Author: JSterbenz

Strawberry Christmas Tree Tartlets

Strawberry Christmas Tree Tartlets

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! A few days ago, little strawberry Christmas tree tartlets were on the front page of Reddit. Unfortunately, they were made by a chef so there was no recipe. But they were so cute! So, I decided I […]

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! It finally snowed a bit last week here, so I used it as justification to make my first holiday cookies and a black forest cake. As a fan of cherries and as a strong anti-fan of buttercream, […]

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

It’s Fall which means that Starbucks is pushing their pumpkin spice latte (and all the other drinks they started added each year when they realized that girls on instagram was a great advertising opportunity.) Not gonna lie, I enjoy a PSL now and then so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and turn it into a cupcake. After all, pumpkin desserts are generally good, there’s gotta be a way to turn a pumpkin spice latte into a cupcake! I spent a much-needed Friday night in happily turning my house into a pumpkin-and-nutmeg scented heaven while watching mindless sit-coms while Pascal occasionally got irritated and shoved a ball into my stomach for not being attentive enough to his cuteness.

beagle with pumpkin cupcake

To be completely honest, I don’t actually enjoy eating a lot of the things I make; I just like making them. I don’t really like chocolate and I really don’t like frosting. But the spice in these cupcakes gives a bit of a savory flavor almost, and the whipped cream instead of buttercream makes it a lot lighter. Unfortunately, that means that instead of begrudgingly eating like 3 cupcakes over the week so they don’t go to waste, I almost singlehandedly ate a dozen pumpkin spice latte cupcakes by myself in two days. Oh well. November is about eating right? I hear there’s something about giving thanks too maybe, but I hear eating is the main part.

pumpkin cupcakes

I stabilized the whipped cream just because I knew I wanted to pipe it and it made things easier. You can skip the gelatin if you’re feeling lazy and/or don’t need the frosting to hold shape that long. I used an open star tip for the frosting, but instead of swirling, just applied constant pressure while slowly moving upwards. To get more folds, make tiny and fast wiggles as you move up. All in all these are a really quick recipe with no real twists and turns.

shih tzu with pumpkin cupcake

A couple notes:

  1. You don’t have to stabilize the whipped cream, I just did out of convenience.
  2. If you overwhip the cream and it curdles, just add a bit more (unwhipped) cream and whip again. It should fix itself. But stop before it curdles the second time.

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4.88 from 8 votes
pumpkin spice latte cupcakes
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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting

Pumpkin spice cupcakes with a touch of espresso, topped with whipped cream frosting.

Servings: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp groun cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 tsp hot water
Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 6 tsp cold water
Instructions
Bake the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter.

  3. Mix in sugar.

  4. Add in pumpkin puree and vanilla and mix until fully incoporated.

  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

  6. Add spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

  7. Slowly mix in the flour.

  8. Fill the cupcake liners (about halfway) and bake for ~35-40min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Make the Whipped Cream Frosting
  1. Bloom the gelatin in the cold water and let sit for 5 minutes.

  2. Beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form.

  3. Heat the gelatin until it melts (approx. 10s in the microwave).

  4. Slowly pour the gelatin into the whipped cream mixture while whipping.

  5. Whip until stiff peaks form.

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Mini Vegan Pumpkin Pies

Mini Vegan Pumpkin Pies

The same day I made the vegan caramel apple cheesecake bars, I also helped my friend make mini vegan pumpkin pies. I actually made 3 things that night. I felt like I had superpowers. Until the next morning when my kitchen was a disaster. Especially […]

Chocolate & Peanut Butter, Cheesecake Filled Cupcakes

Chocolate & Peanut Butter, Cheesecake Filled Cupcakes

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! I made these last week, but admittedly I was way way more excited about my Halloween bloody brain cupcakes so I fell behind posting these cheesecake filled cupcakes. These were for two coworkers’ birthdays. I swear, all […]

Broken Glass Brain Injury Halloween Cupcakes

Broken Glass Brain Injury Halloween Cupcakes

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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays to celebrate (especially in a college town, when you’re invited to 100000 overlapping parties), but it is one of my favorite holidays to bake for. There aren’t really any Halloween “flavors” (except maybe just, categorically candy) which means I let myself focus on appearance. I made these broken glass brain injury Halloween cupcakes last year. I really liked how they turned out but absolutely hated how they tasted. Basically, typical fake blood tastes bad. It’s essentially just colored and watered down corn syrup. Corn syrup is basically just concentrated sugar. Then, the cupcakes just absorbed tons of fake blood and I ended up with mushy, sickly sweet cupcakes. Like I said, I wasn’t a fan. Anyway, I decided that, because they looked cool, I was going to find a way to make them taste good this year. Luckily, I was successful (I think).

broken glass halloween cupcake

1. Bake Chocolate Cupcakes

First things first, we need chocolate cupcakes. I used a similar recipe as for the high-hat chocolate cupcakes with chocolate-covered coconut frosting a couple months ago except I didn’t include any of the coconut additions.

