Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pulling Weeds and the Best Cupcakes EVER

(taken through the sunroof of a borrowed car while the truck is in the shop)

Last week, the weather was perfect. For the valley it was almost fall like. I love the fall. I was in a great mood and was inspired by the sunflowers that I kept passing on the side of the road. I pulled off and plucked a few. When I say sunflowers, they aren't anything more than glorified weeds. I even had to fight off some bees that tried to hitch a ride home with me. When I got home, I arranged my weeds in my lil Ikea vase that I bought years ago. A little trick that I learned to arrange flowers is to use scotch tape and tape a grid to the top of the vase. By doing this I was able to arrange the flowers without them looking like a 4 year old did it. I was pretty proud of myself. Even though I was super proud of my 'grown up' flower arrangement, my biggest accomplishment was what I like to call...the best cupcakes EVER!

These have so much flavor. They are light, fluffy and really moist. These cupcakes are definitely my new favorite.

Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes
(Thanks How To Eat a Cupcake!)
Makes 20-24 cupcakes

1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (1 Tbsp sugar + 1/4 tsp cinnamon)

1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and blend 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it 3/4 full. (You will get between 20 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans side by side in the oven.
3. Bake the cupcakes until they are golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18-22 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners. Lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick then out of the cups carefully with your finger tips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
5. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Sprinkle the frosting with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place the cupcakes, uncovered in a cake saver, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. The cupcakes are ready to serve.
Store the cupcakes in a cake saver or under a glass dome at room temperture for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 3 cups

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese at room temperature
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the confectioners' sugar a little at a time, blending with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, then increase the mixer speed to medium and blend the frosting until fluffy, 1 minute more.


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