Recipe: Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting feat

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting feat

Remember those gold star-spangled cupcakes I made for New Year’s Eve? They’re also perfect for Oscar Night this Sunday! When I first made them, I used my Cuckoo for Coconut recipe for the cupcake, but this time I went for vanilla bean. Both are equally delicious, but I’ll share my vanilla bean recipe today.

NYE cupcakes via @poorandpretty

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting — makes about 16 regular cupcakes or 75 minis.

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 5 tbs butter, softened
  • 2 tbs agave nectar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded (discard hull)
  • ½ cup milk

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 tbs champagne – any champagne will do!
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • edible gold stars

NYE cupcake closeup via @poorandpretty

Cupcake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line your cupcake tin(s) with paper or silicone cupcake liners.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a larger bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs into the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, mixing well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Beat in vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract.
  6. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to your sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour, and blending in between each addition until completely incorporated.
  7. Scoop batter into cupcake liners until they are ⅔ full and bake for 10-13 minutes for minis or 16-18 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting via @poorandpretty

Frosting Directions:

  1. Cream butter with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) in a medium bowl, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to get any devious clumps of butter.
  2. Pour in one cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl. Then, repeat with the other cup of confectioner’s sugar.
  3. Mix in your vanilla extract.
  4. Mix in your champagne on low, one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Add more confectioner’s sugar if necessary.
  6. Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!
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Recipe: Chocolate & Caramel Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate Caramel Dipped Strawberries feat

Chocolate Caramel Dipped Strawberries via @poorandpretty

We’re getting into the homestretch of Valentine’s Day, so I’m breaking out a classic with a bit of a twist. Not only are these strawberries covered in chocolate, I also added caramel and sea salt into the equation. Oh yeah; they’re incredible. And easy to make even if you don’t have a double boiler or fondue-maker (I have neither).

Chocolate Caramel Covered Strawberries Ingredients via @poorandpretty

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • 1lb of strawberries
  • 1 cup of chopped melting chocolate or chocolate chips — I used half Godiva melting chips and half mini chocolate chips.
  • ¼ cup caramel sauce – I bought mine from Hillhome Country Products at a local event.
  • course sea salt
  • small pot and heat-safe glass (I use a Pyrex measuring cup) or double boiler or fondue maker
  • large dish or baking sheet
  • wax paper

Strawberries Drying via @poorandpretty

1. Wash strawberries, then lay them out on a few paper towels to dry for a few minutes. Chocolate doesn’t stick very well to wet strawberries.

DIY Double Boiler via @poorandpretty

2. Fill a small pot with about an inch and a half of water, then insert your heat-safe glass, making sure not to get any water inside the glass. This will serve as your DIY double-boiler. Place this on a burner and turn it to medium-low heat.

Melting Chocolate via @poorandpretty

3. Add your chocolate to the glass and stir it occasionally as it melts.

4. To make caramel and chocolate dipped strawberries, you’ll want to dip them in your caramel sauce first (it may need to be microwaved), then sprinkle them with your course sea salt (optional but oh-so-good), then freeze them for 20-30 minutes before dipping them in chocolate. If you go from caramel sauce right to chocolate, it gets a little messy.

Dipping Strawberries in Chocolate via @poorandpretty

5. Once the chocolate is completely melted (check that there are no lumps), go ahead and dip in a strawberry! I just used my hand here, but after a while, I found that the strawberries would get too heavy once they were dipped, so I started sticking them on a fork before I dipped them.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry on Wax Paper via @poorandpretty

6. Place your dipped strawberries on a baking sheet or large dish covered with wax paper to let harden. Optional: drizzle with caramel sauce.

Chocolate Caramel Dipped Strawberries closeup via @poorandpretty

7. Enjoy immediately or stick them in the fridge or freezer for a few days.

Chocolate Caramel Dipped Strawberries 2 via @poorandpretty

… Ours didn’t last very long. ;)

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15 New Year’s Eve Cocktails

NYE Cocktails feat

If cocktails aren’t a NYE party essential, I don’t know what is! That’s why I’m dedicating a whole post to it. But in case you missed my other party must-haves, check ‘em out here. Now let’s pop open that champagne!

1. The 24 Carat Champagne Cocktail via Brit + Co.

2. Ginger & Prosecco Cocktail via Style Me Pretty.

3. Peach & Raspberry Bellinis via Sweet Peas & Saffron.

4. Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosa via A Beautiful Mess.

French 75 Punch - Cocktails for a Crowd

5. French 75 Punch via Chronicle Books. This recipe is from the book Cocktails for a Crowd.

6. Champagne Jell-O Shots via Erica’s Sweet Tooth.

7. New Year’s Sunset Champagne Cocktail via Sarah Hearts.

white sangria 2 via poorandpretty

8. White Sangria via Poor & Pretty. This is still one of my go-to’s when I’m hosting a party because it’s easy to whip up. Just remember to prep the champagne and fruits the night before!

