Andes Mint Cupcakes

I have some delicious mint chocolate cupcakes to share, along with a simple car themed decor for your favorite BMW fan!  Also, I am advertising an upcoming give away.  I appreciate all the comments and likes on my Facebook page recently. I created it less than two weeks ago and am already at 50+ likes! I love sharing ideas and have discovered other interesting cake/cookie decor pages through visitors to my page!  When my Facebook page hits 100 likes, I plan on having a giveaway of one of my favorite cupcake books.  So feel free to like my page and share with your friends! More details to come!

I'm taking a break from my fall themed desserts for a couple posts about special treats I am making for my husband.  His birthday is this weekend and I decided to not only make him a special cake, but also cupcakes! Be on the look out next week for details and tutorials on his special sports themed cake!

But first up is a birthday treat that represents one of his favorite candies - the Andes mint. My husband and I love them! Even though we enjoy the food at Olive Garden, the Andes mint at the end of dinner is still his favorite part of the restaurant! I experimented a little with this one instead of using recipes online. I was worried the flavor would end up being too weak or strong. In the end, though, we think it tastes very close to eating an Andes mint!

I started with a chocolate cupcake, using the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate cake recipe.

Cupcake ingredients (approx 30 cupcakes):
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Cupcake Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine all dry ingredients
  3. Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla into batter.
  4. Beat batter at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in boiling water  - batter will be thin.
  6. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  7. Fill liners 3/4 full with batter.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes.
  9. Let cool before icing
While the cupcakes were baking, I started on the next part.  I decided that I wanted to make an icing AND a filling for the cupcake. Both are based on my buttercream recipe with tweaks made to get a great mint flavor.  First, I started on the filling.

Andes mint filling ingredients:
  • 30-40 Andes mints 
  • 1/4 cup Crisco
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1/2 lb powdered sugar
Andes mint filling directions:
  1. Chop up Andes mints using Ninja or any type of food processor. I left some small chunks of Andes in the filling.
  2. Beat Crisco, butter, vanilla, peppermint extract, and milk until combined.
  3. Beat in powdered sugar. Add additional milk if too dry.
  4. Fold in Andes mint to taste.  I knew my husband would like a very minty taste, but you can adjust as needed.  Just fold in portions at a time until you get the perfect minty taste.
Next, I created a mint buttercream. When I first made it, I thought the flavor wasn't real strong. But when I combined the three components, it was a great compliment.

Mint buttercream ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 8 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 lb powdered sugar
  • milk (if needed)
Andes mint filling directions:
  1. Beat Crisco, butter, vanilla, and peppermint extract until combined.
  2. Beat in powdered sugar. Add additional milk if too dry (or peppermint extract if you want a stronger flavor).
Directions to finish assembling the cupcakes:
  •  I cored the cupcake using a knife. I don't have an actual cupcake corer, but I just carve a cone shaped hole out of the cupcake.  
  • Next, I filled the cupcakes with the Andes mint filling.  I just put it in a piping bag with the end cut off.  I didn't use a tip, as the Andes mint chunks can stop up the tip.

  • I wanted to  replace the part of the cupcake that was removed to keep enough of the cake flavor.  I cut down the portion of the cake.  I then replaced the portion, gently pressing on the cake to keep in place.

  • I finished it up by piping the buttercream on top using the Wilton 1M tip. 

I definitely wanted to decorate the cupcakes with something just for him.  I'm making a UK Wildcats themed cake, so I wanted to branch out for the cupcakes.  I decided to go for a car themed, specifically BMW.  My husband loves cars, particularly his BMW.  This BMW symbol decor is super easy to make, and pops on the cupcakes. 
  • I started with two balls of fondant - one left white and one dyed blue.  I again used the Wilton food gels to color the fondant. Make sure you knead the color all the way through to get a true color throughout.  
  • I then cut 3 white circles and 3 blue circles.  This will make 6 BMW symbols, as they use 1/2 white and 1/2 blue.

  • Next I cut the circles into 4 equal pieces.  Make sure you cover the pieces you aren't working on to keep them from drying out.

  •  Next you just assemble two blue and two white pieces, alternating them.  You can either put some gum glue between the portions, or just leave as is.  I didn't attach them, I just lightly pressed the four pieces into the buttercream and it held in place.

Hope you enjoy the easy decor for your favorite BMW fan and the minty chocolate cupcakes!  I love to hear comments about if you try any of my recipes.  Feel free to leave a comment, or post on my Facebook page.  Thanks for checking these out!

