Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

Pinterest is my favorite social media network. By far. In an effort to legitimize the time I spend on Pinterest, I’ve committed to be a doer, not just a pinner. I want to be crafty, save moneyhave fun with my kiddo, and make delicious food, not just pin those things.

Since I need (and love) to feed my family, making that delicious food I’ve been pinning has been an easy way for me to do, not just pin. I have quite the cookbook collection, but when I meal plan at the beginning of the week, I purposefully choose a recipe or two from one of my food boards to include. My favorite is when our small group needs dessert and I have an excuse to scour my cookies and sweets boards.

Though you can control the visual quality of your Pinterest boards, you can’t always control the quality of the finished product. Not everything I’ve pinned has been as good as it’s looked. I recently pinned a boxed cake cheat (how to make a boxed cake taste like a bakery cake) and made a mental note to test the claim ASAP. I got the chance a week or so later when Tim needed treats for a co-worker’s birthday celebration.

Pinterest testedI made the suggested additions and substitutions – with a few tweaks of my own – and was super pleased with the results.

  • I buy cake mix when it’s on sale and usually have one or two in my pantry. I had one left – a Pillsbury Moist Supreme Classic White Premium Cake Mix.
  • I used 4 whole eggs instead of 3.
  • I didn’t double the amount of oil, but substituted 1/3 cup melted butter.
  • I used unsweetened almond milk instead of water. (Don’t be weirded out by the brown spots in my milk in the photo below. I dipped my teaspoon in the milk to get the excess vanilla off.)
  • Amen to the vanilla extract addition.
  • I had frozen strawberries on hand so I chopped up a few, tossed them in flour, and added them to the batter.
  • My oven is a bit unreliable, but I made an effort to preheat then reduce. Not sure if that actually happened.

boxed mix - bakery cake

There was still a hint of cake mix flavor (which doesn’t bother me), but the crumb was tighter and the cake itself was sturdier. Overall, this was a great way to amp up a pantry staple in a hurry. Pinterest success!

Beyond the method, these cupcakes were a flavor success, too. I’m a rule follower when it comes to baking, but I’m glad I threw in the strawberries on a whim. The butter makes these cakes quite moist and the fruit just adds a little burst of sweetness. I made a simple vanilla buttercream to top the cupcakes (not pictured), but they look so pretty unfrosted and taste delicious plain.

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes 2

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes
Author: Emily C. Gardner
A simple way to amp up boxed cake mix transforms classic white into strawberries and cream perfection.
  • 1 White Cake mix (Yellow or Devils Food would be delicious, too)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (whatever kind you have on hand)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place contents of cake mix in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, and melted butter. Whisk until no (or very few) lumps remain.
  3. Sprinkle diced strawberries with a tablespoon of flour. Mix until all berries are lightly coated.
  4. Add coated berries and fold into cake batter.
  5. Scoop batter into muffin pan. Fill 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan before removing.
  8. Serve plain or with vanilla buttercream frosting.

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Shauna Niequist’s Chocolate Mousse

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Sometimes good food photos just don’t happen. Despite the fact that I didn’t have time (or the lighting) to take pretty photos of this delicious dark chocolate mousse, the recipe needed to be shared.

Our Bread and Wine group/book club/study (not sure what to call it) met on Wednesday for another wonderful evening of fellowship around the table. I was in charge of the sweet ending to our Italian meal. My default desserts are generally heavy on the gluten, which doesn’t work for a couple of wheat intolerant gals, so I was going to go with sorbet to finish off the evening until I perused the recipe index of Shauna’s book.

GatheringI love meeting and eating around the (mismatched) table with these women!

Just the name, Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse, had me convinced, then I looked up the recipe and was further convinced by the short ingredient list: dark chocolate, honey, and heavy whipping cream. Not only was this absolutely gluten-free, but it was easy too!

The honey offered a pleasant sweetness to the mousse but didn’t compete with the intense chocolate flavor. If you weren’t a huge dark chocolate fan, milk chocolate would certainly work.

A dollop of freshly whipped cream is the perfect foil for such a rich dessert. I waited until just before serving to add big clouds of lightly sweetened whipped cream to the tops of the mousse. The chilled mousse has a fudge-like consistency. If you wanted a lighter texture, take the mousse out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

I doubled the recipe to feed our 10 person group and had one serving left over to feed my hubby after youth group. Shauna suggests putting the mousse in juice glasses, but I don’t have 10 of any type of glass except for mugs and tea cups. So, I opted to serve the mousse in my pretty tea cups.

