This was my first Daring Baker's Challenge, and I am super excited about it. Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results! I decided to sneak beets into a chocolate cupcake! I didn't tell some of my friends beet were in them, and they couldn't taste any beet at all in the cupcake!

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with a Chocolate Topping

Adapted from: Huffington Post
Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Cake

2 red beets
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1 oz pieces
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Place the beets in a small saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the beets until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain in a colander and let cool.
When beets are cool enough to handle, grate them on the large holes of a box grater. You should have a total of 1 cup grated beets. (Be careful, as the middle of the beets will be hotter than the outside.)
Place a bowl over  simmering water in a small saucepan. Stir chocolate until it is melted and smooth, then let it cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the grated beets and beat until the mixture is smooth and evenly bright magenta. Beat in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until fully combined. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full.

Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 23 minutes.

For the Chocolate Topping 

Chocolate for dipping

Place chocolate in a shallow bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Stir untill the chocolate is melted and smooth, then remove from heat. Dip cupcakes into the melted chocolate and wait for the chocolate to harden before serving.

This weekend is my last weekend posting until April 7th. :(
(Again, because of our spring break trip to Mexico.)
I promise to post pictures when I get back as well!
But, I'm going to try to delay a post so it sends out on the 27th of this month in order to complete the Daring Baker's challenge on the right day! So I was very busy making two batches of cupcakes and washing all of my dishes afterwards. In the middle of all the mess, I realized I was out of cupcake liners! Thanks to a quick stop at my nieghbors, I picked up some wonderful striped orange ones so I could continue with my baking. (Thanks Katie for giving them to me!)
This week, a great cupcake flavor came to mind while thinking of cupcakes, chocolate peanut butter cup. I chose a chocolate mousse frosting for the top, and a denser peanut butter cake. There is something about dense, flavorful cupcakes that I love. They bring more of a taste than light and airy ones, although any well made cupcake is simply amazing.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Makes 18

For the cake:

2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream to tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin. In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a big mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, shortening, and peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then vanilla. Stir in half of milk, and then half of flour mixture. Then repeat with the other remaining halves. Divide evenly in a muffin tin, filling to about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 19 to 23 minutes.

For the Frosting:

3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Add everything into a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.
(Really, it's that easy. And you will have a lot extra so you can serve it up in little dessert glasses as an amazing chocolate mousse.)

I am excited say I am going to Cozumel, Mexico, for spring break. Two other families + us are all renting this amazing house down by the beach. I'm very excited just to get away for a couple of days and catch up on some must needed sleep. This will be the second time in Cozumel for me and I know we already have a dive planned, we rented a jeep, and we have our own little private beach by the house we rented. I'm extremely excited, and I will definitely be posting pictures. But, this also means missing two weeks (the 17th and the 24th) of The Sunday Pastry :(
Yes, Easter is the Sunday a day after we get back, so I will most likely be taking a break.
But I have plans to post next weekend for sure!

This week is... Strawberry Cupcakes with Simple Vanilla Frosting. The standout though is really the frosting. It has the perfect look and texture. The cake itself is denser with a hint of strawberry.

Strawberry Cupcakes and Simple Vanilla Frosting

Makes 12

For Strawberry Cupcakes:
2/3 cup pureed strawberries
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin. Stir together the pureed strawberries, milk, and vanilla. In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. In a big standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then slowly add the egg and both egg whites. Add half the flour mixture, then the strawberry mixture, then the rest of the flour mixture until just blended being sure to scrape the bowl as you go. Divide evenly in muffin tin and bake for 23 min.

Simple Vanilla Frosting:
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine flour and milk. Stir constantly until thick and batter like (4 to 5 min). Remove from heat and let come to room temperature. As you wait for it to cool, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add vanilla and incorporate. Once flour mixture is cool, add it to the butter mixture and beat. The frosting will take a while to set up, but beat until you have a fluffy, whipped cream consistency. (Be sure to scrape the bottom as the flour mixture might settle there).

A friend and I were talking the other day about this blog, and she suggested that I focus one dessert per month. After a bit of contemplation I decided that I would. I mean, it sounded like a great idea! I can dive into one aspect of the pastry world and learn exclusively about it, before diving into the next. So March is now... Cupcake Month! Ok, yes cupcakes are completely cliche and over done, but truth be told, I love them. Cupcakes will also allow me to work on piping and frosting skills as well, which is something I have been hoping to learn. I'm probably not going to do any "cute" cupcakes though, I'm going to keep it gourmet and focus on the flavors a cupcake can bring.
So this week, I chose to focus on the flavor of coconut. I love coconut and in my opinion, it creates some of the best desserts.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Creme Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line regular cupcake pan with liners of choice. In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt. In a big mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then half of the flour mixture. Add coconut milk then the rest of the flour mixture. In another large, clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter (this will be tricky at the beginning). Once the egg whites are almost incorporated, add the rest of the egg whites and fold until no streaks remain. Stir in shredded coconut.
Divide evenly into the cupcake tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 minutes).

For the frosting:
1  13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Coconut for garnish (you can toast it if you want to)

In a large saucepan, bring coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat. The coconut will froth and sputter a bit, and when it does, turn the heat down to low. Reduce for 5 to10 minutes, then remove from heat and cool completely. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla extract, salt, and 1/3 cup of reduced coconut milk (you can do what ever you want with the rest since you won't be needing it). Beat the entire mixture together until light and creamy.
Frosts 12 cupcakes.