Recreating Old Favorites – Berry Cheesecake Cupcakes

While waiting for the purple ombre cakes to cool and bitten by the baking bug, I decided to whip up some cupcakes. I searched the kitchen and found half a bag of frozen berries left in the freezer as well as my roommates’ leftover raspberries and blueberries sitting in the fridge. So, I decided to make berry cupcakes again (which were a hit on July 4th) But since I don’t really like to make the same thing twice, I added in some cream cheese filling to spice up the cupcakes.

I loosely followed this recipe for berry cheesecake muffins. Once you’ve made cupcakes (or any recipe for that matter) several times, you know the basic steps for making any kind of cupcake. In that sense, I feel that baking is very loose and not as restrictive as some people think. In my opinion, all cakes, cupcakes, and cookies follow the same basic recipe. You just vary what you mix-in to change it up.

For these cupcakes, I decided to change it up by adding in a cream cheese filling. I filled the cupcake liners about 1/3 full of the berry cupcake batter, then added a heaping spoonful of the cream cheese mixture, topped it with a raspberry and blueberry, and filled up the rest with batter. Since I only wanted to use one muffin tin, I filled each liner full to the brim with filling. Seeing how full they were (i.e. on the verge of spilling out of the liners), I was worried that the cupcakes would rise too much while baking. But my worries were for naught. The cupcakes did rise quite a bit while in the oven; however, when I took them out and let them cool, they deflated down to regular sized cupcakes. So bottom line: don’t be afraid to fill up your cupcake liners – the cupcakes will deflate anyway.

I had leftover blackcurrant buttercream frosting from the purple ombre cake, so I used that to frost these cupcakes. However, any frosting would be good with these cupcakes, such as raspberry, strawberry, blackberry or even lemon frosting.

When I got to my last two cupcakes, I ran out of the blackcurrant frosting. Luckily, I had leftover cream cheese frosting in the fridge and used that for the last two. (I don’t usually have frosting just lying around. It just so happened that I was baking and decorating a lot of cakes that weekend. :P) Also, I highly recommend decorating these cupcakes with fresh berries if you have them. The fresh berries make the cupcakes absolutely gorgeous!

These cupcakes ended up being so delicious that my friend’s mom declared them the best cupcakes she had ever had! (However, that may be a bit of a hyperbole since she tends to exaggerate things.) These cupcakes were definitely some of the best I’ve made in both taste and presentation. The cream cheese filling was rich and creamy and tasted very similar to cheesecake. The berries inside were refreshing and their tartness helped cut some of the richness of the cream cheese filling as well as the sweetness of the frosting.

These cupcakes are a nice twist on regular berry cupcakes and beautifully combine the flavors and textures of cheesecake with those of cupcakes. Just by adding a heaping spoonful of cream cheese filling, I created a delicious hybrid of cupcake and cheesecake. Try playing around with some of your favorite traditional recipes – you’ll create a new dish while still enjoying the old one.

Berry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Adapted from chef-in-training

For the cupcakes:
1/3 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A bag (or half a bag) of frozen berries (you can always use fresh berries too)

For the cream cheese filling:
6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
zest of 1 lemon

For the buttercream frosting:
1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 jar of blackcurrant, raspberry, blackberry, or strawberry jam

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add one egg a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition.
3. Beat in the milk.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
5. Gradually add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture just until moistened.
6. Fold in berries gently.
7. Fill paper lined muffin cups one-third full with the cupcake batter.
8. For the cream cheese filling, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth.
9. Drop a heaping tablespoonful into the center of each cupcake.
10. Place fresh berries in the center of each cupcake.
11. Fill up the rest of the liner with the cupcake batter.
12. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
13. Let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a wire rack.
14. To make the frosting, beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar. Gradually add in the rest of the sugar, one cup at a time. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in the jam and continue beating.
15. Frost cupcakes with the buttercream frosting and decorate as you wish. Then enjoy!

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A Berry Good July 4th – Mixed Berry Cupcake/Muffins

For July 4th, I decided to skip baking a traditional flag cake and the non-traditional hidden flag cake, even though Pinterest was flooded with them (as Deb from smitten kitchen duly noted). Besides my housemate ended up baking one and our kitchen is definitely not big enough for two flag cakes. So instead, I decided to bake berry cupcakes since I had a tub of expiring sour cream and a bag of frozen berries sitting in the freezer.

Creaming the butter and sugar

Now, I’m not sure if these exactly classify as cupcakes since they looked like muffins. I like to think they were cupcakes since I creamed the butter and sugar and added each egg one at a time. Usually, I think of muffins as  the “mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry ingredients, and then add the dry to the wet” kind of recipe whereas cupcakes are more of the “cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, then alternately add the flour and milk” type. It makes sense since creaming the butter and sugar lightens the batter and makes the final product more fluffy. This is probably why muffins are much denser than cupcakes. But don’t quote me, I’m no expert on cupcakes or muffins. I usually just do what the recipe tells me.

