Oreo Cupcakes

Photo by: K. Henriques

I’m a big fan of Oreo’s, though we only get them occasionally since we end up eating a whole package in one weekend. I decided to make these Oreo Cupcakes for my brother’s birthday since they looked fun and he likes Oreo’s as well.

This isn’t a difficult recipe, but it does require whipping egg whites into the cake mix. This isn’t super difficult, but if you’ve read some of my posts before you’ll know this isn’t something I’ve fully mastered. I honestly think this time was my best attempt as the cupcakes were normal size and didn’t deflate (which would mean I stirred too much). Besides this step, the rest of the cupcake base isn’t difficult; though I’d recommend using normal Oreo’s since you’re crushing them up.

The cream cheese frosting recipe is also easy. Normally I don’t make cream cheese frostings just because buttercream is my go-to, but this is what the recipe called for and since I don’t make it very often I figured it would be a nice change. I think I used 8 Oreo cookies rather than 6 because I wanted more Oreo. The only thing about this recipe is it’s super thick, so I struggled to pipe it using a tip. I ended up cutting off the end and “piping” it out that way because of it’s thickness. I gave myself a lower visual ranking for this reason but I would definitely add a little milk next time so I could pipe it and have it look a little nicer.

I chose to top with another Oreo as a final touch. All in all these were very good but also quite rich! A little more time consuming than just a basic cupcake recipe, but if you want to add a little extra (a.k.a Oreo’s) then it’ll take a little more time and I think it was worth it.

Baking Ease9
Time Spent9
Taste10
Visual8

Recipe Used: Sugar Spun Run

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Photo by: K. Henriques

For my final coffee cake recipe for this month I decided to try this Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake. I don’t think I’ve made coffee cake in a loaf pan before but I’m not sure why because that seems super fun and makes it easier to serve (in my humble opinion).

I made the streusel first and I’ll be honest, I was a little unsure of things since I wasn’t sure how the cinnamon and chocolate would mesh together. I know it’s not an uncommon combination by any means, but it’s not normally my favorite together so I wasn’t sure how I’d like the end result. I chose to use pecans since those are usually my favorite with paired with chocolate.

The cake portion is quite very simple to throw together. Because this recipe makes two loaves, I decided to make a half batch because I don’t need that much coffee cake lying around the house. I knew it was going to be a little tricky since the full recipe calls for three eggs, but I went did it anyway and used two. I spooned about half of the mixture in the loaf pan and then sprinkled some of the streusel on; then you spoon the rest of the cake portion and top with the remaining streusel. I threw a couple more chocolate chips on top for good measure.

I let it cool just a little bit before cutting a piece and ate my while it was warm since that was recommended in the recipe. I didn’t love the cinnamon in this recipe, but it wasn’t as weird as I thought. I’d probably leave it out the next time I make this though and am giving it a 9 for taste merely because it’s not my favorite. I definitely would make this again though and I loved the crunchiness of the pecans and the chocolate!

Baking Ease10
Time Spent10
Taste9
Visual10

Recipe Used: Beyond Frosting

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by: K. Henriques

I’m not normally a fan of german chocolate cake, merely because I don’t love coconut. It’s more of a texture thing rather than taste because I made this Speckled Malted Coconut Cake last year and liked it, but I don’t love strands of coconut in most baked goods. German chocolate fit the theme of a little party we threw though so I thought I’d test out this recipe.

The base for these cupcakes are from the Black Forest Cupcakes I made and they’re honestly my go-to for homemade chocolate cupcakes. They’re easy to make and taste amazing! Since this isn’t the first time I’ve made the cupcakes I’ll move on to talking about the icing. The coconut frosting is pretty easy to throw together and smelled really good while it was cooking. I tasted a bite once it was cooled a little and was surprised at how good it tasted. The chocolate frosting wasn’t difficult either but it will be a little thicker than you might use for a full cake. I piped a circle around the top of my cupcakes and found it held up really well and then took a heaping scoop of the coconut frosting and dropped it in the middle.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed these cupcakes. There wasn’t as much coconut as you might find on a full coconut cake so while german chocolate cake/cupcakes wouldn’t be my first choice to have, I’d definitely make these again and would eat one! It wasn’t too difficult and didn’t take a ton of time either so would be pretty easy to make a batch when needed.

