Archives for April 2011

Peanut Butter Pup Cookies

Remember when I said I love my dog?

Yup, I love my dog!

Seriously, he is my pride and joy. Mannie sleeps in my room, and I just adore when I wake up and see his sweet face every morning. However, I do not adore (as much!) when he wakes me up at 5am thinking it’s his 6:30am feeding time. That is not so sweet. But I love him nonetheless.

Mannie is what I’d like to call a special dog because unlike other dogs, he does special things. Like watch TV with me. NO, really, he legitimately watches TV with me. Like stares at the boob tube and absorbs the information. He really enjoys Cats 101 on Animal Planet, but he also enjoys some Law and Order.

And Mannie has been known to hang out in the kitchen and check out what I’m cooking. While most people would find this undesirable, he actually doesn’t beg, so therefore it isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, our Lab cannot partake in these in-the-kitchen-cooking sessions since she is known to produce more drool than I produce cupcakes. It’s gross.

Since I’ve been cranking out my fair share of human baked goods, I figured it was only fair I made some sweet treats for my sweet pups. Yeah, Mannie just celebrated his birthday on Monday and both he and the Lab enjoyed some yummy dog-friendly bday cake, but these soft, chewy cookies are good to have on hand when I’m rewarding them for being good, and you know, cute.

Admittedly, going into this dog-cookie-baking thing wasn’t ideal. Have you ever researched dog cookie recipes? They have oddball ingredients I don’t have on hand and require some serious work. While I love my pups, I don’t know I want to slave over their treats more than I would my own, so I was pleased to find this super duper easy recipe that’s a cinch to make and even quicker to double, if you wanted to treat the entire neighborhood or your local shelter.

AAAAND I had these ADORABLE dog-shaped cookie cutters I picked up at my local Sur La Table store. They were $1 each so I got every breed available. For this recipe, however, I used the fire hydrant, a Schnauzer, a Border Collie (of course), and a poodle. If you don’t have a Sur La Table near you, a) I pity you, and b) you can find dog cutters here.

Best of all, your house won’t smell like chicken gizzards or anything weird. If anything, you’ll have a nice peanut buttery aroma. Who doesn’t like that?

Peanut Butter Pup Cookies

2 cups flour (I used all-purpose but you could use whole-wheat if desired)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup peanut butter (I used chunky but creamy works)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease and pat two baking sheets. In a large bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Then add remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon until well blended and all of the flour mixture is combined in the dough.
2. Lightly flour a cutting board or work space. Roll out dough onto floured work space and flatten with the heel of your hand until it is a generous thickness, about 1/4″-1/2″ in thickness. Using floured cookie cutters, cut dough into shapes. Place cut out cookies onto your greased baking sheets and bake, 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure you alternate the pans halfway during baking time to ensure an even baking process for each batch. Cool cookies completely on wire racks, then store in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature. I’d say these last about a week.

I don’t know what dog wouldn’t enjoy these–or what human wouldn’t enjoy making them!

Bon appetit, pupperonis!

xo, Hayley

Banana Chocolate Chip Monkey Cupcakes

Let me tell you a secret: I hate monkeys.

I always have had this inexplicable hatred for monkeys. It’s like part of my DNA. They’re just annoying and gross and just… no.

I just do not like monkeys.

And trust me, I have received my fair share of people trying to reform my monkey-hating ways.

“What about baby monkeys?”

“What about little chimpanzees?”

“What about the fact that we could have come from monkeys?”

Baby monkeys are gross. Little chimps are gross. And I’m not religious, but I really don’t like my other alternative being that I came from a monkey. It’s just kind of nasty.

The only exception to my monkey-hating ways? Sock monkeys.

I really like those kinds of monkeys.

If we descended from sock monkeys, I’d be all for it. They’re cute and cuddly, don’t pick bugs out of other sock monkeys’ hair-dos and eat them, and don’t fling poo.

Sorry, but it’s not cute, nor funny.

The one thing I kinda like about monkeys (besides sock monkeys, of course)? I can appreciate the fact that they like bananas. Because I mean, who doesn’t? Bananas rock.

Today I was kind of pondering the idea of doing a banana cupcake but switching things up a bit. So I thought about doing some banana chocolate chip cupcakes, and behold, these little cakes were born. They’re moist and sweet, but the bananas sweetness is tamed a little by the chocolate chips in the cake.

