Chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting

A moist, rich chocolate cupcake topped with an irrestible mocha buttercream frosting. Coffee and chocolate together again!

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 I know the internet is flooded right now with pumpkin and apple recipes. And I am just as guilty. But sometimes you just need chocolate. Ok I ALWAYS need chocolate.

I don’t know about you but at the end of every dinner. Ok every meal. Seriously, even breakfast sometimes. I’m craving dessert and that dessert is usually chocolate

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This dessert, however, was requested by a co-worker. So obviously, I’m not the only one who craves chocolate after dinner. She was throwing a dinner party and asked for cupcakes. What kind, I asked? Chocolate. Ok, and frosting.  Mmm, can you do mocha? Can I do mocha? Of course I can!

So I took my favorite vanilla buttercream and changed it up a bit. 

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Mocha is simply coffee and chocolate. So naturally of course I added some chocolate. I used 1/4 cup cocoa powder added to my frosting recipe. I used natural cocoa powder but I don’t see why any kind can’t be used. 

For the coffee I used instant espresso. Have you ever baked with this stuff before? It’s fantastic. All you have to do it dissolve a tablespoon of the crystals in a cup of hot water. And voila! Instant espresso! Perfect for adding to recipes. Coffee (or espresso) always bring out that chocolate flavor. So they are a perfect pairing. I added 4 Tablespoons of the (cooled) espresso to my buttercream frosting. You can add less or more depending on your fanciness for coffee. I definitely wanted a STRONG kick to my frosting._MG_8110-2

For the chocolate cupcakes? They are Hershey’s simply chocolate cake recipe. When I went back through all my recipes, I realized I have only ever posted two times (here and here) about these cupcakes and I can’t count how many times I have made them! So it’s high time they show up on this blog again! They are that good. They are also cinch to throw together. (No mixer required!) and I have had success every single time. Never a bad cupcake. These chocolate cupcakes are my go-to for sure.  They come out perfectly chocolate-y and moist. Every. Single. Time.  Do you have a go-to chocolate cupcake you think I should try then please let me know! I am always looking for an excuse to eat more chocolate.

So if you need a break from pumpkin and apple (ok a short break I’m sure) then these are perfect for that chocolate craving that no matter what time of year is always sure to strike.

Chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting
Yields 24
A perfect chocolate cupcake topped with a mocha buttercream. Coffee and chocolate- a perfect pairing!
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For the cupcake
  1. *2 cups sugar
  2. *1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  3. *3/4 cup cocoa
  4. *1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. *1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  6. *1 teaspoon salt
  7. * 2 eggs
  8. * 1 cup milk
  9. * 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  10. * 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  11. * 1 cup boiling water
For the frosting
  1. 2 1/2 cups butter, softened
  2. 2 1/2 cups confectioner sugar
  3. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 4 Tbs. espresso, cooled
  6. 1 Tbs. Heavy cream
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.
  3. 3. In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. 4. Stir in boiling water. Batter will be very thin at this point.
  5. 5. Pour into cupcake liners. Fill about 2/3 full.
  6. 6. Bake about 22-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before adding the frosting on top.
  7. 7. For the frosting: Cream the butter first until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner sugar and cocoa powder and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes until combined. You may want to scrap down the bowl at this point. Then add the vanilla extract, espresso, and heavy cream. Then mix on high speed for 8 minutes until light and fluffy.
  8. 9. When cupcakes are cooled, then using a pastry bag and tip swirl the frosting on top. Decorate with sprinkles!
Notes
  1. * I used an Atecco tip #874, closed star tip, to achieve the swirl on top.
  2. * For the espresso, follow the directions on the container to make a cup of espresso. Allow it to cool so you don't melt your frosting! You can always add more or less (just be careful of the consistency if you decide to add more). You could always just use good strong coffee if you don't have (or can find) espresso.
  3. * If you find your frosting is too soft to pipe. Just throw it in the fridge for a 1/2 hour or so and you should be good to go!
Adapted from Hershey's chocolate cake, Cook's Illustrated Vanilla Buttercream
Adapted from Hershey's chocolate cake, Cook's Illustrated Vanilla Buttercream
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Apple Cider Doughnut Muffins

Miniature Donut muffins made with fresh apple cider and then dipped in hot melted butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. No need to stop at the donut shop now!

