Coconut cupcakes

Barefoot Contessa, you are a big liar.

Coconut Cupcakes // The Culinary Capers

The yield of this recipe is 18-20 cupcakes my ass. Continue reading

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The Food of St. Andrews

St. Andrews is not a big place. Yes, it’s home to the Old Course, and yes, it’s where Kate met Prince William, but it is essentially a bubble or a world that houses a small fishing village, a lovely university (not that I’m biased…), and a large number of tourists/golfers.

It only has three main streets, but St. Andrews does not disappoint when it comes to food. Filled with adorable local cafes, bistros and bakeries, St. Andrews offers an amazing variety and quality of food not usually found around college students and tourists.

Here are my personal favorite places to eat while in St. Andrews. If you’re planning a visit, make sure to put these at the top of your list!

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Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

You’re going to notice a Nutella trend on this blog. I bought a jar to make some chocolate baklava and over estimated how much I would actually use.

To avoid sitting around and eating it with a spoon, I decided to come up with more creative ways to use up the rest of that jar. This cupcake was inspired by a crepe I love to get when in Paris – banana and Nutella. Seriously, best crepe flavor ever.

This is cake is denser than your average cupcake and holds up well to the richness of the frosting.

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Oreo Cupcakes

I’ve always been a fan of Super Bowl parties. Not because I care too much about football, I’m really not a huge fan although live games are fun to go to.

No, I like the Super Bowl because it’s an excuse to get together with a bunch of friends in the middle of winter, get cozy on the couch and eat a few snacks. The Super Bowl is sort of like the New Years Eve  of February, and I am always for a good party.

This year, I went overboard (really this shouldn’t surprise anyone) on the snacks. I just had too many recipes I wanted to try, and creating a cupcake that tasted like an Oreo was one of them.

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Vampire Cupcakes

I don’t care if you’re Team Edward or Team Stefan, these cupcakes will bring out the inner, perfectly coiffed blood-sucker in everyone!

I used red velvet cakemix and home-made cream chesse frosting to make this quick and easy cupcakes, perfect for last-minute party invites!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of your favorite red velvet cake mix
  • Two 8oz packages of cream cheese
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Cherry pie filling (or Raspberry, Strawberry, you get the idea)
Cupcakes:
1. Mix your favorite red velvet cake mix according to the instructions on the box. I have to say, after making these from a box, I am super excited to try a recipe from scratch! I was fascinated that what started out sort of brownish….
Would suddenly become BLOOOOOOD RED!
Note the dramatic dripping effect, much like blood spatter on CSI. Very Halloween-y.

2. Once you’ve mixed your batter, pour it into a cupcake pan lined with paper liners. (Tip! Pouring the batter into a gallon-sized plastic bag and cutting off a corner makes for easy cupcake pan filling! You might need a friend to help you though…it can get disastrous messy trying to pour and hold a bag open at the same time.)
3. Bake for the allotted amount of time according to your box and you’ll have lovely, deep red cupcakes like these!
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1. While your creations cool to room temperature, cream the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on low speed to avoid inhaling any.
Like I did.
Lessons learned.
2. Scoop your frosting into a plastic bag, snip off a corner and use that to pipe your frosting on in cute little swirls. Our poor cupcakes are unaware that they’re soon to be…..
3. BITTEN! Use the plastic bag trick above to pipe on tiny lines of your cherry, or other red fruit, pie filling to make the blood trickling from the bite marks of those darn attractive vampires.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

Welcome to Day 1 of my Halloween series! All week, I’ll be posting tasty treats, perfect for your Halloween party needs! No costume required, just sit back, relax and let the treats come to you.

These are the perfect treat to bring to bring to your boss’s Halloween potluck party. Their tiny size makes them easy to fit on plates already piled with food and lessens the guilt of eating three in a row, you can make tons of mini cupcakes with a regular amount of batter, and with a simple garnish they lend a sophistication that says “Why yes, Mr. Robinson, I can get you that report you’re demanding in 20 minutes while still maintaining my perfectly calm outward appearance, and please remember these delicious cupcakes when you consider my raise.

I had never made mini cupcakes before, but I do own a mini cupcake pan; the result of my wild fantasies about seas of adorably frosted mini cupcakes while at a Pampered Chef party. It had been sitting in the back of my cupboard for quite some time, so I figured it was time for a test run!

