Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coconut Cupcakes...For You??

Light and moist coconut cake, topped with a smooth coconut icing and delicate coconut flakes... this delicious treat by Boston Sweetie could be all yours!

In less than one week, Bloggers Bake for Hope online bake sale goes live!  I will be participating by auctioning off a "Frost Yourself!" Cupcake Kit!  If you visit the site between May 4 and May 6, you can place your bid on my kit, and if you win you'll receive:
  • 12 freshly baked coconut cupcakes (recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)
  • 1 tub of freshly whipped pink coconut icing
  • 1 disposible piping bag
  • 1 plastic star tip
  • 1 baggie of coconut flakes for decoration
I will ship the winner's treats anywhere in the US, and pack everything up nicely so that when it's received you can put on your apron and frost yourself!

All of the funds raised in this bake sale will go to a great cause, the MA Komen for a Cure foundation.  Please check out Bloggers Bake for Hope, and make sure to save the date and place your bids starting next Wednesday!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kappa Tuesday - Mini Carrot Cupcakes

A couple of my college sorority sisters and I have a great tradition of meeting for dinner, dessert and wine every other Tuesday. We rotate apartments, and rotate duties. Each of the three of us provide one of the three key elements :) This past Tuesday, dinner was pasta with homemade sauce and a garden salad. For wine, we tried Ruffino Chianti, and for dessert, ohhhh dessert, gourmet mini carrot cupcakes with caramel cream cheese frosting. HEAVEN!

These beauties were leftovers from my friend's Easter dinner. Her aunt, Maura Kilpatrick, is an amazing pastry chef here in Boston, baking up treats at Sofra Bakery, and Oleana. I didn't see carrot cake on the Sofra menu, but if the other items match the quality of these cupcakes, my advice is to RUN THERE and try something!

Friends, wine, cupcakes, mid-week bliss.

(PS - The Bruins just beat the Canadiens in Round 1 of the Playoffs and I am so over-filled with bliss you have no idea. GO BRUINS!!!!)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Dessert at Grammy's

Happy Easter Sunday! I hope that all who celebrated today enjoyed every minute of it. J and I were fortunate to spend today with my family (minus Mom & Dad who are off on a Caribbean cruise celebrating their 25th anniversary, yay!), and we will have an Easter part two next weekend with his family. After an amazing seafood lunch at the Dolphin in Natick, we all went back to my Grammy's house for dessert. The whole house was festive with lots of Easter and spring-time decorations. I love the vintagey look to the bunny above- so cute!

So, let me walk you through the experience known as "Dessert at Grammy's." One thing to know about me is that being a sweet-lover is a classic trait in my family, and I definitely take after my Grammy's taste for dessert. Maybe it was all of our trips to the Belmont Brigham's for coffee ice cream sodas when I was little, maybe it's just in my blood, it's probably both.

Grammy's main dessert (yes, we have main desserts, and side desserts, no matter the occasion) was home-made strawberry shortcake. Grammy baked the biscuits and prepared the strawberries yesterday, and whipped the cream fresh right before we sat down to eat. These.were.amazing. There is nothing better than a 100% homemade strawberry shortcake on a beautiful spring day. The recipes for all three pieces are very easy- if you're interested in seeing them, just leave me a comment and I'll gladly post.

It can't be dessert time at Grammy's without coffee or tea. Today I had coffee. In a NH mug. This is another "thing" about my family, we all LOVE the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Over the years my parents and grandparents have gathered a rather impressive collection of NH-themed goods. It's probably hard for you to go to either house and find a mug that is from somewhere besides New Hampshire or Maine. It's part of the charm, and the fun, to look at a mug, and then talk about all the fun things we've done or seen at that place.

Surprise birthday cakes are not a traditional part of dessert time at Grammys, but they are ALWAYS welcomed, especially by cake-fanatic, Boston Sweetie! To celebrate Grammy's birthday that was last week, my aunt picked up a birthday/Easter cake from one of their favorite bakeries, Ohlin's, in Belmont. This bakery has been there for "eons" (Grammy term) and is one of their favorites. Grammy loves the donuts the most, especially the glazed ones.