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Back home there is this great little cider mill that I have to visit every single time I go home to see the fam. It’s a must visit tradition for my family. I always make sure to get a big heaping bag of apples, a dutch apple pie, cheese curds, and of course wait in a ridiculously long line for some homemade donuts. These workers are working tireless each day to pump out HOT fresh donuts. There is seriously nothing like them. I’m wiping drool of my keyboard as I think about those donuts.

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This cider mill also makes fresh cider before your very eyes with this (what I can only imagine) is at least a 100 year old cider press. The young and old cram around this press to watch as fresh cider comes whirling out of the machine. They hand you free samples to go along with your hot donuts. Is there anything better for a crisp Autumn day? I think not.

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Now if you can’t make it to a cider mill, hopefully you can pick up a gallon of local cider at your grocery store to make these donut muffins that I was inspired to make after my recent trip to the cider mill. Now I don’t have a donut maker at home, so I took home a gallon of their freshest cider to pour into this recipe and make “donut muffins” It’s donut meet muffin meet MY STOMACH.

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These little round cinnamon sugar bites are moist, tender and bursting with apple and cinnamon flavor. I made them small so that way when I devoured four without breathing I didn’t feel as guilty. It’s how I feel about eating fun size candy bars. It doesn’t count as much calorie wise right?

These donut muffins start with a basic muffin recipe. For a typical muffin recipe I would add usually milk as my liquid component. I added part buttermilk for the richness and tanginess but also of course that fresh apple cider. I then decided to up the apple flavor by adding applesauce. Applesauce will add flavor but also moisture to these little guys.

I also wanted a muffin recipe that had that tender crumb you would expect from a good muffin from your favorite bakery. Although oil would achieve this desired result I also wanted that undeniable deliciousness that butter adds. How do I get both tender crumb and flavor? Melt the butter! And that’s what I exactly did.

The end result with this muffin is a tender muffin loaded with apple flavor. Then when you roll in even (yes bust out those stretch sweatpants) more melted butter and cinnamon sugar that is reminiscent of that cake like doughnut from your favorite doughnut shop. Part doughnut. Part muffin. One hundred percent awesome.

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So with this recipe you can have your donut and your muffin too. No need to decide!

Apple Cider Doughnut Muffins
Yields 36
The best of both worlds- a donut muffin bursting with apple flavor and covered in cinnamon and sugar
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Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cup flour
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  6. 3/4 cup buttermilk
  7. 1/4 cup apple cider
  8. 1/4 cup applesauce
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
  11. 1 tsp cinnamon
  12. 1/4 nutmeg
  13. 1/4 cloves
For the coating
  1. 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini muffin pan. (If you have multiple pans, good for you- go ahead and grease them up! This recipe will make about 36 mini muffins).
  2. 2. In one bowl combine the flour, and both sugars, and spices. Stir to combine.
  3. 3. In another bowl, combine the milk, cider, applesauce, eggs and butter. Whisk to combine.
  4. 4. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Do NOT overmix.
  5. 5. Scoop the batter into each muffin well and fill each about 3/4 cup full. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. 6. While they bake, melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter in one bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in another bowl.
  7. 6. Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack. Then take each muffin and dip in the melted butter and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Notes
  1. A little helpful hint if you use one hand to roll in butter and the other for the other cinnamon sugar mixture, you can make the dunking and rolling process fairly a quick and clean (sort of!) process.
  2. Your brown sugar may not combine completely with the other dry ingredents leaving small chunks of brown sugar. Don't worry those will melt in your batter in the oven, creating little pockets of brown sugary goodness.
  3. If you have only one mini-muffin pan and leftover batter as your first batch bakes. Pop the leftover batter in the fridge while the first batch bakes. This will slow down that whole reaction that is happening with batter and you won't lose any lift in your muffins in your second batch.
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Pumpkin cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

A tender, moist pumpkin cupcake swirled high with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

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 Before we talk about these cupcakes! I just discovered (yes apparently I do live under a rock) www.bloglovin.com. This site is a fantastic way to follow all of your favorite blogs and their recent posts.  So I’m asking if you like mine, then Follow my blog with Bloglovin I would love the support!