Fall Trail Mix

I'm continuing my fall themed posts with a super simple treat that's sure to be a hit at your fall get togethers. This snack mix is so simple, yet it's the perfect combination of sweet and salty. What's the most surprising is how much like a PayDay it tastes!

This past weekend we were visiting family. Someone had a big bag of candy corn and mentioned we should try peanuts with it. They claimed it tasted just like a PayDay. I was skeptical, but figured it would be a good combination of sweet and salty - that's definitely one of my favorite flavor profiles. I'd seen candy corn included in various trail mixes, but I'd never tried just candy corn with peanuts. It tasted remarkably like a PayDay! I hadn't had one in years, but I used to eat them a lot. I was shocked at how close it was.

Searching around online I found a lot of people talking about the combination, so perhaps you've already tried this snack. But if you are like us and had never heard of it, you will definitely want to try it! Most recipes online call for equal parts candy corn and peanuts. My husband and I, being the analytical engineer-type, tested and figured out the perfect ratio was 2 candy corn to 1 peanut to achieve the PayDay taste. So my recipes doubles the candy corn. Yes, we are nerds...

Of course, I tried to come up with a way to make it more complicated. I attempted to melt the candy corn down, mix peanuts in, put them in ball, and chill them. Not only did I underestimate just how hot the candy corn would get, I also didn't think about how hard it would get when it chilled. As I pulled one out of the fridge and placed it on the table it sounded like glass...not a good sign.

My next attempt was to cook on low heat in the oven. Thankfully, I thought to put wax paper down on the cookie sheet. I alternated layers of candy corn and peanuts. I pulled it out of oven and it looked great. But the wax paper was permanently attached. I tried a bit that wasn't stuck and found in breaking down the components of the candy corn, it had changed the taste.

Next, I found a complicated recipe for making homemade candy corn and was going to try to incorporate the peanuts in the recipe. Then as I was making a long list of ingredients to buy, I decided not to over complicate it.

So, here is the stress-free recipe for a delicious fall snack!

Fall trail mix ingredients:

  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts

Fall trail mix directions:

  1. Mix two ingredients in ziplock or sealable bag.
  2. Shake to mix ingredients well.
  3. Pour into container and enjoy!

I finished my project with putting it in a Mason jar and adding some fall touches. Not only would the mix be a great addition to your fall party, it makes a special gift when dressed up in cute packaging!

Lions, Tigers, and Soccer Balls - Oh my!

I had a lot of fun with my latest project. I hadn't done much with fondant or gum paste until my Wilton class I started a couple weeks ago.  I have learned so much! I never really knew much about the difference between the two.  Gum paste is great for flowers and more intricate work, as it gets much harder than fondant when it dries. If stored properly, the pieces will last for years.  I have really enjoyed working on the flowers we have learned in class. We haven't done much with fondant, so I have been experimenting on my own. Working with both takes me back to my play-doh days. :)

The more I learn and experiment, the more I look for reasons to bake and decorate special treats. Two of my favorite people to make treats for are my niece and nephew! It's fun watching them get so excited about the cupcakes. Especially my 2 year old nephew, as he gets very hyper afterward! I'm sure my sister loves that.. Anytime we are home on the weekends to visit, I always try to make a special treat for them. The other day my nephew was looking at a picture of a cake and excitedly ran up to me and said "NeeNee cake! You make cakes!"  Who wouldn't want to spoil them?

Both my niece and nephew recently started playing Upward Soccer.  My husband and I were able to come this weekend to watch the games.  My niece is on the Lions team, and they did great!  My nephew is in the preschool Tiger Cubs group.  They didn't play a game, but it was fun watching him kick the ball around with my husband. I told them I had made special soccer treats and they got very excited! My niece even asked for them in the concession line, she was wanting them for lunch. I think the workers were a little confused as to what a "NeeNee's cupcake" was.

I decided to make my favorite vanilla cupcakes, but add a special twist for the decor. Since they are proud of their teams, I wanted to make some lions, tigers, and soccer balls for the cupcakes. Below I have some instructions on how to make each of the three fondant decorations.

Here is what you will need:
  • Mat for working on (I used my new Pampered Chef mats as they were a great size and even had a ruler on the edge so I could figure out what size balls I was making)
  • Crisco - cover the mat in a thin layer of crisco to keep fondant from sticking
  • Wilton thick modeling stick (or any long cylinder with rounded end)
  • Gum glue (instructions below)
  • Food coloring (preferably gel type)
  • Wilton edible color markers
  • Toothpick
  • Bag of white fondant (not pictured)

Gum Glue:

To attach pieces of fondant to more fondant, you will need to make some gum glue.  This is created using gum paste.  If you do not have gum paste to make this, then you could just use icing as an adhesive. If you do have gum paste, you just need to drop very small balls of it into a 1/4 cup of water. As the gum paste dissolves, it creates an adhesive.  Just apply the water to the pieces you wish to adhere.

