Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler: King Cake Inspired Cupcakes

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Mardi Gras day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is less than a week away and in the spirit of the Carnival season I couldn’t help but think about my love of King Cake. I can’t even remember the first time I had my first slice of King Cake, but what I do know is that it’s a taste that brings back so many memories of family and fun.

The King Cake is part of the heritage and food of the city of New Orleans. The tradition of the King Cake is believed to have originated in the late 1800’s when it was brought to New Orleans from France. It gets its name from the biblical three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus. The cake is covered with purple, green, and gold-colored sugars that represent justice, faith, and power.

If you’ve never been to New Orleans, you need to change that. I believe every person should experience this colorful city. I love the sights, smells, foods, and the people of this city because it’s a place like no other. Both of my parents were born and raised in New Orleans and that probably explains why I have such an appreciation for the heritage, culture and community there. mix

I won’t be going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras anytime soon, but I really wanted to bring a little bit of the spirit of the city and celebration to my home. The best and easiest way to do this was though food or… well… through baking. In order to celebrate the spirit of Mardi Gras I decided to take some time out to develop a King Cake themed cupcake. DSC_0492cakesbasic

My King Cake cupcakes have a similar flavor profile to a cream cheese filled King Cake. Although the yeasty challah dough of the King Cake is not present in this cupcake, it is still infused with all the other flavors. The cupcake starts with a vanilla brown sugar cupcake base that I adapted from NatashasKitchen.com. There’s a cinnamon, brown sugar cream cheese filling and it is topped with cream cheese frosting, a sugar glaze and has the colored sugar for the infamous design! frosted

Many of the ingredients for this recipe are on sale at Target right now and I saved even extra money on many of their Market Pantry Items using the Target Cartwheel app. I ended up having to purchase my colored sugar from Walmart (but you can make your own).filling_final

If you’re celebrating the holiday over the weekend or just want to bake something new be sure to try out my recipe!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler… Let the good times roll!DSC_0587


  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Recommended Specialty Cookware: Decorating/Piping Bag, Muffin Pan

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Flavor:

  • 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp flour

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk

Sugar Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk

Colored Sugar:

  • Colored sugar in purple, green, and gold

Directions:

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a mixing bowl cream together eggs, brown sugar, sugar, and oil.
  3. in a separate bowl combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.
  4. Alternatively add flour mixture and buttermilk to wet ingredients and mix until combined (do not over mix)
  5. Fold in buttermilk.
  6. Pour batter mixture into a lined 12 compartment muffin tin filling to about 2/3 full.
  7. Set muffin tin aside.
  8. To make the brown sugar flavor combine maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Sprinkle evenly on top of the cupcake batter.
  9. Bake cupcakes for 15 – 17 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling:

  1. Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, milk, and powdered sugar until smooth.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and buttermilk until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and mix until smooth and fluffy.

Sugar Glaze (do not make until after cupcakes have been filled and frosted):

  1. Combine powdered sugar, salt, and buttermilk. Stir until smooth (it should be a thick liquid).

To Assemble Cupcakes:

  1. Using the round tip of a wooden spoon, knife, or your finger create a crater in the center of each cupcake.
  2. Using a piping bag fill each cupcake with the cream cheese filling being sure not to over fill.
  3. Using a piping bag or knife frost each cupcake in the method of your choice.
  4. Mix together the sugar glaze and spoon mixture over the top of each allowing it to drip over the sides.
  5. Quickly sprinkle a combination of colored sugars over each cupcake.

Keep refrigerated until serving.

My Sweet Valentine – Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

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This Valentine’s Day will be my and my husband’s first Valentine’s day as a married couple. This year will be very special because the holiday not only falls on a Saturday, but it also falls on the weekend William has off from work (and if you know someone who works in retail, you understand why this is a big deal).

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As I sat on my couch I was trying to come up with something special to make William that brings back great memories of us together. The first thing that came to mind was the food we had on our honeymoon. William’s parents had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to our room and we devoured them in minutes. They were absolutely delicious and really bring back great memories of my and William’s honeymoon and first trip together. I knew that making these would be a great idea!

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My chocolate covered strawberry recipe is easy to make and trust me, they cost a lot less than buying them from a store or having them shipped in online. I purchased my strawberries and chocolate from Aldi and combined, the ingredients cost less than $4.00. I had some white chocolate in my pantry that I used for a drizzle. I also had some slivered almonds in my pantry so I chopped those up and used them as an additional topping.