Ok if it isn’t clear yet, I love pumpkin. I love when the weather starts to turn a little, and the leaves start turning their vibrant shades, because then I can indulge in everything pumpkin. I think I have had a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks almost every day this week (hello, pocketbook!). I just can’t help myself though. Soto  keep the pumpkin craze going, I indulged in making these guys…

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Pumpkin Cupcakes.

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And a cupcakes is really just a muffin isn’t it?…unless piled high with frosting? I agree. So I swirled these with some seriously cinnamon-y (that’s a word in blog world I think right?) cream cheese frosting.  D-I-V-I-N-E.

Oh my gosh, ok I wish there were some left in the fridge. There isn’t. There gone. ALL GONE. Yup they were that good.

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  Ok so let’s get down to business. Let’s talk about this recipe instead of just swooning over it (not that’s there anything wrong with that!).

First of all this recipe uses the basic muffin recipe. So we are still using this basic muffin method here of adding your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. And remembering to not over mix. Less is more people. Less is more.

For the frosting, use CHILLED cream cheese. Keeping your cream cheese chilled until you’re ready to use it will result in a frosting that holds up a little better. Otherwise,  you end up with wimpy frosting. If your frosting is too soft to pipe onto your cupcakes, simply throw it in your refrigerator for a few minutes to stiffen up a bit.

This frosting has a LOT of cinnamon. Yes you read right. Two whole tablespoons. If you want a little less cinnamon, feel free to add less. The pumpkin cupcakes are mildly sweet so they can handle this frosting on top. it’s a perfect balance.

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So what to do with the leftover pumpkin? You could always throw it in some macaroni and cheese to go with the cupcakes. Because let’s face it, is there ever really too much pumpkin in your life? I think not.

 

Pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting
Yields 14
A moist tender pumpkin cupcake swirled high with cinnamon cream cheese frosting
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For the cupcakes
  1. 1 and 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  8. 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark brown sugar
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 1 cup (227 grams) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  11. 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  12. 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
  13. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting
  1. 8 oz. cream cheese, chilled
  2. 6 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
  3. 3 cups confectioner sugar
  4. 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  5. 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray two 12-count muffin pans with non-stick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until combined. Add the pumpkin, oil, milk, and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do NOT overmix the batter.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into 14 cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. *Instead of these spices, you may use 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice instead
  6. For the frosting, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add your confectioner sugar one cup at a time on low speed. Scrape down sides in between. Beat for about 3 minutes more. Then add your vanilla and cinnamon. Once your cupcakes are cooled, pipe your frosting onto your cupcakes. I used a 1M wilton star tip to swirl my frosting. You can always just use a spatula and cover in sprinkles. Trust me, no one will mind. These are delicious either way!
Notes
  1. * Use chilled cream cheese. This achieves a better consistency. You will just need to keep the mixer running a little longer.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins

An easy versatile recipe for a pumpkin muffin!

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Here is a basic muffin recipe for you for this Fall season loaded with pumpkin flavor! The best part, this recipe can then be transformed any way you like. Love Nutella? Stuff some in the middle. Chocolate craving? Throw some chocolate chips in the batter. Halloween party to go to? Make some frosting, and swirl on top. That’s what I did, but that’s for a later post. I promise. Basically, the sky’s the limit for these muffins. Or simply enjoy as is. You can’t go wrong.

This recipe I borrowed from one of my favorite blog site, Sally’s Baking Addiction. I swear I get a toothache just looking at her photos. If you haven’t checked out her site, you seriously need to. Just be ready to having a sugar craving after.

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Here’s a couple notes about this recipe:

1) This uses cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If your pantry isn’t stocked with these items, you can always substitute pumpkin pie spice. I know growing up there was always a container of that stuff hidden in the spice cabinet. Keep in mind pumpkin pie spice has the addition of allspice and ginger.