Soccer Ball instructions:
  • Roll out a small ball of fondant, about the size of a ping pong ball.  Make sure and roll it well to get all creases out.
  • Using a black edible marker, draw a pentagon shape at the center of the ball with five lines coming out. 

  • The five lines coming out then become hexagons.  Continue the pattern of black pentagons and white hexagons to create the soccer pattern, as shown in the figure below.
  • I used this soccer ball by placing it on a cupcake covered with green icing, to look like grass.  You can either spread the green icing on, or use the Wilton 252 tip to create a grass-like effect on the cupcake.
Lion instructions:
  • For the lion, you will also need some brown icing, piping bag, and the Wilton tip 252 (more instructions below).
  • Roll out a ball of  white fondant, about the size of a ping pong ball.
  • Add food coloring to the fondant.  I used the Wilton food gel by adding equal parts of brown and copper.  For this gel coloring, you just dip a toothpick in the gel and then insert it into the fondant.
  • Knead and roll the fondant until the color works through, and you have an even tone.  Warning - This will get lots of coloring on your hands.  If you use food service gloves, make sure and coat with some corn starch to prevent sticking. The coloring does wash off well though, so I just used my hands.
  • Break off a small, marble sized amount of fondant to serve as the ears.
  • Take the larger piece of fondant and pinch and flatten it to get the lion head shape. You want the top of the head to be smaller than the base. See pics below.

  • Roll two small balls of white fondant for the eyes.  Attach these using gum glue, or icing.  Simply spread a small amount of either edible adhesive on back of eyes, and attach to fondant.
  • Using an edible black food marker, place dots in the center of each eye.

  • Using the marker, draw a nose and lines for the mouth.  Add a red touch for the tongue.

  • Roll a small amount of the fondant to create ears. Flatten it using a rounded tool, as shown below.  This creates the hole for the ear.
  • After creating both ears, attach with gum glue.
  • For the mane, it's best to place the lion on something to raise it up. I started doing it flat and had trouble, especially under the ears. For the second lion, I actually placed some hardened fondant underneath.
  • Prep a piping bag with the Wilton tip 252 (grass tip). Fill the bag with brown icing.  I just used some decorators icing from a can and added the brown food coloring.  You can use canned icing or buttercream, you just want to try for a thicker icing, so the mane will hold its shape. If your icing seems runny, you can refrigerate it to stiffen it up some.
  • Apply pressure and pipe a small amount at the edge of the face.  Slowly release the pressure as you pull the bag away from the lion.  Sometimes the first part has trouble sticking, you may need to put a dab of icing on the lion for it to stick to.  But as you go, the icing starts sticking to the icing already there.
  • Repeat this process all around the lion.

  • I let the lion sit for at least 24 hours to let the icing harden.  It was still very brittle, so be careful if transporting.  I finished the lion by placing it on some piped icing on a cupcake.
 Tiger Directions:
  •  Roll out a ping pong ball size of fondant.  I had some extra fondant left from the lion, so I just added red and golden yellow to it. If using white, I would try to add some brown and then equal parts red and golden yellow.
  • Pinch off a small amount (marble sized) for the ears.

  • Roll the larger portion into a ball and then flatten out with your finger.  You want it to have a round shape, just flattened some.
  • Follow the same process as the lion to create and attach eyes.
  • Roll out a small amount of white fondant to create the mouth/nose area of the tiger.  I flattened it to make a small pancake shape.  I then used the Wilton modeling tool (you can use any cylinder shaped object) to shape the indentation for the mouth portion.  See pics below for the shape.
  • Using the edible marker, add details to the eyes, nose, and whiskers.

  • Next I added stripes for the face with the edible marker.
  • Using the fondant for the ears, make small triangle ears and attach with edible adhesive (gum glue or icing).
  • Add details to the ears using the edible marker.
  • This one is much more sturdy than the lion, but I would still let it sit to dry for at least 4 hours.  
  • I finished the tiger by placing it on some piped icing on a cupcake.
Hope you enjoyed the tutorials on making lions, tigers, and soccer balls!  Hopefully you can share them with your favorite soccer or animal fan.

If you haven't, check out my page on Facebook, linked below.  I share additional photos and ideas from other sites on that page as well.  Feel free to share your comments or ideas!  I have some other projects coming up (including my husband's birthday cake) that I will be posting about soon!

