Gluten-Free Choco-Fudge Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

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I hadn’t baked anything since before we left for NYC so I was kind of jonesing for some cupcakes, and these were a perfect match. They actually came straight off the package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour that I was using. As far as gluten-free flours go, quinoa flour is probably one of the closest you can get, consistency-wise, to real wheat flour. When you bake with quinoa flour you end up with lovely fluffy sponge-y cakes. They do, however, taste like quinoa. So if you’re cool with that, then have at her.

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Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium pot, melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/2 cup water and bring that to a low boil.

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Whisk in 1/4 cup cocoa and remove it from the heat. Let it cool down from molten temperatures.

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Sift 1 cup sugar, 1 1/4 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into a bowl.

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Add in the slightly cooled cocoa mixture and mix that around.

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Separate yourself 2 eggs. Leave the whites to come to room temperature, and mix the yolks together with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup sour cream. Mix those into the cocoa mixture (make sure it’s not too hot so you don’t curdle your yolks).

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Now, whip up those egg whites until stiff and foamy and then fold them into the mixture.

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Drop that into your prepared baking cups and bake for  20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean. Let those cool completely on a wire rack.

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While that’s baking, why not start with your icing?  I pulled this from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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Melt 1/2 cup butter in a medium pot over medium heat.

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Add in  1 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Add in 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and stir that in. Stirring occasionally, let the whole thing come to a bubble, and stay at a bubble for about 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool enough that you won’t burn yourself on it. Because being burned by hot sugar is bad.

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Beat in about 2-3 cups icing sugar, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. If you find you’ve added too much, don’t freak out – just add a bit more cream and you’re all set.

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Slather the icing all over your cupcakes. I tried to pipe mine but it was too thick so I went with slathering, but you can pipe it if you want. Giv’er!

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Strawberry White Chocolate Cupcakes: The Cheater Edition

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Because General Zod has now figured out how to crawl around his parents’ condo, Atlas had to do some quick reorganizing to get certain things away from his little graspy fingers, and as a result, she unloaded a number of pantry items on me when she ran out of room. One of these items was a box of cake mix.  I don’t normally use cake mix, but I hated to waste it, so I came up with these cheater cupcakes the other day.  They were both a success and somewhat of a failure, as I’ll show you in a minute.

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I started by chopping up some delightful fresh local strawberries, about 2 cups’ worth.

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Then I preheated the oven to 350°F and lined my sole muffin tin with cupcake liners.

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I only have the one muffin tin at the moment, though, and the cake box makes 24 cupcakes, so I decided to experiment.  I put the other 12 liners in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and wedged them together with parchment paper.  I figured they’d come out slightly misshapen, probably more square than round.

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Then I prepared the cake batter according to the box instructions.  I did add an extra shot of vanilla, just for flavour.

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Then tipped in the strawberries as well as a package of white chocolate chips.

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I scooped the batter into the cupcake liners and baked them for about 24 minutes.

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They came out nice and brown.

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And the others came out like this.  Whoops.

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While they cooled I whipped up some cream cheese icing: 1 cup butter, 1 250g package plain cream cheese (both at room temperature), a dash of vanilla, and 2 cups icing sugar.

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Then I used the icing to cover up my mistakes!

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I sprinkled on a bit of coloured sugar I had lying around, and gathered some fresh lemon balm from my herb garden.  A half strawberry on top adds the finishing touch.

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And this is my attempt at the other ones.  NAILED IT.  At least they tasted good.

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Chock-Full Muffins

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The thing I like best about muffins is that, while they’re pretty picky about how you mix them, there is no exact science as to what you mix into them.  This means that every time I make a batch, I try my hardest to cram everything I can into each one.  How many things?  All the things.

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Let’s DO this.  Preheat your oven to 400°F and grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.  Greasing might actually work better in this situation, as I found the baked muffins were hesitant to come out of their liners.

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In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder,  and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

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Then plop in 1/2 cup bran and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut and stir that as well.

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Melt about 1/2 cup butter and add it to a bowl with 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup yogurt (your choice), 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 2/3 cup brown sugar and give that a stir.