2) Make sure to use pumpkin PUREE not pumpkin pie FILLING. The difference? Pumpkin pie filling is already pre-sweetened and pre-spiced, pumpkin puree is just pure good old pumpkin.  This gives you more control over your recipe.

3) As the recipe states this is a muffin- dress it up however you like with frosting and sprinkles but above all else it’s a still a muffin. So that means we will use the muffin method (good name for it), which means you will add your wet to your dry ingredients and just be sure to NOT overmix. Get all stir crazy and you will without a doubt (I bet you a thousand chocolate chip cookies) a TOUGH muffin. And nobody likes a tough muffin. Yech…

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So make this your go-to muffin recipe and play dress up with it however you like.

Pumpkin Muffins
Yields 14
A versatile go-to pumpkin muffin recipe that can be turned into cupcakes or loaded up with chocolate chips. Dress up however you want and enjoy :)
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Ingredients
  1. 1 and 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  8. 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark brown sugar
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 1 cup (227 grams) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  11. 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  12. 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
  13. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray two 12-count muffin pans with non-stick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until combined. Add the pumpkin, oil, milk, and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do NOT overmix the batter.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into 14 cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. *Instead of these spices, you may use 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice instead.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Apple Cinnamon Scones with Apple Cider Glaze

A tender scone loaded with fresh apples and cinnamon drizzled with  a sweet apple cider glaze!

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Out of all the seasons Fall is definitely my favorite. The leaves, pumpkins, and of course the apples. I know that usually pumpkin tends to shine this time of year, but let’s give apple its due time in the limelight.

With one bag of apples, the possibilities are endless. Apple pie, apple crisp, apple cheesecake. What is one to make?!  Ok so maybe scones aren’t first on your list. But I’m telling save two apples for this recipe.

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These scones are I think the best scone recipe I have made thus far. And I’ve made my share over the time I have spent here. There were these scones. Oh and these, and these, and these. Oh and let’s not forget these. Ok so apparently I got a thing for scones. And wow, have my photos improved since some of those recipes! If you haven’t made scones before or have in your head this image of scones as a dry biscuit like treat, you. ARE. SO. WRONG!

Scones are easy for one thing. Usually done in one bowl. This recipe however I did use too. If you try with one bowl, let me know how it goes. I’m sure you could save yourself one dirty dish. Scones are also ready in under an hour. So last minute houseguests, whip up some scones! They just may not leave….

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So a couple things about this recipe..

*  I used 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. You definitely could use 1 teaspoon and substitute with cinnamon chips to up the cinnamon flavor.

* You need to use COLD butter. Cold butter is key for tender scones. I actually had pulled out the butter and it had been sitting on my counter ready for another recipe when I realized it was too warm for the scones. Just quick pop it in the freezer while you measure out your dry ingredients. You should be good to go.

* Scones use what’s call the biscuit method. You “cut” the butter into the dry ingredients. No put the scissors down, “cut” means to use a pastry cutter, like this one here and break the butter into tiny pieces so they are small and coated with flour. Don’t have a pastry cutter, two knives work fine in a pinch. Just keep cutting the butter in until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.

* The best tip of all: FREEZE your scones for 30 minutes before you put them in the oven. This results in a more tender scone that will actually rise more than if you didn’t. I’m freezing my scones every time now before baking.

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The key to these scones, that I haven’t yet talked about is the GLAZE. Oh my goodness. The glaze. *Sigh*. I used fresh apple cider for a traditional powdered sugar glaze swapping out the milk for the cider glaze. And, of course, MORE cinnamon. The glaze should be the reason you are running to the kitchen right now to see if you have a pastry cutter.

So happy Fall everyone go whip up some of these scones today! Maybe even a little mulled cider on the side….