Sarah Lynn's Sweets facebook page

A Sip of Fall

My favorite flavor of fall has to be apple. I'm not actually a big fan of pumpkin, so to me fall is all about caramel apples, warm apple cider on a cool evening, and my aunt's apple dumplings at Thanksgiving. One of my favorite fall treats has to be a Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider. It's the perfect compliment to a crisp, fall day.

The cool air yesterday morning definitely felt like a preview of the upcoming fall weather. My husband and I were driving past a Starbucks and were excited to get some cider. We could practically taste the caramel apple flavor as we pulled up to the drive through, only to find out they were out of apple juice until Monday! We were pretty bummed, but it reminded me that I had found a recipe for it on Pinterest a few months back.  So I decided to try that out today. I was pleased to find that it was very similar to the Starbucks drink!

Not only is this drink easy to make, it is also economical.  For the past 6 years, I have lived within walking distance to a Starbucks.  Even though I don't now at our house, I still walk past Starbucks on my breaks at work.  I used to go quite frequently, that is until I sat down and figured out how much I was spending each month on coffee and pastries!  Now I just go once a month or so as a treat.  But, it's very tempting now that my favorite drink is back.  For a fraction of the cost, though, I can now have the caramel apple cider whenever I want.  I already had some of the ingredients, so I only paid about $6.  There is enough apple juice to make two batches, each batch making four 8 oz. servings.  That's a good deal compared to the $3+ per drink I would normally pay! I've seen various recipes that use Starbucks syrups, but this one utilizes items that are more common and you may already have around the house.

Here the recipe, found originally at A Year of Slow Cooking. As an added bonus, this treat fills your house with a wonderful smell as it is cooking.

Caramel Apple Cider Ingredients (yields four 8 oz servings):
  • 4 cups apple cider (The recipe called for the Tree Top brand. I couldn't find that so I used the Old Orchard apple juice I found at Wal-Mart.)
  • 3 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons sweetened whipped cream (optional, for topping only)
Caramel Apple Cider Directions:
  1. Pour apple juice in a slow cooker (at least 2 quart slow cooker).
  2. Stir in the caramel syrup, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves.
  3. Cook on low for around 4 hours and then enjoy!
  4. For extra sweetness - Add a small dollop of whipped cream to the bottom of the mug, pour in the mixture, and then add whipped cream and caramel drizzle to the top.
Hope you enjoy this fall treat! This recipe is very sweet, much like the Starbucks drink.  If you find it too sweet, you could cut back on the syrup, or add more apple juice to the mixture.  I'll probably leave off the whipped cream most the time, but it is a nice treat occasionally!

Facebook page

Thanks for visiting my blog!  I just created a new Facebook page for my blog posts to make it even easier to see and share the recipes.  If you would like to follow upcoming blogs, feel free to "Like" my page on Facebook.  I will post all blog posts, along with additional pictures and links to other great blogs and sites! I'd also love for you to post your feedback and your cupcake and sweet treat ideas.

You can like my blog page with the icon to the right of this post, or by clicking on the link below and liking my site!

Sarah Lynn's Sweets

Cup 'O Joe Cupcake

Tonight I decided to test a recipe I developed modifying my husband's favorite chocolate cake and buttercream recipes.   My goal was to create a mocha cake and a coffee cream icing.  I knew this was something my husband would love!  This was a really fun project for him and I to work on together.  He picked out the iced coffee, brewed coffee, and coffee creamer.  He was practically about to eat the batter out of the bowl before I could cook it!

The cake recipe is based on the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake recipe, but with a few changes to add some coffee flavor.  Basically, I replaced half of the milk with iced coffee and 1/4 of the boiling water with brewed coffee.  It was just an experiment, and I could probably add a bit more coffee.  I do think the coffee added a richness to the chocolate cake, though, even if it was just a hint of flavor.

Mocha Cupcake ingredients:
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup iced coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee

Cupcake Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine all dry ingredients
  3. Add eggs, milk, iced coffee, vegetable oil, and vanilla into batter.
  4. Beat batter at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in boiling water and brewed coffee.  Batter will be thin.
  6. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  7. Fill liners 3/4 full with batter.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes.
  9. Let cool before icing
While the cupcakes were baking, I started on the icing.  I decided that I wanted to make an icing that has both coffee flavor, along with a creamer flavor.

