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Photo by Jill Stromminger

Meat Goes Sweet

Even the sweetest things enjoy getting a little salty from time to time. (Like Sandra Dee at the end of Grease, but without the whole dressing-like-a-slut-to-earn-a-guy’s-love thing). Sure, these may not be the best cupcakes to serve at your 6-year-old niece’s Frozen-themed birthday party, but they are great for just about everything else—from brunch to potlucks to celebrating the fact you got out of bed another damn day.

These flavors work best in mini-cupcake form to a) not overwhelm the crowd you’re serving them to and b) allow said crowd to shovel them down several times once they try one and realize it’s their new favorite thing.

The following recipes make 24 mini-cupcakes, or 12 large cupcakes and take 45-60 minutes (not including the time it takes to cook the topping beforehand).

They also make you seem pretty damn cool when you show up to a party with them. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes with Blue Cheese Frosting

Photo by Jill Stromminger

A new way to enjoy the heaven-on-earth ingredient that is buffalo sauce—you’re welcome.

Ingredients

Cake

1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot sauce

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sour cream

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Frosting

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Cake

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line the cupcake pan with liners and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat, heat the hot sauce and butter together until the butter melts. Ta-da, you just made buffalo sauce!

• Then, add the blue cheese to the buffalo sauce, mixing until the blue cheese is melted.

• Remove the mixture from heat, then whisk in the brown sugar. In another small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and egg.

• Once the buffalo sauce is cool enough to touch, add the sour cream mixture and mix well.

• Fold the flour and baking soda into the hot sauce. The batter will seem very lively, like you added too much baking soda, but you did not! That’s just all of these weird ingredients getting to know each other.

• Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full the bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Topping

• Cook two medium chicken breasts, then cut/shred them into bite-sized pieces and cover with buffalo sauce and let cool. (Buffalo sauce is equal parts Frank’s Red Hot and melted butter… does a body good. OK no it doesn’t, but it tastes amazing.

Frosting & Finishing

Using a handheld or stand mixer on high speed, beat the blue cheese until it becomes smooth. Continuing on high speed, mix in the unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. On low speed, mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until fully combined. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes. Top with a bite-sized chunk of buffalo chicken, then get your palms warmed up for some serious high-fives from your friends.


Elvis Cupcakes: Peanut Butter Cake with Banana Frosting and Bacon

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The King’s favorite sandwich combination is about to become one of your favorite cupcakes. Add a drop of honey on top to really bring all of the flavors home, and savor the fact that the honey looks like bacon grease dripping down the frosting. (Squee!)

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter,

room temperature

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
(I vote nutmeg!)

1/2 cup buttermilk

Frosting

1/4 cup of room temperature butter

1/2 cup of room temperature cream cheese

1/2 cup of mashed banana puree (think applesauce consistency) from 1 large, ripe banana

2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Directions

Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the cupcake pan with liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed, cream together the peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. On the lowest speed, alternately add in the flour mixture with the buttermilk. Mix until just combined, then drop the mic! Errm, I mean stop the mixer. Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full then bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Topping

• Use 8 pieces of extra crispy bacon, cooled. (Make 10 if you’re pretty sure you’re going to eat two pieces without even realizing it like I always do.)

Frosting & Finishing

Using a stand or hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, cream cheese, banana puree, and vanilla until light and fluffy. On low speed, add one cup of the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl down. Add the rest and mix, continuing to scrape the bowl as needed. Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a pipe or spread the icing on top. Finish with a piece of the cooled crispy bacon and a drop of the aforementioned honey if you so please. Just do it. Trust me.


Fried Chicken and Waffle Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

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Brunch in just one bite. This cupcake uses a straight-up waffle recipe as the cake, and I encourage you to waffle like nobody’s watching and add your own personal twist to this base. (I like going savory with tiny bits of cheddar and sage.)

Ingredients

Waffle Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Any other ingredients you’d like to add (such as cinnamon or chopped herbs)

Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) of room temperature butter

1/2 cup of room temperature cream cheese

2 cups of powdered sugar

2 teaspoons of maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

Directions

Cake

• Preheat the oven to 430 degrees. Do not line the cupcake pan with liners, spray it with cooking spray instead, then set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.)  Mix well. In another medium bowl, mix the buttermilk and egg until fluffy. Add the vanilla and melted butter and mix until just combined.

• Add the wet ingredients to the dry then mix everything together until just combined—this should only take about 20 seconds. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes. (Don’t roll your eyes; I know you’re excited to watch an episode of “Friends” on Netflix while you wait.) Once ready, fill the cupcake pan three-quarters full with the batter.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Topping

Use your favorite fried chicken recipe with two medium-sized chicken breasts and cut into cubes. (Pro tip: adding a small amount of brown sugar to the coating will give the batter a nice hint of sweetness that blends with the rest of the dish.) You could also just buy your favorite fried chicken and cut it into cubes. If anyone scoffs, remind them that you are the keeper of the cupcakes and maybe they should just chill.

Frosting & Finishing

Using a stand or hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat together the room temperature butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. On low speed, add one cup of the powdered sugar and the salt and mix until combined. Continue to add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Scrape the bowl as needed. Once the waffle cakes have cooled, pipe or spread the frosting on top. Finish with a piece of the cooled fried chicken and a hearty drop of your favorite hot sauce. Get ready for heart-eyes for days.

Photos by Jill Stromminger.

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