Fudgy Brownie Cupcakes With Tangy Orange Vanilla Buttercream

Fudgy Brownie Cupcakes With Tangy Orange Vanilla Buttercream 1

Fudgy Brownie Cupcakes With Tangy Orange Vanilla Buttercream

I want Autumn! I want Autumn! I want Autumn!! *Falls on the floor in a raging temper tantrum, kicking and screaming*

Sorry. I’m fine now. But I really am about done with Summer. I’m tired of trying to keep up with the weeds in the yard. Ok, I got tired of it a few weeks ago and my flower area now looks like a mini forest. I’m pretty sure there are fairies and elves hiding down in there, having nightly parties with my now lost in the weeds ceramic froggie. I heard him ribbiting for help a few days ago, but I was afraid to venture in and look for him. Russ would have had to send in the national guard to find ME.

What does any of this have to do with brownie cupcakes? Not a thing. I just felt like whining and making all of you have to listen. It works for my six year old; why not for me, too?

These are quite tasty. They are yet one more incarnation of the brown butter brownies I first made back in early 2013 (please forgive the completely atrocious photo in that post!) and have used in various ways since then. They really are some of the best brownies around. They are very chocolatey (which I was skeptical of with just cocoa, but they are), rich, with a mild nutty back flavor from the brown butter. In THIS incarnation, they are made into little cupcakes and then covered with a creamy, tangy orange buttercream that perfectly complements the brownie. So simple to make these, yet they are good enough for more than just the kids school lunches. Though they are great for that, too.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Fudgy Brownie Cupcakes With Tangy Orange Vanilla Buttercream

  • Brownie Cupcakes-
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened powder (NOT drink mix)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange oil or orange extract (don’t use more here. The frosting is the orangey part. The little bit in here is just to tie it all together.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • Orange Vanilla Buttercream-
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 2/12 cups powdered sugar
  1. Position oven rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  2. Place foil cupcake liners (you can use the paper ones, but the foil comes off the brownies so much easier) into the cups of a muffin tin. I got ten brownie cupcakes from this.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter isn’t foaming anymore and there are browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir often and keep an eye on this. It can go from lovely browned butter to a smelly burned mess in no time flat.
  4. Remove from the heat and immediately add in the cocoa, sugar, water, vanilla, orange oil and salt. Stir until well mixed.
  5. Let cool five minutes. Add the cold eggs to the hot mixture, one at a time, beating well (by hand) after each addition. When the mixture is thick and glossy, add in the flour. Beat for 60 or so strokes.
  6.  Divide the batter evenly between the lined cupcake wells. Use about 1/4 cup for each. Bake at 325 until they a skewer inserted in the middle of one comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it; no loose batter and not completely clean, either. This will take from 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 3 minutes, then gently take each cupcake out and let it finish cooling on a rack.
  7. As they cool, make your buttercream, which is easy peasy. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time (I always start by hand so that I and my whole house don’t end up covered in the powdery sugar). Beat until fluffy, smooth and creamy. You want a nice thick pipeable/spreadable frosting. After adding two cups of the sugar, beat well at high speed for about a full five minutes. If it’s a bit too thick, just drizzle in a touch more orange juice; a bit too thin, just add that last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
  8. Spread or pipe onto the cooled brownies and garnish as desired (I grated more zest over the tops)

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Fudgy Brownie Cupcakes With Tangy Orange Vanilla Buttercream

Fudgy Brownie Cupcakes With Tangy Orange Vanilla Buttercream




Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes- (Recipe Re-do)

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Sometimes I look back on my old photos. Then, I start to cry. Followed by hysterical laughter, embarrassed under the bed hiding and vows to pretend I don’t know who I am if I ever meet myself in public.

Mind you, I’m still far from a world class photographer. Bon Appetit isn’t going to be printing any of my photos anytime soon. Heck, sometimes I refuse my own photos and send myself haughty emails saying “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. But all of that aside, I like to think I’ve gotten a wee bit better over the years. Aside from all of that though, I have a couple dozen more readers than I did back when I started. Maybe. On a good day. And some of the things I did back in the day were quite tasty, but one would never know it based on the photos. I actually bake some of the goodies I made back when I started. So I’ve decided to periodically redo some of my older recipes. If they need revamped, I’ll do that. If they don’t, I’ll simply remake them and hopefully give them better photos.