My Aunt's favorite thing from Ohlin's are their "Hermits" - ginger cookie bars with raisins. She said she was eyeballing their quiches this morning, but managed to avoid the temptation and left with just this really cute Easter/Birthday cake. She said it was the only one with chocolate frosting; the rest were all white. Important note: Grammy likes gold cake with chocolate frosting best. Other important note: Me too.

I'm pretty sure this was not my first Ohlin's experience, but it was the first one I was really paying attention to. The cake was REALLY good- light, delicate, almost spongy. The frosting was the best part- rather than a chocolately buttercream, this tasted like the chocolate frosting they put on donuts. It was the perfect amount, perfect texture, perfect all around. I was pretty psyched when Grammy packed up two slices for us to take home with us. Remember how I mentioned side desserts? Grammy also offered ice cream and fresh brownies. I was too busy chowing down to take pictures, sorry!

Dessert at Grammy's today concluded with Easter bags! This was a surprise that really made my day. I've been eyeballing Easter candies at the grocery stores and CVS every time I go in, and I have had a mean hankering for a Lindt Bunny. Grammy and my aunt presented J, my sister and I with bags full of the best of the best - Lindt mini lambs, York Peppermint Patties, CADBURY CREAM EGGS, Hershey chocolate eggs, Junior Mints and scratch tickets! We had so much fun picking through and feeling like kids opening up their Easter baskets.

I know it's hard to believe but after all that, all of our plates looked like this- scraped clean. We love our sweets, what can I say! Did you have an insane Easter dessert? Comment below and tell me what sweets made your day!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Life is Sweet

Life IS pretty sweet, is it not? This phrase, while simple, means many things for my husband and I, and our family. To us, "Life is Sweet" is a reminder that every day is a gift, that every breath is a blessing and every laugh should be cherished. "Life is Sweet" is the phrase that energized and empowered one of our dearest family members as she battled - and beat! - breast cancer. "Life is Sweet" is the name of her candy business- a lifelong dream that she didn't pursue until after her treatments were over. Life IS sweet, and it's too short to not take full advantage of every minute we have. During this season of Easter, and the story behind Easter celebrations, I'm reminded yet again, that life. is. sweet.

So what does this have to do with cupcakes? An amazing pair of fellow Boston bloggers have launched one of their own dreams this year- Bloggers Bake for Hope. From May 4-6, blog-readers will have the opportunity to place bids in this virtual bake sale to win/buy sweets from participating bloggers. 100% of the funds raised will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation's local affiliate - Massachusetts Komen for the Cure.

I will be baking and auctioning off the coconut sparkle cupcakes pictured above (actually, a "Frost Yourself" cupcake kit), and on May 4, I will post more about the treats I'll be offering. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the Bloggers Bake for Hope site, save the date for the opening of this bake sale, and as you round out your weekend and start a new week, remember that life is sweet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Macaroons

Since my last batch of macaroons was such a success, I really wanted to try them one more time. Home on Monday for Patriots Day, I was feeling bakey (you know, like crafty...except wanting to bake) and asked the hubs what flavor he would like. His request was initially chocolate with vanilla filling...I overruled the vanilla part and did salted caramel instead. Turns out he liked that idea better anyway!

The salted caramel buttercream filling was a labor. of. love. It took me a while, and felt like a science experiment! I had only made caramel one other time before, and that was a few years back, so I had been a bit out of practice. I snapped this picture when the sugar and water was bubbling and looking pretty in the saucepan:

From here, it just kept bubbling, I kept swirling, then all of a sudden it was turning into a caramel color! The original recipe said to remove from heat once it reaches a "deep amber" color. I think I took this too literally, let my caramel get more and more brown, and then it ended up having a bit of a burnt taste to it. We ended up loving the bitterness to it, but my advice would be to remove your caramel from the heat as soon as it looks amber...don't let it get too deep amber. The recipe (from Foodess) is below, and I followed Martha's recipe for chocolate macaroon cookies.

Did anyone else bake this weekend?

Salted Caramel Buttercream:


  • 1/2 c. sugar, divided

  • 2 tbsp. water

  • 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp milk (recipe calls for cream, I used 1% milk and it worked just fine)

  • 2 egg whites

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 stick of softened butter

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • Put 1/4 c. sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir, that will create crystals of sugar, but you can lift and swirl your pan around occassionaly to prevent sticking to the bottom. It will bubble like crazy, and evenutally turn a nice pretty amber-caramel color.

