Lemon Cupcakes

lemon cupcakes

Fall gets me thinking about baking.  And when I think about baking lately, it’s all about cupcakes!  These lemon cupcakes have a generous dollop of vanilla cream cheese frosting on top rather than the usual lemon frosting.

For people who think buttercream icing is “too sweet”, there are a couple of things you can do to cut down on the sweetness.  My favorite trick to cutting the sweetness in buttercream icing is to add a pinch of salt.  Trust me, it won’t taste salty, but will cut the sweetness a bit so you can enjoy the creamy icing on top of the cupcake.  The other way to cut sweetness is to make a cream cheese frosting.  Cream cheese frosting is wonderful on all types of cakes and cupcakes, not just carrot cake or red velvet, and it was delicious on these lemon cupcakes.

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Pink champagne cupcakes are my favorite cupcakes both to make and to eat.  Not a big surprise given my love for champagne.  These champagne cupcakes are so pretty in pale pink, although they can be made in any color, and are perfect for a baby shower, bridal shower or really any reason.

pink champagne cupcakes

I’m a big fan of “doctoring” cake mixes and happily admit to it.  This pink champagne cupcake recipe is from the Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes, which is full of cupcake inspiration.

A few tips:

1. Use a champagne you like to drink!  It doesn’t have to be an expensive bottle, but do not go super cheap and use something like Cook’s.  I use Domaine Chandon Brut, which is also my go-to champagne for mimosas.

2. Instead of using liquid red food coloring (per the recipe), use “no taste red” icing color made by Wilton.  The liquid red food coloring has a bitter taste.

3. Add any decorations on top right after icing the cupcakes because the decorations will not stick once the icing has crusted.

4. If you want to use a different frosting, go ahead and use your favorite recipe and just replace the liquid in the recipe with champagne.


Holly Cupcake

Last year’s Holiday Cupcake Exchange was so much fun that I hosted another party this year.  This year however I had no time to perfect a fabulous cupcake!  I once again tried to do a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting, but like last year’s attempt, it just did not wow me and still reminded me of muffin.  As the day’s counted down to the party, I ended up doing a chocolate cupcake with chocolate coffee frosting since I knew it would taste good.  I couldn’t have it be just a chocolate cupcake though since I wanted it to look festive so I went to Michael’s and bought sprinkles to adorn the cupcake.  After trying three different types of sprinkles, including blue and white snowflakes and red and white candy canes, the holly was the winner.

holly cupcake

Next year I’m going to need to start planning much earlier!

Holiday Cupcake Exchange

Cookies exchanges are so passe so last year I hosted a holiday cupcake exchange.  Each person brought a dozen cupcakes and everyone took home one of each kind.

cupcake table

Since I am such a huge champagne lover, it was no surprise to anyone that I made pink champagne cupcakes.

pink champagne cupcakes

My husband wanted a cupcake as well, even though he does not bake, so I made a cappuccino cupcake that was his idea.  I spent much more time working on perfecting his cupcake than my pink champagne cupcake.

cappuccino cupcakesTo add more fun to the day there was also a competition for “best looking” and “best tasting” cupcakes.  My pink champagne cupcake tied for “best tasting” with a red velvet cupcake that got its red color from a bottle of red wine.  What can I say…we like our wine.

The prize for “best looking” went to these reindeer cupcakes made by my friend who is so well known for not cooking that she was a guest on Oprah for an episode about learning how to cook.  Oh, and Oprah sent celebrity chef Curtis Stone to her house to teach her!

reindeer cupcakes

It was a wonderful afternoon that also included appetizers and cocktails.  I gave out cupcake bath bombs as party favors and jewel cut cocktail shakers to the winners.

This year’s cupcake exchange is in just a few weeks so I cannot wait to see and taste what everyone is bringing this time!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

This is a seriously grown up chocolate cupcake recipe that screams CHOCOLATE.  I have an obsession with making cupcakes lately and I have mostly avoided chocolate because of its reputation for being finicky and dry.  It is easy to make a dry chocolate cupcake.  Making a moist chocolate cupcake?  Not so easy.

Cooks Illustrated is one of my favorite sources for recipes.  There is normally some extra work involved, but I am almost always rewarded for the extra steps.  I used the Cooks Illustrated dark chocolate cupcake recipe to create this piece of chocolate cupcake heaven.  Both Dutch processed cocoa and high quality bittersweet chocolate are used to deliver a deep dark chocolate taste in this chocolate cupcake recipe.

chocolate cupcake recipe

On top is an amazing coffee chocolate coffee icing recipe from the mother of a childhood friend.  All these years later I can still picture her mom making chocolate cake and pouring coffee in the icing.  The coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate even more to make this a decadent cupcake you will remember.  Chocolate and coffee are a match made in dessert heaven.

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