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Box of Chocolates Cupcakes

Box of Chocolates CupcakesValentine’s Day is finally here.  What are your plans for tonight?  We’re having dinner in and then heading to the local frozen yogurt shop for their buy one get one free deal.  Yep, I said it.  I’m not making our dessert tonight despite all of the Valentine dessert recipes I’ve been posting!  Tonight, I’m getting treated!  🙂

Box of Chocolates Cupcakes2Today, I’m giving our friends this box of chocolates, which are actually cupcakes.  I bookmarked this a few years ago in my Hello! Cupcake book and never had the chance to make them.  This year, it was a must.  It’s an absolutely adorable idea and super easy despite what it may seem.  Just make a batch of your favorite chocolate cupcakes in miniature cupcake pans (even a box mix will do) and then frost them with chocolate icing.  Decorate as you prefer, then place them in a heart shaped box.  The Hello! Cupcake book suggests using chocolate jimmies, red and white jimmies, marshmallows cut in half then dipped in melted frosting, Valentine’s candy corn, red Dots, Valentine’s M&M’s and other Valentine’s candies.

Hope you have a fantastic Valentine’s evening!

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Strawberry Valentine Cupcakes

Valentine Strawberry CupcakesThese strawberry cupcakes are not new to Pennies on a Platter.  In fact, they are probably the favorite cupcake in our household.  I first made them a few years ago for Ben’s graduation party where they were a huge hit.  Since then, they have made an appearance in my oven quite a few times.  This week was no exception.  After making the heart shaped cookies (see previous post), I couldn’t resist but to also make miniature hearts to adorn the top of our favorite cupcakes.

I brought these to our neighbor’s Superbowl party.  Since the Bears fell short in making it to the big game, and I could care less about either team, I decided I wasn’t in the mood to bring something with a football theme.  I was over that.  Instead, it was more fun to bring a little girlyness (I make up words all the time) to the party and speed up the arrival of Valentine’s Day.

Valentines Strawberry Cupcakes2Everyone seemed to really enjoy the cupcakes.  There was so much yummy food at the party, that I really forgot about pitying myself regarding the Bears and instead enjoyed chomping on whatever I could fit in my stomach!  🙂  Plus, did you see that adorable Darth Vader commercial?  That cute little kid made the Superbowl for me.

Click the links below for the recipes.  The frosting is a little more pink than what shows in the photos above.  I added more powdered sugar to thicken it up this time in order to hold the cookie toppers, causing the pink color to fade.  You can also add food coloring to achieve your desired level of pink.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
Sugar Cookie Hearts

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice CupcakeLast month, I made these pumpkin spice cupcakes for Judah’s first birthday party.  Somehow, I forgot to share the recipe with you.  Because I also made vanilla cupcakes, I wanted to make an easy icing that went along with both, so I used just a basic buttercream frosting.  But, don’t let the word “basic” fool you.  The frosting was marvelous, super quick to whip up, and a perfect compliment to both cupcakes.  It’s now my go-to frosting when I need something fast.  (I’ll share this recipe sometime later.)

The cupcakes were delicious as well.  I can’t wait until I have a reason to make them again, but I fear it won’t be until this fall when all things are pumpkin.

Before giving you the recipe, let me thank you for all of the great pizza ideas you shared with me the other day for the giveaway!  I saved a lot of them to try in our own house on pizza day.   Now, let me finally announce the winner of the pizza peel.   The winner, randomly selected, is Rachael who said “I have a BLT pizza recipe that is wonderful! Take the bacon, tomato, shredded lettuce, a homemade pizza crust, and a cream cheese spread (with Italian seasoning mixed in)… delish!”  Rachael, check your inbox for an email from me! 🙂  Congratulations!

On to the pumpkin spice cupcakes…

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup buttermilk

Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the vanilla until fully incorporated.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  In another small mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin and buttermilk until smooth.

Turn the stand mixer on to the lowest setting and alternately add the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixtures to the creamed butter.  Start and end with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the pans, filling about 1/2 full.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until passes the toothpick test.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Once completely cooled, top with desired frosting.

