Sunday, October 27, 2013

Salted Caramel Sauce

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes


1. First, make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Once you start the caramel sauce you have to pay close attention so you don't burn it. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.
2. Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. If you are new to making caramel, I suggest using a thermometer.
3. As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, or 350 degrees carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted. If the sugar gets stuck to the whisk, you can switch to a wooden spoon.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.
5. Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large jar and cool to room temperature. Put the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator. Store the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator for about a month.

The BEST salted caramel sauce! It's easy to make and is great drizzled over ice cream, cake, cookies, 

cupcakes, apples, cheesecake...and anything else you can think of! It also makes a great and easy gift! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm BACK! For my first wedding!

Here's whats on the Menu: 
1.Gluten Free Chocolate cupcakes with Dulce De Leche butter cream and Salted Caramel sauce 
2. Apple Bourbon cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese frosting 
3. Orange Ginger Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting. 

Ok I know its been a while. I moved into my car for the last two years for some climbing, road tripping, and adventure. Its hard to bake in a car. There is nowhere to plug in the mixer. I just moved back into a cozy place in Asheville, just in time to make 200 cupcakes for my best friends wedding. This being my first wedding I was excited and a little nervous. I wanted everything to come out perfectly. I did several test batches up at the Outward Bound base camp I was working at this fall. My co-workers seemed ok with that. We decided on these three recipes and thankfully they all came out great! Enjoy! 

Gluten Free Chocolate cupcakes:

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup warm water (warm from the tap is fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-well muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Add the egg, milk, oil, vanilla extract and water (or coffee). Mix until smooth. Divide evenly among the prepared muffin wells. Do Not over fill the liners, about 1/2 full is perfect.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and top with your favorite frosting.

Dulce De leche buttercream
  • 2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dulce de leche (about 1 can of la lechera dulce de leche)


  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat butter on high speed for three minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in dulce de leche.
  3. Mix in powdered sugar and salt until fully combined.
  4. Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.

 Apple Bourbon Cupcakes, See previous post for these cupcakes when I made them with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

Only this time I did a maple cream cheese frosting.



8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 stick of butter (room temp)
Maple extract (about 1 Tbs, add to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs milk

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. 
Add the maple, vanilla, and milk. 
Add powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. 
Add salt and maple extract to taste.

These cupcakes were the show stopper. They are not too dense, not to crumbly. They are light and fluffy with complex yet balanced flavors. 

Orange Ginger Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Ginger Cream cheese frosting:

2.5 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbs grated orange zest
1/2 cups fine chopped crystalized ginger (Make this from scratch! Its so much better!)
1lb carrots (about 6 carrots)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cups light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of canola or veggie oil

1. pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Insert liners for about 32 cupcakes into cupcake pans.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. 

3. In a food processor fitted with the large shredding disk, shred the carrots to make about 3 cups. Add the crystalized ginger to the carrots and add to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside. 

4. Wipe out the food processor and fit with the metal blade. Process the sugars with the eggs and the orange zest until frothy and thoroughly combined. (about 20 seconds) With the machine running, add the oil through the feeder tube in a steady stream. Process until the mixture is well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. 

5. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Stir the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Fill cupcake liners 1/2 way full. (Do not overfill!) Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown. Allow cupcakes to cool fully on wire rack before icing. 

Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 Tbs grated orange zest
2 Tbs orange juice
16 Oz cream cheese (softened)
10 Tbs butter (room temp)
1/2 lb powdered sugar
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs sugar crystals from home made crystalized ginger

1. In a mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
2. Add orange juice, zest, and spices until combined.
3. Add powdered sugar slowly until desired consistency is achieved.
4. I added sugar crystals that were extra from making the crystalized ginger and it added a delightful spicy sweet surprise to the frosting.

To make crystalized ginger: 

Nonstick spray
1 pound fresh ginger root
5 cups water
Approximately 1 pound granulated sugar
Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.

Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices. Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 40 minutes or until the ginger is tender.

Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar. Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes. Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

Sam Profetta made this beautiful gluten free chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream. Maybe one day we will go into business together. Fun business name ideas anyone? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hello Summer! Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

HOLY TOO BUSY TO BAKE RECENTLY BATMAN! Sorry....It has been a while, I know, I am a HUGE slacker...well not really because in actuality I have been desperately trying not to FAIL my last semester of college, working, climbing, and reading really funny blogs like and So that is my excuse. Don't judge me. 

It started feeling like summer here in Asheville in March so I have been craving summery cupcakes. I tweaked my shoulder climbing yesterday and decided to take the day off of climbing. What better to do on a day that you aren't getting your regular exercise than bake something that requires an entire pound of butter and powdered sugar? Whatever...they have fruit in them so that makes them healthy right? RIGHT! So here is the recipe for strawberry lime cupcakes with strawberry lime buttercream icing.

2sticks (1/2 lb) butter room temp.
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs 
3 cups flour 
2tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
2/3 cup milk 
2 tsp vanilla 
3 cups sliced strawberries 
4tsp lime juice
zest from one lime 
(16 large + 30 small) 

1) Preheat oven to 350. Insert liners into cupcake pans
 2) In  a large bowl cream together butter and sugar in electric mixer for 3-5 min. until fluffy.
3) Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
4) In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder
5) Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating with milk. Mix for 3 minutes 
6) with a rubber spatula fold in the strawberries, vanilla, lime juice, and zest 
7) fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Cool cupcakes in pan 

Strawberry Lime Buttercream: 

Shit ton of powdered sugar (1 Large bag) 
4 large strawberries
2 sticks of butter 
1Tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp lime zest 

Garnish with fresh mint from your garden...don't have a garden? Sucks for you.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FAILURE: and other life lessons that baking teaches

When life gives you lemons...make lemonade. That is what they say, I think...
But life didn't give me lemons...It gave me little chocolate imploded volcanos that are too salty and crumble when you look at them the wrong way...WTF? How am I supposed to make lemonade out of THESE?

And OF COURSE this happens on the day that my good friend and professional photographer Shannon Millsaps has agreed to come take photos of my (usually) beautiful and delicious cupcakes.

So it is like three in the afternoon and I am like might as well start drinking, I pop open a bottle of three buck chuck and pour us some wine. I guess baking is sort of like photography, it's a lot about the process and a little about the finished product (maybe more than a little). Not all photos are going to come out perfect, and neither are your cupcakes. I guess life is that way too.

So when you fail, you have to look back at the process and figure out where you went wrong. And what else is there to do except start over, change the recipe, and hope for a better outcome?

I guess one other thing you could do is take your failures and dress 'em up nice and pretty and then shove them your friends faces. Not exactly sure how that metaphor works in real life except that sometimes the best option is just to laugh about your epic fail and move the hell on.

Anyway...So that is exactly what I decided to do. Meet Shanaynay and Rupert. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? They love each other very much despite their flaws and lived happily ever after until I shoved Rupert in my friend John Averette's face later that evening. Shanaynay was pissed because Rupert's icing got all stuck in John's beard and then she wouldn't talk to anyone the rest of the night.

SO back to the more adult option about starting over with a new recipe, learning from your mistakes and making the preverbal lemonade...

 What the batter SHOULD look like!

what the cupcakes SHOULD look like

 What the Icing SHOULD look like 

What the Caramel SHOULD look like 

 What the finished product SHOULD look like 

And Voila! We have lemonade!

'Er uh... I mean Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling, and Salted Caramel Butter Cream, Topped with Caramel Drizzle and Sprinkled with Sea Salt.

One final life lesson from the kitchen of one very wise woman: Be careful not to should all over yourself. My good friend Michele Taylor used to always tell me "Man plans and God Laughs" Well I don't know about men or God...But I think what she meant is that sometimes shit doesn't work out the way we plan and if we try to control everything we will always come up disappointed. I don't know about you but I think disappointment sucks. Having hope is one thing and having expectations is something totally different. In the future I will hope that my cupcakes cooperate but when they don't I will just have to take a deep breath and bust out the dinosaur sprinkles and edible glitter and have some fun.

