S’Mores Cupcakes with Homemade Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

I have a slight obsession with my kitchen torch.

So when my 12-year-old friend Caitlin came over to bake with me, I talked all through lunch how fun it was going to be to use the torch on these cupcakes.  She kept rolling her eyes at me and saying “you’re really excited about that, aren’t you?”  I told her just to wait, that she would understand once she got to use it.

And when the frosting was done and it was time to torch, I did the first 2.  Her eyes got kind of big, and she asked “can I try it?”

So I showed her how to use it.  And then I didn’t get it back. 😉

“Told ya it was fun!”

She grinned.  “Ok, you were right.  It’s pretty fun.”

So if you don’t have a little kitchen torch yet, you should get one.  They are wicked fun.  And you can get one for like $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond!  Totally worth it.

One year ago: BBQ chicken and Pineapple Pizza and Peach Blueberry Cobbler
Two years ago: Chai Tea Bread and Baked Jalapeno Poppers

S’mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
cupcakes inspired by Annie’s Eats
Chocolate cupcake recipe courtesy of Hershey’s
Marshmallow Fluff recipe courtesy of Marshmallow Madness, as seen on Annie’s Eats

For the graham cracker crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers, ground into crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted

for the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (high altitude, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (high altitude, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

for the frosting:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites, at room temp
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the graham cracker crust:
Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Mix thoroughly.  Drop a scant 1 tbsp of graham cracker mixture into each liner and press down to line the bottom (a small bottle works well for this).  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven the oven temperature.

for the cupcakes:
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin).  Scoop batter into cupcake liners.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

for the frosting:
Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  As the temperature of the sugar mixture begins to approach its endpoint, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Once soft peaks have been reached, lower the mixer speed to low.

When sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat.  Pour the syrup in a very slow, steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl (while mixer on low) until it has all been incorporated (go very slowly so you don’t cook the eggs).

Once the syrup has been incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture has been cooled considerably, 6-7 minutes.  Blend in vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.  Scoop into frosting bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.




Wheat Beer Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Two of my husband’s more favorite things in the world.  Beer and cupcakes.  Really, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to put the two together.

You might be skeptical, but look how well Guinness and cupcakes go together.  Brilliant.

Could a wheat beer be any less brilliant?

The answer is no.  It’s just as brilliant.

The original recipe calls for Blue Moon or Corona (easy would be equally as delicious).  I happened to have Easy Street Wheat in the fridge (gotta support the local brews!).  Worked just as brilliantly as Blue Moon or Corona would have.  I imagine whatever your favorite citius-y beer is, it would work just fine.

One year ago: Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas and Tequila Lime Chicken
Two years ago: Pasta Bolognase, Blackberry Cobbler, and Broccoli Sausage Pasta

Wheat Beer Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Miss Make and  Sweet Tooth

for the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder (high altitude folks, reduce to 3/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 cup wheat beer of your choice (I used O’dell’s Easy Street Wheat), plus more for brushing tops
1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add orange zest and vanilla.  Scrape down sides well.

Combine milk and beer in large measuring cup.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with beer mixture.  Increase speed to medium high and beat well for 30 seconds.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners (filling 2/3 full).  Bake for 16-18 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

While cupcakes are still warm, poke holes in tops of cupcakes with a toothpick.  Brush tops with additional beer.  Cool completely before frosting.

for the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
orange slices, for garnish

Combine cream cheese and butter in bowl of electric mixer.  Beat on medium high speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides.

Gradually add powdered sugar while beating on low speed.  Add orange juice and zest.  Beat well to combine.

Spread or pipe (I used a 1M tip) on cooled cupcakes, top with orange slices.


Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


This is another recipe you’ve kind of seen before.  I made these cupcakes for my honey last year for his birthday.  But I wasn’t thrilled with how the chocolate frosting turned out.

But when I saw the recipe for this frosting, I knew it would be perfect.

As I’ve mentioned before, cream cheese frosting is always my favorite – it’s not nearly as sweet as most buttercream frosting.  A chocolate version certainly didn’t disappoint.