Source:  My Kitchen Addiction

Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting

Candy Cane Cupcakes4If you want to have a little glimpse of the thoughts that go through my head when writing one of these posts, I can tell you that there is usually an internal debate on what to title a recipe.  Honestly, I sat here for about 15 minutes deciding if I should instead name these Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes for a simpler heading.  But, reason won out with the fact that there are no candy canes in the actual cupcakes.  They are just regular (but delicious!) chocolate cupcakes with all of the peppermint flavor in the (to-die-for) buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes1Funny that I should characterize the frosting as “to-die-for.”  If anyone knows me well, they know I do not love the chocolate/peppermint combination.  Leave the minty flavors for my toothpaste, chewing gum and holiday tea please.  Do NOT ruin my chocolate!  😉  But, with white chocolate added into the buttercream, the peppermint flavor becomes so subtle that it actually is a refreshing delight!  Yes, even mixed with the chocolate cupcakes.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes2I was very pleased with how the chocolate cupcakes turned out.  What attracted me to this recipe was the added tablespoons of coffee brew, knowing that it enhances the chocolate flavor.  They were also moist and perfectly puffed for a beautiful presentation.  Both the cupcakes and frosting are easy to prepare, so I’ll be keeping them as “go to” recipes (easily keeping out the peppermint extract flavoring.)

You can see from the photos that I decorated them a few different ways.  Initially, I tried the swirl method of painting red food coloring into the pastry bag before adding the frosting, however, the two cupcakes above were the only ones that turned out right.  I finished the rest with decorations of these very cute candy cane sprinkles

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes5

and holly sprinkles

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes3…both given to me by Karen’s Cookies when ordering another one of their products.  This post is in no way sponsored by Karen’s Cookies.  I just love to share my good experiences and recommendations when possible.  It was a super cool surprise to see an extra sample of another product with my orders!

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I do!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2+ dozen cupcakes

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large or jumbo eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line cupcakes pans with paper liners.  Set an oven rack to the middle position of the oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until combined.  Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.  Lower the speed back to medium and add the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and coffee; set aside.  Using another medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed butter in thirds, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix only until blended, then use a rubber spatula to fold the batter and ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake pans.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (20 minutes was perfect for me.)  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and allow to completely cool before frosting.

For the Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting:
2 cups butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces white chocolate bar, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Red food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the powdered sugar, salt and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the white chocolate until combined.  Stir in the peppermint flavoring to your taste.  Whip until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (*see recipe note below).

If desired, color with red food coloring.  Scoop frosting into pastry bag fitted with a Wilton 1M star tip and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes.  Optional:  Decorate with candy cane sprinkles.

*Recipe Note: The original recipe calls for 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream in order to reach the desired frosting consistency.  I didn’t need it, and therefore saved myself from having to open a package of whipping cream only to use up a tablespoon or two.

Source:  Chocolate Cupcake recipe adapted from Ina Garten via The Food Network, Candy Cane Buttercream Frosting adapted from Peanut Butter and Julie

Movie Night: Popcorn Cupcakes

Popcorn CupcakesPopcorn is the perfect salty movie snack.  Popcorn cupcakes, for me, are now the perfect movie dessert! 🙂 I chose to post this today because it’s rainy and dreary outside, which is the perfect movie weather! Now, tell me, what is the perfect movie?  (The Lord of the Rings? Star Wars? Good Will Hunting? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? The Goonies? Twilight? Disney Movies?)

This is another brilliant idea from my Hello, Cupcake! book. The authors, Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, are definitely two of the most creative cupcake decorators I’ve seen.  And, Alan’s photography is just stunning!

I made these Popcorn Cupcakes about two weeks ago when some of Ben’s students (college students) came over for movie night in the “man cave”.  We watched The Dark Knight (which could possibly be the perfect movie) and ate cupcakes, popcorn and Twizzlers!

