Apple Upside Down Cupcakes

Pineapple Upside Down CupcakesIn honor of Thanksgiving this week, I figured I’d post something seasonal. There are SO many great items in season right now! I thought I’d try a fall take on a summer classic: pineapple upside down cupcakes.

 

And as many of my experiments go, this one called for slight changes to a known recipe, patience,…and prayer.  See, my “experiments” don’t always turn out so hot. <Case in point>

 

This one was going toward an order that was due as well….so, you know, no pressure or anything.

But it turned out really well! No oven fires, not gloopy and underbaked, nothing!

I’ll be making this one again for sure.

 

Apple Upside Down Cupcakes

Makes 27 cupcakes

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 red apple (I used Gala)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1  3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray cupcake tins with nonstick spray.
  2. Peel, core, and finely chop each apple. Then, mix pieces of chopped apple together to get a red/green blend.

    Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

    Before the layering fun began…

  3. Spoon 1 scant teaspoon melted butter into the bottom of each cupcake cup.
  4. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. (Or use 1/2 tsp if you’re a cinnamon lover)
  5. Spoon 1 teaspoon brown sugar  mixture into each cupcake cup. Stir around with butter in the cup to blend a bit.
  6. Place ~1.5 Tablespoons chopped apple into each baking cup. Basically, enough to cover the bottom of the cupcake cup.Pineapple Upside Down CupcakesPineapple Upside Down Cupcake
  7. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, mix oil, water, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk to combine.
  9. Add flour mix to liquid ingredients, whisking until combined.
  10. Pour cake batter into the cupcake cups, filling almost to the top.  Do not overfill!
  11. Bake at 375 F for approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick stuck into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  12. Let cupcakes cool at least 5 minutes. Carefully run a knife around each cupcake to loosen a bit. Lay out a piece of wax paper on the counter and carefully flip cupcake pan onto wax paper to release the cupcakes.  Tap on the bottom of the pan to help the process.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

A few tips:

  • If you like your cake to be a bit more like spice cake, replace the “cake” part of this recipe with your favorite spice cake recipe.
  • I didn’t use very much brown sugar in the bottom of each muffin tin because I’m ever conscious of the amount of sugar I put in recipes. You may use more if you wish for a bit more “caramel” texture/taste.
  • My cupcakes were pretty reluctant to flop out of the pan. Holding the pan upside down about 4″ off the counter for a little bit helped them to flop down one by one. Even still, I had to scrape a bit of the goopy topping out of the pan and put it onto its respective cupcake.

I hope you love these! They got rave reviews, and I hope that they will become one of your fall faves!

Make them and have suggestions on improvements?  Comment and let me know!

Peak Performers

No new recipes this week, and no new cakes (took the week off!!). So, what to post….

 

One thing I’ve wanted to do for a WHILE is post about the blog’s “peak performers” as we call them at work. The posts that have been getting the most attention. And then share one recipe that is my current favorite.

It still baffles me that my posts have gotten SO MUCH attention!! Now, I’m not complaining at all.  Matter-of-fact, I’m humbled that a tiny blog from Texas can get so many views. Next stop, my own tv show on Food Network and a cookbook!!

Ha! Totally joking. That’s quite the long shot. But hey, it’s worked for some people before.  My eyes will forever be on the spotlight.  Suppose I’ll have to get better about coming up with new recipes and cakes …and taking time to post more often…before that will ever happen.

Alas, for now I’ll share some of the recipes that have been the talk of the town internet.

