I am pretty obsessed with cupcakes right now. Actually, I'm obsessed with icing cupcakes. Ever since I got my 1M star tip I've been happily making up any excuse to bake some cupcakes so I can pipe delicious icing onto them. Are we meeting friends later? Cupcakes. Is it Friday? Cupcakes. Have we gone a whole day without cupcakes? Cupcakes! I have made peanut butter buttercream twice now (I think it is my all time favourite icing ever). And this week for gaming night, I was eager to try a new icing recipe: Marshmallow Buttercream.

I'm new to buttercream and piping, so it wasn't until about a month ago that I had ever even heard of Marshmallow Buttercream. I saw a post on Annie's City Kitchen that included a recipe for Marshmallow Buttercream, and the idea blew my mind. Icing with Marshmallow taste? I had to try making it. 

I had a cherry chip cake mix on hand, so I decided to pair it with the Marshmallow Buttercream and the flavour combination turned out to be pretty stellar. Here are some actual quotes from friends at gaming night:

"Don't forget this recipe."
"He normally doesn't like icing, but he likes this icing!"
"It's so light!"

I made the cherry chip cupcakes as per package directions and set them aside to cool. The real event was the Marshmallow Buttercream, made using the recipe found at Annie's City Kitchen.

Cream 1/2 cup of room temperature butter.
Add 2 cups of icing sugar in 1/2 cup intervals until blended.
It's time to add the Marshmallow Creme!
Fold in 1 jar of marshmallow creme until blended. Look at that shine!
I added some pink food colouring to match my cherry chip cupcakes.
My new favourite thing is to pipe icing onto cupcakes. Such fun!
Marshmallow Buttercream cherry chip cupcake

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, April 28, 2013 8 comments

This is where a blog would go if I wasn't so completely distracted from writing.

The weather is currently gorgeous and the sun is demanding I walk beneath it.

I have 175 pages left to read in a book that is due back at the library tomorrow by 3:00pm.

I have been getting up earlier all week and it is making me sooooo tired (can't wait til I'm used to it.)

I am completely obsessed with social networking. Everything I click leads me to more things I want to click and then all of a sudden hours have passed. The internet is probably my main cause of distraction...from all things!

But I am not discouraged. I will write again!

April has found me wavering between being really focused and really unfocused. I am bursting with energy and ideas for projects but then all too suddenly the energy is gone and I find myself distracted. Instead of fighting to regain my focus, I plunk myself in front of Twitter for 3 hours. Not good. This is a habit that I am getting out of this weekend. No excuses!

I have a few saved drafts in Blogger that need editing.  I have a list of post ideas that I can start writing. My first goal is to just start. Happily, this post about not starting has kinda gotten me started!

I'm still heading outside for a walk (I'm taking advantage of every moment outdoors that isn't bitterly cold) but when I get back in...it is writing time!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, April 26, 2013 9 comments

I was tasked with making dessert for my brother's birthday dinner and wanted to do something different. My usual fancy cake is just making a normal cake and decorating it with as many chocolate bars as possible. I still wanted to use chocolate bars, but decided to work them into some gourmet cupcakes. They were a little more work than just making a cake, but I have met some amazing baking bloggers recently and was inspired to try something new.

I did a quick Google search and found a tonne of recipes out there for Reese Peanut Butter Cupcakes. Many offered "from scratch" recipes for cake, but for better or worse I'm a cake mix kinda girl. I was able to confirm here that peanut butter cups can be baked right into a cupcake - an idea I just had to try!

Some key ingredients
I cut snack size peanut butter cups into four. Each cupcake got 3 pieces baked right in.
Simply place the peanut butter cup pieces into the batter and bake.
The cake bakes around the peanut butter pieces.
Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I made my first attempt at buttercream. Now that I have made it (and eaten an unhealthy amount of it) I completely understand what all the fuss is about. Simple truth: buttercream is amazing! It is probably because of the butter. I was raised in a margarine household but I am spreading my wings and hopping on the butter train. It is a tasty train.

For the frosting I used a recipe found at Allrecipes.

Cream butter and peanut butter together.
Add icing sugar by the half cup until blended in.
Giant bowl of peanut butter buttercream...Mmmmmmm....
And finally the main event: I decorated them using my new 1M star decorating tip. The internet claimed this was the perfect tip for decorating cupcakes and the internet did not lie. It was incredibly easy to use and decorate with and it made the icing look really pretty! I had a lot of fun icing them - and it was so fast and easy that I wished I had made twice as many cupcakes so I could have spent more time doing it. Loads of fun!