The latter is the case today. I made these Red Velvet Cupcakes Christmas and Valentines Day are the times when everyone goes Red Velvet happy. I didn’t do anything red velvet for Christmas, so Valentines Day it is. Chocolate is the perfect food for romance and love. I know, some say oysters are, but I want one person to explain to me how something that looks like a lump of snot is romantic. Wait… too blunt and kinda gross? Sorry. But seriously (heh… *I* used the word seriously. Me. Feel free to giggle.), chocolate is romantic.

Are cupcakes, though? I think that depends on ones manners. if you are the type to eat daintily and offer bits to your s/o. maybe. If however, you shove the whole thing in your face and then burp and giggle, you may want to make alternate plans for your Saturday nights. Just sayin’

These are yummy cupcakes and easy as boxed mix. Wait. They are boxed mix. Guess what. They can also use Cool Whip in the frosting. That one is optional. You can also sub real freshly whipped cream. I’ve done both and prefer the whipped cream because it makes the frosting less sweet. But these are intensely chocolatey cupcakes with a rich, creamy frosting. Chocolate…romance…love… just leave oysters out of it. And burps.

You know the drill… 🙂

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 4 ounce box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup whipped cream or cool whip
  1. Preheat oven to temp suggested on cake mix box. Line 20 muffin cups with liners, or grease them well.
  2. Prepare cake mix as package directs, adding in the box of instant pudding and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Beat well for two minutes. The mixture will be thick. It will also be tasty…. don’t eat too much. 😀
  3.  Fill the prepared cups about half full. Don’t overfill; this batter rises like crazy. If you need to use more cups, just line more. But I got 20.
  4. Bake according to package directions. When done, turn out onto a rack to cool.
  5. While they cool, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and remaining vanilla extract until light and fluffy looking. Add in the powdered sugar; here is where I usually stir it with the beater OFF, just to prevent being covered in sugar dust. When it’s mixed, turn the beater to high and beat until the mixture is thick and creamy, about three to five minutes.
  6. Spread or pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Decorate as desired.

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Brown Butter Banana Cupcakes With Banana Frosting

Brown Butter Banana Cupcakes With Banana Frosting

Brown Butter Banana Cupcakes With Banana Frosting

What is it with kids and fruit? There are times I simply can’t keep it in the house for more than 30 seconds because they are inhaling it practically before I can get it unpacked from the car and then other times it just sits there. Of course, those days when there is no fruit in the house, suddenly everyone wants it. Then the days when I have a ton of something like bananas around because they were griping that there weren’t any, that’s when no one eats them and I end up with 382 over ripe bananas on the counter. What does that lead to? A fruit fly party. They set up tents on my counters near the bananas and late at night I’m kept awake by teeny voices singing “Kum Ba Yah” and  the flicker of a little campfire. So I then set up vinegar swimming pools for them to lure them to their tangy deaths. But I still have 382 bananas to use up that now no one will touch because, “Ewww, they’re too ripe! I don’t like them like this!”

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all a ploy. They do it on purpose to get me to buy bananas that will get too ripe to eat just so that I have to cook with them. And there is only so much banana bread one can eat. Well, unless you’re my husband who would eat it 5 times a day for like 8 weeks before complaining. So one is left trying to figure out what to do with them. I don’t have a blender since mine was broken by an over zealous teen, so that leaves out banana shakes. That’s probably a good thing though because I do so love banana shakes and would over indulge if left to my own devices.

So I made cupcakes. I searched the web for a good recipe but just wasn’t liking anything I found. So this is an amalgamation of a handful of recipes… call it the Frankensteins Monster of banana cupcakes, minus the electrical wires.