It may look complicated, but the cupcakes are very easy to make. The only time consuming part was creating the actual popcorn out of the marshmallows, because you need to make so many  of them!  Since there were 6 of us, I only made about 2/3 of the original recipe.

You’ll need two bags of miniature marshmallows.  One white bag and one multi-colored bag.  I found the multi-colored bag at Walmart for cheap.  Pick out the yellow ones.

Multi-colored Marshmallows

Line two cookies sheets with wax paper. Spoon 1/4 cup vanilla frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and close the bag.

For each piece of popcorn, use 2 marshmallows of the same color. using clean scissors, cut 1 marshmallow into thirds, crosswise. Arrange the pieces on the cookie sheet in the shape of a three-leaf clover, pressing gently with your fingertips to flatten them slightly (I didn’t need to).
Marshmallow PopcornSnip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag and pipe a dot of frosting on one end of the second marshmallow.
Marshmallow Popcorn 2

Press the other marshmallow into the center of the cloverleaf arrangement; the frosting will hold the 4 pieces together. Repeat with the remaining white and yellow marshmallows until you have 225 to 250 pieces of popcorn (holy cow! I didn’t even make half that number!).
Marshmallow Popcorn 3Spread the tops of the mini cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Press 5 to 7 popcorn pieces onto the top of each cupcake. Any loose pieces can be secured with a dot of frosting from the ziplock bag.
Popcorn Cupcakes 4
Let the cupcakes sit for about 30 minutes before stacking them in the popcorn boxes or a bowl.
Popcorn Cupcakes 2

Printable Recipe

Popcorn Cupcakes - blue

penny-in-pinkPenny Says: You can make this for a pretty reasonable price.  Buy a boxed cake mix that’s on sale to make the cupcakes.  You should easily find frosting on sale, too! And, ask friends if they have cute popcorn tubs you can borrow (that’s what I did!)

Strawberry Cupcakes

If I can promise anything with a 100% guarantee, it is that you will love these cupcakes (if you like strawberries). This is another flavor of cupcakes I made for Ben’s graduation party and his cupcake tower. And, this is actually going to be the last cupcake recipe from his party that I’ll post because I wasn’t extremely fond of the others… lemon poppyseed and carrot cake. I’ll have to find better recipes for those.

But…THESE…oooohhh…these cupcakes! Y-U-M! At the party, one of my friends LOVED these and said she wanted to have the recipe and make them for her daugther’s 1st birthday party. She was having a strawberry theme. I ended up volunteering to make them for her instead. This worked out very well because I forgot to take pictures of them the first time. She was expecting at least 30 kids and then some parents, so, I doubled the recipe which ended up making two shy of five dozen! And, that also worked out well because she only wanted four dozen which meant Ben and I get to eat the rest. 🙂Thanks to Annie and Katie for the recipe. I used Annie’s frosting alterations with the strawberry puree. The frosting was pretty soft and runny both times making it (thick enough, though, to pipe on in a swirl). But, I had several comments from the party that they loved the frosting, so I’ll keep it the way it is.Also, it might depend on the size of the cupcake pan, but I used the standard sized cupcake pans and realized I only need to fill each cup half full. The original recipe says 3/4 full, but then they overflow and have the mushroom look. And, when I didn’t double the recipe, it made two dozen, not only 18 cupcakes as the original recipe states. As I mentioned earlier, when I doubled the recipe, it made close to five dozen.

Enjoy these! They’ll make you crave more!

Strawberry Cupcakes

Printable Recipe

Yield:  2 dozen cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups diced strawberries

For the frosting:
1/2 cup strawberries (more or less, to taste)
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (more or less to achieve desired consistency)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand/electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until full incorporated. Beat in buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in diced strawberries. Fill cupcake wells half full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, puree strawberries in food processor. Strain through a mesh sieve to remove seeds, and set aside. Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Mix in lemon juice, vanilla and strawberry puree. Adjust the amount of puree and powdered sugar to achieve your desired taste and consistency.  Frost cupcakes when completely cool.

Source:  Annie’s Eats

*Updated 2/8/11