Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes

I know, red wine AND dark chocolate?? WHAT?? This is one combo you’re just going to have to trust me on. The deep flavors of the dark chocolate and red wine pair surprisingly well together, and it’s just an added bonus that you can pour yourself a glass of the leftover red wine while making these. This recipe is perfect for these chilly fall evenings, and for the Holiday season! The full recipe can be found below:

Chocolate Red Wine Cupcake Batter (inspired by Sally’s amazing chocolate cupcake recipe):

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup your favorite red wine (I used a bottle of cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Red Wine Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp red wine
  • red and black gel food coloring

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Ganache:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp red wine

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake Time: 19-20 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line cupcake tins with 12 liners.

Begin by making the red wine chocolate cupcake batter. Add dry ingredients into a bowl, and whisk together. Combine buttermilk, eggs, wine, and oil in a separate bowl, and mix into the dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until the ingredients are fully combined, then scoop equal amounts into liners using a cookie scoop (fill about 1/2 way, they will rise!). Bake for 19-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the red wine frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the cream and red wine during this process.  Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. Add a few squirts of red gel food coloring, and the smallest drop of black gel food coloring. Mix until the color is evenly distributed, and is a deep red shade. Place into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.

Next, prepare the red wine chocolate ganache. Place chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream into a heat proof bowl, and heat in microwave for 30 seconds at full heat. Stir, then heat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir again, then heat for 15 seconds. Let the mixture sit for about 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Add in the red wine, then set aside.

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Remove the centers from the fully cooled cupcakes using a 1 inch circle cutter or cupcake corer. Fill the center fully with a spoonful of red wine chocolate ganache.

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Frost with a large swirl of red wine frosting. Warm up any leftover ganache for 30 seconds to make it more fluid, then drizzle the leftover ganache over the top of the cupcakes.

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I also added a wine shaped pipette into the cupcakes, filled with wine. Because you can never have too much wine 😛

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Spooky Vampire Bat Cake

As we get closer to Halloween, my mind is completely filled with Halloween-themed cake ideas!! This vampire bat cake is made with my favorite chocolate layer cake recipe, frosted with my black buttercream frosting, and has a strawberry “blood” filling!! This cake is just as spooky as it is silly 🙂 The full recipe can be found below, along with a quick tutorial:

Recipes:

Bake four, seven inch chocolate cake rounds. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the bat’s wings and facial features. Use circle cutters to create the eyes, and wings. Insert wooden skewers or tooth picks into the wings, to make it easier to secure them onto the cake. Place the fondant details onto parchment paper to dry.

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Once fully cooled, use a 3 inch circle cutter to remove the centers of two of the layers. Begin assembling the cake using an uncut cake layer. Frost with an even layer of vanilla buttercream, then top with one of the cake layers. Gently frost the cake ring, the stack with the other cut layer. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the second cake ring, then smooth frosting into the cut-out center of the cake.

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Mix one squirt of red gel food coloring into the strawberry jam, and then carefully pour into the center of the cake. Fill to the top, then place the last cake layer on top. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second, thicker layer of frosting using the black chocolate buttercream. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Add facial features onto the side of the cake, and insert the wings 2/3 of the way up the cake, on each side of the face.

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Then gather everyone around for the dramatic cut!!! The strawberry jam will begin oozing out as soon as you remove the first slice, so be prepared!

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Cinnamon Fireball Cupcakes

I had my first taste of fireball when I was 19, and it had a lasting impression. It’s a flavored whiskey liquor that tastes just like a liquid red hot. For some reason I’ve always associated fireball with the Fall, so it seemed like the right time to whip up some fireball-inspired cinnamon cupcakes! There’s fireball in both the cupcake batter, and the buttercream frosting, and the cupcakes are topped with a fireball pipette. The full recipe can be found below:

Fireball Cinnamon Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 1/4 cup (162g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (212g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup fireball

Fireball Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fireball
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • optional: yellow and orange gel food coloring

Yield: 12-14 regular cupcakes, about 40 mini cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 17 minutes for regular cupcakes, 9-10 minutes for mini cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the fireball, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Next, mix in the egg until well combined.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 way full, and bake for 19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Once cooled, poke holes into each cupcake using a fork, and drizzle fireball (1/2 – 1 tsp per cupcake) over each cupcake.

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While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the vanilla frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the fireball half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in some additional fireball (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

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Color 1/2 of the frosting yellow, 1/4 orange, and leave 1/4 of the frosting uncolored. Place into piping bags fitted with a Wilton 1M tip (open star), and pipe swirls of each color onto the cupcakes. I matched the color pattern of  candy corn, but you can pipe them however you want!!

