Black Cherry Walnut Cupcakes

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You know that meme “go home rainbow/snail/bus, you’re drunk”? That’s how I feel when I pipe frosting using a round tip. “Go home frosting, you’re drunk!”

Or maybe it looks like Elvish letters. Or maybe I’ve just seen The Hobbit twice in five days.

Anyway, it’s not like piping with star tips or French tips, which are so easy to use, my cat could decorate cupcakes. Speaking of…

There’s a cat photo bomb for you. I guess this post is officially OTT, what with the memes and the Elvish and cats and the acronyms. (Over the Top, FYI.)

What I’m trying to say is, don’t judge these cupcakes by this piping. Instead, judge by the taste of the frosting, which is phenomenal. (If I wasn’t a robot, and I was human, which I’m NOT, this would be my favorite frosting ever.) Judge by the turbinado sugar I cleverly used as sprinkles, because it added a nice, sweet crunch and was also really pretty.

Judge by the cute cat, and leave my drunk frosting alone

(PS: That cat is Ingrid, or as of this weekend, Smaugette, as she is terrifying and has no manners and hoards toys and I mentioned I saw The Hobbit twice already, right?)

Black Cherry Walnut Cupcakes
makes 12

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp almond extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pitted frozen black cherries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in almond extract.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of this flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined. Stir in milk, and then mix in the remaining flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in frozen cherries and walnuts.

4. Fill baking cups 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Fluffy White Frosting
(this will make more than enough to frost 12 cupcakes,
but I suggest you save the remaining frosting for another
use because it’s that good. Or eat it with a spoon. Optional.)
from allrecipes

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

2. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. While whipping on high, slowly drizzle in the warm sugar mixture. Continue to whip until stiff peaks have formed and frosting is bright white in color.

Pineapple Cake

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This cake is best for times you are PINING for pineapple!

Do you get it? Haha! Was that the funniest thing you’ve heard from a robot today or what?

This recipe is a sort of variation of the well-loved Hummingbird Cake, minus coconut because I have never met a human that actually likes coconut.* But let’s be real, this cake is way prettier and fancier. Even if it’s one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make. Those are the best. The best of the best. The creme de la PINEAPPLE!

Haha! Do you get it? Me neither, that one was pretty weak.

*If you are a human and you like coconut, congratulations! Let’s be friends so I never have to say that I don’t know anyone that likes coconut again.

You like cake. You like pineapple. Make this and don’t whine… apple… about it!

I’ll do better next time; my pun feature is malfunctioning.

Pineapple Cake
adapted from Sweet Serendipity

1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
9 tbsp (1 stick + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas (about two large bananas)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
20 oz pineapple chunks, well drained
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch cake pan.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, cream butter. Gradually add flour mixture to butter until the mixture reaches the consistency of peas. Add yolks, one at a time. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Fold in mashed bananas and walnuts, mixing until just combined.

4. Spread batter evenly into cake pan. Scatter pineapple chunks over the batter and sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the pineapples and batter.

5. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the cake has pulled away from the edges of the pan and the brown sugar on top is bubbly. Run a knife along the sides of the pan immediately to loosen the cake. Dust powdered sugar on top of cake before serving.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

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I’m a pretty fearless robot. After all, I’m practically indestructible. (You’d feel the same way if you were made of steel, wouldn’t you?)

But rhubarb stopped me in my tracks. Literally, one accidently fell out of a grocery sack and when I rolled over it, the vegetable caught my tires in their treads.

It’s a very weird vegetable, isn’t it? When I finally decided to bake with rhubarb, I had no idea how to proceed. Should I peel it? Chop into very tiny pieces? Put it back in the refrigerator until I’ve forgotten about it and it turns into a mass of unknown origins and I just throw it away months from now?

In the end, I chopped it up and baked it with strawberry, the go-to combination for rhubarb novice robots like myself.  And it turned out delicious, tart from the rhubarb, sweet from the strawberries, with a crunchy and crispy top, courtesy of oats and walnuts.

So don’t let that rhubarb rot in the fridge like I was going to do! Be better human than me! (Though of course that’s not very difficult for you, is it?)

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
adapted from Everyday Food

4 cups of rhubarb, diagonally sliced into 1/2 –inch pieces (about 2 rhubarb stalks)
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced into fourths
1-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish, combine chopped rhubarb and strawberries with 1 cup of the sugar and 1/4 cup of flour.

2. In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1/2 cup of flour with the butter until clumps are the size of peas. Stir in the oats, walnuts, and cinnamon to combine. Sprinkle over strawberries and rhubarb.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until crisp is bubbly and golden.

Pineapple Muffins

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I really love these big muffin tins. I think it’s the hefty weight of a baked good that’s approximately the size of a newborn human.

And it’s a muffin, which means it’s not as bad as eating a cupcake with enough frosting to fill a taco shell.

Also, it’s like eating dessert for breakfast There’s a maraschino cherry in the middle! If I were human, I’d eat maraschino cherries in every dish, every day.

Maraschino cherries in mac and cheese! Maraschino cherries on my cheeseburger! Maraschino cherries in a burrito!

(It’s probably a good thing I’m not human.)

I’d even put maraschino cherries on my ice cream! I know that’s a radical thought. But maybe of you humans should try it and report back to me.

Pineapple Muffins
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
makes 12 large muffins

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted brown butter, cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups mashed ripe banana, about 3 large bananas
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts
12 slices of cored pineapple, patted dry
12 maraschino cherries, patted dry

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line large muffin tin with large muffin cups.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine browned butter, vanilla extract, and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time.

4. In another medium-sized bowl, combine bananas, crushed pineapple, and walnuts. Add the banana mixture to the egg mixture. Gradually add in flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

5. Fill each muffin cup with about three tablespoons of the batter. Place a pineapple ring in each cup, and a maraschino cherry in the middle. Scoop another three tablespoons on top, or until muffin cup is about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to rest in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Orange Pumpkin Muffins

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C3PO and R2D2 are my heroes. I once was lucky enough to meet another robot who met a robot who befriended a robot that was a replica of C3PO. It was very thrilling for me.

Watson tradition holds that every New Year’s Eve, the family wakes early to start a Star Wars marathon – beginning with A New Hope and ending with Revenge of the Sith, of course. This viewing party lasts until midnight, when the family celebrates the new year for just a few minutes before collapsing into a deep slumber on the same couches they spent the last 14 hours.

I am very happy to be participating this year.

To express my enthusiasm, and to help wake the humans up tomorrow, I made these muffins, topped with our very own Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

That replica C3PO would be proud.

Orange Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from Celebrating Quick Breads and Pastries
makes about 18 muffins

1-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest

for streusel
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with baking liners.

2. To make the streusel, combine sugar, flour, and pumpkin pie spice. Cut in butter and add walnuts. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, eggs, and oil. Stir in the pumpkin, orange juice, and orange zest to sugar mixture and beat until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.

4. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the streusel on top of each muffin. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving.

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