**Disclaimer: Pretty please with a cheery on top. Please share links to your favorite recipes from this site.  There have been a ton of fakers lately claiming these recipes are theirs.  Which isn’t cool, yo. Thanks!**

  1. Banana Pudding Cake
    Alright, so this is definitely the star of the site. I’ll be posting an updated post with pictures and step by step instructions. The thing that I like the most about this cake is that it’s a showstopper without spending a ton of time on decorating. Also love it since it was a cake created specifically for my grandpa and dad for their birthdays!IMG_0968
  2. Granny’s Peanut Butter Fudge
    One of my favorite recipes. Period. My grandma Trula (aka Granny) used to make this for the family all the time.  Every holiday, party, and sometimes on a random day whenever we wanted something sweet. She was an amazing woman and I miss her dearly. But am happy to have a replica of her recipe so we can still make her PB fudge on holidays. IMG_0529
  3. Granny’s Peach Cobbler
    Another Granny Trula classic!! This isn’t your typical cobbler.  This is more like a cake cobbler since the breading portion isn’t just a thin layer on top.  But I love it that way. I usually like the cobbler portion better than the fruit portion anyways. Yes, I’m the girl who takes a little more than her serving of “crust” and leaves behind a lot of fruit. No shame in my game!
  4. Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Yum!! Chewy cookies are better than crispy ones any day.  There’s also a lighter version!
  5. Banana Pudding
    A favorite from my mom’s side of our family.  We have this at every holiday. (Apparently we like desserts on holidays…) This isn’t your typical southern banana pudding. It’s better!! Why? because we use shortbread cookies instead of ‘nilla wafers most of the time, there’s cream cheese in it, and all of the banana flavor comes from the bananas in it. The pudding itself is vanilla flavored.  I do NOT like “banana pudding” that is banana flavored pudding with some sliced bananas thrown in.  That’s not banana pudding. Southerners do it right!

So there you have it, the top recipes on the blog.  Aka~ the Popular Group as they would’ve been known in high school terminology.  And while I love these recipes (they are family favorites after all), I also love the misfits.  My favorite recipe right now?

Well I have two:

  1. Pumpkin spice muffins – of course! Fall is almost here!!
    I love pumpkin bread at Starbucks (well, really, I love everything from Starbucks…I’m a gold member there.) but holy calorie-laden sweet bread, people!! So I prefer this recipe.  A little more healthful, a lot more homemade, and it makes my house smell amazing.
    Nutrition info for these:  168 Calories, 7.5g fat (1.3g Sat fat), 24g carbs, 13g sugar, 1.3g fiber, and 3g protein
    Nutrition per slice of Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffin: 420 Calories, 13g fat (4.5g sat fat), 71g carbs, 47g sugar, 2g fiber, 6g proteinApple Butter Pancakes
  2. Apple butter pancakes – another fall fave
    Pancakes = delicious, apple butter = AWESOME. So put them together and you have greatness. Plain and simple.

Hope you enjoy some of the top performing posts!

Which one is your favorite??

Cinnamon Roll Cake

This summer has definitely been a busy one! And I cannot believe it’s already coming to a close.

During the summer, I had to say goodbye to my fiance every week as he traveled to various churches to help with revivals.  Was it difficult to be without him for most of the summer?  Yes.  But I am so proud of the work he and his fellow Engage team members accomplished!  (Want to know more about the Engage program? Click here)

One of the very first weekends he was gone, Jeremy asked me to make a cinnamon roll cake that a church family had made for the team.  Naturally, I said “sure!”  Of course I would try out a new recipe! I’m always in search of the next best thing in the dessert world.

Well, what had happened was…… the summer got busy.  And I mean, I-have-something-every-weekend-and-have-zero-downtime busy.  Cake orders have been flying in! (Yay for that!!) And wedding planning, as it turns out, takes a lot of time and research.

So I was a little delinquent on the baking of the cinnamon roll cake.  May I add….technically, technically, I’d never specified a date to bake it. I’d just said I would.  So, technically, I wasn’t delinquent…just procrastinating. 😉

 

Finally, much to Jeremy’s surprise, I made the cake! And it really was delicious.  Especially right after it came out of the oven, and when heated up in the microwave later. (I’m a “have your cake and eat it too” type of gal.)Cinnamon Roll Cake

Now it’s time to share the recipe with you!  I’ll share the original, then tell you how I made it a tiny bit more healthful.  (Shhh, I hadn’t told the recipient about that. It’s ok, was still delicious.)

