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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies…*
…the perfect formula: Chocolate+Peanut Butter

As most of you already know,
I have an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter. And chocolate. And anything peanut butter and chocolate. You know it’s a problem when it’s all you crave for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t even enjoy an apple or a banana without a smear of peanut butter on every slice. Just like a 5-year old, I now prefer PB & J’s over a turkey sandwich. I even dunk my granola bars, pretzels, and the occasional Hershey’s bar in the Jif jar. Not normal, I know, but I’m sure there are other PB crazed souls out there that can relate…right? Don’t answer that.

As you can probably imagine, when it comes to Reese’s, I get weak in the knees. Although I missed the official “I love Reese’s Day” on May 18, I promise you that I’m still one of the biggest fans of the famous chocolatey peanut buttery treat. When I came across this recipe by Laura of Real Mom Kitchen, I just about died. I had to get in the kitchen and start baking immediately. These cookies were so soft and chewy, and perfectly balanced with chocolate and peanut butter in every bite. They are a must, but if you haven’t the time to make these cookies now (which I highly recommend), please pencil in a day in November, the official “Peanut Butter Lovers Month” to do so. You will be forever grateful :)
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe by Real Mom Kitchen)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (I used swirled chocolate chips!)
32 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 4 pieces
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The Instructions…*
(Recipe yields ≈ 18-20 cookies)
(1) Preheat oven to 350° F
(2) Mix the butter, sugars, peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla until moistened
(3) Add baking soda, salt, and flour.  Fold in chocolate chips.
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(4) Using an ice cream or small cookie scoop, evenly space dough on ungreased cookie sheet. 
(5) Use your hand and slightly flatten each scoop of dough and bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies start to set
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(6) Remove cookies from oven and lightly press 8 cut up pieces of the Reese’s peanut butter cups over the top of each cookie.  Return to oven for 2 more minutes, or until edges are slightly golden
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(7) Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes before placing on cooling rack; enjoy these cookies warm with a cold glass of milk! :)
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“Sharing is a nice gesture. Stupid, but nice.” (-Reese’s)
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"...because no one should have to choose between chocolate and peanut butter."  (-Reese’s)
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Cookie Bottomed Brownie Cupcakes…*
…the best of three desserts

Yes, the title says it all. Cookies. Brownies. Cupcakes. These bad boys combine the best of three desserts into one, cohesive, chocolatey masterpiece. At the base of each cupcake lies a thick layer of chewy, chocolate chip cookiedough, which is topped with fudgy brownie batter and baked together in unison. The result? A cupcake with a split personality. As if they aren’t already calorie-laden enough, I went ahead and added a fat dollop of vanilla bean buttercream and a slice of a warm chocolate chip cookie to the top of each. Why not? If you’re going to have dessert, you might as well just go all out. At least that’s what I tell myself…every single day. The only thing I really stop to think about is what kind of dessert I’m in the mood for.  Sometimes it’s just easier when you don’t have to choose between a cookie and a brownie. And that is exactly what this recipe is for…to make your life easier, and well, much more enjoyable :)
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The Ingredients…*
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bottom  
1 package of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mix (Refrigerated cookie dough works great too!)
Eggs & butter according to package 

Fudgy Brownie Top
1 box of Brownie Mix (or make your own brownies if you’d like)
Eggs, oil, & water according to package 

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
(Recipe by Savory Sweet Life)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
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The Instructions…*
First, make the Cookie Bottomed Brownie Cupcakes:
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F and line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside
(2) Mix cookie dough according to package instructions
(3) Scoop small amount into the bottom of each cupcake liner and flatten until dough touches edges of liner; place cupcake pans in freezer to set for 10 minutes (*NOTE: Set aside extra cookie dough if you wish to bake small cookies for garnish)
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(4) Meanwhile, prepare brownie mix according to package instructions
(5) Remove pans from freezer and scoop brownie batter directly on top of chilled cookie dough; liners should be about 3/4 full
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(6) Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until brownie batter is set
(7) While oven is hot, scoop tablespoons of leftover cookie dough onto baking sheets and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until edges are golden brown; set aside
(8) Remove from oven and allow time to completely cool
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Finally, prepare the Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
(Recipe by
Savory Sweet Life)
(1) Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed
(2) Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter
(3) Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes
(*) If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time
frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time 
 
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(4) Frost/pipe onto cupcakes as is and top with chocolate chip cookie :)
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And there you have it….chocolate chip cookie bottomed brownie cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream.Wowza, dare ya to say that 10 times!
 