And anything with chocolate frosting is yummy. This is also coming from the girl who doesn’t like chocolate, either.

I know I’m weird, I don’t need reminding.

Thus, with a banana cupcake needed to come a cute cupcake design. And admittedly, monkeys would be perfect, so I made my little monkey cupcakes. And I am happy they look like sock monkeys and taste yummy, therefore changing my mind ONLY SLIGHTLY about monkeys–but only because of these adorable cupcakes.

Banana Chocolate Chip Monkey Cupcakes
* adapted from Betty Crocker’s Big Book of Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
3/4 cup chocolate chips (mini, or regular-sized morsels), plus additional 1/4 cup chocolate chips, regular-sized
2 cans chocolate frosting or chocolate buttercream
For monkeys: remaining chocolate chips (above); 1 box Nilla Wafers; 1 pkg Runts (bananas only); and red and black piping gel/frosting (I used Wilton)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, eggs, bananas and oil with an electric mixer, about 2 minutes, or until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Portion into muffin cups and bake, approximately 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, cut Nilla Wafers tops off with a very sharp knife. You want it to be a generously-sized, almost half-moon looking shape for the jaw part. The top sliver you can use for ears, one sliver = one ear.
3. Spread cooled cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Take one “jaw” piece and attach it to the bottom part of the frosted cupcake. Take two chocolate chips and invert them, gently pressing them point side down into the cupcake just above the flat line of the upper jaw. Take two slivers and put one on each side of the cupcake for the ears. Finally, using your piping gel/frosting, pipe two black dots at the top of the jaw for the nose, and one red smile for the mouth.
4. With remaining cupcakes, frost with chocolate icing and sprinkle with green non-pareils or sugars, like I did, and top with banana Runts candies.

These cupcakes are super cute–and super yummy. You should make them and make people smile as big as these cute little monkey cupcakes are!

Happy Monkeying Around! 🙂

xo, Hayley

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bon Bons

Sometimes I wish I was a housewife.

You know, the kind that have immaculately decorated houses (or just clean ones), bake fancy-looking, hard-to-pronounce French meals for dinner and whose only job is shop all day and find something to wear (which as a woman, we all know this can be a VERY strenuous task).

But alas, I’m not a housewife. Instead I’m a part-time cupcake employee and a full-time student that is becoming increasingly angry at my sudden lack of time to update this thing.

I mean, seriously? I know I have followers. I am like a cupcake prophet, teaching you all the ways of adorable decorating and easy shortcuts in baking. You guys totally look up to me, right? And I’m letting you down with my extended absence.

Trust me, it was disgusting me. Each day I was like, itching to get on here and bake something for my internet followers. But each day I had annoying time-sucking activities to do like assist customers in their cupcake choices at work, or catch up on my DVR list of Degrassi (guilty pleasure that carried over from adolescence) and Real Housewives of Orange County (guilty pleasure that stemmed from my domesticity… which is ironic since they have none of the stuff).

But then again, being a housewife would have its downfalls… like always getting manicures (I hate fake nails); always making French dishes (after awhile, I’d really have a hankering for a hot dog or some Kraft Mac n Cheese); and always having a clean house (while I love clean houses, I hate cleaning. And seriously, sometimes I would just wanna leave the dirty house and go shopping, which would never, ever be a downfall).

Honestly, I think I have all the wrong ideas about housewivery. While the ladies in Orange County think it’s about regular boob maintenance and competitive shopping, the ladies in my town think it means soccer mom chauffeur while blasting country music and reading magazines while walking on the treadmill at the gym. (Newsflash: if you’re reading at the gym, you’re not working out).

But if I were a housewive, I would take it to a whole new awesome level. I’d be the crazy, tatted housewife who had the cool house that was clean but not too clean, who avoided children’s soccer games like the plague and instead took my pooch to the dog park, and shopped in moderation, but baked up things constantly. Things like these chocolate chip cookie dough bon bons, which I am pretty sure most housewives don’t make, but should.

I got this idea after seeing a whole bunch of cake ball recipes and wondered if there was another way I could take this bite-sized ball fetish to a new level. And by bite-sized ball fetish, I am talking about FOOD, not … well, google it if you’re that interested in any other possibilities.

