Tag Archives: baking

Culinary Adventures: Easy Pineapple Cupcakes with Spicy Coconut Topping

Culinary Adventures: Easy Pineapple Cupcakes with Spicy Coconut Topping


One Saturday, my attempt at a Pinterest cupcake recipe failed miserably (who writes a recipe with all the dry ingredients in a recipe in cups except for the flour anyway?).  I needed cupcakes to bring to a party that I was heading to and was running out of time.

Looking at what I had in my pantry to work with, I found a Pillsbury yellow butter cake mix and some pineapple juice. It’s just not my style to bring boring, run-of-the-mill vanilla cupcakes to a party, so I took a small yet calculated risk–I substituted the pineapple juice for water.

For the frosting, I took a bit more of a creative license. The basis of every buttercream frosting is about a half cup of butter (softened), and about 3 cups of powdered sugar, and about 1/4 cup of a liquid. These ingredients can be adjusted to create the right consistency.

I used pineapple juice as the liquid in the frosting, along with a dash of salt, about 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper.

Finally, for the topping: I had this:

Indonesian fried spicy coconut
Indonesian fried spicy coconut

I have a habit of going to the local Asian markets and buying things I’ve never heard of with absolutely no plan for its use. A while back I’d found this little bag of Serungdeng Indonesian fried spicy desiccated coconut. It enticed me, and I had to have it. I also had no idea what I was going to do with it. I decided that today was the day to give it a shot.

I opened it and tasted. It was sweet, but also savory and really spicy. I thought it might be a bit too savory to use as a cupcake topping by itself, so I toasted some sweetened shredded coconut and mixed it together with some of the Indonesian spicy coconut.

When I frosted my pineapple cupcakes and added the topping, the result was fantastic.

Pineapple cupcakes with spicy coconut topping
Pineapple cupcakes with spicy coconut topping

Easy Pineapple Cupcakes with Spicy Coconut Topping:


1 box yellow butter cake cake mix

3 eggs

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (softened)

1 cup pineapple juice


Make cupcakes according to directions on the box, substituting pineapple juice for the water.




1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (softened)

3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup pineapple juice

dash of salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Mix ingredients together with an electric mixer, adjusting by adding more of any ingredient to desired consistency and taste.


1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut–toasted

3 tbsp Indonesian spicy desiccated coconut

Directions: mix the sweetened toasted coconut with the spicy Indonesian coconut in a bowl. Adjust ratios to desired taste. Sprinkle/spoon onto freshly frosted pineapple cupcakes.


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Culinary Adventures: Green Tea Cupcakes with Lychee Frosting

Culinary Adventures: Green Tea Cupcakes with Lychee Frosting. Asian-inspired cupcakes with subtle green tea flavor for the Lunar New Year.


Some friends of ours were having a Vietnamese Lunar New Year dinner and I wanted to bring something fun to contribute. I found this green tea cupcakes recipe on a baking blog called Sprigandflours.com created by baker Connie Choi. I’m not talented enough to make up my own baking recipes, and hers looked like a great one to try out.

In retrospect, I wish I would have doubled the recipe. It only made 11 cupcakes, and the dinner party we were going to was larger than 11 people. Fortunately the host had a cake as well, and we stopped and picked up some Chinese almond cookies at the Asian market on the way just to make sure we were bringing enough treats. If you are making this for an event, double the cupcake recipe. The frosting recipe portion makes a good batch of frosting, more than needed for the cupcake portion. (I do now notice that Connie’s recipe says “serves 12”)

I went to a local Asian market (our neighborhood is blessed with many lovely Asian markets) and picked up the matcha green tea powder and a can of lychees. If you don’t have an Asian market near you, you might try a Whole Foods or health food store for the matcha, and they may have lychees as well. Or you can always order on Amazon.

green tea cupcakes
Matcha green tea powder, green tea, and lychees from the local Asian market

Green Tea Cupcakes with Lychee Buttercream Frosting

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Author: Connie Choi http://www.sprigandflours.com/
Serves: 12
For the cupcakes:
  • ⅔ cup boiling water
  • 1 green tea bag
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoon lychee juice
For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line one 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.
  2. In a small cup, combine the water and tea bag. Let it steep for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bag. Put in the refrigerator to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract then the eggs, one at a time.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and green tea powder. Stir together.
  6. Slowly add the dry mixture and the green tea to the wet mixture.
  7. Pour the batter into 12 cupcake tins about ⅔ filled.
  8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

The matcha powder turns the cupcakes a subtle  but pretty mossy green color.

green tea cupcakes

For the frosting:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter, lychee juice, and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on low speed — one cup of sugar and one tablespoon of juice at a time.
  2. When the ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix for another 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Spread or pipe the frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.