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The last step is to add a pipette of fireball into the side of each cupcake. Then it’s time to enjoy (responsibly!) 😛

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Halloween Cupcake Ideas: Round 2

I had so much making my last batch of Halloween cupcakes, I decided to make another!! This batch features a couple iconic cupcake designs, including an homage to Frankenstein, and the classic shattered glass cupcake (inspired by this recipe). These decorations don’t require fancy tips or difficult techniques, but you will need a bit of gel food coloring, and a candy thermometer! I made them using a super moist spice cupcake recipe, and frosted them using my american buttercream frosting! The recipes used can be found below, along with a quick tutorial:

Spice Cupcake Batter

  • 1 1/4 cup (162g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (212g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Orange, yellow, black and green gel food coloring

Edible Glass Shards:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • candy thermometer

Additional Supplies:

  • Tootsie Rolls
  • piping bags
  • brown and red sprinkles
  • candy eyes
  • Halloween sprinkle blend
  • strawberry jam
  • red food coloring

Bake time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the water, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Next, stir in the egg until well combined.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can also place the cupcakes in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake, prepare the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

To make the edible glass shards,  mix 1 cup water, 1/2 cup corn syrup, sugar, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan or pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Use a candy thermometer and boil sugar syrup until temperature reaches 300 degrees, stirring constantly. It’s super important that you get the mixture to exactly 300 degrees, and immediately remove from the heat one it does. If it doesn’t reach this temperature, it won’t fully harden, and you won’t be able to smash it into smaller shards. If it gets hotter than this, or if you don’t stir if constantly, the mixture can begin to caramelize and gain a yellowish hue. When sugar reaches 300 degrees, quickly pour onto a metal baking pan. Cool until completely firm to the touch. Break into “shards” using a hard object (I sterilized a hammer for this, but a meat mallet would work too!).

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For the shattered glass cupcake design, remove the center from each cupcake. I like to use a 1 inch circle cutter. In a medium bowl, mix together strawberry jam with 1 squirt of gel food coloring. Fill each cupcake with strawberry jam, and pipe white frosting over the jam. Stick glass shards into the frosting, and then drizzle some of the remaining red jam between the shards.

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To make the candy corn swirl cupcake, color a portion of the frosting yellow, and orange. Fit three piping bags with a Wilton 1M (open star) tip, and fill bags with the yellow, orange and white buttercream. Pipe the first, largest frosting swirl with the yellow buttercream. Add a second, smaller swirl with the orange frosting, and add a small finishing swirl on top with the white buttercream.

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To create the Frankenstein cupcakes, frost cupcakes with a mound of bright green buttercream. Dunk into chocolate jimmies, and leave one side of the frosting uncovered by sprinkles. Add candy eyes, a red sprinkle stitch, and a brown sprinkle mouth. Cut each tootsie rolls into 8 equal pieces, and shape small neck bolts. Stick into the sides of the frosting.

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To make the gothic halloween swirl cupcakes, pipe a mound of white buttercream onto each cupcake. Dunk into a Halloween sprinkle blend. I love using blends from Neon Yolk Shop.  Pipe a swirl of black frosting on top of the sprinkles, using a wilton 1M tip. Top with some orange sanding sugar.

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And that’s how you make all four designs!! I had a hard time picking my favorite, but I think I like the shattered glass cupcakes the best 🙂

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How to Make Black Buttercream Frosting

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve been using black frosting on quite a few of my baking projects! This has led to a bunch of questions about how I get my frosting such a deep shade of black, so I’m sharing my secrets to making super black buttercream frosting! I start off using my classic american buttercream as a base, and then add my two secret ingredients: black cocoa, and gel food coloring.

I only recently discovered black cocoa, and I’m obsessed. Black cocoa has a slightly higher pH than dutch-processed cocoa (8 vs.7), and is much less acidic than natural baking cocoa (5-6). The best comparison is to think of the bittersweet, chocolaty taste of an Oreo cookie! It has a beautiful dark color, which helps build the perfect chocolaty base for this black frosting,

In terms of food coloring, gel food coloring is a must. It’s much more concentrated than liquid food coloring, so you can add less and still get the dark color you’re after! Liquid food coloring can also throw of the consistency of your frosting if you add too much. I always use the Americolor brand, which I purchase in big bottles from Amazon! A full tutorial showing how to make this frosting can be seen below:

When using this to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which is amazing and bakes flat!!), which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers, I usually make 1.5 – 2 batches, depending on how I’m decorating the cake.

