Showing posts with label cupcakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cupcakes. Show all posts

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cranberry Spice Cupcakes

Comments have become a powerful force on the web. Every time I look at a new recipe or for that matter, something that I'm going to buy, I always read the comments. As writers, we are painfully aware of the comments people leave about our books.

In recipeland, I find them very helpful. If a lot of people complain about the same thing (too dry, cooking time is too long, etc.) I know I have to pay attention to that, and I adjust the recipe accordingly.

This recipe was inspired by Southern Living's showstopper Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling. Now that's what I call a presentation! White spice cake with a cranberry filling, and apple cider white frosting! And they made Christmas trees by frosting upside-down ice cream cones! Clever and gorgeous.

But I wanted to make cupcakes so I made a few adjustments. First, I cut the recipe in half. There aren't too many comments, but a couple of them mentioned that the applesauce flavor is lost in the buttercream frosting. I can believe that. It takes some powerful flavoring to stand up to buttercream. So I put the apple cider in the cake recipe instead, and altered the spices to suit my preferences. I did follow the instructions for the cranberry filling, except I intentionally left out the orange juice. And for the frosting, I used tried and true plain old vanilla buttercream frosting.

This recipe has three segments, but don't let that intimidate you. The cupcakes are very easy to make. The cranberries aren't any harder than making them for Thanksgiving. And the frosting is easy, too. In addition, this doesn't have to be a marathon. You can make them at different times and put them together when you have an hour. Actually, it didn't take me that long.

Cranberry Filling

Make this first because it needs to cool and stiffen some. The original recipe suggests refrigerating it for 8 to 24 hours before using. I followed a helpful comment and popped it into the fridge and then into the freezer for about an hour. That worked fine. Note: I used 1/4 cup of water when I should have used 1/2 tablespoon! It worked okay.

1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon butter

Combine the cranberries and the sugar in a small pot. Mix the cornstarch with the water and stir into the pot. Over medium low heat, cook 4-5 minutes, until the cranberries begin to burst. Cook one more minute, stirring constantly. Add the chopped cranberries and the butter and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Cool on counter briefly, then place in fridge on a towel. When cooler, move to freezer for about 1 hour.

Spice Cake
(makes 18 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves

1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup milk
splash (1/2 teaspoon) vinegar

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake papers in cupcake wells.

Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir well to combine. Set aside.

In a two-cup measuring cup (or anything else, but that requires the least cleanup!), pour 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup milk, and vinegar. Let stand.

Beat the butter with the sugar about 4 minutes. It will turn white and silky. Beat in each egg until well combined. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the apple cider mixture. Add vanilla and beat.

Fill cupcake papers half full. Bake 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Beat the butter. Reduce speed to low and add the sugar 1 cup at a time. When all the powdered sugar is in, beat on high for at least 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the cream and beat 1 more minute.


Wilton's Sugar Pearls

Pipe little rosettes around the rim of each cupcake.

Fill the center with a small amount of cranberry filling.

If desired, pipe a mini Christmas tree in the middle of the cranberries by simply piping smaller and smaller circles as you go up.

Use tweezers to place a sugar pearl on each rosette and on the tops of the trees. (Note: if you don't want to use the pearls, they look every bit as cute without them. Look for the one I left plain in the picture to see the difference.)

How to Get the Look Without the Hassle 

Bake the cupcakes or buy plain cupcakes.
Buy white icing in a can and make the little rosettes.
Buy cherry pie filling and use the thick liquid part in the middles of the cupcakes.
Adorn with sugar pearls.

One cup of cranberries.

Add cornstarch to thicken.

Cook. Very easy.

Mix flour and spices.

A lovely batter.

Only fill cupcakes 1/2 full because they rise.

The secret to this frosting is to beat and beat!

Can you tell which one doesn't have pearls on it?

Which one would you like?

