Easter Blossom Cake

orangecake1It’s Easter Sunday, but it’s 35 degrees in Pittsburgh this morning. Spring is an unpredictable season here in western Pennsylvania – it could be 75 and beautiful or 28 and snowing, all in the span of a few days. Mother Nature will do what she likes, and we all have to just go with it.

I like to think Mother Nature would enjoy this cake, not only for its buttercream blossoms but also its flavors. The cake itself is orange, with vanilla buttercream and a mixed berry filling. I didn’t feel like making my filling from scratch, so I heated up about 1/2 cup mixed berry preserves, then combined about 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch with a few teaspoons of water to make a slurry. I stirred the slurry into the preserves and simmered it for about 8-10 minutes to thicken it, then cooled it in the fridge before using it.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 Cara Cara orange
  • 6 tablespoons milk

For the frosting, filling, and decoration

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Bonne Maman mixed berry preserves, thickened*
  • Pink, yellow, fuchsia, and green gel food coloring

*To use preserves as a cake filling, place 1/2 cup preserves in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine about 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water to make a slurry, then stir into the preserves. Simmer until thickened – the mixture will reduce as it cooks. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 6-inch round cake pans, line each with a parchment circle, and lightly grease the parchment.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest and beat well to combine, scraping the sides of your bowl a few times.

Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat on low, then medium speed, until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes. You want a spreadable consistency, but not so soft that your flower petals won’t hold their shape.

Place bottom layer of cake on your cake stand or plate and pipe a border just inside the edge of your cake; fill with thickened preserves. Top with the other cake and frost top and sides, covering with an even layer of frosting. Reserve a small portion of white frosting for flower details and another small portion for leaves; tint the remainder of your frosting to your desired shades and pipe flowers to create your design; I used roses, rosebuds, and five-petal flowers, then chilled them until they set before placing them on the cake. I then used two different sizes of closed-star tips to fill in the gaps with the other blooms and added leaves.

Store cake in an airtight container in the fridge; bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 4-6 servings, depending on your slice size.

Here’s an overhead view of the cake, for a complete view of the flowers:

orangecake2

Lamb Cupcakes

lambcupcakeWhile searching for spring cupcake ideas, I came across these adorable lambs on Eats Amazing, a food blog out of England with incredibly creative treat ideas. The original recipe called for a chocolate/coconut combination, using shredded coconut to make the fleece, but I decided to just go with frosting. They’re probably the most adorable cupcakes I’ve ever made.

My frosting is a basic vanilla almond buttercream, but you could experiment with other flavors if you like to complement the chocolate – using chocolate frosting would make adorable brown sheep, so I might do that next time. You could also just frost these cupcakes by hand and make little swirls with your spatula for a wooly look instead of piping, but I really like how these turned out with the star tip.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

For the frosting

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; my batch made 15.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well-blended, then make three wells for the wet ingredients.

Place vinegar, vanilla and almond extracts, and vegetable oil into the separate wells; add water and mix until the batter is smooth. The mixture will bubble up slightly when you add the water, so just keep mixing until you get a smooth consistency in the batter, which will be fairly thin.

Using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, fill cupcake wells with batter – you want them to be about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from the pan immediately, cooling completely on a wire rack before frosting.

For frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine.

Fit a large piping bag with a large open star tip; I used the Wilton 6B. Pipe frosting on the top of each cupcake to make fleece. Place one chocolate wafer, flat side up, on each cupcake. Using a smaller piping bag fitted with a plain tip (or just snipped to allow for a small amount of frosting to come out), pipe dots on each wafer to hold the candy eyes, then add candy eyes. Cut remaining chocolate wafers into quarters and place two quarters on each cupcake for the lamb ears.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 16.

Spring Flower Cupcakes

springflowercupcakesI had big cupcake decorating plans today. And then, facing down my batch, I just couldn’t do it. No flower nail, no multiple shades, no practicing blossoms with my flower tip. I took the easy road instead, using both my Wilton M1 and 4B tips to create something that might, very vaguely, look like flowers. Truth be told, the cupcake pictured here is the best-looking one of the bunch. The others, well…not so much.

Granted, I’m a much tougher judge of my own baking then others are, but I fear that taking these in to work might cause me to lose some of my baking cred, at least in the decoration department. There are yellow rose-like cupcakes too, along with moderately mum-type ones that have way too many leaves and probably look like a four-year-old piped them. Still, if it’s taste that counts, these do have great flavor…so I’ve got that going for me.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

For the frosting

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Yellow, pink, and green gel food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; my batch made 15.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well-blended, then make three wells for the wet ingredients.

Place vinegar, vanilla, and vegetable oil into the wells; add water and mix until the batter is smooth. The mixture will bubble up slightly when you add the water, so just keep mixing until you get a smooth consistency in the batter, which will be fairly thin.

Using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, fill cupcake wells with batter – you want them to be about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from the pan immediately, cooling completely on a wire rack before frosting.

For frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine.

