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Easter Peeps Cupcakes with Marshmallow Vodka Buttercream Frosting

5 Apr

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In the candy kingdom, nothing says Easter like the classic yellow Peeps chick. Love them or hate them, it wouldn’t be an Easter basket without them.

Although Peeps originally were hatched as the iconic yellow chicks, there are now all kinds of colors and shapes and holidays to choose from: hot pink bunnies, purple chicks, green christmas trees, even an odd shade of brown gingerbread boy. There are debates about the best way to eat a Peep – I subscribe to the stale-er, the better method myself – and now you can even get chocolate dipped Peeps (which are amazing). Peeps-eating contests have arisen, with the internationally acclaimed “Peep Off” competition held the first Saturday after Easter in Maryland.

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Apparently, Peeps aren’t just for eating anymore. The Peeps diorama has become an art form unto itself, with several contests being held annually to celebrate that form of artistic expression. Actually, some of the dioramas are pretty amazing, with Star Wars evidently one of the more popular themes.

So popular has this candy become, there are now entire stores, Peeps & Co., dedicated to everything Peeps: the classic Peeps candy, of course, as well as Peeps water bottles, giant stuffed Peeps toys, Peeps t-shirts, keychains and refrigerator magnets. You name it, there’s a Peeps for that.

I’ve decided it was time to engage in a little Peeps artistic expression myself. And so, for your Easter holiday dessert table I bring to you –  the Peeps cupcake! An easy limoncello cupcake with lemon curd filling, covered in an amazing marshmallow vodka buttercream and topped with the classic yellow Peep. From my Easter basket to yours, Happy Easter!

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LIMONCELLO CUPCAKES

Makes approx. 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes

1 Betty Crocker white cake mix

1 cup water

1/4 cup limoncello

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 egg whites

zest of one lemon

1 jar lemon curd (Trader Joe’s is amazing)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water, limoncello, oil, egg whites and lemon zest at low speed for 30 seconds, then 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl a few times.

Fill cupcake tins about half full. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

When cool, use a melon-baller to remove a small portion of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a small amount of lemon curd and then frost as desired.

MARSHMALLOW VODKA BUTTERCREAM

1 cup butter

1 cup marshmallow Fluff

3 cups confectioners sugar

pinch salt

2 tablespoons marshmallow vodka, or to taste

Marshmallow Peeps

Cream butter and marshmallow Fluff together in large bowl of electric mixer until well combined and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of vodka, mixing on low speed until combined, then on high speed until light and fluffy, approx. 5 minutes. Frost cupcakes as desired and top with a Peep.

Enjoy!

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Almond Joy Cupcakes with Malibu Rum Buttercream Frosting

3 Apr

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Easter candy comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors, and everyone has his or her own favorite. I’m a huge Peeps fan myself, especially after they’re nice and stale. But the flavors I most associate with Easter are chocolate and coconut; chocolate bunnies (gotta eat the ears first) and chicks and eggs…coconut cake and cream eggs and macaroons. In fact, Easter seems to be the unofficial start of coconut season. Let’s face it, it’s not long after the last jelly bean is gone that we’re whipping up that first piña colada of the summer.

Chocolate and coconut are a classic combination, immortalized forever in the PeterPaul Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars. Although I’ve outgrown most popular candy bars as too sweet, I still love these two. Always chock full of scrumptious moist coconut and covered with just the right amount of milk or dark chocolate, one with the crunchy almonds, the other without, they never fail to satisfy the sweet tooth.

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I’ve been pondering for a while now how to transfer this yummy candy combo into a cupcake. Pinterest has a ton of Almond Joy cupcakes, but none that are b.u.i. worthy. So I simply deconstructed the candy bar and created my own cupcake interpretation of the Almond Joy: a rich amaretto chocolate cupcake topped with a coconut rum buttercream, garnished with toasted almonds and coconut. The result is simply amazing. Why not whip up a batch this Easter? They’ll be gone faster than you can say Easter Bunny.

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CHOCOLATE AMARETTO CUPCAKES

Makes one dozen cupcakes

1 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons amaretto

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together almond milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Add the sugar, oil and Amaretto to the almond milk mixture and beat until foamy.

Add the dry ingredients in 2 batches and beat until no,large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake tins about 3/4 full. Bake 18 – 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

MALIBU RUM BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

This frosting has a secret ingredient – marshmallow Fluff! – that makes it just a tad more like the candy bars.

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup marshmallow Fluff

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum

pinch salt

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Cream together butter and Fluff until light and creamy. Add in powdered sugar, rum and salt and mix at low speed until combined, and then at high speed until light and fluffy.

Meanwhile, heat almonds and coconut in a small, non-stick frying pan over medium low heat until just lightly toasted. Remove from heat and combine together in a small bowl.

Frost cupcakes as desired, dipping the tops into the coconut almond mixture to garnish.

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Enjoy!

BIRTHDAY BEER CUPCAKES

21 Mar

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Serendipity – probably my most favorite word. It means a desirable chance discovery; karma, Kismet, happenstance (another good word). I think I would even go so far as to say it’s a delightful chance discovery. Because delighted was exactly how I felt a few weeks ago when I was out running my regular Saturday errands. A Saturday that also happened to be my birthday.

On this particular Saturday, after popping into the dry cleaners, the Target and Trader Joe’s, I had one extra stop: a local establishment called Total Wine & More. Total Wine is to package stores what BJ’s and Costco’s are to grocery stores. A big box store, filled with lots and lots and lots of bottles. I like to refer to it as a candy store for grown-ups. They are guaranteed to carry just about every potent potable imaginable….which comes in handy when your blog is all about cupcakes containing potent potables.

As I often do on my way to pick up the alcoholic ingredient du jour, I passed by the craft beer aisles, just to, you know, see what was new and interesting. It was while I was perusing these shelves, on that lucky birthday Saturday, that I saw it, just sitting there as pretty as could be: Shiner’s Birthday Beer! Birthday Beer! On my birthday! Serendipity indeed.

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As it turns out, Shiner’s was celebrating its 106th birthday and crafted a delicious limited-edition chocolate stout to commemorate the occasion. According to the bottle, the birthday beer is available for only a short time. Once it’s gone, we have to wait until next year for another birthday surprise. I wonder what it’ll be?

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Mixing beer into my cupcakes has turned out to be one of my most popular ideas, and this chocolate stout Birthday Beer was just crying out to be baked into something. Since it was a spontaneous idea, I took the quick and easy way out by using a chocolate cake mix. I topped it all off with the classic Hershey’s cocoa buttercream frosting from the recipe on the back of the can – truly a never-fail recipe.

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The end result? Well, just delightful!

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BIRTHDAY BEER CUPCAKES

For these cupcakes I just used the Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food cake mix and basically swapped out the water with the chocolate stout. If you use a different brand, I would recommend following the directions on the box, simply using the same amount of stout in place of the water called for in the directions.

1 box Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix

1 1/3 cups Shiner’s Birthday Beer

1/2 vegetable oil

3 eggs.

Heat over to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners (I usually get about 18 or so cupcakes with the boxed mixes).

Combined cake mix, beer, oil and eggs in large bowl of stand mixer, mixing on low for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks.

HERSHEY’S CLASSIC CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(I always add just a pinch of salt)

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Add powdered sugar (and salt) and milk, alternating between the two, beating with an electric mixer at medium speed until desired consistency is reached. Add more milk if needed. Stir in the vanilla. Frost as desired.

Enjoy!

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