Sunday, April 29, 2012

Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Oh yes, folks. Get ready for some rich decadence! This cake is the ultimate chocolate-peanut butter indulgence. If you love peanut butter cups, you have to try this cake. I recommend a cold glass of milk or strong cup of coffee to go with it as it really is super intense! You start with a rich chocolate cake, add a delicious peanut butter cream cheese icing, and top it off with a chocolate peanut butter ganache. Oh, and I added some chopped Reese's PB cups on top. You know, because there just wasn't enough chocolate or peanut butter already.

Hello! Who wouldn't want a piece of that??

Oh yeah. I think we need a moment of silence....

Ok, so, this cake is for my boss's birthday. He will actually be out of the country on his birthday so we're celebrating a little early. He and a whole team of people are about to head over to Israel for a tour of the Holy Land and then a 10 day mission trip. Our ministry does this trip every year and I'm so excited to hear what God does!! Now, my boss is a true PB lover so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try this recipe that I found on...yep, you guessed it...Pinterest.

I found the recipe here and made just a few changes as follows....

Chocolate Cake:

2 cups AP flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder (recipe calls for dutch process)
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup plain greek yogurt (recipe calls for sour cream)
1 1/2 cups water
2 T distilled white vinegar
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and line pans with parchment paper. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and yogurt (or sour cream) and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Divide among pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes. This cake is very soft and moist so, before crumb coating, stick it in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. This step IS needed. Trust me.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing:

10 oz cream cheese (recipe says "at room temperature" but I always keep it in the fridge until ready to use)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I only use Jif)
*I also added 1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix. Gradually add the sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add peanut butter and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache:

8 oz semisweet chocolate (recipe says "coarsely chopped" but I used chips)
3 T creamy peanut butter
2 T light corn syrup
1/2 cup half & half

In the top of a double boiler, combine all ingredients except the cream and cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the half & half, whisking until smooth. Use while still warm but not hot. You want it to be spreadable but not so thin that it just runs everywhere when you pour it on the cake.

Well, my friends, I definitely can't wait until tomorrow when we get to enjoy this delightful cake. Of course, as soon as I'm over this respiratory infection, I'll be spending hours in the gym to make up for this and the last week. But, oh so worth it! Make won't regret it! Until next time, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pancakes for Dessert ~ Blueberry {Pancake} Cupcakes

Thanks for hanging in with me this week. I've been really sick since Sunday and haven't been in the kitchen much. In fact, these cupcakes were my first time using our new oven. (Yes, I finally graduated from the counter top convection oven to a big girl's been weeks and I'm so happy!) I have asthma and sinus issues and this is my third bout with a sinus/respiratory infection since January. Let's just say it's been frustrating. I have an appointment with a specialist next week and will hopefully find out what's going on. If you wouldn't mind, prayers would definitely be appreciated! Now on to the cupcakes....

Oh. My. Goodness. These are just delicious. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to give it a try. I mean, hello!! a cupcake...with blueberries...any questions?

The cupcakes really do taste like pancakes. The cake isn't too sweet which pairs so beautifully with the Maple Buttercream and the blueberries are (excuse the pun) the icing on the cake! I mean, just look at these things....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Week of {Blueberries} ~ Blueberry Muffins

Hey friends! I had so much fun yesterday picking blueberries with my pastor's wife, mom, and sister. We used to go every year growing up and I forgot how much I enjoyed it. The beauty of God's creation just astounds me. I was looking around me and thought, "how could anyone doubt the divine Creator?" No one could ever convince me that all this just happened...or evolved. No way!

Psalm 34:8 ~ "O taste and see that the Lord is good..." 

My sister, Cierra

My mama :)

12 pounds of blueberries :)

The blueberries were big, beautiful, and delicious! The weather was perfect for picking and the whole time I was there, I kept thinking about all of the fantastic sweets I was going to make with them. So, of course, I got started right away. First up, blueberry muffins.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie in a Cupcake!

When faced with two such delicious options as pie and cupcakes...why choose? Instead, let's put them together into one new, completely delicious and tempting sweet treat! I'm so excited about these cupcakes it's not even funny. Seriously. I may not even share them with anyone. Actually, I take that back...I just did the math on how many hours I'd have to spend in the gym and how many calories I'd have to give up over the next few weeks to make up for it. Nevermind. I'll just make the one that I do eat last. :)

My all-time favorite pie is strawberry rhubarb. If you've never had it, you must give it a try. You MUST. The tart rhubarb pairs so well with the sweetness of the strawberry that you'd think they were made for each other. A match made in heaven. A treat for your taste buds. I really could go on and on but, suffice it to say, it's fabulous.

Rhubarb - just beautiful!
*original photo here*

Here in Florida, we have a hard time finding rhubarb because it's such a hit or miss thing for the grocery stores to have it in stock. I actually mentioned this to my boss's wife and two days later she came into work with a package of this delicious vegetable for me - sweetest lady EVER! Rhubarb looks like celery but is a pink color and can be found with the berries. Funnily enough, not two days after she brought this in for me, I found a larger package at Publix and bought it too. I chopped all of it up and it's been sitting in my freezer, just waiting for me to decide what to do with it. Well, now I have and I'm sharing it with you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ultimate Blog Partiers ~ Welcome to My {Love Affair} With Cupcakes!

