Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Butter Cream Frosting

My grandma turned 90. Yes, 9-0! I personally find that amazing, and would imagine that you do too. She is just as feisty as I can ever remember, cracking jokes, telling stories, and always sharing her strong opinion. I like to think that we’ve all gained a little something from her, and needless to say it is always a joy to see her. She’s given us all so much love over decades and decades and we were all so eager to celebrate her.

My parents and aunt and uncle rented out a party room at Il Granaio, a sweet and hip Italian restaurant in Mount Vernon, about an hour north of Seattle and I was lucky enough to make the dessert for this family celebration. I promptly began searching around on my favorite foodie blogs, and found the tiramisu cake I’d been searching for on Smitten Kitchen. It was divine, but more on that later.

To complete the dessert spread, my mother and I whipped up some simple chocolate cupcakes with coffee butter cream frosting. To give you an idea of how good they were, my nephews each ate two; I consider that to be a personal accomplishment!


Frosting adapted from here

Chocolate cake mix (we took a shortcut!)

1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

3-4 c. confectioner’s sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. finely ground coffee, mixed with 1 tsp. of boiling hot water, stirred

about 3-4 tbsp. heavy cream


Make cupcakes according to recipe on the back of the box. We used a dark chocolate Devil’s Food flavor and they were divine.

For the frosting, beat butter for a few minutes with a stand or hand mixer . Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.

Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. Add coffee syrup.

If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

Let cupcakes cool for about 30 minutes, then pipe frosting on top.




Berry Medley Banana Bread

Yesterday I whipped up some very tasty & healthy breakfast bread for us. It really was entirely my own creation, but has the same obvious ingredients found in all recipes. I find that it is easy to mix and match your own recipe, especially with baking breads and cookies, because you just need the same basic ingredients. These would be a flour base, a liquid, sweetener, and something to make the whole thing rise a little bit.

Put all those ingredients together in one bowl (it’s a Tuesday, I don’t believe in dishes), and you have a scrumptious and healthful treat for the morning.


2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. oats

1 c. yogurt, I prefer greek or non-fat

2 large bananas, mashed

2 tbsp. acai syrup or honey

2 tbsp.  canola oil

1 c. frozen (de-frosted) or fresh berries, I used strawberries and blueberries


Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add wet ingredients and stir. Be careful not to over-stir as it will make the dough rubbery.  It’s quicker and easier to mix the ingredients by hand. The nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t use processed white sugar to sweeten. The combination of berries and acai syrup or honey really do the trick!

As you can see, I really really enjoyed it with some strawberry jam!



Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


I participated in Cupcake Wars. No, not the show on Bravo that I watch religiously every Sunday at 8 p.m., but the Cupcake Wars that we put on at my place of employment.  I had grand plans for my participating cupcake; I went from choosing a vanilla latte flavor, to Nutella, to settling on strawberry cheesecake with cream cheese frosting.

I was ready, I had all the ingredients, even extra cream cheese in case there was a frosting snafu.  The preparation was easy, everything looked great…but…the presentation, well, let’s just say it was sub-par. The cakes fell in, all the way to the bottom of the muffin tin. The crust was too moist and did not cook correctly, and the strawberry swirl looked more like a strawberry blob.

After I had a brief moment in the kitchen, I started debating whether I would just try and cover up the shrunken cupcakes with frosting and just call it good, or completely begin again from scratch.  I rifled quickly through my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, straight to the cake section, and found a yellow cake recipe. Unfortunately, it made 24 cupcakes, which was not desirable at 10 p.m. at night.

So, I halved the ingredients, which has rarely turned out well for me. But hey, it’s now 10:15 p.m. and I’m fading.


Loosely adapted from Better Homes & Gardens’ Yellow Cake Recipe

Prep time: 50 minutes

Bake time: 15-20 minutes

Makes exactly 12 cupcakes



2/3 c. butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 c. bluberries, (fresh or defrosted ones)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Leave butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for about half an hour. Grease and lightly flour one regular sized muffin tin.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides with a spatula and mix for about 10 more seconds. Slowly add sugar, about a 1/4 cup at a time, and continue to mix together. Scrape sides once more and continue to beat for about 2 more minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla flavoring and lemon juice.

Add in the flour mixture and beat on a low speed, but be careful not to over mix; beat until only just combined.  Spoon about 3-4 tbsp. for about each cupcake. Press 4-5 blueberries into the top of the batter.

Bake for about 15 minutes and check. Continue to cook if cupcakes are not completely done; feel free to stick a toothpick in and check. A clean toothpick means cooked through! Take cupcakes out and let cool for about an hour on a cooling rack.


8 oz. cream cheese

1 little squeeze of fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp. butter

1 c. powdered sugar

Now you’re at the fun part! Making the frosting is quick and super simple. Beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium high speed until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and the powdered sugar, about a 1/4 cup at a time.  Let chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour.

Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Just remember to share with others!

Sweet Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

This week was all about summer fruits. I made a  lemon yogurt olive oil cake, adapted from a recipe by Molly Wizenberg.  For the cake I used my kitchenaid spring form pan my sweet friend Sarah gave us for our wedding. I’ve recently learned that you truly can’t beat quality pots and pans, especially when baking. It sounds so simple, but they are essential.  For the topping, a strawberry rhubarb compote made with lemon juice and honey… Say it with me … yummmmmm. The fantastic thing about compotes is that you can put them on pretty much anything.  I layered the compote with greek yogurt and granola for a delicious breakfast parfait.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote:

2 long stalks of rhubarb, sliced thinly in small pieces

10 frozen or fresh strawberries

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. honey

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 c. lemonade

Combine all the ingredients in a small pot on medium high heat. Allow to boil for about 4-5 minutes, then bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally. Compote will be done when strawberries are completely soft and broken down, and the rhubarb is mostly broken down and slightly transparent. There should be plenty of red juice but the chunks of fruit is what gives it some delicious texture. Serve warm over yogurt, pancakes, waffles, cereal, it would be delicious as a syrup in your favorite cocktail, a la my Raspberry Cocktail. It’s also tasty just by itself, just sayin’.

Happy Saturday!

Love, Kathleen