I didn’t completely follow the exact frosting recipe, because I always just make frosting to taste. I used 1.5 sticks of butter and about 1/3 of a bag of powdered sugar, and poured the lychee juice out of the can into the mix a little at a time until the right consistency was reached. The lychee juice was really sweet, so I added a pinch of salt (in addition to the salted butter) to even it out a bit.

Aside from the recipe making a smaller batch of green tea cupcakes than I’d wanted (my fault for not reading the yield on the recipe), they turned out great. Everyone seemed to like them. I thought the green tea was a nice subtle but identifiable flavor, and the lychee frosting was a nice compliment to it without overpowering the green tea. The two flavors worked well together.

green-tea-cupcakes-with-lychee-frosting (3)

green tea cupcakes with lychee frosting

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Culinary Adventures: Candy Cane Cookies

Old-fashioned candy cane cookies for Christmas: a classic recipe that is always tasty and fun to make.


These candy cane cookies are a classic recipe that turn out super cute and are fun to make. A word of warning though–you really have to be into making cookies, because they are a little more labor intensive. Easy to make, but they take some time. Don’t plan on making them if you are in a rush.

I used the Betty Crocker candy cane cookies recipe, but they are all pretty much the same. It is a basic sugar cookie dough with some added mint extract.

Before you get started, know that you have to make the dough and then refrigerate it for four hours or overnight before you can form and bake them.

Betty Crocker Candy Cane Cookies recipe:


 1 cup sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 egg
3 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food color
2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
2 tablespoons sugar


  • Stir together 1 cup sugar, the butter, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir food color into 1 half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  • Heat oven to 375ºF.
  • Stir together peppermint candy and 2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.
  • For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
  • Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

The recipe says “stir food coloring into one half,” but stir really isn’t the right word. I made a dent in the middle of the half of the dough I was making pink, dropped the food color drops in there, and then closed it up and kneaded the ball of dough until the color was evenly distributed.

When rolling the dough, I pinched and rolled a ball of each color to ensure similar size, then rolled it between my palms to start elongating it and then transferred it to wax paper to roll longer. You can roll adding pressure to parts of the dough to get it evenly sized down the length of the “rope.” Next, twist them together and form a cane and transfer to your cookie sheet.

Candy-cane-cookies 047
Candy cane cookies

The candy crushed candy cane and sugar didn’t stick to the candy cane cookies when they came out of the oven, so I scratched that step. I think they look great without the candy cane stuff on top, a bit more classic. The mint extract in the dough is a nice flavor without being overpowering.

I always cool on wax paper instead of a wire rack. It works out fine.

Candy cane cookies
Candy cane cookies
Candy cane cookies
Candy cane cookies

I liked the candy cane cookies recipe and would definitely make it again. I hope our friends and family enjoy them as well. Don’t forget to leave some for Santa…

Candy cane cookies
Candy cane cookies


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Culinary Adventures: Chocolate Cherry Cobbler

Culinary Adventures: Chocolate Cherry Cobbler recipe. Cherries and chocolate, together in harmony.


I was trying to decide on a dessert recipe to bring to our friends’ BBQ the other week and the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine showed up in the mail with a really good looking chocolate cherry cobbler recipe on the cover. I realize that last sentence makes me sound like  a Minnesota housewife, but hey–don’t knock BHG. They do have good recipes and landscaping ideas.

I decided to give it a try. I made a few adjustments–I couldn’t find ground chipotle chili powder so I used regular chili powder, and I couldn’t find frozen tart pie cherries at the grocery store I was at, so I got sweet black cherries and some fresh rainier cherries and mixed them together.

Better Homes and Gardens’ Firecracker Chocolate Cherry Cobbler recipe:


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 cups fresh or frozen pitted tart red cherries
  •  Milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart round baking dish.
  2. For the biscuits, in a medium bowl combine 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground chipotle. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or 2 forks, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate. Add the 1/4 cup milk and stir until just moistened. Knead the dough 3 to 4 times in the bowl until it holds together. Form the dough into a disk.
  3. In a large saucepan combine the 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup flour; stir in cherries. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cover to keep warm.
  4. On a floured surface roll biscuit dough out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut dough with assorted 2- to 3-inch star-shaped cutters, rerolling dough as necessary. Spoon hot filling into prepared dish. Arrange dough cutouts over filling. Brush cutouts with milk and sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until filling is thick and bubbly and biscuits are baked through. Remove and let stand 30 minutes before serving.