9. Glen Grant Sparkler via Women & Whiskies.

Moscow Mule via Sugar and Cloth

10. Moscow Mule via Sugar & Cloth. New Year’s is like Christmas to Russians, and since I’m dating one, I thought I’d throw in a traditional Russian cocktail.

11. Spiced Blood Orange Champagne Punch via Spoon Fork Bacon.

Toasted Almond Cocktail via Poet in the Pantry

12. Toasted Almond via Poet in the Pantry. This may not be your traditional New Year’s Eve cocktail, anything with amaretto in it is right up my alley. Carrie’s molasses cookies with Kahlúa buttercream (in this same post) also sound amazing!

13. Leftover Pie Cocktail via A Subtle Revelry. Here’s a great way to use up any extra pie you may have leftover from Christmas!

14. Canadian Punch via Women & Whiskies.

15. Grapefruit Champaign Cocktail via A Fabulous Fete.

If alcohol isn’t your thing, or you’re having kiddies over, stock up on sparkling cider or try these mocktails from A Beautiful Mess.

Please remember to party responsibly! ♥

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Last-Minute DIY Gift: Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Mug

DIY Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Mug feat

DIY Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Mug via @poorandpretty

Christmas is just around the corner! If you’re still short a few gifts, here’s another quick & easy DIY gift from my crafternoon: Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Mugs. These are great gifts to make for guys, chocolate lovers, friends, or if you’ve got kiddies in school, you can make these for their classmates.

For each Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Mug, you will need:

  • 1 mason jar mug + lid – I bought mine here, but you can also find them in-store at Joann Fabrics and Michael’s.
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional, but it does give your cocoa a bit more heat!)
  • mini marshmallows
  • tag (free printable below)
  • twine or string

Hot Cocoa Mason Jar Mug via @poorandpretty

Just like those sand art things you probably made as a kid, you’re going to add each ingredient layer by layer. You’ll really only see the sugar and cocoa powder, until you fill up the remaining space with marshmallows.

Hot Cocoa Mason Jar Mug made via @poorandpretty

When you’re ready to make some, take out the marshmallows, shake up your mason jar to mix the ingredients, then use 1-2 tbs of this mixture per cup of milk.

DIY Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Mug - printable tags via @poorandpretty

I thought you might want to include these directions on your gifts, so I made a printable for you! Download a sheet of 12 tags here. I recommend printing them on kraft card stock paper and then cutting them out with a 2¼” circular craft punch like this one Stan bought me for my confetti wall.

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Recipe: Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream via @poorandpretty feature

As I was preparing to write this post, I realized the only photo you’ve ever seen of my “little” brother Chris is this one from when he was about 4. So here’s a more recent one – from his graduation from the Pre-Pharmacy program at UConn earlier this year!

Chris Graduation

Not so “little” anymore, right?!

Anyway, Chris loves Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, but his birthday (October 26) tends to be a little on the chilly side. So I made him Mint Chocolate Cupcakes to celebrate his 23rd.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream recipe via @poorandpretty

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream Frosting – makes 12 regular cupcakes or about 60 minis.

For the cupcakes, I used the same recipe I did for my Chocolate Dirt Cupcakes because it’s perfect and the cupcakes come out so most!

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used dark chocolate melting wafers)
  • ¾ cup black tea or coffee, hot
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tbs vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

And the frosting is my standard buttercream with peppermint essential oil and green food coloring mixed in:

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp peppermint essential oil – make sure it’s food grade! Most peppermint essential oil should be, but definitely check. If you don’t have peppermint EO handy, you can use a flavoring or extract, but you may need to use more
  • 6 drops green food coloring (I used neon green)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream 3 via @poorandpretty

Cupcake Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line your cupcake tin with paper or silicone cupcake liners.

2. Add the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and pour the hot coffee or tea over it. Whisk together until the chocolate has melted and your mixture is smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Dirt Cupcakes - finely chopped bittersweet chocolate - poorandpretty

(Here’s a reference photo for how small the chocolate should be chopped.)

3. In another medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

4. Once your chocolate mixture has cooled, mix in the eggs, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.

5. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in two parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl and whisking until smooth each time.

6. Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ of the way, then bake for 16-20 minutes. While they’re cooking, make your pudding.

7. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack or in their tin for about an hour.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream via @poorandpretty

Frosting Directions:

1. Cream butter with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) in a medium bowl, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to get any devious clumps of butter.

2. Pour in one cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix well — again, scraping the sides of the bowl for clumps. Then, repeat with the other cup of confectioner’s sugar.

3. Mix in your vanilla extract, peppermint essential oil, and green food coloring.

4. Mix in your milk, one tablespoon at a time.

5. Add more confectioner’s sugar if necessary.

6. Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!

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