The recipe originated from the blog C is for Coffee and I am so glad I found it because these things are ridiculously good. Mine turned out a little flatter than round, but that’s okay because they still taste superfantastically amazing. Housewife or not, you need to make them.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bon Bons

1/2 c butter, at room temperature
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c chocolate chips (can use mini, if on hand)
1 container Baker’s Dipping Milk Chocolate

1. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in salt and vanilla and blend. Begin gradually adding the flour, alternating with condensed milk, and beat until combined after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Refrigerate the dough for about 45 minutes to one hour so it’s less sticky to handle. Once chilled, shape dough into small, 1-inch balls and place in an airtight container. Layer the bon bons with wax paper, if needed. Freeze for at least three hours.
3. Remove bon bons from freezer. Following package information, melt dipping chocolate. Dip half of the bon bons into melted chocolate and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Freeze or refrigerate until chocolate is hardened. Store in freezer in an airtight container up to three weeks.

They may not be perfectly rounded, fully dipped, or made by a housewife, but these bon bons are freakin’ good. And the best part is, they’re a cinch to make and don’t have a tongue-twisty French name, yet they’re still super impressive 🙂

xo, Hayley

Mannie’s Birthday Pupcake!

It’s no secret that I love my dog.

No, really. I’m one of those people who are super addicted to their pets. Like, crazy addicted almost.

Sometimes I let Mannie do things he probably shouldn’t, only because I love him too much to say no.

I know, that’s like, Parenting 911, but it works for dogs 90% of the time but human children 0% of the time–that’s the difference.

And at least I know I’d be a horrendous human parent. I mean, kids aren’t nearly as adorable as dogs are, so I’d be way stricter to my kid than my dog. Also, I’d probably want to spend more time with my dog than my child, and you can’t really get away with telling that to CPS and having them be okay with it.

So alas, I’m not a parent to a human kid.

But I am a happy, VERY proud parent to an amazing Border Collie, Mannie.

If ya’ll didn’t know, I rescued Mannie three years ago from the Sacramento SPCA. He had been shot and lost his leg and needed someone who’d give him lots and lots of love.

I’d seen Mannie on the SSPCA’s website, but it said he was in foster care. So I kind of gave up on the idea of getting him. Actually, it was my crazy ex-boyfriend who was hell-bent on getting a dog; I was just the person to help pick the new pup out.

So when we went to the shelter to look at pups, I was pleased to see Mannie there! He smiled and jumped up in his kennel, eager to meet us. And the rest is pretty much history.

Long story short: the ex is an ex for a reason, and after a custody battle, Mannie is now mine, 100%. And I couldn’t be happier. He’s my best friend, the light of my life, and has been by my side during some really tough times. The saying that “dogs are a man’s best friend” is completely true, as far as I’m concerned. Dogs don’t gossip excessively, they don’t judge you, and they don’t ask you if they look fat in a hideous outfit when you go shopping with them.

Thank god for the latter.

So Mannie’s fifth birthday was yesterday and I wanted to do something special for my special little man. I contemplated making some dog biscuits, but I decided on a cake instead. After all, I am the cake queen.

But as you know, dogs can’t eat the same human goodies as we can. So I had to make some modifications. I got my recipe for Mannie’s Birthday Pupcake here, and surprisingly it was quite hard to choose which one to make. But with the ingredients I had on hand, I chose the Peanut Butter Carrot Cake.

Actually, it smelled like a giant peanut butter cookie… so definitely not bad. But remember, it’s for your dog, not you. So put it down on the ground for Fido and watch him dig in on the sweets for once 🙂

Peanut Butter Carrot Cake

1 c flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1 tsp  baking soda
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a small cake pan (I used a 6 inch round pan by Wilton). In a large bowl, combine flour and baking soda and mix. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

I also made a cream cheese frosting safe for dogs to ice Mannie’s cake with.

Dog-Friendly Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese (I used light) softened
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

1. Blend together all three ingredients with a mixer in a medium bowl until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

As you can see, Mannie couldn’t even wait to pose for a picture before digging into his yummy cake–I even decorated the sides with milk bones!

Awh, ain’t he a doll?

Of course, don’t feed your pup the whole cake at one time–I gave each of my dogs a quarter and popped the other two slices in the fridge for tonight. They loved it!

And just think, you can get creative with any dog treats you have on hand as well. You could chop up softer dog treats for “sprinkles” or make a lattice-topped cake with Beggin Strips. You could even use Pupperonis to spell our words. Honestly, it’s about celebrating your puppy’s birthday more than the aesthetics, so do something nice for the animal in your life who does something amazing for you every day.