Fun Challenge:
See if you can find the hidden glass/glasses of wine in the photos!

Check out Shannon's awesome photography at
Thanks to Shilpa Reddy for the help with these particularly tricky cupcakes!

Recipe to come soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

For Julie: Who Loves Pie

Avocado Pie: 
The recipe for this pie is in the previous post for 
Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream

So I know it looks weird but I promise it is delicious! Anything with sweetened condensed milk is tasty! Plus when you top it with fresh whipped cream and pretty fruits it looks less weird and tastes even more amazing!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie: 
A Family Favorite! No Baking Required! 


1 graham cracker pie crust
6-8oz heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs sugar
1 large can of blueberry pie filling
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
8 oz Cream Cheese
16oz powdered sugar
2 Tbs milk


Cream Cheese Filling:
Take  Cream Cheese and blend together with 2tbs milk and probably about 3 cups powdered sugar, really just keep adding powdered sugar until you get a consistency that is thick and creamy.

Place the cream cheese filling in the bottom of a graham cracker pie crust. Top this with whipped cream (about 6 ounces of heavy whipping cream whipped with about 2 Tbs sugar)

Stir in the lemon juice into the blueberry pie filling. Top the pie with the blueberry pie filling and spread toward the edges.

Super Simple! And yummy too!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Call Me Crazy...IN LOVE...With these Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes + Avocado Buttercream

Are you brave enough to try these spicy little sweets?

I have been obsessing over avocados recently. Being newly single, these have become my comfort food of choice. I put them on toast in the morning slathered in soy sauce, and last weekend I made an avocado pie, which was well received by friends on a weekend climbing trip to the Obed Tennessee. I started to wonder how I can incorporate avocados into my cupcake repertoire. I asked around for ideas and got some really interesting ones: Bananas foster cupcakes with avocado buttercream, Avocado cupcakes with Cinnamon/Cayenne buttercream, Lemon/Lime cupcakes with avocado buttercream...AND what I ultimately settled on, inspired by the valentines season, was Mexican Chocolate cupcakes featuring cinnamon and cayenne pepper, with a smooth and mellow avocado buttercream on top. OK so maybe its not that valentinesey (I know that isn't a word) But lets face it, my boyfriend and I just broke up and the thought of kissy faces and lovie dovies makes me want to throw things.

Quick Avocado Pie Recipe:

Put two avocado's (minus skins and pits duh!) in a blender 3/4 of a can of sweetened condensed milk and 1TBS lemon juice. Spoon the creamy mixture into a graham cracker pie shell. Top with fresh whipped cream and garnish with fruit of choice. I put clementine slices around the perimeter and kiwi in the middle, but mangos and berries work well too!

OK The moment you have all been waiting for:

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes:


3 cups all-purpose white flour (or 1/2 whole wheat pastry, 1/2 white)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you’re very sensitive to spice)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar

1 pinch sea salt 
preheat oven to 350 ºF and place liners into a muffin pan
1. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne pepper together.
2. Add the vegetable oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar to the dry ingredients and stir. Do not over mix; a few clumps are okay.
3. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way, bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife pulls out clean. Yields 24 cupcakes or 12 large and 24 small. 

Avocado Buttercream: 


1 large avocado, pitted and peeled 
1 stick of butter (room temp) 
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs Milk 
1 lb powdered sugar 


Mix avocado, lemon juice, and butter together until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and milk until you reach the desired amount and consistency. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Black Mocha Stout Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

These Might Be the Best Cupcakes Ever Made...Just sayin'

Cupcake Ingredients:
3/4 cup Hershey's special dark cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch sea salt
1 bottle Highland Mocha Stout Beer (ASHEVILLE LOCAL!)
1 stick butter (melted)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream


Preheat oven to 350 F

In large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt

In a second bowl, combine 12oz of the beer, (drink the rest while baking) the melted butter, and vanilla. Beat or whisk the eggs in one at a time. Mix in the sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Place cupcake liners into tins and fill about 3/4 full. Bake regular sized cupcakes 24 minutes, or mini cupcakes for 12-14 minutes, or until risen, slightly domed, and set in the middle but still soft.