 
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Neapolitan Cupcakes…*
…three flavors swirled into one 

A bachelorette party isn’t complete without sparkly stilettos, bubbly champagne, and of course, gourmet treats. I took part in celebrating Miss Leven’s ‘last fling before the ring’ by crafting a pretty little cupcake for the pretty little bride. My idea started when I found the ring toppers, polka dot cupcake liners, and sparky pink sprinkles at a craft store down the street. It didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to make a tri-flavored cupcake with layers and layers of whipped buttercream. Neapolitan cupcakes seemed to be the perfect fit for the bride-to-be and her beautiful bridesmaids. Lo and behold, these cupcakes were spot on—they tasted just like Neapolitan ice cream! Although the Neapolitan flavor profile is derived from the frosting and filling, not so much the cake itself…so don’t even think about taking any shortcakes with these layered treats. The moist, chocolate cupcake was balanced out with a fresh strawberry filling and a creamy, vanilla buttercream frosting. Much like its beloved ice cream counterpart, all of the flavors melt together in harmony with every bite you take.
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 This ring is almost as pretty as the bride’s…totally kidding! ;) 
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The beautiful bride herself! Congratulations, Jessica!
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The Ingredients…*
Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe byMartha Stewart)
(Makes ≈ 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
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Strawberry Buttercream
(Recipe by My Baking Addiction)
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
A pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 ounces strawberries, pureed
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
 
Vanilla Buttercream
(Recipe by Savory Sweet Life)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream 
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The Instructions…*
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe byMartha Stewart)
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F and line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside
(2) Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl
(3) Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed
(4) Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, only until about 2/3 full
(5) Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the Strawberry Buttercream…
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For the Strawberry Buttercream
(Recipe by My Baking Addiction)
(1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy
(2) Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar, and continue mixing until well blended
(3) Add salt, vanilla, 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and strawberry puree; Blend on low speed until moistened
(4) Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency; Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy
(5) Fill cupcakes with half of strawberry buttercream using a pastry (or Ziploc) bag, and pipe the rest of the frosting on top of the cupcakes; cool in refrigerator while preparing Vanilla Buttercream… 
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For the vanilla buttercream:
(Recipe by Savory Sweet Life)
(1) Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed
(2) Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter
(3) Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes
(*) If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time
(4) Frost/pipe on top of the strawberry buttercream and top with sprinkles (and diamond rings).... :) 
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Ooohh, ahhhhh…so sparkly!
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You may now eat the cupcake.
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…and the bride and all her bridesmaids lived on happily ever after.
 
 
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Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Fudge Cupcakes…*
…Hot fudge. Peanut butter. Chocolate cake. ‘Nuff said. 

It was bound to happen. Sooner or later, I was going to find it. Someone was going to come up with a recipe that magnified the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and it was going to find me in my weakest moment. Thank you, Jessica of How Sweet Eats, for teasing me with your pictures and taunting me with your recipe for Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Fudge Cupcakes. Honestly though, at this point, I’m not even mad about it. I could care less about the 1,000,000,000 calories I consumed during and after the creation of this beautiful cupcake. In the end, it was worth every one.

It’s not every day you get to experience hot fudge dripping down the sides of a mound of creamy peanut butter frosting atop a moist chocolate cupcake. Did I mention there is even more peanut butter stuffed inside? Oh, sorry I must have forgotten about that small detail. It’s only one more reason why I am completely and utterly obsessed with these cupcakes. Hot Fudge. Peanut Butter. Chocolate Cake. Peanut Butter. You’d be crazy not to love these. Excuse me while I go help myself to another one...
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The Ingredients…*
Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe byMartha Stewart)
(Makes ≈ 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 
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The Instructions…*
Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe byMartha Stewart)
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F and line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside
(2) Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl
(3) Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed
(4) Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, only until about 2/3 full
(5) Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely
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The Ingredients…*
Peanut Butter Buttercream
(Recipe by How Sweet Eats)
*NOTE: I doubled this recipe & it was just enough to frost and fill 24 cupcakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup peanut butter
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons of milk
Pinch of salt
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The Instructions…*
Peanut Butter Buttercream
(Recipe by How Sweet Eats)
(1) Cream butter and peanut butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer
(2) Add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla extract
(3) Mix until frosting is smooth (If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar)
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(4) Fill pastry bag with ¼ of the frosting and fill cupcakes by poking a hole in each with the pastry tip
(5) Use remaining frosting to decorate cupcakes as desired (My frosting was a bit too thick for a fancy frosting swirl so I decided to scoop it on top like ice cream!)
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Pile on that buttercream because we all know you can never have too much peanut butter…
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Hot Fudge Topping
(*) Time to break out the hot fudge! I used store bought, but feel free to make your own!  Heat according to package instructions and drizzle over the top of the cupcakes for the grand finale!
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Hot fudge on top of peanut butter on top of chocolate stuffed with peanut butter. Comprende?
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At this point, I’m in some sort of coma. In a place that shouldn’t exist.
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This cupcake has left me speechless. Would it be rude if I kept them all to myself?