Happy Chowing, Pups!

xo, Hayley

Pastel Rainbow Cupcakes

I have mixed feelings about springtime.

For one, I really enjoy the nicer weather. I’m totally a winter girl, but I can admit that when the sun shines and I can break out some shorts and my Casper-white legs, I get a mood boost while others get a blinding (I really am that white).


I know I sound like everyone else, whining about allergies, but seriously, they suck. And if you don’t have them, do me a kind favor and SHUT UP. I really don’t like when non-allergy people say that people with allergies complain too much.

It’s like having a perpetual cold… three months long.

It is beyond awful.

I know this is a food blog and I’m supposed to write things and make things look and sound totally appetizing, but seriously, allergies make everything itchy and wet. That sounds totally gross, but I’m keeping it real for you all who can walk outside mid-April and take a deep breath without hacking up a lung or bursting into tears.

Or if you’re like me, get all of the above symptoms along with a raging migraine and the bitchiest mood swings ever. Well, besides the normal bitchiest mood swings ever. Whatever.

So given the above information, allergy-attacked people or not, springtime can suck majorly if you can’t appreciate the cuteness since your eyes are swollen shut from crying.

But if you could manage to open your eyeballs for a little minute, these adorable pastel rainbow cupcakes can give you a good reason to enjoy springtime.

I don’t know why pastels aren’t popular in any other season other than spring, but hey, they’re cute, and they’re totally awesome in a cupcake. If you loved my amazing rainbow cupcakes, these will be just as cute. I made them for Easter and they were a huge hit. For the complete tutorial, visit my original post. But for now, put the tissue down and make these.

Pastel Rainbow Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 c water
1 box SF/FF instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cans vanilla frosting or homemade vanilla buttercream
Wilton gel food colors in teal, pink, lemon yellow, and purple
Cute jimmies or sprinkles, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, egg whites, applesauce and water with a mixer and blend for 2 minutes. Stir in dry pudding mix until well combined. Separate batter into four bowls equally. In one bowl, tint batter a bright lavender color. In another bowl, tint batter a bright bubblegum-y pink. In another bowl, tint batter a light lemon yellow. In the last bowl, tint batter a bright teal.
2. Use cereal spoons or teaspoons to alternate batter in paper liners, one color on top of the other. Remember, do not swirl the batter; just layer the colors. If they are uneven, that’s fine–it actually makes it prettier and more unique. Bake the cupcakes 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool completely.
3. Portion 2 cans of frosting into three bowls, tint one each a different color: lemon yellow, light pink and a light teal color. Layer the frosting, alternating the colors, into your piping bag and pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with jimmies or sprinkles, if desired.

So cute! Make these now and you’ll suddenly feel better about springtime.

Happy Sneezing! 🙂

xo, Hayley

Cream Soda Cupcakes–Easter Edition

My family and I are bad Easter people.

That sounds weird, so allow me to explain.

Easter is… okay. Call us materialistic and crazy, but we much prefer Christmas and Halloween in this household. I mean, getting presents and dressing up? Those are two of a girl’s favorite things.

Plus, Christmas means yummy things like cookies and fudge and stuffing, and Halloween means sweet and savory things like sweet potatoes and pumpkins and apples in desserts and dinners–need I say more?

So when it comes to being “bad” Easter people, we’re definitely talking about food.

When am I not talking about food? I seriously think about it ALL. THE. TIME.

You know the saying “I’m a fat kid trapped in a skinny body” (or something like that)? Well, my BRAIN is a fat kid. It’s constantly thinking about cupcakes. And chips. And ooey gooey slices of pesto veggie pizza from Pieces in Sacramento.

I digress.

But really, my family doesn’t care too much for the whole Easter-food thing. In fact, we kind of hate it.

We don’t like ham that much.

Nay on the scalloped potatoes.

Peeps are awful.

And carrot cake is just atrocious. Don’t hate–I love my veggies, and carrots are especially yummy with slathered with ranch dressing. I’m open-minded to zucchini muffins and even using beets in chocolate cakes. But carrots should NOT go into cake. It’s just gross.

Quick funny story about carrot cake–my grandma has this itch that my brother LOVES carrot cake. Though he has never, ever expressed any sort of love or affiliated love with carrot cake, she seems to think he is just OVER THE MOON for carrot cake. When we lived on the same block as her, she’d send down slices–and I mean fatty hunks–of carrot cake to Alex. She’d even go as far as to put sticky notes on it: “Alex’s Carrot Cake” just in case any of us decided we had a mad, overwhelming desire to inhale a piece of carrot cake spontaneously, but we’d know to back off since it was clearly marked “Alex’s.”