I just love parties and heard about this one from a fellow blogger friend. It's the biggest blog hop you've ever seen and if you don't know about it then you need to head over to 5 Minutes for Mom and check it out! I always jump at the chance to meet new friends and find fun new blogs to read so, of course, I jumped on this one too!

If you're here from the blog hop, welcome! I'm thrilled that you're here, ready to read about all things cupcakes! First, let me introduce myself. My name is Heather and I'm a pastry chef who loves to bake all things, especially cupcakes. I'm the oldest of 4 daughters and super close to my family. I'm a Christian who loves the Lord with all my heart and one very blessed girl! 

Just me :)

What is this blog all about? Well, I write this blog as an outlet for my love affair with cupcakes. You'll find lots about these special treats from recipes, new flavor combinations, to cute decorations, and fun liners. Also, you'll get a little about baking in general and a few personal things about me. 

Sweet & Sour Strawberry Cupcakes

Triple Chocolate & German Chocolate Cupcakes

Coffee & A Donut Cupcakes

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Almond Cupcakes for Spring

You'll find that I mention my faith quite a bit and if you're a Christian you understand. God made me. He gave me my talents and abilities. So, it only makes sense that He is a big part of everything I do! Please take a few minutes and click on my "Believe" tab to find out more about what I believe and how I get through this crazy thing we call life.

I'm loving the blog world and have made many new friends and fun connections along the way. If you go to my "Parties" tab you'll see where I like to spend my time having fun and my "Featured" tab lets you know where I've been in the spotlight (still unreal and pretty exciting that people actually like what I'm doing and share it with others!) You can also find me on Facebook and Pinterest for more fun and inspiration. If you like what you see, follow along! I love making new friends and sharing my love for life. Thanks for stopping by!! Happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Pirate's {50th} Birthday Cake

First, this has been a very crazy and exhausting day! My mom woke me up at 3:15 this morning because she had to take my dad to the hospital for chest pain and the shakes. Thankfully, so far all of his tests have come back clear and the doctors don't believe it's his heart. My dad is an associate pastor, father of four daughters, and a full-time team leader at Lockheed Martin in their computer department. The man has A LOT on his plate! We think that this was a wake up call for him to slow down and not try to do so much. Prayers are appreciated for his full recovery and continued good health! God isn't finished with him yet!!

Now on to the cake...

I had a fun last minute cake order come in last week and I'm so excited to share it with you today! The cake was for a 50th birthday party and the theme was pirates. Really cool.

Pirate themed birthday cake 

Anyway, they wanted a cake that would appeal to everyone so for the flavors they chose chocolate for one tier and vanilla for the other. The whole thing was iced in white chocolate buttercream. My favorite part is the decorations. I'm not much of a fondant fan. I don't like the way it tastes and I'm not particularly fond of working with it. However, the cake picture they showed me had a lot of fondant work and I wanted to find a way to make the cake they wanted without having to deal with it. So, I went to my favorite store for creativity and looked around. Did you know that Wilton makes sugar sheets? Literally sheets of edible "paper" made out of sugar and in lots of different colors! I love this stuff!! Cut or punch the shapes you want and voila! Done and done. So easy and exactly the look I wanted.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My First Award + a Little Announcement

Ok, first, before we get to the award part, let me share something that I think is pretty exciting. My friend, Kara, over at Happy Go Lucky is featuring yours truly and A Cupcake Love Affair on her blog today!! How fabulous is that? If you aren't familiar with Kara's blog, please check her out! So fun and informative! She hosts a fun linky party that I participate in every week and contacted me sometime last week and asked me to be her guest. Of course I jumped right on that! What an awesome opportunity! Thank you, Kara, for the honor and thank you, my fabulous readers, for coming back post after post!!

Now on to the award. This is pretty cool. My first blog award. It's called the Liebster Award. This award is given to blogs with under 200 followers who inspire others. Mine was awarded by Holly from Happy Food Healthy Life.

There are a few rules to accepting the award and they are....

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.
3. Pick your favorite 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog to let them know that they have received the award.
4. Hope that the 5 blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to 5 more blogs.

So, I'm accepting the award and sharing it with a few worthy bloggers I love to follow! I'm awarding....

Joy @ Joy 2 Sew

Bree @ Twinkle in the Eye

Katie @ Pincushion Creations

Thank you, Holly, for the award!! Until next time, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Coconut Cream Cupcakes - Light & Refreshing for Summer!

Hey friends! We celebrated another birthday at work last week and it was delicious! To say that the birthday girl LOVES coconut would be an understatement. She adores it. She talks about it all the time. In fact, everything she got that day had something to do with the stuff. Her husband started her day off with her favorite coconut candy. She got to work where I had coconut creamer for her coffee. Then, of course, the special cupcakes I made for her were....yep, Coconut Cream cupcakes with a pineapple and coconut cream filling. We also had vanilla ice cream and crushed pineapple to go on top.

