Category Archives: Holidays

Wrappin Up the Holidays

Every Christmas we tend to be bombarded with invitations to holiday parties. The parties are a lovely way to see friends, have great food, and celebrate the season. This year the first holiday party I attended was the first week of December, and from there I had one to go to pretty much every weekend through the New Year (including one I hosted).

The last official Christmas party was actually 2 & 1/2 weeks AFTER Christmas! My mom hosted, and she likes to call it her “Wrap up the Holidays Party”. For this year’s party she asked me to make cupcakes since she’s always telling her friends about my creations. She figured this was the perfect time for them to actually try them! There was a crazy amount of food at the party though, so most people ended up taking their cupcakes to go.

My mom loves chocolate, so of course the cupcake needed to be chocolate based.. I decided on a cocoa apple cupcake with a cream cheese frosting. The cake features chocolate chips and shredded Fuji apples. I made a similar cupcake for Thanksgiving a few years ago, but that one had a sour cream frosting. The chocolate and the apple make the cupcake quite sweet, but the frosting only has one cup of sugar which makes for a nice not too sweet topper.

I stuck to fully edible decor for this one. Red and green Christmas tree sprinkles, and a chocolate dipped apple slice!

Unfortunately, there was a little too much wine consumed at the party by yours truly, and I didn’t  get to snag a nice picture of the cupcakes at the party. But, my mom was kind enough to send me a pic of the leftovers the next morning!

Cocoa Apple with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cocoa Apple with Cream Cheese Frosting


Happy New Year – 2014?!

WOW! I can’t believe I managed to go two whole years without a post on this site! I was actually thinking it was only one year, but my last Happy New Year post was for 2012! My, how time has flown…

Needless to say, I haven’t been baking with the regularity of 2011, but I’ve done a few special requests here and there. Even with the typical craziness of the holiday season I managed to do two holiday cupcakes.

The first one was to kick off the holiday season at my sister’s Christmas cocktail party in Brooklyn. I figured since there’d be a lot of alcohol being consumed, it was best to keep the cupcake flavors simple. I did a chocolate chip, vanilla cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting. The cupcake was made festive with a two-tone swirl frosting, red and green Christmas tree sprinkles, and a Merry Christmas non-edible topper. I do try to avoid toppers that can’t be eaten, but I had these in my pantry and thought they were pretty cute!

photo 2

photo 1

I’ll save the other Christmas cupcake for another post. With these long breaks I’m going to need to get a few post in reserve!


Happy New Year!

After a flurry of holiday activity & a storm of holiday eating, I couldn’t bring myself to make another cupcake this year. For our New Year’s Eve celebration, I passed the dessert reigns to my mom & she made us a mean brownie!!

Here’s a peek at the 2010/2011 cupcake though!

It was a champagne cake topped with champagne buttercream, edible gold stars & a working noisemaker! It was a perfect combo for ringing in the new year (last year!)

Happy New Year!!!

Christmas Cupcakes!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Here’s two of my creations from this holiday season! They were created for my annual holiday gathering, and both went pretty quick, despite my fear of having made too many!!

The first was a Peppermint Bark cupcake, inspired by the famous holiday treat! It featured a chocolate, peppermint cake, and was topped with a white chocolate buttercream. As a garnish, crushed candy cane pieces were sprinkled on top, and the cakes were then topped with a candy cane Hershey kiss!

Peppermint Bark Cupcake

My second cupcake (which may make an encore appearance tomorrow for Christmas) was an eggnog cupcake. Eggnog was used in both the cake and the frosting. There was also a healthy dose of nutmeg and rum to spice things up. The cupcakes were topped with sugar holly leaves and one, tiny red sugar berry, a few shimmery white sprinkles, and a bit more nutmeg!

Eggnog Cupcake

Custom Order!

Last night I had the pleasure of creating cupcakes for a co-worker who wanted to gift a personalized, strawberry/vanilla cupcake this holiday season.

The cupcakes were for a friend’s younger sister, so there was also a request for lots of pink, and I was happy to oblige! The strawberry cake was tinted pink, as was the vanilla buttercream frosting, which was then garnished with pink sugar glitter, and shimmery white sprinkles.

This was my first request for a personalized cupcake, so I invested in funky letter cutters & got to work making some gum paste!

Happy Holidays Janina!!

Thanksgiving 2011

Before being totally swamped with all the baking and festivities associated with the upcoming holidays, I had to post about my Thanksgiving creations! This was the first Thanksgiving Jer and I hosted in our new home, and no holiday is complete without cupcakes…

Of course having hosted Thanksgiving Italian style (antipasto course, pasta course, turkey course, THEN dessert), there wouldn’t be  much room left for cupcakes, so these cupcakes were packaged to go. That’s not to say we went without dessert on Thanksgiving though – my mom made her famous apple pie, Jer’s mom made brownies, and his brother made pumpkin pie!

Pumpkins and apples are two great traditional flavors of Fall, and I wanted to incorporate them both into the cupcakes. The first cupcake was a Pumpkin Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream, topped with orange sugar. The cake itself was made with pumpkin puree and a variety of spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. It was moist like a pumpkin bread, but not as dense. The vanilla buttercream was a nice topper, as well, but a cream cheese frosting would have been great too!