…Trust me, that never happened, even in the most desperate-I-need-some-cake-and-I-need-it-now moments.

So as I was saying, we hate pretty much all Easter food. Except jelly beans, Whopper eggs, and egg salad. I really love me some egg salad.

And though I am well aware there are Peeps on my cupcakes, they are purely for decorative purposes in my household. I know there are sticky-sweet-Peeps fans out there who will appreciate these toppers, but for my family, it’s just for the sake of looking snazzy… and festive, since we hate everything else.

And trust me, they raised their eyebrows questioningly at the Peeps even as a mere topper. JEEZ, BE A LITTLE FESTIVE, PEOPLE. THEY’RE JUST MARSHMALLOWS. You’d think I pooped on my cupcakes and called them bunnies.

Enough about poop–time for a recipe. This one uses a can of diet cream soda in place of the other cake mix ingredients, providing a really moist, really delicious, lighter cupcake. And with the whole swimsuit-looking sexy season coming up, I need all the lighter things I can get.

Cream Soda Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

1 box Springtime (or regular) Funfetti cake mix
1 can diet cream soda (or regular if you cannot find diet)
1/2 cup softened butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 T milk
Pink food coloring (I use Wilton’s pink food gel)
Peeps, Easter/spring sprinkles, coconut, jelly beans, etc for optional topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl, beat together ONLY cake mix and cream soda–that’s it. No eggs, no water, no oil. JUST mix and soda. Blend for 2 minutes. Portion into muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little moist crumbs. Cool completely.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down sides of mixer bowl every so often with a rubber spatula. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary until you’ve achieved the right, soft but spreadable consistency. Add more powdered sugar or milk if needed. Then, tint your frosting with the pink food gel if desired (or any Easter color–I split mine between pink and green).
3. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle/decorate with desired toppings.

Along with my Peeps, I made these carrotless carrot cupcakes–using royal icing carrots I purchased online from the awesome ladies at Layer Cake Shop. Makes for a cute cupcake, no? Though my brother was a bit apprehensive…

Easter food my family loves–well, 99%. The Peeps get no lovin’ from this household.

And for me, the best cupcake of all. Along with hatin’ on Peeps, carrot cake and holidays combining the two of them, my family detests coconut.

I KNOW, RIGHT? It’s awful. Criminal, almost.

So I made my own little cupcake, covered with the stuff. It was like marking my own territory of deliciousness, signified by the slathering of coconut. OH MAN. So good. And if you’re superior and awesome like me, then you should make a couple coconut ones, too.

Yep, it was tasty.

Enjoy these cupcakes, regardless of your love for Easter foods or not. Because seriously, that buttercream doesn’t get any easier to make. And those cupcakes are easily one of the moistest, yummiest cakes you’ll ever chew on–and don’t let any baker snobs tell you otherwise.

They’re just jealous.

xo, Hayley

Apple-Butterscotch Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

So you know that lady, Suzie, whom I made the dark chocolate cupcakes for? She also wanted spice cake.

I know–she and her dad have great taste. Spice cake is one of my favorites, and I’m glad pops doesn’t care that spice cake is traditionally a fall flavor. Screw the norm!

I wanted to switch it up a little and make a special spice cake that has a slightly different flavor than spice cakes I’ve made before.

Enter: butterscotch.

It’s a quintessential flavor that pretty much goes hand-in-hand with anything spice/cinnamon or apple. And this cake has all of those flavors into one petite little cup of deliciousness.

Honestly, I didn’t think I could really improve upon one of my own recipes. But I took my Apple-Cider Spice Cupcakes and tweaked them with the butterscotch to make them that much more awesome.

Who would of thought? I like these sooo much better–and I already had glowing things to say about the originals.

And now, with butterscotch added into the mix, these cupcakes take on a new, moister, spicier, greater flavor. Oh hell yeah.

Om nom nom on these yummies now.