Honestly, I didn’t purposely plan on doing star shaped cobbler biscuits like the recipe said to, but I happened to find a star shaped cookie cutter in my baking drawer that I didn’t know I had, so I did. You can do any shape, or use a small drinking glass to cut rounds.


chocolate cherry cobbler

Pitting the fresh rainier cherries was kind of a pain in the butt but not too bad, since I was mixing them in with the already pitted frozen black cherries. Do make sure you stir the cherry mixture, it will start burning on the bottom and sticking. Keep the heat on medium, don’t turn it up too high.

chocolate cherry cobbler

I also deviated from the recipe a bit by adding chocolate chips to the cherry mixture after I poured it into the pan. I think next time I would even add a few more.


I had exactly enough stars to cover the cherries in the pan (including the last gimpy one in the corner). I just has to taste good, right?

chocolate cherry cobbler
Chocolate cherry cobbler ready to bake

The cobbler turned out pretty good and everyone seemed to like it. We ate it with vanilla ice cream. I do think that not using tart pie cherries made a difference though, and if I make this chocolate cherry cobbler again I will make sure I can get tart cherries.  I would also do salted butter instead of unsalted. I usually use salted butter in all baking projects, the extra salt brings out the flavor a bit more–especially with chocolate. I’d also like to try it with the chipotle pepper instead of regular chili powder–that sounds delicious.

Chocolate Cherry Cobbler
Chocolate Cherry Cobbler

If you have a star-shaped cookie cutter and can get some good tart pie cherries, this chocolate cherry cobbler recipe would be a good one for the Fourth of July.


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Culinary Adventures: Atlantic Beach Pie

Culinary adventures: Making Atlantic Beach Pie. This southern-style citrus pie is super easy and tastes like a big creamy lemon bar. Great to bring to a BBQ!

I was looking at recipes for lemon pies on Pinterest and happened across a pin from NPR with a recipe for Bill Smith’s North Carolina -style Atlantic Beach Pie, and decided I had to try it.

Recipe from http://www.npr.org/2013/04/11/176279512/a-north-carolina-pie-that-elicits-an-oh-my-god-response

Recipe: Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

Makes one pie
For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
For the filling:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

I crushed the saltines in the packages, and while I liked the chunkiness of the texture, it didn’t hold together that well. I think that next time I will crush a bit finer in either a food processor or a gallon zip lock bag. It did taste great though.

Atlantic-Beach-Pie (2)
Crushed saltines, butter, and sugar
Atlantic-Beach-Pie (4)
Baking the crust

For the juice I used my electric citrus juicer to squeeze lemons. I didn’t use any lime juice, just lemon. I would strongly recommend using fresh lemon juice over bottled, the bottled has an acidic taste that I’m not fond of. I only ended up needing one large lemon for the 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Juicing the lemons
Atlantic Beach Pie
Egg yolk, lemon juice, and sweetened condensed milk mixture

The filling mix for the Atlantic Beach Pie was rather runny when pouring it into a pre-baked pie shell. The result after baking was a smooth, firm, custard however.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Filling the pie ready to bake

The Atlantic Beach Pie turned out delicious, and it was ridiculously easy. I sprinkled the top with a little sea salt like the recipe called for, and served with whipped cream. It tasted kind of like a big, extra-creamy lemon bar. I’m keeping this recipe in my mental lexicon of easy summer BBQ potluck dishes.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Finished pie
Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie



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Culinary Adventures: Chocolate Peanut Butter Birds Nest Cookies

Chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies for Easter. Easy and delicious spring cookie recipe–just like Mom used to make


My Mom always made these cookies around Easter, and they were so good. Aside from the sugar and butter, they are otherwise somewhat healthy and contain fiber and protein. They are more commonly called “no-bake” cookies, but I’d rather call them chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies. It’s more descriptive.

I’ll admit this isn’t the most unique recipe to share, but I’ve been working on our Iceland trip post and wanted to share something we’ve been up to in the meantime, even if it isn’t super exciting. If you’ve never made chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies, they are ridiculously easy and so good. They’re also cute, and easy to take to a spring gathering or dinner party if you like.

There are a ton of recipes for chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies out there, I googled and decided on this one from Gatormommyreviews.com, it’s the closest to the one my Mom used.

