In the Kitchen: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Every so often I get the urge to bake. Usually it happens when there’s rain on the horizon but considering it’ll be in the 80s for the next week or so, that doesn’t seem to explain this latest baking craving. I’ve been adding new dessert recipes to my Pinterest board but just haven’t had a chance to buckle down into the kitchen to bake anything – I’m still trying to figure out when to make cookie dough for the freezer! I have a fairly ambitious baking wishlist:

  1. Chocolate chip cookie dough
  2. Peanut butter cookie dough
  3. Sugar cookie dough (maybe?)
  4. Mini cherry tart cookies
  5. Apple cider doughnuts
  6. Challah bread

I knew something was up because, seriously? Challah bread? I’ve always shied away from breads because I am kind of intimidated by yeast. It can’t be too warm or too cold (like Goldilocks, this yeast). But there’s something about it that’s so enticing.

Anywho, I finally managed to make some time in the kitchen while my nieces and nephew were visiting to try out a recipe I’ve been hoping to try since I first found it: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes. I originally saved this recipe because Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the mister’s favorite cereal and I thought this would be a great dessert to make for him. Dessert and breakfast all in one? Sign me up!

Of course, time passed and I still hadn’t made it but the stars aligned and on the hottest day we’ve had so far this year, I cranked up the oven and made some cupcakes. I never said decision making was my strongest virtue.

The original recipe called for boxed cake mix and while I have no qualms with using box mixes, I wanted to avoid going to the store (which was silly because I ended up going to the store anyway) so I used a vanilla cake recipe and added cinnamon for the cinnamon cake base and followed the recipe for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cream cheese frosting.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes


Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes
Adapted from Your Cup of Cake

Cinnamon Cake Base
(based from Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake)

5 large egg whites (150 g), at room temperature
1 whole egg
1 cup whole milk (237 ml), at room temperature
2-1/4 teaspoons (12 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 cups (345 g) cake flour, sifted
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (17 g) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 even pieces
1 1/2 teaspons cinnamon (this is added to make it a cinnamon cake)

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder – (Crush the cereal in a bag and then sift out 2/3 cup)

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds, ensuring it’s cold (you can keep some in refrigerator while you’re adding pieces). Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add milk, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches, mixing until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (You want to ensure that the batter is homogenous.) Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake tins, filling about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans after 10 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center

For the frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Adjust the consistency using milk if it is too thick.
  2. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with cinnamon sugar and Cinnamon Toast Crunch squares.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes

In the Kitchen: Baked Donuts

I have been talking about making donuts for many moons now, so much so that I had looked into buying a doughnut pan. Naturally, I never got around to getting one even though I kept talking about these magical doughnuts I somehow was going to make. Not one to let a silly logistical matter like owning necessary baking equipment deter me, I kept my eye out for any baked doughnut recipe I came across, ignoring the vast majority that utilized yeast. I have this unfounded fear of working with yeast. Unfounded because I have never worked with it yet I’m terrified of doing so. I also have several recipes for challah bread. All of which uses yeast. Yeah, that’s some fuzzy math right there.

Lindsey was so kind enough to gift me my very own doughnut pan for Christmas. I was so excited! So much so that I immediately started tearing through the Internets looking for a good non-yeast baked doughnut recipe. I found a few but never got around to making them. Figures.

But on Thursday night I was hit was a strange and overwhelming desire: I wanted to watch The Office while eating a baked doughnut and hot chocolate. I’m still not sure where that came from but I couldn’t shake it. It had become my duty to make these doughnuts; never mind that I still had a good four hours before The Office aired. Time schmime. I am not a prisoner to time.

I halved the recipe to get six doughnuts since it was only me and there was no way I would be able to get in touch with my inner Homer Simpson. The only changes I made was to use my vanilla bean paste instead of regular vanilla extract because I’m slightly obsessed with vanilla bean paste.

Baking was quick and easy. I didn’t know that only the part that was actually in the pan would get browned. Maybe that’s not true and my oven was just being stupid but it didn’t really matter. It bakes evenly so if you’re so inclined, you can just flip the donuts over like I did.

These doughnuts had a cakey texture that was delicious. Now, they’re not light and fluffy as your conventional deep-fried doughnut but who said that was the only way doughnuts should be? There are a great healthful alternative to the deep fried version. They also kept pretty well too. Granted, they only lasted a couple days but they were delicious those couple of days!

Vanilla bean baked doughnuts
via Naturally Ella

makes 12 doughnuts


1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla [I used my beloved vanilla bean paste]
4 eggs
6 tablespoons butter melted
1/4 cup milk


2 cups powdered sugar may need more to reach consistency
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla [and more vanilla bean paste]


1) Preheat oven to 375˚and spray a doughnut pan.

2) In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and butter until mixture is slightly frothy.  Stir into dry ingredients until ingredients are just combined (do not over mix.)

3) Scoop batter into plastic or piping bag.  Cut a medium size tip (if using the plastic bag) and squeeze batter into doughnut pan, filling each doughnut almost to the top (leave about 1/8″.)

4) Bake for 7-9 minutes until doughnut springs back.  Remove from pan and let cool.  Once doughnuts are cool, prepare icing.  Icing should be not be too runny but should be stiff enough to hold to doughnut.  Dip one side of the doughnut in the icing and return to cooling rack.