  • As SOON as it turns caramel color, remove from heat and add in milk or cream. When you add the milk, it will turn SUPER bubbly and crazy- stir it quickly until smooth, and then set aside.

  • Put the egg whites, salt, and 1/4 c. sugar in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and your mixture reaches 140 degrees. Mine stopped heating around 130...I pulled it off and it was fine. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer.

  • Beat on high until stiff peas form. Add butter 1 tbsp. at a time, and continuously beat on medium.

  • Reduce speed to low, and add in vanilla and caramel (you may need to heat up your caramel a little bit at this point- it should be easy to work with but not hot.)

  • Beat mixture for an additional 4-5 minutes until smooth. Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max Brenner - Hubby Love

Love.  That's what I was filled with when my hubby came home from the Red Sox game yesterday with a special surprise for me- a handpicked box of truffles from the new Max Brenner shop in Boston.  I guess I mentioned/pointed it out/wistfully-dreamed-of-visiting-for-brunch-soon enough that he got the hint!  J picked out a variety of 9 truffles for me.  So far the peanut butter one was good, but too peanutty for me (disclaimer- I am one of the rare birds that just doesn't go for peanut butter) and the original chocolate cream truffle is VERY good but I inhaled the powdery outer coating too fast.  The one I'm most excited for has some sort of hazelnut-whiskey filling.  I also love that the packaging materials are just as fun as the chocolates themselves.  It's fun to flip through the tiny book and match the patterns on the pages to those on my truffles, and the orange gift bag looks cheery on our counter. Thank you honey!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Macaroon

What is a better way to celebrate a beautiful Sunday than with a beautiful batch of French Macaroons?  I've been admiring these pretty little cookies for quite some time now; looking up recipes, collecting pictures and wondering if I had what it takes to make a batch.  With a bit of lavender buttercream leftover from last week's cupcakes, today was the day to find out.  I must say, I'm quite pleased with the result!  I introduce my lemon-lavender french macaroons:

These delicate cookies are quite an investment of time and money.  The small bag of almond flour cost $9.99 at my local food store, you might be able to save a few dollars if you make your own.  The egg whites have to sit out of the fridge for quite some time to come to room temperature, and the recipe I followed (from Martha Stewart) requires a TRIPLE sift of the flour & sugar misture.  My sifter is 2" in diameter so that took for-ev-er but the end result made up for it!

In my months of macaroon-marvelling, I've gathered a few tips that I think contributed to the success of this batch today.  First and most importantly - get everything set up before starting, especially the flour-sugar mixture.  You have to get it nice and fine. 

Separate your egg whites while they are cold, and then let them sit out (covered, with the plastic wrap touching the top of the eggs) for at least 2 hours to come to room temperature.  Follow time requests in recipes closely.  My egg whites looked whisked enough to me after about 4 minutes, but Martha said to beat them for 8 minutes and I'm glad I did.  Lastly, before you put your cookies in the oven, gently tap the cookie sheet on your counter or table to release any air-bubbles. 

When you pipe your macaroons, don't worry about the immediate piping lines you'll see, after a minute or two they should smooth out like the ones above.  Carefully watch and adjust your oven temperatures as the recipe says, and after 10 painless minutes you should (fingers crossed) see something like this:

Nice smooth, crispy tops and fluffy, chewy bottoms with pretty, crinkly "feet."  Almost right away you'll be able to pipe some filling on the bottom of one, sandwich it with another, and voila!  Enjoy!

The recipe below is very slightly tweaked from Martha Stewart's recipe, here.  I'd highly suggest checking out her link for additional flavor ideas.  Have you ever made french macaroons?  I'd love to hear what flavors you make (or would love to eat!)

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 3/4 cup almond flour

  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

  • Pinch of meringue powder

  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar

  • 3/4 cup lavender-infused buttercream (see my old post here for the recipe)

  • 1/2 tsp. pure lemon extract

  • 6 drops yellow food coloring

  • Do:
    • Mix confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.  Be meticulous about this part!! 
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer in a spotlessly clean bowl on medium speed until foamy. Add meringue powder, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Bump the speed back up to high, and continue whisking until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes.  Sift flour mixture over whites (this is the THIRD it meticulously!) and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
    • Fill up a pastry bag with a plain round tip with the batter.  Pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Try your best to not make any hershey-kiss style points on your circles.  You can soften up the tops by running the top along the top of the circle and off, rather than just pulling it up and off.   
    • Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, tap your baking sheet against the table or counter to release air bubbles, and then bake 1 sheet at a time, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.
    • After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
    • Let macaroons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then move to a wire rack. (If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons.)
    • Sandwich 2 same-size macaroons with 1 teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Let's Go Bruins!

