Saturday, August 30, 2014

Caramel Frappaccino Cupcakes

Starbucks has mastered the art of creating irresistible drinks that appeal to a massive audience.  Seriously, I can hardly go to a grocery store without small children walking around with Starbucks cups in their hands, adults sipping on hot drinks as they shop and seniors meeting at small tables over Starbucks coffee drinks.  I don't know of any other company has been able to market their products to  - well, EVERYONE.

I also hold Starbucks personally responsible for introducing Americans to a whole new set of words too: Frappaccino, Macchiato, Expresso Con Panna, Dolce Latte, Americano.  Is it just me or does anyone else get nervous in the line at Starbucks line because they don't know how to pronounce half of the words on the menu?

The last time that I was at Starbucks, I ordered a decaf coffee.  A simple, small decaf coffee.  (Which I was informed is referred to as a "tall".)  The barista who took my order absolutely insisted that I change my order to a decaf cafe Americano instead.  She claimed that it would be "INFINITELY" better than a plain old decaf coffee.  (I think she really didn't want to brew a new pot of decaf for me because it was easier to make a decaf expresso, add hot water and call it a decaf Americano.)  


I really wasn't prepared to give my defense for wanting a plain old decaf so I agreed to try the recommended coffee drink.  To be honest, it wasn't terrible but I would have been just as happy with a piping hot cup of plain old decaf.  It's not that I'm opposed to the fancy coffee drinks, I just think they're lost on me.  I'm more of a simple coffee drinker.  

I think that part of my concern with the fancy coffee drinks is the calories and fat.  A white chocolate mocha has a whopping 470 calories and 18 grams of fat!  (Sorry if I just burst your bubble.)  I would much rather EAT those calories than drink them.  My solution - cupcake versions of the famous Starbucks coffee drinks.  

Apparently I am not the first person to come up with this idea because the internet is FULL of cupcake recipes that are a direct result Starbucks restaurant genius.  I chose the Caramel Frappaccino Cupcakes from for my very first Starbucks cupcake. 

Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes


Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix well and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, beating until combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling each about halfway full.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
When finished baking, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; then turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

 Prepare caramel buttercream.

 Prepare caramel sauce.

Cut a hole in the center of each cupcake.

Put a spoonful of caramel in the center of each cupcake.

Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake.

Drizzle with caramel sauce and insert a straw.

Viola.  I've never tried a caramel frappaccino from Starbucks so I can't really tell you how it compares to the drinkable version but I can tell you that the cupcake version is pretty awesome.  The homemade caramel filling and caramel drizzle just puts these cupcakes over the top.

My apologies goes out to Starbucks for the harsh assessment of your restaurant.  I do think that you are a marketing genius --- but I really just wanted a decaf coffee!


Friday, August 29, 2014

Black Forest Cake

Anyone remember the cherry bomb cupcakes that I made a few years ago?


I wondered what it would look like if I took that same recipe and turned it into a bakery-worthy three layer black forest dream.  

I had to make a few minor modifications to the recipe but in general, this cake turned out very similar to its cupcake inspiration.   

Layer of rich chocolate cake and dark chocolate ganache and cherry buttercream - nothing wrong with that.  

So here goes - my very basic recipe for black forest cake.

Black Forest Cake
Mocha three layer cake (or three layers of your favorite chocolate cake)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
pinch of salt
2 cups chocolate chips
6 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 cups frozen dark cherries
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water

Put the cherries, sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until thick and syrupy. 

 Use an immersion blender to break of the cherries slightly.  Transfer to another bowl to cool.


Heat cream and corn syrup until just boiling.  

Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for 3 minutes.  


Whisk to blend and stir in room temperature butter, one Tablespoon at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Allow to cool to spreading consistency.  (I put mine in the frig for 30 minutes.)

 Prepare buttercream frosting.  

Fold in cooled cherry mixture.

To assemble the cake, start with a cake layer on the cake circle and then a layer of chocolate ganache. 

Top with a layer of cherry buttercream.

Repeat cake and ganache and buttercream layers.

Finish with third cake layer on top of cake.

 Spread a thin layer of buttercream over entire cake.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Spread remaining buttercream on sides of cake and then tspread a thick layer of chocolate ganache over the top. 

This cake reminds me of the cherry bomb cupcakes because I would describe them both as a beautiful mess.  I never claimed that this was a neat cake - just a good cake.