Chocolate Black Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups (434 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla
  • 1/2 cup black cocoa
  • black gel food coloring

Instructions:

Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). Once full mixed, add in black cocoa. Slowly incorporate, then add in a couple squirts of gel food coloring.

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NOTE: To get super dark frosting, I highly recommend making it in advance and letting it sit overnight. The color will deepen with time (this is true of other colors as well!)

And that’s all there is too it!

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Halloween-Inspired Pumpkin Cupcakes

It’s finally October, and I couldn’t resist whipping up some easy Halloween cupcakes!! These decorations don’t require any fancy tips or difficult techniques, but you will need a bit of gel food coloring! I made them using a super moist pumpkin cupcake recipe, and frosted them using a cream cheese buttercream frosting! The recipes used can be found below:

Pumpkin Cupcake Batter

  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅓ tsp. pumpkin spice
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp  vanilla
  • Orange and green gel food coloring

Additional Supplies:

  • Tootsie Rolls
  • piping bags

Bake time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Place the flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice into a large bowl. Gently stir to combine. Add in the oil and pumpkin, and stir until incorporated. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add a squirt of orange gel food coloring, and stir until the batter is evenly colored.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can also place the cupcakes in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

Color 1/6 of the frosting green, and color the remaining portion orange using gel food coloring. Place both colors into piping bags. Trim a 1 cm opening for the orange frosting, and 1/2 centimeter opening for the green frosting.

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Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, pipe orange panels onto the top of the cupcake. Cut tootsie rolls in half, and create score marks on the sides of the tootsie rolls using the edge of an offset spatula. Press them into the top edge of the cupcake, to be the pumpkin stump.

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Use the green frosting to pipe vines and leaves around the base on the pumpkin stump.

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I also used this recipe to also make a few other types of spooky Halloween cupcakes!

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You can watch the full tutorial here:

The Ultimate Breakfast Cake

One of my favorite things about the East Coast is diners! There are tons of old-school diners, complete with bottomless coffee and a 15 page menu. It has become one of my favorite weekend activities, and is also the inspiration for this cake. It’s made with maple cake layers, a maple buttercream, and even has a maple caramel drizzle! To decorate the top, I also added real mini pancakes, candied bacon, and some fondant fried eggs. You can watch a full tutorial showing how to decorate this cake here:

The recipes can be found below:

Recipes:

1 batch vanilla cake batter + 1 Tbsp maple extract (I get mine at Whole Foods)

1.5 batches buttercream frosting + 1 Tbsp maple extract

1 batch caramel + 1 tsp maple extract

Decorations:

  • 2 fondant fried eggs (made out of yellow and white fondant, with edges painted brown using gel food coloring and vodka)
  • candied bacon (8-10 strips of bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and tiny bit of cayenne pepper; baked at 400 degree F for about 20 minutes)
  • 5 mini pancakes (about 2.5 inches in diameter, made with pancake mix)
  • 1 pat of butter
  • chocolate ganache

Use the cake recipe to make four, 8-inch cake layers. Chill the layers in the freezer once baked and cooled, to make them easier to frost (I wrap my layers in saran wrap, and freeze them overnight, then allow them the sit out for about 20 minutes before frosting). Once the buttercream and caramel are prepared,  assemble the cake. Spread an even layer of buttercream onto each cake layer, and drizzle maple caramel over the entire layer on top of the frosting. Stack and repeat using remaining layers, flipping the top cake layer upside down (makes it easier to frost).  Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake (crumb coat), and chill the cake for about 5 minutes in the fridge or freezer. Once the frosting is firm to the touch, apply a second, thicker layer of frosting and smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Once frosted, begin decorating the cake by adding the hash brown boarder. Coat the sides of a frosting bag with chocolate ganache, and then fill with leftover buttercream.

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Cut a small opening at the tip (1/4 inch), and pipe 1 inch lines in various directions around the base of the cake. The frosting should be streaked with the ganache giving it the look of browned hash browns.

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Next, stack the mini pancakes on top of each other, and secure using a small skewer. Slice the candied bacon strips in half, and pile next to the pancakes. Add the fondant eggs to the remaining space on top of the cake.

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Drizzle caramel over pancake stack and down the sides of the cake. Top the pancake stack with a pat of butter, then slice in and enjoy!!!

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A little bit Chelsey, a whole lot of sweet!

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