Category Archives: cupcakes

Healthy(er) Vanilla Cupcakes with Berry Glaze

In my classroom, we’ve decided to investigate hyenas.  This is actually a little strange, because when you do some digging, you’ll discover that hyenas are…

Well, they’re mad weird.

We’ve learned that hyenas eat bones and trash and that their babies are born with teeth so that they can KILL EACH OTHER hours after they’re born.  We’ve learned more than we could ever care to know about hyena anatomy and we’ve learned to preview educational “nature” videos before showing them to children.  We’ve learned not to watch this and we’ve learned how NOT to teach children to make animal noises.

Because listening to 18 children laughing like hyenas is a one-way ticket to Migraineville.

We’ve created our own life-sized hyena and are currently in the process of making a hyena “habitat”, which is basically just a giant piece of paper covered in sand and brown paint.  Because… “hyenas are dirty.” #wordsofwisdom

All of this has nothing to do with the cupcakes I made today, unless you consider the fact that these perfectly adorable pink and purple cuppycakes are the exact opposite of dirty brown baby-eating hyenas.

Soooo…that’s a stretch.

What I’m trying to say is make these cupcakes because they are cute and *added bonus*…HEALTHY.  Half the butter is replaced with white bean puree, and the frosting is made of berries.  Health food.  Daily serving of fruits AND veggies.  Delicious and nutritious.

Just don’t make them for hyenas.  I hear they prefer eating bones.

Healthified Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2012)

yield: 24 regular cupcakes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar*
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup soy or regular milk*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

*note: I used vanilla flavored soy milk, so I reduced the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  If you’re using unsweetened soy milk or regular milk, you might want to bump up the sugar by 1/4 cup


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a food processor or blender, combine the beans, butter, and sugar.  Process until smooth, then add the eggs.  Blend until fully combined.
  3. Whisk the bean+butter+egg mixture into the flour mixture until all ingredients are mixed.  Stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth.
  4. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake for 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely, then top with fruit glaze (recipe below).

Berry Glaze

  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fruit puree (puree fresh or frozen berries in a food processor or blender till smooth.  Push through a mesh sieve to eliminate skin and seeds)

Whisk confectioners sugar into fruit puree, 1 cup at a time, until glaze is thick but pourable.  Dip the cupcake tops into the glaze and allow to set for at least 10 minutes, then dip them again and allow to set until the glaze hardens slightly.  Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Banana Cupcakes + Brown Butter Buttercream

Brown butter buttercream.

I can’t.

This stuff is GOOD. Straight off the beater, eat 18 tablespoons, get-a-bellyache-because-you-ate-too-much…good.

If you’ve never tried brown butter you are missing out an entire world of scrumptious.  A world made only of rainbows and butterflies, unicorns and cute babies, happiness and fluffy clouds- and absolutely no bad news, rainy days, or Grumpy McGrumpersons.  It’s basically heaven without the religious implications.

Too much?

Doubt it.  Once you make this your whole life will change. TRUST me.

{pssst… The cupcakes are vegan!  But the buttercream is not.  I know…oxymoron.  Next time I will try to brown some non-butter butter.}

Vegan Banana Cupcakes

(yield: 12 full cupcakes or 24 minis)


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed (or about 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat banana, oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar until smooth.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly among liners.  Bake for 25-30 minutes for full-sized cupcakes, or 15-20 for minis.  Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool completely, then frost.
Brown Butter Buttercream
(yield: enough to frost 12 cupcakes)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • pinch of salt
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt your butter.  Allow the butter to bubble, swirling, until lightly browned (if you can’t tell the color of the butter in your skillet, dip in a spoon).  It should smell slightly nutty – don’t let it get too dark!  Remove from heat and whisk in the brown sugar.
  2. Put the brown butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat on high until slightly cooled.  Add shortening; beat until smooth.
  3. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar; beat on medium until combined.  Add vanilla and milk.
  4. Beat frosting on high for 2-3 minutes, or until soft and fluffy.
*The brown sugar gives the buttercream a slightly gritty texture, but adds a LOT of flavor.  You could omit this step if you want it to be smoother.

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I get obsessed with things.  I’m sure you’ve noticed this about me by now. These obsessions come without warning, consume my life, and often leave in the blink of an eye.

Like when I have a new favorite song, I’m going to listen to it 18 bajillion times in a row until I’ve heard it too many times, then wonder why I don’t like it anymore.

A new favorite book? You bet your bottom dollar that when I read the Hunger Games trilogy I didn’t leave my house for 3 days except for the one time I took the T, couldn’t put the book down, forgot where I was, almost missed my stop, and legitimately thought someone was going to snipe me.

Sometimes it’s an iPhone app. For 4 months I compulsively checked Words with Friends (occasionally reloading the page 7 times in 1 minute) until I lost too many games in a row, felt my self-esteem slipping, and promptly deleted it.

Or maybe a new favorite blog. Remember when I couldn’t stop making cake batter things?

When I was 12, I spent every minute of every hour of every day dreaming about O-Town. I even discovered an “O-town chat room” where the boyband “members” would occasionally drop in to chat. Because it’s really likely that Ashley Parker Angel spent his free time in chat rooms. AKA I spent my twelfth year of life obsessed with online chatting with creepers. Don’t tell my mom.