    In honor of the Bruins vs. Habs playoff game tonight, here's a cute little Bruins cupcake from Sweet Bakery.  This tasted as good as it looks!

    Let's go Bruins!!!

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Cupcake Camp 2011

    We came. We baked.  We conquered...the cupcakes!  My buddy Christina of All's Fare Food Blog and I participated in Boston Cupcake Camp 2011 as two of about 50 amateur bakers at the event.  Cupcake Camp is a very cool gathering of cupcake lovers in the city.  Professional and amateur bakers bring dozens of pretty frosting-topped treats to share, and anyone who wants may come in and taste 'til their tongues fall off for FREE!  The folks at the front were collecting donations for Lovin Food Rescue, and Boston Blogger/ Cupcake Camp co-organizer Beantown Baker reported more than $2,300.00 was raised for the org- awesome!

    Christina and I agree that there were three basic phases of Cupcake Camp...the first was my favorite, we called it Cupcake Heaven:

    Being on the amateur baking team granted us early arrival.  After a quick set-up of our own cupcakes, we got to watch as everyone else set theirs up too.  It was a huge room of baking enthusiasts and their creations.

    Christina's setup was so cute and full of Boston pride:

    Brand new cupcake truck "C-Cups Cupcakes" had super cute cake toppers with their logo

    Christina and I spent most of our Cupcake Heaven time snapping dozens of photos.  Here she is capturing a tray of really unique (and delicious) mini cupcakes.  By the way, the people who made mini-cupcakes were really smart.  Christina and I were trying to share some of the full-size ones, and without utensils, that was tough!

    So after Cupcake Heaven, came 7PM which meant the floodgates were opened.  We called this phase Cupcake Mayhem.  The place was swarmed with cupcake-cravers (awesome!)  We tasted a few of the flavors we eyed during set up.  My favorite one was the very first one I tried, and I'm so sad I didn't get a better photo, but the #1 best tasting cupcake for me was the Cookie Dough cupcake by Beantown Baker.  This is definitely going to be one of the next recipes I try out.  Beantown Baker also made Frito Cupcakes that were a huge hit, but I didn't try one.

    Another one of my favs was the salted caramel & chocolate cupcake from Mix Bakery:

    We tried the "Achin for Bacon" cupcake too...probably the most unique cuppie there!  I really, really wanted to like it, but the bacon bits in the cake were just too weird for me. I loved the maple frosting and the bacon brittle was really interesting too. 

    I loved how many people were taking pictures everywhere throughout the entire night.  One of the biggest hits was Party Favor's design-your-own-frosting station, it was Coldstone style with mix-ins. Very cool!

    So as you can imagine, the cupcake supply did not last very long during Cupcake Mayhem!  This resulted in the third and final phase of the evening, which we dubbed Cupcake Destruction.  Here's the "after" photo of Christina's area:

    And the after of my area...someone even swiped my empty box!

    The cupcakes were pretty much gone by the time we left around 8:30PM, but there was still a line going down the block!  Needless to say, Cupcake Camp was a huge success, and we can't wait til next year!!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Almond-Lemon-Lavender Cupcakes

    It feels like Christmas Eve...except its Cupcake Camp Eve!! I just finished up my cupcakes for tomorrow and I am psyched!

    My friend Christina of All's Fare Food Blog & I will be joining the ranks of amateur bakers for tomorrow night's cupcake fiesta.  She put together some super cute Red Velvet Baseball cupcakes (hopefully they'll be good luck to our Sox) and I just finished up my Almond-Lemon-Lavender cupcakes.  They are a heavy white almond cake, with lemon curd filling and topped with some homemade lavender buttercream.  Perfect for spring, right?

    I have to say, this is one of the messiest cake recipes I've followed yet!  To be fair I was kind of rushing the fun part so I could make it to my girls night dinner on time, but sheesh, next time I will be sure to use my splatter guard on the KitchenAid and stir slowly with a nice big spatula!

