All the Single Ladies

This past Saturday was my bachelorette party. While I’ll spare you all the juicy details, I do want to share all the delicious food that was enjoyed! Everyone came to my house, and we hung out eating and drinking, until our limo arrived. We’d hired it from this Home Page. When it did, we were off to the city to enjoy dinner and a show at Lucky Cheng’s. If you’ve never heard of it, just take a gander at the website. That’s all you need to know. My sister did my hair and makeup, which was pretty awesome!

Of course, in trying to be the hostest with the mostest (a phrase used frequently in my house growing up), I had to make some goodies. I also tried to be smart, thinking the more food we had available, the better because no one likes a hangover. This was extremely import for myself, as I had completed my longest run EVER to date earlier that morning (14 miles!). I made this amazing Queso Fundido, which was awesome! And of course, I had to make cupcakes.

As part of the favors for my bridal shower, my future mother-in-law got little bottles of wine for everyone. So, we had quite a few bottles left over, so I figured my bachelorette party would be an excellent time to use some. Everyone loves a little boozy baking! I used just regular ‘ole brownie boxed mix and baked them as cupcakes. For the frosting, I made a merlot buttercream, and it was awesome. It was also the first time I got to use my KitchenAid stand mixer! I’m never using a hand mixer again.

We’re only 30 days away from the big day. There’s going to be a lot of wedding (and marathon training) activities in the coming weeks!

Check out the sweet cupcake toppers!

Brownie Cupcakes with Merlot Frosting
– makes 12 cupcakes –

1 box brownie mix (I used chocolate fudge)
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup merlot
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package, separate brownie mix into a lined cupcake pan (about 2 tbsp worth). Bake about 25-30 minutes
3. In a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, adding in vanilla followed by the wine. Slowly incorporate the sugar until the consistency is thick and everything is well combined.
4. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting!  

A Festivus for the rest of us!

On Saturday, my fiancé and I hosted our second annual (he’s been throwing one for years) Festivus party! If you’re unfamiliar with the origins of Festivus, Google it, and hopefully a clip of the Seinfeld episode is on YouTube. I grew up watching Seinfeld with my parents, and they to this day watch the re-runs after work while preparing dinner. Most people I’ve come across either love or hate Seinfield, but both my family and my fiancé’s family are fans.

Last year was unfortunately kind of a flop, as the first snow storm of the year rolled in, and we wound up only having two guests! This year, with no reports of potential snow, I knew I needed to make sure we had enough goodies. The party was more than just a Festivus celebration, it was also the first time most of our friends were seeing our new place! Needless to say, the pressure was on.

I always make some type of cupcakes. This time, instead of making full sized, I realized they would likely go faster if I made mini’s instead. I like to make them seasonal, or at the very least boozy. While I left out the booze this time, you could definitely add it in if you want, since I made eggnog cupcakes, courtesy of Southern Living! Based on the recipe I used, I wound up with 60 mini cupcakes. Plenty for all of the party-goers, and enough to bring into work on Monday as well. In addition to the cupcakes, I wanted to make something savory. I had a bunch of recipes to choose from, but wound up settling on Brown Eyed Baker’s Italian Gougeres, coming in a later post.

But back to the cupcakes – the cake was perfectly moist and just the right amount of eggnog. I actually tasted eggnog for the very first time after I mixed it into the batter. There was some leftover, so I decided to take a swig. I guess it’s a good thing I liked it, since I was already committed to 60 mini cupcakes with it. The frosting, though, was a bit runny. Even though it had cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar, I couldn’t get it thick enough to allow me to really do any decorating (I added A LOT of extra sugar). It wound up almost drying on the cakes though with a nice sheen, so they looked okay. But I would have liked to do something a little more snazzy!

I definitely think you could add some dark rum to the cake and/or frosting mixture to give it that boozy kick that I’m such a fan of. Nothing quite like a festive drink in cupcake form!

Eggnog Cupcakes via Southern Living
– makes 60 mini cupcakes, or about 24 regular cupcakes –

Cake Ingredients:
1 (16oz.) package pound cake mix
1 1/4 cups eggnog
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat all ingredients together at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake pan, filling about 3/4 .
2. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, about 10-15 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (3-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1/4 cup eggnog
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting Directions:
1. Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with eggnog, beginning and ending with sugar and beating at low speed. Add freshly grated nutmeg and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.
3. Spread over cupcakes.

Alcohol Infused Cupcakes: Do I have a problem?

