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!

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!!

 

 

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. 😉

Lighten Up!: Sweet Potatoes with Crumble Topping

Every time I’m in the kitchen with my mom, it’s sure to be a good time.  Yes, because I’m spending time with her and catching up (though we talk on the phone daily). But mostly because we spend half of the time making dumb comments, intended or not, and laughing.  You’ll read a few of the latest in the next few posts.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mine was fantastic because I was able to get a couple days off to spend with family.

Well, and the food was great.  Let’s be honest, that alone makes it a good day.

Usually, my job is to make the turkey and help with a select few things.  This year, my aunt took over the turkey, which meant it was 100% cooked and no pieces had to be microwaved.  Apparently my family prefers their turkey sans salmonella.

I know, they’re picky. 😉

But I really appreciate that she cooked the turkey, lots of other yummy things, and had our family over at her house for Thanksgiving.  (Thanks, Aunt Chrissy!!) Plus, I got to focus my attention on sides and revamping my sweet potato recipe!

I love sweet potatoes.  Like, I don’t make them for myself often because I’ll eat them all.  That and because I can’t be trusted around an open bag of mini marshmallows. And my sweet potatoes recipe has always been good, but nothing really awesome.  Maybe because it was MUCH lighter than your traditional southern yams recipe.  (It IS my recipe after all)

Now I have a new version to offer that is, really, just as light.  But with far more flavor, texture, and looks prettier. Which, lets face it, means everything in the blogging world.  A pretty picture can really mean the difference between “Oh yes, I’ll try that recipe” and “A post with no pics?? Booooring!!”

So I bring to you the new and improved sweet potatoes recipe, with pictures. 🙂

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Crumble

Makes 6 servings

  • 40oz can yams in syrup, drained and rinsed
  • Zest of 1 orange (~2 Tbsp)
  • Juice of 1/2 orange (~1/4 cup)
  • 1  1/2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light pancake syrup
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    Topping:

    • 1/4 cup instant oats
    • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • Dash nutmeg
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1/2 Tablespoon canola oil
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
    • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, mash together the drained and rinsed yams (sweet potatoes), orange zest, and orange juice.  Mash until desired texture.  Add brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla.  Mix well.

Spread mixture into the bottom of a 9X9 inch baking dish.

In a separate bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Add melted butter and oil.  Mix together until well incorporated and crumbly. Add walnuts and marshmallows and mix well. 

Sprinkle onto top of the sweet potatoes.

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.  Then place under broiler on high for 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows become slightly browned.

So there you have it, a little lighter than most traditional sweet potato casseroles. Not sure of the exact nutrition information because there isn’t information for drained and rinsed canned yams.  Bummer…

Let’s just say it’s lighter, very little added fat…even though there is a fair amount of sugar between the brown sugar, marshmallows, etc.  But still, lighter.  And still delicious! Hooray!

Back soon with an updated post on our family’s banana pudding recipe!

Tiramisu Trials

I adore exploring foods from different cultures.  Especially when I’ve had the real thing in its country of origin. And since staying at home is far cheaper than flying around the world, I challenge myself to recreate my favorites.

Yesterday, I attempted to tackle tiramisu, an Italian classic. I foolishly thought it would be labor intensive, yet simple.  I mean, if it were super difficult to make, it wouldn’t be so common.  Right?  …..WRONG!

Now, I’ve had a few kinds of tiramisu.  And, as it turns out, there are as many variations of this classic as there are different recipes for banana pudding in the South.  (That is a LOT, for those who aren’t from these parts.)  I’m sure each Italian family has their own recipe for tiramisu.  But they all have similar components.  Layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers, creamy and slightly sweet custard, and a dusting of either cocoa powder or shaved chocolate on top.

My favorite tiramisu was from a little restaurant in Rome.  We had a wonderful dinner there, in a room that looked like a family’s backyard. Dinner was served family style and we each ordered different desserts so we could share.

Almond torte (left) and the coveted tiramisu

By the end of the night, the entire restaurant was singing and waving their napkins to the live music.  We may or may not have been served wine…

Crowd got a little rowdy.

Setting out on this little journey, I just knew it would take me back to Italy.  Then I looked at the recipe.  Now, granted, I used this recipe from Cooking Light that isn’t a dead ringer for the classic. But have you seen the calories in the legit stuff??

Now let me say, I’m a somewhat lazy cook.  If it requires a double boiler or a candy thermometer, I’m out. This one required both.  But I sucked it up and tried.

Ta-da!!

The good news is that I discovered a new respect for all Italian grandmothers that can whip this up in their sleep.