Mousse in tea cups

My baking sheet isn’t the prettiest background but worked well to corral all of these tea cups in the fridge.

Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse

         adapted from Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

  • 1 quart chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 2 (12 oz) bags dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup honey

In a saucepan over low heat, stir together 1 1/2 cups cream, chocolate chips, and honey until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

While the chocolate mixture is cooling, beat 1 1/2 cups cream to soft peaks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Fold cream into chocolate mixture in two additions.

Divide mousse among 12 glasses or ramekins (or teacups!). Refrigerate until set, about two hours.

Before serving, beat the remaining cream to firm peaks. (I always add some vanilla and powdered sugar to the cream intended for whipped cream). Spoon whipped cream on top of each mousse.

Serve plain or with berries.

Yield: 12 servings


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Banana Cake with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake with PB Frosting

When my mom begins an email with, “gotta share these two new and fabulous recipes with you!”, I know I’m in for a treat.

The summer humidity where my mom lives makes bananas ripen quicker than they get eaten. After making multiple loaves of banana bread, she went searching for a different recipe to utilize her browning nanners and a spare cake mix. What she found was a simple and versatile (you could use any flavor cake mix) recipe that yields a moist, tender cake with a mild, but distinct, banana flavor.

My mom and I share an affinity for banana bread and peanut butter sandwiches. With that in mind she found a fluffy peanut butter frosting to adorn the banana cake and mimic the taste of those tasty sandwiches we so love.

The result of these two new recipes is indeed fabulous!

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake {source}

  • yellow cake mix
  • eggs, oil, and water (ingredients listed on the box to make cake)
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Create cake batter according the package instructions. In a separate bowl, mash the two bananas. Mix the baking soda into the bananas until thoroughly mixed – it will look lighter and slightly foamy. Add banana mixture to the cake batter and stir until combined.

Pour banana batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool completely and frost with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting (below).

Banana cake with PB Frosting

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting {adapted from All Recipes}

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Beat butter and peanut butter together until well combined. Beat in the powdered sugar. Frosting will be very dense and thick.  Add heavy cream and beat until fluffy and spreadable. Spread on cooled Banana Cake.


Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp

Shauna's Blueberry CrispI am a huge fan of Shauna Niequist and her writing. Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet were fantastic books that I will read over and over, so when I found out she was writing her third book and it was about food and community (two things I’m passionate about), I was super excited.

Even though I wasn’t together enough to get my post about Bread and Wine out early, I received an advance copy of the book a couple months ago. My friend Sarah had also gotten an early copy of Bread and Wine so when she came to visit in March, I thought it would be fun to make some of Shauna’s recipes together (more on that soon!).

Some new friends of ours came over and we feasted on Annettes Enchiladas, Esquites, and Blueberry Crisp. Everything turned out wonderfully, but I couldn’t get enough of that blueberry crisp.

Blueberry Crisp unbakedBlueberry Crisps

Tim and I got some treasured Purple Gold as a welcome gift when we first moved to Coeur d’Alene and I’ve used it sparingly. Shauna mentions that the crisp is easily adaptable for many fruits, so I decided to use the last of those treasured berries to make a huckleberry version.

Mmm, wow! Five of us polished off the entire 8×8 pan with ease. I made another batch with blueberries later that week. Both were fabulous.

Two Blueberry CrispsIndividual Blueberry Crisp

The topping is a mixture of almond meal, oats, oil, maple syrup and chopped nuts. I about croaked at the price of a little bag of almond meal so I made my own – just grind almonds in a food processor until they look like sand. Be careful not to make almond butter, though.

Layer the topping over a few cups of fruit and bake until bubbly. All the while your house will smell divine. The fruit combined with maple syrup from the crisp topping creates the perfect just sweet enough dessert (or breakfast). We served ours warm with vanilla ice cream at dinner and I ate mine straight from the fridge at breakfast.

I will absolutely be making this again and again.

Shauna Niequist Blueberry Crisp

Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4-6
The recipe could easily be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Find this and other delicious recipes in Bread and Wine.
  • 4 cups blueberries (or almost any fruit), frozen okay
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts and pecans work great)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together oats, nuts, almond meal, syrup, and salt with a fork.
  3. Pour berries into an 8 x 8 pan, and then layer the crispy topping over it.
  4. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or up to 10 minutes longer if topping and fruit are frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

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