Reserve a small portion of frosting for your leaves; tint the rest to your desired shade. I used yellow for about half the cupcakes, then mixed in some pale pink to create a light peach color for the rest. Fit a piping bag with your desired tip and pipe your desired shapes. Tint remaining frosting green and pipe on leaves using a small piping bag and leaf tip. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Marble Cake

marblecake (2)My dog licked this cake. Before you get out the torches and pitchforks and come after me shouting that chocolate isn’t safe for dogs, I assure you that I’m well aware, and no canines were harmed during the licking of this cake. It was unglazed at the time, meaning Tucker’s delinquent tongue connected with the vanilla exterior only. And yes, I cut the piece that he licked and tossed it in the trash, lest anyone end up like Lucy Van Pelt in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, proclaiming that her lips touched dog lips.

Anyway…marble cake is such a classic, but until yesterday I’d never made one from scratch before. I do remember the marble Duncan Hines cakes of my childhood, when on a very rare occasion (because neither she nor my dad ate chocolate) my mom would make them for my brother and me. This cake was easy to make, though I think I overbaked it just slightly – it was wonderful yesterday, but a bit on the dry side today. Next time, I’ll pull it just a few minutes earlier.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Preparation 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt tin. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, stir together milk and sour cream and set aside. In another medium bowl, stir together cocoa powder and oil and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until the mixture is fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, accompanied by 1 spoonful of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Once all eggs are added, alternatively add flour mixture and milk/sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour, until batter is smooth.

Remove 2 cups of vanilla batter and stir into the cocoa/oil mixture to combine completely. Spoon vanilla mixture into your Bundt tin and make a trough through the batter, then add your chocolate batter. Swirl with a knife or small spatula to marble, being careful not to over-mix so you don’t totally blend the two together. Alternatively, you could add vanilla and chocolate batter in layers (vanilla, chocolate, vanilla) and swirl them together, or dollop them in and swirl them – however you achieve your marble is fine with me.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then flip onto a wire rack and cool completely before glazing.

To make glaze, stir together powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then add vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Add additional milk to reach a drizzling consistency, then pour over the cake, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides.

Lemon Bundt Cake

lemonbundtcakeEarlier this week Mike needed lemon juice for something, so I zested the lemon and saved it for baking. I don’t like to waste ingredients, so I whipped up this lemon bundt cake, an easy recipe that yields a lovely treat. You’ll notice below that the recipe uses the zest from two lemons, but the juice from just one. You can always reserve lemon juice and use it for cooking or baking by storing it in the fridge for 2-3 days.

This recipe is adapted from my poppy seed cake, and next time I think I’ll toss in some poppy seeds for a classic lemon poppy combination. One thing I love about baking is that when you find a reliable recipe, you can adapt it however you like by adding different flavors. I plan to adapt this recipe many times in the future.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Zest from 2 medium lemons

For the icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt tin.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, extracts, and lemon zest. Stir in flour in three batches, mixing to combine completely.

Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in tin for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and add lemon juice about 1 teaspoon at a time to reach a thicker pourable consistency. Pour over cake and allow to drip down the sides. Allow icing to set before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days; this cake stays moist much longer than I expected. Makes about 12 servings, depending on how generous you are with your portions.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

chocolatestrawberrycupcakePeople can go all out on Valentine’s Day, buying expensive chocolates, sparkling jewelry, and dozens of roses. But some of my favorite Valentine gifts have been hand-drawn or fashioned from construction paper by my nieces and nephews, requiring only creativity and some art supplies.

I’m also a fan of home-baked gifts for any occasion, and these chocolate strawberry cupcakes are an easy option for a Valentine’s Day treat. You just need cocoa powder for the cupcakes and could substitute strawberry jam for the fresh strawberry puree if that’s what you have on hand. 

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1/3 cup strawberry puree 

Preparation 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners; my batch made 13 cupcakes. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir together, then add water, oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the batter is smooth; it will be thin.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared cupcake tin, filling wells about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from cupcake tin and allow to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

To make frosting, combine butter and powdered sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla and strawberry puree to taste, beating to combine. Fit a piping bag with a large star tip (like the Wilton M1) and pipe generous swirls onto each cupcake. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. Makes 12 or 13, depending on how full your cupcake wells are filled. 

Snow Queen Cupcakes

snow queen cupcakesWinter gets a bad rap, but I love it. I think snow is beautiful, appreciate seeing the branches of the trees, and actually prefer cold weather to warm. If I had my choice between Florida and Maine, I’d choose Maine every time. So here at midwinter, I’ve whipped up some cupcakes worthy of a snow queen, a simple vanilla cupcake recipe topped with vanilla buttercream and blue sugar and pearl sprinkles.

