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Raspberry Drop Chocolate Cupcakes


Last weekend the hubby and I had our first outing with friends in Austin. After two weeks of unpacking, rearranging, exploring, getting stuck in traffic, filling out paperwork, and getting stuck in more traffic we were invited to dinner by a fellow PhD student from Jack’s program. Our task: dessert.

Raspberry Drop Chocolate Cupcakes - Sweet Peonies

I decided to branch out from my typical go-to desserts and make something new. Austin’s fresh, organic fruits and vegetables have completely won me over so I wanted to make a dessert that would highlight one of these beauties. The result? Raspberry drop chocolate cupcakes. With a hint of coffee and a fresh juicy raspberry baked into the center, the cupcakes were covered in rich chocolate frosting and finally sprinkled with lemon zest. Unfortunately, the Texas heat turned my frosting into more of a glaze but they were still incredibly satisfying.

Raspberry Drop Chocolate Cupcakes - Sweet Peonies

The recipe I used comes from a magazine the hubby bought for me a while back, “Taste of Home 100 Best Desserts.” I altered a few minor ingredients and instructions. The original recipe called for a drop of seedless raspberry jam in the center but I wanted the tangy flavor of a fresh raspberry instead. I also left out the coffee liquor in the frosting, mainly because I didn’t have any, but also because the added liquid would not help the frosting harden in this heat. My last change was adding the lemon zest on top. It seems small and perhaps insignificant but I loved the faint hint of lemon and raspberry with every bite.

Raspberry Drop Chocolate Cupcakes - Sweet Peonies

The recipe said it made 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes, but I would estimate it making closer to 3 1/2 dozen. I filled my cupcake liners 2/3 full and after 2 dozen, still had close to half the batter leftover. My last observation, the batter looked more liquid-y than any other cupcake recipe I have used. I was very skeptical that it wouldn’t cook in the time allotted but they cooked perfectly. So, if you are anything like me and tend to change recipes before seeing them through to completion, don’t do it. Trust me, you will be pleasantly surprised on this one.

Raspberry Drop Chocolate Cupcakes - Sweet Peonies

I’ll leave you with the recipe now while I figure out what to do with 3 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

Raspberry Drop Chocolate Cupcakes

Batter 1 c. baking cocoa 2 c. boiling water 1 c. butter, softened 2 1/2 c. sugar 4 eggs 2 tbsp cold brewed coffee 2 tsp vanilla 2 3/4 c. flour 2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 small package fresh raspberries

Frosting 1 can coconut milk (13.6 oz) 1 pkg. dark chocolate chips (12 oz) 1/2 c. butter, cubed 1/3 c. confectioners sugar 1 lemon (to zest)

I recommend beginning with the frosting, which is supposed to refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours, a detail I missed on the first read-through. Translation: long pause between cupcakes being complete and being able to chow down on the finished product.

Spoon 1 cup of cream from the top of coconut milk and place into a saucepan to boil. Once the cream starts to boil, remove from heat and add chocolate chips, whisking smooth. Stir in butter and confectioner’s sugar. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hrs or until well chilled.

Now to the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water and set aside to cool.

In a second bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Add coffee and vanilla. Combine flour, salt, baking powder & soda and add to creamed mixture alternately with cocoa mixture.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full, drop a whole raspberry into the center (no need to push it down, just set on top and the batter will cook up around it). Bake for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for at least 10 minutes before frosting.

Once the frosting has chilled, beat mixture until soft peaks form. They said this should take about 15 seconds. We had to take ours out of the fridge early due to poor planning and so it took longer than 15 seconds to see soft peaks.

Frost cupcakes. Grate lemon zest over frosting and top it all off with another raspberry. Enjoy!


Lazy Chocolate Spice Cake


After a rigorous year of classes, I can finally say my hardest year of nursing school is complete! Today was my last final and I can’t express how much relief I am feeling right now. Here’s a small glimpse into my life these past few weeks… as if finals aren’t bad enough with cumulative nursing tests, we had a grand total of 12 tests piled on for our last three weeks of classes. Can we say “insane?!” That’s what I thought. Anyways, it is over and I am relieved and ready to finally be in my final year of nursing. This degree (and the attempted others) has been a very long time in the making and I am so excited to be so close to the finish line.

Now, I say all these details about my finals to butter you up since my posts the last few weeks have been scattered and brief. But guess what? All that is about to change! Jack is helping me with some exciting changes for the blog including, a new title and domain, new categories, design changes and hopefully a much better posting schedule. You can look forward to all these changes taking place in about a month (poor Jack still has classes to finish).

Now on to the fun stuff…

This weekend, in the midst of all my studying, I had one of those moments where I simply couldn’t go a minute longer with being crafty. I settled for baking since it is quick and I get to enjoy it for days to come (this cake didn’t last that long). Since I was short on time I cheated and brought out a boxed (gasp), yes, boxed Dunkin Hynes spice cake. Of course, I couldn’t just make a boxed cake so I added 2 tbsp of chocolate baking powder and 2 tsp of vanilla. I then added all the ingredients on the back of the box (3 eggs, oil, water) and threw it in the oven for 25 minutes.

