Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vanilla Love Cupcakes with White Chocolate Truffle Centers

I made cupcakes for one of my dear friends Shannon who had a lunch party at her house earlier today. I've known Shannon for many years since we live just around the corner from each other, but it wasn't until our boys played on the same baseball team a few years back that we got to be really good friends. Shannon has a great heart, with a little "firecracker" thrown in for fun. She's super thoughtful AND she's a great shopping buddy. Her family has been through a lot in the past year and a half, and through it all, she's handled it with grace and love, concern and caring. Last year, I wrote a post where I was musing about all kinds of things including life being beautiful, and one of the things I wrote was, "Beauty is in the strength of a mother (and my beautiful friend) taking care of her child with cancer, who would do anything to make it better for him." I was thinking about my friend Shannon when I wrote that. It's been a long hard road for them and there's still some road to travel, but things are going in the right direction. Even with everything they've been through, she makes time to connect with other families who are going through the same thing, like this lunch she had at her house where she invited several of those families to enjoy a fun and relaxing afternoon with her family. It was my pleasure to make cupcakes for them.

Since it's so close to Valentine's Day, I made luuuv cupcakes (said in a Barry White voice). Shannon isn't a big chocolate fan, so I made vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Everyone's good with vanilla, right? Just to keep it from being too "vanilla", I added a white chocolate truffle center to the cupcakes. You might have seen images all over Pinterest where you stick a Lindt truffle in the center of a cupcake right after it comes out of the oven, and that's exactly what I did. Easy!

I used a new vanilla cake recipe for these cupcakes. I'm always on the search for a great vanilla cake recipe. I tend to like stronger flavors so when I do eat a vanilla cupcake, it's got to be really good to win me over. I found this recipe at Glorious Treats called "Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes". That's quite a claim! I think she did pretty well with this recipe, much better than some other recipes I've tried. After reading the reviews and my own trial run, I made a few adjustments to the recipe like increasing the sugar just a tad, decreasing the salt a smidge, sifting the dry ingredients, and adding the vanilla at the end since I read somewhere that vanilla dissipates quickly and should be added to the end of the mixing (is that even true? I've thought that for years). I also had to increase the cooking time from the original recipe quite a bit but it will vary depending on ovens. I just checked every two minutes until they were done.

Once the cupcakes were cooled, I frosted them with my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting from Cook's Illustrated. It's easy, reliable, and delicious. Because I was in the mood for love, a divvied up the frosting into 3 bowls, left one untinted, tinted one pink, and tinted the last one red and made the cupcakes look all valentinesy.

When I dropped off the cupcakes at Shannon's house last night, her son Nate took one look at them and said, "Those are so perfect! I don't think they'll make it to lunch tomorrow!" That made my heart happy. Then I was rewarded with a plate of homemade cookies and a cupcake calendar. Isn't friend-love grand? JOY!
vanilla love cupcakes with white chocolate truffle center

Vanilla Love Cupcakes with White Chocolate Truffle Centers
Adapted from Glorious Treats
Printable version (including buttercream frosting recipe below)
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk (see Glorious Treats for vinegar/milk alternative)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 Lindt (or other brand) white chocolate truffle balls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line standard-size muffin pan with baking cup liners.

Sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (you can use a hand mixer too), add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add oil and beat for another 20-30 seconds.

Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, and the vanilla. Beat until just combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan. Fill liners about 2/3 full. These do rise pretty well and I guess I filled most of mine a little more than 2/3 full because they did overflow a little bit and created a little mushroom top effect. That's not a big problem for me but if you prefer a cleaner looking top, keep it at 2/3 or a little less full.

Bake cupcakes for 12-18 minutes. Mine took about 18 minutes but other reviews showed they were done as quickly as 12 minutes, so I recommend you start checking around 12 minutes and check every 2 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
vanilla love cupcakes with white chocolate truffle center

While cupcakes are in the oven, unwrap truffles and set aside in a bowl. As soon as the cupcakes come out of oven, set pan on a rack and insert a truffle right into the center of the cupcake, pushing it down about 3/4 way in so some of it still peeks over the top of the cupcake. It will melt and settle in the rest of the way and stay softened even after cooling. You might even have a little divot there after they're fully melted; just fill it with frosting. :)
vanilla love cupcakes with white chocolate truffle center

Cool cupcakes in pan for 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, frost with vanilla buttercream frosting {recipe below} and decorate to your heart's content!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 3 cups

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp heavy cream

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.

Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Someone asked me about what vanilla I used for this. Since vanilla is the star in this cupcake, I recommend you use a good quality vanilla. I use Nielsen Massey madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract. Some people might choose to use the scraping from a real vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste. I say go for it! According to the folks at Nielsen-Massey, one teaspoon of vanilla extract is about equal to one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder.
Also, the white chocolate truffle does add an extra sweetness to these. If they're too sweet for you, consider decreasing the sugar in the cupcakes by 1/4 cup or using dark or milk chocolate truffles instead (my personal preference), or leave out the truffle completely.
*If you want to have the truffle center be all melty-gooey, then these are best served the same day you make them. The truffles do harden back up a bit the next day, but I actually prefer it that way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling & Salted Caramel Frosting

Posted by - Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, & Health

...if you have dirty dishes piled up, laundry that needs to be done ASAP, unread mail that needs to be opened, vacuuming, scrubbing and all that business Or, if you are an overachiever and have done all that (please come help me), fine don't- I like cleaning too but just not right now. Not today. 