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Chocolate Cupcakes


Servings: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together sugars, vanilla extract, and melted butter.

  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

  4. Mix in salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

  5. Sift and mix in the cocoa powder.

  6. Mix in the buttermilk.

  7. Mix in the flour.

  8. Spoon the batter evenly into the cupcake liners and bake for ~30min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

broken glass cupckae eating
Model cred @biology_on_point. (Sorry for making you bite into one of our earlier corn-syrup-filled attempts.)

2. Make the Brain Frosting

The brain frosting is just pink-colored, vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. To make the brains, use a piping bag with the tip cut off. This will pipe a tubular shape. You can use a rount tip if you want, but it’s not necessary and you have more freedom in terms of sizing if you don’t use a tip. Theoretically you could use any kind of frosting or store bought frosting for this as well. I just like SMBC better than “regular” American buttercream (it’s less sweet).

To make the brains:

  1. Using a knife or an offset spatula, frost the entire top of the cupcake with a very thin layer. This way, if there happen to be any “holes” in the brain that go all the way down to the cupcake, it will still look pinkish.
  2. Using a knife (or offset spatula), make a vertical line in the frosting, straight down the middle. This will be your guideline for the halves of the brain.
  3. Pipe 2 layers of squiggly frosting. For each layer, I use one unbroken squiggle. Make sure there’s not pattern, it will look more realistic that way. Don’t cross the centerline so you end up with lobes.
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Pink Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Ingredients
  • 3.5 sticks unsalted butter softened
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3-4 egg whites
  • pink gel food coloring
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, whip together egg whites and sugar until they reach 140°F.

  2. Remove from heat and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

  3. Mix in butter and vanilla extract. Continue mixing at high speed until it turns into frosting. It may curdle at some point, continue mixing, it will eventually become the right texture.

  4. Add the desired amount of food coloring.

 

brain cupcake

3. Make the Broken “Beer Bottle” Glass

Could I have made clear sugar glass that looked more glass-like? Yes. But, like I said, my goal was to find a good-tasting recipe for these. For strange reasons, burnt sugar, aka caramel, tastes great, but un-burnt sugar, aka clear glass, does not. You could flavor clear glass with flavor oil (if you do this, I suggest cherry oil). However, I’m not a fan of hard candy, and I’m still pretty sure caramel tastes better. I justified my caramel use by calling it a broken beer bottle. I don’t know, being a zombie is probably hard, he might’ve gone to a bar to drown his sorrows and ended up in a bar fight. Make sure the caramel is completely hard before shattering it. I put mine in the refrigerator before breaking it because it was a bit humid and warm where I was. Take pointy shards and stick them into your brains.

4.88 from 8 votes
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Beer Bottle Glass (Hard Caramel)


Ingredients
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan.

  3. Continuously stirring, bring to a boil on high heat and continue stirring.

  4. When the caramel has reached the desired color, immediately pour it out onto your prepared baking sheet.

  5. Let cool and harden.

 

edible broken glass

4. Make the Edible Blood

This was the part I changed up most from last year. When I was making my Game of Thrones cake earlier this year, I came to the realization that cherry juice really looks like blood. It looks enough like blood that I don’t know why it isn’t the standard edible fake blood instead of the gross corn syrupy mix that’s normally used. Anyway, it was effective, tasted way way better, and added an extra dimension of flavor to the cupcakes. Overall, a simple solution for success. Once you have your fake blood, use a spoon to drip it all over your cupcakes, letting it pool on the brains and slightly stain the glass.

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Edible Blood (i.e. Cherry Juice)
Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen cherries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

  2. In some sort of baking pan, combine the cherries and granulated sugar.

  3. Bake for 1.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

  4. Strain out the cherry juice and let cool.

Recipe Notes

For a slightly more viscous consistency, add corn starch.

