a balanced plate with room for dessert


Chai Latte Cupcakes

Chai Latte Cupcakes |

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I will never turn down a cup of chai. Chai tea and chai tea lattes will always be my drink of choice. My favorite chai tea latte is soon going to disappear forever; the cafe is closing at the end of the year. So, in honor of the great run Harmony Cafe had and in celebration of Cupcake Day, I thought I would bake some chai latte cupcakes topped with a spiced maple buttercream frosting.

Chai Latte Cupcakes |

Chai Latte Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 black tea bags
3/4 cup milk (plus a little extra)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the frosting:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
⅛ cup maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 – 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a small pot, combine spices, tea bags, and milk. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing to remove as much liquid as possible. Pour liquid into a measuring cup and add in more milk to bring it to exactly 3/4 cup.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 – 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla and beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Pour milk mixture and flour mixture into mixing bowl and mix until just combined.
  6. Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  8. To prepare the frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Mix in vanilla, maple syrup, and spices. Beat in powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.


adapted from Naturally Ella


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting  |

My last post was a week and a half ago. I got back from vacation last Tuesday and meant to post a vacation recap (aka photo-dump a select few of the thousands of pictures we took) and a recipe later last week. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Life got a little… crazy.

Let me back up to a month ago. I applied to a really awesome nutrition program consultant job. I didn’t think I would get a call back from them. Fast forward about a week: I get a call for an interview. I go to the interview, it goes fine, and I don’t think much more of it. Fast forward again to last Wednesday.

I got a job offer. I cried, called Mike, and didn’t sleep for the next two days. They needed an answer by Friday, and I hadn’t had time to fully process everything yet. Taking this job would mean moving back to Madison, our college town. Mike’s business is in Appleton. Our families are in Appleton. We have a house in Appleton.

After several long discussions and a total of 6 hours of sleep in two nights, I called them back and accepted. We’re moving back to Madison! Kind of. I’m estimating that I will be spending 1/3 of my time in Madison at the office, 1/3 of my time traveling to my sites,a nd 1/3 of my time in Appleton. I still can’t believe that all this is happening. Needless to say, I have a lot to prepare in the next month for the big transition. It looks like the travel yoga mat I bought for vacation is actually going to get put to some good use!

Anyway, I will spare you the photos from my vacation (for now) and instead share with you these cupcakes that I made for Mike’s birthday over the weekend. My handsome hubby turned the big 2-5! Mike gave me the go-ahead to make whatever birthday treat I wanted. Perfect.

These cupcakes were to die for. Seriously. Make these now. Everything from the cake (moist, fluffy, and chocolatey with a hint of stout) to the frosting (creamy, caramely deliciousness) is perfect. In fact, I ate all the extra frosting with pretzels and ate the rest of the caramel with a spoon. Don’t judge, because when you go finish reading this post, you will go and make these cupcakes. And you will eat all the leftover frosting and caramel, too.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting  |

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
makes 24 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-12 ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout (or other stout beer), room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

for the salted caramel:
1/2 granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the salted caramel frosting:
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
mini pretzel twists  to garnish, optional
sea salt to garnish, optional

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 24 muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the stout, butter, vanilla and eggs. Beat together until combined. Mix in Greek yogurt until smooth and well combined. Carefully stir in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time.
  4. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cupcakes are domed in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before place removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the salted caramel: place sugar and water in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir carefully until sugar is dissolved, being careful not to touch the sides of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil and stop stirring. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until mixture turns a deep amber brown color, about 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and carefully stir in whipping cream and vanilla extract. Let cool for 1 hour.
  6. To make the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until well combined. Add in 1/2 cup of caramel and mix until fluffy.
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes with salted caramel frosting and drizzle remaining caramel on top. Garnish with a mini pretzel twist and a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, if desired.

cupcake recipe barely adapted from Food Network and frosting recipe adapted from Carla’s Confections

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Layered German Chocolate Cupcakes

I rarely crave cake. When I do, it’s usually one of two types: a white cake with a strawberry filling or a chocolate cake with nuts.

german chocolate cupcakes |

So German chocolate cupcakes? They totally hit the spot.

