Tag Archives: cupcakes

Soft, Sweet, and Cinnamon-y: French Toast Cupcakes

I am addicted to sugar. Yes, I like my fair share of white sugar, brown sugar, and certainly icing sugar. But one of my absolute favourite ways to enjoy the sweetness is through delicious maple syrup. Sometimes, I only make pancakes or french toast because I’m craving syrup (I don’t actually really like pancakes that much). I have been on a three day break from school, so I decided to spend my last full day off baking up a storm and experimenting with tasty flavours.

I whipped up a fairly classic cupcake recipe, but substituted maple extract for the vanilla extract. This gave a faint maple flavour. I also made some streusel to give the cupcakes a little bit of crunch. They baked quite nicely, coming out fairly light and very soft. They tasted so delicious on their own that I ended up snacking on a few before I even got around to adding the maple syrup buttercream. Beware: they are addictive.

When the cupcakes were cooled, I topped each with a swirl of maple syrup buttercream. I was unfortunately out of pure maple syrup, but I made do with a little maple extract and butter-flavoured table syrup. I then sprinkled each with a cinnamon-sugar mixture to add a special touch. The finished cupcakes were soft, sweet, and slightly crunchy–all the good things about french toast.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Begin by making the streusel. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Using a fork, break up the cubes of butter until they resemble small crumbs. If needed, rub the butter between your fingers to break it up even smaller. Place the streusel in the fridge while you make the cupcakes.

Cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in the maple extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the wet mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of flour mixture, 2 additions of milk). Mix only until incorporated. Divide evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle a generous amount of the streusel on top of each cupcake. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. It will make approximately 12 cupcakes.

For the maple buttercream, cream 1/2 cup of softened butter with 1 3/4 cups of icing sugar. Add a tablespoon of milk, two tablespoons of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add additional milk or syrup to taste. Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with your desired tip and top the cooled cupcakes. Combine sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle on top of each.

These cupcakes are so tasty that you will certainly want to eat them for breakfast. But that’s ok because french toast is a breakfast food, right? I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. I hope you are finding every excuse to enjoy something tasty and sweet on these chilly autumn days!

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Weekday Round-Up: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Have you missed me? I’ve missed you. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed crafting, photographing, blogging, and posting. But as I mentioned earlier, my time has been invested in settling into my new virtual kitchen. And boy oh boy, is she ever cookin’! I have been baking up a storm these past few weeks. I don’t know if it is because I know that school is starting again soon so I want to get all of my “bucketlist” baking items checked off, or if it is simply because I am feeling flavourfully inspired. Regardless, my Kitchen Aid has been mixing, my oven has been baking, and I have certainly been eating!

I usually do Weekend Round-Ups, but this is a special occasion. I wanted to share a few (okay, so there are a lot of them) photos that give you a better idea of where the heck I’ve been these past few weeks.

From custom sugar cookies to experimental cupcake flavours, peanut butter brownie cups and classic chocolate chip cookies, the baking has failed to cease. I have two words for you: sugar coma. And that, my friends, is where Carmen Sandiego (or in this case, Amber Wideman) has been.

Today, I have aspirations to finally get my sewing machine set up! When that happens, the sewing will resume along with the crafting, knitting, card-making, and re-fashioning. I hope you are all appreciating these last few bursts of summer. Many blessings!

Looking to make some of these treats? You can access the recipes for White-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, Chocolate Chai Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip CookiesChunky Monkey Cupcakes, and sugar cookies.

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Diary of a Cookie Cutter

Have you ever moved? You spend hours upon hours packing up boxes, organizing all of your belongings into appropriate categories, and gathering friends and family to help with the heavy lifting. Eventually you reach your new home, only to find it completely empty with the huge task of settling in looming above your head. Where do you start? Will you ever feel settled again?  These are a few of the questions that you ask yourself as you prepare to unpack.

Although I have only moved houses once in my lifetime, I have recently asked myself these unsettling questions. As you may or may not know, I am an aspiring baker. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time creatively exploring my future in the art of baking. From brainstorm journals to e-courses, research to daydreaming, I have been striving to develop a business. I’ve been taking custom baking orders for a couple of years now, but now that my work is getting “out-there”, I am looking for new ways that I can create a brand for my products that is appealing to my future customers. One aspect of this is developing a social media experience that is simple and easily accessible.

The move I’ve made involved relocating from one virtual kitchen to another. I have been operating a blog through Tumblr called Diary of a Cookie Cutter that chronicles some of my adventures in baking. Tumblr worked really well for my needs in the past, but now that I am passing out the web address as my main form of contact for potential customers, I needed a system that was more organized and easy to navigate. Since I have been hosting this blog on WordPress for nearly eight months now, I decided that my other blog needed to make the move.

Needless to say, I have been spending oodles of time trying to settle into my new kitchen. It’s hard to transfer a couple of year’s worth of baking posts to a new place, so I have decided to leave the majority of them at their old home and have created a link to the new blog.

So I am starting to settle into my new blog. The essentials have been unpacked and the rest will come slowly but surely. I’ve developed a Gallery that features various albums of some of my baked goods. I’ve also created a very specific Contact page that contains all the information needed for customers to contact me. I have even created a Recipe Archive (similar to this site) and a more baking-specific About page.

I’ve already created three posts at my new home. “The Story of a Cookie-aholic” gives an overview of my purpose for re-locating as well as gives a little background information about my love for baking. “The Top Five Tastes of Summer” counts down my five favourite summer bakes so far. And finally, “Go Bananas: Chunky Monkey Cupcakes” is my very first recipe post and is littered with numerous photos of some tasty banana cupcakes. I’m excited to share even more and more as I explore flavour combinations and test lots of recipes.

If you are interested in the baking-aspect of A SMILE EACH DAY, I suggest that you hop on over to The Diary of a Cookie Cutter. It contains even more posts about delicious and tempting treats.

So once again, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate your patience as I get my belongings unpacked. I hope that you are all finding lots of smiles each and every day!

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Early Mornings, Late Nights, and London Fog Cupcakes

Let me tell you a little story.

Two years ago, a naive eighteen-year-old girl was preparing to begin a new chapter of her life at university. She wasn’t nervous or scared, but instead was excited to be more independent and self-reliant. Little did she know how much dedication, organization, and energy was required to be successful. When September hit, she was faced with the long and painful hours spent reading, the early mornings required to beat the traffic rush, and the chaotic atmosphere of students rushing here and there. Although stress quickly hit and a few breakdowns transpired, she found great comfort in the hours she spent in the coffee shop on campus, sipping away at her new found favourite hot drink. She made it through that year (and the next) with a little help from the pure sweetness that London Fogs brought to her study hours.

Okay, so London Fogs are not the only thing that got me through my first two years of school, but they definitely contributed. I have vivid memories of sipping the sweet drink while fighting my eyes to stay open as I read my astronomy textbook. And modern art history textbook. And arts and culture textbook. You get the point.

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself “What in the world is a London Fog?”. I don’t blame you for asking. It is essentially a sweetened earl grey tea latte. Put simply, vanilla syrup is added to earl grey tea and steamed milk. It is sweet and frothy and every sip is as good as the last. The only thing I can really say is: de-lish. If you haven’t tried one, you need to.

So that brings me here. The other night, I was tossing and turning into the late hours of the night. Millions of thoughts were running through my mind. From mental checklists to cupcake flavour combinations, my brain could not settle itself down. But I guess I can’t complain because I came up with some fabulous ideas for future baking projects, one of which being this one.

A couple weeks ago, I was scanning through one of my favourite blogs. I was introduced to the possibility of using tea in baked goods when I came across a recipe for Earl Grey and Poppy Seed Muffins. I wanted something sweeter than muffins though. I wanted cupcakes. So I adapted my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe to include earl grey, whipped up a batch, and swirled each with some delicious vanilla buttercream and chocolate sprinkles. Then I ate one. Or two.

So let’s make some, yeah?

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Continuously whisk the milk to prevent it from burning on the bottom of the pot. When it begins to steam, add the tea bag and continue to whisk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally. Simmer it for two minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and cover, allowing the milk to sit for three minutes. Remove the lid and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first three ingredients in a small bowl. Cream the butter and the sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Alternatively beat in the flour mixture and the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly into paper-lined cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes. Cupcakes will be slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, cream together 3/4 cups of softened butter and 1 and 3/4 cups of icing sugar. Add a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag adorned with a preferred decorating tip. Cover the tops of cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

That’s all there is to it. Whether you are an avid tea lover, an adventurous flavour seeker, or just simply willing to try something new, you will love these cupcakes! The earl grey flavour is not overpowering at all and combines perfectly with the vanilla. The buttercream is very sweet, so I suggest going easy on the swirls of frosting. Overall, the flavours combine together quite nicely and create a delicious (and in my case nostalgic) treat.

As I baked these up, I couldn’t help but wonder what other flavours besides vanilla would go nicely with earl grey. I also tried thinking of what other flavours of tea would bake nicely into a cupcake. What do you think? Green tea? Herbal teas? Something fruity?

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Turn Up the Oven: Top Three Favourite Summer Bakes (so far)!

I’m just finishing up my last few days working at a camp and for some reason I find myself constantly thinking about baking. I decided I was going to take a little sabbatical from the blogsphere while I was up here, but I couldn’t resist the satisfaction of typing away at my computer, editing photos, and hitting the Publish button. Although I’m not creating any new projects, I did have a few photos stored up on my camera from the past few months that I wanted to share. So I have compiled this list of my Top Three Favourite Summer Bakes (so far).

Strawberries scream summer. They are a delicious summer berry that can be used in a variety of baked goods. Remember how I shared my recipe for Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Loaf? I also pureed them with some mango and banana to make homemade popsicles. They are very refreshing on hot summer days and the bright red colour that they add makes any food look delicious.

I made these vanilla cupcakes with strawberry buttercream and a marshmallow fondant flower decal for a birthday. They were light and delicious yet were packed with sweetness. I used homemade strawberry jam to bring the flavour to the buttercream instead of raw strawberries. I loved the flecks of red in the frosting, highlighting the presence of the strawberry. I only got to taste-test one so I’ll have to make them again to put them to the true test (…if I must).

Two words: ice cream. Ice cream cones are the epitome of summer treats. After all, they don’t sing “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” for no reason. But in my opinion (which may be a bit biased), a good cookie always beats ice cream. So why not combine the two?

A couple months ago, my sister came home from a trip with a new cookie cutter set in hand. Not only did the set contain an ice cream sundae cutter but it also had two different ice cream cone cutters. When I received a cookie order at the beginning of June, I jumped on the opportunity to make these little guys. I flooded them with a basic butter-based icing, adapting the colours and flavours. They are the perfect little treat for snacking on and the best part is that they don’t melt!

Fudgsicles, popsicles, creamsicles, oh my! I know I’ve shared these treats once before but they were so delicious that they definitely hold the number one spot on my summer treat list. As I mentioned in the previous post, creamsicles are one of my favourite treats. The combination of the orange and the creamy vanilla is incredible. It is so refreshing and satisfying.

I’ve baked up quite a few things so far this summer (even though I’ve taken the past three weeks off). I’ve felt more and more inspired by different summer flavours and I can’t wait to transform them into something tasty. Raspberries, coconut, and new cookie cutter shapes are all on my radar. I can’t wait to test some new recipes and share them.

To finish off, I am going to share some instagram photos of a few of the treats that didn’t quite make the list–they are still tasty none-the-less! Mini cupcakes, homemade popsicles, s’mores brownies, and more!

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