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I actually used coconut sugar, because I had it on hand.  I like it because it’s not super sweet.

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Grab a few handfuls of dried fruit and nuts, if you’d like, about 1 1/2 cups.  Here we have dried versions of cranberries, cherries, blueberries, grapes (raisins, duh), and apricots.

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Now here’s the trick with muffins: don’t mix the wet with the dry until you’re ready to plop the batter in your baking tin.

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Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just barely combined.  Now you can add in your fruit and stir just until it’s evenly distributed throughout.

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Drop the batter into your muffin tins.  I ended up completely overflowing mine because these puppies don’t expand too much.

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Bake for about 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre muffin comes out clean, and let cool for a few minutes.

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So good with butter!

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Coordinating My Crafty Crap: Cupcake Cups

Happy Good Friday!

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I’m going to go easy on you with a Fast Tip Friday because you’re probably trying to sort out your weekend and all the stores are closed.  This is all over Pinterest and the Google and I really like the idea, so here it is.

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Rather than poorly stacking all the different containers of your cupcake cups (because if you’re like me, you’re darn right you have several different kinds), or losing them in the back of a drawer, or having them get crushed by something heavier, why not arrange them all nicely in a large glass jar?  This is just the right level of cutesy that I can handle without vomiting glitter.  I can also see tying a pretty ribbon around the lid and giving it as a housewarming gift to an avid baker!

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Nanaimo Bar Cupcakes

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Yup.  ANOTHER cupcake recipe.  If you think that’s ridiculous, you’re gonna laugh at what I have planned for Friday.  This recipe has been stored in my Evernote for forever, but I keep seeing the photos pop up on Facebook. I think it’s a not-so-subtle hint that I should probably make them.

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Start with 1 1/2 cups blanched slivered almonds (I used flaked) and mix them with 2 cups dessicated unsweetened coconut in a bowl.  Set that aside for now.

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Toast a wee pinch of the coconut and almonds (I popped mine in the toaster oven) and set that aside as well.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tin with cups.  I like how cheery these are.

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In another bowl, whisk together 2 cups cake flour, 1 cup cocoa, and 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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In yet ANOTHER bowl, ideally the one in your electric mixer, cream together 3/4 room temperature butter, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar for about 3 minutes until pale and cohesive.

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Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time.  Ideally they are also room temperature.  Pour in 3 teaspoons vanilla while you’re at it.

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Now you can start adding your flour mixture in, alternating with 1 1/2 cup buttermilk until it’s all smooth and combined.

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Then you can fold in all your almonds and coconut.

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Scoop the batter into your cupcake cups until they’re’ about 3/4 full.  Now, the recipe didn’t tell me how many this made and so I assumed that it was only 12.

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I WAS WRONG.  AND I WAS OUT OF CUPCAKE LINERS.  So I used the last four I had, then put the rest of the batter in a disposable loaf pan.  I figured it’d make a nice cake to freeze.

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Anyway, bake your enormous number of cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre cupcake comes out clean, then you can let them cool completely on a wire rack.

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The Nanaimo-bar-y-ness of the icing comes from using custard powder.  The custard is what makes a Nanaimo bar a Nanaimo bar. Nah-NYE-mo bar.  I love the word Nanaimo.  I may have a problem.

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Right.  Icing.  That’s what we were doing.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together 1 cup room temperature butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 4 cups icing sugar, and 4 tablespoons custard powder.

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When that’s all combined, pour in as well about 3/4 cup whipping cream for smoothness.

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There, that’s lovely.

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Pipe it onto your cupcakes, and then sprinkle with the toasted almonds and coconut.  That’s it.

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Then you eat it and then it’s gone.  So satisfying.

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Rosa’s Baby Lavender and Earl Grey Cupcakes

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This weekend Mags threw a post-partum baby shower (a “Sip ‘n’ See”) for Ryder and Rusty’s new little one, Rosa.  Because the colours of her baby room are gray and purple, I decided to stick to the theme and make Earl Grey cupcakes with lavender icing.  Sounds fancy!