    The batter comes together very thick, and bakes into a fairly dense, but still moist cake.  I was initially concerned that the eggs whites were too prominent in the cake, based off of my miniscule toothpick test to make sure they were done. 

    So I went to town with my new cupcake corer and tried a "tastie" as my hubs and I are calling them, which made me confident that the over-eggy-ness was just my paranoid imagination.  This cupcake corer is amazing...and affordable.  Only $5.00 at Williams-Sonoma!  Highly recommend if you like to fill your cupcakes.

    To make sure I'd be brining something worth sharing, I topped some tasties with a dollop of lemon curd and a dot of lavender buttercream.  So good, and a great way to keep me from "testing" a whole cupcake at 11PM!

    I definitely had a blast making these for tomorrow night and my husband can't get enough of the lavender buttercream.  You know it's good when your sweetie goes back for seconds, thirds, fourths... Do you have a recipe that is a super hit? 

    Also- for anyone who made it this far, were you at Cupcake Camp too? Let's trade notes!

    White Almond Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart's white cupcake recipe)

    • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 tablespoon pure almond extract
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 1/4 cups sugar
    • 7 large egg whites

    • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake or muffin tins with papers; set aside.
    • Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
    • Mix milk & almond extract together (Martha suggests a glass measuring cup...I used a plastic measuring cup and it was fine.)  Once mixed, set aside. 
    • Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until pale and creamy. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add sugar in a steady stream; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
    • Add flour mixture to butter and sugar bowl in three batches, alternating with the milk/almond liquid, and starting and ending with the flour. Do not overbeat. **This is serious!  Mine got TOO thick...I highly suggest stopping beating as soon as your final batch of flour is completely mixed in.**
    • Wash out your electric mixing bowl really well- make sure there is NO butter left anywhere!  Put on your whisk attachment, and beat egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
    • Take one third of the egg whites and fold into the batter.  This should help lighten it up a little bit. Fold in the remaining egg whites in two batches, and be gentle!  This is where it can get messy, and you also don't want to flatten your eggs.
    • Pour batter into prepared tins, filling cups to about 1/2 inch from the tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the centers comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed lightly in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool completely before removing the cores.
    • Once cooled and cored pipe in lemon curd filling.  You can make your own, but I used Dickinson's brand from Stop & Shop.

    Lavender infused buttercream:

    • 1/4 c. water
    • 2 tbsp. dried lavendar
    • 2 sticks of room-temp butter
    • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
    • 2 tbsp. milk (i used skim)
    • appx. 5-6 cups confectioner's sugar
    • food coloring

    • In a small saucepan or microwaveable bowl, heat water to boiling.  Add in dried lavender and let simmer for a good 15-20 min or so. 
    • Strain lavender water into another bowl, removing the lavender and leaving just the hot infused water.  Put the water in the fridge for another 20 minutes+ to cool.
    • Beat the butter and shortening together until nice and light.  
    • Beat in milk then add confectioner's sugar 1 cup at a time until it comes together into a nice buttercream.  You may need to add a splash of milk or more sugar to reach your desired consistency.  I always eyeball my buttercreams and never keep track of how much sugar I actually end up using.  The key is to watch the consistency and TASTE! 
    • Once you like how it's looking, add in your cooled lavender water and food coloring.  To make the pretty purple color in mine, I used probably 16 drops of blue, 8 drops of red...and then 1/4 teaspoon of violet gel color too.  The drops were just creating a not-so-pretty greyish color, and then when I added the violet gel it finally turned the pretty purple I was hoping for.   Mix your buttercream until all of the infused water and color is combined.  Give it a taste, make sure it feels right to decorate with (not too smooth, not too stiff) and either use immediately or save in an air-tight container for up to one week. 

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Birth of Boston Sweetie

    Hello and allow me to introduce myself!  I am Boston Sweetie-- you know, kind of like foodie...except I prefer sweets so I am calling myself a "sweetie." Cute, eh? ;)

    I've been wanting to blog for quite some time now and as Cupcake Camp Boston is fast approaching I decided that now is as good a time as ever to jump into the blogging world.

    I do quite a bit of baking, and while I'm no professional, I do enjoy very much and am a serial blog-stalker.  I figured it would add another dimension to my hobby to share my creations, and receive some feedback from other sweeties out there.

    Thanks for reading!