If you are little overwhelmed like me, go run to your kitchen & surround yourself with heavy cream, flour, butter, sugar, sea salt and make a huge batch of salted caramel frosting, salted caramel filling and extra vanilla-y cupcakes and in the process pile up more dishes - what the hell you will be doing heck of a cleaning later anyways. The whole process is extremely therapeutic - it only takes a spoonful or two (but who's counting right) salted caramel frosting to calm this clean freak. I don't like when things are scattered here, there and everywhere but when I am not in the mood to clear the space I make candied salted caramel.. lets not clean today but shall we be creative, please? And eat all the cupcakes I want! 

Vanilla Cupcakes 

Makes about 6 cupcakes

3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
3 tablespoon unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 cups sugar (add less if you like less sweeter taste)
1 large egg
1 Mexican vanilla bean (scrape with pairing knife)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

-Leave butter and eggs in a room temperature for an 1/2 hr or so
-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
-In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together
-In KitchenAid Stand mixer (if using that) or a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add egg to the mixture and continue beating it in medium speed then add vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste until everything is incorporated.
-Scrape the sides of a bowl

- Add flour and milk alternatively to the butter- sugar mixture and continue until everything is well combined.
-Divide batter and pour it in a lined cupcake pan filling about 2/3 full
-Bake for about 18 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean
-Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely

While the cupcakes are in the oven, go ahead and make the most legit frosting of all times - Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting. The recipe is from Taste of Home fairly easy & requires almost the same ingredients as the caramel filling (recipe below). The recipe calls for leaving it in refrigerator for 4 hours but I left for only 2.5 hours. The final result was extremely fluffy, too good to be true and had to stop myself from tasting licking the bowl.. Its for 10 cupcakes but go ahead and make the full recipe. You can thank me later. 

I hope we all feel same way about Salted caramel filling inside a cupcake right? It perfectly compliments the vanilla cupcakes and keeps the center super moist. I adapted the recipe from 52kitchenadventures & halved it. This is one of the easiest, no fail recipe & I added sea salt to finish it off.

Normally, I have no patience - we all know that. It gets worse when there are cupcakes on a cluttered counter top and caramel butter cream frosting heaven in the refrigerator- try resisting that..its almost painful but today I am trying to be patient and not obsess about messy house or dirty laundry. I want to bring out the hidden patient, creative side of me and decorate these babies with salted candied caramel. The recipe is from Cupcake Friday Project. These candied caramel thingy always intrigued me on TV - it was pretty cool (although I burned it a little bit) but that's my attempt to be creative.

Okay, seriously,this patience business is starting to annoy me and me want some cupcakes. Can we assemble them already?

First whip up the butter cream frosting as directed in the recipe. Stir the caramel filling and get ready for some serious cupcake! Use a pairing knife to cut the center of cupcake, add about 3/4-1 tablespoon filling in the center and frost it. Adorn them with caramel candies. Sprinkle some sea salt.
Although it was little lengthy of a process, each component of this cupcake was worth it..slightly sweet vanilla cupcakes was perfect with salted caramel filling and the frosting - it was spectacular. Candied caramel spirals added a slight crunch which I enjoyed a lot. Let's just say it was worth every minute, every calorie/fat/sugar consumed because guess what - I need all that energy, for I have massive cleaning to do!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lemon and Blueberry muffins

Posted by - Rhonda's Saucy Adventures
Lemon and Blueberry muffins

Recipe adapted from BBC Food

I found two recipes that looked really good...I couldn't decide so I made both. These were my husbands favorites. I had extra crumble left over from the other recipe so I put it on top of these mini muffins. I liked both muffins so I will keep both recipes in my GO TO binder.


1/2 cup butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
1/2 cup blueberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
2 eggs
5fl oz lemon yogurt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a 12-hole deep muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat then set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, blueberries and lemon zest. Make a well in the center.
  4. Beat the eggs with a whisk until smooth then beat in the yogurt, milk and melted butter until well combined. Stir into the flour mixture with a large metal spoon until very lightly mixed.
  5. Divide the batter between the muffin cases. Place a teaspoon of the lemon curd on top of each one and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and golden-brown. Serve warm or allow to cool on a wire rack. (The lemon curd will be very hot, so don’t eat as soon as they come out of the oven.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year! January Challenge

Posted by - Rena

Happy New Year!

This month's challenge is to make cupcakes, muffins or popovers. Basically the challenge is to make anything that fits nicely in a muffin tin. Who doesn't like a cupcake?! Since I'm sure we all ate enough for 2013 over the holidays, feel free to make muffins or popovers as well. Popovers are one of my favorite things but take a little finesse to make from scratch.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year! Happy 2013!

photo from