Saturday, December 24, 2011

December's Cupcake Of The Month: Dark Chocolate and Peppermint

I hope you are all having a lovely December so far. Earlier this month, I was knee deep in work, tutoring, and finals, so of course, I welcomed my break with open arms. And even though I can't say that I've been particularly productive this break (what with my long to-do list of reading two book series, going back to the gym, and other miscellaneous tasks that I've been putting off), I have been enjoying the time I've spent with my family and friends. There's just something about the simple things in life like staying in for the night and watching a movie with my brothers or spending hours catching up with a friend over coffee that makes me so grateful for what I have. It's actually making me a little teary-eyed right now just thinking about it. But anyway... 

On a less serious note, another thing I'm really grateful for is chocolate. Especially when it's paired with almonds or mint. So I decided that, as a birthday present to myself, I'd center this month's cupcakes around chocolate and peppermint! I used the same recipe for the cupcakes as my chocolate and Chambord recipe and for the filling and frosting, I made a super simple whipped cream, flavored with peppermint extract and candies. I hope you enjoy this recipe! Cheers and happy holidays!

The Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-recipe can be found here
For the filling and frosting:
-2 cups heavy cream
-4 tbsp powdered sugar, or to taste
-2 tbsp peppermint extract, or to taste
-1/2 cup finely ground peppermint candies

The Directions:
1. Bake cupcakes as directed.
2. When cupcakes are cool, cut out the center of each cupcake.
3. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
4. Slowly add the sugar, and then the extract and whip until firm peaks form.
5. Gently fold in the candies and then fill and frost cupcakes.
6. Consume and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins Using Only Two Ingredients

All this recipe calls for is one box of yellow cake mix and a couple of cups of pumpkin puree. Can it get any easier than that? You don't even need eggs or oil, and you can spice it up (figuratively or literally) any way you want! I added some pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and chocolate chips to mine and they were delicious!

I don't have any pictures for this recipe, but everything is straightforward. The batter will come out pretty thick, but I didn't find it too problematic just mixing by hand with a rubber spatula. The consistency of the batter is more along the lines of a very sticky cookie dough but once it's baked off, the muffin will still have that cake-like texture. And if yellow cake isn't your thing, I've seen others use spiced cake mixes and even chocolate and devil's food cake mixes as well!


Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen):
- one box of yellow cake mix
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
Optional ingredients:
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chocolate chips

The Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your cupcake pan(s).
2. Mix the cake mix and puree together until consistent throughout.
3. Stir in the pumpkin spice and cinnamon, and then fold in the chocolate chips.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before storing.
5. Consume and enjoy!