These bad boys were a two day project for me. It all started on Sunday night after a long, long day. I baked the cupcakes and decided that I was simply too exhausted to deal with them any more. I let them cool, scooped them out of the pans, and covered them before collapsing in bed.

On Monday morning, I got ready for work as fast as I could and whipped together the chocolate ganache and coconut-pecan filling for the cupcakes. After cooking them, I scooped them into bowls and let them hang out for the day while I went to work. After a crazy day at work, I finally got around to decorating and photographing them. Phew!

german chocolate cupcakes |

A few lessons I learned along the way:

  • These cupcakes are fragile. I almost threw them all away after I spent what seemed like a million hours carefully removing them from the cupcake pans. I’ll probably opt to use cupcake liners in the future, even though it won’t look as nice.
  • Splitting this into a 2-day project was smart. The cupcakes were still very moist the next day (and for days after).
  • These are delicious (and dangerous to have around). How good are they? Well, I took the cupcakes that I failed to remove in one piece and layered them in a ramekin with the filling and ganache to create a little German chocolate cake parfait of sorts. I couldn’t bear to throw any of the goodness away.
  • The recipe from the box can be trusted!
  • German chocolate cupcakes >> German chocolate cake

german chocolate cupcakes |

German Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Box, makes 30 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 ounces German chocolate
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites
4 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the coconut-pecan filling:
5 egg yolks
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups unsweetened flake coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

for the chocolate ganache:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 pint whipping cream

To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease cupcake pans and set aside.
  2. Mix together milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat chocolate and water in a large bowl for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in melted chocolate and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition.
  7. Gently fold in egg whites until well combined.
  8. Fill prepared cupcake pan no more than half full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Immediately run a small spatula along the edges of the cupcakes to loosen. Allow to cool in the pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the coconut-pecan filling:

  1. Beat egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a large saucepan with a whisk until well combined. Add sugar and butter and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until mixture has thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Stir in coconut and pecans until well combined. Let cool to room temperature before use.

To make the chocolate ganache:

  1. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature before use.

To assemble the cupcakes:

  1. Carefully cut cupcakes in half horizontally. Spread a spoonful of coconut-pecan filling onto the bottom half. Place the top of the cupcake on and spread more coconut-pecan filling on top. Place the chocolate ganache into a piping bag fit with a medium or large star tip. Pipe ganache onto the top of the cupcake and garnish with a pecan, if desired.


Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

I love challenges. I needed a dessert for a dietetic intern potluck. The catch – I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it and one intern eats vegan and another gluten-free. Bring on the challenge, baby! I scoured the internet far and wide (ok, I only used Google and Pinterest) and ended up combing a bunch of different recipes to get this final product.

I got the base cake recipe from Eggless Cooking. It’s made with beets and chickpeas. I was really skeptical at first, but I decided to give it a try. Turns out you can’t even taste the chickpeas or beets! I used canned chickpeas and beets to cut down on prep-time and it turned out pretty well.

These cupcakes were soooo decadent. It’s not really cake-like. More fudge-like perhaps? They’re dense, rich, and definitely chocolatey!

(Sorry for the bad photo - I took this minutes before running out  
the door to get my butt to the potluck!)

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
yields 12 cupcakes 

For the cupcakes:
2 cups chickpeas, canned or freshly cooked
3/4 cup beets, cooked
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips*

  1. Remove the thin outer skin from the chickpeas. Enlist help if you can – this will take a while! Use a food processor or blender to puree until smooth with a tablespoon or so of water.
  2. Puree beets into a smooth paste, using the cooking water.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted.
  5. Combine chickpeas, beets, and sugar in the food processor or blender until completely smooth – no lumps allowed! Puree in coconut oil, baking powder, coffee granules, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  6. Blend in the melted chocolate chips into the chickpea and beet mixture and let the food process or blender run for a couple minutes to allow chocolate to distribute evenly throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.
  8. Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan.
  9. Remove cupcakes from cupcake pan when cool and frost with chocolate frosting (recipe below)!
For the frosting:
1 can regular coconut milk, opened and refrigerated overnight – do not shake!!
1 cup Smart Balance, room temperature
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 – 6 cups powdered sugar
  1. Scrape the thick layer off the top of the coconut milk into a large bowl. Add in Smart Balance and beat until well combined and smooth.
  2. Mix in cocoa powder and vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar into frosting, 1 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached**.
  4. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered.