This was a huge success. I really wasn’t expecting much out of this haphazard baking attempt but the finished result was tasty and moist–really, what else matters? I also had half of a package of cream cheese in the fridge so I softened the block, added about 1-1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla and a smidge of milk. And voila! Delicious cream cheese frosting (spread between the cake layers). Chocolate spice cake, cream cheese frosting, pear slices on top–trust me, this is a winning combination.

So there you have it, my lazy chocolate spice cake for those of you with crazy lives like mine. Keep checking back with us, lots of fun projects coming up. Happy baking!


Lemon Molasses Spice Cake + Maple Syrup Frosting


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope right about now your tummies are full and you are enjoying friends and family. For our Thanksgiving, Linda invited us out to the farm to celebrate with her family. I was asked to contribute a dessert–one dessert…too many options.

In an attempt to branch out from my typical holiday dessert contribution, rum cake, I decided to try making a spice cake of sorts to take to the farm. I already had a box of Duncan Hines lemon cake mix, and in an attempt to not waste, I decided to add spices to the pre-made mix and see what happened. Although the finished appearance was less-than-wonderful, the cake tasted absolutely delicious and super moist!

Spice Cake Ingredients:

1 box of lemon cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1/2 c. molasses
1 1/3 c. water
1/4 c. oil
3 eggs
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

The maple syrup frosting is courtesy of Country Living.

Maple Syrup Frosting:

2 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. whole milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water and oil. Add molasses and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add spices.

Grease two circular cake pans with shortening. Divide batter between pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely before removing from pans.

While cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting by mixing the sugars, butter and salt on medium speed. Continue beating and add the maple syrup in a slow stream. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy, add milk as needed.

P.S. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m extremely thankful to have my own kitchen in which I can bake whenever and whatever I want to.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hot Chocolate Cupcakes + Cinnamon Frosting


Can I tell you a sad story? I haven’t baked in a month. True story. On Thursday, I was working on homework and I my oven called to me…or maybe it was my sweet tooth. Either way, it was time to bake. Our weather has been incredibly cold this week, I’m thinking winter is definitely here. So what better way to celebrate than with hot chocolate cupcakes and cinnamon frosting!

I saw a facebook status that someone had made hot chocolate cupcakes so I set scoured the internet in search of a recipe.

Here are two that I thought looked most appealing:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I didn’t have any unsweetened baking cocoa in the house and saw other recipes where they used an actual cup of hot chocolate so I figured, why not give it a shot?

The frosting is basically the same as the one for my Rummy Shortbread Cookies except, no rum and I added 2 tsp. of cinnamon.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup hot water
2/3 cup Godiva hot chocolate
3/4 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

First, heat your oven to 350 degrees. If you have a silicone cupcake tray like me, lightly butter your tray. If you have a metal tray, line the muffin cups with paper liners.

Grab a bowl and mix flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix hot water and Godiva hot chocolate until dissolved.

In a large bowl, beat shortening for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Alternate adding flour and cocoa mixture to the mixture, don’t over mix.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool slightly before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tip: While these were baking, they seemed to puff in the middle then settle so they have a weird hollow middle but once they cool and settled they looked and tasted fine, without any hollow middle. So don’t worry if you go to stick a toothpick in and get a pocket of air.

Happy Baking!


Almond Vanilla Pound Cake


One of our regular farm ladies, Jane Mullins, has kindly shared her sour cream pound cake at two farm workshops now. One taste is all I needed, I’ve been raving about the cake for months. It is very moist with subtle hints of almond. Seriously, SO amazing!

I made the pound cake this weekend for a going-away party and unfortunately was too cheap to buy a bottle of almond extract so my cake was nowhere near as delicious as Jane’s. All that to say, don’t be cheap like me! Spend the $3.

Since I don’t believe I could ever come up with a better tasting pound cake, Jane has graciously allowed me to post her recipe for you all. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Ingredients:

3 cups sifted All-purpose flour
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Almond extract
3 cups sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) Dairy Sour Cream
1 cup real butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and set aside. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream sugar and butter with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour (Don’t over beat).

Pour mix into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes in pan. Turn onto wire rack to cool completely. Eat alone or with berries and whipped cream. We used a Farmer’s Market raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Yum!

I didn’t have a tube pan like the one Jane used so instead I used my bundt cake silicone which is much more shallow. If you too have to use a more shallow pan be sure to reevaluate your timer setting. I only ended up cooking mine for 40 minutes instead of 1 hour 15 minutes.

This cake freezes well. Be sure to double wrap and thaw completely before serving. And, as always, enjoy!