A Simple Easter Cupcake

It’s fair to say I’ve done some research in the area of cupcakes. Besides baking for my own enjoyment, I’ve organized city-wide tours to search for the perfect cupcake, and created hundreds of versions for wedding showers, birthdays and other events.

I’m shocked at how many cupcakes sold from fancy boutiques come up short. It only takes a few dry mouthfuls of cake and a heavy frosting-induced belly ache to realize that you have just wasted $3.25 and …

it’s hard to beat a homemade cupcake.

That is not to say that every homemade cupcake is delicious and perfect in every way, or that all boutique creations are dry and crumbly, but great homemade cupcakes are definitely attainable, even for the novice baker. And for much less cost than a dozen from the local bakery.

Without disclosing just how many of these sweet treats I’ve consumed in one day (how many are in a baker’s dozen again?), I’ll pass along a winning cupcake recipe that has served me well!

With the baking tips I’ll share, the recipe you’ll find below, and a bag of Cadbury mini eggs, you will be well on your way to the perfect cupcake and a simple Easter dessert everyone will love. [Read more…]

How to Make the Best Muffins Ever

“A bad muffin is as memorable as a good muffin is unforgettable.” Br. Peter Reinhart

The true sign of a good muffin is that it elicits a reaction.

It can be a sigh, a pause, or maybe a closer inspection followed by a question or comment–usually made with a full mouth. Every time I serve these Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Muffins, still warm from the oven, I watch out of the corner of my eye for the reaction.

No matter how chatty a group of girlfriends get over their coffees, one bite into these muffins and the conversation slows to a crawl; for the moment, attention is diverted from boy talk and baby names to a perfectly moist, flavorful muffin.

Occasionally, I’ll get a “I usually hate muffins, but…”

And oh, I have been there. I don’t think I ate a decent muffin for the first twenty years of my life, and I had resigned myself to a reality where muffins were dry, tasteless (or overly sweet), and no match for a good scone or sticky bun.

The summer I was twenty, I worked a job in a kitchen where muffin-making was mandatory, and I faced a challenge: the dry muffin. Many hockey pucks, exploding volcanoes, and moon craters later, I had a few recipes worked out that actually brightened up my mornings.

Here are a few things I learned along the way… [Read more…]