My current obsession? Vegan chocolate cupcakes. Can’t stop making them.

I decided to step it up a notch this time around and add some raspberry. I used this vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, then cut out the center and spooned in some raspberry jam.  Then I added 6 drops of raspberry flavoring to vegan chocolate buttercream, and topped with a fresh raspberry!

Stuffed cupcakes rock my world. Obsessed.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

This is MAJ.

(In case you don’t speak Rachel Zoe, that’s short for MAJ-OR.)

I finally tried my hand at vegan baking.

HUH? you might say. The girl who was butter for Halloween last year is baking without…butter? 

It’s true.

I won’t lie. I was pretty resistant to the idea of vegan baking. Butter and eggs are two of the most important staples in my fridge and it just doesn’t sound right to replace them with oil and water. Even as I was putting the cupcakes into the oven I didn’t consider that they might actually turn out…yummy.

What a revelation. For realz. Vegan cupcakes are YUMMY. They still manage to be light and fluffy without butter or eggs!

And vegan buttercream? Double revelation. I’m still not totally sold on vanilla vegan “butter”cream but chocolate vegan buttercream is some kind of  magic trick. The only reason I know it doesn’t contain real butter is I added the ingredients myself. HONESTLY.

I feel like Jasmin when Aladdin sings her “A Whole New World”.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes. Shining, shimmering, splennnndiiiid.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (from the Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes)

(yield: 12 cupcakes)


  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, sugar, and cocoa powder.
  3. In a large bowl, beat water, oil, vinegar and vanilla until blended.
  4. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter equally into the 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  6. Allow to cool completely, then frost.
Vegan Buttercream
(makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for vanilla buttercream) OR 1/4 cup cocoa powder (for chocolate buttercream)
  1. Beat vegan butter and shortening on medium high until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift confectioners sugar (and cocoa powder for chocolate buttercream).
  3. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla OR cocoa powder and beat on medium high until fully incorporated, 3-4 minutes.

Chicago Eating Tour: Vol. 2

Welcome to Volume 2 of the Chicago Eating Tour, otherwise known as “the time I spent 3 days in a new city and all I did was EAT”.

Though I ended up being blown away (windy city, get it? GET IT??) by the amazing meals and restaurants, I was initially most excited to see what the bakeries in Chicago had to offer. More specifically, how to maximize cupcake exposure.

But a girl cannot live on cupcakes alone, so Mike and I decided to forgo a full morning (yes I eat cupcakes before noon, don’t you?) of cupcakes for a trip to one bakery and one cupcake shop.

First we stopped at trekked to Bake.

WELL worth the expedition. I loved the atmosphere, from this awesome wall of words (want this in my kitchen) to the handmade “Yes{backwards s} weRe OpeN” sign from the owner’s son on the front door. Right up my alley.

Mike and I split a raspberry and chocolate muffin for breakfast because I figured it would cover our daily intake of fruit. Desperate times call for desperate measures?

Then I had a mental breakdown while trying to decide which goodies to order from this spread:

And ended up ordering one of everything.

Luckily Mike stepped in and said we would just like an M&M cookie and a banana chocolate chip cookie, pleaseandthankyou. Often I worry what might happen without someone rational to occasionally (and necessarily) reel me in. I have a feeling it would have something to do with a broken scale and The Biggest Loser.

Then we immediately hopped on the El (L? Elle?) and headed straight for More. I’ve noticed that Chicago likes short, to-the-point names for its eateries. Brunch. Bake. More. It’s like Chicago is speaking to me. Yes, okay, I will brunch and bake more. I GET IT.

I loved the way More displayed their treats. It was like walking into a wall of cupcakes that are all screaming EEEEAAAATTT MEEEEE.

Once again I got overwhelmed and tried to order everything. There were 15+ flavors! Some included bacon! How is a girl to decide?!?!?! It’s just not fair.

Here’s what we went with:

Black&White: Marble cake with chocolate buttercream and white&milk chocolate shavings.

Salted Caramel: Vanilla cake with caramel center (UNREAL) and salted caramel buttercream.

Blueberry: Blueberry cake (good) with blueberry buttercream (eh) and fresh blueberries.

Valrhona: Dark chocolate cake filled with chocolate cream and topped with chocolate ganache and GOLD. Which I’m still checking my…ahem…toilet for.

All in all, fabulous cupcakes with so many original and seasonal flavors. Gimme more.

This concludes CET:v2. Just the tip of the iceberg of Chicago bakeries, but all the more reason to go back soon!

Sweet Cupcakes

I am sort of kiiind of having a love affair with Sweet Cupcakes in Boston. They undeniably have the BEST frosting in town, potentially ever, and What other bakery offers “frosting shots” on their menu? Genius. Frosting of the gods. Get in my belly NOW.

So the other day I’m at Sweet with the girl I babysit, because my summer job is hard, and we are eating five different cupcakes and then going back to get seconds and I am peeing my pants for the 80th time about how good the frosting is…and the Frosting Gods intervene. Our convo went something like this:

Frosting Gods: You should find out the frosting recipe so you can recreate it at home and eat chocolate buttercream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Me: No way. That recipe is TOP SECRET.