The second cupcake was a Cocoa-Apple Cupcake with Sour Buttercream, topped with chocolate sprinkles. The cake was made with cocoa power, shredded organic Gala apples, and studded with semi-sweet chocolate chips. The Sour Buttercream is similar to a traditional buttercream, but is made with sour cream and is not as sweet, so it paired very well with the cake!

I packaged two of each cupcake in a festive box and gave them to our guests as they were leaving – just in case they got hungry on the car ride home 😉

Happy Halloween!!!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year, and in celebration, today’s cupcake is a Chocolate Pumpkin Ale with Pumpkin Buttercream frosting! I was a bit pressed for time this year, as we’re in the midst of a bunch of home renovations, but I managed to whip up this batch on one side of the kitchen while paint was drying on the wall on the other side!!

I started with my recipe for Chocolate Stout Cupcakes (great for St. Patty’s Day) and gave it an autumn twist. I substituted the stout with Post Road Pumpkin Ale from Brooklyn Brewery, and added in a little pumpkin pie spice.

The buttercream is made with organic pumpkin puree, in addition to ground cinnamon and ginger.

The cupcakes are topped with orange sugar, green sprinkles, and a mini sugar pumpkin!

Happy Halloween!!

Countdown to the 4th!

Here’s a quick look at last year’s 4th of July cupcakes I made for a BBQ at my sister’s BF’s place! (which has a great vantage point for viewing NYC fireworks!)

The cakes were vanilla, and topped with vanilla buttercream. Last year’s 4th was a scorcher, and frosting these guys was a real challenge, if you look close you can see these guys were already a bit melty!  But, they were quite a hit at the BBQ. They actually never got officially served. I was keeping them cool in a corner in the kitchen, and people kept grabbing them as they passed through!

Frosting & heat don’t get along at all, which is why you let cupcakes fully cool before frosting. This is one of my excuses for the lack of activity here at The Cupcake Files. It’s really been too hot to bake cupcakes as of late, however I have had a VERY successful cheesecake and blueberry pie emerge from my kitchen. Hopefully one day we’ll have central air and I can continue my cupcake baking in all kinds of weather.

Heat aside though, if you’ve been following my other blog, Titus Road, you’ll know I’ve been quite busy with home improvements, and haven’t had much time for cupcake making.

Excuses aside, I do have grand plans for some cupcakes for this holiday weekend.. If I can bring myself to make my plan less grand, there’s a chance they may actually happen, but we are in the middle of installing a sliding door in our dining room, and building rather sizable deck, not sure if I’ll be able to squeeze baking into this holiday weekend!

Easter 2011

Happy Day After Easter! Hope your holiday was as enjoyable as ours was!! This year we celebrated with both family and friends, so we were a nice-sized group of 11!

As previously mentioned, in creation of the day’s cupcakes, I had a few requests to fulfill. Most of them came from my sister:

    1. She wanted a bunny cake (I obliged with bunny cupcakes)
    2. She wanted my mom’s chocolate frosted layer cake (I again obliged by using my mom’s recipes)
    3. Her BF has a coconut allergy, so I wanted to provide another option for him since the bunnies have coconut faces!

To start, I made all the cupcakes with the Betty Crocker New Starlight Cake recipe. The recipe dates back to at least the 1960s, and this has been my mom’s go-to yellow cake recipe for as long as I can remember. You can’t even find this on the Betty Crocker website anymore. The closest thing they have is a Yellow Cake recipe, and even that’s a bit different. The only change I made to the original recipe was using butter instead of the shortening, and of course I made cupcakes, rather than cake.

Then there’s the frosting. My mom’s chocolate frosting is the best around, and a closely guarded secret, and also dates back to the 60s!  To emulate the layer-cake that my sister loves, I filled all the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting. Then half got frosted with vanilla buttercream, while the rest got frosted with the chocolate frosting.

I then proceed to decorate all the cupcakes with a variety of peeps, lambs, sprinkles, and colored sugar for a festive Easter display!

Chocolate Frosting, Yellow Cake, Chocolate Filling

Then, to fulfill her bunny cake request, I frosted a bunch of cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, dipped them in shredded coconut, and added some marshmallow ears, and a goofy face!

Cute or creepy? I can't tell...

Only half the vanilla-frosted ones got bunny faces because I wasn’t sure how they’d come out… The rest got peeped!

Vanilla Buttercream, Yellow Cake, Peeps & Bunnies

Countdown to Easter – Pt. 2

Three days left until Easter, and I’ve finally come up with a plan for Sunday’s cupcakes! I usually come up with an idea pretty quickly, but for this coming holiday I had a few specific requests to fill (more on that later!), so I was a little delayed.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at last year’s cupcakes. These were made for an Easter brunch hosted by my sister Melinda and my friend/her roomie Courtney at their apartment. The cupcakes were great, but paled in comparison to the great food those two whipped up! Still thinking about their cheese grits…

Anywho, to change things up a bit, I made Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. They were decorated with shredded wheat to resemble nests, candy-covered chocolate eggs, and festive Easter picks!