Apple-Butterscotch Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box spice cake mix
1 packet apple cider drink mix plus 1 c water, blended together
3 eggs
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1 small box butterscotch instant pudding mix
2 cans cream cheese frosting
2 tsp cinnamon, divided
Sugar Babies (for topping), optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, blend together cake mix, apple cider water, eggs, and applesauce until combined. Stir in butterscotch pudding mix until well blended. Portion into muffin cups and bake approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely.
2. Open cans of frosting and make a small “well” with a knife and add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon; blend. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp of cinnamon until well blended (do this for each can; each can gets 1 tsp cinnamon). Spoon frosting into piping bag or spread onto cooled cupcakes. Top with a Sugar Baby candy, if desired.

Not surprisingly, the butterscotch and apple-spice flavor go so so so well together. Who cares if it’s April and springtime and yay all pastel colors and fresh flavors? Try these now. Do it. I demand you do.

xo, Hayley

Dark Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream & Macadamia Nuts

I like responsibility.

In elementary school, it was one of the “top” qualities kids should have… or so said the school principal, who pasted ‘Responsibility’ posters, along with ‘Courage’, ‘Determination’, and ‘Respect’ posters all over the school campus.

But, even though it’s a principal and when you’re 6, nothing they say is cool or interesting, I have to agree. Even at 6.

I always liked having responsibilities because it made the little bossy beeyotch in me happy. If someone gave me a task to do, I felt good, like they could rely on me. Plus, that meant I could be bossy to other people while trying to complete this task so the task would seem more important than it probably was. Teacher asks me to sharpen stack of pencils? I cut in the pencil sharpening line so I can get ’em done. So what if there are others waiting? I am being responsible, here.

And often times, like by doing my chores or running errands for my mom, I would get rewarded by being responsible. Like with magazines or pedicures, both of which are of high value in my rewards system (especially before I got subscriptions).

What does responsibility have to do with these cupcakes, you ask? Everything! A family friend named Suzie asked me to please bake her pops some delicious dark chocolate cupcakes for his surprise birthday this weekend. I accepted the task–taking on the responsibility of insuring these cupcakes be tasty and delicious… and dark chocolate-y, with lots of macadamia nuts, since he likes those.

Thank god I know how to bake.

But seriously, even if you aren’t the Bettiest Betty Crocker around, you can still make these–they’re surprisingly easy for their long and somewhat snobbish sounding name. But I figure, with all this responsibility, I can name them as snobby as I want.

I’m still bossy. Nothing’s changed.

Wanna know how to put these in your mouth-hole?

Dark Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Macadamia Nuts

1 box Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
1 small box SF/FF chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
2 tsp almond extract, divided
1/2 c cocoa powder
1-16oz bag powdered sugar
1 c softened butter
1/2 c crushed macadamia nuts (I bought chopped nuts and ground them a little in the food processor to make smaller pieces)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, prepare cake mix according to package directions, stirring in dry pudding mix and 1 (one) teaspoon of the almond extract until well blended. Portion into muffin cups and bake approximately 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist chocolate crumbs. Let cool completely.
2. In your stand mixer using your paddle attachment, whip butter for about 1 minute or until creamy. Stop mixer and add cocoa, then start mixer and blend for another minute, until incorporated. Then slowly add your powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until your frosting reaches your desired consistency (I didn’t use the whole bag, but almost. I also added 2 teaspoons of milk to make it creamier since mine was a bit stiff–this tends to happen with chocolate icing, so use a splash of milk if it becomes stiff. I wanted mine to be spreadable, or piped on easily).
3. Spread or pipe on your chocolate buttercream onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with crushed macadamia nut pieces.


Seriously… for not being a huge chocolate cake fan, I adore these cupcakes. I didn’t realize there were small chocolate fudge chips in the batter, which adds to the deliciousness of the moist chocolate cake. The almond extract also brings out the richness of the cake, and makes the chocolate buttercream that much more amazing. Forrealz, you need to eat this now.

Enjoy, and thanks Suzie for the awesome responsibility! 🙂

xo, Hayley

Almond Joy Brownie Bites

I really like Almond Joys. A lot.

In fact, when Halloween rolls around every year, I hoard the Almond Joys as if the Great Depression was to happen within the next five minutes and there’d be a sudden interest in all of the Almond Joys.

No one in my family likes Almond Joys that much to where they become psycho over them and count how many they have, eager to know that if they eat one, it will only slightly diminish the supply.

So when I found this GENIUS post from the oh-so amazing Kristan from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, I absolutely had to try it.

And promptly hoard the whole supply.

So what if it makes 36? I want them all.

Here’s the recipe, exactly like hers. Make these now–then check her stuff out. She has me on a coconut craze right now. Next, I’m making her Samoas Truffles. By next Friday, I will be obese… and I’m okay with that.