Apple Cinnamon Scones with Apple Cider Glaze
Serves 12
A tender scone packed with fresh apples and loaded with cinnamon flavor then drizzled with an apple cider glaze. Perfect for Fall!
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
For the scones
  1. 2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  2. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  3. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  5. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  6. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  7. 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  8. 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  9. 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2" pieces (about half a medium apple); leave the skin on, if you like
  10. 2 large eggs
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  12. 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened preferred
  13. For the Glaze
  14. 1 cup powdered sugar
  15. 3 Tablespoons Apple Cider
  16. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. 1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices.
  2. 2) Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.
  3. 3) Stir in the chopped apple (if you decide to use cinnamon chips- 3/4 cup and now would be the time to throw them in!)
  4. 4) In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.
  5. 5) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.
  6. 6) Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don't have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.
  7. 7) Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5" to 5 1/2" circle about 3/4" thick.
  8. 8) To make the topping: Stir together the coarse sugar and cinnamon. Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with the topping.
  9. 9) Using a knife or bench knife that you've run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.
  10. 10) Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2" space between them, at their outer edges.
  11. 11) For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  12. 12) Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they're golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn't look wet or unbaked.
  13. 13) Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they're completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days.
  14. 14) For the glaze, in a seperate small bowl combine the sugar, cider, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Once cool, then drizzle the scones with the glaze. Use as little or as much as you would like. I tend to like a lot.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

Basic Sugar Cookie

An easy, buttery sugar cookie that holds it shape during baking. Perfect for cut-outs!

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This is a great master sugar cookie recipe I found in Sherry Yard’s, The Secrets of Baking.  If you haven’t peeked inside this master of a cookbook, you need to get your hands on a copy as quickly as possible. The cookbook is broken down by master recipes- ganache, cookie, laminated dough, and so on and so on. And from one master recipe she shows you what you can do differently.  It’s brilliant, pretty much. Enough said.

This recipe is the master sugar cookie recipe made with granulated sugar. This basic cookie can be flavored in different ways. Make a chocolate version, by replacing 1/4 cup of the flour with cocoa powder. Make a lemon poppy seed version by adding lemon zest and poppy seed. Possibilities endless!

What I truly love about this recipe is holds it shape in the oven. This will definitely become my go-to sugar cookie recipe come holiday time.  Second reason I love this recipe? The dough gets rolled up in parchment paper, so it becomes a slice and bake cookie. How wonderfully easy.

Master Sugar Cookie
Yields 3
A basic sugar cookie that holds it shape in the oven- perfect for cut-outs!
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Ingredients
  1. * 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  2. * 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  3. * 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. * 1 large egg, at room temperature
  6. * 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  7. * Sprinkles, optional
Instructions
  1. 1. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle or beaters. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Cream on medium speed until it is smooth about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  2. 2. Add the egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  3. 3. On low speed, add the flour. Beat until all of the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds, or until you have even-textured dough.
  4. 4. Remove small handfuls of dough from the mixer and plop them down the middle of a sheet of parchment paper, creating a log of 1 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold the parchment over, creating a sausage. Chill for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough will keep nicely, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. (Thaw frozen dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until you can slice it.)
  5. 5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. 6. When the dough has chilled, remove it from the parchment, and if using sprinkles, pour a 1/4 cup of sprinkles on to your work surface and roll the long in the sprinkles. Using a chef's knife slice 1/3-inch-thick rounds off the log. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Alternate the rows in a checkerboard fashion.
  7. 7. Bake one sheet at a time 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges, turning the baking sheet from to back halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the parchment onto a work surface. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. The cookies can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
Adapted from from Sherry Yard, "Secrets of Baking"
Adapted from from Sherry Yard, "Secrets of Baking"
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Smores Cookie Bars

A soft, chewy bar loaded with milk chocolate chips and marshmallow creme. No campfire required. 

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 Confession time. This bar was originally designed to be a smores chocolate chip cookie. But in all failures comes genius. When my chocolate chip cookie dough turned out crumbly after a  night in the fridge, I decided to roll with it and turn into a bar. And boy oh boy am I glad I did.