These are fairly dense, which is what I was looking for. Call me strange but I like a heavier cake, reminiscent of a pound cake, at times. Not all cakes need to be all light and fluffy. This is fairly sweet with a heavy banana taste and are quite moist. They are great with or without the frosting. I actually only frosted about half and we ate the rest of them plain.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Brown Butter Banana Cupcakes With Banana Frosting

  • Cake-
  • 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned and cooled*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon banana flavoring (sold by the vanilla)
  • 2 cups flour whisked together with
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda and
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Banana Frosting-
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed with 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (will vary)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons banana flavoring
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a large bowl, on medium speed, beat together the sugars and browned butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Don’t skimp on the beating.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the bananas, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream and extracts
  4. Stir in the flour/baking soda/salt mixture just until combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 16 prepared cups
  6. Bake at 350 for 19 to 21 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for about a minute then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  8. Frost with banana frosting.
  9. Banana Frosting-
  10. In medium bowl, combine the butter, cream cheese, mashed banana and the extracts. Beat well for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  11. On low speed (preferably over the sink to contain sugar dust), beat in 3 cups of the powdered sugar. Beat for 3 minutes until thick and creamy. If it isn’t of spreading consistency, add in another cup to cup and a half of sugar and beat well for about 2 minutes.
  12. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

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Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

I waited as long as I could. But it was time…. time for a pumpkin recipe. 😀 it occurred to me as I was contemplating what to make that for a blog named From Cupcakes To Caviar, I don’t have many cupcake recipes on here. Yes, yes, before someone brings it up, I am well aware that I don’t have any caviar recipes on here. Guess what? I never will. 😛 I just liked the way the name sounded when I created the blog and it was simply meant to denote that the blog will have everything from the simple to the fancy in it. Buttttt, as I was saying, I realized when mulling over pumpkiny goodness ideas that I don’t have many cupcakes on here. !!!! That had to be rectified immediately. So pumpkin cupcakes it was. But I didn’t want to do plain cupcakes; oh no, not me! So I decided on using brown butter in them. When I went to see if that had been done before, I found a bazillion variations lol. So rather than beat a dead pumpkin, I used the recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Two Peas And Their Pod because I knew if it came from there, it would be good. The only thing I did differently was in the matter of spice. I like pumpkin desserts that are heavy on the warm Autumnal spices and their recipe was a bit light for my tastes, so I used quite a bit a little bit more. I also used more vanilla and dark brown sugar rather than light because we enjoy the more caramelly flavor it lends.

These are some delicious cupcakes. The cupcakes part is just dense enough without being heavy and with the additional spices and extra vanilla I added, it tastes like Fall. When I was trying to decide what to do for frosting, I wanted to vary a bit there too. I didn’t want cinnamon or cream cheese or caramel or any of the other “normal” flavors. We all know by now that I don’t do normal well in any aspect of my life. So I chose a combo of maple and honey; both flavors I love but both flavors that can be a bit one dimensional on their own. I knew it would need a bit of tang though, what with 3 sources of sweetness, so I added some sour cream. You could probably sub a thick Greek yogurt if you wanted to. The frosting is quite lovely if I do say so myself. Sweet, but not cloying with a touch of tang from the sour cream and a nice maple and honey flavor.

This all comes together fairly quickly; the long list is mainly spices, so don’t cringe…  you know the drill 🙂

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

  •  3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Maple Honey Frosting-
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup (preferably grade B as it has a stronger flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 15 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. Melt your butter in a medium sauce pot over medium low heat. Stir occasionally as it cooks until it turns a lovely medium brown color and has a nutty aroma. Immediately take it off the heat and pour it into a medium sized bowl to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla and eggs to the cooled brown butter. Whisk to combine. Dump the flour mixture into the butter one and stir just until it’s combined. Don’t overbeat.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling them about 3/4 full. bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cupcakes from the pan to a rack to cool completely. While they cool, prepare your frosting- In a large bowl, on high speed, beat your butter for about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until it is light and fluffy looking.
  6. Add in 4 cups of the powdered sugar and with the mixer OFF (unless you want to have a face full of powdered sugar), stir it around a bit to mix in the sugar a bit. Turn the mixer on low and beat until well combined. Snatch a bite of the butter/sugar mix out of the bowl and enjoy, because it’s one of Gods gifts to us hehe
  7. Add in the rest of the icing ingredients, except the last bit of powdered sugar. Beat at high speed for about 5 minutes. Yes, you read that right. When you first add the ingredients and beat it, it will look soupy. Keep beating and it will come together and thicken. If it isn’t thick enough for piping after five minutes, add the last 1/2 cup of sugar and beat on high speed for about another minute or two. Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes.
  8. When ready to frost, stir the frosting a little to loosen it and pipe or spread the frosting on each cupcake. If you have any extra, it can be refrigerated, covered. It’s strangely appealing on bagels and would also be great all melty on top of a waffle or pancakes.

