Candy Corn Cupcakes

Candy Corn CupcakesCake week, y’all. It gets me every time. The last week of every month is full of cake orders, and between those and my day job, this blog always seems to get shoved to the side. Perhaps one day I’ll be more organized. Or be able to afford an assistant.

Fortunately, the cake madness is done just in time for me to post a Halloween treat! I am not actually a fan of Halloween, but I cannot get enough candy corn. I know half of you think the stuff is disgusting, and I totally get it–it’s too sweet, a bit chalky, and gets stuck in your teeth. But I love it. I have three huge bags of the stuff in my kitchen, so I’m set on candy corn for at least a month.

Candy Corn CupcakesSurely by now you’ve seen candy corn cupcakes on Pinterest and other social media. The gist is that vanilla cake batter is dyed orange and yellow, baked into cupcakes, and topped with white vanilla buttercream. Sure, the cupcakes are cute and festive, but for a candy corn aficionado like myself, they leave something to be desired. Namely, the very distinct flavor of candy corn.

What does candy corn taste like? Well, mostly it’s just sweet–so sweet, in fact, that it’s hard to detect any real flavor. Many brands of the stuff boast that they are made with “real honey” (as opposed to all that fake honey). Armed with this information, I figured a honey-vanilla cake batter was a good place to start. However, when I tasted the batter before baking, I found the flavor to be lacking a little. My vanilla cake batter is good, as is the addition of honey, but this batter tasted nothing like candy corn.

Candy Corn CupcakesEnter my secret ingredient: imitation butter extract. It sounds super gross, but it’s really not. It has this uncanny ability to give baked goods that sort of nostalgic quality that’s found in the boxed mixes of our youths. It makes sugar cookie dough with sprinkles taste like Funfetti cake mix, and here, it makes these honey-vanilla cupcakes taste a little more like candy corn. There’s only 1/4 teaspoon of the stuff in the entire recipe; just enough to make the final products taste a little like candy corn without making them taste completely artificial. If imitation butter extract is not for you, feel free to leave it out. Your honey-vanilla cupcakes will still be festive and delicious.

The frosting is just my vanilla buttercream doctored up with a little honey (and the extract). It’s luxuriously light and fluffy, and oh, how I wish my cake decorating skills could make it look as delicious as it is. You’ll just have to take my word for it (or better–make it!). Although it does look pretty good sort of drooping over the tops of these cupcakes.

Candy Corn CupcakesHappy Halloween, y’all! Let me know if you make these Candy Corn Cupcakes this weekend 😊

Candy Corn Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
yellow food coloring
red food coloring

Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
candy corn, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by honey. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla, imitation butter extract, and buttermilk.

Divide batter into two bowls. Add yellow food coloring to both bowls and stir together until you are happy with the color. Add red food coloring one drop at a time to one of the bowls, until your desired orange color is achieved.

Add 2 tablespoons of yellow batter to each cupcake liner. Top each with 2 tablespoons of orange batter. Liners should be 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in honey, vanilla, and imitation butter extract. Mix in heavy cream until combined. Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with candy corn.

Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella ButtercreamI bake for a lot of people. During any given month, I make and deliver upwards of twenty cakes (a lot for one person with one oven and a day job). I love getting texts and emails letting me know how much they were enjoyed–it really makes all of the effort worthwhile and keeps me motivated. But there is one person whose opinion truly means everything to me: my sweet little sister, Eliot (E3).

Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella ButtercreamBefore I went up to Boston last weekend to celebrate her birthday, I sent her a series of text messages about her birthday cake. I knew it would involve chocolate, but everything else was up in the air. I’m sure five text messages about how I could make a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting or a peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting weren’t disruptive to her studying *at all.* We went back and forth with ideas until she settled on a chocolate cake with Nutella Buttercream. Obviously, it was a hit with the birthday girl and her friends. I mean, hello! Nutella! Eliot loved it so much that she had some for breakfast on Sunday.

Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella ButtercreamBefore I headed back to New York, Eliot asked me to put her cake on my blog. I thought about it all the way home. I already have a great chocolate layer cake on here that is fantastic with this frosting, but being the vanilla person I am (sorry), I decided instead to pair that fluffy, chocolate-hazelnut buttercream with yellow cupcakes.

Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella ButtercreamY’all, these cupcakes are ridiculous. Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream take the classic combination of yellow cake and chocolate frosting and turn it on its head. The cake itself is a classic: super moist and buttery. But then there’s the Nutella Buttercream. It’s billowy and beautiful and basically tastes like pure Nutella…but better, because it’s frosting. Full of chocolate-hazelnut flavor and unbelievably rich and fluffy–you won’t be able to resist it!

Seriously, after biting into one of these cupcakes, you may wonder why yellow cake and Nutella Buttercream aren’t a classic yet. I sure am.Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

Yellow Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream
makes 15-16 cupcakes*

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Nutella Buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup Nutella
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

For Topping:
chopped milk chocolate-hazelnut candy bar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in sugar until combined. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Mix in vanilla and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients in two installments, combining completely after each addition.

Fill muffin cups 2/3-3/4 full of batter. Tap pan on the counter five times before baking for 19-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with remaining batter, filling any unused muffin cups part-way with water.

Make the buttercream. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in Nutella. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, mixing until completely incorporated. Mix in vanilla and heavy cream until the desired consistency has been reached.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Top with chopped candy bar pieces, if desired. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Note:


If you don’t have a muffin pan, this recipe will make a one-layer frosted cake. Pour prepared batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan and bake for 32-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Frost as desired.

Coconut Cupcakes

 I’m slowly but surely settling back into life in Brooklyn.

Last week, I basically felt like packing up and impulsively moving to Maine. You know, because living there would be just like being on vacation. #logic 

Arriving home to a heatwave, the end-of-the-month cake rush, and a week full of work at my day job (which I love, but work is work) was just enough to make me lose my pretty little mind.

Note to self: never go on vacation during the week preceding the craziest week of the month. Just don’t do it. 

 I worked through the weekend, but did pause Saturday night to have a mini-Maine reunion with VJ and Shira. I made tostadas and we ate all of the guacamole and loved on some cute cats. And on Sunday morning, I felt so. much. better. You know you have good friends when you can travel together for eight days, survive the hottest twelve hour drive in the history of twelve hour drives, and still want to hang out together. 

 I didn’t do much baking for myself or this blog last week (aside from this Chocolate Cream Pie), and honestly, I didn’t really want to. I love baking, but with the heatwave, a gazillion cakes, and work, all I really wanted to do was crank the AC up to high and take a nap. But I didn’t, and I survived it. All of the cakes turned out well, even though the frosting was a little soft from the heat. I made crowd favorites: vanilla, chocolate, and two carrot cakes, but my favorite was a coconut cake. Even in the midst of all the insanity last week, I made a mental note that that cake was blog-worthy. 

And so, here it is in cupcake form. Soft, buttery, coconut-scented cupcakes, brushed with a coconut simple syrup, topped with coconut buttercream, and rolled in sweetened shredded coconut. Yes, there are four doses of coconut–there’s no mistaking the flavor of these sweet little cupcakes!

I made these yesterday morning and ate two while chatting with my roommates in our finally-not-sweltering living room. One of them, who rarely tries any of the baked goods he is constantly surrounded by, told me that this was the best coconut cake he had ever eaten. I don’t know about “best ever,” but I do know that starting this week with Coconut Cupcakes is a sure sign that things are looking up. 

 Coconut Cupcakes
makes 16-18 cupcakes (or one 9-inch round cake*)

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Coconut Simple Syrup:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1-1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and coconut extracts, and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients in two installments, combining completely after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3-3/4 full. Tap pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cupcakes 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers of a few cupcakes comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining batter, making sure to fill any unused muffin cups 1/4 full with water to prevent the pan from warping.

Make the coconut simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and mixture begins to bubble at the edges. Remove pan from heat. Stir in coconut extract. Use a pastry brush to paint each cooled cupcake with the hot syrup.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Mix in confectioner’s sugar and salt, followed by vanilla and coconut extracts. Add 1 tablespoon heavy cream and beat frosting for one minute, until fluffy. If a looser frosting is desired, add another tablespoon of heavy cream and beat for another minute. Use an offset knife to frost cupcakes.

Place sweetened shredded coconut in a small bowl. Dip the top of each frosted cupcake into coconut.

Serve cupcakes immediately, or keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Cupcakes will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Note:

This recipe may also be used to make a single-layer 9-inch round cake. Bake batter in a greased pan for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely. Brush with warm coconut simple syrup, and frost and decorate as desired.