Hummingbird Cupcakes

Is it warm and sunny enough to be deemed Spring where you are yet? We’re still working on it here on the Eastern Shore – but I’m confident it will be in full bloom before too long. We’ve had daffodils coming up for a couple weeks now, which is always a sure sign. I’m glad I went and picked them all (at my house, as well as my Aunt’s beach home), because after we got snow on Monday – the ones I left behind outside were looking pretty frail and beaten-down come Tuesday.

I’ll also have to get my hummingbird feeder out soon, as the males like to come early to “check out the scene”. While they enjoy the food (simple syrup – they are easy to please!) in the feeder, they adore the Mimosa tree in our backyard even more. I love to sit out there in the warmer months with a glass of iced tea, and just watch them flitter and flutter around, doing their noble work, while the boys play outside.

So, about these cupcakes – so incredibly good. A boatload of tropical fruits are added to the batter, which adds an incredible level of moistness. Jon & I both agreed that they were reminiscent of carrot cake – but fruitier. I topped it off with a coconut cream cheese frosting, the slight tang from the frosting was just perfect against the sweet, fruity cake.

I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend. We’re going to be dying eggs, hunting eggs down, and eating alot of ham for days to come. These cupcakes would be just perfect on your Easter table, and the dried pineapple flowers – though a little time consuming, are super-easy and make such an impressive garnish. I don’t think a hummingbird himself could resist!

Skinny Chocolate CupcakesThose folks at America’s Test Kitchen – I just don’t know how they do it, or what I’d do without them! They’re working tirelessly, churning out great recipes for us, day in and day out. They’ve taught me probably 75% of what I’ve learned in the kitchen, the other 25% being owed to Alton Brown. Anywho, they’ve got a new cookbook on the shelves that gives our favorite comfort foods a revamp, making them a little bit more figure friendly. A few of my favorite bloggers have been sharing recipes, and when I saw this lightened-up chocolate cupcake – well, I just couldn’t resist giving it a try!

Now, if I hadn’t just told you they were low-fat – you’d honestly never know! Everyone that tried them enjoyed them, and there was nary a peep about them being low-fat. You honestly couldn’t tell! They were incredibly moist and chocolatey, and the frosting was delicious and rich – without being too sweet, like many frostings can. The secret to the cupcakes is the boiling water, which does a great job of “blooming” and releasing the flavors of the cocoa, but also adds moisture. And for the frosting, instead of copious amounts of butter being used – milk is the main component to bring everything together. Along with delicious bittersweet chocolate, and a small amount of butter to give a gorgeous sheen and richness to the frosting.

I’m definitely looking forward to trying more recipes out of this cookbook. I love to cut calories where I can, but refuse to sacrifice taste! I know I can always count on the good people at ATK to do just that for me! I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

A month or so, my good friend Jamie (aka my cupcake groupie) mentioned that she’d seen a lemon cupcake with raspberry frosting over on Pinterest, that looked to-die-for. It sounded great, and I added it to my “to-bake” list. Sadly, I hadn’t come across any good-looking raspberries since she’d mentioned it. That is of course, until 1 day before we left for Charleston. Oh yeah, and they weren’t raspberries, they were blackberries. But I decided to make it work, and make them happen! I mean, how can you go wrong with any lemon-berry combo?

They were absolutely, positively fabulous. I used Annie’s recipe for lemon cake, homegirl has yet to let me down on the cake front (or any other front in the kitchen for that matter!), and it was absolutely perfect. Light, lemony, and a beautiful brightness from the addition of lemon zest. And for the frosting, I just used my standard buttercream recipe, then added some pureed blackberries for flavor and color. They were so gorgeous, and it’s always a proud moment when you get that kind of beautiful color with no additional food coloring.

These little gems just have me hungrier for the warmer, sunnier times to come in the next month or so. However, it’s looking like we have one more blast of winter ahead of us this week! I hope everyone stays safe and warm, and bakes these fabulous cupcakes to brighten your day while you’re stuck inside!

These cupcakes – where do I even begin? Rich chocolate cake, filled with caramel, then topped with a luscious caramel Swiss meringue buttercream? I made these for a 20th Anniversary event of this little upscale second-hand boutique that my girlfriend works for. The same friend that is pretty much my biggest cupcake fan (Hi Jamie!). I wanted to do something a little fancier and showier – and these cupcakes definitely fit the bill.

I was kind of pressed for time, so I just used my standard caramel sauce for the filling, and it turned out great. By the end of the day, the caramel had pretty much seeped into the cake and wasn’t so much of a “filling” per-say, but you tasted it and knew it was there. I loved the frosting too, Swiss meringues are so fun to work with. And, if it looks like it’s deflated and turned to a curdled mess – don’t fret! Shawnda has some great tips here on how to bring it back to it’s former fluffy glory.

If you’re looking for a fun baking project for the weekend, and maybe are a little burnt out on pumpkin already (what the what?) add these guys to your “to-do” list. You won’t regret it! Just make sure you have friends to share them with, as you could eat every one of them single-handily!