Who knew love could be so tasty?

So do you remember when I teased you with that bottle of vanilla bean paste but didn’t tell you what I had planned for it? Well I finally made my secret treats and they were fabulous!

I was initially inspired by this recipe I found on Tastespotting. Then, a day or so later, I came across this and thought, THIS IS IT! I just loved the look of the frosted cookie and thought the x and o would stand out a lot better on that background. Plus, I was completely in love with the idea of a vanilla sugar cookie and extremely obsessed with getting a bottle of that amazing vanilla bean paste.

And that is why I went on a mad dash to track down a bottle of this stuff. After figuring it would be cheaper to just trek to the store to pick it up [after accounting for shipping and wait times], I went off to Williams-Sonoma to pick up a bottle, only to find it was closed for inventory! I was sad, dejected, upset because I was convinced I’d have to make yet another trip the next day to buy it but then I stumbled upon Sur La Table just around the block, who saved the day and my gifts.

I used Bridget’s recipe and decorated it like I saw in Meaghan’s original blog post for my Valentine’s gifts this year to the bf, my sisters, and my nieces and nephew. I was super excited to make these and now I’m super excited to make them again. And in case you were wondering, this dough freezes really well. I made one batch and baked up a dozen or so for the bf, cut the rest out, and then froze them until I needed to bake another batch right before Valentine’s Day. It did take longer to bake them straight out the freezer but the frozen baked cookies tasted just as delicious as the fresh baked ones so don’t hesitate to make and freeze for a later day!

This is seriously all the ingredients you need for this. No, really. I looked over the recipe a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

This is why I am so in love with vanilla bean paste: you see those little black flecks? That is the vanilla bean. Get a bottle of this stuff; it’s a lot more cost effective than buying vanilla beans. Sure I spent $11 for a 4 oz bottle but compare that to almost $3 for 2 beans at Cost Plus – where I would have used probably one whole bean for this recipe. See, math CAN be fun.

The finished cookie, fresh out the oven. I’m also a huge fan of parchment paper now because I no longer have to sacrifice a cookie to the cookie pan. If you’re still on the fence about buying a silpat [or don’t know what one is], definitely use parchment paper whenever possible.

This was my first attempt at lining and flooding with royal icing. I love how easy it was and am already thinking of other ways I can decorate cookies. This has really opened up the possibilities! And see! More vanilla bean flecks! And the final product? Delicious AND cute. And utterly addictive. Just ask Lindsey, who nearly finished a dozen in less than a day.

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
via Bridget at Bake at 350

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (Bridget’s original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 1/2 pure almond extract)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing*
via Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie

4 tblsp meringue powder
1/2 cup water
6-7 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Crisco

Whip the meringue powder and water on high speed for a looooong time, several minutes, until it’s fluffy and peaks form.

Gradually add the rest of the ingredients to desired consistency.

Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a month.

*I halved the royal icing recipe and that was enough for roughly 5 dozen of these cookies with leftovers.

A little jar of mystery…

Have you seen this before? This wonderful little thing called vanilla bean paste? It’s a much more cost effective way of incorporating the look of the expensive vanilla bean into practically everything.

Anywho, I bought a jar today with plans of using it in a little recipe that I’ll be revealing at a later day and time. Sorry for the tease but it is a matter of national importance. But I can’t wait to bust this out and try my hand at some vanilla bean buttercream frosting, oooh! or even vanilla bean cupcakes!

So yes, I have a plan for this and I’ll let you know just how it goes. Soon my friends. Soon.

In the Kitchen: Orange-Glazed Salmon

And it returns! It’s been almost a full year my last weekend foray into the kitchen but since I put this back on my list of new year’s resolutions, I’m hoping to get more in the groove of cooking. I’m pretty much on the clock in terms of living at home and I’m going to have to cook for myself and the bf and eventually our kids. I might as well get more comfortable in the kitchen where I can still ask my mom for help if I need it. I did make a couple other dishes before this but nothing really to write home about. Okay, so there could potentially be a story. I’ll work on it.

Anywho, we had some salmon that my mom was going to cook so I decided to find a recipe and make it myself. I’m not sure what made me look for an orange glazed recipe but I suddenly wanted some. I found this recipe through the wonders of Google and it’s delicious. I’d definitely make it again. Not only is it super easy but you can essentially use this marinade for other meats. Mmm, meat.

Asian Crispy Orange-Glazed Salmon
via Tastebook

2/3 cup orange juice
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lite soy sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (1″ piece) fresh ginger grated
4 (4-6 ounce) salmon fillets
2 tbs olive oil
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper
2 tbs honey

1) Stir together orange juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, and ginger in a bowl.

2) Drizzle 1 tbs olive oil into a baking pan. Add salmon and turn to coat.

3) Pour liquid mixture over salmon and let marinade for 30 minutes or more.

4) Remove salmon from dish and reserve marinade. Season salmon with salt and pepper.

5)  Heat a large nonstick skillet over Medium High heat and add remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Cook salmon 3-4 minutes per side and remove from pan.

6) Pour reserved marinade into skillet and add honey. Heat for 3 minutes or until syrupy. Serve over salmon.