Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Here in California we are under a statewide Shelter in Place directive. There’s only so much house cleaning I can do to pass the time. So now it’s on to baking. I decided to bake some treats for my elderly mother and her neighbors and make little treat boxes for them. These carrot  cake cupcakes were one of the items I made for them.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots, or more to taste
  • 1 (8 ounce) can finely crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners. Set aside.
  3. Place flour in a bowl. Add salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Sprinkle in ground ginger and cinnamon. Whisk thoroughly until combined. Set aside.
  4. Add sugar to a separate bowl. Whisk in eggs until mixture is smooth and pale yellow, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Heat butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat until just melted but not too hot. Whisk into the bowl with the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add carrots, crushed pineapple, pecans, and raisins. Stir well.
  6. Stir flour mixture into the carrot mixture until no dry spots remain.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared cupcake pan. Carrot Cake Cupcakes 1
  8. Tap the pan against your counter to let any big air bubbles rise to the surface.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting, at least 40 minutes.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and lemon juice together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar to form a smooth frosting. Spread evenly over the cooled cupcakes.Carrot Cake Cupcakes 3
  2. Garnish with grated carrots. (optional) Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Cranberry Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry Macadamia nut shortbread

Hello everyone! I hope this new year brings you much happiness. I’ve been taking it so easy these days that I almost missed posting a recipe for this month! I made these shortbread cookies for part of my annual holiday cookies and fudge gift boxes last month. But you don’t need a special occasion to make these. Any day is a good day for cookies! This recipe makes 24 cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 sticks butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl (mix together until creamy.)
  3. Add flour 1 cup at a time until all of the flour is well incorporated with the butter and sugar.
  4. Mix in white chocolate, cranberries and macadamia nuts. The dough will be very thick.
  5. Form 1 1/2 inch balls (flatten them if you wish) and place them on cookies sheets. NOTE: These cookies do not expand so you can place them about one inch apart.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes (for moist center) or until you see the edges turning brown. Cook 12 minutes if you like a harder shortbread cookie.
  7. Let cool on cookie racks and store in air tight containers.

Oreos Frosting Cupcakes

Oreo Cupcakes

Rejoice chocoholics! Have I got a cupcake for you! I’ll give you the scratch recipe, but feel free to go the semi homade route and start with your favorite box of chocolate cake mix.  The frosting is made with all the extra help you can get. So no judgements made here. These are great to share with your friends, families or co workers. The holidays are coming up, make a batch for your next holiday party.

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 jar (12 ounces) chocolate fudge topping
  • 1 box (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • package (14.3 oz) Oreo chocolate creme sandwich cookies, crushed

CAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre heat oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. If you are using a packaged cake mix, prepare as directions state. Otherwise go to next step.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add oil, coffee and milk and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes. Expect batter to be thin.
  4. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups, filling cups half full.
  6. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when gently touched. Cool in pans 3 minutes. Remove from pans; use end of wooden spoon to poke 3 holes into each hot cupcake. Oreo Cupcakes 1
  7. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate fudge topping uncovered on High 20 to 30 seconds or until thin and pourable. Spoon over warm cupcakes. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Oreo Cupcakes 2
  8. In the meantime, prepare the frosting mixture.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. In medium bowl, beat pudding mix and milk with whisk about 4 minutes or until soft set. Fold in whipped topping with spatula. Oreo Cupcakes 3
  2. Stir all but 1/2 cups crushed cookies into pudding mixture. Oreo Cupcakes 4
  3. Spoon frosting mixture on tops of cupcakes. Top with remaining crushed cookies.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Oreo Cupcakes 5

M&M’s Pudding Cookies

M&M Pudding Cookies3

Here’s another cookie recipe that I made for my treat boxes to give out this Christmas. Who can resist M&M’s and white chocolate chips? I’m not sure if the pudding mix is for added flavor or to make the cookies soft and chewy. Either way, these cookies are a sweet treat. Next Christmas, be sure to put some out for Santa! You can most certainly switch out the M&M’s candy colors to suit other occasions to enjoy these cookies all year long.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 box (4 ounce size) vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup green and red M&M’s
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape side of bowl.
  4. Beat in dry pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Beat in vanilla.
  5. On low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended.
  6.  Stir in chocolate candies and white chips until blended.
  7. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lined cookie sheets. M&M Pudding Cookies1
  8. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
M&M Pudding Cookies2

Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies3

Every year I give out Christmas cookies and candies to my family and friends. And every year I try swap around the cookies and candies I make. I came across these Italian Christmas cookies. I noticed they traditionally use anise extract, but I’m not an anise (or black licorice taste) fan. So I substituted almond extract. You can choose to use either.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise or almond extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonpareil sprinkles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and anise flavoring.
  5. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.
  6. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  7. When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the bottom of a small glass into some powdered sugar and press each ball down slightly.Italian Christmas Cookies1
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and cool completely.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sift two cups of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
  2. Dip top of each cookie in the glaze. Garnish with some nonpareil sprinkles.
  3. Allow glaze to dry before freezing. Italian Christmas Cookies2

 

Snowman Cupcakes

Snowman Cupcake

Here’s a fun baking activity for your kids or for you kids at heart to make during the holidays. All you need are a few items you may already have in your pantry.  I did make my own cupcakes from scratch, only because I was already making my Christmas cookies and had most the ingredients out anyway.  But I did use store bought frosting. Either way is fine.  The snowmen won’t complain.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box chocolate or Devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 container vanilla frosting (buttercream or whipped style)
  • white sparkling decorating sugar sprinkles (I used Wilton brand)
  • butterscotch baking chips (or use orange M&Ms)
  • mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare cupcakes as per cake mix directions and let cool completely.
  2. Spread a generous amount of frosting on top of the cupcake.
  3. Fill a small bowl with white, sparkling decorating sugar.
  4. Holding the bottom of the cupcake, gently press it down into the coarse sugar and rock it back and forth in all directions until the icing is completely covered.
  5. Take a regular sized butterscotch chip and gently press it into the center of the cupcake.
  6. Then use mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.
  7. Aren’t they so cute?! How easy was that?

Snowman Cupcakes

 

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

I came across my bundt cake pan the other day. I thought to myself,  I really need to use it more often. So I went through my cupboard and found all the ingredients for a semi homemade pineapple upside down cake.  Then I found out my brother and his family were coming to town. I now had willing taste testers to help eat up the cake. My son and I would never have finished it by ourselves. It was fate.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can (20 ounces)  pineapple slices, reserve the juice
  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries (you will need about 15-20 depending on your bundt pan size)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (thus the semi homemade description)
  • 1 package (3.4 ounce) vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Spray a bundt pan generously with nonstick spray.
  2. Evenly pour the melted butter into the bottom of the bundt pan and top with the brown sugar. Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake 2
  3. Cut the pineapple rings in half and, alternating with the cherries, place into the butter-brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan. Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake 3
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes together. Add the reserved pineapple juice and milk. Add the eggs and vegetable oil, and mix until fully blended. Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake 5
  5. Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple and cherries. Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake 6
  6. Follow the cake mix instructions for how long to bake in a bundt pan. Approximately 35-40 minutes. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake 7
  7. Cool the cake for about 30 minutes before running a knife around the edges and inner ring of the pan. Invert onto a serving plate and slice between pineapple rings to serve. Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake 8