Baking Ease10
Time Spent9
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: Cupcakes The Kitchn Icing: Tastes Better From Scratch

Salted Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Photo by: K. Henriques

I follow Pies & Tacos on Instagram and it’s always fun to see the different macaroons and cupcakes showcased. I’ve been wanting to play around with Dulce de Leche but was still a little nervous about cooking it on the stove so I used the Oven Dulce de Leche recipe for this particular cupcake recipe.

As mentioned in the Dulce de Leche guide, the oven version yields a more runny Dulce de Leche but I actually felt like it was fairly thick compared to what I expected. I probably could have left it in there a little longer but it had already been almost 4 hours so I wasn’t willing to stay up any longer! I made the Dulce de Leche the evening before since it needs to cool before using.

The notes in this recipe mentioned it could get a bit lumpy, likely because of how it might naturally build up on the sides and stirring can loosen those chunks. I stirred the mixture every 30-45 minutes but found it was very smooth so thankfully that wasn’t an issue I encountered.

Once you’ve got the Dulce de Leche done the rest is pretty easy. The recipe mentions you can use hot water instead of brewed coffee, but I wanted the added coffee flavor. I did let the cupcakes cool before filling, however because my Dulce de Leche was more soupy rather than thick I found that it seeped into the cupcake so it didn’t look as pretty as those on the website.

The frosting was very simple and it wasn’t a big deal the Dulce de Leche wasn’t as thick here since you’ll use powdered sugar to help stabilize it. I pipped my frosting on without using a decorating tip and then topped it with a drizzle of Dulce de Leche and some Maldon Sea Salt since we didn’t have coarse salt.

These. were. delicious.

If you make your own Dulce de Leche, then this recipe does take a lot of time; however it’s very worth it. I’ve ranked this recipe with the assumption you’ll make your own, but if you don’t know the recipe is very simple and quick. I would highly recommend doing everything from scratch though because it’s more fun and I always feel like you can taste the difference!

Baking Ease9
Time Spent6
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: Pies & Tacos

Mini Strawberry Cheesecake

Photo by: K. Henriques

Sometimes making a whole cheesecake can be daunting. I wanted to make a strawberry cheesecake for a friend who was graduating, but honestly didn’t have the time to bake a full-size cheesecake since the one I made last year took what felt like forever to bake. I mean, it was delicious and looked beautiful but I didn’t have that kind of time. I searched for a mini cheesecake recipe online and saw this recipe from Chelsweets and since I follow them on Instagram I was excited to give it a try.

I really like all of the substitutions and swaps notes here since sometimes recipes can be very vague and sometimes the little details make a huge difference. I chose to make my own graham crackers using a food processor since I usually have those in the pantry. We don’t own a mini cheesecake pan (though now I’m seriously considering buying one since the ones of the website looked so pretty), so I used a regular muffin pan with liners. I felt like it worked really well and the liners came off fairly easily once you’re ready to display/eat.

Once you’ve got the graham cracker crust done it’s time to move on to the filling; which is simple. Just be sure to follow the instructions and scrape the bowl a lot since cream cheese has a tendency to cake up on the sides of the bowl. My cheese cakes needed a little more time than what’s listed on the recipe so just keep an eye on it until you notice the tops are set.

The strawberry sauce is easy as well; the hardest part here is just dicing all of the strawberries. You might notice there’s no sugar in the sauce and I really felt like that made these taste more like an actual strawberry and since the cheesecakes themselves are sweet it complimented it nicely. I saved a few of the nicer looking strawberries to use as garnish and these looked so pretty amongst the rest of the spread of delicious food served. If you want cheesecake without all of the time involved this is the next best thing! These were easy, fairly quick, beautiful looking, and delicious; a win in my book!

Baking Ease9
Time Spent10
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: Chelsweets

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

Photo by: K. Henriques

It’s national peanut butter day! In honor of the day I made some peanut butter frosting to put on my chocolate cupcakes. You’re probably about to lose some respect for me here but I should just go ahead and let you know that I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate. I’ll eat a Reese’s every once in a while and I like peanut butter, but the combination of the two just isn’t something I will seek out. Even though I don’t like peanut butter and chocolate, other people do so it’s always good to have a good recipe on hand when needed.

