Strawberries & Chocolate Cupcakes

I’d been doing some volunteer work and on my last day, I decided to make cupcakes for everyone. It was like, a mini-lunch-party thing.

And since I had both strawberry cake mix and chocolate cake mix, I figured it would be a nice combination instead of just plain-chocolate and plain-strawberry.

Since it’s from a cake mix, these are extremely easy to make!

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Also, ziploc bags are a genius invention. I’m sure lots of you already know this cool trick but I really, really, really like it because well . . . it slashes the AJ kitchen mess in half. (Yay me!) It also keeps my cupcake pans looking cleaner when they get out of the oven. (no spilling cake mix on the sides! Yay again!)

All I do is fill my cake mix into a ziploc bag. One for strawberry, one for chocolate. Snip off a small piece at one of the ends of the bag. And fill up the cupcake cups! Sooo easy.

Normally, when I’m just making one flavor of cupcakes, I don’t bother to do this but when it’s two or three flavors together, it makes everything simpler.

For the icing, I used a basic vanilla buttercream:

  • 6 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tbsp milk (sometimes I use heavy cream too)
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar (I just add and mix until it reaches the consistency I want)

I didn’t add color to it this time (I liked the way it looked without color, and it looked pretty on the cupcakes). To do the icing, I used the extremely popular Wilton 1M. It’s a very cute swirl!

For the toppings, I just used some red and green sugar sprinkles, and chocolate sprinkles.

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And . . . all done!

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Ice cream Cake Smoothie

I first have to say: if you’re looking for something more along the lines of very healthy, then back away slowly. Not that I don’t like healthy! I do, very much. I just wanted a little break on this particular day.

If however, you’re up for splurging on a some sweet yummyness, then do keep reading!

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I bake a lot of things, and not always from scratch, so I usually have a lot of cake mix lounging around my kitchen.
Yesterday, I had a craving for something sweet and drinkable. So I made this . . .

I used vanilla because, well . . . It was the only flavor of ice cream in my freezer. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of vanilla. But when you don’t want to go to the store, you really leave yourself with no other option but to use it anyways.

The Recipe:

5 tbsp Ice Cream (whichever flavor you like)
1 cup Strawberry Cake Mix (also, whatever kind you like)
1 cup Water
Ice (add a little at a time, and keep tasting)
Sprinkles & Chocolate Powder (optional)

All you have to do is add the ice cream, cake mix, and water to the blender. Gradually add ice. Keep tasting! Stop whenever you reach the taste you like.
After you pour it into a glass, add sprinkles or chocolate powder on top if you like! (and a straw too!)

This makes enough for about 2 or 3 people.

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Now, as important as it is to follow exact quantities for some recipes, in others it’s not.
For this, I say mix around until you achieve the taste you want.

My brother was little horrified at first when he heard that there was cake mix inside. But then he tasted, and got over it.

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Happy drinking!

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Peppermint Party Chocolate Cupcakes

I would just like to say one thing: the person who came up with the whole mint-and-chocolate combination was a genius!

It’s always great to mix different flavors and see how it works out, and my absolute favorite flavor combination is Peppermint & Chocolate.

It is magically delicious, and what better way to experience it than in a cupcake?

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For this cupcake, I followed recipes from Mel’s Kitchen Café and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The cake:

Now, I’ve always been a bit scared of made-from-scratch chocolate cake. There are some that you bite into excitedly, only to find that it is severely lacking in that rich, chocolately flavor.

And then there’s the chocolate cake that my Aunty Dawn makes from scratch. A parade of yummy, chocolate-ness in your mouth that makes you want to eat the entire cake! (I’m yet to ask her how she made it!)

So I took the safe road and made a chocolate cake from a box. I’d found recipes on Mel’s Kitchen Café and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

But my Aunty Dawn has been baking cakes for me for as long as I can remember. And I thought I’d like to try it her way the first time I decide to make a chocolate cake from scratch.

Making it from a box is also really easy if you’re not too comfy with making cakes from scratch, and it’s also faster and a lot less work. (A lot less things to wash too!)

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The Filling:

I followed this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Café to make a chocolate filling to add into my cupcakes.

(Again, I was missing chocolate chips… but plain Hershey’s kisses worked as a fine substitute).

Let me tell you, it tastes amazing! I could’ve eaten the entire bowl of filling just like that!

 

The Frosting:

I didn’t follow the mint buttercream recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Café. I didn’t have cream cheese in my refrigerator, and I also didn’t feel like using it anyway. So I used this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Except, I didn’t put in chocolate chips. I thought that was really cute, but I wanted something fancier-looking. So I made the plain frosting, and then frosted the cupcakes. (I also couldn’t find the frosting tip I wanted, so I had to use another, sadly).

I didn’t use the Andes mint either. I just stuck in a piece of chocolate (don’t remember what kind). Then I added a drizzle of the chocolate filling (following from the recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Café.

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These were probably the most loved cupcakes I’d ever made. Everyone loved them, and I did too! Well, I loved how they tasted! I really think they could’ve looked better, so I’ll have to try them again some time. The flavor is fabulous, and so, so yummy!

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Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake (Cupcakes!)

I love cupcakes! (that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?) They’re magical, delightful, wonderfully sized portions of yumminess without the hassle of “the scientific way to cut a cake” (and yes, apparently there is a way to do that).

And while I’ve never been entirely sure of how I feel about cheesecake, I decided to make one.

That’s because I absoloutely LOVE Mel’s Kitchen Café (I also cook for my family – my brother and parents, not kids – sometimes!), and her recipes have all been super, super awesome.

I came across the Cheesecake section of her recipes, and had a very long internal debate on whether to make the Brownie Mosaic or Decadent Chocolate. Guess which one I tried!

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Now, since it was my first time with a cheesecake, I originally planned to follow the recipe very, very carefully (which is something I don’t normally do). Then I realized I didn’t have a springform pan. That was the first problem. I wanted to cry.

Then I thought . . . Cupcakes!

Sooooo. I modified the recipe somewhat to make cheesecake cupcakes! (best idea ever!)

I used regular paper cupcake cups. And I lowered the baking time to about 20 – 25 minutes (checking in between to make sure I don’t overbake).

I also used a brownie mix, because I don’t yet trust my brownie-making skills. My brownie cubes turned into brownie bits.

And the crust is a mix of oreo + chocolate fudge cookies (yummy yummy).

I also nixed the ganache for the top, and instead used this recipe for a chocolate filling I had made for my cupcakes once (minus the peppermint extract). I was missing the chocolate chips though, so I used the one chocolate I could find in my refrigerator: plain, regular Hershey’s kisses. And it turned out fabulously.

I’ve noticed quite a few things with my cheesecake cupcakes:

  • First, don’t follow the “fill to 1/3 or ½ or 2/3 of your cupcake cup” rule. The cheesecake filling does not raise and get bigger, so you can fill it just enough to have a nice, cupcake size that isn’t too small, but isn’t too much that it bubbles over when baking
  • An 8 ounce package of cream cheese, with 1 ½ cup of finely ground cookies made only about 6 cupcakes looking like the ones in my photos. But I do like a lot of crust, so it may all just depend on you.

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Well, my cheesecake cupcakes were nicely received. Everyone loved them . . .  except me. I’m now sure of how I feel about cheesecake, and it’s just not something that speaks to my soul very much. But before I go finalizing conclusions, I’ve decided I need to try an entirely chocolate cheesecake first. Just to be sure. (Because chocolate most definitely, speaks beautiful poetry to my soul)

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