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Cupcakes: Recipes & Decorating

La Niña

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I made the cupcakes from the new issue of Cook's tonight. Such an easy, quick recipe, and really, really good. So satisfying. An uber-yellow cupcake, with whipped chocolate ganache icing.

Who makes cupcakes around here? What are your secrets, your favorite things, etc? What icings do you use? What are the variations you notice?

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Wow..those sound good...I would try making them...but then, I would have to eat them...ALL :raz: ....my stomach would love that...but the hips and thighs would suffer! How good are they (they sound wicked)...so I can live vicariously after being poorly behaved over the holidays...and having to "toe the line" until I head back out on tour next week :blink: .

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Diana and I make cupcakes fairly often (at least once a month). We always use my great grandmother's chocolate or burnt sugar cake recipes, and the frosting is always the same -- sugar, cream and flavoring cooked to soft ball stage and then stirred until spreading consistency.

We make them with liners sometimes, or sometimes we just grease the tins really well.

What we do that's different (and this is how it's been done for generations in our family) is to fill the tins more than normal, so that the batter sort of spreads on the top of the tin (not enough so they touch, though), so that when the cupcakes come out, they have these little ledge things. You eat the edge things first, nibbling around the cupcake. You're supposed to make a wish as you nibble these off.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I inherited one of those "muffin top" tins from my mother: about the diameter of monster big muffins, but only about 1/2-inch deep. So you get more top than muffin. I'll have to try using it with cupcake batter sometime.

Snowangel, if you haven't already, and if you have the time and would not mind, is there any chance you can post the burnt sugar cake recipe? Pretty please? :wub:

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Burnt Sugar Cake

Burn a heapiing 1/2 cup of sugar until brown (it's better if it's dark brown); remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup (or a bit more, if necessary) boiling water. Let cool a bit.

Cream 1-1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup butter

Add 3 egg yolks and 1 cup cold water; beat well.

Add 2-1/2 cups flour, 2 t. baking powder, 1 t. salt.

Add 3 beaten eggs whits (soft peaks), and burnt sugar (do not scrape out burnt sugar pan!).

Bake at 350 (either 3 layers, 9x13, or I forget how many cupcakes.


In the pan you burnt the sugar in (and did not scrape out) add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup cream. Cook to soft ball stage, remove from heat and beat (by hand) until spreading consistency. This frosting does not work really well in hot, humid weather.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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The idea of a burnt sugar cupcake sounds delicious. I don't have a muffin or a cup cake pan. Do you think it will work in a brioche mold? (Got them for Christmas) It's a good project for this weekend. Thanks for sharing the receipe.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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The idea of a burnt sugar cupcake sounds delicious.  I don't have a muffin or a cup cake pan.  Do you think it will work in a brioche mold? (Got them for Christmas)  It's a good project for this weekend.  Thanks for sharing the receipe.

I don't see why they wouldn't work in a brioche mold. I don't even remember how long I bake the cupcakes (I just keep an eye on them).

But, if you don't have any cupcake/muffin tins, you might want to pick up a couple of the cheap Ecko ones. They work every bit as well as expensive ones. I think mine are at least 40 years old and still work great.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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These chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese filling are my old potluck standby. they are fudgey and creamy, not too sweet and can be in the oven in less than a half hour. They are actually better when made a day ahead to allow the flavor of the cocoa to develop. Not at all elegant or sophisticated, but everyone loves them! This makes a lot of cupcakes, so you might want to halve the recipe, or make all of them and freeze half.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling

For Chocolate Cake:

3 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

2 cups cold water

1/2 cup + 2 Tbs veg. oil

1 Tbs vanilla

2 Tbs white vinegar

mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl mix all the liquid ingredients. pour the wet into the dry and whisk until smooth - don't worry about overmixing. Batter will be quite liquid.

For Filling

12 oz cream cheese - room temp

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1-1/4 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts

Beat together the cream cheese, eggs and sugar. stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Put paper liners in muffin tins. fill each about 1/2 to 2/3 full of batter. Top with a generous 1 Tbs blob of filling. no need to push the filling down or put more batter on top, as the batter will bake up around it and there will just be a bit of the cream cheese showing on top of the baked cupcake.

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Yes, nightscotsman, those are great cupcakes. We call them "black bottom cupcakes" and they've been a work in progress ever since I first ate them at Just Desserts in San Francisco in the late '70s. I'm pretty satisfied with the cake as I currently have it but I remember the Just Desserts cake as being a bit denser yet very moist and not at all heavy. Does that sound like your cupcake? The acidity and the liquid in my recipe comes from buttermilk rather than the vinegar/water in yours, and mine also contains a couple of teaspoons of espresso powder, which I like in chocolate recipes. The remaining ingredients (and the proportions) are pretty much the same. And I don't add nuts to the filling.

Anybody else eatem the Just Desserts version of this cupcake and if so, have any attempts at duplication of that moist and sturdy cupcake come close?

And you are so right, nightscotsman -- everybody loves them. the crew of "Friends" dubbed them "gourmet ding dongs". I think they meant it as a compliment!


"I'm bringing pastry back"


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I haven't had the Just Desserts version, so I can't compare directly. My recipe is from the "Cafe Beaugolais" by Margaret Fox, one of my favorite books. They are extremely moist with a strong dark chocolate flavor. The espresso powder sounds like a great idea! I'll try that next time. I've also tried a little grated orange peel in the filling (good. Lemon might be nice too - kind of Italian) as well as using buttermilk instead of water/vinegar. I didn't care for the buttermilk version as the dairy tended to mute the chocolate flavor without really adding any richness. I like the nuts in the filling for the flavor and texture contrast, but they certainly aren't essential - a personal preference like nuts in brownies and cinnamon rolls.

