Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes 000

Happy Easter, baking gods and goddesses!

So … I’m one day late on holiday wishes AND blog posts. In my defense, I was busy cooking, over-eating and laying around in a food-induced stupor. If you don’t consider that much of defense, take heart! Some things are better late than never, and these cupcakes are most definitely one of those things.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, many of the recipes featured on this blog – indeed, the blog itself – are inspired by and devoted to my late grandmother, Bonnie Jean. She loved food – shopping for it, cooking it, and of course, eating it – and centered every holiday around what inevitably became an epic family meal. If she were still here – and I swear sometimes she is! – she’d confirm that there’s no better end to an Easter meal than a giant slice of homemade carrot cake. THIS carrot cake.

You’re probably asking yourself: “But why pineapple?” Honestly, I have no idea. I have no idea why she put pineapple in her carrot cake. Or grape leaves in her homemade pickles. Or sour cream in her chocolate chip cookies. I just know they’re hands down the best carrot cake, pickles, and chocolate chip cookies ON THE PLANET. Maybe when I’m a grandmother, I’ll be let into their secret society of culinary sorcery. In the meantime, I don’t ask questions, and I add the damn pineapple. You should too!

{I made my grandmother’s recipe into cupcakes, but have also included the instructions for a sheet cake below.}

Enjoy!

 

PINEAPPLE CARROT CUPCAKES

Yields | 36 cupcakes

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups finely granulated sugar
  • 5 medium fresh eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided

For the frosting:

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 to 6 cups confectioner’s sugar

 

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 12-well cupcake pans with paper liners (if making a sheet cake, lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch cake pan). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat oil and granulated sugar on medium speed for 30 seconds. As motor runs, add eggs individually. After eggs are fully incorporated, remove bowl from mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir, by hand, into sugar-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla, carrots, pineapple and 1 cup chopped walnuts; stir well. Pour batter into prepared paper liners until each liner is 3/4 full (or into prepared cake pan, spread evenly to edges). Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes (cake for approximately 1 hour), or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Remove cupcakes from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool thoroughly before frosting (cool cake in pan).

To make frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar (adjust powdered sugar to taste). Frost cupcakes (or cake) only when completely cooled. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup chopped walnuts.

 

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Frosted Banana Bars

Frosted Banana Bars

These Frosted Banana Bars are one of the greatest revelations of my baking “career.”

They are – admittedly – not much to look at.

They feature one of my least favorite foods – soft, blackened, nearly rotten bananas.

They don’t require any special tools, expensive ingredients or fancy techniques.

Yet, they are by far my most-requested dessert. OF ALL TIME.

No joke – I am asked on at least a weekly basis to make these yummy bars, and bake them just about as often for my husband and his co-workers. They are ridiculously delicious – soft and uber-flavorful, with just the right amount of sweetness – are super easy to make, and can be thrown together with ingredients that virtually everyone has on hand already in their pantry or refrigerator. I’d say “enjoy in moderation!”, but forget that bollocks. Pig out. You won’t be able to stop yourself!

 

FROSTED BANANA BARS

Yields | 24 servings

Inspiration | Taste of Home

For the bars:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups finely granulated sugar
  • 3 large fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dash salt

For the frosting:

  •  1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 to 4 cups powdered sugar*
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit (175° Celsius). Grease a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until blended.
  3. Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add powdered sugar* and vanilla; beat until smooth. Frost bars when cool.

*Feel free to experiment with the amount of sugar in the frosting. Because I fancy my frosting a little less sweet, I usually add approximately 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. If you’d like it sweeter, add up to 4 cups total.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes

It occurred to me earlier this week that, as of late, this baking blog has been seriously lacking in one very important thing: BAKING. I could blame this on my recent love affair with soup (seriouslyhomemadesoupisthebestthingeverrrr), but the fact is I was just plain sugared out after the holidays. I don’t know about you, but I consumed so much cake, candy, and gluhwein in December (okay, and November) that I could hear my teeth screaming for mercy. With the face of my stern and ruthless Persian dentist in mind, I reluctantly placed a moratorium on baked goods.

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you probably know that’s when I re-discovered soup. We only ate soup on the rarest of occasions in California, because frankly, it’s way too blasted hot there. Much to my delight, however, German winters are ideal for soup making and eating, and I fell in love experimenting with all the recipes I’d collected – but never tried – over the years in San Diego. We enjoyed everything from Broccoli Cheddar to Zuppa Toscana, from Cream of Wild Mushroom to Cheesy Potato Bacon. We ate soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and probably – no joke – a few times for dessert. We lost ourselves in those heady days of cream and broth and bacon. In the meantime, my oven sat neglected, patiently waiting for me to get back to the business of baking.