Coffee Cream icing ingredients:
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 8 tsp coffee creamer (we used Coldstone Sweet Cream creamer)
  • 8 tsp hot brewed coffee
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 5 tsp hot brewed coffee (optional)

Icing Directions
  1. Put butter (softened) and Crisco in large bowl
  2. Add vanilla, 8 tsp coffee creamer, and 8 tsp coffee in bowl
  3. Cream until completely combined
  4. Beat in powdered sugar, adding around 1 cup at a time.
  5. For a slightly thinner consistency, and stronger coffee taste, add the additional 5 tsp brewed coffee.  This makes the icing a medium consistency, which is good for piping.

I iced the cupcakes by piping the icing onto them using the Wilton 1M tip.  I finished up the cupcakes by topping them off with a fondant/gum paste coffee cup. I used a 1/2 fondant 1/2 gum paste mixture.  I just started the Wilton Fondant/Gum Paste class and have already learned so much!

To create the coffee mugs, I used the steps below:
  1. Combined 1/2 mixture gum paste, 1/2 mixture fondant
  2. Knead the mixture to get it well combined.
  3. Put 1/4 cup of water into a container and drop in a few small balls of gum paste - this is to create a gum paste glue.
  4. Line 1 tsp measuring spoon with a small amount of cornstarch
  5. Stick a portion of the fondant/gum paste mixture into the 1 tsp measuring spoon. 
  6. Use a flat spatula to cut off any excess fondant/gum paste above the spoon.
  7. Use the 1/4 tsp measuring spoon and press it down into the mixture while still in the 1 tsp spoon.
  8. Remove from the measuring spoons.
  9. Roll a small amount of fondant/gum paste mixture to create the handle.
  10. Using a toothpick, apply a small amount of gum paste glue to both ends of handle and attach to cup.
  11. Place on piped icing - this is for decoration purpose only.  While the fondant and gum paste are edible, the gum paste gets extremely hard as it sits.  It's best to just use for decoration.
Hope you enjoy these yummy cupcakes packed with coffee flavor! If you'd like to see more recipes and cupcake ideas, check out my new site on Facebook for my blog!  I will post all my blogs, plus ideas from other sites.  I'd also love to hear and see your cupcake ideas!

You can like my blog page with the like icon to the right of this post, or by clicking on the link below and liking my site!

Cake in a Mug

This past weekend, my husband and I enjoyed a long visit with our families.  It had been a stressful week, so it was nice to unwind and enjoy time with them.  My 4-year old niece impressed us last week by learning to ride her bike without training wheels, so I decided to make her a special cake.  It was a little rushed and didn't come out exactly as I wanted, but she loved it.  She decided we should sing her "Happy BIKEday" instead of "Happy Birthday".  She is very imaginative!

I had a little extra batter, so I decided to make some cupcakes as well.  I practiced my roses I have been learning in my Wilton cake decorating class and decided to decorate the cupcakes with them.

It was a baking filled weekend, as we also made a cake at my in-laws.  My mother-in-law was talking about a recipe she had been wanting to try.  It came out of a cookbook from a lady in the community.  The cookbook is full of wonderful stories and amazing recipes.

The recipe we tried out was the Chocolate Mug Cake that bakes in the microwave!  I had seen someone on the Food Network show, "Chopped," make a cake in the microwave, but had never tried one myself.  This cake is an easy treat and perfect for a quick snack for a couple people!

Cake batter in mug before cooking it in microwave

As we were making it, I already started thinking of ways to modify it.  One thing my husband and I tried when we made it tonight, was replacing the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips. This didn't work as well, the chips sunk to the bottom and didn't melt in the amount of time the cake baked.  But, the cake still tasted great and it gave me an idea.  Instead of replacing the flavoring inside, I decided to melt the chips and create a drizzle for the top.  This gave the cake an even richer taste that my husband loved!

Chocolate Mug Cake Ingredients:
  • 4 tbs self-rising flour
  • 4 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs cocoa
  • 1 large coffee mug (microwave oven safe)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 3 tbs oil
  • 3 tbs semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cake Directions:
  1. Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.
  2. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour in the milk and oil, mix well.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla, mix again.
  5. Put your mug in the microwave oven and cook for 3 minutes. The cake will rise over the top of the mug.
  6. Allow to cool a little and then enjoy from mug or tip out onto plate to enjoy.
  7. Melt approx 1/2 cup butterscotch chips (or whatever flavor you prefer).  We melted them in the microwave stirring every 30 sec.  After about a min and a half, it was getting stiff so we added a little milk and continued to melt the butterscotch.
  8. Enjoy!

These cakes would make a cute gift as well for the holidays.  Not only are you giving a friend a mug, but a delicious cake as well!