Since it's our holiday recipe week here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, I'm giving away a book. Winner's choice of The Diva Serves High Tea or Murder Most Howl! To enter, leave a comment with your email address, please. Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Red, White, and BLUE VELVET CUPCAKES for July Fourth from Cleo Coyle

Like red velvet cake, blue velvet cake carries a wonderful hint of cocoa. This recipe makes a beautiful cake (or cupcakes) for birthday parties, for baby and wedding showers, for school and sports teams with blue colors, or even, yes...a Doctor Who Wedding Cake!

Laine Barash, a longtime reader of our Coffeehouse Mysteries, sent me these photos after using my Blue Velvet Cupcake recipe for her daughter Johanna's big day.... 

Doctor Who Wedding Cake Slice
Design and Photo by Laine Barash

Doctor Who Wedding Cake
Design and Photo by Laine Barash

With July Fourth almost here, I'm sharing this recipe again as a fun dessert idea for Independence Day celebrations.

There are many ways to add the "red" and "white" to the Blue Velvet bakery concept. You can ice half of the blue cupcakes with blue icing, for instance; half with red icing; and use white star sprinkles to decorate the tops of all of them. 

Or, if you're really ambitious, you can make a batch of red velvet cupcakes, a batch of white cupcakes, and a batch of these blue babies. Then you can line them all up on a tray or dessert table to resemble an American Flag. 

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

I confess I didn't bake and photograph those ideas for this post because I'm working hard with my husband (and partner in crime-writing) to complete our next Coffeehouse Mystery. BUT...

If I did have the time, I can tell you it would have been a fun project. So however you use this recipe, I sincerely hope you have a Happy Fourth...

May you eat with red-white-and-blue velvet joy!

~ Cleo Coyle 

To download this recipe
in a PDF document that you
can print, save, or share,
click here

Click Here for the
Free Recipe PDF.

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For more July Fourth party ideas, 
check out my latest Coffeehouse
Mystery Newsletter.

(There are some fun giveaways, too!)

To read the newsletter, simply send a "Sign me up"
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A reply will be sent automatically
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Cleo Coyle's Blue Velvet Cupcakes
with Blue Buttercream Frosting

Makes about 16 cupcakes


1 box of white or vanilla cake mix (with pudding in the mix)

4 teaspoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola) 

3 eggs (lightly beaten with a fork) 

1 cup whole milk + ¼ cup whole milk (add separately) 

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1-2 teaspoons Royal Blue food coloring gel or paste 

      (also called Icing Color) 

*Important Note on the food coloring: Because of the brown cocoa powder in this recipe, your cupcakes will end up turquoise in color (or even greenish) instead of blue if you use the wrong kind of food coloring or the wrong amount. To get the beautiful shade of blue in my photos, be sure you do two things: (1) Do not use water-based food coloring such as McCormick’s brand. Use a gel paste coloring. I used Wilton Royal Blue Icing Color gel paste. Michael’s stores carry it in their baking supplies section, but you can also buy it online; click here to see. (2) My other piece of advice is to use enough of the food coloring. Don’t skimp. Start with 1 full teaspoon, at least. You may need up to another full teaspoon to see your batter turn the shade of blue you like best. (Some bakers add a very small amount of violet gel paste to help achieve a deep, royal blue. Give that a try, if you like, but I did achieve a pretty blue color using only blue gel paste.) 

For the Cupcakes

Step 1: First preheat your oven to 325° F. Place the vinegar in a measuring cup and fill to the 1 cup line with whole milk. Set aside for five minutes.

Step 2: Into a large mixing bowl, combine the box of cake mix, cocoa powder, vegetable or canola oil, and eggs. Add the sour milk from Step 1 and an additional ¼ cup whole milk. Beat with an electric mixer for about a minute until a smooth batter forms. (Be sure to scrape down the bowl as you mix.)

Step 3: Measure out 1 teaspoon of the royal blue gel paste and add it to the batter. Mix well and observe the color. You may need to add up to 1 more teaspoon of gel paste to achieve the depth of blue you want.

Step 4: Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Take out the ¼ cup container in your measuring set. Use it to measure out the batter for each cupcake. This will keep the size consistent.