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I adapted the Earl Grey cupcake batter from Oh So Very Pretty and chose the Lavender Mascarpone frosting from Kitschy Girl’s Guide and I’m so happy with the results (I made three dozen, so they had better be good!). For both the cupcakes and the frosting, you need a little bit of time beforehand to prep your infusions, so you might want to do them the day before if you’re in a rush.

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For the cupcakes:

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Microwave or gently heat 2/3 cup whole milk for about a minute.  Plop 4 bags Earl Grey tea (or the loose equivalent, if you’ve got it) in the milk and let that steep for 30 minutes.  I pretty much just left mine like this until I was done doing everything else, including washing the dishes and walking the dog.  So like, an hour.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tray with cups.

In a bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup cake flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter.

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Add in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup sour cream, and 3 tablespoons vanilla.

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Slowly mix the flour mixture into the liquid, alternating with the steeped milk, until just combined.

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Scoop the batter into your cupcake liners so that they are half to two-thirds full and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre cupcake comes out clean.  Set them on a wire rack to cool completely. These are puffy cupcakes.

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For the icing:

Start with the lavender syrup.  In a small saucepan on medium heat, dissolve 1/4 cup granulated sugar in 1/2 cup water.

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Lightly grind up 2 tablespoons lavender flowers.

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You like my new mortar and pestle?  It was a Lee Valley birthday present from Krystopf and Atlas.

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Toss the lavender into the syrup and bring the whole thing to a simmer for about 3 minutes.  Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool completely before straining out the flower bits. I may have missed a few.

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In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer (chill your beater, too), start whipping up 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Slowly add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and keep going until the cream has formed stiff peaks.

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Add in 1 cup room temperature mascarpone and slowly drizzle in your cooled lavender syrup.  (I mixed in a bit of lavender gel paste food colouring to the mascarpone to give the whole batch of icing a pale purple colour).

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This icing is so luscious and lovely I want to actually rub it into my skin. I don’t know why.

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Shove the icing into a piping bag and have at it with your cupcakes.   Feel free to sprinkle the tops with crushed lavender or purple sugar or whatever floats your boat. The icing was a little too warm in these shots so it’s a little runny, but as long as it’s cold you’re golden.

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Banana Buttermilk Cupcakes

Happy birthday Doodle!

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In this country, buttermilk is only available at the larger grocery stores in 1-litre cartons.  So after we made buttermilk pancakes the other day, we had 3 1/2 cups of buttermilk left to deal with.  I know that some people drink it as a beverage, but I can’t quite bring myself to do that.

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I found this recipe from Canadian Living, and, as I happened to have some bananas handy, I figured I’d give it a try.

So.  Grab two nice soft bananas (not overripe, but sweet enough) and mash them up with a fork.  This will give you about 3/4 cup mashed banana.  And if it gives you more, then just roll with it.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tray with cups.

With an electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar until they’re pale and fluffy.  If you think you’ve beaten them enough, just hold off for another minute or two.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

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Add in an egg.  I didn’t want to put this one in because the speckles were so pretty.

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Alas. So long, fella. You were a good egg.

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Now work in your banana, as well as 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.  Pour yourself 1/2 cup buttermilk.

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Add the flour slowly, alternating with the buttermilk.  You’ll want three additions of flour to two of the buttermilk.

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Spoon that glorious banana-y-ness evenly into your 12 liners and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean.

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The recipe didn’t give me any options for icing (though the Pie and I think either a mild lemon icing or a mocha cream cheese, or even straight Nutella would work really well), so I decided to do a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

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In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

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In another bowl, melt 1/4 cup butter.

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While the cupcakes are still pretty hot, paint the tops with butter. Despite what the picture shows, it’s easier and tidier to do this while holding the cupcake upside down over the butter bowl. But I only have so many hands.

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Then dip each cupcake into the sugar so the tops are entirely coated.

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I actually coated each one once, then, after the butter had permeated the sugar a bit, dipped them again. Then I let them cool completely on a wire rack.  So tasty, with a nice crunchy top!

