Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday morning, and wanted to bake something to take to our local homebrew store to share with our buddies there. They are always so informative and helpful, and I’m always promising them some goody the next time I come in – and then never deliver. That needed to end. So, I took my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and had a little bit of fun with it the morning before we left.

The only thing I really changed was adding a bit of peanut butter to the frosting. Then topped with some chopped peanuts for a garnish. Yowza – talk about a good cupcake! The cake is tender and moist, but the frosting – the frosting is where it’s at. Rich and decadent, but with a salty kick from the peanut butter. And the peanuts resting on top were just the perfect crunch to set the whole thing off.

The guys at the brew shop of course loved them, even Jon who’s really trying to watch his weight for the “Biggest Loser” competition at work (the guys been eating Greek yogurt for lunch everyday – talk about committed!) even broke down and ate one. And I pretty much ate the rest. One for me…three for baby.

Red Wine Cupcakes

A couple of months ago, my friends at Avalon Winery asked me to come up with a recipe to promote their new cooking contest for this year. If you’ll remember, they sent me to the Charleston Food & Wine Festival last year to compete in their America’s Greatest Foods Recipe Challenge. I didn’t win, I came in last actually (hey, some people can’t handle the idea of fish served with red, even when chorizo is involved – what are you going to do?) but after that trip – visiting the city of Charleston for the first time, meeting such influential chefs like The Lee Brothers and the great Art Smith (he asked me where to get a cup of coffee, y’all – and then he went to that coffee shop the whole time he was in town!), getting drunk with Kelly Liken, and making some new friends… I came out a winner in the end anyway!

So when they offered to send me a few bottles of their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon to develop a recipe with, of course I jumped at the offer. Guys, it’s seriously one of the best reds you’ll find for the price point. For under $10 a bottle, it really can’t be beat. Rich and fruity, with all kinds of delicious berry notes going on. Rolls right off the tongue, with very few harsh tannins that tend to come along with red wines. It’s available nationally, I always have luck finding it at Whole Foods (if your Whole Foods carries wine that is!). But, if you can’t find it – definitely ask your local wine distributor to carry it. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

I ended up making two dishes with the bottle I opened…since I can’t do much drinking of the stuff at the moment due to baby #3. The first of which was more traditional, and I plan to share with you guys soon – then there were these cupcakes. Red wine and chocolate pair so well together anyways, I thought a cupcake wasn’t too far of a fetch. Boy, do I love being right!

The batter was absolutely beautiful…light and fluffy, and baked up gorgeous! For the frosting I went  the traditional route, used my simple vanilla buttercream with a bit of the wine added to it for flavor and a tint of color. It was definitely unlike any cupcake I’d had before, but still absolutely delicious. I loved how the acidity of the wine cut the sweetness of the frosting. And, of course the color was lovely!

These cupcakes would most definitely be perfect for your Valentine, and they’re something different that friends and family probably haven’t seen before – but will most certainly be intrigued by. I hope you guys enjoy, and a big thanks to Avalon for giving me an excuse to make them!

Perfect Chocolate Cupakes

I know this may come as kind of a shock to some of you, but chocolate cake isn’t one of my favorite things in the world. If given the choice, I always pick vanilla cake. But, after discovering Beatty’s Chocolate Cake (Blackout cake? Whatever you want to call it!) my views began to shift. I’ve been looking for a good chocolate cupcake recipe – that was easy, baked up well, held up to frosting, but was still (and most importantly) moist and delicious. This recipe definitely fits the bill!

With the addition of buttermilk, cocoa, espresso powder and hot water – it’s totally reminiscent of my favorite chocolate cake recipe. But held it’s shape and is a bit denser, which is just what I was looking for in cupcake form. For the frosting, it’s a standard buttercream in which plenty you add plenty of melted unsweetened chocolate too. That leads to a frosting that is rich and chocolatey, but not cloyingly sweet.

This recipe is for 12 cupcakes, but could easily be doubled to dole out 24. Which, I’m sure will be happening in my kitchen next time. A truly perfect chocolate cupcake, kids. Another one for the books!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I can’t believe that I’ve made it all the way to the end of September without cracking open a can of pumpkin. Well, I’m happy to tell you that I did just that yesterday – fall baking has been commenced! I had a large can I had been hoarding from last year, so I ended up baking two treats. Look for the other on Friday! But for now, let’s talk about these cupcakes…

Last year I made some pumpkin spice latte cupcakes. But this, this cupcake is another animal all-together. Dense and moist, like a good carrot cake – but with all the rich, delicious flavor of pumpkin that you could possibly long for. The spices aren’t overwhelming either, which always urks me. I like my pumpkin items to taste like pumpkin – not a bunch of spices. The spices in the batter only compliment the pumpkin and make it shine.

I topped them with a maple and cinnamon studded twist to my usual cream cheese frosting recipe. I’ve been wanting to incorporate maple syrup into a frosting for quite some time now, and the flavor really played well off the pumpkin. I know this will be one I come back to year after year!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting