Tag Archives: Vanilla extract

Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting

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Chocolate cupcakes are a great dessert any time of year, and I was wanting to make something chocolatey. After trying several recipes that I thought were so-so, I went to Martha Stewart’s site and decided to make her Chocolate Cupcakes and Ultimate Chocolate Frosting with a few little changes. I’m so glad I did!

I really like these cupcakes! The batter is thick, smooth, and creamy. And the cupcakes rise and bake up so nicely with rounded tops. Best of all, they have a great chocolatey taste! The frosting is rich, thick, and definitely fudgy–much, much better than using a can of frosting!

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH FUDGY FROSTING by NancyCreative, adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s brand)
  • 3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or substitute sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl or mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and blend well. Then add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour (if using a mixer, set the mixer to low speed for this).

Spoon batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake at 350˚F for 20 to 23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean (I baked my cupcakes for 23 minutes).

Cool cupcakes in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. After cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the Fudgy Frosting.

FUDGY FROSTING 

Makes about 3 cups

  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half (light cream)–or you can substitute milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium-size bowl. Add butter, Half & Half (or milk), and vanilla. Stir ingredients until smooth.

Note: This is a very thick, fudgy frosting–if you want to frost your cupcakes with a decorator tip, thin frosting out a little by adding an extra 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Half & Half or milk.

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If you’re not big on lots of frosting, these cupcakes are great with a lighter amount, too–if you like to frost lightly, you could halve the frosting recipe.

Hope you enjoy the cupcakes! Do you have a favorite chocolate cupcake recipe?

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Orange Vanilla Coconut Scrub

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I love orangey-scented things, so I thought I’d try making a scrub with epsom salt. Not long ago, I did a post on Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts and mentioned some of the health benefits of epsom salt. I thought they would be great to use in a body scrub, too. This scrub is thick, like a paste, and is scented with orange essential oil and pure vanilla extract. It smells so good and makes your skin really nice and soft!

ORANGE VANILLA COCONUT SCRUB by NancyCreative

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 8 to 10 drops Orange essential oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small or medium-size bowl or other clean container, combine Epsom Salts with coconut oil using a spoon or spatula (Note: If the coconut oil gets much above 76˚ it can turn into liquid form–so if yours is liquidy, refrigerate your coconut oil until it solidifies). Add orange essential oil a few drops at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the vanilla extract last and blend everything well. Store in a shallow jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You don’t need to refrigerate this scrub unless the temperature in your home gets much higher than 76˚ (or when you notice the coconut oil turning to liquid form), because then the mixture will be more runny. You can use this scrub 1 to 2  times a week to keep extra dry or rough skin areas smooth and soft.

When using, wet your skin all over in the shower and massage the scrub into your skin. You don’t need to use a lot–just pinch up about 1/2 teaspoon at a time from your jar or container–a little goes a long way! This is great for rough skin areas like knees and elbows. Don’t use on face or other sensitive areas. Also, be careful when using, because the oil from the scrub can make your shower or tub a little slippery. If you want to use this on your feet as a foot scrub, it would probably be safest to give your feet a separate foot scrub/bath while you’re sitting down using a small plastic tub; that way, you don’t have to worry about slipping in your bathroom tub or shower.

It’s fun making your own bath and skin care products, and so much cheaper, too! I think they work just as well as any you can buy. Have you tried making any for yourself?

Dark Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie Bars

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Wow! Talk about rich and chocolatey…these bars have double the chocolate with dark chocolate chips and crumbled Oreo cookies mixed in. And the creamy Oreo filling gives a great taste to these bars since some of it bakes into to batter. I like using the Double Stuff Oreos because I love all that filling! 🙂

I was inspired by a yummy-looking recipe from Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen–I decided to make bars instead of cookies to save time. I also used dark chocolate chips and added even more chips to the batter, so these are super-chocolatey!

DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP OREO COOKIE BARS adapted from Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag dark chocolate chips
  • 20 Oreo Double Stuff Cookies (from a 15.35 ounce package), broken or crushed into medium to small pieces (I put the cookies in a large zip loc freezer bag and crush the cookies–you can use a rolling pin to do this, or even a hammer, used very gently)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until well blended. Add in eggs and vanilla, blending well.

In a small bowl, blend flour, salt, and baking soda; add these dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix everything well.

Fold in the dark chocolate chips and crushed Oreo cookies; mix until these are evenly distributed in the batter (the batter will be thick!).

Spoon batter into prepared 9 x 13″ pan and spread batter evenly in pan with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake at 350˚F for 25 to 27 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan, then cut into bars or squares. These are very rich, so you can cut them small if you want!

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Oreo cookies have been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. They’re certainly not healthy, but every once in awhile I crave some. Are you an Oreo-lover too?

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

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One thing I love about these muffins is that you can make them plain…

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…or you can make them fancy!

They taste great without any kind of topping at all because they’re filled with lots of small chunks of fresh strawberries, and Greek yogurt makes them nice and moist. I think the butter in these have something to do with the rich taste, too. They are really yummy! I debated about putting a glaze on top of the muffins because they taste great just the way they are–why mess with a good thing? But then again, they do look pretty cute with a little glaze and a strawberry half on top! So, it’s up to you…if you like your muffins plain and simple, leave off the glaze…but if you want a fancier muffin, add some glaze and a strawberry!

STRAWBERRY YOGURT MUFFINS by NancyCreative, adapted from A Spicy Perspective

Makes 24 muffins

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, diced or cut into small chunks (measure strawberries after they’ve been cut into chunks
  • Optional: Creamy Glaze (see recipe below) and 12 strawberries, hulled and cut in half for garnish

Preheat oven to 350″F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then stir in vanilla.

In small bowl, blend flour, baking soda, and salt.

Alternate beating the flour mixture and the yogurt into the butter/sugar mixture in the large bowl. Fold in the strawberries, gently mixing them into the batter. FYI, the batter will be thick!

Spoon batter into muffin cups, dividing batter evenly among all the cups (they’ll be between 2/3 and 3/4 full) and bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let muffins cool completely (I tasted these both warm from the oven and after they cooled completely, and I like them better when they are cooled!), then either serve or add the glaze and a strawberry half on top.

CREAMY GLAZE

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or half and half
  • 12 strawberries, hulled and cut in half for garnish

Mix powdered sugar and milk (or half and half), blending well–this will be a thick glaze. With a spoon, add a small dollup of glaze to the top of each muffin and spread out a little. Then add a strawberry half over the glaze. Let glaze set about 10 to 20 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any leftover muffins.

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NOTE: You can also make this recipe as a bundt cake–bake in a 10″ bundt pan at 350˚F for 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Grease and flour your pan well so your cake will come out easily. Let cake cool in pan about 20 minutes before removing. Cool completely on wire rack, then either serve plain or top with Creamy Glaze (let glaze set 10 to 20 minutes before serving).

How do you like your muffins–plain or fancy?

Egg Nog Bread

One of the things I enjoy about Christmas is the chance to have some Egg Nog. I don’t drink a lot of Egg Nog, but I do enjoy some now and then at the holidays. I thought it would be fun to try using Egg Nog in a recipe, and I found this quick bread recipe at Allrecipes.com. I decided to add an Egg Nog glaze to it, and I really liked the way it turned out! The bread has a subtle Egg Nog flavor, and the creamy glaze gives it a nice sweetness. Some of my friends who taste-tested it are not big Egg Nog fans, but they still liked the bread! I will definitely be making this again…I may even start a new tradition and make it every Christmas! This recipe makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf or 3 small mini loaves (3 x 5″). The mini loaves make great holiday gifts!

EGG NOG BREAD WITH EGG NOG GLAZE by Nancy Creative, adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Egg Nog
  • 2 teaspoons rum flavored extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or three 3 x 5 inch mini loaf pans. In large bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together. Add in eggs, mixing well, and then the Egg Nog, rum extract, and vanilla extract; blend well.

In medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add to eggnog mixture in the large bowl and stir just enough to moisten; pour into prepared  loaf pan (or mini loaf pans). Bake bread in 9 x 5″ loaf pan for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; or bake 3 x 5″ loaves for 35-40 minutes. Cool loaf or loaves for 10 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely and then add the glaze (if you don’t want to use a glaze, you can sprinkle the loaf or loaves with powdered sugar).

While loaf is cooling, make your glaze…

CREAMY EGGNOG GLAZE

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons Egg Nog

In small bowl, add powdered sugar and Egg Nog: stir until well-blended.

When loaf (or loaves) are cooled, spoon glaze over top and let drizzle down the sides; let glaze set and then serve.

Linked to Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Strut Your Stuff, Foodie Friday, Favorite Things Friday, Favorite Things Saturday.