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Sexy Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

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Check out these sexy puppies.  I made them as a killing-two-birds-with-one-stone for both Valentine’s Day and Mags’ and Papa John’s joint birthday.  So very very good.

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For the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 12-capacity muffin tin with cupcake liners.  I used fancy schmancy pink polka dot ones.  Because I am that cool.

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Drain a 375mL jar of maraschino cherries, reserving the juice.  Let the cherries dry a bit on a paper towel before roughly chopping them.

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In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 cup fine cocoa.

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In a smaller bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons cherry juice, 2 eggs, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1/2 cup milk.

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Add the flour mixture to the liquid and beat until smooth.

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Fold in the chopped cherries.

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Drop into cupcake cups until about 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool slightly in the pan and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

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I ended up having enough after my doubled recipe to make a wee sheet cake as well.

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For the ganache, in a double boiler, melt together 2 ounces chocolate (your choice) with 1/4 cup whipping cream.  Whisk until fully combined and chill for 30-40 minutes (any longer and you might have trouble spreading it).

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For the icing, we’re going with our old favourite.  Beat together 1 cup room temperature butter with 1 250g package room temperature cream cheese until fully combined and un-lumpy.

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Slowly add in about 2 cups icing sugar (more if you want it more stiff) and a few tablespoons cherry juice (from the jar of maraschinos).

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For the garnish, take 12 cherries, fresh or maraschino (but with stems if you can) and dip them in a couple ounces melted chocolate.

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Let those cool on a sheet of waxed paper until solid.

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To put it all together, take your cooled cupcakes and spread a little ganache on top as a chocolatey base.

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Chuck them in the fridge for a few minutes to set.

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Shove your cream cheese icing into a piping bag and squeeze it out all over your cupcakes.

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Save yourself some heartache and buy a decent bag, too.

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I’m sure you can do a more artistic job than this, but I’m also sure it will taste the same regardless.

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Top with a chocolate-dipped cherry and serve.  SO AWESOME.

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And here’s the sheet cake with the leftover icing.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love this tree.  It blooms like this every June and we both love looking at it from our dining room when we eat breakfast.  Anyone know what it is?

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For this breakfast in particular the Pie had a hankering for chocolate chip muffins, so this is actually his post (he both baked AND took the pictures), and he got the recipe from the ever-glorious Kitchn.

Preheat your oven to 375°F and either spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with 8-10 paper liners.  You won’t get a full dozen out of this recipe.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in 2 eggs, one at a time, and beat those until they’re fully incorporated.

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In another bowl, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

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Mixing slowly, add half the flour to the butter mixture.  Then add in 1/4 cup milk, and the rest of the flour.  Mix until just combined — over-mixed muffins are flat muffins.

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Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

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Pour the batter into the spaces provided, filling almost all the way to the top.  Fill any empty spaces with water to ensure even baking.

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Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until you jab the middle one with a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan before pulling them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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And this was my morning meal, prepared by my loving husband.  Breakfast of champions.

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Zucchini Muffin Cakes

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The Pie says believes that the difference between a cupcake and a muffin is the icing, and this is never more true than in this particular recipe from Martha Stewart.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.  Take a 10oz zucchini and grate it up.  You want about 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini.

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In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

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Stir in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts.

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In another smaller bowl, crack 2 eggs and beat them up slightly.

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Add in the zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil and mix that all together.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  You don’t want to overmix muffins, or they go flat.

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This will be a very dry batter but don’t fret.

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Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and shove the tray in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the centre cupcake/muffin tests clean with a toothpick.

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Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely.  While that’s going on you can make your frosting.

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Having read the unfavourable reviews for Martha’s cream cheese frosting, I decided to go with our tried-and-true ratio instead.  In a bowl, mix together 1 250g package softened plain cream cheese, 1 cup butter, and 2 teaspoons vanilla until creamy.

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Add in 1 1/2 – 3 cups icing sugar, until the texture and taste are to your liking.  If you find it too thick, thin it a bit with some milk.

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Spread on the cooled cupcakes and eat them all up.  Best if eaten the day you make them.

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