Bake in your preheated 325° F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes (exact time depends on your oven). Cupcakes are done when the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of a test cupcake comes out free of wet batter. Transfer pans to a cooling rack and allow the cupcakes to cool in their pans at least five minutes before removing.

Buttercream Icing

10 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered or icing sugar)

3 tablespoons whole milk (+ maybe a little extra)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Royal Blue food coloring gel paste (also called Icing Color)

Notes for success: Canned icing doesn’t come close to comparing to the wonderful taste of homemade buttercream. It’s easy to make. Just be sure to: (A) Start with softened butter. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to cream it. (B) When adding milk start with the lowest amount possible and add it in very slowly until you achieve a smooth, spreadable icing. If you throw in a large amount of milk, you will end up with watery frosting—at that point, even if you whip more butter into it, the frosting may remain grainy. (Ask me how I know.)

Step 1: Into a mixing bowl, cut the softened butter into pieces. Measure in the vanilla. Using an electric mixer, cream these ingredients until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer.

Step 2: Add in the confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons of milk. (No more!) Beat until the sugar is completely incorporated. If the frosting is still too thick, add in a very small splash of milk and beat again. Add in more milk this way, a little at a time, until you get a smooth consistency that’s easy to spread on your cupcake tops. (Try a test frosting of one cupcake to be sure.)

Step 3: Finally, add a small amount of gel paste coloring to the frosting and beat it again. Add more gel paste to achieve the exact shade of blue that you’d like. My method of adding the gel paste is pretty basic—I dip the tines of a fork into the bottle to scoop out the gel and roughly mix it into the frosting before beating again. Frost your cupcakes and eat with blue velvet joy.

Happy July Fourth, Everyone!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
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Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

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A Mystery Guild Selection
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Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.

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(with mini plot summaries)

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Welcome Kim Davis!

I am so thrilled to have Kim Davis as our guest today. She contacted me about making a cupcake based on a cocktail recipe in THE DIVA TAKES THE CAKE. I had no idea how talented she was and could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the pictures. Kim's blog is . I know I'll be a regular there!

Wedded Blitz Martinis and Cupcakes

As soon as I read THE DIVA TAKES THE CAKE by Krista Davis, I knew I had to try The Wedded Blitz Martini. This cocktail is a blend of mango nectar, cranberry juice, peach schnapps and vodka…yummy! Plus I loved Krista’s tongue-in-cheek humor in naming the drink - perfect for those of us who have walked down the “aisle” more than once, as Sophie Winston’s sister does in the Domestic Diva series. 

After tasting Krista’s delicious concoction a time…or two…I was inspired to create a cupcake based on those ingredients. Current wedding trends have the bridal couple showcasing a signature cocktail at their wedding reception and often have cookies, cupcakes or candy dessert tables aside from the traditional wedding cake. I think it would be fun to have Krista’s Wedded Blitz cocktail served alongside complimentary flavored cupcakes. These two recipes would also fit right in at a bachelorette party or a bridal shower…or anytime friends want to get together!

My cupcake recipe may look daunting but the various layers add extra flavor and it's not as labor intensive as you might think. I tinkered with the recipe three times based on my taste testers' input. In the first version I used the liquid ratios from the Wedded Blitz Martini and they said it was good, just not a lot of flavor aside from sweet. I cut back on the vodka (because its mild flavor was washed out by the flour and sugar) but increased the peach schnapps for the second version. I also simmered and reduced the fruit juices to intensify their flavor. It got better reviews. The third version I adjusted flour and sugar ratios for better texture and I finally received the two thumbs up I was looking for. 

Please read through the entire cupcake recipe and instructions before beginning to bake. The fruit juice reduction needs to be completed before starting the cupcakes. 

Wedded Blitz Martinis
For One Serving
1 jigger vodka
3/4 jigger peach schnapps
1 jigger cranberry juice
1/2 jigger mango nectar
For a Party Pitcher – 10 servings
2 cups vodka
1-1/3 cup peach schnapps
2 cups cranberry juice
1 cup mango nectar
Stir ingredients together and serve, or add to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, vigorously shake then strain liquid into a martini glass. Garnish the martini glass rim with colored sugar if desired.