Frosting Gods: How do you know? Just aaaaask.

Me: Because it tastes like it is made of actual clouds from heaven. That’s how I know.

Frosting Gods: Just aaaaaaaask. Maybe they’ll give you a hint!

[note: the “Frosting Gods” may or may not be my alter ego.]

So I ask. And what do the wonderful people at Sweet hand me????


Just the frosting and cupcake bible.** No big.

OBVI I ran home and immediately made chocolate cupcakes with two different buttercreams: chocolate and cookies ‘n cream.

And do you know what? The frosting was spot-on-perfect. I will even share a recipe with you as long as you promise to go out and buy the cookbook to get the cupcake recipe to pair it with 😉 Or just come visit me and I will feed you. I will probs be making these cupcakes daily until I decide to give up my apartment and just live inside Sweet.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (adapted from The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup trans fat-free vegetable shortening*
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Make sure you use good, fresh shortening. I used Crisco I’d had for awhile the first time, and I could totally taste the shortening in the buttercream. I used an organic shortening from Whole Foods the second time around and it worked perfectly!


  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the butter mixture on low speed until it begins to incorporate.
  4. Add the vanilla, and beat at medium to high speed until fully incorporated (about 1 minute).

**I apologize for all the religious references. It really is that good.

S’mores Cupcakes, Vol II

Today I made the best s’mores cupcakes ever. They taste precisely like a s’more transformed into a cupcake should taste. Better than the other time I made s’mores cupcakes. Sorry Bakerella! They key to success in these nuggets is graham cracker cake and…. dare I say it?? …. FLUFF. Oooey gooey not-so-sure-what-it’s-made-of old fashioned marshmallow fluff. The reason fluff is necessary, (rather than real marshmallows) is marshmallows disintegrate into the cake batter when baked, while fluff just gets fluffier! Culinary genius, at it again.

So here’s what you do. Make graham cracker cake batter. Dollop some of it into a cupcake liner, followed by a teaspoon of fluff, followed by another dollop of cake batter.

And then you bake them and abracadaba alakazam… fluffy cupcake with MALLOW SURPRISE. You should also know the cakes have almost no fat in them, which you would never taste…but your thighs might thank you 😉

And then you obvi top them with the most scrumptious chocolate buttercream ever. So good that I ate 19 spoonfuls straight out of the bowl.

Does anyone want to talk about how perfect this cupcake is? What a cute little chocolate buttercream cloud.

Here’s the recipe!

Graham Cracker Cupcakes (adapted from Bakerella)


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • ~1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • mini marshmallows and chocolate bars, for decoration


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and graham cracker crumbs.
  3. Add milk, eggs, vanilla, oil, and applesauce. Stir with wooden spoon until incorporated.
  4. Put ~3 tablespoons batter into prepared liners. Top with 1 teaspoon fluff. Top with remaining batter so that each liner is 3/4  of the way full.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream
  • 2 sticks butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until completely melted. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, salt, and milk on medium-high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add chocolate and cocoa powder, beat on medium-high for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

My dear readers! The blog has been SERIOUSLY neglected these past few weeks, and for that I owe you an apology. I’ve been a busy little beaver this week, from a grad school open house, another unnecessary and excessive trip to Russo’s, and just some general winning!* on my part. I wanted to get in a quick post before the weekend is truly over, so you have something sweet to start your week with.

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream (recipe below)

One little hint of warm weather and I’m already on to summer baked goods. I really can’t help myself, and luckily these cuties were a huge hit in the land of both boyfriends and baby showers. Perfect for either situation, I’d say. Fluffy, fresh, lemon cakes paired with a light and airy raspberry buttercream. Flip flops! Shorts! Lemonades on the patio! BRING ME SUMMER!!!

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup milk

6-8 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/8 tsp raspberry extract

pink food coloring

fresh raspberries for garnish

Beat butter and 4 cups sugar on high for 3-4 minutes. Add milk, extract, and food coloring, beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining sugar 1 cup at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.


*Mom, in case you don’t get the reference (though I hope you do): Charlie Sheen.

Happy First Birthday, Blog!

My blog turns one year old today!!!! Time really does FLY.

What a year its been…

In December I got some much needed rest at home at Christmastime.

In January I made s’mores cupcakes and died a little at the goodness.

In February I felt the spirit of Valentine’s Day with a heartwarming little-kid love story.

In March I made rainbow pancakes.

In April my poor little computer was STOLEN, but I hit 100 posts and shared my top-secret cookie recipe with you!

In May I discovered the beauty of grilled s’mores.

In June my baby sister graduated high school!

In July I met this crab and many other sea creatures.

In August I ate the best cupcake of my life and established Wildlife Wednesday.

In September I moved to an adorable new apartment.

In October I created pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream and everyone wanted to be my friend.

In November I made homemade oreos.

And here we are one year later, back to December, with a slightly larger waistline, a slightly larger camera, and so many {photo documented} awesome memories.

Thank you all for making this year so much FUN!