I actually have a quality control department when it comes to my frosting.  Her name is Erin.  Every cupcake of mine (or anyone else’s, likely) she’s ever eaten, she licks all the frosting off first.  It’s always her favorite part.  So whenever I make a new cupcake, I always look to Erin and make sure she’s eating all the frosting first.  Then I know I got it right 🙂

One year ago: Perfect Party Cookies and The Perfect Mac and Cheese
Two years ago: Roasted Ratatouille Pasta

For the cupcake and filling recipe, see here

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from How Sweet It Is, as seen on A Bitchin Kitchen

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp of milk, as needed

Add butter and cream cheese to bowl of stand mixer.  Beat on medium high speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides and add vanilla.  On low speed, gradually add powdered sugar.  Mix in cocoa powder.  Add milk 1 tsp at a time if frosting if too thick.


Black Bottom Cupcakes


We’re going to be on sweets over load here at PLFF over the next few days.

I’m sure no one will complain with stuff like this showing up.

Ok, now this is not the first time I’ve made these.  I made them a long, long time ago and while they were incredibly tasty, they didn’t turn out so pretty.  Don’t remember?  See here.  But don’t judge.

When Scott requested these as one of his 3 cupcakes for his big 30th birthday bash, I was excited to try to redeem myself.  But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t peek in the oven every few minutes to see what they looked like.

But this time was successful both in taste and presentation (now I sounds like the annoying guy from Cupcake Wars), so I feel like I really redeemed myself this time.

Don’t like whiskey? Don’t be afraid.  If you can hold your nose while you’re mixing ingredients, the whiskey flavor is very subtle in these.  You get a hint of the actual whiskey flavor, not just the burn of the alcohol and the flashbacks of drunk frat boys.  Wait, that doesn’t happen to anyone else?

One year ago: Cream Puffs
Two years ago: Creole Jambalaya

Black Bottom Cupcakes
courtesy of Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook, as seen on Milk and Honey

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 egg, beaten
1/3 sup sugar
heavy pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup whiskey
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

For the filling:
Beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips and set aside

For the cupcakes:
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Combine whiskey, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla in a mixing bowl on low speed.  Gradually add in dry ingredients until combined.

Fill cupcakes 1/2 full with chocolate batter.  Drop 1 tbsp of cream cheese mixture in center of cupcake batter.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove from pans to cool completely on cooling racks.


Owl Baby Shower cupcakes

Just showing off some cuteness today.

I used my new favorite white cake recipe, my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe for the white ones.

I spiked some of the white cupcakes and frosting with some lemon zest and pink dye for the pink ones.

Turned out rather adorable, if I do say so myself.

And just so you aren’t totally recipe-less today….

Any frosting I made is based on this recipe.  Sometimes I add citrus zest, like in the raspberry lemonade cupcakes, the margarita cupcakes, and the cherry limeade cupcakes.   When I do that, I swap out citrus juice for the vanilla. Sometimes I add booze, like in the Irish car bomb cupcakes.  Or I’ve added cinnamon, like in the pumpkin butterscotch cupcakes.  But I always start with this recipe.

One year ago: Pasta House Salad and Spicy Pasta with Shrimp and Mussels
Two years ago: Black Bottom Cupcakes and Ham and Cheese Frittata

My Go-To Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
a PLFF original recipe

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Add cream cheese and butter to the bowl of stand mixer.  Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl.

Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add powdered sugar, scraping sides of bowl if necessary.

Add vanilla, beat at medium speed for 1 minute.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

Champagne Pound Cake

Guess who got a new camera lens?



Guess who had WAY too much fun taking pictures of the champagne pound cake with her new camera lens?



This girl!



Ok, about the pound cake.

It was good.

But honestly, it reminded me of more of a coffee cake than a dessert.

Which is fine, it gave us permission to eat the rest for breakfast.

Which would make it a fabulous addition to any brunch. Or dessert.  Or snack.  Whichever is easiest for you to justify.

One year ago: Chai-infused french toast with Apple-honey syrup and Champagne cupcakes/cake balls
Two years ago: Autumn Harvest Bread and Chunky Italian Soup 

Champagne Pound Cake
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
yields 2 loaves or 1 bunt-sized cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup champagne or sparkling wine
3 tbsp sour cream
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
5 cold eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp champagne or sparkling wine

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 2 bread pans or a bundt or tube pan. set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Sift mixture, set aside.

Stir together champagne and sour cream in a small bowl, set aside.

In the bowl or stand mixer, beat sugar, melted butter, and oil until well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes or until thicker and lighter in color.