Almond Joy Brownie Bites

1 box brownie mix (or your favorite recipe; I used a box of Duncan Hines)
4 c shredded coconut
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 dozen almonds
Chocolate bark

1. Preheat oven according to brownie mix instructions, and prepare mix according to package directions. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan. Using a small cookie-dough scoop, portion out batter into muffin tins, filling about halfway to 3/4s way full. Bake according to package directions (mine baked for about 16 minutes). Cool completely.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and coconut. Using clean hands, roll small balls of coconut mixture in the palm of your hand and press down gently into tops of cooled brownie bites. Press a whole almond into the top of the coconut mix. Freeze brownie bites for about 15 minutes to harden the coconut.
3.  Melt chocolate bark according to package instructions. Dip tops of brownie bites into chocolate and place on wax-paper lined baking sheet or back into their muffin tin slots. Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.
4. Promptly hoard and consume one by one, preferably with a tall glass of milk.

These brownie bites are simply amazing. The sweetened coconut, the yummy chocolate and the crunchy almond–awesome.

xo, Hayley

Lemon & Raspberry-Filled Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

I think it’s inherent that girls like tea parties.

I dunno about guys, but I’m pretty sure they hate them.

Girls, though, love tea parties. Or they should. What girl doesn’t like tea parties? They’re classy affairs where you can dress up in cute clothes, eat crustless sandwiches and mind the day away with stupid gossip while wearing ridiculous hats and drinking optional tea.

I mean, how many little girls do YOU know that like tea? I know of none. I think they just like the idea of tea… kind of like guys like the idea of golf being a sport though it never will be, or how girls like the idea of swimsuit shopping, but when you actually have to do it, it’s like pulling teeth without novocaine and while having a loaded gun aimed at the back of your head.

Just saying.

I’ve only had a handful of tea parties in my life, most of which occurred when I was much younger and could fit into my grandma’s old muumuus without wondering why someone would ever buy such a garment for any other purpose but to let fashion-oblivious 5-year old girls wear it. And most of the time we just sipped Coke from the tea cups and ate those pink and white animal cookies.

It was obviously super classy.

And then one time, I had a “grown up” tea party birthday party for my mom. It was quite the fabulous affair, and I made all the goodies AND managed to host the shindig. We definitely served tea–three kinds of iced tea, to be precise. And people even dressed up. But sadly, there were no fancy hats. Or muumuus. I was kind of hoping someone would wear one, just because.

I got to thinking with spring here, it’d be the perfect time to throw a tea party. Flowers are blooming, the weather is bearable (so far) and there’s a bunch of cute, pastel-y crap at all the stores right now. And this cupcake is the perfect accompaniment to any tea party, whether or not it’s classy, truly a tea party, or just because you’re hungry and feel like chowing down on some awesome cupcakes. They look gorgeous, are easy to make, and taste wonderful, so pour yourself a glass of tea and start baking!

Lemon & Raspberry-Filled Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

1 box lemon cake mix
1 c water
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 box SF/FF lemon pudding mix
1-18 oz jar seedless raspberry jam
1-1 pound bag powdered sugar
1 c butter, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, eggs, water and applesauce until well blended.  Stir in the dry pudding mix until incorporated. Using a small dough-scoop, portion out one scant scoop of batter into each muffin cup. Then, using a small teaspoon, top each batter cup with a small teaspoon of raspberry jam, dabbed right in the center of the batter. Cover the jam completely with remaining batter.
2. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (free of lemon or yellow batter, anyways). Cool completely.
3. In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, cream together 1/2 cup raspberry jam and the softened butter until well blended, about 2 minutes. Adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time, blend frosting together on slow-medium speed until everything is incorporated and frosting has achieved your desired consistency. (I used the whole bag so my frosting would be stiff enough to pipe on, but use your own personal discretion). Once desired frosting is reached, frost cupcakes. Top with sprinkles, candied lemon peels, small jelly raspberries, or whatever you desire.


Did I mention I FREAKING LOVE raspberry and lemon together? Besides chocolate and raspberry, the lemon-raspberry combination is beyond my favorite flavor duo ever. So light and refreshing, and the raspberry buttercream is magnificent. Yeah, I used the word ‘magnificent.’ This is what these cupcakes do to me.

Oh, and this video made sense with this recipe. Enjoy it–it’s chuckle-worthy.

xo, Hayley

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