For the actual cupcakes I used my favorite devils food recipe. One of the things I don’t like about a lot of peanut butter recipes is how thick it is. I wanted a frosting that was really fluffy and light, which you can usually tell based on coloring. The Taste of Home frosting recipe looked like it would be perfect so I decided to give it a go.

Even if you use a box cake mix making, making frosting from scratch is easy and makes a huge difference taste wise. Almost all buttercream recipes use some variation of confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, milk, and then whatever else you add to change the flavor; this recipe used equal parts butter and peanut butter.

The key to a light frosting is to make sure it’s whipped really well. Be sure to let the mixer run for a few minutes to ensure everything is mixed well and if you use the whisk attachment on your mixer it helps add air into the frosting to give it a silky texture. Take a spatula and get a little of the icing out and if you can get medium-soft peaks that hold it’s best for piping. If the peaks are there, but seem stiff you need to add a little milk as it’ll be tough to pipe. Too soft though and your piping won’t hold.

As a final touch, I cut up some Reese’s cups for garnish and they really looked nice!

Baking Ease10
Time Spent10
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: Taste of Home

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by: K. Henriques

I think I’ve mentioned this before but I really struggle with gluten free baking. Maybe some of it has been the recipes I’ve used, but trying to determine when something is done can be difficult in my opinion. It’s definitely gotten a little easier over the last few years but I’ve also been lucky to find some really good recipes as well. For a while anytime I made gluten free cupcakes for someone I just used a mix since it was easier but now that I’ve found this recipe it might be my new go-to.

I actually ran across this recipe on Instagram and the timing was perfect because a few days later I actually needed a gluten free cupcake recipe. I’ve gotten used to measuring ingredients and actually a lot of times prefer it over cup measurements since you might accidentally pack the flour in when scooping; whereas, measuring is the same every single time.

This recipe is pretty easy and doesn’t require anything fancy: just mix the dry ingredients together, then the wet ingredients, then combine. I actually doubled the recipe since I needed 24 cupcakes and found it doubled pretty easily. Once thoroughly mixed I used my big scoop (I think it’s the same size used in this recipe but I’m not 100% sure) and then popped them in the oven. Mine were perfectly done in 22 minutes and I was excited to see they rose a little since the last time I made my own chocolate gluten free cupcakes they were super flat and sad looking.

Note: I used King Arthur’s Gluten Free flour and just had Hershey’s Cocoa on hand, but I’d love to try this with the cocoa powder this author recommends. I know they used grapeseed oil, but I made mine with vegetable oil.

I always try to use any recommended frosting so I tried the Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Buttercream. I have seen several recipes using sour cream in the frosting but have never tried it before so I was kind of excited. These probably weren’t quite as dark chocolate as the recipe calls for since we only had Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips on hand, but I will definitely try this again using a higher cocoa percentage. I normally prefer a standard chocolate buttercream using cocoa rather than melted chocolate because it’s not quite as rich but the sour cream added a nice tanginess so I thought this was really good.

The cake itself was a little denser than you’d find in a non gluten free recipe but it had a great flavor. Sometimes gluten free flour can also taste a little different as well but I didn’t seem to notice it as much with this recipe. I’m sure someone that never eats gluten free items might notice it’s a little different but it was a great cupcake and the frosting paired nicely with it.

Baking Ease10
Time Spent10
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: Gluten Free Austrian

12 Days of Christmas Baking- Pastry Edition Day 11: King Cake

Photo: K.Henriques

Before I begin talking about the recipe I feel like I should give a disclaimer. Apparently you’re not supposed to eat king cake before Epiphany (Jan 6) because it’ll bring you bad luck. I’m not superstitious so I figured a little earlier wouldn’t hurt….

I’ve made a king cake twice before. The first time I tried a gluten-free version that didn’t turn out great, and then I tried this version a few years ago. I was initially intrigued by this recipe because it’s America’s Test Kitchen and I usually have good experiences with their stuff. Plus, I liked they used a Bundt pan to make the ring because mine always look kind of sad. This recipe is actually pretty easy in that you mix everything together, let it knead in a stand mixer for about ten minutes and then you leave it to rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Once that’s done you mix the filling together (pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon) and then roll the dough out to the correct size and put the filling in the middle like you would for cinnamon rolls. Then you roll it up and put it into the Bundt pan and honestly that was the hardest part. Once it’s cooled then you put the glaze on and sprinkle mardi gras colored sanding sugar on top.