Now here’s the bad news:

  1. I didn’t have espresso.  I used coffee from my Keurig because the only ground coffee I had left was coconut creme flavored, which I thought would ruin the tiramisu’s authenticity.
  2. I have insufficient cookware.  With all of my baking pans, you’d think I’d have one that would work for this dessert. ….I don’t.
  3. My ladyfingers were moldy!! And I’d bought them that day. Nothing ruins a tiramisu like the flavor of some bread mold. Mmmm scrumptious. Luckily, 1/2 of the package (wrapped individually) was safe. Thank you to Trader Joe’s for refunding my money.
  4. Turns out, fewer ladyfingers means a runny tiramisu.

So what did I learn?  Well, it turned out to be really delicious.  Though I think I’ll leave it to the experts, and hang up my tiramisu hat.

Oh who am I kidding…I now have a personal vendetta against this dessert and will master it some day. Off to get non-moldy ladyfingers….

Gluten-free, Vegan, and soooo Delicious!!

I know what some of you may be thinking.  “Gluten free?  AND vegan?? ….does it taste good?”

But keep an open mind because I promise that these are good!  And you don’t have to make them gluten free OR vegan, but this is to give an option to those that may have to have a GF option. Those that follow a GF diet can attest to the fact that it can be very difficult to find tasty baked goods that are still GF.  But I promise it’s possible.

The original recipe for these cookies can be found on AllRecipes.com.  Click here to see it.

I then modified the recipe with egg replacer and GF flour to make it a GF & Vegan recipe.  These cookies were tested by my coworkers and got great reviews! Both from omnivores, vegans, gluten free-ers, and gluten eaters. Besides, they’re fudgy chocolate cookies…talk about a crowd pleaser!

GF Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from recipe on AllRecipes.com

Makes ~3 dozen cookies

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp Ener G Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (be sure it is gluten free! No wheat starch in the ingredient list)

In a medium bowl, beat together cocoa powder, sugar, and oil.

In a small ramekin, whisk together egg replacer and water.  Add to sugar mixture and mix until combined.  Add vanilla and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add to wet mixture, mixing just until combined.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop about 1 tsp dough and roll into a ball. Roll each ball in confectioners’ sugar and place on baking sheet.  Flatten each ball a little bit.  The cookies don’t spread, but do rise.  So flatten them to about the size you’d like to see in your cookie.

Bake 10-12min, immediately moving them to a cooling rack after removing from the oven.

Estimated nutrition information (per cookie):  86 Calories, 1.7g Fat, 0.6g Saturated fat, 71.8mg Sodium, 38mg Potassium, 20g Carbohydrates, 1.5g Fiber, 13.2g Sugar, 1.1g Protein

These cookies are small but very delicious.  Keep them soft by placing a slice of bread in the container with the cookies. Strange, but it works!

Your (Cookie) Cup Runneth Over

It’s time for another Pinterest project.  Well, kind of.  I DID originally see this on Pinterest, but this little project was really an experiment.

I wanted something more special than a plain old cupcake, but I’m still on my “keep things simple” kick.

Alright, so really I’m just being lazy.

But today’s recipe and “how-to” is perfect for many occasions. A fun little individual dessert, a tidy base for a fruit pizza, or even a fun base for a scoop of ice cream.

I tried 2 different versions of the recipe below, changing up the amount of butter to try to decrease total fat in the cookie cups.  I also played around with the amount of dough for each “cup”.

Here’s the final product:

Sugar Cookie Cups

Makes about 30 cookie cups

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar + 3/4 cup sugar substitute)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 F and grease 12-cup muffin tins with a little nonstick cooking spray.  Wipe away excess cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  Add vanilla and egg whites, beating until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture in two separate additions.  Stir just until dough comes together.

Using a cookie scoop, roll one rounded scoop between your hands.  Pat into a small circle and place into muffin tin.

Press cookie dough into muffin tin and up the sides of the muffin cup.  It should look like this:

Be careful the dough isn’t too thin on the bottom, or they will crack as you remove them.

Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes, or until sides begin to brown.

Let cookie cups cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin.  Then, using a butter knife, go around the edges of each cup and remove from muffin pan. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Next step:  Fill them!!

This is the fun part.  You choose the filling.  I chose a little whipped frosting with Reese’s Pieces and M&M minis on top.
Other ideas:  a little ice cream, a Hershey’s kiss, fruit filling, or lemon curd.
Another wonderful combo is a little cream cheese with fresh fruit (for a dessert pizza replica).  Mmmmm!!

Variations:

  • Vegan:  Use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sicks instead of butter, and Ener-G egg replacer (1 1/2 tsp replacer + 2 Tbsp warm water)
  • GF:  Replace flour with equal amount of Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose flour and add ~3/4 tsp Xanthan gum

Question of the day:  What has been your favorite Pinterest recipe project?