......I didn't think so. ;)
 
 
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Chocolate Covered Pretzel Cookies…*
…a sweet & salty mistake

Cravings for chocolate and fresh baked cookies were the two motivators behind this simple creation. My roommate’s request for chocolate chip cookies made a turn for the best when she brought home 2 bags of chocolate covered pretzels in lieu of chocolate chips. An easy swap, these cookies turned out better than I could have ever expected. The buttery cookie is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the milk chocolate and the saltiness of the pretzels. I took these cookies to the next level by drizzling them with melted Hershey’s chocolate…and then again with Jif Peanut Butter. They are absolutely amazing. If you like chocolate covered pretzels and if you like dipping your pretzels in peanut butter, you will go crazy for these cookies. They. Do. Not. Disappoint. Enjoy! ;)
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe adapted from In Katrina’s Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate covered pretzels, chopped
Chocolate chips for drizzling, optional
Peanut Butter for drizzling, optional
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The Instructions…*
(Makes 3 dozen cookies)
(1) Preheat oven to 350° F
(2) Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside
(3) Beat shortening and sugars until combined and creamy; add eggs and extract
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(4) Add the dry ingredients and fold in chocolate covered pretzels 
(5) Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to drop dough onto baking sheet
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(6) Bake at 350 for about 9 minutes, and then allow enough time to cool completely
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And afterwards, if you’re crazy like me, you’ll drizzle them with melted chocolate
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and then again with creamy peanut butter. It may have been the best last minute decision I have ever made.
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You can stack ‘em up high.
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Or dip ‘em down low. Whichever way you like, just don’t forget to enjoy ‘em while you can…because they will disappear quickly.
 
 
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Cubs Brownie Pops…*
…bite-size fudgy brownies

As much as I’d like to say I put a lot of thought into this one, the truth is, I had extra brownies leftover from my Brownie Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies’that I needed to use before I ate them all. I wanted to make something quick and easy, but I also wanted to tap into my sprinkles collection, since I haven’t in a very long time. To my surprise, I found a large stash of Cubs cupcake toppers that I made for my CubCakes a few weeks ago. Within minutes, I was cutting into the brownies and crafting mini chocolate pops, similar to the technique used to make Bakerella’s Cake Pops. With a little buttercream, chocolate, and colorful nonpareils, you can whip up these adorable brownie pops in no time. I have yet to make cake balls, but I know how popular they are so I promise to jump on that bandwagon as soon as I finish my ‘to-bake list’….which by the way, is up to 4 pages long. Goodness gracious, it’s time to break out the sugar and flour and get to work!
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With a seven-game winning streak, the Chicago Cubs deserve a little celebration treat…wouldn’t you agree?
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I think I hit a home run with these little suckers :)
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The Ingredients…*
1 brownie mix, prepared
1 can buttercream frosting (16 oz.)
Chocolate chips or candy melts

Assorted sprinkles or crushed up candies for decoration
Popsicle sticks or toothpicks
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The Instructions…*
(1) After brownies are cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl
(2) Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting
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(3) Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on wax-paper lined cookie sheet
(4) Insert popsicle sticks into tops of brownie pops and chill for several hours
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(5) Melt chocolate chips or candy melts in microwave according to directions on package
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(6) Dip balls in chocolate and sprinkle with nonpareils or other colorful decorations; lay on wax paper until firm
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Let's Go Cubbies, Let's Go!" :)
 
 
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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes…*
…a chocolatey treat for a berry special birthday girl

What better way to celebrate Morgan’s birthday than to embarrass her at work with an overwhelming display of beautifully crafted cupcakes…well, I’m sure there are better ways, but those options were not feasible at the time being. When I was conceptualizing these cupcakes, I knew that I wanted to include 3 elements: chocolate, fruit, and the color pink. The only way to do this was of course, to make a chocolate covered strawberry cupcake, duh! The deep chocolate cupcake was rich in flavor but light in texture, leaving plenty of room for a whipped buttercream frosting made with freshly chopped strawberries. Topped with a hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberry, striped with melted vanilla chips, these cupcakes made my top 10 favorites list. They are fun and outgoing, yet classy and chic, just like the birthday girl herself. Happy Birthday, Morgan, hope it was everything you wished for and more! :)
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Fresh strawberries are on my list of top ten favorite foods, ever. Add ‘em tofreshly whipped buttercream, dip ‘em in chocolate, and throw ‘em on top of this decandent cupcake, and I’m at a loss for words.
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The Ingredients…*
Chocolate Cupcakes

(Recipe byMartha Stewart)
(Makes ≈ 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
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Strawberry Buttercream
(Recipe by My Baking Addiction)
(Makes ≈ 5 cups)
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
A pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 ounces strawberries, pureed
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
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The Instructions…*
‘One Bowl’ Chocolate Cupcakes
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F and line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside
(2) Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl
(3) Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed
(4) Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, only until about 2/3 full
(5) Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely
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Strawberry Buttercream
(1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy
(2) Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar, and continue mixing until well blended
(3) Add salt, vanilla, 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and strawberry puree; Blend on low speed until moistened
(4) Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency; Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy
(5) Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and finish with a chocolate covered strawberry
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Elegant. Beautiful. Incredibly delicious.
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Holy cannoli, that was good!
 

little shortcake...*