**Note: It says it yields 20 cookies, but I doubled the recipe and got 20 cookies. You might consider doubling it as well.

chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies chocolate-peanut-butter-cookies-instructions


When you combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and milk in the saucepan, keep stirring as the butter melts and everything mixes together so that it doesn’t burn. Once mixed, stir occasionally and let it come to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Don’t over-boil.

Stir in the oats and peanut butter once pot is removed from heat, and mix well. Cookies are ready to drop onto waxed paper to form.

chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies

I used a spoon to make the indents for the chocolate eggs. In retrospect, I should have just put the eggs in while the cookies were still wet. I waited until they were cool like the recipe said, and the eggs didn’t fit well and kept falling out. Lesson learned.

chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies

chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies

My Mom always used jellybeans, but I like Cadbury Mini-Eggs because they look a little more realistic. Plus they’re really good and taste better with chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies.

chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies
Chocolate peanut butter birds nest cookies


Happy spring!

Culinary Adventures: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes: Guinness chocolate cake with a chocolate whiskey ganache filling and Bailey’s frosting. Get ready for St. Paddy’s Day!


I found this Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes recipe on The Brown Eyed Baker and made these for a St. Paddy’s Day party a couple years ago. They were a huge hit, and rich enough to help absorb all that beer and whiskey everyone is drinking. They were also my inspiration for the Chocolate Cherry Bomb Cupcakes I made last summer.


For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

**For the frosting and cupcakes, I used salted butter, the salt adds a richer flavor to the frosting in my opinion.


1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

**I just used a knife to cut out the holes, they don’t have to look perfect, they’re covered with frosting anyway. This is the “bomb” part of the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

Irish car bomb cupcakes

I decorated the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with just a light sprinkle of green sugar. There were no leftover cupcakes at the party we went to. I haven’t found a better St. Paddy’s Day cupcake recipe yet.

Culinary Adventures: Chinese Five Spice Cupcakes

Chinese five spice cupcakes with ginger frosting: A fun Eastern twist on the classic carrot cake, perfect for Chinese New Year.

Some friends of ours throw an annual Chinese New Year party every year, complete with all kinds of dumplings and delicious Chinese food. I wanted to bring something unique to add to the buffet table, and after a little internet searching came up with this Chinese five spice cupcakes recipe from SavorySpiceShop.com. It basically takes the classic carrot cake recipe and adds the twist of Chinese five spice and crushed pineapple. The pineapple didn’t add a strong flavor, but gave it a subtle tangy sweetness that complimented the five spice very well.


  • For cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 x eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (about 3-4 medium sized carrots)

**For the shredded carrots I took the easy route and used a bag of julienned carrots and chopped them up into smaller pieces. You don’t want the carrot shreds to be too large, otherwise they may not cook all the way through.


For cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and Chinese five spice. In another large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, crushed pineapple, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and carrots. Then slowly add the flour mixture and beat with an electric hand mixer until just combined, about 2 min. Fill the muffin cups ¾ full with batter. Bake until the Chinese five spice cupcakes are set, about 20 to 22 min. When they can be handled safely, remove them from the muffin tins and let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Chinese five spice cupcakes
Chinese five spice cupcakes
Chinese five spice cupcakes
Chinese five spice cupcakes
  • For frosting:

  • 1 x 8oz packet cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger (see my note below)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

**I used the ground ginger as the recipe stated, and found that I couldn’t taste it at all after it was blended in. I added about a tablespoon or so of pureed ginger (found in the refrigerated produce area next to the fresh herbs–it comes in a tube) and it really made the frosting perfect.

For frosting: In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and ground ginger. Blend the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until a creamy consistency is reached, while slowly adding the powdered sugar.

I piped the frosting onto the Chinese five spice cupcakes using a large decorating tip, and topped them with red sugar sprinkles and a fortune cookie. The fortune cookies looked and tasted great, but towards the end of the evening they began to absorb the moisture from the frosting and lost their crispness.

Chinese five spice cupcakes
Chinese five spice cupcakes
Chinese five spice cupcakes
Chinese five spice cupcakes


Overall I think this Chinese five spice cupcakes recipe is a keeper. Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year


Culinary Adventures: Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes

Culinary Adventures: Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes, a great recipe for our outdoor movie party.


We were planning a summer outdoor movie party in our backyard, and I wanted to come up with some appropriate snacks. Food Network Magazine had a pretty genius recipe for “Golden Butter Popcorn Cupcakes in their September 2013 issue, so I thought it would be perfect for the party.

