Tag Archives: cupcakes

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting

I got an email in the middle of Saturday afternoon from a grad student in the lab declaring that one of these cupcakes saved his Saturday afternoon. Such things make me smile. In fact, that was precisely the reason why I woke up extra early in the morning to make just this batch of cupcakes earlier this week – to save afternoons.

With the arrival of spring and my bicycle brake cables replaced, I started biking into work again. It’s six miles, one direction, and thanks to the greenway and the general lack of topography in Minneapolis, not all that difficult. But it is six miles and five months since I commuted by bike. So a chocolate cupcake at 4 pm can be a lifesaver. For some reason, it needed to be chocolate + orange + coffee. And a little boozy … Kahlúa in the cupcakes and Grand Marnier in the frosting, which is an added bonus.

 Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting 
Makes 12 cupcakes
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1 orange
 1/4 cup Kahlúa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting
1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons mocha sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375º. Line muffin pan. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, oil, egg, orange juice, zest, Kahlúa and vanilla. While mixing the dry ingredients, slowly add the wet ingredients until just combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting:

Beat butter, powdered sugar, mocha sauce, orange juice and Grand Marnier together until light and fluffy. This frosting will be a little loose at room temperature (I think it might have to do with the amount of mocha sauce) but a quick chill (10 – 15 minutes) in the refrigerator makes it perfectly suitable to frost.

Tickled Pink … Cupcakes

I spent last week thinking about beets. I know it’s not the first time I’ve discussed them (or even the second … and then there was that borscht incident earlier this summer that I thought best not to share). But last week I was thinking about making something sweet with them. Similar to a carrot cake? Or zucchini cake? No … I was thinking about using beets in red velvet cake. (Or cupcakes, as the case may be).

I am not exactly sure why. I am pretty sure that I’ve never eaten red velvet cake and certainly have never made it. From what I’ve read and heard on the street, people just eat it for the cream cheese frosting. But the idea of using my single, solitary beet from the CSA to turn my cake pink, well, it tickled my fancy. And it makes the cupcakes healthy, right?

I’m not going to lie. There was a moment as I was adding the beet puree into the cupcake when all I could smell was the deep earthiness of the beets. And thought Why the hell did I ruin cupcakes by putting beets in them? But, as it turns out, it didn’t ruin the cupcakes. Not at all. It turned them brilliantly pink.

And you know how I love color.

I got the cake recipe here. I chose it because it called for both a bit of lemon juice and vinegar to maintain the proper pH, which is uber-important for maintaining the pink/red color. It also has cream cheese in the batter, not just in the frosting, so it really is more of a pink poundcake than a true “red velvet cake.” But I am more than okay with that – in fact I prefer it.

Beets in cupcakes … who knew?

Tickled Pink … Cupcakes

adapted ever-so-slightly from Sophistimom

makes 1 dozen cupcakes

1 large beet
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar + 3 tablespoons
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not dutch-processed – it will mess with the pH!)
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 tablespoons butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Peel and quarter the beet and place in a small baking dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover dish with aluminum foil and roast at 350º for about an hour. Transfer beets and water to a blender, add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar and puree until smooth. Should make about 3/4 cup of beet puree.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and add in vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients slowly.

Add the beet puree. And watch your batter turn from drab brown to a beautiful burgandy. And try not to smell the beets … or at least don’t be frightened when you do. The cupcakes will be delicious and won’t taste like beets.

Scoop into a lined muffin tin. Bake at 350º for about 30 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

Beat together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla until well-blended and smooth. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I suspect that my mother spoils me.

She was the one to bring the green stand mixer into my life.

And while visiting me this weekend (along with my aunt) she bought another small appliance for my kitchen.

A fancy-schmancy food processor. One that chops, shreds and slices. And holds 7 cups of food. A major upgrade from little baby 3-cup chopper I had been using. (Which perfectly fine – it just doesn’t have any bells and whistles and is unbelievably small.)

And my first thought was “Well what I can I make with this?

Followed immediately by “Carrot cakebut only as cupcakes.”

And suddenly I craved carrot cake. But the weird thing is I never liked carrot cake as a child. The cream cheese frosting, well, that’s another story. But the carrot cake never really did anything for me. What I would do was take the tip of my finger and scrape off the cream cheese frosting, leaving the carrot cake alone and naked. For the life of me I can’t think of why my younger self didn’t like carrot cake. Moist, spiced cake with sweet carrots topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting.

I found the recipe in the collection of recipes that my mother gave me several Christmases ago. Just carrots and cake. No chunks of pineapple or raisins ruining the carrot flavor. I halved the recipe and reduced the cooking time for the cupcake version.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes

Carrot Cake
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Measure the vegetable oil in your mixing bowl.

Mix in the granulated sugar.

While beating the oil and sugar, sift together all of the dry ingredients. (The stand mixer is crucial for multi-tasking.)

The flour.

The cinnamon.

The ground cloves.

The ground nutmeg.

Baking soda.

And the salt.

Go ahead and add the dry ingredients to the oil and sugar mixture.

Beat in the eggs.

And finally fold in the carrots.

Fill up muffin cups about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350º for about 23 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

About halfway through baking, I realized I forgot the walnuts. So I improvised.

Let cool before frosting.

While the cupcakes are cooling, mix up the cream cheese frosting.

Bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature in a mixing bowl.

Now beat in the powdered sugar, a little bit at a time.

(I know I put 2 cups in the ingredient list – but honestly I just dumped until I thought it tasted right. And I prefer a not-t00-sweet frosting.)

Add just a touch of vanilla.

Utterly delicious.

There may have been some finger licking.

Judging from the grunts coming from my houseguests, I would say they turned out well. And my adult tastebuds agree.

I figured it was only fair that if my mother was going to feed my kitchen addiction that the least I could do was feed her.