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My husband really appreciated these strawberries and I’m sure your valentine will as well! Treat your special someone to a home made treat that is sure to make them weak at the knees. These can be made ahead of time and last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Feel free to use additional toppings such as sprinkles or sugar crystals. I dipped my strawberries in dark chocolate (85% cocoa) but these can also be made with a sweeter milk chocolate or white chocolate.drizzle

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  • Difficulty: easy
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Recommended Specialty Cookware: Ramekin

Ingredients:

For the Dipped Strawberries:

  • 12-16 Medium strawberries, washed and dried.
  • 4 oz Dark chocolate (milk chocolate or white chocolate work as well)

Optional Toppings:

  • Chopped almonds
  • Melted white chocolate

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.
  2. Finely chop 4 ounces of premium dark chocolate and place in a microwave safe ramekin.
  3. Microwave chocolate in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.
  4. Individually dip each strawberry in the chocolate leaving the top of the berry and leaves exposed.
  5. Let the excess chocolate drip from the strawberry and place on the cookie sheet.
  6. Gently push the strawberry forward on the cookie sheet to keep the chocolate from forming a “foot”.
  7. Repeat the dipping process with remaining strawberries.
  8. If topping with chopped nuts — gently sprinkle nuts on all sides of the strawberries using the melted chocolate as an adhesive.
  9. Refrigerate Strawberries for at least 30 minutes or until chocolate has set.
  10. If using chocolate or white chocolate as a drizzle — place melted chocolate in a sandwich bag and cut the very tip of the bag off to create a piping bag. Carefully drizzle the melted chocolate over the chilled berries to create a zig zag design. Refrigerate again until the design has set.

Strawberries will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. Keep refrigerated until serving. Strawberries pair well with champagne. 

Happy New Year: Finding Meaning + A Sneak Peek Upcoming Posts

20 days. It’s been 20 days since I last posted to my blog. What were your last 20 days like? Were they full of celebration, fun, and time with your family? I sure hope they were! I have a few posts lined up for 2015 that I hope will make up for my 20 day hiatus (scroll to the bottom to see pictures)!

My desire for the last 20 days was to do lots of cooking, baking, crafting, creating and eating. I also hoped to catch up with friends and family. Unfortunately, the last 20 days did not consist of much of that at all. I spent a lot of that time on my couch… sleeping and in a lot of pain. I had 17 days off from work and of those 17 days, I was sick for 10 of them.

During the time I spent alone and resting I was reminded of 4 things:

  1. Cherish the time you get to spend with family and friends: I realized that I appreciate and cherish the time I get to spend with my family and those closest to me. I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my family as I hoped to because a week went by without me knowing what was wrong. So many of my friends who live out of town were in Atlanta, but I missed getting to connect with them. Now that the holidays are over and everyone is back in the swing of work, life, and school, it’s going to be a while before I get to see some of those “far away friends” again.Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset
  2. Spend time doing what makes you happy: I find so much joy in cooking and creating. There were so many new recipes I wanted to try out and so many new crafts I planned on doing but unfortunately during the holidays I didn’t do much cooking or crafting. I managed to cook dinner on New Year’s day but that’s about it. We ordered a lot of takeout… which made me even more thankful for knowing how to cook. My pile of craft supplies went untouched and my creative expression was stifled. The time I get to spend doing what I love is what keeps me happy and gets me through tough days. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to find joy in my blog, my food, and my creating and I’m so thankful that I’m (normally) healthy enough to spending time doing what I love.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  3. Learn to be thankful and content: Like I said before, I spent a lot of time on my couch and an entire week confined to my 1 bedroom apartment (minus an urgent care and doctor visit). My husband works a lot during the holidays so my days were spent in silence. I had time to think about all the things I’m really thankful for. William and I are blessed with two great jobs and we are so thankful our parents taught us the importance of making wise life and financial decisions. It’s so easy for me to become “jealous” of what others have —  Sometimes I think “They have a nicer place than us” or “I wish we had newer cars” or “I wish I made more money” but the reality is that we have been richly blessed and have SOOO much. We’ve never had to worry about how we’re going to pay our bills, or if we will have a meal on the table, or if we will have enough gas in our cars. I’m so thankful that God has blessed us and allowed us to be stewards of the money and things he has trusted us with. Through my time alone I started to understand the importance of thankfulness and contentment. Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
  4. Don’t take advantage of your health: After over a week of being sick, I finally found out why I wasn’t feeling so great. I had a case of Mononucleosis. Most people know, mono is a pretty awful virus, but it’s nothing that any person really needs to worry about. It causes a few weeks of pain, exhaustion and discomfort, but it’s nothing that has lasting side effects. I’ve never been sick for more than a few days, so almost two weeks of being “laid out” caused me a lot of anxiety and stress. Before these past few weeks, I never had a clue what those who are admitted to a hospital feel like… although I wasn’t in a hospital, there wasn’t much that I was able to do. I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t eat solid food, I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without being exhausted, and I couldn’t even swallow without feeling like someone was stabbing me in throat. My pain what nowhere near that of someone who recently had surgery, has cancer, or is suffering from a car accident… but I did get a taste of what life could be like if I did not have my health. My heart aches for those who are dealing with health struggles.

I am so happy that I am finally feeling a lot better. I’m still really tired, and I take a lot of naps, but I’m thankful that I have have my strength back and I can look forward to getting back to my cooking and crafting. As you begin this new year and commit to a hectic and busy life don’t forget to take a step back and remember to be thankful for the things you’ve been blessed with.

I’m looking forward to the next few months of cooking, graduate school, baking, crafting, eating, and (hopefully) traveling!

Here are a few pictures giving you a sneak peek of what’s coming soon for 2015!

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