A Cup Full of Goodness - Cupcakes!

Whenever it is cold and gray I go into a huge baking frenzy. And what is more fun to make than cupcakes? Cupcakes are the perfect little dessert for a party or just to bake for fun. Not too big, not too small - they're just right!

The great thing about these little cups of airy, tasty goodness is that you can basically do anything when it comes to flavor and decoration. Cupcakes are blank canvases and the sky is the limit. You don't even have to stick to just cupcake recipes. You can use your favorite cake recipe - just remember that a 9x13 sheet cake makes ~20-24 cupcakes. No matter which recipe you use, below are some tips for making the absolute BEST cupcakes possible.

'Cinn'ful Cupcakes

Cherry Chip Cupcakes

Sweetheart Cupcakes

Birthday Cupcakes

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

S'mores Cupcakes

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes

  • Pre-Heating: Don't skip this step! It makes the baking process more even and accurate.
  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Trust me - I've tried it and it actually makes a significant difference when your ingredients are at room temperature. Mixing is easier and the batter is more smooth. In addition, it prevents you from overmixing. However, milk should be cold.
  • Overmixing: Be careful not to overmix your batter. If you do, it can cause your cupcakes to be chewy instead of moist and fluffy. Stay true to what the directions tell you. If the recipe calls for a hand mixer, remember to cut down on your mixing time if you go with an electric mixer.
  • Easy Clean Up: Use paper or foil wrappers. They come in a variety of colors and styles to suit your fancy. Or, if you prefer the old-fashioned way, generously spray or grease each cupcake pan with butter or oil. Not only will it make cleanup easier, it'll help keep the cupcakes from drying out.
  • The Perfect Proportion: Only fill your cupcakes 1/2 to 2/3 full, otherwise you'll end up with ugly, burned edges and/or a gooey blob. Using an ice cream scooper makes for the perfect proportion.
  • Baking Time: This is an oldie but goodie - test for doneness after the minimum baking time by sticking a toothpick in the center of a cupcake in the middle of the pan. If it comes out clean then they are finished, if not then bake for the remaining time.
  • Rotating: It's best if you rotate your tray halfway through baking time. This makes the baking more even because not all ovens are perfect.
  • Cooling: Don't be too overly eager to pop those babies out of their tray just after you take them out of the oven. Cooling time is extremely crucial if you want your cupcakes to come out clean and pretty. So slow down turbo ... wait about 10 to 15 minutes for them to cool down before doing anything.
  • Decorating: Decorating is huge part of making cupcakes. You can be as simple or as sassy as you want to be. Don't be afraid to use store-bought frosting - I actually prefer it because it's easier and way less work!
  • Fillings: Yes, you can even add fillings (they're not just for donuts and Twinkies!). Jams, icings, creams, and custards add something special to the center of any cupcake. It's like a little surprise, just in case you didn't think the cupcake was enough. All you have to do is hollow out a small part of the cupcake, fill it with whatever you like, and then plug it back up with a piece of cake. I prefer to cut from the top because it is not as messy and you can cover up your tracks with decoration.
  • Mix-ins: Another way to add flavor is stirring in mix-in's. It is especially fun when you are baking with or for children. Sprinkles in the batter are also exciting because the colors bleed when baking and the cupcakes become little rainbow explosions.
  • Storing: Cupcakes are best fresh, but can also be put away for later deliciousness. Unfrosted cupcakes can last about 3 months in the freezer (perfect for last-minute bake sales or parties!). Just make sure they are kept in an air tight container. If you want to save frosted cupcakes, make sure they are also in an air tight container and kept at room temperature if there is no cream or custard involved. They usually last for about a week and will keep their fluffiness and moistness if they just sit on the counter.

I hope I have inspired you to do some TLC baking and have some fun in the kitchen!

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