Pearl sprinkles can be a bit unwieldy, so I recommend placing the cupcakes in a bowl or other container to catch any runaways during sprinkling and gently pressing the pearls into the frosting using the tip of a knife.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sour milk (1/2 tablespoon vinegar mixed with enough milk to yield 1/2 cup – stir and let stand for 5 minutes before using)

For the frosting

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Blue sugar sprinkles
  • Pearl sprinkles

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tines with paper liners; this recipe yields 17 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Add vanilla and canola oil and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared regular-sized cupcake liners, filling half full. Use a teaspoon measuring spoon to fill miniature cupcake liners.

Bake for 13 – 16 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, beat butter on medium speed for 1 minute, then add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is incorporated. Add vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes on medium speed. Fit a piping bag with a large star tip (I use the Wilton M1) and pipe swirls onto each cupcake. Top with blue sugar crystals and pearl sprinkles. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Blood Orange Bundt Cake

bloodorangebundtOnce again, blood orange season is upon us. Last week I picked up a bag of these little beauties at the grocery store, and today I whipped up a retro-looking blood orange Bundt cake for my dear friend Diana, along with a blood orange Madeira cake for Mike and me for New Year’s weekend. The original Bundt recipe comes from Cooking LSL, another blogger I found via Pinterest.

I debated about whether to glaze or drizzle the Bundt or just leave it plain, and I decided to go with a simple almond drizzle to complement the orange flavor. You could also use blood orange juice in your drizzle if you like, but it’ll be pink, rather than the beautiful rich red of blood orange. I had to adapt my recipe slightly because I didn’t have buttermilk, but sour milk – a combination of vinegar or lemon juice and milk, works just fine.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup blood orange juice (from 3 oranges)
  • Zest from 3 blood oranges
  • 3/4 cup sour milk* or buttermilk

For the drizzle

  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • About 3-4 teaspoons water

*To make sour milk, combine 2 1/3 teaspoons vinegar and enough milk to equal a total 3/4 cup liquid. Stir, then let sit for about 5 minutes before using.

Preparation 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour your Bundt tin.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating and scraping down your bowl between each. Add orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla and mix on low to combine. Add half the flour and milk, mixing on low to combine, then add remaining milk and flour and mix on low until completely combined.

Pour into Bundt tin and bake for 1 hour to 70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in tin for about 25 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make drizzle, combine powdered sugar, almond extract, and 2 teaspoons water; add enough additional water to make a drizzly icing. Spoon over the top of your cake or pipe from a piping bag (I piped mine from a bag to control it better). Allow icing to harden before storing; wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 3-4 days. Makes about 12 servings.

Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes

vanillapumpkincupcakePumpkin treats continue through Christmas, with many bakers serving pumpkin pies or pumpkin roll in addition to a host of holiday cookies. If you’re wondering what to do with leftover canned pumpkin, wonder no more. There are many recipes for whatever amount you have; in my case, I had 10 ounces left over from baking Tucker’s pumpkin peanut butter dog treats, so I took eight ounces of that and made it into these vanilla pumpkin cupcakes (which sounds a bit like a candle you may have received this holiday season). Pumpkin is a dog-safe food, so I gave Tucker the remaining two ounces; he lapped it up, then went to take a nap.

There are many frostings you can choose for pumpkin cakes and cupcakes – cream cheese frostings are very popular – but since Mike will take these to work, I went with a buttercream, which doesn’t require refrigeration. You could go with cinnamon or another spiced frosting, but I chose a simple vanilla and it paired very well.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners; my recipe yielded 14 cupcakes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. In a large glass measuring cup, combine pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix well, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir until well combined and smooth.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, fill cupcake wells about 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven; immediately remove from tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, then add powdered sugar and beat on low until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla extract and beat for 1-2 minutes. Frost cupcakes as desired; I just used an offset spatula this time, rather than a piping tip. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

hotcocoacupcakes

I swear by recipes that come on the back of a package, because you know they’re tried and true. This recipe, while not from a package, was featured on the Dixie Crystals sugar website, submitted by a member of their baking community. And you a product maker isn’t going to just slap any old recipe on their website and have it associated with their sugar, so I figured this one would be good – and I was right.

Quantity-wise, the original recipe said it would yield 24 cupcakes, so I cut it in half intending to make just a dozen. My halved recipe still made 24, but amazingly the frosting yielded exactly enough for my total two dozen cupcakes. I altered the frosting recipe to include more vanilla and a teaspoon of milk, because it seemed a bit thick to me. You can top these cupcakes however you like, but I went with mini marshmallows and peppermint sticks, even though there’s no peppermint in the batter.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup hot cocoa mix
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

For the frosting

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme (aka fluff)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 1 teaspoon milk 
  • Miniature marshmallows
  • Peppermint sticks

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two 12-cup cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa mix. Add egg, milk, and vegetable oil and stir to combine; slowly add boiling water and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Fill cupcake wells half full and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from tins; cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add marshmallow creme and beat to combine, then add powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat on medium speed to combine. Add 2 additional teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon milk to thin the frosting slightly.

Fit a piping bag with a Wilton M1 tip and pipe swirls of frosting onto each cupcake. Add miniature marshmallows and peppermint sticks to the tops if desired. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Makes 24.