The genius part (in my opinion), was that they simply took a golden butter cake mix, and subbed out the water required for canned corn juice. Easy-peasy and it creates a great buttered corn flavor in a cupcake. I know that sounds weird, but it was really good.

Buttered popcorn cupcakes (2)

The frosting part of the recipe was where I deviated a bit. They called for frosting made from two cups of heavy whipping cream with 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar, beaten into whip cream. I wasn’t so into that, so I made up my own:

7 tbsp butter

2.5 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

Dash of salt

I did follow Food Network’s directions for the popcorn with the frosting, however. I used Pop Secret Home Style popcorn, and mixed it in a bowl with about 4-6 ounces of melted Ghiradelli white chocolate chips.

Buttered popcorn cupcakes (3)

I took a handful of the white chocolate popcorn and crushed it up a bit (make sure you don’t put any un-popped kernals in the frosting), then added it to the frosting mixture

Buttered popcorn cupcakes (4)

I frosted the cupcakes and added the rest of the white chocolate popcorn to the top of each cupcake.

**Note: always make sure that cupcakes are cool before frosting

Buttered popcorn cupcakes (5)

Buttered popcorn cupcakes (6)
Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes


I’ve seen some “popcorn cupcakes” on Pinterest where a regular cake mix was used and the popcorn was mini marshmallows painted lightly with yellow food coloring around the edges. While those cupcakes look cute, these are the real deal and the sweet buttery popcorn flavor will trump any mini marshmallows. (Side note: I also think that painting food coloring on mini marshmallows sounds like a lot more work.)


Buttered popcorn cupcakes (8)
Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes
Buttered popcorn cupcakes (9)
Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes

So there you have it–super easy and tasty Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes, guaranteed to be a hit at your next movie party. Our party guests kept making a point to come up to me during the party and tell me how good they were. There weren’t any leftover.



Culinary Adventures: Pina Colada Cake

Culinary and Crafty Adventures: Pina Colada Cake

We were celebrating two birthdays over our Fourth of July trip with friends to Lake Quinault, WA and I wanted to make a fun, summertime cake for the birthday girls. I had found a recipe on Cooks.com for a pina colada cake, and decided to give it a try.

The cake part was easy. I took a white cake mix and followed the mix instructions, subbing out 3/4 cup pina colada mix for 3/4 of the water required. The batter consistency was pretty gooey, but it baked into a nice, light, fluffy pina colada cake.

Now for the frosting. It sounded great, but the reality was a little different. The frosting recipe was:

2 cups powered sugar

2 cups sour cream

8 oz Cool Whip

7 oz coconut flakes

The instructions were to “stir sugar into sour cream, fold in Cool Whip and coconut. Fill and frost cake.”

I followed the instructions and wound up with a frosting that is about the same consistency as lumpy syrup. Dissatisfied with the sticky, drippy mess, I added more powdered sugar. A lot more. I think the whole bag, actually. I added a bit more Cool Whip as well, and got it to thicken up a bit, but it was still pretty runny. I tasted it, and the sour cream really did compliment it nicely. It just wasn’t great to frost with.

I think a sheet cake in a glass casserole dish would have been better for this recipe. But I bravely persisted on with my two 9″ round cake layers. (I apologize for the lack of photos, I was too busy finding ways to keep frosting from overflowing onto the floor to wash my hands and pick up the camera).

I frosted the cake, adding some crushed canned pineapple in the middle between the layers along with frosting. I toasted the remaining coconut flakes on a baking sheet in the oven, and mashed handfuls of it onto the drippy sides of the cake. To my delight, it stuck, and covered up the drippy ugliness. It also tasted amazing–the smell of the toasted coconut brought a few people in from the deck outside to see what the awesomely delicious aroma was.

To decorate the pina colada cake, I cut up some pineapple wedges and cut pineapple leaves and arranged them along one side of the cake, and added little drink umbrellas.

Pina colada cake

It turned out great. The added crushed pineapple in the center provided a nice tart zing that the cake really needed, and the toasted coconut added a nice texture and flavor. The sour cream was the ingredient that made the frosting, and I’d like to try it again a little differently.

Pina Colada Cake

Variations I’d like to try on another pina colada cake would be using pineapple coconut juice instead of the pina colada mix, which has more flavor and less high fructose corn syrup. For frosting, I’d like to try it as a butter cream, with sour cream and butter mixed in, and/or possibly a splash of pineapple coconut juice.

Have you made a good pina colada cake? If so, let me know your recipe!