 

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Makes ….not sure. Maybe 20 servings?

Cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Topping:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 13X9 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, begin making the CAKE. Mix together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder. Then add milk, eggs, and vanilla. Cinnamon Roll CakeStir just until combined. Then add melted butter and stir until well blended.CinnamonRollCake2
  3. Pour cake batter into greased pan.
  4. Mix together ingredients for the TOPPING.CinnamonRollCake3
  5. Drop topping by spoonfuls on top of cake batter. Using a knife, swirl topping into batter.
  6. Bake for 28-32 minutes at 350 F.Cinnamon Roll Cake
  7. After taking cake out of the oven, mix ingredients for GLAZE in a bowl. Drizzle glaze over warm cake. (I didn’t need all of the glaze.)Cinnamon Roll Cake

 

Now, this cake looked delicious and all but holy butter sticks, people!! It sometimes pains me to put in the amount of butter and sugar  in recipes.  So most of the time I don’t.  This is what has lead my mom (twice) to say “don’t try to make it healthy….I want the real thing”.  I don’t listen to that very well.  (See Lightened Up Texas Sheet Cake Recipe)

For this one:  I made a half batch since it was just a few people eating the cake. But here are the changes I made:

  • Used 3/4 cup sugar in cake batter
  • Use egg substitute instead of eggs
  • For the topping, I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. I also used a scant, unpacked cup of brown sugar. Oh! And I didn’t need all of the topping.
  • Didn’t use all of the glaze.

Did these few changes make it a healthful cake?  Not by a loooooong shot. But it made me feel better to at least improve a tiny bit.

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Special announcement from the Little Bit Sweet baker.

….wait for it…..

I’m engaged!!!! I don’t typically talk about my personal life on this blog, but this deserves a special announcement and shout-out to my wonderful (now) fiancee. 🙂_MG_5440-3220567144-O

Funny thing is, the first question that almost every person has asked me is “are you going to make your own wedding cake??”

They laughed, but I’m considering it. Though it would be nice to eat a cake I had no part in baking. And the stress may not be worth it.

 

Anyways, now that that big news is out it’s time for today’s post.

It’s spring time and I’m getting tired of the same old cupcakes.  Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, plain, plain, plain…..

Time to switch it up! Or, rather, flip it upside down.  Introducing pineapple upside down cupcakes!PineappleUpsideDownCupcakes

Pineapple upside down cake was my grandpa Bart’s favorite dessert. I used to watch as my mom made it for him for his birthdays.  It always seemed like such a tedious process and quite the gamble because you never knew if it would come out of the pan.  Gooey mess stuck to the cake pan and then slopped onto the cake just wasn’t as appealing.  And yet, she made it perfectly every time.

Yes, it’s even more of a gamble trying to get these little guys out of the cupcake pan. But it’s so worth it! A crowd pleaser AND I didn’t have to make buttercream frosting. (A process that, honestly, I hate doing.)

PineappleUpsideDownCupcakePineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, not packed
  • 24 maraschino cheeries
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple slices in juice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1  3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • Juice from pineapple can + enough cold water to equal 2 cups
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray cupcake tins with nonstick spray.
  2. Spoon 1 scant teaspoon melted butter into the bottom of each cupcake cup.IMG_2193
  3. Spoon 1 scant, unpacked tablespoon brown sugar into each cupcake cup.
  4. Place a maraschino cherry in the middle of the brown sugar mix in each cupcake cup.
  5. Drain pineapple juice into a measuring cup. Set aside.  Place pineapple slices onto cutting board and cut each slice into 6 pieces. Place 3-4 pieces of pineapple around the cherry in each cupcake cup.IMG_2194
  6. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Grab your measuring cup with pineapple juice and add cold water to equal a total of 2 cups liquid.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, pour juice/water mix, oil, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk to combine.
  9. Add flour mix to liquid ingredients, whisking until combined.
  10. Pour cake batter into the cupcake cups, filling just to the top.  Do not overfill!IMG_2195
  11. Bake at 375 F for approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick stuck into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.IMG_2196
  12. Let cupcakes cool at least 5 minutes. Lay out a piece of wax paper on the counter and carefully flip cupcake pan onto wax paper to release the cupcakes.  Tap on the bottom of the pan to help the process.  For really stubborn cupcakes, may have to loosen a bit with a knife before inverting.