This has now been the sixth alcohol infused dessert I’ve made this year. First there was Guinness cupcake with Bailey’s buttercream, another cupcake with just the Bailey’s, jello shot cupcakes, Kahlua and espresso chocolate chip cookies, and rum & coke brownies. And now? Pina Colada cupcakes! I actually got this recipe off Betty Crocker’s website, but made some tweaks to turn the rum extract into, well, regular rum.

Making an alcohol infused dessert really works well when you’re going to a party, I think. Most people bring either a food item, or some type of alcohol. So, why not bring both, together?! My fiancé and I decided to have a wedding party BBQ, so everyone from both of our sides could get together, hang out, and get to know each other more. The wedding isn’t until next September, but we figured since we recently procured a grill (thanks mom & dad!), and hadn’t had a party in a few months, it was the perfect opportunity. I also made a batch of regular chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and a layer of chunky peanut butter in between the cake and frosting. Yeah, they were good too.

They wound up being a little smaller, just below the cupcake liners. So, I had to load on the frosting, which everyone at the party appreciated. Since my pastry bag broke, I’ve resorted to using a smaller and regular sized spoon to do my swirling. Not bad, but not great either. I also had some leftover crushed pineapple, so I threw that in some Tupperware with regular and flavored rum and let it soak together for a few hours. It came in handy later in the night for a wedding party toast/shot!

For now, I’ll just chalk my love of boozy desserts up to being Irish 😉

Pina Colada Cupcakes
– 24 cupcakes –

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon rum extract*
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
3 eggs
1 teaspoon coconut extract*
1 teaspoon rum extract*
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped vanilla frosting
3/4 cup shredded coconut

1. Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. In large bowl, beat cake mix, oil, water, 1 teaspoon rum extract, the pineapple and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
2. Bake 14 to 19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
3. Stir coconut extract and 1 teaspoon rum extract into frosting. Spread frosting on cupcakes. Dip tops of frosted cupcakes in coconut. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

*instead of using rum extract and coconut extract, I substituted both for some Admiral Nelson coconut rum. I’d imagine any flavored rum would work well!

Boozey Cupcakes Part 2: Jello Shot Style

On Saturday, my fiancé had his birthday party, which was dessert themed. Being that it was a party and some type of confectionery treat needed to be made, I went the route of a booze-infused cupcake. After my New Year’s Eve hit with my Guinness & Bailey’s buttercream cupcakes, I figured I could give a new recipe a shot (no pun intended!).

It’s amazing how many different recipes incorporate alcohol. There’s even an entire bakery, Butch Bakery, that makes “manly” alcohol infused cupcakes! I found my recipe at [What a cute blog name!]

Because we were hosting the party at our place and spent all of Saturday morning & afternoon cleaning and running errands, this recipe was perfect because it called for cake mix. I know that’s cheating, but we were seriously crunched on time! So after making the cupcakes from the box, I moved on to the Jello, by making it half with water, and half with coconut rum. Once the cupcakes cooled, I simply spooned the mixture over them. Be smart about this though because it makes a mess! I thought ahead and put down some paper towels on a serving tray first, and I’m really glad I did. I left the rest of the Jello to congeal in the fridge if anyone wanted it later.

The hardest part of the recipe, you may ask? Finding the cups to put them in! They’re the paper medicine-like cups; a smaller version of what you’d get from the Penguin Ice man. After searching the grocery store, a drug store, AND the liquor store, I gave up and just made them in full-sized cupcake liners. So they weren’t exactly shots, but more like tumblers perhaps? At least it meant more jello-shotty goodness in each cupcake!

I actually decided to buy whipped cream instead of making it myself due to time. So I left the whipped cream can out next to the cupcakes, so everyone could use it as they pleased. I mean, who doesn’t like to add their own whipped cream?!

Here’s the recipe [from iheartcuppycakes], and happy (and safe) boozey nomzing!

Jello Shot Cupcakes

For jello shot cupcakes
1 pkg. white cake mix
1 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (3 oz.) Jello Gelatin, any red flavor (I used cherry)
1 cup Malibu coconut rum

For whipped cream
3 cups whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp granulated sugar

1. Make cupcakes according to package directions
2. Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and poke holes in the cupcakes with a fork or toothpick.
3. In a separate bowl, stir boiling water into jello powder until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add rum. Spoon over cupcakes. (Don’t be shy with the jello. Be generous! 2-3-4 spoonfuls!)
4. For the whipped cream, place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick.
4. Let cool before frosting with whipped cream.