Add one-third of flour mixture, beating on low until just combined.  Add half of champagne mixture, beat until well combined.  Repeat with another 1/3 of flour mixture, half of champagne mixture, and remaining flour mixture.  Scrap batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake 50-55 minutes for bunt/tube pans, 35-40 minutes for bread pans, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pan(s) on wire rack 15 minutes.  Turn out onto rack, cool completely.

To make glaze:  Combine powdered sugar and champagne and stir until combined.  Drizzle over top of cake.


Elmo Birthday Cake and Cupcakes

I’m not going to lie. 

I was irrationally excited about this order. 

I guess I’m secretly 5 years old. 

But when my friend Blair emailed me asking if I could do an Elmo cake and cupcakes for her son’s first birthday, I practically squealed with excitement. 


For the cake, I used my new favorite white cake recipe.  Used Wilton Black and Orange gel colors, and red Americolor gel color.  I had always heard that Americolor was better than Wilton, especially for red, and I’m totally a convert.  Took WAY less color then the Wilton usually does – I found the red coloring much more vibrant.   I used the Wilton shaped pan, although next time, I don’t think it would be difficult to shape it myself.

I used the Wilton #12 tip to do the eyes, nose, and mouth.  To smooth out the icing  just tap your finger in cornstarch and smooth out the seams.  I used the #16 star tip to do Elmo’s fur. 

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes.  I used the same technique for the mouth on the cupcakes as I did for the cake (smoothed out with cornstarch).  I used the Wilton tip #233 for Elmo’s fur, and an orange peanut M&M for the nose (although next time, I’ll find something bigger).  The eyes are a chite candy melt disc with black frosting dotted in the centers. 

I so can’t wait to make more themed cakes and cupcakes like these.  I’ve never doubted my decision to start my own catering business, but orders like this just reaffirm my decision.  I love this job!!!

One year ago: Turkey and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Perfect White Cake/Cupcakes

In the world of cake recipes, there seems to be a trifecta – white cake, yellow cake, and chocolate cake.  I feel like everyone has a go-to recipes for each of these things.  And while I’ve had a go-to yellow cake for a while (this one) and a go-to chocolate cake recipe (this one), I hadn’t even started looking for a white cake recipe.  But when I had a client request funfetti cupcakes for her graduation several weeks ago, I knew it was time to start the search for the perfect white cake. 

I figured a logical place to start was with a recipe another trusted blogger calls the “very best” and is based on Cooks Illustrated.  And to be honest, after making them twice now, I see no reason to look any further.

When I was making these funfetti cupcakes, I get a little too excited about how good the batter tasted.  I hurriedly scooped the batter into its respective muffin tins and was seconds from putting the pans in the oven when I had one of those “crap!” moments.  I forgot the sprinkles in the batter.  I thought about skipping it, but she said she wanted funfetti.  I’m staring at the sprinkle-less batter in the pans.  Then staring at the container of sprinkles.  Scott comes into the kitchen and asks what’s wrong.

“Just stir them in each cupcake.”

I laughed.

But that just might work.

I’m sure anyone who walked in the house would have been thoroughly confused – my dumping like 1/2 tbsp of sprinkles into each cup-ful of batter and Scott stirring each with a knife until the sprinkles are evenly distributed. 

Call us silly, but it worked.  And my clients were none the wiser. 

At least, until I shared the silly story with them as we blissfully ate cupcakes and celebrated the success of one of my clients.  I think they like having little reminders like this that no one is perfect.  Making mistakes is human, and being able to laugh at yourself is essential to success.  Even when you’re the teacher.

One year ago: Shepherd’s Pie
Two years ago: Chicken Parm Pizza

Perfect White Cupcakes
as seen on Can You Stay for Dinner? 
originally from Cooks Illustrated

2 cups cake flour*
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder (high altitude folks, decrease to 1 1/3 tsp)
1 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (optional, for funfetti cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Spritz each lightly with cooking spray.

Lightly whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add butter, beating at a low speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no large clumps of flour. 

Add 3/4 of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.  Add remaining milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.  Scrap down sides of the bowl and beat for 20 seconds more on low speed. If making funfetti cupcakes, add sprinkles and beat an additional 30 seconds on low.

Scoop batter into prepared cupcake pan.  Bake 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

*to make youre own cake flour, remove 2 tbsp of flour for every cup (4 tbsp for this recipe).  Replace those 2 tbsp of flour wtih 2 tbsp of cornstarch (4 tbsp for this recipe).  Sift together 2-3 times to make sure it is well blended before adding to recipe.