*I used Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips and they were pretty darn tasty!
** I ended up using some of  coconut milk left in the can to thin out the frosting and give it another boost of flavor. I ended up using about 5 cups of powdered sugar in addition to about 1/4 cup of the coconut “water” that was left in the can.

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Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Well folks, I start my first dietetic internship rotation today. Since I’ll be spending my day talking about nutrition, I figured there was no better way to kick it off with something not-so-healthy.

These are time-consuming to make, but the results are so worth it. Delicious white cake topped with ganache and filled with a to-die-for custard? Don’t mind if I do!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
 makes 12 cupcakes

For the custard:
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the ganache:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream

To make the custard

  1. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted and then stir in vanilla. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill for 2 – 24 hours.
To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar on low. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until well combined. Add milk and vanilla and increase the speed to medium. Mix until batter is light and fluffy.
  4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache:
  1. For the ganache: melt chocolate chips and whipping cream in microwave-safe bowl. Stir until smooth.
To assemble:
  1. Insert a small paring knife at a 45° angle about 1/8 inch from the edge of a cupcake and cut all the around to remove a cone. Cut the tip of the cone off, leaving about 1/4 inch of the top, creating a small disk. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
  2. Fill a plastic bag with custard and cut off the corner of the bag. Fill the cupcakes with custard and top with the cake disk.
  3. Spoon chocolate ganache on top of the cupcakes and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated


Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

I can’t help myself. Every time I go to the store, I buy strawberries. Walking through the farmers’ market is dangerous. I buy strawberries. I just love strawberries!!! I love them in salads, I love them in cakes, and now I love them in cupcakes!

This was inspired by one of Mike’s favorite summertime drinks – strawberry lemonade. I wanted a cupcake that echoed the taste of strawberry lemonade – sweet, but tart, and really refreshing.

I think this one really hit the spot. I found a recipe on  Annie’s Eats and modified it to suit my tastes. I love this! Be warned – the more strawberry and lemon you put in, the runnier the icing will be. I ended up with 5 teaspoons of lemon juice and the whole half cup of strawberries in my frosting. I wanted the flavor in there. I paid for it with runnier frosting. Worth it 🙂

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcake:
1 cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and diced

For the syrup:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the frosting:
½ cup fresh strawberries
6 ounces cream cheese
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. In medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir together and set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in egg, scraping in sides, until well combined.
  4. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until just incorporated. Mix in milk until smooth. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in strawberries.
  5. Divide batter evenly into paper lines, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once cupcakes have cooled, whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar for the syrup, until well combined.
  7. Poke holes into cupcakes with a skewer (I used a chopstick) and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.
  8. To make frosting, puree strawberries in a food processor or blender and set aside. Beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in powdered sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract until incorporated. Mix in strawberry puree a little at a time until desired consistency and flavor is reached.
  9. Frost cupcakes and serve immediately or keep refrigerated.

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Chocolate Cupcakes

These decadent cupcakes are filled with a marshmallow creme and topped with a chocolate ganache. I still haven’t figured out the perfect name for them yet, so “chocolate cupcakes” will have to do for now…

chopped chocolate

Chocolate Cupcakes

–For the cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

–For the filling

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup marshmallow creme

–For the ganache

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

chocolate cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place liners into the muffin pans.
  2. To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Bring the granulated sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Pour the sugar mixture into a large bowl and add the chocolate and butter. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the vanilla and using a mixer, beat in the eggs. Mix in the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, about 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Move to a rack to cool completely.
  3. To make the filling, cream the butter with a mixer until light and fluffy. Carefully beat in 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tbs. heavy cream, beating until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tbs. of heavy cream to the mixture. Beat in the marshmallow creme, mixing until smooth.
  4. To prepare the ganache, place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tbs. butter in a small saucepan until just boiling and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth. Add 2 tsp. vanilla and let stand until cool, but still liquid.
  5. Spoon the creme filling into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake, filling until the cupcake feels heavier. Be careful to to overfill so that the creme is overflowing from the top! Dip the cupcake tops into the ganache or use a spoon to top the cupcakes with ganache.