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Got Milk….Erhmmm… Eggnog?

You know how everyone waits for the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Holiday season? How people sing cheerful songs all day long and are all happy and everyone gives everybody else big hugs and makes cookies and candy and goodies to give to charities and begin to lead lives of voluntary poverty so that they can help others? Then, to make it even better, they all give home made gifts that are just oozing with love and seasonal chipperness?

Yeah… me neither. But it sounds really good doesn’t it?

That’s why I don’t wait for any of those things. The cynic in me won’t let me. I HOPE for it, I try to live it (except for that home made gift thing. I suck at crafts. You’d be better off getting a “Turkey Hand” from my 3 year old.) but I don’t expect it.

What I do expect however is Eggnog. Yep; eggnog. I cringe when I see stores setting up Christmas decorations/supplies/foods the day after Halloween ( or before in many cases) but I am that person standing in front of the dairy case leaving behind copious amounts of drool when I see them stocking up the refrigerated eggnog. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know; I could make home made eggnog and it would taste different better and would be fresher and not have preservatives. Yada yada yada. I LIKE preservatives. They are why I am 47 and have the skin of a 10 year old in old pictures of me taken when I was 5. I LIKE that fake overly thick texture that clogs up your arteries  throat and leaves you needing a drink of water. It’s yummy darn it! Yummy I say! Go… right now. Drink a gallon or six of eggnog and tell me that you don’t feel all bloated Christmasy and happy.

Seriously. I love the stuff. Wait all year for it. Well, that and Culvers Pumpkin Pie Shakes.

I also like to use it in baking. It is great in cookies and fudge and pot roasts* and cakes and muffins and sushi*. It gives everything a great flavor and starts them doing all that chipper singing and s***.

I was going to make eggnog muffins today and I still may do that in the near future. Any excuse to get my eggnog fix. But as I was pulling out ingredients I decided that I wanted to do something different. Yeah, I know. Me. Something different. Whoda thunk it? I also wanted to make something that was easy and quick so that it was a treat you could make on the fly and add to goody trays without having to put a lot of time into it. So the following cupcakes are what I came up with. Yes, they use boxed cake mix. Shoot me. I said when I made this blog that I was NOT the type to turn up my nose at convenience products. IF they are good. And the majority of cake mixes these days are pretty freaking good.

So give these a try. They are amazingly simple. They are also moist and tender with the flavor of spice and eggnog and the frosting puts them over the eggnoggy (yes, that is now a word. I said so.) top. Then put a straw in the bottle of eggnog and slurp away. I won’t judge. Laugh maybe, but not judge.

Eggnog Spice Cupcakes With Eggnog Buttercream

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix (use a white or yellow cake and increase the spices by half if you want a cake with more eggnog flavor and less spice cake flavor.)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 1/3 cups refrigerated eggnog
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Buttercream frosting-
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 6 tablespoons eggnog (may take more or less; add slowly)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 21 cupcake tins with liners or grease well.
  2. Beat all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl for five minutes until well blended and creamy. Stick a finger in there and taste it, then worry about Salmonella.
  3. Bake at 350 until cupcakes are cooked through, about20 minutes. Tops should be browned and spring back when lightly touched.
  4. Cool in pan for a minute or two then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.
  5. While they cool, make frosting.
  6. Beat all frosting ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed, creamy and the grittiness of the powdered sugar is gone. This will take about 8 minutes or so. Add the powdered sugar slowly. If too thin, add a bit more sugar. If too thick, add more egggnog.
  7. Frost. Eat. Moan in eggnoggy ecstasy.

