Devil’s Food Cupcakes and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Devil’s Food Cake
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery- More from Magnolia
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsps vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake papers. Set aside. In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the butter into cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 15 minutes before removing from tins to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery- More from Magnolia

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsps vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.

New York–Style Cheesecake

For Mother’s Day dessert I served fresh picked organic strawberries with a delicious cheesecake. 

New York–Style Cheesecake
Adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

For the crust
9 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the filling
Five 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I did a tbsp vanilla bean paste)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour


Make the crust
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).

2. Grind the graham crackers to coarse crumbs in a food processor or with a rolling pin and a resealable plastic bag. Add the butter and sugar and process or stir until the crumb mixture is well blended and begins to stick together.

3. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom (but not the sides) of a 9-inch-diameter spring-form pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake the crust until golden and firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool the crust in the pan on the rack. Wrap the outside of the pan with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Keep the oven at 325°F (163°C).

Make the filling

4. While the crust bakes, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until blended.

5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until just blended after each addition. Then add the egg yolk, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Sift the flour over the filling and beat on low speed just until blended. Scrape the filling over the cooled crumb crust.

6. Place the foil-wrapped cake pan in a large roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack, pulling the rack out slightly. Carefully add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath, rotating the pan once halfway through, until the center is softly set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven.

7. Let the cake pan stand in the water bath for 5 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the water bath and transfer it to a wire rack. Using a sharp, slender knife, work around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool completely at room temperature. Cover and—here’s the hard part—refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days prior to slicing.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

One of my girlfriend’s made this cake for me and I just knew Forrest would love it.  I didn’t have extra large eggs, so I had to modify the recipe.  The cake rose very high and browned very quickly.  I think a lower temperature for a litle bit longer would have been the best way to go.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake
adapted from Ina Garten

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 T honey
2 t pure vanilla extract
1 t lemon zest
2 c sifted cake flour
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2″ loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest in a glass measureing cup but do not combine. Wit the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl and allowing each eggg to become incorporated before adding the next egg.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add it slowly to the batter until just combined. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatul and pour it into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.

Bubbly Pear Cupcakes

This was one of the recipes that I “auditioned” for a recent bridal shower that I hosted.  The cupcakes were delicious- moist airy.  However, they seemed to lack flavor- there wasn’t a particular showing of pear or champagne.  When making again, I’d add some cinnamon & maybe use brown sugar instead.

Bubbly Pear Cupcakes
Adapated from YumSugar

For cupcakes:
2 3/4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 firm-ish but ripe pears, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup champagne

For frosting:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
4 tbsp champagne
1.Preheat oven to 350F.
2.In a small bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3.In mixer (or large bowl), cream butter and sugar until well mixed and airy.
4.Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is full incorporated before adding next.
5.Slowly add in flour mixture – I do it 1/3 at a time – making sure it is fully incorporated.
6.Stir in vanilla and champagne.
7.Stir in pears.
8.Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
9.Scoop an even amount of dough into each cup – I filled them to the top. You should have enough for about 24 cupcakes.
10.Bake for about 16 minutes. I started checking around 12 just to be safe. You want them to be golden in color.
11.While cupcakes are baking, make frosting. Mix cream cheese and butter together. Add powdered sugar and whip until smooth. You can add more powdered sugar if desired.
12.Remove cupcakes from oven and cool in tins for 2 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.
13.When cupcakes are completely cooled, top with frosting.

DC Cupcakes’ Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

Forrest and I recently spent a week in Washington DC.  We made two visits to Georgetown and both times, we walked by Georgetown Cupcake to get a taste of the madness.  Both times, there must have been 50 people in line.  As much as I love cupcakes, I’m not standing in line all night for one!

It just so happens, that I was looking for a cupcake recipe that contained champagne for my future sister in law’s bridal shower.  Darned if those DC Cupcake girls weren’t on Oprah with one! 

DC Cupcakes Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes
Adapted from Oprah

1/2 cup fresh strawberries , diced
1/2 Tbsp. good Champagne (sweet Rosé Champagne suggested) (*Although I used this measurement, I found it was a misprint and the original recipe calls for 1/2 CUP)
2 1/2 cups flour , sifted
1/2 tsp. baking powder , sifted
1/4 Tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs , at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract + seeds from 1 vanilla bean (I used 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste)
1 1/4 cups whole milk , at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cupcake pans grease pans with butter if not using baking cups.

Dice up 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries and soak in 1/2 cup of Champagne. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Combine the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.

Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.

Gently fold in the diced Champagne-soaked strawberries, just until incorporated.

Scoop batter into baking cups and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Champagne Buttercream Frosting
16 Tbsp. (8 ounces) unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner’s sugar , sifted
1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup good Champagne (sweet Rosé Champagne suggested)

Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the confectioner’s sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Add the vanilla extract, milk, salt and Champagne, and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Place frosting in a disposable piping bag with a large round tip.

Martha’s Boston Cream Pie

My baby brother requested Boston Cream Pie for his birthday this year.  I’d previously made one, but I decided to try a new recipe.  I turned to Martha, thinking she was ever reliable.  The cake was wonderful and the custard was fantastic, however, it never fully thickened.  Maybe I under cooked it? 

Boston Cream Pie
Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

For Hot-Milk Sponge Cake:

unsalted butter for cake pan
1 cup sifted cake flour (not self rising, plus more for pan)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Cake:

1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9×2 inch round cake pan. Line with parchment (if you’re anal), set aside.
2. Sift together the cake flour and the salt. Sift again, two more times; set aside. IN the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, ix the eggs and sugar until well combined. Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water; whisk until the mixture is warm, about 110 F, and the sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; place bowl on mixer. Whisk the egg mixture on high speed until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean or extract. Place over medium heat until hot, being careful not to let boil. Remove and discard vanilla bean, if using. With egg mixture beating, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Turn off mixer. Transfer to a medium bowl; fold in the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

For the Custard-Cream Filling:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
6 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To Make the Filling:
1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture beings to bubble, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming; chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

4 ounces excellent quality semisweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup heavy cream
To Make the Glaze and Assemble the Cake:
1. Split the cake into two layers, by slicing through the cake very gently with a long serrated knife. Spread the bottom half with chilled filling. Place in the refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes. Wrap the remaining half of cake with plastic wrap; set aside.
2. In a medium size heat proof bowl, or top of double boiler, set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the chocolate and the heavy cream. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside to cool for 10 minutes. A bit whisking helps chocolate and cream combine more easily.
3. Remove cake from refrigerator; top with the reserved cake layer. Transfer cake to a serving plate; pour the chocolate glaze over the top. Allow to set 20 minutes before serving.

Caramel Candy Cake

For his birthday Forrest requested a yellow cake with caramel filling and dark chocolate frosting.  The cake and frosting turned out beautifully, but the caramel must have cooked a little too long because it turned into hard candy. 

Yellow Cake
Adapted from BHG New Cookbook

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/4 cups milk

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9 x 1-1/2-inch or 8 x 1-1/2-inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at time, beating on medium speed until well combined and scraping sides of bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).

3. Bake in a 375 degree F oven 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans; 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans; 25 to 30 minutes for 13x9x2-inch pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool layer cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove layer cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks.

Caramel Filling
Adapted from Food and Wine

3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter.  Mix all ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly pour into pan with butter. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and cook until the caramel registers 235° on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat, cool until spreadable.

Adapted from Hershey’s

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa (I used dark cocoa)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.