Ok so I am getting ahead of myself.  First, let’s talk about the chocolate chip cookie dough base.  I took a well known cookie recipe, adapted from Jacque Torres, that is all over Pinterest and changed it a little.  I changed it by using all purpose flour instead of cake flour and adding a pinch of cornstarch.  Two reasons, one I didn’t have cake flour handy.  Cake flour is basically all purpose flour with cornstarch added to it.  Check this out for making your own.  Why add cornstarch? Cornstarch makes your cookies soft and chewy  and gives them a little lift. _MG_7532

Ok besides, the flour switcheroo I also added one egg and one egg  yolk (instead of the called for two eggs).  Egg whites can dry out cookie dough. So with the additon of just the yolk you are adding the chewiness you want in a cookie. 

What happened next? Well I knew I wanted to make these smores cookies, so I threw in a cup of graham cracker crumbs and milk chocolate chips (because every good smore uses milk chocolate).

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And that’s when all seemed right went a little wrong.  I decided to scoop the cookies and chill in the fridge overnight. The original plan was to then sandwich two cookies together with a layer of marshmallow creme in the middle. The problem? The dough was too crumbly to do so. (Maybe because of the graham cracker crumbs?) Oh well. So I took the cookies and crumbled into a 9 x 13 pan, reserving some for the topping. Spread a generous thick layer of marshmallow creme in the middle. Crumbled the remaining cookie dough on top. Then …just…bake. Eat. Enjoy.

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So, yes this recipe makes quite a few thick, chewy smores bar. But can you really ever have enough smores? 

P.s. After eating waaa-a-a-y too many of these. If you want a truly smores campfire experience, stick these in the microwave for about 10 seconds or so. The marshmallow creme gets a little melty, and toasty tasting. So a smores minus all the campfire trouble. You’re welcome. 

Smores Cookie Bars
Yields 1
A chewy bar loaded with all the essential smores ingredients- graham crackers, milk chocolate chips, and marshmallow.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
  2. (8 1/2 ounces) AP flour
  3. 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  4. 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  5. 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  8. 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  9. 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  10. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  11. 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  12. 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  13. 1 1/4 pounds milk chocolate chips
  14. 1 16-oz container of marshmallow creme
Instructions
  1. 1. Sift flours, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. 2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add egg and yolk, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
  3. 3. Chill the dough in the fridge for 24 hours. Then when ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Reserve about 1 cup of the mixture and set aside. Press the cookie dough into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Spread the marshmallow creme over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough over the marshmallow layer.
  4. 4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes.
Notes
  1. I chilled my dough first before then preparing the bars. I haven't tried the bar recipe using the dough immediately, so if you decide to omit the chilling overnight step you may find that you need less time in the oven. Just keep an eye on the dough. You know your oven better than me!
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

basic crepe recipe

A basic crepe recipe that can be made ahead of time and frozen ready to be turned into a dessert or stunning breakfast!

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For the longest time the thought of making crepes completely FREAKED. ME. OUT. They seemed so complicated. The whole swirling of the pan thing. You had to have a special crepe pan I thought. They were French so they had to be complicated, right?  Then my sister sent me a text saying SHE was making crepes and convince to get over my fear and make them already. They were easy she said. So I decided….let’s finally get over my fear and make them.

Boy, oh boy am I glad I did. They truly were easy. And special crepe pan? Pish posh applesauce. I used my 10 inch nonstick skillet and they were came out perfect.  I used the recipe my sister sent me (so origin? no idea.) and they were quickly whipped up in one bowl and before I knew I was all ooh la la and making crepes the French way.

They do take a bit of time to make an entire batch. Totally worth it, though. Couple things I learned my first venture out. 

1.  Ladle the crepe mixture directly in the center of the pan. THEN swirl the pan so it spreads into a nice thin circle. There is really no science behind this but to spread the batter out evenly. Then let them cook for a few minutes on each side.

2. Then it’s time to flip. Cue scary music. If it doesn’t flip easily, give it another minute on that side. I used a fork to pick it up one side and with a spatula was able to give it a flip. If it doesn’t perfectly flip over just fix it. Julia Child completely understands.

3. They freeze incredibly well. I mean who can eat 12 crepes in one sitting? Simply layer wax paper between each crepe then wrap in plastic wrap or put in a plastic bag. They will freeze up to 3 months (assuming they will last that long). So any time you need a quick dessert or breakfast you will have crepes ready to go.