The recipe comes from a cake we used to make at a bakery I ran in Georgia. I have never been much of a coconut fan myself. I like it fine, but it's not usually something I would pick when given a choice. However, this cake is so light and delicious that it has made a coconut lover out of me. The secret to this cake is coconut creamer from CoffeeMate and I have only ever been able to find it at Walmart - don't ask me why. No idea why other stores don't carry it. But, trust me. Save yourself the time and frustration looking for it at other places and just go straight to Walmart. Anyway, back to the cupcakes....

I wanted to do these a little differently to make them more special for the birthday party. I pulled the liners off the cooled cupcakes and cut them in half horizontally. I then put a heaping tablespoonful of the filling on the bottom layer, cut a whole out of the middle of the top layer, placed it on the filling, and then filled the hole with crushed pineapple for an extra layer of flavor. Pineapple and coconut - such a classic summer flavor combination! I piped the coconut whipped cream on top of the whole thing. The cupcakes look like mini layered cakes and everyone really loved them!

Coconut Cake:

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 1/2 cups AP flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Coffee Mate coconut creamer
2 t vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk and creamer. Add vanilla last and stir until combined.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly golden brown and toothpick inserted in middle of cupcakes comes out clean.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Spring"ing Forward With Almond Cupcakes

The pretty little cupcakes :)
Hey friends. It's back to the sweet stuff from the land of meat and potatoes for this post. This is where I'm comfortable. It's home. The fluffy deliciousness of these white almond cupcakes is one of the many reasons why I have a love affair with cupcakes. I made this cake for the first time for my sister's wedding last year. It was such a huge hit and my cousin, Elizabeth (or "Licka" as we call her), fell in love immediately. Yes, she may kill me for putting her nickname out there in cyber space for all to see but it's how I think of her. She turned 18 last month but I still remember her as a little 2 yr old squirt with blond hair who used to look up at me from her playpen, waiting to be picked up. She has grown into quite the young lady with a personality bigger than life. She makes me laugh constantly and we love when she comes down to visit! So, Lick, this one's for you! ;)

Licka - isn't she adorable? Love this girl!

First things first. The cupcake. I came across this recipe last year when I needed a fluffy almond cake for one of the tiers of my sister's Mad Hatter Tea Party wedding cake. I needed something that would be light and moist but also somewhat sturdy as it was to be formed into a topsy-turvy Mad Hatter's top hat. Cool, right?

Mad Hatter Tea Party wedding cake that I made for my sister's wedding. Photo credit goes to Lauren Mason from  Piccadilly Pictures.

Anyway, I found this as a result of a google search and will never make any other almond cake again! I love it. Now, when you read the ingredients, do not freak out! Are you ready for this? It starts with mix! I know! So not like me!! However, I went with it because it is so doctored that by the time you're finished you don't even remember that Betty Crocker or Pillsbury helped. (Don't get me wrong...they have a time and a place...I just don't usually use them.) I also used this recipe for the groom's cake (my BIL asked for a vanilla/white chocolate concoction) and just left out the almond extract - also gave a great result! Another key ingredient in this cake is sour cream. I've decided that I just love sour cream in my cakes. If I'm looking for a new cake recipe and one of the options has sour cream in it, chances are I'm gonna pick that one.

White Almond Sour Cream Wedding Cake: (adapted from here)

2 18 oz boxes white cake mix
2 cups AP flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 t salt
2 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
2 t almond extract
2 cups sour cream
8 egg whites

1. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large* mixing bowl. *If you're using the full recipe, then I mean LARGE. This recipe makes a ton of batter. The full recipe made about 4 doz standard size cupcakes. And, when you're using your countertop convection oven because your regular oven is broken, and can only bake six at a time....well, you can guess how long that took!

2. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for two minutes. 

3. Pour into prepared liners, tapping to let out air bubbles. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cupcakes for dinner? April Fools!

It's kinda funny to me how many changes this blog has made in my life. I'm busier, always making notes on flavor combinations and decoration ideas, and celebrating holidays that used to pass without mention. Thus, today's post. April Fools cupcakes. Now, I'm sure that I'm not the first person to have this idea. I know that people have made these before and probably have served them for April Fools Day. However, I can honestly say that I came up with the idea on my own and, while it may not be original, I don't personally know of anyone who does these on this particular day. What are they, you ask? No, those are not chocolate cupcakes with a buttercream and fruit glaze. They're actually meatloaf cupcakes, some cooked with a ketchup "ganache" and some without, topped with mashed potato "icing", and drizzled with a ketchup glaze.

Fun, right? Oh, not to mention, delicious! For those of you who are aware that my oven is broken, you'll be happy to know that our countertop convection oven worked just fine for these babies. I had to bake them in three batches since they wouldn't fit more than 9 at a time but it worked out just fine!

I've told you before about my maternal grandmother and how she is the reason I'm a baker today. Well, the unbelievably easy and delicious meatloaf recipe I always use came from her and I am going to share it with you. Yep. You read that correctly. You're getting my Grandma Tommie Jean's meatloaf recipe. You're welcome! ;)

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