 

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (with a Vegan option)

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (with a Vegan option)

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! The other day, my friend Soumi hit me up and asked me to help her bake some stuff for a department potluck. Only problem: she likes to bake vegan stuff. Vegan baking is definitely out of my […]

How to Make a Chocolate & Strawberry Hippo Cake

How to Make a Chocolate & Strawberry Hippo Cake

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! My roommate just had her birthday and I needed an excuse to make a new elaborate cake. She loves hippos (and cows). One of the first things I noticed when she moved in was that she had […]

Apple Pie Cupcakes with Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Apple Pie Cupcakes with Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

It’s officially fall which means I can officially crack out my cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, apples, and pumpkins. Time to start making butternut squash everything until I can’t stand it anymore. Anyway, I decided to go with a twist on classic apple pie for my first fall baking undertaking. It’s been a while since I’ve made cupcakes so I decided to make apple pie cupcakes!

apple pie cupcakes

To create apple pie cupcakes combined some cinnamon apple cupcakes, apple pie filling, and brown butter frosting. If you’ve never heard of “brown butter” before it is the absolute best thing ever! For real. It’s what makes pie crust taste like pie crust. When sugar burns it carmelizes and tastes like, well, caramel. When butter burns, it undergoes “browning” and takes on this delicious, nutty flavor. Because pie crust is a lot of butter, some flour, and water, it is the primary flavor. It’s also half the flavor of toffee (the other half is caramel and then whatever flavor you add.) I’ve never made brown butter buttercream before but it’s easy enough just to substitute brown butter for regular butter in the recipe! Plus, I couldn’t make apple pie cupcakes without including the flavor the best part of the pie!

beagle with apple cupcakes

I was actually pretty proud of how well I was adulting last night, because I managed to make these cupcakes at the same time as lasagna I was meal-prepping for my dinners for the next week. And, I managed not to end up with tomato cupcakes and apple lasagna. Seriously, for someone who can’t multitask in the kitchen, it was exciting. The apple pie cupcakes turned out looking great and, as someone who isn’t usually a fan of any frosting, I absolutely love the brown butter frosting.

apple pie cupcakes 2

A couple notes:

  1. The best apples for baking are the tart ones. Don’t pull out your honeycrisp and pink lady apples for pie-making. I generally use Granny Smith.
  2. If you have one, use a pan with a white bottom when browning your butter. It browns fast and you want brown butter, not black-charcoal-butter.
  3. To pipe the buttercream, I used a star tip, but really anything is fine as long as it’s large enough. You could even just cut the bottom of a piping bag.
  4. Make the brown butter well in advance, it can’t be liquid when you make the frosting or you’ll get something that’s not frosting.

 

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4.75 from 8 votes
apple pie cupcakes
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Apple Pie Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting

Apple pie cupcakes with baked apples, cinnamon and spice apple cupcakes, and delicious pie-crust flavored browned butter swiss meringue buttercream.

Servings: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
Apple Pie Filling
  • 1.5 apples (chopped)
  • 1.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes
  • 1.25 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 apple (finely chopped or grated)
Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 3.5 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3-4 egg whites
Instructions
Make Brown Butter
  1. Place 3.5 sticks of butter in a saucepan. Preferably one with a light bottom.

  2. Turn heat to medium-high, and let bubble while stirring.

  3. Brown flecks will begin appearing in the butter, leave on heat until you reach your desired level of browning.

  4. Immediately transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking.

  5. Let harden to room temperature.

Make Apple Pie Filling
  1. Chop your apples and place in a large saucepan. I like to use the same one that I used to brown the butter to add a little flavor.

  2. Stir in lemon juice.

  3. Stir in remaining ingredients.

  4. Stirring occasionally, leaving on medium heat for ~20 minutes until the apples soften.

  5. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Bake the Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter.

  3. Mix in both sugars.

  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

  5. Mix in vanilla, baking powder, salt, spices, and 1/4 cup of flour.

  6. Mix in half of the buttermilk.

  7. Mix in 1/2 cup of flour.

  8. Mix in the second half of the buttermilk.

  9. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.

  10. Fold in the chopped or grated apple.

  11. Fill cupcake lines most of the way, and bake for ~30min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Make the Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. On a double boiler, whip together egg whites and sugar until the mixture reaches ~140°F.

  2. Remove from heat and continue whipping until the meringue forms stiff peaks.

  3. Mix in butter and continue beating until it looks like frosting. (It may curdle, just mix through it and it will eventually look right.)

Assemble the Apple Pie Cupcakes
  1. Pipe a double layer of frosting around the outer edge of each cupcake.

  2. Fill the centers with the apple pie filling.

  3. Serve at room temperature. (It definitely shouldn't be refrigerated, but if you try to warm them the icing will melt.)

 

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Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Green Tea Whipped Cream Frosting

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Green Tea Whipped Cream Frosting

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! It was my mom’s birthday yesterday, (Happy Birthday, Mom!) so of course I had to bake her cake. That also means that it’s been pretty much exactly one year since I first started my instagram with Pascal […]