The possibilities with crepes are endless.  I decided to fill mine with strawberries and bananas topped with an easy and decadent chocolate ganache. 

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Now that I am over my fear of crepes, I can’t wait to whip up new delicious creations.  So if you too have a fear of crepes. It’s time to get over it! You won’t be sorry you did.

Basic Crepe Recipe
Yields 12
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For the crepe batter
  1. * 1 cup flour
  2. * 1 1/2 cup milk
  3. * 2 eggs
  4. * 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  5. * splash of vanilla
  6. * 1 tablespoon sugar
For the chocolate ganache
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
Optional
  1. strawberries
  2. bananas
Instructions
  1. 1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crepe batter and whisk to combine.
  2. 2. Prepare a non stick skillet with cooking spray or wipe down with oil or butter. Heat over medium heat.
  3. 3. Using a measuring cup, ladle a 1/4 cup of batter into the center of your pan. Swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet.
  4. 4. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep a close eye on the crepe. I waited until I saw a slight browned edge then give it a flip and cook on the opposite side. The second side cooked a little faster.
  5. 5. Continue with the rest of your crepe batter. Eat immediately with fresh fruit and chocolate ganache or freeze for later use!
  6. 6. If making ganache. Place chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Then, in a saucepan, heat the heavy cream to a full boil then pour over the chocolate. Tap the bowl to settle the chocolate into the cream. Let it sit for one minute. Then stir to combine starting in the middle and working out to the edges. Stir until smooth.
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

 

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

A soft sugar bar cookie loaded with sprinkles covered with a thick layer of vanilla frosting!_MG_7520

 These bars were something I had bookmarked awhile back from a blog I love, Sally’s Baking Addiction.  Everything she makes look always scrumptious and right up my sweet tooth’s alley! These bars I had been drooling over for quite awhile and finally found the right time to make them. I made these bars as a sweet ending to a 4th of July celebration in Cape Cod.  These bars would be perfect for any sweet occasion you have coming up.

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The bars are basically a sugar cookie dough topped with a vanilla buttercream.  I swayed from Sally’s recipe and used my go-to vanilla frosting recipe. And SPRINKLES. Lots of sprinkles. Don’t forget to reserve some sprinkles for the top of the bars. Don’t they just look too pretty eat (Ha, yea right). 

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The key to the bar’s soft chewy texture lies in the secret ingredient: cornstarch. Cornstarch is typically used in savory dishes to thicken a sauce or soup.  Cornstarch will work in the same manner in keeping these bars wonderfully thick and soft. 

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And unlike, making typical sugar cookies, waiting for the dough to chill is not required. Thank heavens for that. This recipe then is a cinch to throw together and will be a big crowd pleaser. Promise. 

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And the frosting. Be still my heart. A fluffy vanilla buttercream that is spread in a layer just as thick as the bars. If you are one of those odd creatures (it’s Ok I used to be one too) that scraped frosting off of baked goods (gasp! I know!) this frosting will change your life. The secret to it’s fluffiest is making sure you let your stand mixer whip this frosting for a good 8 to 10 minutes. Yup, you heard right. The longer mixing time ensures that sugar is all incorporated and enough air is whipped into it for the lightest and fluffiest texture you have ever had. Oh man, my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

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I guess, you don’t have to use as much frosting as I do. Or as Sally did. But hey, they are called FROSTED sugar cookie bars, so go ahead and frost your heart out. 