*You don’t really think I use it in pot roast and sushi do you? Geez, I draw the line SOMEWHERE! Nobody in their right mind would use it in sushi…… just in the sushi dipping sauce 😛

But…But…But…It Has CARROTS In It!

Admit it. You want this.

I have never been a fan of carrots. I actually go through salads and pick out all the little shreds of carrots. I do however like them heavily buttered but only baby carrots. So carrot cake was never a dessert on my radar. It was so far OFF of my radar that liver may actually have been in front of it by virtue of the fact that I had at least tried liver. But carrot cake? Nope. Wasn’t doing it. No way no how. No carrots for this woman.

I DO however love frosting. And Oranges. So when I was at the grocery store one day a few years back  casually perusing drooling over the baked goods in their bakery department and trying to figure out why there was a check out boy with a mop & bucket in front of me as a voice said “CLEAN UP IN FRONT OF THE FAT LADY AT THE BAKERY…AGAIN!!!”   I saw a huge cake. It was decorated in this thick creamy white frosting and on the little sign that I still remember fondly (I took a photo of that sign and framed it. It hangs in a sacred spot in my home now; the bathroom) were printed the words, “Carrot Cake With Orange Frosting- More Money Than You Can Really Afford Per Slice But Buy It Anyway!” .Ok, it didn’t really say part of that but it may as well have. So I looked… glared at the kid with the bucket because he kept cutting off my view of the cake…and told myself that yes, it was carrot cake… i.e. a cake with the dreaded carrots in it but that if nothing else, I could always pay 3 gazillion dollars for a slice of this and just eat that heavenly looking frosting. So I bought it. I took it home. I ate all the frosting off the top. I drooled some more. Then I took a deep breath and took a bite of the cake part. It was the only way to get to the frosting packed between the layers. Then… I fell in love.

Kind of.

I still don’t like most carrot cake. I do though like carrot cake the way I make it now (and from that same store when I feel like blowing the rent money on cake). I like moist and tender cake chock full of pineapple and raisins and orange zest and spices and oh yeah, those  carrot things too. And frosting that is buttery and cream cheesy (ahem; yes, this too is now a word) and also full of that lovely orange flavor I so drool over in store bakery sections.

If you like carrot cake, you should like this. It isn’t overly sweet (I actually think I will add a bit more sugar next time; maybe 1/2 cup. It’s more muffiny than I like.) and is nice and moist and the frosting I made to go with it is quite yummy if I do say so myself. The cake comes from (adapted slightly) The King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book (other than the orange zest and using both pineapple and raisins; they had it as a choice, silly people.) and the frosting comes from my warped brain. Enjoy!! You can also make this as a layer or sheet cake (that is what it is in the book) but I wanted cupcakes. It makes 33 cupcakes so it is perfect for a pot luck or church supper or for kids at school and this is actually semi nutritious (I know; scary huh?) cause of the fruits and carrots and whole wheat flour.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes With

An Orange Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (yes… THOSE)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) well drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 4 cups (more or less as needed to get proper consistency) powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either grease and flour 2 9 inch cake pans or line 33 (can be done in batches) muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla then the sugars.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, mixing until it is smooth. Add in the carrots, nuts, pineapple and raisins. Mix well.
  4. Spoon batter into the prepared cupcake cups. Bake at 350 for about 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans for 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling while you make the oh so delectable frosting 😀
  5. For Frosting- in a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter until creamy and well combined. Add in the orange zest, extracts and orange juice. Beat well. Add in the powdered sugar and beat at low speed until combined (I always do this with the bowl set in the sink so that I don’t have sugar flying everywhere) then turn speed up to high and beat for five minutes. If frosting it too thick, add a touch of OJ to it. If too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until you have the desired consistency.
  6.  Spoon or pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Eat. Don’t share. Tell the kids that these are poison.