Oh sweet oven, you know me so well. Late last week, I started getting that all-too-familiar hankering for chocolate. It started off subtle, but by the weekend I was pawing through my recipes looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. When I stumbled across these cupcakes – one of my childhood favorites – I knew I was back in the baking game. And thank goodness – I wasn’t keen on starting a Soup Goddess blog!

Black Bottom Cupcakes instantly remind me of my lovely aunt Rebecca, who frequently brought these to family picnics, potlucks and camping trips when I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I hadn’t had one in years, but was immediately transported back to the blissfully happy days of my youth as soon as these emerged from the oven. They are a delicious combination of decadent chocolate cake and rich, lightly sweetened cheesecake, studded with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. They’re an especially attractive dessert for those that love cake but hate the occasionally cloying sweetness of frosting. Enjoy in moderation!

Black Bottom Cupcakes1

 

BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKES

Yields | 14-16 cupcakes

Inspiration | my aunt Rebecca

  • 1 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (do not microwave!)
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 6 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Place 1 cup finely granulated sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add coffee and oil and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then blend on medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
  3. Fill each paper liner half full with chocolate batter. Set aside.
  4. Clean and wipe dry the mixing bowl. On medium speed, blend cream cheese, 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and egg until smooth and creamy. (Note: DO NOT OVER MIX. Blend just until lumps disappear, no more than 30 seconds.) Add chopped chocolate pieces and stir to incorporate. Top chocolate batter with one heaping teaspoonful of cream cheese mixture.
  5. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from muffin tins immediately and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. The insides will be gooey if eaten within the first hour, but will set thereafter. If you prefer the gooey texture, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds before eating.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes

There are bandwagons in life I don’t mind missing. Fifty Shades of Grey. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Twitter. The Seattle Seahawks. I don’t get the appeal of lots of popular things, and that’s okay – to each their own! That said, I’m officially jumping on the red velvet bandwagon like it’s the freaking Marshawn Lynch of desserts.

Because seriously, these cupcakes are so good. Life-changing good. If I wasn’t making a conscious effort to improve my diet, I’d eat one of these at every.single.meal. My cat even ate one – surreptitiously – and then stared at me lovingly for the next hour. That’s right, they’re cat approved. What else could you possibly need to know about them?

They’re easy to make, super light and fluffy, and the orange cream cheese frosting is divine. They were gobbled up by my co-workers in record time, and the requests for more keep rolling in. Fair warning: this recipe makes A LOT of cupcakes – approximately 30. It’s a great dessert option for a larger group of people, but not ideal for a small family. Enjoy!

RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH ORANGE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Inspiration: More From Magnolia

Yields: 28-30 cupcakes

For cupcakes:

  • 3 1/3 cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp red food colouring
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda

For Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature and cubed
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cubed
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly grated orange zest

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 28 to 30 individual muffin tins with paper cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sift cake flour and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together food coloring, cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Add to batter and beat well.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, stir salt into buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with sifted cake flour. With each addition, beat until flour and buttermilk are incorporated, but do not over-mix.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together apple cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix until smooth, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape batter from sides of bowl using a rubber spatula, if needed.
  6. Spoon batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from oven, immediately transfer cupcakes to wire rack and cool completely.

To make frosting:

  1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer over medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract, orange juice and orange zest and beat well to incorporate.
  2. With motor of electric mixer running on medium speed, gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is smooth and creamy. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.

Layered Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Pecan Frosting

I’d love to write a proper post about these cupcakes, but my hands are covered in oohey-gooey, chocolatey, coconutty amazingness.

LAYERED CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH COCONUT-PECAN FROSTING

Yields: 24 cupcakes

For cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For chocolate buttercream:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

For coconut-pecan frosting:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

To make cupcakes (recipe courtesy of Food.com):

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 12-mold muffin tins with paper baking cups; set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and sugar. Add oil, coffee, and milk, then mix for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix for 2 additional minutes.
  3. Pour batter into paper baking cups until 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make chocolate buttercream (recipe courtesy of Add a Pinch):

  1. Add cocoa powder to the large bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk for 10-15 seconds to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream cocoa powder and butter until thoroughly combined. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto high speed for approximately one minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  3. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and mix until thoroughly combined.

Note: If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. If it appears too wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

To make coconut-pecan frosting (recipe courtesy of my Mum):

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla extract until thick, approximately 12 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Strain thickened milk-egg mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
  3. Add coconut and pecans to strained mixture and stir until thoroughly coated. Remove from heat and cool for 15-20 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Remove paper cups from cooled cupcakes; discard. Using a sharp, slightly serrated knife, gently slice cupcakes in half. Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate buttercream onto sliced side of upper portion, spread carefully using a butter knife, and press gently into lower sliced portion. Repeat until all cupcakes have been layered. To finish, top each cupcake with cooled coconut-pecan frosting.