Wedded Blitz Cupcakes

1-1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (6.5 ounces) cake flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Peach Schnapps
3 tablespoons mango and cranberry juice reduction (recipe below)
Mango & Cranberry Juice Reduction
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup mango nectar
1/2 cup (2.3 ounces) confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon vodka
2 tablespoons mango and cranberry reduction
4 cups (18 ounces) confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter or vegan margarine, room temperature
1 tablespoon vodka
1 tablespoon Peach Schnapps
2 tablespoons mango and cranberry reduction (plus additional if needed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin tins with cupcake wrappers and lightly spritz with cooking spray. I found my tulip cupcake liners were difficult to separate, so do this before you begin mixing the batter. Once the liquid is introduced to the flour you want to start baking the cupcakes as soon as possible.
Mango & Cranberry Reduction
Place mango and cranberry juices into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until liquid has reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. You will use this mixture 3 different times.
Reduction Tips
  • You can make this a few days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • If you reduce liquid to less than 1/2 cup simply add equal amounts of mango and cranberry juice to make up the difference as long as you don’t need to add more than 2 additional tablespoons.
Place sugar and dried cranberries into the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 20 times. You want bigger pieces of cranberries along with smaller pieces.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk the peach schnapps and mango & cranberry juice reduction together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric hand-held mixer on medium-high speed about 30 seconds.
Add the oil and beat on medium speed for one minute.
Slowly add the sugar and cranberry mixture and beat until incorporated.
Add about half the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
Add half the peach schnapps mixture and mix on low until smooth.
Repeat with the remaining flour and liquid until all is incorporated and batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full. This batter is thin and I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup for filling the liners.
Bake 13 - 15 minutes, rotating pans half way through baking. Cupcakes will be done when a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into middle. These develop a brown toasty color.
Remove from oven and let rest in cupcake tin for 5 minutes.
While the cupcakes rest, mix the glaze ingredients together.
Remove from tin and place on wire cooling rack.
Immediately poke holes over the tops of the cupcakes using the tines of a fork.
Brush with the glaze, allowing to soak in before applying more. Use all the glaze.
Whisk the confectioner's sugar, vodka and juice reduction together until completely smooth.

I found that the frosting whipped up more creamy and fluffy in my standing mixer than using an electric hand-held mixer, but either will work fine.
Mix together the vodka, peach schnapps and the juice reduction and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer cream butter until smooth, about 1 minute on medium.
Reduce speed to low and slowly add about 1/3 of the confectioner's sugar and beat until smooth.
Add about 1/3 of the liquid and beat until incorporated.
Repeat alternating with the sugar and liquid until all has been added.
Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
If the frosting seems too thick add additional juice reduction, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, beating well after each addition until desired consistency is reached.
Place frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe swirls onto the cupcakes.
Garnish the cupcakes with edible pearl candies if desired.

I have shared the following Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen authors’ recipes on my blog:

Kim Davis

I launched my blog in February 2015, so I’m very new at this. However, I had given my ideas a lot of thought (about 2 years’ worth!) so I had a good inkling of the direction I wanted to go by the time I was free to commit to this project. So many of my friends told me I should blog, which planted the seeds. Initially I had thought my site would be more about cookie and cake decorating since I love doing that for my two granddaughters. My decorating is a self-taught hobby (not a job), but in addition to that hobby I love to read and bake all kinds of treats so it seemed I should incorporate all of what I love to do.

I’ve collected numerous culinary cozy mystery recipes over the years and still have favorites that I make often. It seemed a perfect fit to share the books I love to read with my audience AND share the recipes I try out from the culinary mysteries I read. It has been a pleasure connecting with so many authors that I admire and I appreciate the opportunity to share their wonderful recipes!

Today Krista is giving away a copy of THE DIVA STEALS A CHOCOLATE 

KISS to one lucky person who leaves a comment! Remember to

leave your email address so she can contact you! Good luck!