I set the timer for 20 minutes, and we went off to find a way to amuse ourselves.

Victoria remained skeptical.

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I was domestic.

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Emma vandalized Sheena’s whiteboard.

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And we took incredibly cheesy photos in our matching dresses.

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Somewhere in between all of this, Victoria ended up with a busted ankle. No worries–she’s fine now–but the valiant sacrifice of her body will not be forgotten.

Finally, out came the slutty brownies, hot and baked to perfection, crisp with melting insides. We probably should’ve let them cool longer, but we couldn’t help it. We dug in.

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Estelle is super excited…

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…and super cute when caught off-guard. Sorrynotsorry, girl.

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Nina’s allergies deprive her of slutty cupcakes and make her sad. (It’s okay; she got real cupcakes after this.)

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Emma shows off those beautiful layers.

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And Sheena is simply pleased.

Satisfied, we split up the remaining cupcakes and called it a night. Almost zero effort for a small treat that goes a long way–and makes a great gift for physics TAs, as we found out.

Seriously, make these. You won’t regret it in the slightest.

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On to baking logistics things! One package of brownie mix and one roll of ready to bake cookie dough yielded 24 cupcakes, with leftover brownie batter. Our cupcakes stuck to the paper liners pretty badly, especially once they’d cooled. If you don’t want to deal with that, I’d suggest forgoing the liners and simply spraying the pan. That should solve the problem.

20 minutes at 350F was enough to bake these really thoroughly. As you can see in the photo above, the brownie batter formed a light, flaky skin over the Oreo just as it normally would, and the surrounding edges were crisp like the edges of a pan of brownies. I would actually start checking the cupcakes around 16 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook. The cookie dough will definitely be cooked–you’ll just want to test the brownies, which you can do with a toothpick as normal, cooking until a toothpick inserted into the batter (away from the Oreo!!) comes out clean/with a few moist crumbs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

I’m back! In case that wasn’t obvious. After a week at home to settle in, I’m getting back into the baking swing of things, and updates will become regular again (every weekend!). Unfortunately, being back home means the UChicago cupcake orders have been put on hold for the summer. That being said, if enough people around here want custom cupcakes, I’ll consider making this a second location. Just drop me a comment/message! 🙂

And speaking of UChicago–shameless self-promotion! HUGE thanks to Hannah at Spoon, a UChicago food magazine/blog for writing about tlc baking this month! Spoon is growing quickly, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on even if you don’t go to UChicago. Check out their site here, and read the article about tlc here!

Aaaaand that’s it for my very, very long post. Sorry, guys! Making up for lost time here. 😉

See y’all next weekend!

lemon cupcakes with strawberry centers [coconut & lime]

Despite the chilly rain that’s been assaulting Chicago for a week now, it is indeed spring, and my cravings are showing it. Sweet, juicy berries, tangy citrus, froyo piled high with every topping in the store–this is all I want anymore.

I’m finding myself thinking of last summer’s recipes, so today I have a throwback for you guys. One of my favorites that I made last spring and summer. Multiple times. Because they were that good.

These are lemon cupcakes with full strawberry centers, courtesy of Coconut & Lime.

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Mmmmm. Love those juicy strawberries.

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I followed the recipe exactly, going with the suggestion of cream cheese frosting with added lemon juice and zest. My favorite part about these is that nobody expects an entire strawberry inside the cupcake. It’s a pleasant, juicy surprise that contrasts nicely against the texture of this dense cake. You don’t need big strawberries, but make sure they’re nice and ripe, so you really get the full berry sweetness to complement all the lemon in these.

The photos are not quite up to my usual standards, so forgive me for that, please. They’re a bit old. But just last week I bought some of the biggest, reddest strawberries I’ve ever had, so I’m hoping that as soon as this rain clears up, there will be a lot more of those berries–and some of these cupcakes–anew in my life.

Enjoy the weekend! 🙂