Pumpkin Butterscotch cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

You’ve kind of seen these little gems before.  We may or may not have originally referred to them as “crack muffins.”  Everyone loves them and just can’t get enough of them.

For my very first catering gig back in October, I suggested these as a nice seasonal dessert treat.  Only I knew they would need just a little *something* to fit the occasion – a wine tasting for an investment firm.  Pumpkin and cream cheese frosting go so well together, and in what I see now as a pure stroke of genius, I decided to spike the frosting with a little cinnamon.


Like WHOA.

I knew they would be good, but I don’t think anyone expected the pure perfection that resulted from adding just a little bit of cinnamon frosting to these beauties.

Scott even called his brother and told him about it.  Since the original muffin recipe came from his mom.  Scott could hear through the phone as Nick turned to his mom at home and said “how come you never thought of putting cinnamon frosting on the pumpkin butterscotch muffins?”  Way to make brownie points with your mother-in-law….


If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t tried these beauties yet, now they have really entered into OMG-you-have-to-make-these-now territory.  Sure, pumpkin is usually a fall thing, but there’s no reason you can make them in winter too.  So you should. Like now.  And I still like them best in mini form.  But feel free to make them full-sized if you insist.

One year ago: Denver green chili
Two years ago: Pork Chops Cacciatore

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
original source unknown, with PLFF original adaptations

*recipe note: this is technically a muffin recipe.  To keep it from being too dense, I recommend keeping them in mini-form.  The frosting on the regular-sized ones doesn’t work as well as it does in the mini version.

for the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 1/3 cups flour
16 oz can pumpkin puree
10 oz butterscotch chips

for the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

for the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.  Combine sugar, oil, water, and eggs in a mixing bowl, beat until combined.  Stir together nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and flour in another bowl.  Beat gradually into wet ingredients.  Add pumpkin puree and butterscotch chips and stir to combine.  Pour batter into muffin pans lined with papers.  Bake mini cupcakes around 8 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

for the frosting:
Beat butter and cream cheese on medium high speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl, return speed to low. Gradually add in powedered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and cinnamon, beat on medium high speed for an additional minute.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.


Cranberry Spice Cake

November is like every foodie’s favorite time of year.  An entire holiday devoted primarily to food.  Well, and that whole being thankful thing.  That too.  But mostly the food.

And there seems to be a few camps when it comes to the cranberries at the Thanksgiving table.  Some seem to love the canned jelly cranberry concoction, even if it’s right out of the can.   Some make their own with whole cranberries, and some won’t touch cranberries with a ten foot pole.  If your family seems to be one that can do without the cranberry sauce, this might be a fun way to add cranberries to your Thanksgiving menu.  And for those who love the cranberries, well, then this will be right up your alley regardless!  The tart cranberries aren’t sweetened *too* much, the cardamom spice-goodness, and the fresh lemon glaze on top is just dessert deliciousness.

Would also make a great breakfast for Thanksgiving morning for parade watching.  If you’re down for eating cake for breakfast.  Clearly I am.

Check out some of last year’s Thanksgiving recipes:
Herbed Dinner Rolls
Harvest Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Turkey Stock

Cranberry Spice Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit

for the cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp baking powder (high altitude folks, decrease to 1/2 tsp)
1/2  tsp baking powder (high altitude, decrease to 1/4 tsp)
2 cups fresh cranberries (or thawed, if frozen)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp fresh grated orange zest
2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup apple cider

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 9×9 cake pan with aluminum foil, coat with cooking spray.

Whisk flour, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.  Pulse cranberries in a food processor until chopped but not pureed., set aside.

Stir sugar, brown sugar, and oil in a medium bowl to blend.  Add in eggs, one at a time, , stirring to blend between additions.  Whisk in sour cream, orange and lemon zests, and vanilla.

Whisk in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with cider in 2 additions and whisking to blend.  Fold in chopped cranberries.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth out top.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until tester comes out almost clean, about 40-45 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack, let cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Run a thin knife around pan to release cake.  Invert onto rack and remove foil.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes.

for the glaze:
Whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl.  Spread glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.  Let stand until glaze becomes crackly, about 1 hour.  Serve at room temperature.


And Happy Thanksgiving to all my PLFF readers!  I’m so thankful for all of you 🙂