Mixing in the frozen berries

The original recipe was for lemon cream cupcakes, but I modified it by adding in frozen mixed berries at the end. No need to thaw the berries, in fact that’ll result in berry juice instead of actual berries. Also, try not to mix the berries too much since that’ll break them up.

All ready for the oven

I noticed that while baking in the oven, the cupcakes rose quite a bit and then deflated after I took them out. Not sure how to prevent deflation yet. I remember seeing a tip on Pinterest about baking them at a lower temperature, but I have yet to try that.

Since I hate to waste leftovers, I frosted the cupcakes with leftover lime buttercream frosting (the one from the margarita cupcakes). These cupcakes are pretty sweet already and didn’t really need the frosting. So I’d recommend just sifting some powdered sugar on top instead of frosting them (especially with old frosting). Plus, without the frosting, you’ll be able to see the bright colors of the cupcakes!

    

Unfrosted cupcake vs. Frosted cupcake

(And you can paint your nails red to match them… not like I intentionally did that…    Or you can just patriotically paint your nails!)

I brought these cupcake/muffins to a Fourth of July BBQ and they were devoured pretty quickly. What’s nice about this recipe is that it’s not just strictly for a special holiday, like those flag cakes. You can make these muffin/cupcakes for any kind of party/BBQ or even for breakfast or dessert!

Mixed Berry Cupcakes/Muffins
Adapted from allrecipes

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream
1 bag of frozen mixed berries (or whatever berries you want)

1. Cream the butter and sugar.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla.
4. Combine the dry ingredients.
5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream to the creamed butter mixture.
6. Fold in the frozen berries.
7. Fill a paper-lined muffin tin with batter (each one 1/2 or 3/4 full of batter).
8. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.
9. Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
10. Sift powdered sugar on top or frost with your favorite frosting (a lemon buttercream or cream cheese frosting would go well with these cupcakes).
11. Paint your nails to match the berries in the cupcakes and enjoy!

Tecate Cupcakes

This past weekend was definitely festive with both the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo falling on the same day. To celebrate, my friends had a Cinco de Mayo barbecue featuring carne asada, grilled pineapple, and of course, margaritas! I was planning on making margarita cookies from this recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen. But I didn’t have any tequila on hand and didn’t think it’d be worth it to buy a bottle if I was only using a few tablespoons. (I guess I could have saved the rest for margaritas and tequila shots :P)

So instead, I decided to make Corona cupcakes from this recipe on Erica’s Sweet Tooth. But since I couldn’t find any Corona in our house, I used Tecate instead. The recipe is a pretty standard cupcake recipe, except that it uses beer for moisture instead of milk or water. Although I couldn’t really taste the beer and I’m pretty sure none of my friends noticed it, the cupcakes were still delicious!

I was a little too lazy to make my own cream cheese frosting, so I just added the zest and juice of one lime to some leftover store bought frosting sitting in my refrigerator. I think it was really the frosting that did it for me. Yes, the cupcake is super moist and tasty, but the frosting is what made me want to eat another. The zest and juice really packed a lot of flavor into the frosting without making it too sour. I’ll probably make it again for another cake/cupcake in the future since it was so good (and super easy to make).

These cupcakes are a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or kick off summer! Which I can finally do, now that my finals are over! 😀 However, life as a grad student doesn’t include any summer vacation – only long hours in the lab. Call me a nerd, but I’m super excited about it!

Tecate/Corona Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth and Miss Make

For the cupcakes:
3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lime zest (I used the zest of one lime)
1 cup Blue Moon or Corona or Tecate beer, plus more for brushing on tops
1/4 cup milk
Lime wedges and sanding sugar for garnish (I skipped this)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add eggs, beating after each addition then add the vanilla and zest. (I apparently can’t read, and added all of the eggs in at once. They turned out fine)
5. Combine milk and beer and alternatively add this mixture and the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture with the mixer on low speed, starting and ending with the flour.
6. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. (I made 13 regular sized cupcakes and 32 mini-cupcakes)
7. When cupcakes are done, poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes with toothpicks and brush some beer on each while still warm. (I tried doing this, but the spooned the beer on top instead. It didn’t really work since the beer just spilled over the cupcake. It probably works better brushing the beer on top, but this step doesn’t really seem to be that necessary)
8. Let cupcakes cool and frost with lime cream cheese frosting.

For super easy lime cream cheese frosting:
1/4 cup store bought cream cheese frosting
Zest and juice of one lime

1. Add lime zest and juice to cream cheese frosting
2. Stir until get desired consistency.