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Chocolate Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream

I still call them the airlines cookies.  You know the ones... Biscoff Cookies. Of course now they are available in the grocery store - so no more waiting for my next flight.  A few weeks ago, I was offered a sample of what???? Hold my calls!!!! Biscoff Cream. Looks like peanut butter, but miraculously tastes just like the cookies.  It comes in smooth and crunchy- I went for the smooth.  I had to get it because I knew I could do something with it (besides eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon).  So here it is.  I made these cupcakes as my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner and they were an absolute hit.  Enjoy!
Starting with the chocolate cake.  I started using this Bon Appetit recipe years ago and over time, I've made some adjustments to make it my own.  I am honestly not a chocolate lover, but this moist, delicious cake is one of my favorites.
Start with good quality ingredients at room temperature. Here is what you will need:
2 ounces semi – sweet chocolate (56% cacao)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons strong instant coffee
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups (full fat) mayonnaise
2 large eggs at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Recipe will make about 26 cupcakes.

Combine chocolate, cocoa powder and instant coffee in a medium metal bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another bowl.

Beat brown sugar, white sugar and mayonnaise in a large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. (I use a stand mixer to get the job done). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating until blended after each addition and making sure to scrape down the sides of bowl.

Bake cupcakes about 25 to 27 minutes. Cupcakes should be firm to the touch with a little spring when you test them. Cool cupcakes in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Make sure to start your frosting with your ingredients at room temperature.  You want your butter soft but not too soft.  Perfectly softened butter makes all the difference in your frosting recipes.
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
1 cup Biscoff Cream
1 lb Confectioners Sugar sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
milk (a few teaspoons)

Cream together butter and Biscoff Spread until well blended and smooth. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add sifted confectioners sugar until all sugar is incorporated. Add a few drops of milk as needed to reach the desired consistency. You are looking for a consistency that is light and fluffy. It should not look like a cookie dough. My all time trick to making the best frosting is to continue to whip frosting for another 3 minutes after everything is mixed in. You will end up with a soft fluffy frosting, the perfect consistency.
Now for my thoughts on frosting and embellishing your cupcakes:
Let's start with tips.  For cupcakes, my favorite tip is the Wilton 1M.  This star shaped tip is especially nice when you plan to add toppings or sauce to your cupcakes because it creates a nice crevice perfect for holding your extra goodness.

Filling the bag:  You only have two hands.  Make it easy on yourself - Once you have placed your tip in the bag, place the bag inside of a regular size drinking glass and pull the ends over the sides. Place the frosting in the glass, then simply pull up the sides. Very simple!

For this design I hold the cupcake in my left hand at about a slight angle.  I start on the outside of the cupcake and work counter clockwise around the cupcake toward the center.  Press the bag down in the middle, then pull up to end your design.

Be creative. You know what you like, think about flavors that go well together. For this cupcake, I topped with crushed Biscoff cookies. I simple put them in a ziploc bag and crushed them with the bottom of a cup.

Then I went a little bit over the top, starting with Salted Caramel sauce. When I do not have the time to make my own, my favorite is Trader Joe's Fleur de sel caramel sauce (Salted Caramel). I also added some chocolate chips for an extra touch.

Leave a comment... Let me know what you think of this recipe!

50th Birthday Sweets Table

Here are some pictures of a Sweets Table I put together for my friend's 50th birthday.  I am so proud of how it came out; mostly because I had to travel from Chicago to Atlanta with my kitchen in a suitcase to pull this one off.

On the Table:
Red Velvet Cupcakes, Chocolate Brown Sugar Butter Cream Cupcakes, Strawberry Shortcake Shooters, Carrot Cake Donuts, Fondant covered Sugar Cookies, Strawberry Vanilla Cake Pops, and Chocolate covered Pretzels.

Steps to Planning the Perfect Party - Part I

As promised, I am back  - I am going to go through the process of planning the perfect birthday party.  While doing this you will get another sneak peek into the Carnival Party that I am currently planning.

So, you are charged with planning a b-day party for a kid... You may be asking yourself, "Where do I start?"  My first piece of advice is to start planning early. You don't want to be rushed.  If you end up rushing, you will end up spending more money.  So, let's look at the first 5 steps in planning the perfect party.

Carnival Party Sneak Peek #1

I am in party planning mode.

Like a magnet, I'm drawn to all things red and white striped right now.  I am currently in the process of planning my daughter's 9th birthday party.  Her birthday is 12/12, so this year, with it falling on 12/12/12 - I figured we'd do it up big. CARNIVAL STYLE... Here is a sneak peek of just some of the things I am working on.  Just wait till it all comes together. 

Centerpieces for the tables 
*I am thinking about adding a pair of big colorful lollipops to this display.

Labels for just some of the items on the Sweets & Treats Table

Caramel Popcorn Cones

More items for the Sweets & Treats Table

Signage for the Prize bins

Come back tomorrow when I will run down some of the details of the party - color scheme, location, games, activities, etc.

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