Boredom Is REALLY The Mother Of Invention

I think all the things we take for granted were discovered out of boredom, not out of necessity.  Did we NEED electricity? Nope. Did we NEED phones? Nope. Did we NEED cars? Nope. Did we need Twinkies and Cheetos? Ok, maybe we needed those. I do anyway. Life would be hell without my Cheeto fix. Dipped in hot sauce and/or blue cheese dressing. I know. Strange. But it’s good darn it!

Boredom works in cooking too. Buffalo chicken wings, brownies, Twinkies , God knows how many things came about because the creator was bored with cooking things the normal way and wanted something different.

Well, today I wanted something different. And while it won’t be as earth shaking as Twinkies or Cheetos cause I mean, really, can ANYTHING match those two, it turned out pretty yummy.

Years and years ago, I learned how to make a Caramel flan. I always got a kick out of how quickly the melted sugar would harden up. Yes, I realize I’m easily amused. But the transformation from a solid to a liquid back to a solid again, albeit one that tasted completely different, was strangely fascinating to me. So for the longest time I had been wanting to play around with caramelized sugar. Not caramel sauce though that ended up in this recipe too… just the sugar. But my worry was wasting a bunch of sugar and it not working.  A couple months ago one of my favorite bloggers, Culinary Concoctions By Peabody, did it with
These delicious cookies and since I now knew it could be done, I knew I would be trying it sooner or later.

Today was the day. But I didn’t want cookies. I wanted cupcakes with a creamy “OMG, how much sugar did you put in this” type of frosting. So I made a cupcake with the finely ground caramelized sugar. When you make this, be ready; the sugar doesn’t immediately dissolve into the butter the way regular sugar does. It clumps up. Just keep beating. You will still have some clumps after the batter is completely made but that’s actually ok. When the cupcakes are done, you will have these slightly dimpled cakes with small bits of caramelized sugar and those bits give a nice caramelly burst of flavor. The cupcakes themselves aren’t overly sweet but the frosting makes up for that 😛

If you have never worked with caramelized sugar before, be careful. This is dangerously hot when liquid and stays that way for a while.


  • For the Caramelized Sugar-
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • For the cupcake-
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground caramelized sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • For the frosting-
  • 3/4 cup Smuckers Caramel Sundae Syrup
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) For the caramelized sugar, first, line a cookies sheet with foil and set aside. Then take the 2 cups sugar and pour into a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Over medium heat and never leaving the stove, cook the sugar. When you start, it will start to lump up. That’s fine. It will smooth out as it melts. Stir every ten seconds or so to expose all the sugar to heat. When it starts to melt, just continually gently stir & turn your heat down to about 4. This isn’t a quick process but if you have the heat too high the only thing you’re going to end up with is a scorched pan and a really nasty smelly mess of burnt unusable sugar. When it is all melted and a nice golden brown color (be careful here. It can go from golden brown to burnt in a heartbeat), carefully pour it out onto the foil lined pan. Set it aside somewhere not reachable by small hands and let it cool.

2) Once it is cool, break it up into large chunks. Eat some :-P.  Save some for garnishing the cupcakes. Put the chunks into a food processor bowl and process until it is finely ground.

3) For the cupcakes- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 muffin cups. Or use cupcakes liners because you are smart and don’t want to have to scrub a muffin pan 😀 . In a small bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4) Put your butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Remember, it’s going to look clumpy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the extracts.

5) Add half the flour mixture, beat well, then add in half the milk. Repeat.

6)Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pan.

7) Bake at 350 for 19 to 21 minutes or until the top is firm and a nice golden brown. Let cool in the pan that is set over a wire rack for five minutes then take out and let cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

8)For the frosting- Beat  butter and caramel syrup (I wanted to use the ground caramelized sugar in here too but I realized that it wouldn’t work after I saw the way it clumps since it can’t bake back out in frosting.) until creamy. Add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar and beat until thick and creamy. Spoon or pipe onto the cupcakes. Garnish with the slivers of hard sugar you held back and more caramel syrup.



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