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I adore my Cafe Beaujolais cookbook (ever tried the red cabbage salad?)! Just never tried her version of those cupcakes....I think I'd better go with it next time and try the vinegar/water as opposed to the buttermilk since you say the chocolate tends to lose some power in the buttermilk version.

Thanks for the tips!


"I'm bringing pastry back"


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It's been brought to my attention that I left out the baking instructions for the cream cheese filled cupcakes. :shock: So here it is: bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. the filling will brown slightly - check the cake part with skewer or toothpick as usual. The recipe says it will make 36 cupcakes, but I think I remember not getting quite that many.

Haven't tried the red cabbage salad kitwilliams, but it sounds great! Another of my fav's from the book is her chicken stuffed under the skin. So good and very easy, but really rich, so I don't make it very often.

Edited by nightscotsman (log)
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The last time I made cupcakes was a couple of years ago, a friend (serious gourmet cook - but focused on food not pastry) wanted to make cupcakes for her childs birthday party (child's request) because she was such a gourmet and apparently was acquainted with James Beard somehow she chose to make James Beard's cupcakes or some James Beard cake as a cupcake - I am not really clear on that since she called me the day before the birthday party with an emergency request to make functional cupcakes that the kids would like.

I spent the afternoon with three small children making and decorating cupcakes and it was a blast

Cupcakes for kids (and the kid in every adult)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup Butter flavored Crisco

2 oz Bakers Unsweetened chocolate (melted)

1/2 cup Buttermilk

2 cups AP flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup very hot water

- cream the sugar and crisco then add the chocolate

- stir in the buttermilk

- combine the flour, soda, and salt then stir in

- add the eggs and mix well

- stir in the hot water

- spoon into 24 cupcake cups

- bake 25-30 minutes at 350

Frosting (from the domino 10X box)

1 pound Confectionary Sugar (10x)

1 stick softened butter

3-4 T milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

food coloring

fun sprinkles

- cream sugar and butter

- add most of the milk, the vanilla and salt and mix well (I like using the mixer so it is fluffy

- I add the food coloring then adjust the consistency with milk as necessary

frost the cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles

Personally I love these frozen. Unlike snowangel, I think you need to seperate the top from the bottom, eat the plain cupcake bottom and reserve the yummy top part for last. :rolleyes:

Of course these are the cupcakes I grew up with and the company I keep now doesn't approve of using such things as Crisco and Baker's chocolate. One of these days I will get around to seeing how I can tweak this recipe so its acceptable, but in the meantime...

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Burnt Sugar Cake

...Bake at 350 (either 3 layers, 9x13, or I forget how many cupcakes.


made 20 cupcakes for me just now....whoops -- I mean 21. I conveniently forgot about the one I just ate warm from the oven -- couldn't wait!

And another note: it took exactly 20 minutes for them to bake in my oven (non-convection) at 350.

thanks for this yummy, homey, comforting recipe!

mmmmmmm. cupcakes.


"I'm bringing pastry back"


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I made the recipe Nightscotsman posted last night. Not bad, I like the tang from the cream cheese and the vinegar in the recipe. My partner Erin likes them even more than I do. Next time, I'll probably try the burnt sugar ones. Mmmm, burnt sugar.

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I couldn't bake cakes in the first oven I had here in Japan so I made cupcakes out of everything.

Now I have a new oven that bakes like a charm and I still make cupcakes all the time.

My favorites right now are the coconut ones from the Barefoot Contessa, very, very good!

Snowangel, I think I am going to give yours a try today they sound great!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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  • 11 months later...
These chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese filling are my old potluck standby. they are fudgey and creamy, not too sweet and can be in the oven in less than a half hour. They are actually better when made a day ahead to allow the flavor of the cocoa to develop. Not at all elegant or sophisticated, but everyone loves them! This makes a lot of cupcakes, so you might want to halve the recipe, or make all of them and freeze half.

neil (or anyone else),

do you think it would work if i used half the batter for cupcakes and baked the other half as a cake? I'm trying to kill 2 birds w/ one stone for an upcoming birthday.

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Guajolote, you should be OK, there's a Nigella recipe for brownies with cream cheese filling which is v similar, just keep an eye on the cake and maybe turn down the heat or cover with tinfoil if baking too fast.

on that note, for serious cupcakery, I recommend Nigella's How To Be A Domestic Goddess. There's a recipe in there for cherry chocolate cupcakes (basically, chocolate cupcakes with a jar of cherry jam stirred in, then iced with ganache) that moved a friend of mine to tears when I made them for her birthday. Also hundreds and hundreds of fantastic ideas for cupcakes, from simple (eg fairy cakes) to fancy (lavender-scented, with lilac-coloured icing and silver flowers to decorate).

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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Not a problem, Dean. That chocolate cake batter is indestructible. I think you could bake it in just about anything and it would come out fine. I actually made it as a cake for my boss (who was absolutely convinced for about two months that she was alergic to dairy, eggs and gluten :wacko: ) one year using a combo of rice and rye flour instead of all purpose wheat flour. A little more chewy than usual, but it was still a fine chocolate cake.

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  • 10 months later...

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