Cool and then frost!

I doubled this recipe and wound up with A LOT of cupcakes. I wound up with 65 small and 35 regular, so I am guessing this recipe will make about 30 small and 16 large cupcakes, or simply 26 large cupcakes.

Buttercream Ingredients:
1 lb powdered sugar
2 sticks of butter softened
2 Tbs heavy cream
2-4 Tbs Espresso, brewed and cooled to room temp. (coffee would work too)

Buttercream Directions: 
Beat the butter until soft, add heavy cream and 1 Tbs espresso. beat until creamy. Gradually add confectioners sugar until you reach the consistency desired, probably about 1 lb. continue to add espresso to taste.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peppermint Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Icing

Thanks Shilpa for the Help! Hope these cupcakes are perfect for your housewarming party!

Cupcake Ingredients: 

1/2 pound unsalted butter 
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon peppermint extract 
3 cups all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup ground peppermint candies*
1/2 cup boiling water*

* I ended up adding some extra flour until the consistency seemed right, with just the amount called for the batter was really soupy. I probably added 1/2 cup extra flour. 

* we ground a cup of peppermint candies so that we would have some left over for decoration!

* I did not use all of the boiling water because the batter was already so soupy, I probably used more like 1/4 cup. 


1. Preheat the oven to 350, Insert liners into cupcake pans
 (This recipe made enough for 14 regular cupcakes and 36 mini cupcakes or about 30 regular cupcakes)

2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. 

3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and peppermint extract together on medium speed 

4. Add egg mixture to butter mixture 

5. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda)

6. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Do not over mix. 

7. Sprinkle the ground peppermints into the batter. Add boiling water to partially melt the candies. 
Mix Slightly 

8. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Cool cupcakes in the pan

 Shilpa got to mash the candy and stir the chocolate! Fun Fun.

Icing ingredients:

1 pint heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt

Icing Directions:

1. Bring the cream and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly. Turn heat to low and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from heat

2.  Stir in the chocolate and butter until melted

3. Stir in vanilla and salt

4. Refrigerate until the icing reaches spreading consistency*

* The original recipe said this should take about 30 minutes, but it actually took several hours! This may be because I forgot to remove the icing from heat before adding the butter and chocolate, but make sure to plan in extra time just in case!!

5. Ice the cupcakes, and sprinkle with the extra crushed peppermints.

6. Enjoy!
 The Finished Product.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apple Bourbon Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello Fall!

And hello friends of Crushcakes! It's been a while!

Here is a delicious fall recipe, My honey says they are perhaps the best cupcakes I have ever made...They were such a hit at Ladies Climb night, that I had to make them two days in a row!! Try 'em out, hope you love them as much as we did!


1.5 cups Granny Smith Apples Grated ( About 1.5 Apples) I ate the left over half of an apple with some yummy humbolt fog cheese from cyprus grove...If there is one thing I love as much as cupcakes, its good cheese.
1 Tbs Makers Mark Bourbon ( you can also use brandy or cognac)
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 & Insert liners into cupcake pan ( Makes about 16 regular cupcakes or 30 mini cupcakes)

In a small bowl mix the grated apples and the bourbon

In a separate bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda

Add the eggs, oil, and apple mixture to the dry ingredients until fully integrated

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, cool cupcakes in the pan.



12 oz cream cheese
1 stick of butter
1/2 can of pumpkin puree
1 Tbs of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
 powdered sugar

Combine the first five ingredients and then intermittently add powdered sugar until you reach the consistency you prefer, I probably ended up adding about 3.5 cups and it ended up making enough frosting for two batches...hence making this recipe two days in a row!

Once cupcakes have cooled, ice and enjoy a delicious fall treat!