Cupcake Recipes

October 28, 2014

Crosseyed and Painless Cupcakes


In the first of a two part tribute to the Talking Heads, I present an apple walnut cake, cored with apple cider fleur de sel caramel and topped with a Maker's Mark buttercream, candied walnuts and smoked fleur de sel.


C A K E  I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 2 1/3 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples
  • 1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans


C A N D I E D  W A L N U T S  I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 1 cup toasted walnut halves/pieces 
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter



  1. Frosting

    1. Follow directions for the Jameson Italian Meringue buttercream, substituting the following:

      1. Brown sugar for Castor/Superfine sugar
      2. 2 tbsp Maker's Mark instead of Jameson
  2. Salted Caramel Filling
    1. Follow directions for the Fleur de Sel Caramels, however make the following changes:
      1. Use 1 cup apple cider or apple juice, and reduce on low heat to 1/4 cup.  Cool.
      2. During the second heating phase (after cream and sugar mixtures are mixed), take the mixture to 238-244 degrees instead of 256.  This will allow the mixture to be less stiff and more liquidy
  3. Cupcakes
    1. Preheat oven to 325
    2. Line tins with cupcake liners for 16 cupcakes.
    3. In one bowl, beat sugars and eggs until combined, then add eggs one at a time.
    4. In another bowl, whisk (or sift) flour, spices, salt, baking soda.
    5. Add flour to butter sugar mixture in two parts, mixing until well combined.
    6. Fold in apples and walnuts, letting the apples release thier juices.
    7. Fill the prepared tins with batter about 3/4 full.
    8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.
    9. Store in airtight storage, preferably refrigerated, until ready for use.
  4. Candied Walnuts
    1. Heat medium non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Prepare a piece of parchment paper that is 16 inches wide.
    2. Add sugar, butter and walnuts, mixing frequntlyt.  As the sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until all sugar is melted and walnuts coated.
    3. Immediatly transfer the nuts to the parchment paper, and break up any clusters into individual nuts.  Cool and transfer to airtight storage until ready for use.





August 03, 2013

Sangria Cupcakes


Sangria is a portugese wine, and consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of liquor such as Brandy.  It is a perennial summertime favorite, and brings delight to any party.  The fruit tends to absorb a lot of alcohol, and makes for a fun surprise.

I modified the original recipe because the cupcakes tasted good, but the sangria flavor wasn't recognizable.  I gradually reduced the sugar and removed the fruit from the wine to produce a cupcake that has actual wine flavor.   Also, it is important to use Merlot, as any other wine's flavor will get lost in translation.  I made this recipe 5 times before producing a cupcake that tasted like wine, using Pino Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Neither produced the intensity, or blueness, of Merlot.

In order to make this "wine" cupcake taste like sangria, a Strawberry Pineapple compote was used for filling and Hennessey and Grand Marnier were used in the frosting.  The result is magic for your taste buds: Sangria in a foil wrapper.



  • 1/2 bottle Merlot
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt



  1. Follow recipe for Jameson Italian Meringue Buttercream
    1. Substitute Hennesey and Grand Marnier for the Jameson and 1/4 cup water used to make the syrup
  2. Follow recipe for Spiked Strawberry Pineapple Compote
  3. In medium sauce pan, simmer the Merlot.  
    1. Add the 1/3 cup sugar once the Merlot is simmering, and let cook on medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
    2. Allow merlot to cool to room temperature
  4. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
    in a medium bowl.  
    1. Sift together at least one
  5. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and
    sugar until fluffy and light
    1. about 3 minutes.  
    2. Add sour cream and eggs until combined.  
    3. Add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup of cooked Merlot, alternating between the two, but beginning and ending with the flour.
  6. Fill the cupcakes approximately 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes.
    1. Remove from oven when tester comes out clean.
  7. While cupcakes are hot, brush extra Merlot over the tops of
    each cupcake.  
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
    1. Remove a core from the center
    2. Fill with Strawberry Pineapple compote
    3. Pipe the Grand Marnier Henessey buttercream on top
    4. Garnish with fluer de sel or sea salt


October 27, 2012

Cannoli Cupcakes


Cannoli are the irresistible Sicilian desserts with a tube shaped pastry shell and a creamy filling inside.  Last year, I attended a wedding with a red velvet cake layered between perhaps the best cannoli filling I've ever had.  At that moment, I knew Cannoli cupcakes needed to be concocted, specifically for my old boss Chris because he likes to eat cupcakes.

The research unit was mobilized, as I am not Italian.  The bakeries who make the extra tasty varieties are in Brooklyn and on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.  The secret ingredient used by many of them is nutmeg oil.  Additionally, these bakeries use Impasata Ricotta, which is very thick and contains little water.  Ironically, after trapsing around New York City looking for it, Impasata Ricotta was procured from a market about 5 miles from my home in NJ.

The final cupcake recipe slowly manifested, starting with the Red Velvet sans the red cupcake recipe, and filled with the "Brooklyn style" Cannoli filling recipe below.  The cupcake is topped with a Grand Marnier Italian Meringue Buttercream and rimmed with crushed pistachios. 