This is my 'decorating cupcakes' art shot.
Top with a peanut butter cup piece.
This is what they looked like cut in half.
The only complaint I had about these gourmet cupcakes is that the baked in peanut butter cup pieces sunk to the bottom of the cupcake and if the wrappers weren't carefully removed the chocolate pieces stuck to them. Not a big deal, just something I didn't expect.

Recipe Recap:

For the Cupcakes:
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- Reese peanut butter cups (18 snack size, cut in 4)

Prepare cake mix as directed and divide equally into 24 muffin cups. Place 3 pieces of peanut butter cup gently into the batter. Bake as directed (about 20 minutes).

For the Peanut Butter Buttercream: (from Allrecipes)
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 3 tbs of milk (or as needed)

Cream butter and peanut butter together. Add icing sugar in half cup intervals until incorporated. Add milk by the tbs until desired consistancy is achieved.

For the Decorating:
- 1M star decorating tip (Wilton)
- Decorating bag
- Reese peanut butter cups (6 snack size, cut in 4)

Pipe buttercream onto the cupcakes. I watched this video to get the idea. Top with a piece of peanut butter cup. Enjoy!

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, April 14, 2013 24 comments
The school buses here in Simcoe County were cancelled for the past two days due to our (spring) winter weather. This winter has seemed never-ending, and with two "snow days" in April it is hard to believe spring will ever actually show itself! I'm Canadian so I like to forget certain things about our climate, like the fact that it sometimes snows on May 24th weekend (shh...don't talk about it!). Last year we were spoiled with summer-like temperatures in March, so this year has been cruel by comparison.

Ice storms in April aren't all bad, the icicles actually make everything look quite pretty.  With my boots on (boo!) I went walking around and documented this April event.

How is the weather where you are?

Posted by Jen B On Friday, April 12, 2013 6 comments
It's my brother's birthday today and the family is getting together tomorrow for a Mom-made turkey dinner to celebrate. I was tasked with dessert and at first I was going to make a cake, but then it turned into cupcakes, and now it's fancy cupcakes. I have been reading a tonne of new blogs lately and have been feeling really inspired to try new recipes and new techniques. Birthdays are a great excuse to learn some new baking skills.

After researching how fancy cupcakes are decorated at Wilton, I made a list and headed to the Bulk Barn so I could add some cake decorating tools to my collection.

I love Bulk barn when I'm trying something new. You can buy as much or as little as you want, which means you don't have spend a lot to try something out. I spent around $5 today and bought the bare minimum to decorate my cupcakes. I got one decorating tip, the 1M star shape, which the internet says is great for cupcakes. I also picked up a "large tip" coupler, which helps secure the decorating tip to the icing bag. Lastly I bought two disposable icing bags, which were sold in bulk. I loved that I was able to buy bulk icing bags! They also carried a box of 12 bags, but this is my first time fancy decorating, maybe I will hate doing it! Then I would have 11 useless bags lying around. I went with the safe option of 2/$0.99 (they are the faint triangles in the photo).

My cupcakes are already baked, but I'm holding off icing them until tomorrow. I hope it is fun!

Do you use cake decorating tips? What is the most fun or elaborate thing you have decorated?

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, April 06, 2013 6 comments
Everything we ate for dinner tonight was entirely John's fault! :)

It's the first of the month, which is often when I think about going for more walks and exercising a little more portion control at meal time. I had to put those thoughts on hold though, as we had turkey leftovers in the house and John excitedly announced that we should make awesome club sandwiches. How could I disagree?

This is only one sandwich, you guys!
So we had triple-decker club sandwiches full of turkey, bacon, cheese, and mayo. Apparently others put lettuce and tomato in theirs, but we forgot about vegetables! Whoops! We fried up some mashed potatoes and had some leftover sweet potatoes, so our meal wasn't completely vegetable free, right?

We followed that up with some cake John's grandma made.

It was a yellow cake but she told us: "It's a chocolate cake, I just didn't add the cocoa". Adorable.

I am very full and very happy right now. Hope you are too!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, April 01, 2013 9 comments
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