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars
Yields 16
A soft, chewy sugar cookie bar loaded with sprinkles and topped with thick layer of vanilla buttercream frosting. Then topped with even more sprinkles!
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Prep Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  3. 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk*
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) spoon & leveled all-purpose flour
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  10. 1/2 cup (80g) rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)*
  11. VANILLA FROSTING
  12. 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  13. 2 1/2 cups (270g) confectioners' sugar
  14. 2 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or half-and-half*
  15. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  16. salt, to taste
Optional
  1. Food coloring (I used blue, and a a few drops of a purple)
  2. Sprinkles, extra, for topping the bars
Instructions
  1. For the bars: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick. Once combined, gently fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles using a rubber spatula (or by mixing on low speed).
  4. Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-26 minutes or until very lightly browned on top. (My bars puffed up while baking, then collapsed and cracked a bit on top. It did not seem to affect the overall yumminess). You want the cookie bars to be extra soft, so careful not to overbake. Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting.
  5. For the frosting: If you don't want a super thick layer of frosting as pictured, halve the frosting recipe. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes until fully incoroporated. Scrape down as needed. Then add in the cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 8 full minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I usually add anywhere between 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat in food coloring, if using.
  6. Remove cooled bars from the baking pan using the aluminum foil overhang on the sides. Frost the bars with a thick layer of frosting and decorate with extra sprinkles if desired. Cut into squares. Use a very sharp knife and wipe off with a paper towel between each cut to make neat, even cuts.
  7. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.
  8. * To soften your butter quickly, cut into small pieces, and let sit out for 30-45 minutes. Go catch up on your favorite television and when you come back the butter should be perfectly softened ready to go.
  9. *Room temperature egg and egg yolk preferred. To bring the egg to room temperature quickly, place in a warm glass of water for about 10 minutes as you get the other ingredients ready. Or just set out when you set out the butter to soften 1 hour ahead of time.
  10. *Please use regular sprinkles (aka "jimmies") in the cookie bar base. Nonpareils (the little balls) will bleed their color and turn the sugar cookie dough green/purple/brown. I order my sprinkles in bulk here.
  11. *Heavy Cream or half-and-half is preferred for creamiest, fluffiest frosting. I have used milk when in a pinch and it still came out delicious!
  12. *You can try a different size pan. I originally tried putting it in a 9x13 pan but wasn't happy with the thickness of the bar and went back to my trusty 8x8 pan. Baking time would be less if in a bigger pan.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

 

Piping 101

An intro to four basic cupcake swirls that anyone can do.

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Now I’m no expert on piping and cake decorating but you might think so if you saw my cupboards. I finally got around to organizing my kitchen cupboards and all of my pastry odds and ends and man oh man do I have a lot of stuff. So after making a batch of frosting, I decided maybe I would post about some basic cupcake swirls.

Whenever I bring cupcakes somewhere, people always ask what bakery did I get them at? Those swirls are perfect, I hear. Ok, feels pretty good to hear that. Not going to lie. What’s funny to me is how perfectly simple the swirls are. With just couple tips and a pastry bag your cupcakes can be “bakery worthy”.

Now I’m not going to say it won’t take practice. It will. And not every cupcake will come out prefect every time. Don’t give up. Even now, after many cupcakes later I, once in a while, will scrape off the frosting and start over. Failure is OK. 

To achieve a great swirl, you want to start on the outside and work your way in building as you go. For a step by step photo, check out this link. Or this you tube video, gotta love the accent.

The four basic swirls I flip flop between are the French method.  This is achieved using a Ateco French star tip.  I only  use Ateco tips. There are definitely other pastry tip brands out there but it is just the brand I prefer. It really is a matter of preference.

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The second swirl I use quite a bit is this one.  This look gets achieved using a plain pastry tip (again Ateco is my go to). There are definitely different size plain pastry tubes, so play around with which one you like. I tend to gravitate towards a slightly larger opening. How much frosting comes out will also depend on how much pressure you apply to the pastry bag.

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The third pastry tip, the closed star, (personally my favorite) will get you two different looks, the classic “icecream swirl” as I tend to call it. Or a beautiful rose on top of your cupcake. The difference is in where you start your swirl. To get the “ice-cream swirl’ effect, start on the edge of your cupcake and work your way in building up as you go. For the rose look, start in the middle and work your way outwards staying in a circle as you go.

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For a great set, which includes all these tips and a couple more for an unbelievable price, check out this set.  For a little bit more money, but more versatility and bigger sizes, this always a great set too.  Whatever you choose, get yourself some pastry bags and get piping! Perfect looking cupcakes comes from practice practice and more practice! Happy piping :)