This recipe makes about 24 cupcakes.



  • 1 pound impastata ricotta (Or use regular ricotta, and let strain overnight wrapped in cheesecloth)
  • 1/2 cup Castor sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier (or vanilla extract)


  • 6oz bag shelled pistasios


  1. Frosting
    1. Follow the directions for the Jameson Italian Meringue Buttercream
      1. Substitute 3 oz Grand Marnier for the Jameson
  2. Filling
    1. Combine all ingredients listed above with a mixer on medium until well mixed and creamy.
      1. Add more spices if desired.
    2. Filling should be stored in the refridgerator at all times.
  3. Cupcakes
    1. Follow the directions for the Red Velvet sans the Red cupcakes
  4. Garnish
    1. Chop pistasios into small chunks
  5. Assembly
    1. Using an apple corer or a butter knife, cut a large cylinder in each cupcake and discard core.
    2. Overfill each cupcake with cannoli filling....just like regular cannolis are!
    3. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, and rim with pistasio.
    4. Cupcakes should be stored in the fridge.  However, please allow cupcakes to stand for one hour prior to eating for optimal frosting softness.


  2. Discussion on ChowHound about Brookln Style Cannoli


October 06, 2012

Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes sans the Red

This recipe was modified to remove the iconic red food coloring.  Many people do not know that food coloring is a known carcinogen.  Obviously, the adverse effects only arise after excessive consumption, but most processed foods have food coloring these days.  Originally, Red Velvet cakes did not contain food coloring, but rather utilized a lighter, alkaline cocoa that appears reddish-brown in certain light.  Around the 1950's, the food industry began selling a darker, acidic cocoa, which spawned the classic Devil's Food cake recipes.  

This recipe attempts to capture the classic, non-artificial taste and texture of the original Red Velvet cakes.  Most recipes use about 3 bottles of food coloring, which is a lot.  This recipe makes about 24 cupcakes 


  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-Processed or Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Valhrona is my preference)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line two muffin tins (12 muffins each) with paper liners
  3. To make the cake
    1. In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. 
    2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer: 
      1. cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 
      2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
      3. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
    3. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. 
      1. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. 
      2. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. 
    4. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. 
      1. Add to the batter and mix well. 
    5. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. 
  4. Fill each cupcake about 2/3 full with an ice cream scoop
  5. Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake the cupcakes
    1. Switch the positions of the pans halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the cupcakes in the pan 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack before icing.



August 18, 2012

Hasta Lavista Toey cupcakes with Champagne and Limoncello


"Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?"  Yet another one of life's mysteries.  While saying goodbye is never easy, the process is always best when accompanied by a delicious cupcake.  At least in my humble opinion.  

The Hasta Lavista Toey cupcake was created to sweeten the celebration of my friend Todor and his wife Heather's exciting move to San Francisco.  The recipe begins with a velvety champagne cupcake that is filled with either Cherry Curd or Raspberry Pastry Cream, topped with a Limoncello italian meringue buttercream frosting, and finished with smoked fleur de sel.  The champagne bubbles adds height and a sense of lightness to the cupcake, much like how both Todor and Heather are tall, light and agile athletes.

Homemade Limoncello is preferred, but can only be procured from a friend, as it is illegal to sell in NY/NJ.  Most recipes require 80 days for the alcohol to sit prior to consumption, eliminating my ability to make it.  I read that many commercial brands had off tastes and were unpleasant, and was unable to find the most recommended brands in a store.  I settled for Sogno di Sorrento Lemoncello, and it was delicious.  

It's always hard to say good bye, but hey, why not sweeten it with a dope cupcake in hand?  :)



  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 plus 1/4 cup champagne (3/4 cup total)
  • Pinch of smoked or regular fleur de sel


  1. Filling

    1. Make either the Raspberry Pastry Cream or Cherry Curd recipes
  2. Frosting

    1. Follow directions for Jameson Italian Meringue Butter cream
      1. Substitute about 1/3 cup Limoncello for the Jameson.  Keep adding until it can't take any more Limoncello for optimal flavor.
  3. Cupcakes

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 16 muffin cups with foil liners
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment:
      1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
      2. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. 
      3. Add vanilla and mix. 
    3. In another bowl:
      1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.  
    4. In a medium sized bowl:
      1. Whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream
        1. Mixture will fizz and bubble a little
    5. In the bowl of the stand mixer:
      1. Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  Batter will be thick.
      2. Do not overmix.
    6. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter.  
    7. Bake for 17-22 minutes, and remove from oven when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    8. Remove cupcakes from the pan
      1. Poke holes in the top of the cupcakes
      2. Use a pastry brush to brush the remaining 1/4 cup champagne on top of the cupcakes
        1. Feel free to use more than 1/4 cup!
      3. Allow cupcakes to cool and dry completely before adding filling. Cupcake2

  4. Assembly

    1. Using an apple corer or butter knife, cut a nickel sized cylinder in the cupcake and discard  
    2. Generously fill the cylinder with the Cherry curd or Raspberry Pastry Cream.  This is not a cupcake to skim on!!
    3. Pipe the luscious limoncello frosting on top.
    4. Sprinkle smoked fleur de sel on top.
    5. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator after assembly if not consumed right away
      1. Refrigerated cupcakes need to sit out for about 2 hours prior to consumption, or the icing will be as hard as a rock.  :)


Recipe Notes: The cupcake recipe makes about 16 cupcakes.  The frosting recipe yields enough frosting for 16 - 24 cupcakes.  The curd and pastry cream recipes both yield enough filling for about 48 cupcakes. 