I haven’t calculated nutrition info for this recipe.  It’s a “sometimes” food.  😉

These are definitely best (in my opinion) served warm.  So yummy!!

 

 

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

There have been a lot of changes in my life lately.  Sadly, that includes a few of my great work friends moving to far off places.  This week, my fellow dietitians and I bid farewell to one of them.  (Hey Katherine! We will miss you bunches.)

And just like we always do, we said goodbye with a lunch potluck at work.  Why? Because dietitians love food.  And when we have potlucks, there is great food to share.  Katherine is vegan, so we had lots of yummy vegan-friendly dishes.  Including…ta-da!!….vegan cupcakes!! (That are also Gluten Free!)

And what are cupcakes without frosting, really?  But regular vegan “butter”cream has been done in my kitchen before.  I needed something new.  As I searched the aisles of Central Market for some inspiration, I stumbled upon Tofutti.

I’d never tried this before.  I know of some vegan cheesecake recipes that call for Tofutti, but never really knew what it would taste like or how else it could be used.  The package said “better than cream cheese”, to which I thought “good, because cream cheese is yucky.”  (Unless in cheesecake form.) And I’ll admit I was a bit turned off by the taste of Tofutti, too.

But I gave it a whirl in my mixer. The creation was a hit!

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or frost an 8″ cake

  • 8oz Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening, coconut oil, or softened vegan buttery sticks
  • 5 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer, cream together Tofutti and shortening (or other fat of choice). I use my stand mixer for this process.
  2. Slowly add sugar, one cup at a time. Scrape sides of the bowl often.
  3. Beat in almond extract.
  4. Frost your favorite vegan cupcakes! I used my vegan chocolate cupcakes for this batch.

 

And because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, here’s a V-day dressed version. 🙂

How to: Make Perfect Sugar Cookies

It’s the perfect dessert for any party favor. Something you can make match any occasion, any theme, any sweet tooth.  And it’s so incredibly fail-proof.

Little leaves made in the fall.

Umm, wrong!!!  There is a LOT that can go wrong with sugar cookies.  …trust me.

In this post, we’ll cover how to get bakery ready sugar cookies.  And when you show them off to your friends, you can brag that you’re the expert chef that created them. No store bought cookies here!

