From Pen to Pan: Cupcakes

Even though Valentine’s Day has come and gone, we couldn’t resist trying out the small, delicious treat that is classically gifted from one sweetie to another. For this version of “From Pen to Pan,” Colleen adds a twist to the traditional baked good with a cheesecake cupcake that can be made in under 15 minutes, no oven required. Logan on the other hand springs for a cupcake that features ingredients one would never think to find in a store, let alone blend together in cupcake form. However, we encourage you dear readers to put your own spin on each of these recipes and try out variations that tantalize your taste buds.

Logan’s Cardamom Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream Frosting

For those unfamiliar with cardamom, it’s an aromatic spice that is frequently used in Indian cooking, but mostly produced in Guatemala. Why the lavender jelly? After watching the episode of “Top Chef: Seattle” where the contestants had to cook with an artisan ingredient from Pike’s Place Market, I was lucky enough to travel up north and pick up a jar of jelly from the same vendor. However, they seemed a little annoyed when I asked them if they had been on “Top Chef.” I guess they get asked that a lot.

Ingredients:

3 cups flour, spooned and leveled

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cups milk (I used skim milk)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup sour cream (I used reduced- fat sour cream)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 heaping teaspoon of finely grated orange zest (or you can use lemon zest).

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a cupcake pan with paper cupcake wrappers. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. Whisk milk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, cardamom and orange zest into remaining crumb mixture until combined.

3. Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean; about 45 minutes.

4. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lavender Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. With an electric mixer, beat the stick of unsalted butter until light and fluffy.

2. On medium speed beat in 1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beat well after each addition and scrape down bowl as necessary.

3. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

4. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes.

5. Once the butter and sugar mixture is well blended, place 3-4 tablespoons of lavender jelly into the frosting mixture and mix well with a spoon or baking spatula.

6. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

Colleen’s Chillin’ Cheesecake Cupcakes

For the student on the go, it’s difficult to come up with a recipe for dessert, let alone cupcakes, that can be made without an oven. However, I managed to find a recipe that adds a twist to the whole cupcake craze: by molding homemade cheesecake into cupcake portions and topping with jelly as pseudo frosting.  The only downside is that the cheesecake filling must be chilled for two hours before placing into the cupcake mold, yet it will be well worth the wait to taste this alternative once to the traditional cupcake.

Ingredients:

11 oz fat-free cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 (8 ounce) container fat free frozen  whipped topping, thawed

1 package of Keebler Graham Cracker crusts (6 total)

Directions:

1. In a bowl, beat both the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the whipped topping slowly.

2. Pour in the cream cheese mixture into the graham cracker crust tins, and allow it to cool for two hours in the fridge.

3. Once mixture is firm, add jelly flavor of choice and enjoy!