June 24, 2012

Cupcake Cocktails: The Paloma


In Spanish, Paloma means dove.  Is is also the name of a popular mexican cocktail consisting of grapefruit juice, club soda, tequila and splash of lime.  Here is the recipe for the boozy cupcake counterpart: grapefruit cake filled with lime curd and topped with tequilla italian meringue buttercream and smoked fleur de sel.  The cake is super moist and light from the meringue base, requires no butter and uses lots of grapefruit zest.  

The key to serving boozy cupcakes is to add the alcohol to the frosting just prior to serving because the alcohol will evaporate over time.

This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.



Tequilla Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Use the Jameson Italian Meringue Buttercream Recipe, using Tequilla instead of water, vanilla and Jameson.  When adding the Tequilla at the end, add as much as the frosting will handle.

Lime Curd

Follow the Lime curd recipe.

Grapefruit Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon himalayan pink salt
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cups safflower oil
  • 2/3 cup fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 4 tbsp grapefruit zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Smoked fleur de sel (use in the assembly phase)



  1. Preheat the oven to 315 degree
    1. Line 2 x 12 cupcake tins with foil liners
  2. In a large bowl, sift together and set aside:
    1. Flour
    2. 1 cup granulated sugar
    3. Baking powder and salt
  3. In a small bowl:
    1. Mix together egg yolks, oil, 2/3 cup grapefruit juice, lemon zest and vanilla. 
    2. Mix this mixture into the flour mixture until smooth.
  4. In yet another large bowl:
    1. Make a meringue
      1. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until it forms soft peaks. 
      2. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat until it forms stiff peaks.
  5. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter and pour into the prepared cupcake tins.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and tester comes out clean. 
    1. Allow cupcakes to cool in tin for 10 minutes, and invert the tin to remove the cupcakes
  7. Place cupcakes in fridge if not consuming for more than 2 hours.



  1. Using an apple corer or butter knife, cut a nickel sized cylinder in the cupcake and discard  
  2. Fill the cylinder with lime curd
  3. Pipe the luscious frosting on top, and lightly sprinkle the fleur de sel.
  4. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator after assembly if not consumed right away
    1. Refrigerated cupcakes need to sit out for about 2 hours prior to consumption, or the icing will be as hard as a rock.  :)



April 28, 2012

The Garo Cupcake


Think spicy exotic sweetness: Ginger pear spiced cupcakes, filled with a miso soft caramel core, topped with chocolate italian meringue buttercream frosting and garnished with crystallized ginger.  This cupcake was engineered to honor the guy who eats unusual exotic foods and taught me new things about exotic citrus.  Considering I grew up in Florida, I thought I knew citrus....until I met Garo.

This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.


Continue reading "The Garo Cupcake" »

The Professor Cupcake


Only one cupcake is savory yet ever so subtlely sweet enough for consumption by the Professor.  The cupcake starts with a yellow cake base, filled with peach rosemary preserves and topped with goat cheese frosting.  Any savory preserve can be substituted in this recipe.  This recipe makes 30 cupcakes.

 Subsequently, the cupcake is appropriately titled "The Professor".  The only way to raise the Professor factor would be decorations using fondant, like a goatee, a wad of cash or a change dispensor belt.


Continue reading "The Professor Cupcake" »

February 26, 2012

Satori Cupcakes


Satori is now more attainable with this healthier twist on the classic Carrot Cake, transposed into a delightful cupcake.  The cupcake starts with a base of whole wheat pastry flour and fresh carrots.  Crystallized ginger is added for a zesty, exotic flavor, balanced with coconut and maple syrup.  The cupcakes are filled with a maple pastry cream, and topped with a heavenly cream cheese italian meringue butter cream.  This almost vegan cupcake is a crucial first step to experiencing cupcake nirvana.

Note: The cupcake can be made dairy free by substituting soy milk for milk.  The frosting and pastry cream both contain milk products that are less trivial to substitute.  Google likely knows how to do this!


Continue reading "Satori Cupcakes" »

Car Bomb 2 Cupcakes


Here is a delicious variation to the original Car Bomb cupcake recipe.  Instead of Bailey's ganache, substitute Bailey's pastry cream for a gooey and delicious treat.


Continue reading "Car Bomb 2 Cupcakes" »