This tasted good, but I should have rolled my dough a little tighter because the swirl on the inside wasn’t as pronounced as I would have like. A lot of the filling mixture was just in the middle rather than throughout. It was definitely breadier (I’m just making up words now….) than a standard king cake, but it was good. Maybe not the iconic king cake you think of when you’re craving one, but it was certainly a great backup option. It’s also the prettiest king cake I’ve ever made too!

Baking Ease10
Time Spent8
Taste9
Visual10

Recipe Used: The Perfect Cake p. 281

Magic Flan Cake

Photo by: K. Henriques

I really wanted to have this posted before Halloween since this dessert is called “Magic Flan Cake,” but I didn’t get a chance to make it last week. This recipe is a lot of fun because you put the cake batter mixture and flan mixture swap places during the baking process. You can read more about the magic behind the recipe at the bottom of the recipe in the link below. You could definitely save this recipe for next year, but I don’t wait that long because this recipe is delicious! As a note, the active time spent making this recipe isn’t too long, but there’s a lot of inactive time you’ll want to keep in mind.

The cake batter is really easy to throw together so I won’t go into a lot of details there. The only thing we adjusted is using semi-sweet chocolate rather than bittersweet since that’s what we had in the pantry. I waited to put the warmed caramel in the bottom of the bundt pan until my cake batter was done, but I don’t think it really makes a difference. Cooks Country does a really good job of testing every single aspect of a recipe so you can rest easy knowing they’d mention if there was a specific way of doing something that’s critical to the outcome. Making the flan mixture is even easier since you literally put all of those ingredients into a blender to mix!

Like a cheesecake, this recipe requires a water bath during the baking process and you bake it low and slow. We ended up baking ours for the full 90 minutes but be sure to temp it since there’s a lot of different factors that could affect the temperature. Once it’s done baking in the oven then comes the hard part: waiting. You’ll need to let it sit out for 2 hours before putting it in the fridge; then you’ll need to let it rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours; though we let ours sit in the fridge overnight.

When it came time to plate I put some warm water in the roasting pan to help soften the caramel before flipping it out. I think my water was a little too hot and I left it there longer than 1 minute so a lot of my caramel was super melty, but it still turned out okay! It tasted delicious and was definitely worth the wait! This makes a lot and it’s very rich so I recommend making it when you’re having a few people over.

Baking Ease10
Time Spent5
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: Cooks Country

Strawberry Cream Cake

Photo by: K. Henriques

Imagine a giant strawberry shortcake and that’s this cake. I don’t want to give any spoilers on the taste here but I can’t help it – this cake is soooo good!

This cake portion of this recipe isn’t too difficult but I continue to have issues when I have to fold whipped egg whites into a batter. It just ends up being flat every time, which is very frustrating. I know the problem is that I’m deflating the whipped egg whites so to avoid a flat cake this time I asked my husband to help. I realized I’ve been too worried about streaks of the egg whites in the batter and end up over mixing.

I don’t have a 9 inch cake pan so I ended up using two 8 inch cake pans and cheated a third layer by cutting the layers. This didn’t quite turn out so easily as I’d hoped so next time (assuming I haven’t bought a 9 inch cake pan by then) I’ll use three 8 inch cake pans since I think that’s a little easier than trying to cut the layers as mine end up being uneven.

The macerated berries weren’t too difficult either; though I was worried my mixture was too runny. I ended up running the berries through another strainer right before putting it on the cake just so the mixture didn’t bleed through the sides of the cake. The cream cheese and heavy whipping cream mixture was also super simple. I put mine in a piping bag and piped it on the layers just because that seemed a little easier and it worked well.

I actually made the cake and the berries the night before so I had everything ready the next day before eating. The recipe says you can leave the assembled cake in the fridge for up to 4 hours so I was worried if I made the cake early it would be soggy. I ended up making it about two or three hours before we ate it and it was perfect! The cake probably gets soggy the next day so my recommendation would be to make this when you have enough guests to eat the majority of it. Honestly, this cake was delicious and was well worth the time and effort!

Baking Ease8
Time Spent8
Taste10
Visual10

Recipe Used: America’s Test Kitchen – The Perfect Cake p. 148