And oh boy, am I ever glad I have that mini cupcake pan now! Mini cupcakes are almost easier to make than their big sisters. They have a shorter baking time, you can fit 24 of these little babies in a pan and your frosting time is cut in half! I would seriously recommend investing in a mini cupcake pan, if for no other reason than they put a fresh twist on a potluck staple.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces (or one small) sweet potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), room temperature
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbsp. dark maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans for garnish (optional)
For the cupcakes:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
    3. Cream the butter in an electric mixer and slowly add the sugar until fully combined.
    4. Add the buttermilk, egg, sweet potato and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until           combined. Be careful not to over mix!
    5. Add the flour mixture in batches and mix until there are no lumps in the batter, but               again, be careful not to over mix. You’ll get adorable little cupcake shaped rocks                 instead of adorable little cupcakes.
    6. Once the batter is mixed, line your mini cupcake pan with mini cupcake liners and                use a small ice-cream scoop to fill each cup 2/3 full.
    7. Bake in the oven for 11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the               cupcakes comes out clean.
    8. Take out your cakes and let them cool to room temperature before frosting. While               you’re waiting is the perfect time to make that frosting!
For the Frosting:
  1. Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer. Use the whisk attachment if you have one.
  2. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
  3. Slowly add the sugar. Note: I usually use a rough ratio of 1:1 for my butter and powdered sugar (1 stick to 1 cup). Feel free to adjust for your desired level of stiffness and sweetness.
  4. Add the maple syrup a tablespoon at a time, beating throughly after each addition. Feel free to sample the batch after each tablespoon until you get the desired strength of mapley-ness!
  5. Secret Tip: Spoon the frosting into a zip lock bag. Squeeze the air out, seal the bag, snip off one corner and use that as a piping bag to get perfectly swirled frosting on your cupcakes.
  6. Crush some pecans and sprinkle them over your frosted cupcakes. This is totally optional, but it does look pretty and adds a nice salty note to counteract the sweetness of the frosting.
  7. Watch your little creations disappear!

Mpls St. Paul Magazine’s Taste! Event Review

This post should have happened a few weeks ago. I’m delayed in my review by all the gorgeous warm weather we’ve been having lately, not to mention fall baking!

Basics: Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine’s Taste! event. September 30th and October 1st at the TCF Bank stadium in Minneapolis. Features food samplings from local restaurants and more wine sampling that you can even hope to try.

So, Taste! I love this event. I first went last year and was completely hooked by the all you can drink wine and all you can eat food. Lessons learned: grab a bottle of water right away, because when you’re 50 samples in and they run out of bottles of water, there are a lot of staggeringly tipsy people to dodge trying to chase the waiter with the water pitcher.

This year was a little different. Downside: It was 2 hours shorter (my guess is to avoid the drunken debauchery that comes after a 5 hour wine tasting). Upside: they had a food truck court with voting for a people’s choice award.

A note about food trucks: I adore them. I adored them without ever having tried them because they are street food mixed with culinary creative genius. This year’s Taste! was my first experience with food trucks and I was not disappointed.

My personal favorites? Gastrotruck, Turkey To Go and Cupcake On The Go.

Gastrotruck because of their perfectly cooked beef and amazing polenta cake. The beef melts in your mouth and it wonderfully tangy and rich. The polenta cake was a new experience for me, I’d never had polenta but always wanted to try it, and it was yummy cheesy goodness. I’m not even sure if there is cheese in polenta, but it was delicious.

Turkey To Go. I adore Turkey To Go. Not only do they have the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but they have the friendliest chef I have ever met who, while he did refuse to tell me his secret to moist and juicy turkey, made me the above sandwich even through it wasn’t on the menu. Turkey, brie and cranberry. Delicious. Thank you Turkey To Go man!

Sadly (or not), I had my hands full with a wine glass and a cupcake, so I didn’t get a picture of Cupcakes To Go, but their red velvet had the tangiest (yum!) cream cheese frosting I’ve tasted on their red velvet cupcake, and an amazingly fluffy chocolate frosting on their chocolate cupcake.

Tummies full with food truck samples, it was time to move on to the wine! Ok fine….time to go back to the wine again, let’s be honest, we didn’t make it through all the food trucks before bottles were popped.

Somehow we inadvertently found ourselves in the VIP area despite our lack of VIP badges, and took a lovely champagne flight that ended in Cristal. Yes, I was sipping $200+ champagne. So cool.

From there we moved into the main tasting area on an upper floor of the stadium. Thankfully the lovely people running the event give you books with numbered pages corresponding to the signage next to each wine maker and list all the wines with a scale of 1-10 and space for notes so you can remember what the heck that one wine we had was called when you go to the store.

The real stand out for me was ChocoVine. I tried some great wines, but once I hit the chocolate wine, I was there to stay. It’s very similar to Bailey’s in texture and drinkability,  but it tastes like chocolate. Genius.

And there you have it! This year’s Taste! event come and gone, and I am certainly looking forward to next year’s. Maybe we can get a Capers contingent together and finally manage to try every single wine between the group?