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

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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

Ingredients

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

Icing

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

Directions

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.

In the Kitchen: Strawberry cupcakes

I’ve developed a small reputation of being quite the baker. Obviously I’m not much of a baker. I know real bakers. I’m but a novice but I do enjoy myself. That said, contrary to my friends’ beliefs, not everything I make comes out looking utterly fantastic.

Or fit for public consumption.

Case in point: the cupcakes I made for Spanish Club. Oh boy. Where to start? Since the theme was “Red, White or Pink”  I decided to make Red Velvet cupcakes. Except I couldn’t decide on a recipe and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to just buy a box mix [mainly because I couldn’t remember which box mix I used the last time that netted a dry cake]. I hemmed and hawed until I stumbled upon a strawberry cupcake recipe purported to be the one used at Sprinkles Cupcakes. We all know how much I dig Sprinkles. So I decided this was the one to make.

And it was pretty easy. Puree some frozen strawberries, which actually works better if they’re thawed but hey, a little orange juice helped make that process go easier, mix the batter, pop them in the oven and then bing, bang, boom, like magic – strawberry cupcakes.

Except not.

There was a very slight pinkish color to them and when I pulled the wrapper away, the cake broke apart, and not in a good way, which was obviously because they were fresh out the oven and needed time to set. However I was still skeptical because it didn’t look like it baked all the way through so I popped them back into the oven for a few more minutes.

In the mean time, I worked on the frosting. This was my very first attempt at make frosting since I always just buy a tub and call it a day. But I was determined to give it a go for the complete package. It came together easily enough and tasted pretty good to boot. I popped it into the fridge to keep cold because I was not feeling confident at all about the cupcakes.

And they did not turn out well. They had a rubbery consistency, which I think resulted from me over beating the batter. I was very disappointed to say the least but instead of sulking over it too long, I hightailed it out to the grocery store to buy strawberry cake mix and cheesecake flavored pudding mix instead. I added some of the strawberry puree into the batter and they baked up perfectly.

Then I frosted one of the new cupcakes with the frosting and wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t like it. At all. Sigh. So I had to pick up a tub of frosting on my way up to Jacki’s house and finish the cupcakes there [of course not without a shot of vanilla extract to bump up the flavor of the frosting]. I was kicking myself for not buying a tub while I was at the store picking up the cake mix. Oh well.

But in the end they turned out delicious even though not exactly quite to plan. I’m so glad I thought of the back up plan because I was seriously bummed things didn’t turn out, though that’s the risk whenever you try a new recipe. Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ll be trying that recipe again. Turns out Tami had trouble with a strawberry cupcake too. So see, even real bakers have issues too.

And yeah, I totally bit the look from Sprinkles.  But don’t they look fabulous? The buttons are made of royal icing. Totally doable!