  1. Find a good recipe.
    This is half the battle with any baked good. Seriously, it is my pet peeve when things look amazing but taste like cardboard. No worries, I’ve collected a few good sugar cookie recipes for you. 🙂   Click here and here.
  2. Make sure your butter is softened, but not too soft.
    There is nothing more frustrating than cutting out a perfectly shaped cookie, only to have it become a blob in the oven. Having the butter softened, but not melted, will ensure proper distribution of the butter throughout the batter, while leaving little pieces of butter throughout.  These pieces of butter will slowly melt in the oven, leaving pockets of air (a fluffier cookie) and the cookie will hold its shape if the butter doesn’t melt and cause it to spread. But it’s VERY important you also read #3!
  3. Chill out.
    Like I said, you don’t want your dough to spread too much.  So be sure to chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30min before you roll and cut the dough.  Then, put the dough into the oven when it’s COLD.  Why? The butter won’t melt as quickly, the dough won’t spread as badly, and the cookie will keep its shape.  Voila! You’ll also want to chill the dough again if it becomes warm or sticky when you’re rolling and cutting, AND between batches.  Don’t let it sit at room temp for longer than 10-15min if you can help it.
  4. Make a mess.
    Use a lot of flour to roll out your cookies.  No one is getting an award for cleanest kitchen here. So don’t be afraid to get a little messy.  This includes the counter, floor (if you’re like me), clothing, whatever. The important part is making sure your cookie dough doesn’t stick to the counter top.  Cookies just don’t look the same after they’ve been scraped off of the counter…
  5. Add some flour to your cookie cutter.
    Dip your cookie cutter in flour between each cookie you cut out.  This will ensure the dough won’t stick to the cookie cutter.
  6. But keep it clean.
    Keep your baking pans clean and the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet by using parchment paper.  Line your baking sheets with the paper to be sure your cookies come off clean. You do not have to change the parchment paper between batches, either.  Another option would be to use a silicone baking mat…but I’ve never liked the smell those put out when they’re in the oven.
  7. Don’t over bake.
    I don’t know about you, but I like my cookies a little soft on the inside.  Achieve this by not over baking.  Leave the cookies in just until they’re brown around the edges, then take them out and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a baking rack to finish cooling.
  8. Allow pans to cool between batches.
    I know you’re tired of me talking about cookies spreading too much, but this goes back to that point.  If your cookie sheets are still hot when you put the next batch of cookies on, you’re asking for the dough to heat and spread prior to baking.  Don’t do it!! Either stock up on cookie sheets or wait a while between batches.
  9. Choose the right frosting.
    This is fairly self-explanatory.  Too runny and your design will be ruined.  Too thick and it will look gloopy (technical term) and will take a lot longer to harden. I love Wilton’s cookie icing.
  10. Accentuate your design, but keep it simple.
    Designs and decorations are great, but you’re working on a cookie, not a wedding cake. Simple and clean designs are great for cookies.  Too much detail and intricacies may make your cookie look too busy.

Bam! Now you’re a sugar cookie pro! Go forth and conquer, LBSters.

Still think it’s too difficult or too much work?  I won’t tell anyone if you go to a bakery to buy them. 🙂

Share your pictures or cookie-making experiences below!

Don’t want to roll and cut them? No worries. They’re just as delicious if they’re round.

Banana Pudding, Revisited

You may remember a previous post.  It’s one of the most popular on the site!

That post is super old, so it was time for a remake.  Time for prettier pictures. Time to tell some funny stories about the last time my family made the banana pudding.

My mom made this pudding for our family’s Thanksgiving.  (While I made these sweet potatoes.) As per usual, hilarious moments happened the entire time.  Now allow me to preface this by saying that my family reads my blog, so we joked about the blog often that day.  To keep things short and sweet, funny moments will be bulleted:

  • When I first started this blog, my mom laughed as I took pictures of my food. Now, a couple of years later, she said “Ew, don’t take the picture with that background….Hang on.”  Then got out a towel for a better background.
  • While mashing the sweet potatoes, I heard a scream.  Turned around to see that the handle was stuck on the sink sprayer and water was going everywhere.  We both laughed for a while with that one.
  • The banana pudding may have been a few cookies short.  They were used by us to clean out the “leftover” pudding in the bowl.
  • **When I told my aunt Chrissy about this post, she said “will it be the real recipe this time?”  Which means, “you DID include the cream cheese, didn’t you??”  I laughed.  Yes, this is the “real” recipe. :)**

Banana Pudding

Makes …a lot. Maybe 10-12 servings?

Ingredients

  • 2 (1-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding mix (I use sugar-free)
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 14-ounces can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed (I use fat free)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, very soft
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1-2 packages Chessmen cookies (or shortbread cookies)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, milk, and condensed milk for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add cream cheese if desired and whisk to combine. Be sure the cream cheese is very soft so it will not be lumpy once it’s mixed in.
  3. Fold whipped topping into pudding mixture until well combined.
  4. Line bottom of separate container with cookies/wafers. You could also layer the side of the bowl.  If doing this, you can use some pudding as a “glue” so they stand up straight.
  5. Carefully layer half of the pudding mix and 1 1/2 sliced bananas on top.
  6. Repeat layering cookies, bananas, pudding. Top with final layer of cookies.

So there you have it! An updated post on one of my family’s favorite recipes…cream cheese included and everything. 😉